2023 top stories: An Epik failure

Epik was a big story for the second year in a row.

2023 Top Stories: An Epik Failure

One of last year’s top stories was still a story this year.

Last year, domain name registrar Epik ran into trouble.

In September 2022, Epik announced that Rob Monster was departing as CEO. This came as a shock; Monster was the founder and face of the company and frequently interacted with domain investors on domain forums and via email.

It turns out there was a reason for the change. Epik owed a lot of customers a lot of money. Rather than keeping escrow and store credit funds separate, Epik used them to fund business operations.

When Monster left, people started to worry and asked for their money. It started a run on the bank, and there wasn’t enough money to pay the customers.

Turning to this year, the company went into triage. It laid off a bunch of employees. Then, customers started complaining about technical issues, including their domains not renewing. It turns out this wasn’t a technical issue; Epik hadn’t been paying the registries. This resulted in ICANN sending a breach notice to the company for failing to renew domains. (Epik later cured the breach.)

One person who was owed money decided to sue.

Despite his absence, Monster continued to have an impact on the company. He and Epik were forced to pay the state of Washington a $10,000 fine for running an unauthorized insurance business called DNProtect.

Then, Epik publicly complained about Monster and asked him to step down from the board. It threatened to sue him.

Epik struck a deal to sell the business in early June. It was held up for a few days until the person who sued over unpaid money agreed to a settlement.

As 2023 comes to a close, Epik has a new (but anonymous) owner. ICANN still hasn’t formally approved the change of control, but it’s business (mostly) as usual at the registrar. It seems most people have been paid back.

Hopefully, Epik won’t make news for the wrong reasons again in 2024.

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