Donuts (company)

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Donuts Inc.
Type of site
Founded 2010; 8 years ago (2010)
Key people Paul Stahura, CEO and Co-founder
Jonathon Nevett, Co-founder
Industry Internet
Alexa rank Negative increase 260,769 (November 2016)[1]

Donuts Inc. is a domain name registry with a portfolio of new generic top-level domains (gTLDs), as made possible by ICANN's gTLD expansion program. It was co-founded by Paul Stahura, Jonathon Nevett, Richard Tindal, and Daniel Schindler. In April 2011, the company was in stealth mode and raising capital; based on the company's filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Donuts raised US$1 million equity financing.[2] Since then it has submitted 307 gTLD applications and secured an initial investment of $100 million in financing, and a subsequent round of an undisclosed amount though apparently it "almost doubles" its reserves. The second round of funding was earmarked specifically for gTLD auctions to resolve its 158 contention sets.[3] The company's headquarters are located in Kirkland, Washington.

In September 2012, Donuts was ranked #14 in The Wall Street Journal's Top 50 Start-Ups for 2012. It was also the newest start-up on the list.[4]

In 2017, the company was ranked #1 on the Deloitte Fast 500 North America list.[5]

New gTLD applications[edit]

On June 5, 2012, Donuts announced that it submitted applications for 307 gTLDs, including IDN TLDs, and secured $100 million in capital from multibillion-dollar private equity and venture funds.[6]

According to Daniel Schindler, one of Donuts' four co-founders, the company originally came up with a list of 3,000 prospective domain names. He said, "We made a long list of dictionary terms, in multiple languages and character sets. We created our own proprietary way of valuing the gTLDs, and that helped us narrow it down. But 307 is still a lot, obviously."[7]

At one point, an article from Bloomberg reported that the company planned to apply for 10 gTLDs.[8] Mason Cole, the company's Vice President of Communications and industry relations explained that the reporter from Bloomberg misunderstood or had miscommunication with Stahura. He said that at the time of the interview, the exact number of the gTLDs to be applied for hadn't been finalized. Mr. Cole also said that the company is well prepared to operate all the 307 gTLDs.[9]

In terms of intellectual property rights protection, the company said that it created rights protection mechanisms for new gTLDs and it will implement an open Internet philosophy. According to Stahura, "The Internet is an engine of information, ideas and commerce, and one that’s not restrictive unnecessarily. Donuts intends to preserve that openness for all users, not operate a ‘by invitation only’ section of the Internet."[10] This statement can be seen to reference the plans of other large portfolio applicants such as Google and Amazon, that are not only applying for brand TLDs for exclusive corporate use, but are also applying for generic terms with no plans to offer public registration.


Donuts signed a strategic partnership with Demand Media in pursuit of certain gTLDs. According to a press statement, under the agreement, Demand Media has the right to acquire some of the approved gTLDs applied for by Donuts.[11] Furthermore, Demand Media's wholly owned subsidiary, Demand Media Europe Limited, will serve as the back-end registry service provider for Donuts.[12]

In October 2012, Donuts announced that they would use Architelos' NameSentry software-as-a-service to detect and mitigate domain name abuse. The patent-pending NameSentry application protects new gTLDs from phishing, malware, spam, botnets and other types of abuse. It is the first independent, third-party resource of its kind for the domain name industry.[13]

It was reported on May 1, 2013, that Donuts will not be pursuing joint ventures in its gTLD applications, asserting that its strategy continues to be focused on securing their applications and solely managing them.[14]


During ICANN 45 in Toronto, auction expert Peter Cramton outlined a private gTLD auction model as a solution for resolving 158 new gTLD contention sets. Donuts co-founder Jon Nevett says that Donuts will handle as many of its contention sets as possible via this method, as auctions will be cheaper and faster for applicants than ICANN's original method. "The cost of losing an ICANN auction is greater than the cost of losing a private auction", Nevett said. "If you lose an ICANN auction you get nothing, zero, you lose your asset ... [but with private auctions] it doesn't hurt as much to lose, so the theory is the second-place guys won't stretch as much."[15]

