STG Interactive, also known as the FCR Operator, is the privately-held company responsible for the technical and commercial operation of the Frogans Core Registry (FCR) by delegation from the OP3FT.
STG Interactive and the Frogans project
STG Interactive S.A. is a privately-held company founded in Paris, France in 1999 by Alexis Tamas, a telecommunications engineer, and Amaury Grimbert, a project director, in order to carry out the Frogans project. Their goal: to provide people with a new medium, complementary to the World Wide Web, for publishing content and services on the Internet. This new medium was not meant for publishing Web sites but Frogans sites, a new kind of site founded upon a different format. Each Frogans site would be accessible via its Frogans address.
STG Interactive worked to develop the new medium and to implement it as a new generic software layer running on top of the original Internet infrastructure, alongside existing generic software layers such as E-mail and the World Wide Web.
From the outset, the Frogans project involved two parts that STG Interactive worked on in parallel:
- the development of the Frogans technology for creating, publishing, and browsing Frogans sites. Like the World Wide Web, the Frogans technology was intended to be made available in the form of an open standard, available to all, free of charge.
- the operation of a central database, called the Frogans Core Registry (FCR), required for registering and resolving Frogans addresses worldwide. Like for domain name registries, the operation of the FCR was intended to be a commercial activity.
As the Frogans project advanced, the founders realized in 2010 that there was a major obstacle to the global adoption of the Frogans technology by developer communities and other parties involved in publishing content and services on the Internet. Early testers discovering the project expressed concerns about losing the investments they would make for developing initiatives on top of the Frogans technology. What would happen if STG Interactive were to be acquired by a major player? Could the free-of-charge, non-discriminatory use of the Frogans technology be revoked or compromised? Or even worse, could the whole Frogans project be simply shut down by the major player, leaving in the lurch those who started initiatives on top of the Frogans technology?
After consulting intellectual property experts, the founders realized that their perpetual commitments related to the free-of-charge, non-discriminatory use of the Frogans technology covered the current version only. In fact, there were no reliable legal means to ensure that the major player would perpetuate those commitments for all future versions of the Frogans technology.
In order to remove this obstacle to the adoption of the Frogans technology, STG Interactive shareholders decided to create an independent, non-profit entity called the Organization for the Promotion, Protection and Progress of Frogans Technology (OP3FT) and to irrevocably transfer free of charge to the OP3FT complete ownership of the Frogans technology. They also decided to make the OP3FT the coordinating authority for all future development of the Frogans technology so that this development would be conducted in a neutral, open, and transparent manner, with access guaranteed to all. The legal form chosen for the OP3FT was a fonds de dotation under French law (comparable to a trust).
The OP3FT Bylaws were written so as to ensure that the OP3FT would remain independent from special interest groups and major players as regards its policy decisions. For example:
- the OP3FT's activities must be financed by royalties paid by the FCR Operator to the OP3FT in exchange for the license granted by the OP3FT for the technical and commercial operation of the FCR (see STG Interactive's business model).
- the Directors of the OP3FT must act in an independent and neutral manner with respect to special interests. Thus no shareholder of the FCR Operator nor any person working in any capacity for the FCR Operator can be an OP3FT Director. To ensure the continuity of STG Interactive's activities, an exception is made for the founders, who are authorized to continue in their office as managers and as shareholders of STG Interactive during a transition period (this transition period is currently set to nine years and will end in 2021).
The OP3FT was created in March 2012. Since that creation, STG Interactive has continued in its role as the FCR Operator but henceforth under the terms of a delegation agreement signed with the OP3FT.
STG Interactive's role as the FCR Operator
The role of STG Interactive as the operator of the Frogans Core Registry (FCR) is similar to the role of a registry operator for domain names on the Internet. However, instead of working with domain names, the FCR Operator works with Frogans addresses, one of the key components of Frogans as a new medium. The FCR central database contains all the unique Frogans addresses registered worldwide.
A Frogans address is an identifier used to access a Frogans site. Frogans addresses are built around the asterisk, just like E-mail addresses are built around the @ sign. They can be written in any language and therefore are suitable for naming Frogans sites in all countries.
The pattern of Frogans addresses is short and simple, and contains no technical information. This pattern includes two main levels, separated by the asterisk:
The first level designates the Frogans network, i.e. the group that the Frogans site belongs to. The second level reflects the content of that Frogans site.
