See below Epik’s update on Afternic fast transfer status after GoDaddy terminated the Afternic/Epik partnership. Today is the day the agreement was set by GoDaddy to terminate.
Regarding Afternic Faster Transfer and Epik’s Commitment to Protecting our Customers:
On November 6, 2020, GoDaddy sent an anonymous letter stating they were terminating the Fast Transfer option for Epik customers as of January 5th, 2021. As far as we are aware, this action has not been rescinded.
We believe there were several factors involved, including our reports of repeated Afternic security issues with their platform harming both registrars and domain investors who trusted them. Instead of handling it graciously and truthfully, they issued a letter to Epik stating they would simply terminate services to hide their own liabilities, with the mandate that we were to tell no one. They then proceeded to email our customers to state they were shutting off fast transfer with no mention of the reasons why, or the conversations we were already having with their technical team. We believe that other registrars may also be similarly affected in the coming months. This level of arrogance and technical negligence from GoDaddy is becoming a pattern.
GoDaddy’s “win at any cost” policies in pursuit of monopoly status may be the single greatest threat our industry faces. At the same time, their actions help draw attention to the care and processes that Epik uses to protect its own valued customers. There are few major domain investors that utilize Afternic for their fast transfer service. They may list their names to receive offers to take advantage of search results across GoDaddy’s partnership network, but empowering Afternic with the authority to instantly take names is not seen as an advantage for those holding high value names. In fact, it has been leading to regular instances where false approvals put investors at risk to lose valuable domains. In our experience, even with reasonable question or reports of non-approval, GoDaddy outright refuses to take any corrective action. In which case, the actual owner is left at a loss with zero options for recovery.
The key difference is that with standard listings, the owner may have some capacity to approve or participate in the transfer process and transaction. With Fast Transfer, GoDaddy has the authority to sell and process the name instantly without any interaction by the registrant. In most cases, this simply means that they have a technical permission to automatically process and complete transfers. The streamlined transfer contributes very little to added market exposure. The significant problem we saw, was that Afternic had just recently advised that they no longer had the ability to remove fraudulent fast transfer approvals that were never authorized. They were suggesting to customers with portfolios of 50,000 names and more to simply delete all of their listings. In addition, a good portion of their listed inventory was found to be grossly outdated, and/or was never authorized by current owners to be sold in the first place. From our experience, GoDaddy is having significant technical difficulties and security vulnerabilities, even as several individuals in the industry continually try to hide or downplay them. In some cases, users cannot even interact with their platform without restricting access to a specific Chrome version running in incognito mode. These issues are also reflected in their falling service levels, recent hacks, security problems, and multiple issues that they are constantly adapting for public optics in damage control mode.
GoDaddy’s decision follows a string of anticompetitive actions and unusual market behavior now confirmed to be under FTC and DOJ review within their respective antitrust divisions. We’ve seen GoDaddy’s stance grow to be extremely aggressive against a number of companies, most who have been afraid to say anything at the risk of GoDaddy retaliation. This has not slowed Epik, as we are migrating record numbers of portfolios, bringing thousands of the rarest domains to Epik from GoDaddy for premium representation, as GoDaddy is struggling even to keep some of their systems running. You can see a partial summary of issues linked below, that also addresses the start of anticompetitive issues we have lodged with the Federal Trade Commission. Over the years, both internally and privately, we have had many conversations with GoDaddy executives and employees. Many are beyond fed up with the ham-fisted decision making from GoDaddy’s legal team, along with their false narrative propagation from outside influencers. Even with a record share price and market capitalization post one of the most challenging years in memory, their “Open We Stand” propaganda translated to significant job reductions, manipulative phishing campaigns reducing trust of employees, falsehoods regarding price increases, and several heinous decisions designed to marginalize and harm the opportunities for others in this industry. In our direct experience, they care more about dividend strategies than they do this industry, their customers, and even their own staff members. It is beyond disgraceful, and real change is needed.
We understand the incredible tenacity and patience that domain investing sometimes requires, and we want you to know that we will never take your business for granted. We value each and every one of you, and will go out of our way to do whatever we can to help stimulate and bring new opportunities for those who choose to work with us. This is not just a heading on a quarterly report, but the lifestyle that our grateful team and fellow staff members here choose to live by. It gives us incredible pleasure to watch people who dare to dream help co-create new realities and abundance for others. Buying and selling domain names can be an amazing and extraordinary journey, and we are thankful for the experiences and friendships the path constantly allows.
With this in mind, all of us here wish you the best of good fortune, great health, and prosperity in your adventures for 2021. Thank you again for your wonderful ideas, your amazing support, and helping to make Epik a vibrant home for both innovation and new opportunities.
Happy New Year,
Robert Davis | SVP Strategy & Communications