ICANN Halts .Org Sale To Private Equity Group

ICANN Halts .Org Sale To Private Equity Group

ICANN Halts .Org Sale To Private Equity Group

Domain supervisor ICANN ‘withholds consent’ for the sale of the .org domain registry to a private equity firm, following months of protests

Internet supervisor ICANN has confirmed it is withholding ‘consent for a change of control of the Public Interest Registry (PIR).’

Arguments have been raged since November 2019, when it was revealed the current owner of the .org registry, the Internet Society, planned to sell the domain to newly formed equity group Ethos Capital for a $1bn endowment.

In December 2019, ICANN said it “does not have the authority” to act on the matter, since its role is only to “assure the continued operation of the .org domain”.

Consent withdrawn

The Internet Society, for its part, had said the sale of the .org registry would provide it with “sustainable funding” to continue its work on internet-related standards, education, access and policy.

But protesters of the deal including California’s Attorney General, warned that changes to the .org Registry Agreement could allow the registry’s owner to do significant harm to the global NGO sector, intentionally or not.

Also, many protestors were unhappy that Ethos Capital never fully disclosed who its directors or investors were.

And some of the world’s largest non-profit organisations, were worried their online addresses were going to be exploited for profit.

But now ICANN’s board has announced it decision to withhold consent for the sale.

“Today, the ICANN Board made the decision to reject the proposed change of control and entity conversion request that Public Interest Registry (PIR) submitted to ICANN,” it said.

“After completing extensive due diligence, the ICANN Board finds that withholding consent of the transfer of PIR from the Internet Society (ISOC) to Ethos Capital is reasonable, and the right thing to do,” it said.

The Board said that the proposed sale impacted one of the largest registries with more than 10.5 million domain names registered.

“After completing its evaluation, the ICANN Board finds that the public interest is better served in withholding consent as a result of various factors that create unacceptable uncertainty over the future of the third largest gTLD registry,” it said.

Alara Basul

Phytoponics closes £500k equity financing round

Phytoponics, which specialises in the design, development and supply of Deep Water Culture systems for large scale sustainable hydroponic crop production has completed a £500,000 equity financing round.

The £500,000 investment comes from a number of existing shareholders with match funding provided by the Development Bank of Wales as the company’s first institutional investor.

Established in October 2016, Phytoponics is headquartered in Abersytwyth and currently has a technical R&D facility in Yorkshire at Stockbridge Technology Centre, the renowned horticultural research and agriculture innovation hub.

Phytoponics has a number of controlled-environment glasshouses equipped with various configurations of its Deep Water Culture hydroponics technology growing different varieties of tomatoes, cucumbers, snack peppers and strawberries in additional to other experimental crops.

Phytoponics Co-Founder Adam Dixon said: “We’re thrilled to have secured this funding which provides us with the necessary operating cash to scale up trials of our technology whilst enabling us to further innovate as we move closer to realising the commercial potential of what we’ve developed.

“I’m excited for the future as we move a step closer to achieving our mission to deliver the sustainable benefits of hydroponic agriculture at scale through the global deployment of our substrate-less Deep Water Culture growing solutions”.

CEO Andy Jones commented: “I joined Phytoponics last summer and I’m extremely proud of the progress we’ve made over the last nine months. The results achieved in our Stockbridge glasshouses have led to significant commercial interest from some large industry players and generated a high degree of confidence from investors wishing to fund the next phase of the
business.”

David Blake, Investment Executive with the Development Bank of Wales added: “As the first institutional investor in Phytoponics, we are delighted to support the scaling up and commercialisation of the technology. The potential reach for this exciting new solution is global with UK wide and international opportunities already evident and we wish the team every
success.”

Mark Hindmarsh, Phytoponics Chairman added: “I’ve backed many start-ups over the years and have seen very few that have got to the point Phytoponics has with so little resource, in comparison to some of their sector peers.

“To close any level of funding in these uncertain times of the COVID-19 pandemic is no mean feat and I therefore would like to personally thank our new investors and existing shareholders for their continued support and belief in the future potential of the business.”