News / Blog

Some Thoughts on ICANN’s Next CEO

Now that the search has officially commenced, I thought it might be useful to make some public statements as to what I would like to see from the next ICANN CEO. My comments are driven by what I see as the deficiencies over the last number of years and, most importantly, by a deep desire to see the ICANN experiment in global governance succeed. The Internet is the greatest agent for positive change the world has ever seen and a healthy ICANN strengthens its ability to foster positive change.

For me there are three essential qualities required and they are tough to order because I would like to see them all. They are as follows:

  • a deep love and understanding of the Internet;
  • the ability to “run a business” responsibly; and
  • the ability to lead with vision.

First, a deep love and understanding of the Internet.

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” ~ Confucius

For me, Mike Roberts was the best ICANN CEO to date and the reason is that he was the one who most loved and understood the Internet. ICANN is responsible for names and numbers, which are about finding and using resources on the Internet. Appreciating what that means and why it is important is central to being the ICANN CEO. Too much of the last few years have been about ICANN as an institution for the institution’s sake, not for having ICANN live in service to the Internet. A great CEO will create and lead an ICANN that lives in service to an open Internet and to the role of names and numbers inside of that.

Second, the ability to run a business responsibly. ICANN as an institution has ballooned over the last few years, seeing its budget grow by massive amounts. I am in favor of a healthy ICANN that is not begging its constituents for money and that is able to provide necessary staff support for policy creation and management. However, the money should be spent like it was their own! There is much too much wasted on very expensive consultants, staff duplication and on unnecessary efforts. There is a good core of credible and productive staff who I believe will respond to this so positively.

The next CEO should be comfortable learning about an issue and making a decision. Rather than pay BCG, McKinsey or some other exorbitantly priced consultant to call me, and a dozen others, to ask for our opinion on an issue, the CEO himself will research a topic and then come to a decision. Yes, ICANN is a consensus-driven, bottom up organization, but that need not apply to every issue. To be clear, I am talking here about day-to-day issues like a new RAA, transfers or whois.

The next CEO should be comfortable making decisions, leading the team and spending money responsibly. They should be a doer. The do/say ratio in ICANN needs to increase immeasurably.

Lastly, the next ICANN CEO needs to be able to lead with vision. So much of what ICANN deals with concerns the future, not the past or the present. The next ICANN CEO needs to possess enough imagination to create a broad vision for the organization and lead staff and the various constituents in that direction. This does not mean they should drive the policy-making process, nor that they should substitute their judgment for the community, but that they should have a big picture view of what the organization looks like when it is functioning well and how the organization exists in service to the Internet.

The organization should not lurch from issue to issue like it does now, constantly fending off imagined existential threats. It should move in a clear direction toward a bright future.

Yes, I know I am looking for a lot in one person, but I really believe that at this point in the Internet’s history, ICANN demands more than a CEO. It needs a passionate visionary.

Tucows Inc. Announces Preliminary Results of Tender Offer

TORONTO – March 16, 2009 – Tucows Inc. (AMEX:TCX, TSX:TC) a global provider of domain names, email and other Internet services, announced today the preliminary results of its modified Dutch auction tender offer, which expired at 5:00 p.m., New York City time, on March 13, 2009.  Tucows expects to purchase 4,250,000 shares of its Common Stock at a purchase price of $0.41 per share, or a total of $1,742,500.  The 4,250,000 shares expected to be purchased are comprised of the 4,000,000 shares Tucows offered to purchase and 250,000 shares to be purchased pursuant to Tucows’ right to purchase up to an additional 2 percent of the shares outstanding immediately prior to the commencement of the tender offer.  Due to over-subscription, Tucows expects the final proration factor for shares tendered at or below $0.41 per share to be approximately 99.8%.  For this purpose, shares tendered at or below $0.41 per share will include shares tendered by those persons who indicated, in their letter of transmittal, that they are willing to accept the price determined in the offer. All shares purchased in the tender offer will receive the same price.

The price per share and the proration factor are preliminary and subject to verification by StockTrans, Inc., the depositary for the tender offer. The actual price per share and the proration factor will be announced promptly following completion of the verification process.  After the determination of the actual price per share and the proration factor, the depositary will issue payment for the shares accepted under the tender offer and return all shares not accepted.

Tucows commenced the tender offer on February 12, 2009, when it offered to purchase up to 4,000,000 shares of its Common Stock at a price between $0.36 and $0.45 per share, net to the seller in cash, without interest. As a result of the completion of the tender offer, Tucows expects to have 68,823,782 shares issued and outstanding as of the time immediately following payment for the tendered shares.  Subject to the rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Tucows may, from time to time at management’s discretion, repurchase up to approximately 6,361,769 additional shares of its Common Stock on the open market under its previously authorized share buyback program.

About Tucows

Tucows is a global Internet services company.  OpenSRS manages over 8 million domain names and millions of email boxes through a reseller network of over 9,000 web hosts and ISPs.  Hover is the easiest way for individuals and small businesses to manage their domain names and email addresses.  YummyNames owns premium domain names that generate revenue through advertising or resale.  Butterscotch.com is an online video network building on the foundation of Tucows.com.  More information can be found at http://tucowsinc.com.

For further information: Lawrence Chamberlain, The Equicom Group for Tucows Inc., (416) 815-0700 ext. 257, lchamberlain (at) equicomgroup.com.