In June 2014, Donuts' CEO Paul Stahura posted a blog entry noting that Donuts had spent $50 million so far on private auctions for New gTLDs and that it has won roughly 50% of the auctions it has participated in. As the exact figures of most private auctions are not disclosed, it is not known how much was spent or gained on individual auctions.[16][17]

Governmental Advisory Committee Early Warnings[edit]

Donuts received 49 Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) Early Warnings, which represents about 17% of its portfolio. The Early Warnings do not constitute GAC consensus and only represent one government's view. The large majority of Donuts' warnings came from the Australian GAC Representative and GAC Chair, Heather Dryden. She stated that a number of their strings were related to regulated markets and that Donuts had not sufficiently addressed verification or protection mechanisms to prevent consumer fraud and confusion. This arguably can be seen as a result of Donuts filing every one of their applications with exactly the same wording, and not addressing the relevant market at hand. Ms. Dryden issued most of any GAC representative, and also warned some of Donuts' largest competitors, such as Google and Amazon, that they should not be allowed to obtain a generic word, such as "blog", and use it for their sole corporate purposes. Donuts does not propose any closed TLDs and consequently can be seen to benefit from those style of warnings.[18][19]

Public Interest Commitments[edit]

Donuts submitted a Public Interest Commitment (PIC) for every one of its gTLD applications. PICs are voluntary amendments that applicants can create, sign, and undertake along with the general registry agreement in order to hold their registry operations to certain standards. They seem to originally have been developed as a way to allow applicants to appease GAC members that may be concerned about how their application stands as is, or how ICANN will be able to ensure a potential registry remains compliant with its aspirations and mandate as it defined in its summary of its proposed operations in the TLD application. Prior to PICs, there was no clear way of defining operating procedures when moving from the long form essays in the TLD application to the Registry Agreement.

The PICs Donuts submitted largely reinforce the best practices and protections it defined in its applications. The PIC submission process and proposed New TLD Registry Accreditation Agreement controversially include provisions giving the ICANN Board the unilateral right to amend further agreements and restrict registries to working with registrars that have signed a non-existent but forthcoming update to the 2009 Registrar Accreditation Agreement. Donuts notes in its PICs that it does not support these provisions.

Their PICs provide for: open registration policies; geographic names protections; frequent Whois database audits; establishment of a Domains Protected Marks List (DPML); establishment of a claims notification service for additional trademark protection; binding registrants to terms of use that define abusive behavior; reservation of the right to exclude non-compliant registrars from distribution; reserve the right to suspend, cancel, or otherwise take control of names that are suspected or proven of being involved in abusive activities; and maintaining a clear, singular point of contact for all abuse related correspondence.[20]


Donuts became one of the first applicants in the New gTLD Program to sign a Registry Agreement (RA) with ICANN. The company's application for .游戏 (as Spring Fields LLC) was one of the first 4 applications to receive an RA.[21] Donuts has since received many signed RAs from ICANN for various applications.

Sunrise periods[edit]

Donuts became the first new gTLD registrar to announce sunrise periods for a number of its applications. The Sunrise began on October 29, 2013, for nine strings: .camera, .clothing, .equipment, .guru, .holdings, .lighting, .singles, .ventures and .voyage. The period ended after 60 days.[22]

General availability[edit]

Although it is customary to hold a landrush period following the closing of the Sunrise Period, Donuts will instead go directly to General Availability with its current New gTLDs. However, they are holding an "Early Access Program" that takes place the first few days of General Availability. A list of premium domain names will be on sale for at least $10,000 the first day of General Availability, and fall in price each consecutive day until they settle at average market prices. A select number of registrars are offering this early program.[23]

Domains Protected Marks List[edit]

