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ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

VeriSign Inc is closing its retail domain name business in the UK with the loss of about a dozen jobs, ComputerWire has learned,

writes Kevin Murphy

The company, which has seen its share of the domain market steadily eroded over the last two years, has sold its 60,000-strong UK customer base to French-owned Amen Ltd, a VeriSign reseller.

According to a memo sent to the laid-off staff of VeriSign retail site domainnames.com by EMEA chief Greg Smirin, seen by ComputerWire, the business has not managed to become profitable in an intensely competitive environment. VeriSign spokesperson Tom Galvin confirmed the memo is genuine.

"The UK marketplace is filled with so many other providers that the cost of acquiring each new customer has made this side of the business unprofitable," the memo reads. "We are better placed to provide our services at a wholesale level to our partners in the UK and the rest of Europe."

While the site domainnames.com will no longer be used for retail registrations, it is believed the domain and some of the technology developed by the unit will be used to provide a registry-level service for registrations made in multiple country-code top-level domains (ccTLDs).

Domainnames.com sells registration for 25 pounds per year and had about 60,000 customers, which implies annual revenue of at least 1.5m pounds or $2.4m from registrations. Because VeriSign is handing over the customers to one of its own resellers, it is expected to continue to recognize revenue from these registrations.

VeriSign's Galvin said no other units in the EMEA region will be affected by the move. The company will continue to provide retail registrations internationally through the Network Solutions business and will sell through its many resellers in the UK.

Domainnames.com will likely be used to provide ccTLD services to VeriSign's partners. The unit built a system that allows domains in multiple country codes to be registered through the same platform. Smirim said the technology "will become the core of the VeriSign Registry's ccTLD activity globally".
© ComputerWireTM 2002 Article Date: 13 Dec 2002

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