Tuesday, March 3, 2020
About a month ago, Lloyd Mayer blogged about the potential sale of of the .org domain to Ethos Capital, a private equity firm. As of Lloyd's post, ICANN had agreed to make a final decision by February 17.
February 17th has come and gone without a decision. It turns out that the sale of the .org domain to a private equity company has proven, well, controversial. Among other things, people are concerned that the cost of charities' website will skyrocket. These concerns have prompted the California Attorney General to intervene, requesting information about the proposed sale and ultimately delaying its consummation.. At the same time, Ethos has made a number of commitments to assuage the concerns that have prompted concern.
As we wait to see how this plays out, there's an underlying issue for those of us interested in the details of the transaction: technically, to acquire the .org domain, Ethos will purchase Public Interest Registry. Public Interest Registry is a section 501(c)(3) organization operated to maintain the .org domain registry. So can ISOC sell a section 501(c)(3) organization to a for-profit buyer?
Obviously not. But, as Benjamin Leff explains, they can structure the transaction in such a way that Public Interest Registry becomes a for-profit entity, as long as its charitable assets remain in charitable solution. And how can they do that? Ben lays it out in excellent--and accessible--detail here. You should give it a look.
Samuel D. Brunson