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Ethos Capital to Acquire Public Interest Registry (.ORG) from the Internet Society

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  • Ethos Capital to Acquire Public Interest Registry (.ORG) from the Internet Society

    Public Interest Registry Will Continue Management and Mission of .ORG Under New Ownership

    Reston, VA (November 13, 2019) – The Internet Society and Public Interest Registry (PIR) today announced that they have reached an agreement with Ethos Capital, under which Ethos Capital will acquire PIR and all of its assets from the Internet Society. The transaction is expected to close during the first quarter of next year.

    “This is an important and exciting development for both the Internet Society and Public Interest Registry,” said Andrew Sullivan, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Internet Society, the organization that established Public Interest Registry. “This transaction will provide the Internet Society with an endowment of sustainable funding and the resources to advance our mission on a broader scale as we continue our work to make the Internet more open, accessible and secure – for everyone. It also aligns Public Interest Registry with Ethos Capital, a strong strategic partner that understands the intricacies of the domain industry and has the expertise, experience and shared values to further advance the goals of .ORG into the future.”

    “Since the inception of Public Interest Registry, our mission has been to enable the .ORG Community to use the Internet more effectively and change the world for the better,” stated Jon Nevett, CEO of Public Interest Registry. “That will not change. We have enjoyed a long and successful relationship with the Internet Society, and are thrilled that we will be able to continue – and expand – our important work with Ethos Capital while sustaining our commitment to the .ORG Community going forward.”

    Following the close of the transaction, PIR will continue to meet the highest standards of public transparency, accountability, and social performance in line with its longstanding purpose-driven mission, and will consider seeking B Corporation certification. All of PIR’s domain operations and educational initiatives will continue, and there will be no disruption of service or support to the .ORG Community or other generic top-level domains operated by the organization.

    “We are excited to support PIR’s mission and build upon the incredible work it has done to promote success and positive impact for the .ORG Community,” said Erik Brooks, Founder & CEO of Ethos Capital. “As part of our commitment to setting the gold standard of registry operations, we will be establishing a Stewardship Council that will serve to uphold PIR’s core founding values and provide support through a variety of community programs.”

    Mr. Brooks added: “Importantly, throughout the transition and beyond, we are committed to ensuring complete continuity of PIR’s operations and enhancing the relationships PIR has established over the years. We look forward to continuing PIR’s longstanding partnerships and vendor affiliations to ensure domain operations run smoothly and without interruption.”

    Vint Cerf, former Chairman of the Board of ICANN and founding President of the Internet Society, said: “When the Internet Society won the bid to operate the .ORG registry, it enabled a productive and sustainable future for the organization. Public Interest Registry exercised its stewardship to the benefit of the registrants and the Internet Society’s mission. I am looking forward to supporting Ethos Capital and PIR in any way I can as they continue to expand the utility of the .ORG top level domain in creative and socially responsible ways.”

    PIR was established by the Internet Society in 2002 to manage and operate the .ORG domain. Since then, .ORG has risen to become the largest purpose-driven domain used by millions of organizations and others to achieve their online goals.

    Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC is serving as financial advisor to both the Internet Society and PIR. Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP and Proskauer Rose LLP are serving as legal advisors to the Internet Society and PIR, respectively. Macquarie Capital is serving as financial advisor and Morrison & Foerster LLP is serving as legal advisor to Ethos Capital.

    About Public Interest Registry
    Public Interest Registry (PIR) is a nonprofit corporation that operates the .ORG top-level domain—one of the world’s largest generic top-level domains with more than 10 million domain names registered worldwide. As an advocate for collaboration, safety, and security on the Internet, PIR’s mission is to serve as an exemplary registry and to provide a trusted digital identity. PIR strives to educate the global community to use the Internet more safely and effectively while taking a leadership position among Internet stakeholders on policy and other issues relating to the domain naming system. PIR was founded by the Internet Society ( in 2002 and is based in Reston, Virginia, USA. Visit Public Interest Registry at

    About .ORG
    .ORG is the original purpose-driven “generic” top-level domain (gTLD) with more than 10 million domain names registered worldwide. .ORG is open to everyone, providing a global platform for organizations, associations, clubs, businesses and individuals to bring their ideas to life. For more than 30 years, .ORG has built an enduring legacy of trust, preserving an open and secure Internet where diverse communities can establish a trusted online identity and freely share ideas. Visit for more information.

    About the Internet Society
    Founded by Internet pioneers, the Internet Society (ISOC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the open development, evolution and use of the Internet. Working through a global community of chapters and members, the Internet Society collaborates with a broad range of groups to promote technologies that keep the Internet safe and secure, and to advocate for policies and infrastructure that enable universal access. The Internet Society also provides a corporate home for the administrative entity that supports the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). For additional information, visit

    About Ethos Capital
    Ethos Capital is a specialized investment firm that helps transform and grow established companies in today’s rapidly evolving digital economy. Ethos Capital’s Founder and CEO, Erik Brooks, has deep expertise and relationships across the business, technical, and social communities that protect and promote the Internet’s core founding values. As a mission-driven firm, Ethos Capital is committed to setting the gold standard of ethics and social responsibility for registry operations and supporting a globally connected and resilient Internet. For more information, please visit

    Press release: source
    There is also a jointly written blog post on Internet Society site that provides you with additional background to this transaction.
    Last edited by News; 13-11-2019, 11:41 PM.

