Verisign has confirmed that it plans to exercise its fourth and final .com price-increasing power under its current registry contract, even as its domains under management continues to head south.
The company confirmed last night that it will increase the annual registration and renewal wholesale fee for a .com domain from $9.59 to $10.26 on September 1 this year. It’s the last of the four times it’s allowed to raise prices by up to 7% in its current contract with ICANN, which expires in November.
The news came as Verisign reported its fourth-quarter and full-year 2023 financial results, which were as profitable as we’ve come to expect.
But in terms of domains under management, .com and .net continued to decline, which CEO Jim Bidzos told analysts was all China’s fault. Domains managed by Chinese registrars shrank by 2.2 million in Q4, leading to an overall .com/.net shrinkage of 1.2 million names.
There were nine million new .com/.net registrations in Q4, down from 9.7 million in the same quarter in 2022.
Bidzos said the decline in China was due to factors such as stricter local regulations and a weaker economy, and said he expects those challenges to continue to hit Verisign’s numbers in 2024. He did not blamed higher prices for the drop.
Indeed, the .com zone file has been shrinking by about 1,500 domains per day on average since the start of the year. Zone numbers are usually a reliable predictor of DUM trends.
Revenue from China was down about $14.4 million, CFO George Kilguss said.
Bidzos said Verisign expects its DUM to be flat this year, with a possible 1% swing either way.
For Q4, the company reported revenue up 3% year over year at $380 million, with $265 million net income, up from $179 million a year earlier.
For the whole of 2023, revenue was up 4.8% at $1.49 billion and net income was $818 million, up from $674 million in 2022.
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