As the FCR Operator, STG Interactive provides addressing services to various stakeholders through several major functions, including:
- Maintaining the FCR central database
- Making the FCR multi-stakeholder interface available
- Resolving Frogans addresses on the Internet
- Providing the FCR Whois database query service
- Providing the FCR public data download service
- Publishing the Web site of the FCR Operator
The legal framework applicable to the FCR Operator is defined by the three following documents:
- Bylaws of the OP3FT, which notably present details of the work to be carried out by the OP3FT; the governance of the OP3FT, including the public consultation procedure; and the OP3FT's resources for financing its public-interest mission.
- Frogans Core Registry Delegation Agreement, by which the OP3FT grants the FCR Operator an exclusive, worldwide license for the technical and commercial operation of the FCR. This contract formalizes the obligations of the FCR Operator, including the payment to the OP3FT of royalties relating to the license to operate the FCR. This agreement also sets the fees for the addressing services provided by the FCR Operator.
- Frogans Technology User Policy, prepared and adopted by the OP3FT. This policy presents the legal and technical framework applicable to each category of users of the Frogans technology. It provides a stable and long-term environment for all users of the Frogans technology. The Frogans Technology User Policy incorporates by reference other documents, notably the Reserved Terms for the registration of Frogans Addresses and the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy for Frogans Addresses (UDRP-F) and its Rules.
STG Interactive's business model
STG Interactive's business model is like that of many registry operators for domain names on the Internet. It is built upon fees related to the registration of Frogans addresses in the Frogans Core Registry (FCR).
As the FCR Operator, STG Interactive does not provide its addressing services directly to the holders of Frogans addresses. Instead Frogans addresses are registered and managed in the FCR through intermediaries called FCR account administrators, which are individuals or organizations offering professional registration-management services. The activity of FCR account administrators is comparable to that of domain name registrars.
STG Interactive's revenues are based on two types of fees for addressing services collected from FCR account administrators:
- The first fee is €6 per year for the registration or renewal of a Frogans address. This fee applies to all Frogans addresses, whether the Frogans address belongs to a Public Frogans Network (for example frogans*mySite), a Dedicated Frogans Network (for example myBrand*mySite), or an Internal Frogans Network (for example intranet*mySite). This fee, similar to the fee for a traditional domain name, targets the publishers of content and services who hold the 342 million registered domain names like mywebsite.com [Source: Verisign Domain Name Industry Brief].
The number of Frogans addresses might ultimately be larger than the number of domain names, given that Frogans as a medium suggests focused content so publishers will tend to publish multiple Frogans sites, each one intended to reach a selected audience.
- The second fee is €1,500 per year for the registration or renewal of a Dedicated Frogans Network. A Dedicated Frogans Network enables publishers of content and services to build up and hold a set of Frogans addresses, all beginning with the same customized name such as myBrand
This €1,500 annual fee targets the holders of the 43 million trademarks registered worldwide who will need to have their separate name space in the new medium in order to stand apart from the crowd. [Source: WIPO World Intellectual Property Indicators 2018].
These fees are set under the control of the OP3FT within the context of the FCR Delegation Agreement. In compliance with the OP3FT Bylaws, any revision of these fees is necessarily the subject of a prior public consultation procedure. The fees apply in the same manner to all FCR account administrators, without distinction. No discounts nor special conditions can be granted by the FCR Operator to any FCR account administrator. Furthermore, the FCR Operator itself cannot act as an FCR account administrator.
In order to protect the interests of the holders of Frogans addresses, the fees are uniform and flat. Like in the domain name industry, the fees do not depend on the number of resolutions performed by the FCR Operator for each Frogans site, nor on the usage made of the Frogans sites.
In addition to its expenses related to the technical and commercial operation of the FCR, STG Interactive pays monthly royalties to the OP3FT. The amount of the monthly royalties is equal to the greater of the following:
- 15% of the total amount in euros, ex-VAT, of the addressing services invoiced during the month by the FCR Operator to FCR account administrators, or
In light of these revenues and expenses, STG Interactive will reach its break-even point (estimated at €6 million in annual revenue) when it has sold either one million Frogans addresses or 4,000 Frogans networks, or some combination of the two.
In order to fund its activities before it reaches the break-even point, STG Interactive has raised capital by issuing shares mainly to individual investors. To date, over €33 million have been invested progressively in STG Interactive since the start of the Frogans project, and another €3 million have been obtained through public innovation grants.
For more information
Last update: March 19, 2019.