  • #2
    IMO, that would be the start of decline for .org


    • #3
      Statement from Sir Tim Berner's Lee, an English engineer and computer scientist, best known as the inventor of the World Wide Web, is out now on Twitter:
      I'm very concerned about the sale of .org to a private company. If the Public Interest Registry ends up not being required to act in the public interest, it would be a travesty. We need an urgent explanation. #SaveDotOrg
      Need help? Private message me :-)


      • #4
        Statement out by Richard Barnes, member of the Board of the Internet Society, on why he voted to sell .ORG Registry to Ethos Capital. Richard is also co-founder of Lets Encrypt.
        Hi, I'm Richard. I've been around the Internet for a while. I work for Cisco now, and used to lead security for Firefox. I've published a few RFCs and served on the Internet Engineering Steering Group (the board of the IETF). I was a co-founder of Let's Encrypt and I currently serve on its board. I care about the Internet, and I care about nonprofits.

        I'm also a member of the Board of the Internet Society, and in that role, I joined the board's unanimous decision to sell the Public Interest Registry (PIR), the registry for the .org top-level domain, to Ethos Capital. Since this transaction has gotten some attention, I'd like to speak a little about why, in my estimation, this deal is a good one for the Internet.

        It basically comes down to two things:
        1. The Internet Society does great work protecting the Internet and bringing it to the people who need it most — work that is way more impactful than leasing domain names. This transaction secures that work's future and independence.
        2. Ethos is a worthy successor to the Internet Society as the steward of .org.
        The Internet is bigger than .org

        There's no doubt that .org has a big impact on the online brand and identity of nonprofits. But the impact of the Internet Society is much broader than that. For those who might be unfamiliar with the Internet Society, our mission is as follows:

        The Internet Society supports and promotes the development of the Internet as a global technical infrastructure, a resource to enrich people's lives, and a force for good in society.

        Our work aligns with our goals for the Internet to be open, globally-connected, secure, and trustworthy. We seek collaboration with all who share these goals.

        Obviously, that's a much bigger project than just leasing domain names! Some highlights of our work include:For more detail on what we have planned, check out the 2020 Action Plan.

        This transaction will put that bigger mission on a solid footing — so that the Internet Society can provide much more substantive help to nonprofits than merely leasing domain names, and with more continuity over time. While it's true that running .org provided a relatively steady income stream, it effectively staked most of our revenue on a single business, and required a certain amount of our resources to be spent managing that business, distracting from the broader mission. Especially as PIR has grown over time, this situation has become increasingly untenable. Establishing a more diverse portfolio of investments will allow us to have more predictable revenue over time, and to take a longer-range perspective when it comes to achieving our mission.

        .org is going to be fine

        Many of the current concerns about .org are premised on a presumption that prices will rise, based on a distrust of private equity and the affiliations of some of the investors. Those concerns are understandable, but I would encourage people to look at what Ethos themselves have said about their intentions with regard to .org, namely that they intend to:
        • Make .org domain names "accessible and reasonably priced for all", including limiting price increases to no more than 10% per year
        • Keep PIR accountable to the community through a Stewardship Council
        • Give back to the .org community through a Community Enablement Fund
        • Seek certification as a B Corporation, as a commitment to transparency and social responsibility
        So if we take Ethos at their word, they should be just as good a steward for .org as the Internet Society has been, with robust ties to the community and an explicit public-benefit orientation.

        On the question of the wholesale price of a .org domain, the impact is likely to be very limited. Ethos has said that their plan is to "live within the spirit of historic practice," that is, to manage prices roughly as PIR would have under the stewardship of the Internet Society. If they impose the maximum 10% price increase plan for ten years, the price will be around $26 per year — still quite affordable.

        Even in the worst case, if Ethos considers dramatically increasing prices (which, to be clear, we do not expect them to do!), the Registry Agreement for .org requires a 6-month notice period during which domain owners can lock in a 10-year registration at pre-increase rates. This should seriously discourage Ethos from doing this, because it would take 10 years for the new high rate to even take effect for existing registrants, and new registrations would likely fall off right away. So while there may not be an explicit prohibition on larger price increases, there is a strong commercial disincentive.

        We're all trying to make the Internet a better place

        The mission of the Internet Society is to support and promote the development of the whole Internet. Not the domain name industry, not just .org domain owners — everything. That's a big, complicated challenge. In making this decision, we considered what would be in the best interests of the Internet Society, .org domain holders, and the broader, global Internet. The Internet Society board did not take this decision lightly. We recognize that there is risk involved, and that we are asking the community to trust in our assessment of the risk. As I've outlined above, my assessment is that Ethos is a sufficiently trustworthy partner that the risks in handing over .org are limited, and offset by the potential to put a large pool of capital to work for the good of the Internet.

        When this transaction completes, the Internet Society will be in a stronger position than ever to build, protect, and defend the Internet. To all the people who are learning about the Internet Society for the first time as a result of this transaction: Please stay in touch. With our increased resources, it will be more important than ever that we work together as a whole community. I look forward to working with all of you to make the Internet a resource to enrich people's lives, and a force for good in society.

        By Richard Barnes, Member of the Internet Society Board of Trustees – Richard Barnes is Chief Security Architect for Collaboration at Cisco, helping make it possible for people to work together more securely. He also serves on the boards of the Internet Society and the Internet Security Research Group (the organizational home of Let's Encrypt), the latter of which he help co-found a few years ago. Visit Page

        Need help? Private message me :-)




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