This news release contains, in addition to historical information, forward-looking statements related to such matters as our business, including the price per share at which Tucows will purchase shares, the proration factor and the repurchase of additional shares of Tucows‚Äô common stock. Such statements are based on management’s current expectations and are subject to a number of uncertainties and risks, which could cause actual results to differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements. Information about potential factors that could affect Tucows’ business, results of operations and financial condition is included in the Risk Factors sections of Tucows’ filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. All forward-looking statements included in this document are based on information available to Tucows as of the date of this document, and Tucows assumes no obligation to update such forward-looking statements.

Tucows is a registered trademark of Tucows Inc. or its subsidiaries. All other trademarks and service marks are the properties of their respective owners.

Tucows Commences Dutch Auction Tender Offer to Repurchase up to 4 Million Common Shares

TORONTO ‚Äì February 12, 2009 – Tucows Inc. (AMEX:TCX, TSX:TC) a global provider of domain names, email and other Internet services, announced today that it is commencing a modified “Dutch auction” tender offer to repurchase up to 4,000,000 shares of its common stock, representing approximately 5.5% of the Tucows’ outstanding shares. The closing price of Tucows’ common stock on the NYSE Alternext US on February 11, 2009 was $0.36 per share.

“We believe our shares to be an attractive investment and their repurchase by the Company to be a prudent use of cash that is consistent with our long-term objective to create shareholder value,” said Stanley Stern, Chairman of the Board of Tucows.

Under the tender offer, shareholders will have the opportunity to tender some or all of their shares at a price within the $0.36 to $0.45 per share price range. Based on the number of shares tendered and the prices specified by the tendering shareholders, Tucows will determine the lowest per share price within the range that will enable it to buy 4,000,000 shares. If shareholders of more than 4,000,000 shares properly tender their shares at or below the determined price per share, Tucows will purchase shares tendered by such shareholders, at the determined price per share, on a pro rata basis. Additionally, if more than 4,000,000 shares are properly tendered, the number of shares to be repurchased by Tucows pursuant to the tender offer may, at the discretion of Tucows, be increased by up to 2% of Tucows’ outstanding shares, or approximately 1,461,500 shares, without amending or extending the tender offer.

Shareholders whose shares are purchased in the offer will be paid the determined purchase price per share net in cash, without interest, after the expiration of the offer period. The offer is not contingent upon any minimum number of shares being tendered. The offer is subject to a number of other terms and conditions specified in the offer to purchase that is being distributed to shareholders. The offer will expire at 5:00 p.m., New York City time, on Friday, March 13, 2009, unless extended by Tucows.

The information agent for the offer is StockTrans, Inc. None of Tucows, its board of directors or the information agent is making any recommendation to stockholders as to whether to tender or refrain from tendering their shares into the tender offer. Shareholders must decide how many shares they will tender, if any, and the price within the stated range at which they will offer their shares for purchase by Tucows.

This press release is for informational purposes only and is not an offer to buy or the solicitation of an offer to sell any shares of Tucows’ common stock. The offer is being made solely by the offer to purchase and the related letter of transmittal. Investors are urged to read Tucows’ tender offer statement on Schedule TO filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with the tender offer, which includes as exhibits, the offer to purchase and the related letter of transmittal, as well as any amendments or supplements to the statement when they become available, because they contain important information. Each of these documents has been or will be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and investors may obtain them for free from the Securities and Exchange Commission at its website (www.sec.gov) or from StockTrans, Inc., the information agent for the tender offer, by directing such request to: StockTrans, Inc., Attn: Re-Organization Dept., 44 West Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, PA 19003, telephone (800) 733-1121.

About Tucows

Tucows is a global Internet services company. OpenSRS manages over 8 million domain names and millions of email boxes through a reseller network of over 9,000 web hosts and ISPs. Hover is the easiest way for individuals and small businesses to manage their domain names and email addresses. YummyNames owns premium domain names that generate revenue through advertising or resale. Butterscotch.com is an online video network building on the foundation of Tucows.com. More information can be found at http://tucowsinc.com.

For further information: Lawrence Chamberlain, The Equicom Group for Tucows Inc., (416) 815-0700 ext. 257, lchamberlain@equicomgroup.com

This news release contains, in addition to historical information, forward-looking statements related to such matters as our business, including the timing and total number of shares to be purchased under the proposed tender offer and our long-term objectives. Such statements are based on management’s current expectations and are subject to a number of uncertainties and risks, which could cause actual results to differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements. Information about potential factors that could affect Tucows’ business, results of operations and financial condition is included in the Risk Factors sections of Tucows’ filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. All forward-looking statements included in this document are based on information available to Tucows as of the date of this document, and Tucows assumes no obligation to update such forward-looking statements.

‚Ä®

TUCOWS is a registered trademark of Tucows Inc. or its subsidiaries. All other trademarks and service marks are the properties of their respective owners.

Tucows Expired Domain Names Now At NameJet

Tucows will now exclusively use NameJet to auction Tucows’ large inventory of expired domain names.

NameJet is a domain name aftermarket auction company that consolidates an exclusive inventory of expired and deleted domains from top domain name registrars and makes them available for auction.

Starting today (February 9, 2009), thousands of daily expired domain names from Tucows will be available for auction to the general public on the NameJet Website.

We’re pleased to be working with NameJet to auction our expired domain names, and we look forward to these names being made available to a wide audience of bidders through NameJet.

