Well, that was fast. Q1 is done and done. As usual, it flew by. Since I find myself on yet another international flight, I wanted to highlight some of the events that I thought were big movers for Q1 2016.
1. Endurance closes the Constant Contact acquisition on February 9th. Details here.
When this was announced in Q4, I thought it was huge. It signaled a departure from the traditional EIG strategy of acquiring web hosts. And it was a not a small departure by any means. It was a billion dollar move that reinforced that EIG is a "platform" and not just "roll-up" of web hosts. The announcement of the deal closing in February means that EIG is full-on committed to capturing their fair share (and then some) of the SMB market. Email marketing is a great path forward to do just that. In fact, we at Weebly did the same thing in Q1 - we launched Weebly Promote ( a built in email marketing solution for SMBs). But again - the big news here - is that EIG should be viewed as a serious SMB platform. This was a huge swing that is bringing EIG very deep in to the day-to-day business of everyday SMBs.
2. GMO acquires .SHOP for $41M as part of an ICANN New TLD auction.
This remains the biggest New TLD acquisition to date. In one move, GMO just told all New-TLD-haters that there is still big money in this game. $41M is no joke. You need to sell alot of .shop domains to get that investment back. But this is what I love about GMO -- they clearly have a strategy for volume + growth for .SHOP. Another observation --> GMO goes big on an "ecommerce/smb" focused New TLD. Yet another sign of a gigantic web host who wants to further embed themselves in the fabric of the SMB market. You have to believe that .SHOP is less about selling just second-level-domains. This is about the .SHOP bundle - this is about GMO selling a well-balanced ecommerce solution to SMBs. Think .shop domain + website + merchant processor + hosting + business class email etc etc. In that view, the ROI from a $41M spend seems easier to digest. Every New TLD Registry loved this move for obvious reasons. However, I am more interested in seeing this strategy play out in the future -- success with the .shop strategy has very big benefits for the New TLD domain business in the long run.
3. Web.com acquired Yodle.
When this acquisition was announced the theme of Q1 was becoming clear -- don't expect the big traditional domain registrars/web hosts to keep buying small hosts etc etc. Nope. Expect more acquisitions that help them better service the SMB market. Expect them to invest in companies that make their platform more valuable to SMBs. This is what Yodle did for Web.com. Its a great acquisition. A successful online marketing company like Yodle is a great fit for the do-it-for-me website business of Web.com. I wouldn't be surprised to see Web doing similar acquisitions of the course of this year.
4. Ingram Micro acquires Odin. Then Ingram Micro gets acquired!
So, lets start with Ingram Micro buying Odin. Not a huge surprise. Perfect complement to the already huge Reseller channel managed by Ingram. Also, Ingram was an Odin customer. Also, not a surprise that Odin was acquired. This was more of a "when" not "if" question. Then, Ingram gets purchased - more details here.
I'm more interested in Part 1 of this story - the acquisition of Odin by Ingram. Will be interesting to see how this evolves and is incorporated in to the overall Ingram business. I'm also interested to see how Plesk evolves in 2016 now that it is its own business unit (ie. not part of the Ingram acquisition). Plesk is back!
5. Cloudflare launched their own Registrar.
On the surface, this may not seem like huge news - but I found the reason for launching this registrar very interesting - Cloudflare dd not have confidence in the ability of Domain Registrars to provide appropriate security for their domain assets. So, they launched their own registrar. Cloudflare definitely has the smarts to launch and manage their own Registrar. I am curious to see if they go big marketing the "security" aspects of their Registrar. Its not clear to me if this Registrar is being rolled up as a "feature" of the overall Cloudflare offering or will be managed like a separate retail business going after very "security" focused entities like banks, etc.
6. Tucows acquires MBIT's Reseller channel
I was at the WHD Global Germany conference when I read the news of this acquisition. This one was very interesting to me due to my eNom Reseller days. Its different from the SMB-focused acquisitions listed above. But it is a big move in the wholesale domain-registrar world. In this world, there are four players (in my opinion):
Tucows, eNom, ResellerClub, and MBIT
Now there are three players left. However, with Rightside's focus on being a portfolio New TLD company, I look at it as two players actively competing in the space -> Tucows and ResellerClub. I think some people thought that with Tucows building their Ting business, that they may be slowing down on wholesale reseller biz. Well, that is definitely not true. They are very committed to the space -> don't forget they also bought EPAG in Germany. So, they clearly are remaining active in conducting strategic domain acquisitions. Overall it is a great move for Tucows - they add another big channel + add a significant amount of domains. This should help them with distribution of their domain portfolio, other value-added services, and New TLD sales.
I hope you enjoyed my summary --- see you again at the end of Q2!