Bob Parsons, Founder and CEO, Go Daddy

Bob Parsons
Go Daddy puts its mouth where its money is. The Scottsdale, Ariz., domain
name registrar is among the most vocal and
demonstrative when it comes to DNS issues. The company has been
embroiled in litigation with the Internet
Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and top level domain
registry VeriSign over the latter’s
proposed tweaks to the DNS system.

The Go Daddy Group of companies, which includes Wild West Domains, Domains
by Proxy, Starfield Technologies and Blue
Razor Domains, says that more than 5.4 million domain names under its
management make it the second largest registrar
in the business.

Bob Parsons, the company’s founder and CEO, sat down with
internetnews.com on a recent trip to San Francisco to try and
shed some light on where the DNS system is going — and where it’s going
wrong.

Q: What’s your beef with VeriSign?

VeriSign received the charter to be a registry. They should be a registry.
They get involved with these schemes to make
a buck — like SiteFinder. They put an asterisk in the DNS system, so they
get rerouted for all the typos, and call it
technical innovation. Well, I don’t think so, and I don’t think anyone else
thinks so. It’s the same with the WLS system.
They’re going to destroy the entire backorder market, charging $24 a name to
the registrar, which will get marked up to
the consumer.

It’s a bad deal. If the price was much better, and it didn’t obsolete a
whole industry, I’d probably support it. It’s the
typical thing you see coming from a monopoly.

Q: But from the end user’s point of view, under the current system, if I
really want a domain name, I’d have to place
a backorder with each of the registrars. I have no way of knowing whether or
not I’m next in line.

You’ll find most of the names that are strongly contended never become free;
they’re bought and sold privately. The
rest, the ones that are not contended, I can almost assure you there
wouldn’t be any backorders on it.

Q: But is preserving your industry a valid reason to stop the WLS?

Maybe it’s not a valid reason overall, but it is a reason. VeriSign
was hired to be the registry. That’s what
their job is. It isn’t their job to set their own prices that have nothing
to do with market pressures, and set the terms
too. That’s wrong.

Q: Are you still wrangling with ICANN over VeriSign’s SiteFinder, which
redirects misspelled URLs to a VeriSign page?

P: They had their subcommittee come back through, and it said SiteFinder
indeed is a very bad idea, should not be done by
VeriSign and is a violation of VeriSign’s charter as a registry. They
agreed to be a registry, not to sell advertising
through the DNS system. Go Daddy independently filed a suit against VeriSign
when SiteFinder was three days old. We threw
down the gauntlet in Phoenix and said, “this is wrong.” We took a stand. The
other thing we did, right after VeriSign sued
ICANN, we pledged $100,000 to ICANN to help with its legal fees.

Q: Is ICANN broken?

ICANN has never been given a chance. Look, you have the Internet and the
whole domain name system. Then, you have this
little corporation that gets about $9 million in funding, and they’re going
to oversee it? The job is too big. When they
stepped up and told VeriSign to take SiteFinder down, they finally grew
teeth.

They came back and said, “We want to do the job that we’re here for, start
supervising the registrars and, in addition,
accrediting them.”

Keep in mind there are over 200 registrars, and not one has ever been
decredited. I can tell you, there’s a number that
beg to be decredited. ICANN has never done it because it never had the
budget. They want a 100 percent increase in their
budget. To me, $17 million to manage the Internet sounds pretty cheap.

Q: End users, domain name registrants, will end up paying that,
right?

It will come from registration fees of 25 cents a name based on domain name
years, and inevitably, it will be passed along
to registrants. Registrar’s fees would be doubling. Because of Go Daddy’s
position, we’d be paying the lion’s share. But I
see it as something that is not only a good idea, but is sorely needed.

Q: But you said ICANN doesn’t have teeth.

We’re working on giving them teeth. First of all, I think the Department of
Commerce is ready to step up and do whatever
makes sense, but everything starts at ICANN. If ICANN has just a small
skeleton staff, what’s going to happen?

Q: Is spam a registrar’s issue or an ISP/e-mailer issue?

Everything starts with the domain name. We are probably the most proactive
registrar when it comes to suppressing spam.
If someone reports to us a domain that’s spamming, we look into it and, if
it’s true, boom, that thing is redirected and
done. You’d better get a new domain name. But we’re the exception. If all
the registrars would work together, spam probably
would be a fraction of what it is.

Q: What else can registrars do to help stop spam besides quickly closing
down any domains generating it?

Maintain a cross database of offenders.

Q: ISPs do that, and it hasn’t been that effective.

Nothing is going to be effective unless everybody is working on it. If you
have half the guys working on it, and half the
guys won’t, it doesn’t take a spammer long to figure out where to go.

Q: The registrar business is pretty wild and woolly. Isn’t it hard to get
this bunch of independent people to work
together?

If ICANN is strong, yes. If they’re weak, forget it. You’re lucky if you get
two guys to cooperate.

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