Tucows Inc. Reports Financial Results for the Fourth Quarter of 2008

TORONTO, February 9, 2009 — Tucows Inc., (AMEX:TCX, TSX:TC) a global provider of domain names, email and other Internet services, today reported its financial results for the fourth quarter 2008 ended December 31, 2008. All figures are in U.S. dollars.

“During the fourth quarter, our strong competitive position continued to drive both new registration and renewal domain transaction volumes inside of our OpenSRS wholesale services business, contributing to year-over-year growth in revenue,” said Elliot Noss, President and CEO of Tucows. “While we benefited from the sale of our equity stake in Afilias during the quarter, cash flow from operations was negatively impacted by the timing of payables, as well as one-time restructuring costs.”

Mr. Noss continued, “The domain name component of our OpenSRS Wholesale business is exhibiting solid growth, especially relative to the rest of the domain name market. Our launches of Hover, Butterscotch.com and YummyNames in 2008 have set the stage for us to grow each of these units in 2009.

“With our email migration, employee downsizing and more favorable Canadian dollar environment, combined with our recurring revenue model based on high-volume, low-cost transactions, we will produce solid cash flow from operations, which will support our share repurchase programs and generate value for our shareholders.”

Summary Financial Results
(Numbers in Thousands of US Dollars, Except Per Share Data)
Three Months Ended
Dec. 31, 2008
Three Months Ended
Dec. 31, 2007
Twelve Months Ended
Dec. 31, 2008
Twelve Months Ended
Dec. 31, 2007
Net Revenue 19,159 18,240 78,468 74,638
Net Income (Loss) 1,019 (935) 2,075 2,676
Net Income (Loss)/Share 0.01 (0.01) 0.03 0.04
Cash Flow from Operations (229) 2,680 2,361 8,623
Summary of Revenue and Cost of Revenue
(Numbers in Thousands of US Dollars)
Revenue Cost of Revenue
Three Months Ended Dec. 31, 2008 (unaudited) Three Months Ended Dec. 31, 2007 (unaudited) Three Months Ended Dec. 31, 2008 (unaudited) Three Months Ended Dec. 31, 2007 (unaudited)
Traditional Domain Registration Services 14,137 12,574 11,397 9,672
Domain Portfolio 855 831 175 171
Email Services 1,122 1,675 95 218
Retail Services 1,436 1,528 571 513
Other Services 1,609 1,632 417 423
Total 19,159 18,240 12,655 10,997

Net revenue for the fourth quarter 2008 increased 5.0% to $19.2 million from $18.2 million for the fourth quarter 2007. The increase was primarily the result of growth in both new registrations and renewals from our traditional domain registration service. Net revenue for fiscal 2008 increased 5.1% to $78.5 million from $74.6 million for fiscal 2007.

Net income for the fourth quarter 2008 was $1.0 million, or $0.01 per share, compared with a net loss of $935,000, or $0.01 per share, for the fourth quarter 2007. Net income for the fourth quarter 2008 included other income of $3.1 million from the sale of the Company’s equity stake in Afilias. This benefit was partially offset by a loss on foreign exchange of $2.2 million, inclusive of a mark to market loss of $1.4 million, compared to a gain on foreign exchange of $106,000, inclusive of a mark to market loss of $667,000 in the fourth quarter 2007, largely as a result of the significant weakening of the Canadian dollar that occurred during the fourth quarter 2008.

Net income for fiscal 2008 was $2.1 million, or $0.03 per share, compared with $2.7 million, or $0.04 per share, for fiscal 2007. Net income for fiscal 2008 included other income of $5.3 million, which was composed primarily of the profit of $3.1 million from the sale of the Company’s equity stake in Afilias and the profit of $2.1 million on the sale of the Company’s retail hosting assets. These benefits were largely offset by a loss on foreign exchange of $2.8 million, inclusive of a mark to market loss of $2.0 million, compared to a gain on foreign exchange of $1.5 million, inclusive of a mark to market gain of $497,000 in fiscal 2007, largely the result of the significant weakening of the Canadian dollar that occurred during fiscal 2008.

Deferred revenue at the end the fourth quarter of fiscal 2008 was $54.2 million, an increase of 7.0% from $50.6 million at the end of the fourth quarter of 2007 and down marginally from $54.4 million at the end of the third quarter of fiscal 2008 due primarily to the impact of the sale of the Company’s retail hosting assets. Cash at the end of the fourth quarter of fiscal 2008 was $5.4 million compared with $8.1 million at the end of the fourth quarter of fiscal 2007 and $2.7 million at the end of the third quarter of fiscal 2008. This increase in cash compared to the third quarter of 2008 is primarily the result of cash proceeds of $3.2 million generated by the sale of the Company’s equity position in Afilias and the return of $500,000 from escrow on the conclusion of our acquisition of Innerwise, Inc. This was partially offset by the use of cash in operations of $229,000, the repayment of $479,000 of the Company’s bank loan, the investment of $191,000 in property and equipment and the repurchase of shares valued at $272,000.

About Tucows

Tucows is a global Internet services company. OpenSRS manages over 8 million domain names and millions of email boxes through a reseller network of over 9,000 web hosts and ISPs. Hover is the easiest way for individuals and small businesses to manage their domain names and email addresses. YummyNames owns premium domain names that generate revenue through advertising or resale. Butterscotch.com is an online video network building on the foundation of Tucows.com. More information can be found at http://tucowsinc.com.

