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October 15, 2017

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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 Saturday's Opening Day at the New Merge! Conference in Orlando, Florida

The first Merge! conference got underway Saturday morning (October 14, 2017) at the Orlando World Center Marriott in Florida. The new event, created by NamesCon Co-Founder Jothan Frakes and the Co-Founder of THE Domain Conference, Ray Dillman Neu, is a major step beyond standard domain conferences as it covers - in addition to domains -  related fields included Digital Branding, Website Development, End User Experience, New Business Startups, IP Technology, SEO Design, Security, Hosting, Blockchain, CryptoCurrency and more.

The event actually got off to an informal start Friday evening as some of the first attendees 

to arrive in Orlando got checked in early and started connecting with industry friends in the lobby or over dinner Friday evening.

Above: Some early birds who got together for dinner Friday night (October 13) at the Orlando World Center Marriott on the eve of the Merge! 2017 debut Saturday morning. Left to right are Howard Neu, Merge Co-Founder Ray Dillman Neu, Alex, Ron Jackson, Larry Fischer, Barbara Neu and Diana Jackson.

Below: Saturday morning came with a good omen, a gorgeous rainbow in front of the Orlando World Center Marriott shortly before the debut edition of the Merge! conference got underway.

Above: Merge! Co-Founders Jothan Frakes (left) and Ray Dillman Neu just before opening their new show in Orlando Saturday morning (October 14). 

Below: Barbara Dillman Neu (left) and Melissa Frakes ready to start registering attendees for Merge!

Above: Attendees begin arriving for the start of the Merge! conference Saturday morning. By Monday morning organizers expect to see more than 300 guests that registered for the event. 

Below: The opening day schedule was designed to emphasize informal networking opportunities and deep dives into specific topics. To facilitate that "topic tables" were set up in multiple meeting rooms so attendees could pick those of special interest to them. Here Merge! Co-Founder Jothan Frakes welcomes a group at one table.

Above: Cate Colgan conducting a topic table session on cryptocurrency Saturday morning.

Below: A two-hour lunch break is built into each day at Merge!, allowing attendees time to enjoy the fabulous Orlando World Center Marriott which, with 2,004 rooms, is the biggest Marriott in the world. Forbes Magazine also names this Marriott's pool complex among the 20 Coolest Hotel Pools in the world. Having spent a couple of hours there Saturday we would have to agree!

Above: One of the things that make te OWC Marriott's pool complex so cool are the many activities they have going on for guests. A wildlife ranger came by with snakes, a tarantula and a baby alligator for those curious and brave enough to get an up close and personal look at them. Diana Jackson passed on the spiders and snakes but enjoyed come bonding time with this alligator! 

Below: After lunch the topic table sessions continued but some presentations were also added to the mixing including a very interesting one from LatinTLD President and Co-Founder Alfredo Pinochet (right) and Co-Founder Natalia Viera about  Latin American domain market opportunities. LatinTLD is based in Santiago, Chile. The most popular Latin ccTLDs are currently Brazil's .br (3.9 million domains), Colombia's .co (2.3 million). All together nearly 9 million domains are registered in Latin American countries with most enjoying very rapid growth.

Above: In another of the afternoon presentations that covered various fields, Aurasma's Robbie Adair (standing) provided an Introduction to Augmented Reality with Aurasma.

Below: After the business day most attendees went off to dinner in various locations before re-connecting later Saturday night in Merge's 15th floor Hospitality Suite at the Orlando World Center Marriott. This group took advantage of the beautiful fall night to gather on the balcony for a birds eye view of the surrounding area including nearby Disney World. They also enjoyed the free coffee provided by Coffee.Club. Seated are Dr. Gregg McNair and Jay Westerdal and standing (also left to right) are Marco Rinaudo, Diana Jackson, Rob Grant, Pat Grant, Stevan Lieberman, Larry Fischer and Dave Evanson

As I write this Sunday's day two of Merge! is now underway. I will have all of the day's photos and highlights for you in my next post from Orlando.

(Posted October 15, 2017) 

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