Donuts, in its applications and PICs, has proposed the creation of a Domains Protected Marks List. The service seems to be based on ICM Registry's "Sunrise B" service implemented during the launch of .xxx. In its PICs, the company describes this as, "a trademark protection service that allows rights holders to reserve registration of exact match trademark terms and terms that contain their trademarks across all gTLDs administered by Registry Operator under certain terms and conditions."[24] Donuts' Richard Tindal has since given greater body to the current thinking on the functioning of the DPML, including:

  • Companies can block exact matches of trademarks, and domains that include the exact match of the trademark along with other terms.
  • Each domain blocked by DPML will need its own block, that is, a company cannot block "company name" from being used across all second level domains in Donuts' TLDs but must register each domain independently.
  • The standard for a trademark is whether or not it is listed in the official Trademark Clearinghouse.
  • A domain can be unblocked by a company that has a matching trademark registered in the Trademark Clearinghouse.
  • The DPML listings will be available for either 5 or 10 years.
  • Pricing will be between 5–10% of the cost of a normal registration.[25]

Demand Media has also committed to using a form of DPML for its own applications, as noted in its PICs. The company has close ties to Donuts.


  1. ^ " Site Overview". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2016-11-21. 
  2. ^ Former Demand Media exec Paul Stahura emerges at stealthy Donuts Inc., Published April 30, 2011. Retrieved November 28, 2012.
  3. ^ Donuts Gets Another 100million Funding, Published & Retrieved April 9, 2013
  4. ^ Looking for the 'Next Big Thing'? Ranking the Top 50 Start-Ups, Published September 2012.
  5. ^ "Top five 2017 North America Fast 500 winners". Deloitte. Retrieved 24 November 2017. 
  6. ^ Donuts raises $100 million, applies for 307 new TLDs, Published June 5, 2012.
  7. ^ 'Donuts' startup lands $100 million for dot-brand domains, Published June 5, 2012.
  8. ^ Go Daddy Bets on Windfall From Web-Address Expansion Beyond .Com, Bloomberg. Published January 10, 2012.
  9. ^ A tasty conversation with Donuts, which just applied for 307 TLDs, Published June 5, 2012.
  10. ^ Donuts applies for 307 (yes, 307) gTLDs, Published June 5, 2012.
  11. ^ Demand Media to Participate in Historic Expansion of Generic Top Level Web Domain Name Extensions
  12. ^ Donuts Launches Domain Namespace with 307 gTLD Applications, More than 100 Million in Funding Archived March 5, 2013, at the Wayback Machine., Published June 5, 2012.
  13. ^ Donuts To Use Architelos NameSentry, Published October 10, 2012.
  14. ^ Donuts Not Pursuing New gTLD Joint Ventures, Domain Incite Retrieved September 10, 2013
  15. ^ Here's how Donuts wants to resolve its 158 new gTLD contention fights. Domain Incite. Published 2012 October 23. Retrieved November 13, 2012.
  16. ^ Donuts Spends 50 Million on New gTLD Auctions (June 16, 2014) Kevin Murphy, DomainIncite; Retrieved June 16, 2014
  17. ^ Donuts by The Numbers Paul Stahura, Published June 11, 2014,; Retrieved June 16, 2014
  18. ^ ICANN Priorization Draw, Retrieved December 1, 2012
  19. ^ GAC Early Warnings, Retrieved December 1, 2012
  20. ^ PIC Download, Retrieved March 12, 2013
  21. ^ Announcement 15 July 2013, Retrieved October 11, 2013
  22. ^ Donuts first gTLD Sunrise Slated for Oct 29, Domain Incite Retrieved October 11, 2013
  23. ^ First Seven New gTLDs go On Sale, Domain Incite Retrieved January 29, 2014
  24. ^ PIC Download
  25. ^ Defensive Registrations with Donuts Could be 95 cheaper than normal domains, Published March 12, Retrieved March 29, 2013

External links[edit]