For further information: Lawrence Chamberlain, The Equicom Group for Tucows Inc., (416) 815-0700 ext. 257, lchamberlain@equicomgroup.com

Restructuring at Tucows

Today we made the decision to restructure our business, which reduced our number of employees by roughly 15%. I have just finished an all-hands meeting where I talked about today’s events with our people.

Our thoughts today are with the people who left us. They were our friends and colleagues, each made meaningful contributions to our business and were liked. We offer them our sincere thanks for their hard work and efforts and good wishes for them as they go forward.

We decided to take this step because of the uncertainty of overall economic conditions and the fact that our performance has been impacted by a number of unanticipated challenges during the first nine months of the year, including advertising revenues being dampened by the weakness in the economy and by reduced payouts to the domain channel by Google and Yahoo, which is in turn impacting domain portfolio advertising revenues and especially bulk domain portfolio sales.

I have also never seen a macro economic environment like we are seeing now. I am old enough to have lived through a number of down cycles but there are elements of this one that make it unique and that will take time to work through.

I am immensely proud of the great work our team has done together this year. The product launches of Butterscotch, Hover and Storefront. The brand launches of OpenSRS and YummyNames, and the smooth email migration to our new platform.

We are luckier than most in that what we sell, domain names and email, is more like milk and bread than like cars and refrigerators. We are also luckier than most in that we generate cash and will continue to.

As we look forward to 2009, I believe we have a strong team who will continue to innovate, to work efficiently and maintain our positive momentum. I fundamentally believe that our strength comes from our people and I look forward to working hard together over the coming weeks and months to exceed even our own expectations.

And again, today, our thoughts are with the people who have left.

Tucows Sweetens Technology Learning with butterscotch.com

New video website offers consumers entertaining video to demystify technology and the Internet

Toronto, November 3, 2008 – Tucows Inc., (AMEX:TCX, TSX:TC) a global Internet services company, announced today the launch of butterscotch.com, a new online video network that offers educational and user-friendly instructional shows designed to demystify technology for the average technology consumer. The website’s Fall lineup features a range of handy tutorials and TV-like shows aimed at making technology fun and easy to understand. Hosted by tech veterans Amber MacArthur, Andy Walker, Sean Carruthers, and Molly MacDonald, butterscotch.com aims to be the HGTV of the technology industry.

Butterscotch.com’s technology video content helps consumers understand and use products, services and software they may otherwise find too techie. The site launches with 35 video tutorials, with plans to reach 500 clips by next spring, featuring tech tips, tricks and “how-to’s” for the non-sophisticated technology consumer. It will also publish mutli-episode tutorial specials that will examine a range of topics such as “Facebook for Grownups,” and “Flickr for the Frightened.” Visitors can also view a news show that features the Internet’s best viral videos, called the “A-List,” “Miss-Download,” a show that highlights the best file downloads on the Internet, and “Lab Rats,” a wacky, tech advice show that already enjoys 150,000 weekly downloads.

Butterscotch.com adds a new dimension to Tucows.com, one of the oldest and most respected software download sites on the web. It further illustrates the company’s goal to provide simple, useful services that help people unlock the power of the Internet.
In addition to consumers, marketers at technology companies and retail outlets can use butterscotch.com content to help their own customers better understand the products they are offering, ultimately providing an overall improved customer experience.

Butterscotch.com offers unique opportunities for marketers including in-video advertising, private-labeled shows, syndication and product placement. More information is available at http://www.butterscotch.com/advertise.html.

“We’re proud of butterscotch.com’s Fall lineup of technology shows and look forward to adding more content that will wow and educate viewers about technology, ” said Andy Walker, General Manager, butterscotch.com. “We’ve expanded on what Tucows.com is all about and continue to provide fantastic content to help consumers fully enjoy the benefits of technology and how it fits into their every-day lives.”

About Tucows

Tucows is a global Internet services company.

OpenSRS manages over 8 million domain names and millions of email boxes through a reseller network of over 9,000 web hosts and ISPs. Our Retail group sells services directly to consumers and small businesses through Domain Direct, It’s Your Domain and NetIdentity. YummyNames owns premium domain names that generate revenue through advertising or resale. Butterscotch.com is an online video network building on the foundation of Tucows.com.

More information can be found at http://tucowsinc.com.

More on the YummyNames Announcement

In addition to the news release about our new service, YummyNames, we’ve also put together a short video explaining what YummyNames is all about with Bill Sweetman, General Manager, YummyNames:

And we also have a social media release (SMR) which is a special webpage loaded with nearly a dozen videos, images, quotes and links about the announcement. You can view that here.

Of course, we’d also like to invite you over to the brand new YummyNames website where you can try a search or two and see what the portfolio has to offer.

One Web Day: One Question

OneWebDay

As part of our participation in the One Web Day project, I thought it would be interesting to talk to some of our people about one of Tucows’ core values: we believe that the Internet is the greatest agent for positive change the world has ever seen. I asked around to see what the greatest change the Internet had made in the lives of our employees. Here are some of the responses:

Bill SweetmanBill Sweetman: I apparently have an “inner teacher” so I love to share my passion and expertise, and the Internet allowed me to do that on a global scale in a highly efficient manner. Before the Internet, I could only reach people in my immediate geographical vicinity. Now I hear from people all around the world who say they have benefitted from reading my blog, listening to my podcast, or visiting one of my web sites. Bill Sweetman is the General Manager of the Tucows Domain Portfolio.


