.hangout is a Brand TLD delegated in ICANN's New gTLD Program. Google (Charleston Road Registry Inc.) manages the TLD and is its Registry. The proposed application succeeded and was delegated to the Root Zone on 24 January, 2015.
The following is excerpted from the applicant's response to question #18:
"The sole purpose of the proposed gTLD, .hangout, is to host select Google+ Hangouts content. The proposed gTLD will introduce a dedicated Internet space in which select Google+ Hangouts users can link to the content hosted on their respective Google+ Hangouts pages. Second-level domains in the proposed gTLD, .hangout, will automatically be delegated to Googleʹs DNS servers, which will in turn provide authoritative DNS responses pointing the userʹs web browsers to Google+ Hangouts. The mission of the proposed gTLD is to strengthen the brand relationship between Google+ Hangouts and select Hangouts users and to simplify the Google+ Hangouts user experience. Select Google+ Hangouts users will be able to manage a unique .hangout domain (e.g., brand name.hangout), which will be used to host short and simple URLs that point to the userʹs Google+ Hangouts page or specific offering. This mission will enhance consumer choice by providing new availability in the second-level domain space for select users on Google+ Hangouts, creating new layers of organization on the Internet, improving the Google+ Hangouts user experience, and signaling that only select Google+ Hangouts content is available in the domain. Charleston Road Registry believes that registrants will find value in associating with this gTLD, which will be limited to premium members that meet Google+ Hangouts’ selection criteria.
Because the sole purpose of the proposed gTLD is to associate domain names with the Google+ Hangouts product, Charleston Road Registry intends to apply for an exemption to the ICANN Registry Operator Code of Conduct and operate the gTLD with Google as the sole registrar and registrant. As the sole registrant, Google will have the opportunity to differentiate and innovate upon its Google+ Hangouts products and services through its use of the gTLD.
Given the proposed limited scope and use of the gTLD, Charleston Road Registry believes that there is a reasonable case for such an exemption. Should ICANN not condone this proposed exemption, Charleston Road Registry will make access to Registry Services, including the shared registration system, available to all ICANN-accredited registrars.
Charleston Road Registry believes that given its specific use related to Google+ Hangouts, the .hangout gTLD will best add value to the gTLD space by limiting all second-level domains solely to pointing to select Google+ Hangouts user pages. Google, as the sole registrant, will manage the second-level domain eligibility and allocation process. Only select users who meet Google+ Hangouts’ eligibility criteria will be eligible for a second-level domain within the gTLD.
Charleston Road Registry is committed to implementing strong and integrated intellectual property rights protection mechanisms. Doing so is critical to Google’s goals of model Internet citizenship and fostering Internet development, especially in emerging regions. Accordingly, Charleston Road Registry intends to offer a suite of rights protection measures which builds upon ICANNʹs required policies while fulfilling its commitment to encouraging innovation, competition and choice on the Internet."