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September 20, 2018

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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 Day 3 Monday at the 2018 MERGE! Conference in Orlando, Florida

The 2018 MERGE! conference continued Monday (September 17) at the Hilton Lake Buena Vista Hotel at Disney Springs, just outside of Orlando, with another full day and night of activity (you can check out the day 1 photos and highlights from Saturday here and Sunday's day 2 highlights here).

Above: Monday began with a 9am panel discussion about Domain Name Solutions for Blockchain Challenges. CryptoCurrency Wallet Addresses, Smart Contract Addresses and other resources within the blockchain world use long and complex addresses. Just like IP addresses than are too long and complicated to remember, domain names can be used to create an  important shortcut reference to systems you need to access. The panelists were (left to right): Jodee Rich (PeopleBrowser), Dave Evanson (Sedo), Toby Hall (MMX.co), Jebediah Burnett (Donuts), Jothan Frakes (The DNA) and moderator Alvin Brown (Kickstart Commerce).

Above: At 10am motivational speaker Dr. Rob Fazio (Onpoint Advising) delivered a tremendous keynote talk titled Motivational Currency®: The Psychology of Success. Rob has over 20 years of experience advising elite and emerging talent in the areas of power, influence, motivation and emotional intelligence. He gave attendees success strategies from his book Simple is the New Smart that shows provides a path to success. Rob was also instrumental in starting the acclaimed Hold the Door for Others nonprofit organization that provides resources and opportunities to inspire people to grow in healthy ways when faced with adversity. Their mission was inspired by Rob's father, Ron Fazio, Sr., who on 9/11 in New York City was seen holding the door open for others at the cost of his own life (Full Story). If you are not already familiar with Rob, I would highly recommended getting acquainted with him and his work - you will be glad you did.

Below: Leaning forward, MERGE! Co-Founder Ray Neu intently listening to Dr. Rob Fazio's keynote talk Monday morning. 

Above & below: At 11am I stepped off the domain track to learn more about another subject by checking out a panel discussion titled Cryptocurrency/Blockchain: Practical Benefits and Where to Use It, Where Not To. That panel featured (left to right): Bianca Diosdado (Quire), Michael Palage (Pharos Global), Christa Taylor (dotTBA Inc.), Tony Hall (MMX.co) and moderator Ken Hansen (Farsight Security). 

Above & below: In addition to all of the sessions on the show agenda a number of private events are held throughout show week by various companies and organizations. I accepted a Verisign luncheon invitation Monday that had a two-fold purpose for those attending - to hear about the latest developments and initiatives at the company that operates the .com and .net registries and offer their own thoughts on the most significant current industry trends. Several representatives from Verisign management were on hand including Director of Product Management Ward Bond and Director, Strategic Partnerships and domain industry veteran Tim Switzer (at right below).

Above: After lunch I joined some other longtime colleagues to serve as panelists in a session titled Appraisals, Comps & Aftermarket: How Do We Know What Our Domains are Worth? Seated (left to right) are Joe Styler (GoDaddy), Dave Evanson (Sedo), Ron Jackson (DNJournal.com) and Kathy Nielsen (Neustar). Another industry veteran, moderator Lance Wolak (Founder, ExcelStrategy) is standing at right.

Below: The next afternoon session in the Keynote Hall Monday featured partners Wilfried Ligthart (Digital Blacksmith and Co-owner of Netevents) and Norman Farrar (AKA The Amazon Growth Guy). The two eCommerce experts gave attendees some great ideas for running an online business.

Above: Anyone who wanted an outdoor break after spending hours in the conference rooms didn't have to go far. The hotel pool is right next to the conference areas and the shopping/dining, entertainment center of Disney World - Disney Springs (shown above in a photo taken from our hotel balcony this afternoon) is just a short walk away.

Below: At 3:15 it was time for the Monday afternoon keynote address from Chad Bennett (CEO, Chief Architect, Heroic.com) titled Blockchain Based Cybersecurity: How Cryptocurrent Can Enable the Future of Cyber Protection. Chad is a technology visionary with 15+ years of professional cybersecurity experience. As CEO of multiple technology companies, Chad and his teams have been recognized three-times as Inc. 500 Fastest-Growing Private Company honorees. He is also a veteran of the domain space.

Above: The next half hour was divided into two lively 15-minute sessions. In the first, Meet the ICA, three leaders from the Internet Commerce Association, gave attendees details on the great work the non-profit organization does on behalf of domain owners. Left to right are Legal Counsel Zak Muscovitch, Executive Director Kamila Sekiewicz and Board Member Nat Cohen

Below: I returned to the stage at 4:15 and brought one of the most successful domain investors in history, longtime friend Larry Fischer (GetYourDomain.com), with me. We talked about the latest trends in the domain aftermarket, how Larry and his partner Ari Goldberger put together their biggest deals and the validity of domain appraisals. As you might expect, those 15 minutes flew by.

Above: At 4:30pm ICANN Director of Registrar Services, Jennifer Gore, sat down with MERGE! Co-founder Jothan Frakes for an interesting Fireside Chat. The discussion gave attendees an opportunity to learn more about ICANN, what they do, what they don't do, and how they work to ensure that the Internet Names and Numbers work in a stable, reliable, and resilient manner.

Below: In the final business session of the day Monday, moderator Howard Neu (standing) conducted a panel discussion devoted to Legal Matters: UDRP and ACPA Updates. Seated left to right are Ava Doppelt (Shareholder, Allen, Dyer, Doppelt + Gilchrist, PA), Gerald Levine (Partner, Levine Samuel, LLP), Ari Goldberger (ESQWire.com) and Zak Muscovitch (DNAttorney.com).

Above: On Monday evening the Internet Commerce Association and the Domain Name Association teamed up to organize a dinner at the Benihani Restaurant located inside the conference hotel. Dozens of attendees filled up three rooms in the popular Japanese restaurant.

Below: A close up look as our masterful Benihani chef, Ryan, works the grill at the center of our table.

Above: Some of our friends and tablemates at the Benihani dinner, left to right, Howard Neu, Barbara Neu, Anna M. Bastian, my wife Diana and I.

Below: Like most, we headed straight to the MERGE! Hospitality Suite right after dinner and Barbara Neu had a surprise birthday party waiting for Diana when we arrived. Barbara goes "all out" when it comes to celebrations and this was no exception as she sat out TWO birthday cakes, one with a Minnie Mouse theme that perfectly matches these two ladies who are both big Disney fans.

Above: A second birthday cake insured that no one went home with a sugar deficiency!

Below: A round of applause after guests in the MERGE! Hospitality Suite sang Happy Birthday to Diana. It has often been said that the domain business is "like a family" and occasions like this underscore why so many feel that way. Many life long friendships have been forged in this industry.

Above: MERGE! Co-founder Ray Neu gets a special hug from Diana after she learned that even though he had no time to spare he had gone out of his way to round up the cakes and supplies Barbara needed for the party - and had to deal with a flat tire before he completed the circuit! We've known Ray since he was a teenager and that is exactly the kind of person he is and has always been - one in a million.

As a write this, the final business day of MERGE! 2018 is winding down. I will have all of the Tuesday photos and highlights for you in my next post from Orlando.

(Posted September 18, 2018)  

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