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August 27, 2012

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Here's the The Lowdown from DN Journal,
updated daily
to fill you in on the latest buzz going around the domain name industry. 

The Lowdown is compiled by DN Journal Editor & Publisher Ron Jackson.

Photos & Highlights From the Closing Day at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York Including Annual Award Winners & Moniker Auction Results

The T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York conference concluded with a very busy day Wednesday at the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott. Technically the show ends this morning with a casual farewell breakfast for those still in the Big Apple and a T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Board of Advisors meeting that is also open to all registrants. However, the show's business schedule ended Wednesday evening with the close of Moniker's live domain auction.

The day began at 10am with one of the most interesting sessions of the week, Inside the Candy.com Deal, that featured both the seller of the $3 million domain, T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founder Rick Schwartz, and the buyers, Joe Melville and Greg Balestrieri of the Melville Candy Company.

Joe Melville (left) and Greg Balestrieri (right) of the Melville Candy Company gave 
Rick Schwartz
a bonus Wednesday morning. On top of the $3 million they paid for 
Candy.com
, the duo presented Schwartz with a giant lollipop to commemorate the deal. 

Both sides detailed how the often contentious negotiations led to a deal and Schwartz, who is known as one of the shrewdest negotiaters in the domain industry, revealed some of the tactics he has used in this and other landmark deals (like the $750,000 sale of iReport.com to CNN) to earn top dollar for his domains. I'll detail those in a comprehensive show review article we will be publishing before the end of the month.

Next up was a busy two-hour brunch, sponsored by EuroDNS, that featured an array of speakers plus the main event - presentation of the annual T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Awards.  The speakers included Gregg McNair (who is profiled in our current Cover Story), who spoke on behalf of The Water School, a great charitable organization that the industry has been rallying behind. 

I delivered a report on aftermarket domain sales through the first three quarters of this year. The numbers I cited are detailed in our latest monthly newsletter. I also had the singular honor of seeing Bobbleheads.com founder Warren Royal unveil a new Ron Jackson bobblehead doll during the brunch. Royal had one placed at every table setting so let me take this opportunity to apologize in advance for any indigestion that may have caused!

Royal, who is a dedicated domain owner/developer, introduced the company's first domain industry bobblehead last year in New York with a Rick Schwartz doll. He decided to follow up on the theme this year and I was certainly humbled that he chose to add me to his extensive inventory at Bobbleheads.com. In addition to retailing countless bobblehead figures, Royal has increasingly moved into manufacturing and recently inked a deal with the estate of the late Dr. Martin Luther King to produce and sell a commemorative bobblehead doll that will be available at the King Center in Atlanta among other outlets.

Ron Jackson bobblehead doll that was 
introduced by Bobbleheads.com Wednesday

The highlight of the Wednesday brunch was the presentation of the annual T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Awards. Honors went out in 8 categories and veteran domain investor Michael Berkens, who also writes a popular blog at TheDomains.com, picked up trophies in two of those. Berkens joined the Castello Brothers (David and Michael) as this year's inductees into the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Hall of Fame and also picked up the top individual award - Domainer of the Year.

Above (left to right): T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founder Howard Neu
Domainer of the Year Michael Berkens and his fellow Hall of Fame
 inductees David Castello and Michael Castello, and Rick Schwartz.

The award winners were all chosen in open balloting. Here are the winners in six other categories:

Sponsor Of The Year - Parked.com
Best Overall Domain Soultion - Sedo.com
Best New Monetizing Solution - Above.com 
Best Developer Of The Year - Shaun Pilford
Best Domain News Blog - DNJournal.com
The “We Get It” Award - Melville Candy Company/Candy.com

We will have photos of all of the award winners in our upcoming conference review article.

Also at the Wednesday brunch, Rick Latona (now a T.R.A.F.F.I.C. partner with Schwartz and Neu) released the full schedule for T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conferences in 2010. There will be six events, two in the U.S. and four international shows. Here is the complete line up:

Las Vegas - January 21-23
Milan, Italy - April 27-29
Vancouver, Canada - June 15-18
Dublin, Ireland - August 24-26
Miami (South Beach) - October 17-19
Hong Kong - November 15-16

The Wednesday afternoon schedule included a pair of panel discussions. The first, called Blog Roll, featured Man on the Street video interviews conducted by Howard Neu in Florida before the show, with the panelists (industry reporters and bloggers) then commenting on the sometimes surprising street sentiment expressed in the videos on three topics. Those were the interviewees' preferred computer operating systems and search engines (Mac rapidly gaining ground on Windows and Google trouncing Yahoo in search), preferred social media outlets (Facebook in a landslide) and their preferred source for news (the Internet overwhelming traditional media).

Blog Roll panelists (from left to right): Rick Latona (RickLatona.com), Elliot Silver (ElliotsBlog.com), Michael Berkens (TheDomains.com), Owen Frager (FragerFactor.com), Ron Jackson (DNJournal.com), Rick Schwartz (RicksBlog.com) and moderator Howard Neu.

The final session of the show was a Meeting of the Chiefs, with seven top level company executives fielding questions about the current state and future of domain monetization from four panelists; Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds, Gregg McNair, Ron Jackson and Lonnie Borck. The executive team featured Divyank Turakhia (Skenzo), Pete Lamson (NameMedia), Ammar Kubba (TrafficZ), Peter Celeste (Oversee.net), Kevin Ham (Reinvent), Sean Moriarty (DDC.com) and Donny Simonton (Parked.com). I'll have details on that wide ranging discussion in our upcoming conference review article.

The conference closed with Moniker.com's final T.R.A.F.F.I.C. live domain auction (Rick Latona Auctions will become the exclusive T.R.A.F.F.I.C. auction services provider in 2010).

Scene from Moniker's live domain auction Wednesday in New York.

With total sales coming in at approximately $412,150, the Moniker auction didn't fare as well as the Rick Latona sale the previous day that netted well over $1 million. Some frequent auction buyers in the audience told me they passed on many names in the Moniker event because they felt the reserves were set too high. The biggest sale was Multivitamins.com at $45,000 (the Latona auction Tuesday had been topped by Rio.com at $450,000). 

While we have given you a daily capsule view of T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York in our Lowdown posts this week, there is a lot more to tell you about. We will do that in a comprehensive show review article that we will begin work on soon after returning to our home base in Florida. Look for it by the end of next week (the article will be posted on our home page just below the current Cover Story). We are going to stay over in New York for an extra day to catch a Broadway show and a little extra sleep - something that will be a special treat after three non-stop days and nights in the Big Apple. It was time very well spent though and I would certainly do it again (and will when T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Las Vegas rolls around in January). 

One more bit of domain conference news. Organizers of the DOMAINfest Global conference, coming up January 26-28 in Santa Monica, California, have announced that attendees will be treated to a night out at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles for the second year in a row. As they did last January, DomainSponsor, the domain monetization division of show organizer Oversee.net, has arranged for their guests to take part in a charity fundraising party and accompanying celebrity auction. The 2010 event will benefit Jenny McCarthy’s autism organization Generation Rescue.

We snapped the adjacent photo at the 2009 DOMAINfest Global Party at the Playboy Mansion. The world famous estate covers over 5 acres in the Holmby Hills section of Los Angeles. We will of course be at the 2010 event as well.

(Posted Oct. 29, 2009)


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