Quick Chat with Robbie Birkner (Founder, Chief Strategy Officer) Hexonet
Q1) Robbie can you tell us your background in the domaining
Thank you very much for this interview and for allowing us to
provide you some background on HEXONET.
I have been working in the Domain industry for over 12 years
specializing mainly in registrar operations. My career started back
in 2000 with a small registrar that no body knew about. With a good
friend of mine, Jens Wagner, we took this small registrar and grew
its reseller division into a multimillion dollar operation. Today
that small registrar is now one of Europe's largest and is a major
In 2006, I left Germany to pursue an opportunity with DomainPeople
Inc., a pioneer and one of the industry's first ever registrars. I
was to head up DomainPeople in Vancouver, Canada and be an executive
in its parent company Hostway. Within a year, I was promoted to
General Manager of Canadian Operations of Hostway. And though
Hostway was a great experience, in May of 2008, I decided to consult
for the .ME registry as the Director of Sales. Hosting was an
experience, but I really wanted to get back to my roots and passion
which was always domains. So at .ME, the fantastic team and I went
through a number of highly successful launch phases, built out an
amazing registrar distribution channel, and even executed a premium
domain strategy that produced multiple high value domain auctions
for the registry.
In 2009, Jens Wagner and I decided to get back together and open the
Canadian division of HEXONET. Jens, had also moved on and was
building another great registrar and reseller business – HEXONET.
And though he had an amazing technical team of engineers and support
personnel, we knew that by combining forces once again, we could
take HEXONET into overdrive. The growth, success and fun we have
had with HEXONET has since been amazing. Most of this is however
due to the amazing employees we have who are all truly HEXONERDS.
thinking about opening an account ?
That is an excellent question. There are multiple reasons for
1. Though it is a cliche, we actually care about our partners and
customers. Our clients will tell you that HEXONET goes above and
beyond. Our clients let us know what they need and if it is
possible we try to make it happen. This is our passion and drive.
2. HEXONET makes domains super easy. The idea is to offer a wide
(one of the widest anywhere) selections of TLDs with some of the
most competitive prices connected through a single interface.
Companies, resellers, and clients come to HEXONET to consolidate and
simplify their domains under a single roof.
3. HEXONET also offers multiple ways to connect with us, whatever
way is most simple for the client. Clients connect with us through
our 6 different APIs, two different plugin modules (WHMCS/AWBS) or
our comprehensive and free web control panel.
4. Large resellers or domainers with big portfolios come to us to
become an ICANN accredited registrar. We provide an efficient
solution for them via our registrarOC (registrar Operations Center)
product, that basically takes care of everything technical
(operational testing, WHOIS Services, Registrar Data Escrow, and
more) so they can easily become their own registrar.
At the end of the day, business is always personal. Our clients
appreciate the fact that we are approachable and that we are willing
to listen to their needs. Customer service and personal relations
always trumps technology.
Q3) Can you explain the process for placing back
orders and how things work at PremiumSale.com ?
HEXONET accepts backordering directly through an individual's own
account or through a reseller for the following TLDs:
– gTLDs: .ASIA, .BIZ, .COM, .INFO, .MOBI, .NET and .ORG
– ccTLDs: .CA, .CC, .CH, .CO, .DE, .LI, .ME, .NU, .SE, .TV and .US
Step 1: Search for a domain by looking through our various
DELETE LISTS. The lists provide deletion dates and also rank values
(based on a HEXONET algorithm). Simply choose from the list or
enter any domain (even if the domain is not expiring).
Step 2: 24-hours prior to the drop date of a domain, a
deposit is withdrawn from a user's account to cover a successful
backorder registration. If the backorder is unsuccessful, the
deposit is automatically returned. If the backorder is the only one
on system (single backorder) and is successfully registered, the
deposit is used for registration and the domain is automatically
assigned to the user's account.
Step 3: When multiple backorders are received for the
same expiring domain and HEXONET is successful in registering the
desired domain, then the following steps are taken:
– All deposits are immediately returned to their respective accounts
– Only those individuals who placed a backorder for the domain
receive a PRIVATE AUCTION invitation (via email) to be conducted at
– At the conclusion of a private auction and payment is secured at
PremiumSale.com, the domain is automatically allocated to the
HEXONET account of the winning bidder.
A significant feature of Backordering at HEXONET is our reseller
backorder commissions. Resellers like promoting backordering to
their customers since they could possibly earn fairly large
commissions without doing anything. And larger portfolio clients
happily use the commission as a direct rebate savings on their
As a side note to our backorder system, though obtaining .COM and
.NET domains is more a pure numbers (threads) game, many of our
customers are reporting that our system seems to be better at
obtaining domains from other TLD registries. HEXONET does use a
propitiatory algorithm for these other TLDs and has historically
seen many good results.
Q4) What are the challenges you see in the registrar
I foresee multiple challenges for registrars:
a. Renegotiation of Registrar Accreditation Agreement with ICANN.
Registrars are likely to have increasingly more difficult
obligations surrounding WHOIS Verification. The additional
verification burden on the registrars will raise operating costs and
will likely result in higher prices.
b. NewTLDs – Preparation and Customer Education
The first few hundred newTLDs are just around the corner.
Registrars need to figure out which newTLDs to offer. Depending on
their operational platform, this may be a simple endeavor or
something more difficult (technology barriers, engineering
resources, etc.). Additionally, registrars need to find ways to
present the newTLDs that make sense. Ideally, asking 3-5 questions
in the domain search could produce more meaningful options for the
customer, but unfortunately this takes way too long. As you see, at
HEXONET we are already experimenting with solutions to this problem.
c. Shrinking Margins – Outsourcing
Margins are shrinking and as a result the challenge is how to lower
your costs. This exact problem is why many of HEXONET clients are
registrars themselves. Outsourcing is a path that makes a lot of
economical sense since at least with HEXONET there is zero upfront
capital cost and registrars pay on a per domain basis. A challenge
for each registrar is to identify which operations to keep in-house
and which to outsource.
registrations and why do you think someone should register a new
NewTLDs are here to stay, so HEXONET recently launched an
Expression-of-Interest (EOI) service for newTLDs. Our EOI service
is necessary to learn from our customers, which newTLDs they are
interested in. Since our EOI service is available via API and
Control Panel, we can check the demand for certain newTLDs all the
way down to our resellers and our reseller's customers. This
information will help us to plan our prepare properly with the right
documentation, education, reseller marketing, and technical
resources when the newTLDs become reality.
Some TLDs will be very successful, others will not. However, we
believe that some newTLDs will actually drive innovation on the
Internet and will make substantial impacts on our industry.
HEXONET's role as a registrar remains the same, to enable
individuals/corporations worldwide to register and manage their
domains, quickly, securely, and reliably.
Ray, once again thank you so much for this opportunity. I greatly
appreciated it. If anyone has any additional questions they should
feel free to email me directly at email@example.com.