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NamesCon's Soeren von Varchmin & Helga Neumer Reveal What's in Store for Revamped Global Event in Austin

By Ron Jackson

A New Year always represents an opportunity for a fresh start in one's personal life or business enterprise. It's a time when many of us resolve to take a different approach that will help us reach our ultimate goals. The start of a new decade - this century's version of The Twenties - makes this moment seem like an especially auspicious point in time to plow new ground. 

It is obvious that the organizers of the NamesCon Global 2020 conference coming up January 29 - February 1 in Austin, Texas, have decided to seize the opportunity. In addition to moving the industry's marquee event from Las Vegas to Austin, one of America's fastest growing and most energetic entrepreneurial cities, the conference itself has been re-imagined as The Domain Economic Forum. To find out exactly what that will mean for those going to Austin,

we connected with NamesCon CEO Soeren von Varchmin and the Head of NamesCon Operations, Helga Neumer, to get the details. Soeren got the ball rolling by explaining how the concept for a broader "domain economic forum" came about:

NamesCon CEO Soeren von Varchmin

Soeren von Varchmin: Itís become clear over the last few years that some big-picture issues have to be examined, and NamesCon is the best place to do it. Two main questions came up: what are the real economic forces that are shaping the domain industry, and what can we as companies and individuals can do to move this industry forward? No matter where you fit into this exciting industry, youíll find out how you can take real steps toward making this happen. Austin is the perfect place for this, because itís the startup capital of the universe right now! Early-stage startups releasing their products for the first time are primed to acquire the domain name they actually need. The idea here is, letís get everyone in the same room.

Helga Neumer: Also, Austin is a very walkable city, with lots of live music and great places to go out at night. This will make for a really fun social calendar!

DNJournal: In looking at the agenda that stretches over three full days of business, one of the first major changes one sees is the establishment of two clearly defined tracks - one aimed at newcomers and one for industry pros (though attendees can go to any session on either track and everyone will be brought together for special events, like the keynotes). In the past we've seen everything from shows with a single track for all attendees to conferences that could have an many as five sessions going on at once. Why did you settle on this streamlined two-track approach and the information that would be offered on each?

Soeren: The agenda is more focused than itís ever been, but itís important for everyone in this industry to feel welcome and empowered. This means getting newcomers up to speed quickly so they can participate in some of the sessions happening later in the conference. The tracks were created as a pathway to answering the key questions I mentioned earlier.

A scene from one of the panel discussions at the 2019 NamesCon Global conference.

DNJournal: The names of the speakers for nearly all of the sessions have now been posted on the NamesCon website. Among the dozens of sessions, talks and events on the agenda , I know you are excited about all of them but what are some you think will be especially valuable for 2020 attendees?

Soeren: The Transparent Calculation Series may not sound super-sexy, but itís really important! Along with a session called Where Does the Money Come From?, weíre making some of the invisible forces around domaining visible for the first time. Weíre also running a session on estate planning for domainers. Many domainers have been active for more than 15 years now, so itís also time to look at turning portfolios into legacies.

DNJournal: Another new event that immediately pops out on the agenda is the full day devoted to casual networking in an entertaining environment - the Saturday Fun Day that will close the show on February 1st.  I know you had a chance to test the idea out with the Beach Day that closed the NamesCon Europe show in Lisbon, Portugal last summer, so you must have seen enough there convince you this would be a great add for NamesCon Global. How did you go about translating the idea to the unique Austin environment?

Helga: We knew that ending NamesCon Europe with a big beach party was a good idea, but we were very happy to see how much everyone loved it. To translate it from Portuguese to Texan, we looked at some of the things that make Austin famous: great music and great food. Spending the day at Bangerís Sausage House and Beer Garden sounds a little bit German, I know, but it will highlight the best of what Austin has to offer!  

Helga Neumer
Head of NamesCon Operations

DNJournal: While it is always great to see new things added to the agenda, there are certain elements that are instrumental in making NamesCon Global what it is and one of the most popular of those - the live domain auction - will be back. But even the auction on January 30th will have a new twist this year as it is being moved onto the GoDaddy auction platform while Monte Cahn and his RightOfTheDot.com team return to orchestrate the live action in the Omni Hotel Ballroom. How is the catalog for this year's sale shaping up and how will the new platform improve the event?

Soeren: GoDaddyís auction platform will take the live auction to the next level, and some amazing names have been submitted. Itís exciting to see the pre-bidding take off. Add.com is already over $130,000, and lots of great keyword names are attracting attention, like Shirts.com, Laptop.com, RentalHomes.com, LegalFees.com and Singl.es. Some have hit their reserve already!

A scene from the Live Domain Auction at the 
2019 NamesCon Global conference in January 2019.

DNJournal: We've talked about Austin, but more specifically, should also touch on the conference's new venue - the downtown Omni Hotel. I know you did an exhaustive search of Austin facilities before settling on the Omni. What drew you there? 

Soeren: The Omni has such a prime location. If Austin is the center of the startup world right now, the Omni is at the center of that. Itís the bullseye.

DNJournal: NamesCon has sold out of both of the two blocks of rooms you had secured at the Omni,  but I understand you have located some additional rooms in hotels that are very near by.

Helga: Yes, we arranged special attendee rates at the Driskill, which is a historic site; and the Proper Hotel Austin, which just opened. Thereís also space for us at a really cool place called Aloft, which will let you borrow a pair of cowboy boots for the day!  

The historic Driskell Hotel In Austin - one of three hotels where NamesCon secured 
special room rates for NamesCon Global 2020 attendees after the Omni Hotel sold out.

DNJournal:  Before we let you go, is there anything you would like to add about what's ahead at NamesCon 2020?

Soeren: If youíve been wondering whether NamesCon is for you, weíre telling you that it definitely is! If you work in the domain industry or as an investor, your voice matters, and this is the place to use it. Letís get together in Austin and change the game!

Helga: For DNJournal readers, we also have a 30% discount in place for now to make the decision a little easier! We look forward to learning and celebrating with everyone from this friendly industry.

DNJournal: Soeren and Helga, thank you for your time. We look forward to seeing you in Austin!

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