Stacy ReedStacy Reed: Besides the obvious benefits of having a world of knowledge at my fingertips, the biggest changes the Internet has made in my life have been personal in nature. For instance, I can thank the Internet for giving me a humbled ego that desires the knowledge of truth over the desire to always be right, as well as a greater appreciation of our global cultural differences, a bad case of carpal tunnel and a slightly larger arse. Stacy Reed is a software librarian with Tucows.


Adam ElliotAdam Elliot: The main thing the Internet did to change my life was to give me a job! I started tech support for an ISP back around 1996 or 1997 and have worked in the Internet industry ever since. The .com bubble burst when I had a whack of stock options from a buy-out of my former ISP by a huge international ISP which afforded me my first-ever sabbatical, and now I’m working at Tucows as a Credit Card Fraud Specialist which has opened even more doors for me careerwise. I love my job, and I feel proud to be an “Internet Superhero.” It’s an immensely gratifying job. People whom I inform about credit card fraud against them often call me back weeks, even months later, to thank me again for notifying them before they found out from any other source, thus saving them even more identity theft damage. I give all my friends great Internet advice and educate them about Internet fraud so they don’t fall victim themselves. It’s been a great ride so far! Adam Elliot is a fraud control officer with DomainDirect.


Kari DykesKari Dykes: I got stoked on the Internet the first time I IM’ed a friend across the country in the mid-90s, when keeping in touch was the main reason the ‘Information Superhighway’ and I got along. Almost 15 years later, I do everything online; but now and then I’m still surprised by what it can do. In 2006, I hooked up with an organization called Kiva that uses the Internet to connect micro-lenders with entrepreneurs in developing countries. Because of Kiva’s online business structure, overhead is kept to a minimum and admin fees are voluntary for lenders. The money that’s loaned to people is tracked in an online portfolio and returned to the lender through an online refund when the loan is paid back. Plus you can email the business owners to track their progress and growth. Did I mention you can also use it to shamelessly promote good causes you believe in? Kari Dykes is the Customer Success Manager for OpenSRS.


Kevin HartmannKevin Hartmann: Yesterday, I gave one of my friends the directions to my housewarming party. I didn’t give her the directions over the phone, like I might have 20 years ago. Instead, I emailed her the invitation, along with a web link to an online map, complete with colour satellite photographs of my house. That map is so detailed that you can see the colour of the cars parked along the side of the roadway on the day the photos were taken, and all the shortcuts through the back alleys are clear and obvious. I couldn’t do that when I was young. Kevin Hartmann is a software developer with Tucows.


Sharon O'RourkeSharon O’Rourke: As a part time ‘mature’ student at university and a full time executive assistant, the impact the Internet has had on my life is almost immeasurable. At work I can book travel – flights, hotel, car – the works without picking up the phone or leaving my desk. I can order office supplies, arrange offsite meetings, find answers to almost any request my boss can make – the Internet makes it all possible. On a personal level, at university the Internet is an invaluable tool – I can do research from home, find articles and books online and if they’re not online, then I can use the Internet to reserve them at the library. And I have found old friends and classmates on social networks and can now keep in touch in a way that was simply not possible ten years ago. I have to tell you, I’m a fan. I love the Internet. Sharon O’Rourke is an Executive Assistant with Tucows.


Nabil AltaiNabil Altai: On a personal note, since 2003 I have had more chances for staying in contact with some members of my family in Baghdad through the Internet, instant messenger, email, etc. Without the Internet I would have been at the mercy of the telephone network and lines in Iraq, and pay for my phone calls. I also have family members in a few countries that I keep in touch with mainly through the Internet. Nabil Altai is a data warehouse analyst and developer with Tucows.


Jody StocksJody Stocks: I’d have to say that the biggest change the internet has wrought in my life is…banking.

Consider what we used to do in a given month:

  • flurry of bills arrive in the mail. I start writing cheques and noting them in my account book.
  • oops – ran out of cheques. Call up (and then pick up) some more cheques.
  • now, into the envelopes. Hey – I actually have enough envelopes!
  • …but not enough stamps. Gotta go to the post office.
  • Do I have enough in my account to do the grocery shopping? Let’s stop at an ATM and find out.
  • Wow – where did the money go? Transfer some more in and we’ll do the forensics when we get the statements.
  • Speaking of forensics, check out this credit card bill we got!! If I’d known we’d put THAT on credit, I’d have moved money differently.
  • OK – now we have the statements and know where the money needs to go. Let’s go to the bank and make the 7 transfers we need to do to set things to right.

Ouch. I can’t imagine going back. Now, I don’t need to even do half the stuff up there and the other half takes up about 10 minutes of computer work each month, with no waiting in line or anything. Jody Stocks is the Director of Software Engineering at Tucows.

Ken SchaferKen Schafer: Well, I owe pretty much my entire professional career to the Internet. Over the last fifteen years I haven’t had one job that existed when I graduated from university.

But the biggest change I’ve seen has been the ability of my mother – who is now almost 88 years old – to use email and instant messaging to stay actively engaged in our lives and the lives of her grandchildren. She was born before radio, TV and even phones were common and here she is popping up on my desktop at work to see if I’m getting enough sleep and taking good care of the kids! Ken Schafer is the Vice President of Marketing and Product Management for Tucows.


