In order to monitor new website registrations and WHOIS records to predict bankruptcy filings we needed to be able to access a list of new domain registrations daily.
Verisign runs the master registry for .com and .net top level domains (an amazing business). In fact, the the traditional domain registrar business (i.e. name.com, Go Daddy) has much lower margins than most investors realize. For example, the cost breakdown for a $10 .com domain is: $7.85 fee to Verisign, $0.18 ICANN fee, ~3% credit card fee ($.30), leaving the registrar $1.67 before any engineering costs, marketing, and support costs.
As the master registry for .com and .net, Verisign maintains a Zone File which lists each domain and the domains name servers, which are updated daily. Verisign allows access to these files through FTP. Additionally, this site lists the total number of .com and .net domains in the zone file, which most analysts covering Versign do not seem to be using in their company models.
These files are fairly large (.net roughly 600MB and .com ~6GB), and there is domain repetition given multiple name servers per domain.
An excerpt from the .net zone file:
We load these files into S3 daily and after some processing we load domain objects into our Elasticsearch cluster:
This allows us to search new website registrations for keywords such as ‘reorg’, ‘bankruptcy’, and ‘restructuring’ as well for current topical distressed credit names. Additionally, we can search our cluster for additional information such as such as name server trends (domaincontrol.com is the name server for Go Daddy, giving us an insight as to how many sites are hosted and parked on their servers).
We then send an internal email report which lists new keyword registration matches at 6am daily. In one recent report from August 21st, 2016 under the “restructuring” keyword we discovered the website ‘gevorestructuring.com’, which we believe references GEVO:
There is a treasure trove of very valuable alternative data that most investors are not using as it is very difficult to sift through the noise and understand what is valuable for specific sectors and names. This is what Volmanac specializes in and how we expect to continue to drive alpha.
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