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Washington-based Donuts Inc. emerges as most prolific bidder in Website domain wars

By Oregon Small Business Association

Washington-based Donuts Inc. paid almost $56.8 million to apply for 307 top-level Website domain names, the most of any company, more than Google (99) or Amazon (76). The domain name registrar startup paid $185,000 per application.

The company that manages the Internet’s address system, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), published a list of applied-for domains on June 13. It will decide on which names to approve. In mid-2013, ICANN plans to auction 1,400 new suffixes for Website domain names, expanding way beyond .net, .com, and .org. The last expansion occurred in 2004.

Owning a domain name can be highly profitable. Bloomberg reports that Clover Holdings paid $13 million for the rights to sex.com.

Backed by more than $100 million in venture capital, Donuts applied for names including .blog, .inc, .love, .baby, and .toys. Most are in English, but some are in other languages, including Spanish, French, German, and four in Chinese. Donuts won’t sell domain names directly to consumers but will act as a wholesaler, brokering names to registrars like GoDaddy.

Donuts, based in Bellevue, was started in November 2010 by four men with vast experience in Internet domain management. The company is led by co-founder Paul Stahura, a veteran tech entrepreneur who founded domain registrar eNom and sold it to Demand Media in 2006.

Some worry that Donuts will license websites to cybersquatters. Donuts has already arranged to sell 107 of its top-level domain names to Demand Media, which has been involved in more than two dozen cases involving cybersquatting.

For more, see http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-11-21/donuts-tries-a-domain-grab