Claire LamClaire Lam: As any technologist would say, you can never be too rich or too thin and you should never live without the Internet. The Internet has affected my life tremendously. First of all, it’s a huge addiction of mine, and going on an Internet “fast” would be a difficult endeavor. Secondly, it’s simplified communication and truly connected the world together. I remember being 10 years old; while my friends were outside playing in the sun, I was sitting at home logged onto CompuServe through my 14.4 Global Village modem, typing on a black and white terminal and watching lines go across the screen. Today, I’m doing the same thing but on a grander scale. The online community is a phenomenon, allowing us to archive our life histories in words and pictures. The Internet has changed my view of life by giving me diverse points of view, made me find love, lose love and offer new ideas that makes the Internet media so rich today. Claire Lam is the Manager of Implementation Services for Tucows.


Heather LesonHeather Leson: Carleton University had Freenet when I started school. I immediately got an account and was hooked. Being a library girl, I quickly realized that my dream to have information at my fingertips was just a website away. Internet access and availability is quickly becoming an essential service. When I think about the wonderful projects out there such as OLPC or Little Geeks, I can only dream that anyone who ever wants to learn or explore can travel online much like a library. The Internet is full of opportunity and big dreams. We really are becoming Pico Iyer’s global citizens when the boundaries are only a connection away. Heather Leson is the Customer Communications Specialist for OpenSRS.


Chris MercerChris Mercer: The Internet has changed the way I’m able to consume media and absorb information. Before the age of the Internet, it was difficult to get instant answers to questions and to experience different points of view on a given topic. This also includes information in the form of media and being able to send and receive music, videos, and photos all over the world. This ability has allowed us to discover potential interests that otherwise may have gone unnoticed, especially if you lived in an area where your social circle didn’t introduce you to those kinds of media. In short, the Internet has given each of us the ability to share our perspectives and interests with the world and to find others who might share our personal tastes. Long gone are the days of faxing photos and making mixtapes. Chris Mercer is a Business Development Manager with OpenSRS.

We’d love to hear some of your stories. How has the Internet changed your life? Post a comment and let us know!

Elliot Noss on the Power of the Internet

OneWebDay

In honor of One Web Day, taking place on Monday September 22nd, we spoke to Tucows President and CEO Elliot Noss about one of our company’s core values: “The Internet is the greatest agent for positive change the world has ever seen.”

And then we asked him how the Internet had changed his own life:

We’ll be featuring stories from a number of our employees on One Web Day on Monday. How has your own life changed because of the Internet? Post a comment below.

Making a Difference in Canada, and Beyond

OneWebDay

One Web Day is being celebrated on Monday September 22nd and as part of our participation, I thought I’d point to some of the great work being done by Canadians, either on issues that affect the Internet or using the Internet to do some good locally and around the world.

Fair Copyright for Canada

Fair Copyright for Canada (Ottawa) – Law professor Michael Geist has been a tireless crusader for reasonable copyright laws in this country and he’s taken his opposition to the latest proposed legislation, Bill C-61, to many places both offline and online. His Facebook group has attracted more than 90,000 people and has spawned local chapters right across Canada. His use of the the Internet to educate and inspire ordinary people about a fairly dry issue has been exemplary. By framing this legal and political issue in terms that individual citizens can understand, he’s creating a grassroots organization that will undoubtedly have a voice in whatever legislation does end up becoming law in this country.

Little Geeks

Little Geeks (Toronto) – Andy Walker created the Little Geeks Foundation in 2006 in order to help get computers into the hands of children who would otherwise not have access to them. People can donate their old computers and Little Geeks volunteers refurbish them, deliver them and set up software and even Internet access. It’s a great way to help young people access the technology tools they’ll need to succeed.

Give Meaning

Give Meaning (Vancouver) – Tom Williams created Give Meaning in 2004 to help non-profit organizations benefit from the incredible power of the Internet. The service hosts fundraising pages for charities, non-profits and grassroots projects. By breaking down barriers between donors and worthy causes, Give Meaning is helping organizations who may not have technical expertise or resources to engage people online.

Akoha

Akoha (Montreal) – Austin Hill and Alex Eberts are long-time friends and entrepreneurs who were inspired by attending a TED conference to create a new type of game where playing could actually help make the world a better place. Using the slogan “Play it Forward,” they’re creating a system that combines the power of play and the social nature of communities in order to achieve positive social goals. The game is currently in beta and accepting new players. Learn more here.

I’m sure this is just a small sample of all the great stuff that’s happening in Canada. Do you know any other worthy Canadian examples of people using the power of the Internet to do good deeds? Post in the comments below.

All About One Web Day

OneWebDay

Since we’re participating this year in One Web Day (which takes place on Monday September 22nd), I thought I should spend a little bit of time discussing the project and its aims.

One Web Day was started in 2006 by Susan Crawford, a professor of law specializing in Internet issues at the University of Michigan. Using Earth Day as her inspiration, she decided that this now-vital part of the infrastructure of our daily lives needed an event focused on both supporting and celebrating it as well as advocating for its protection.

Crawford explains, “Peoples’ lives now are as dependent on the Internet as they are on the basics like roads, energy supplies and running water. We can no longer take that for granted and we must advocate for the Internet politically, and support its vitality personally.”

