Today, the Public Interest Registry (PIR), which maintains the .org top-level domain, announced that it will be acquired by Ethos Capital, a private equity firm (via Domain Name Wire). This move will make PIR, previously a non-profit domain registry, officially part of a for-profit company — which certainly seems at odds with what .org might represent to some. Originally, “.org” was an alternative to the “.com” that was earmarked for commercial entities, which lent itself to non-profit use.
That’s not all: On June 30th, ICANN, the non-profit that oversees all domain names on the internet, agreed to remove price caps on rates for .org domain names — which were previously pretty cheap. Seems like something a for-profit company might want.
Removing price caps wasn’t exactly a popular idea when it was first proposed on March 18th. According to Review Signal, only six of the more than 3,000 public comments on the proposal were in favor of the change.
In an “open letter” published on May 1st, just days after the comment period had closed, PIR said that it had “no specific plans for any price increases for .org.” And, in a statement, Ethos said that it plans to “live within the spirit of historic practice when it comes to pricing, which means, potentially, annual price increases of up to 10 percent on average” — which typically equates to about $1 per year. But if those plans change, and if the rates for .org domains do go up significantly in the future, it could affect non-profits and institutions that rely on low domain name fees to maintain their websites.
.info and .biz, which also used to have price caps, had them removed this year as well.
Update November 25th, 2:05PM ET: Added statement from Ethos Capital.