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Ted Cruz has a reasonable beef with Verisign.
The U.S. Senator from Texas, in his effort to win the Republican presidential primary, had to resort to using the address tedcruz.org, because tedcruz.com had been co-opted by someone else. Anyone visiting the .com address finds a picture of Hillary Clinton followed by the text, "Next President of the United States of America!!!"
Verisign runs the dot-com domain, which has 127.5 million registered addresses, according to the Reston, Virginia–based company's latest earnings report. Verisign's control over dot-com is based on a contract with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a nonprofit organization that oversees the web's naming system.
Last month, Cruz, Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis) wrote a letter to the Department of Justice opposing ICANN's proposed contract extension with Verisign to 2024. The current agreement ends in 2018, but Verisign and ICANN are working to extend it now, rather than waiting two years.
Friday was a good day for Verisign and a bad one for Cruz.
Verisign shares rose 5.6 percent to $79.02, after Cowen & Co.'s Gregg Moskowitz wrote in a report that the U.S. government is unlikely to intervene in a matter that hurts Verisign. Cowen's report was based on its interpretation of the DOJ's response to Cruz on Wednesday.
"While the language used was noncommittal, we believe it may indicate a material adverse outcome for VRSN is not very likely to occur," wrote Moskowitz, who has a "market perform" rating on the stock and an $80 price target.
The stock recouped about half its losses from the time Cruz's letter was sent on Aug. 12.
Cruz's side argued that the DOJ should conduct a "thorough competition review" before any extension is signed. That's in part because the government is set to relinquish oversight of ICANN's management process and thus may not have input into Verisign's future pricing of domain name registrations.
In response, the DOJ said it "has been and will continue to be vigilant in monitoring competition issues implicated by its operation and governance."
Cowen called the letter a "modest incremental positive for VRSN."
The extension proposal is out for public comment until Sept. 15.
Since Cruz was defeated by Republican nominee Donald Trump, tedcruz.org has turned into a page where fans of the Senator can donate to his eventual re-election bid in 2018.
Tedcruz.com, which is registered to an address in Scottsdale, Arizona, has migrated to a site favoring Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, from its previous iteration as a landing page that said, "Support President Obama. Immigration Reform Now."
Cruz has been trolled elsewhere.
Tedcruzforamerica.com is the landing page for a humor site called Maple Match, which claims to "Make dating great again." Taking the joke one step further, "Maple Match makes it easy for Americans to find the ideal Canadian partner to save them from the unfathomable horror of a Trump presidency," the page says.