On the day itself, there will be both online and offline events taking place all over the world, with large events taking place in New York, Washington, San Francisco, Chicago and Cleveland, as well as in various international cities. A number of Internet superstars are supporting the event, including Lawrence Lessig (Creative Commons), John Perry Barlow (EFF), Craig Newmark (Craigslist), Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia), Joichi Ito, Doc Searls and David Weinberger.

This year’s theme is participatory democracy, not surprising considering it’s an election year in the U.S. In my next blog entry, I’m going to focus on some Canadians who are using the internet to encourage participation in our political process, to spread good deeds, to enable fundraising for charities and to extend access to technology to children of lower-income families.

How can you participate? Check out the ideas on the One Web Day site. If you plan on doing something in your city or on your site, we’d love to hear about it. Post a comment below.

A note for our RSS Feed Subscribers

Just a quick note for those following the Tucows Corporate blog via the RSS feed:

This feed will now provide news releases and posts related to Tucows Inc. OpenSRS Resellers (and those interested in hearing more about our Reseller Services) are invited to visit our brand new Reseller Blog at http://opensrs.com/blog/ You can also subscribe to the RSS feed for the Reseller Blog at http://opensrs.com/blog/feed/

Thoughts on ICANN’s ‘Open’ Domain Namespace

I recently did a brief interview with Tom Sullivan of Fox Business News on the topic of ICANN’s recent move to open up the namespace and create a large number of new top-level domains. I’ve been somewhat distracted by personal endeavours for the past month, so the interview gave me the opportunity to really think hard about what ICANN’s decision means for the industry and where it might leads us in the next three to five years or so.

icann.jpgNew TLDs mean new competition:

New competition is a “really good thing” in this market. For too long the registry management space has been dominated by a very small number of players. Lack of choice hampers innovation. Worse, it has lead to increasing prices for what is otherwise, a commodity product. It may not happen immediately, but I believe that increasing the number of competing TLDs will keep rising prices in check, and possibly even lower them over the longer-term. Further to this, not a lot of innovation is coming out of the existing players. .MOBI, for instance, has done some interesting things, but no one is really going out on a limb and doing exciting things with a TLD. Give everyone the capability to get a TLD and I guarantee you, interesting things will start to happen.

The namespace will finally internationalize and personalize:

Since the origins of the Internet, domain names were limited to ASCII strings. This restriction will quickly evaporate as IDN TLDs come into existence and we will see massive growth in non-English, non-ASCII, top-level domains serving various communities. This is huge by itself! Making it even bigger is that the additional choice will make it even easier for regular people like you and me to get a meaningful domain name that relates to our personal identity. When .INFO opened up, the first thing I did was register rader.info because I had missed out on rader.com, net, org and ca. The mass market represents a huge growth opportunity, but I don’t think that .com, .net, .org, and the others have enough upside left to adequately capitalize on the demand it represents. New TLDs and innovative use of existing TLDs will make it easier to tap into these opportunities.

New TLDs are great for trademark holders:

They just don’t know it yet. Right now, rights holders are rabidly opposed to new TLDs because they believe it will create a nightmare for them in terms of protecting against trademark abuse in all of these new TLDs. On its face, the argument looks valid. After all, it’s tough to protect Tucows’ trademarks and copyrights in a small handful of top-level domains. Creating hundreds, or even thousands, of new top-level domains makes it almost impossible for us to protect ourselves, right? Sort of. The UDRP will still be in place to deal with any inevitable abuse, but there is a real opportunity here for rightsholders that I don’t think has been properly recognized yet.

This announcement clears the way for big brands to create their own top level domains and build trust mechanisms into those domains that will go a long way towards getting the upper hand in the rights battles that are occupying so much of their time. What I mean is, Chase Bank will find it a lot easier to create a trusted online service relationship with their clients if they do it within the context of a .chase top-level domain. It won’t eliminate phishing, but it will raise the bar. Over time, I believe internet users will start finding meaning in top-level domains that doesn’t exist today. The same way an average computer user recognizes the difference between .jpg, .xls and .pdf files, they will also recognize the difference between a .com, .fox and .nike domain extension.

New TLDs will force software developers to deal with security issues:

I don’t necessarily think that new top level domains are going to make it easier for phishers to phish, spammers to spam and scammers to scam. But I think there are enough people that are worried about this that it will force the issue to some sort of a resolution. The first step lies with the browser and email client vendors. Implementing URL authentication and verification tools will take some time and trial and error, but I think it will be a great development for overall consumer satisfaction and safety.

ICANN should, and will, get out of the way:

The Internet is a decentralized, unregulated space. Domain names aren’t. ICANN needs to get out of the way as much as possible and allow the namespace to develop its own characteristics along the same lines as the rest of the Internet. ICANN has been a centralized chokepoint for far too long, mostly at the behest of telco interests. This move clears the way for ICANN to do more coordination and less regulation. Strangely, this development comes at a time when most are calling for ICANN to regulate even more. I don’t think that this is either practical or desirable and will have strong negative effects on the viability of the DNS over the long term if they go this route.

This isn’t really news for .com domainers:

Domain names are a little bit like real estate. Quality domain names will always be quality domain names. Short, memorable, easy to spell – all hallmarks of a great name. Great names with great extensions, like fox.com will always be great. But, for specific purposes, perhaps fox.news is a better name? It all depends on what you want to use the name for and how strong your existing brand is. I don’t think that this necessarily leads to any sort of real negative impact on .com name valuations, but it will create new opportunities for buyers and sellers.

Overall, I don’t think that anyone actually recognizes the true size of the opportunity that is facing the Internet. I’m quite excited at the prospects hinted at by this announcement and look forward to capitalizing on as much of it as possible.

Domain Auction Ethics – the Tucows Response

There’s been a fair bit of discussion surrounding a number of issues that happened around the time Tucows announced our transition from using our in-house auction service to working with Afternic.com to provide expired domain name auction services.

In reality, there are three separate issues here, and while they are seemingly related, in fact, they all took place independently and coincidentally.

  • First, there was an incident involving domain names that were won by bidders at our in-house auction service, and then withdrawn.
  • Second, there was a technical issue with our integration with Afternic.com that resulted in the withdrawal of a small number of domain names from Afternic.com after they had received Pre-Orders (but before the Live Auction process had begun).
  • Third, there’s an ongoing discussion about employee participation in auctions.

In this post, I’m going to focus almost entirely on the problem we had with our in-house auction service. Read the Afternic blog for more on the second issue. We‚Äôll address our policy for employee participation in auctions in a follow-up blog post later today.

Before I explain what happened with our in-house auction, I’m going to quickly summarize the lifecycle and rules of our in-house auction. When I refer to “in-house auction,” I mean the ‘old’ Tucows auction platform at http://www.tucowsauction.com/. We’re working towards the final shut down of this service right now because, as of June 12, we‚Äôve teamed with Afternic for expired domain name auction services.

When a domain name that had been registered through Tucows expired, it used to end up in our in-house auction. Domains that were sold in our in-house auction were not transferred immediately to the winning bidder. They were, in fact, placed on hold for 60 days (referred to as the “Escrow period”) so that if the Original Registrant wanted to reinstate the domain name they would have the ability to do that.

In short, that means the Original Registrant could reclaim the domain even after it sold at auction.

If this reinstatement happened, the winning bidder was automatically refunded the amount they paid for the domain name. Specifically, if the winning bidder paid by credit card, the refund happened almost immediately as a reverse charge on their credit card. If the winning bidder paid using their Tucows Reseller account, that account was credited the next month.

Once the 60 day “Escrow period” passed, and if the domain had not been reinstated by the Original Registrant, only then was the domain transferred to the winning bidder.

This policy of our in-house auction is very clearly documented at http://documentation.tucows.com/domainauction/enduser/index.html. This was also clearly documented in the auction documentation available to Resellers in our Reseller Resource Center (RRC).

These rules have been in place since the auction service was first launched in 2006.

Quoting from the documentation:

Escrow period

If won in auction, a domain is placed in escrow and held for 100 days total from the expiry date, with a 24 – 48 hour margin. The domain will be released to the winning bidder at the end of the escrow period.

Note: The original registrant can redeem the domain during the escrow period. If the original owner redeems the domain, the winner of the auction will not be granted the domain, but will be refunded the bid amount paid.

What Happened in this Incident

While we were working on the technical transition between our in-house auction and our new Afternic.com solution, a number of domains – approximately 5,800 – from Tucows’ own Domain Portfolio of over 150,000 domain names accidentally expired. Unfortunately, the script that we normally run to handle renewals of these domain names every month failed. Because of this script failure, approximately 2,800 of the 5,800 names were subsequently and automatically listed in our in-house auction.

To be clear: all of the domains in question were ones that prior to expiry and listing in the auction were owned by Tucows, not a third-party. These were domains that had been a part of the Tucows’ Domain Portfolio for at least a year.

Of those approximately 2,800 domains that mistakenly went into our in-house auction service, approximately 260 received bids from approximately 25 different bidders.

When the Domain Portfolio team realized what had happened, and that a substantial number of valuable domains had mistakenly been allowed to expire, we immediately attempted to reinstate all these domain names through the various methods available to us, as the Original Registrant. Those methods included simple Registry renewals and redemptions.

In the case of the domains that had been won at auction, when the names were reinstated the winning bidder was notified automatically that the Original Registrant had reclaimed the name.

This reclaiming of the names was completely within our rights as the Original Registrant, and within the publicly stated, publicly available rules of our in-house auction service.

This was all done during the window of time (Escrow period) that the Original Registrant has to reinstate a domain name that was sold in our in-house auction.

Three of the approximately 25 winning bidders contacted us about this, and we replied to each of them and explained the situation to them.

That explains what happened, and it explains how we reclaimed the names that were mistakenly allowed to expiry.

Do we regret that this happened? You bet. And we’ve made sure it won’t ever happen again. But, mistakes do happen, and I’m sure you’d understand that we have a duty to our shareholders, as a publicly traded company, to protect the value of the assets contained in the Tucows Domain Portfolio.

There’s not a lot we can do to change the perception that some might have about this incident, other than to explain it fully. I think I’ve done that here, and I’ve tried to make it very clear that we acted in a way that was consistent with our rights as the Original Registrant of the domain names, and in a way that was within the publicly stated rules of our in-house auction service.

Tucows and Afternic.com Team Up for Expired Domain Auction

Tucows has just announced that it is collaborating with Afternic to auction Tucows’ large daily inventory of expired domain names. You can read the full news release with further details or visit our Reseller services site for further information.

To answer some of the questions our Resellers may have about expired domain name auctions, we’ve prepared a video with Bill Sweetman, General Manager, Domain Portfolio, Tucows.


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