As the first regional DOMAINfest event of 2007,
the conference aimed to bring together European domain industry
stakeholders for a smaller and more intimate networking and learning
experience. What the organizers found was that interest in the
regional conference extended far outside of Europe. As Ron
Sheridan of show host Oversee.net stated in his opening remarks,
around 150 attendees had come in from 20 different countries to
attend DOMAINfest Amsterdam, including the United States,
Netherlands, Germany, Thailand, and India.
CEO Lawrence Ng (left)
and EVP Jeff Kupietzky
|The first day’s sessions were kicked off
with a brief welcome from Lawrence Ng, CEO and
Co-founder of Oversee.net. Ng spoke about the overall
importance of the European market for the entire industry
and remarked on the true international spirit of the event.
Ng said, “There’s a lot we want to learn here [in
Europe]. We want to hear what your needs are and what
it is about your respective countries that makes your
business tick.” With respect to goals for DOMAINfest
Amsterdam, Ng told the audience, “My hope over the next
two days is really for us to get to know each other and at
the end of these two days we really want you guys to see how
committed we are to Europe.”
speaker Liz Williams
Sr. Policy Counselor for ICANN
The keynote speaker was Liz Williams,
the Senior Policy Counselor for ICANN. Based in
Brussels, Belgum, Williams leads the policy
development process for the introduction of new top level
domains. With new TLDs including .asia
and .mobi represented at DOMAINfest Amsterdam (as
well as Austria's .at ccTLD), Williams covered an
area which is still a mystery to many domainers—ICANN’s
standardized process for applying for new TLDs, including
why new TLDs are introduced, and how they are evaluated by
Williams said, “There’s a great
deal of interest in applications for new TLDs.
However, everyone’s keeping their cards very close to
their chest.” With the mounting interest in new TLDs and
ccTLDs, we can probably expect some interesting new
applicants to emerge in the months to come.
The show's first seminar centered on The
Domain Aftermarket and featured Nora Cotter of Sedo.com,
Tom Murphy of BuyDomains.com
and Richard Martin of NICIT
with Oversee.net Senior Manager of Business Development Scott
Higgason serving as the moderator.
Ms. Cotter, who heads up the UK/International
Parking Team for Sedo, presented an overview of the secondary market
which she defined as registered domains, expired domains, domain
trade, and domain parking. Cotter remarked, “That’s a massive
market primed for investment…Over 6 million domains are
listed with Sedo alone and we sold 17,850 domains last
year.” Drawing from numbers reported on DN Journal,
Cotter gave attendees a summary of last year’s domain trade.
From 2005 to 2006, there was a 69% increase in transaction
value. Sales totaled nearly $100 million last year, which was
double the amount in 2005. Factoring in the vast number of
sales that go unreported, Cotter believes that 2006 may have been
the first year where the value of domain sales on the secondary
market exceeded that on the primary market (new
|Next, Tom Murphy, Senior Director of Business
Development for BuyDomains.com, (a division of NameMedia),
provided his take on the aftermarket. Murphy stated
that prior to 2006 there were only a few select players in
the aftermarket including BuyDomains, Afternic.com
(which was acquired by NameMedia), Sedo, and SnapNames.com.
Murphy quoted Rob Hall of Pool.com
saying, “The secondary market IS the primary
Aftermarket Panel (left to right): Moderator Scott
Higgason, Nora Cotter (Sedo), Tom Murphy (BuyDomains)
and Richard Martin (NICIT)
The first half of 2007 saw the entrance of more
aftermarket players, most notably GoDaddy.com
Murphy expects that “every single registrar of any import will
integrate secondary market names into their main purchase path in
2007 and 2008.”
Richard Martin who is Area Manager for Domain
Transfers in Spain and South America for NICIT, gave
an overview of the company’s offerings as many in the audience
were unfamiliar with the German domain trading platform. NICIT
had signed on to sponsor and organize the first ever DOMAINfest
auction. Martin’s colleague, Maximilian Heinrich then
took the stage to review instructions for participating in the live
auction that would be held on day two of the event.
cocktail hour always offers great networking opportunities
The opening day of DOMAINfest Amsterdam
concluded with a lively cocktail party in the Hilton’s
Amstel Room. Guests were treated to an array of hors
d‘oeuvres, cocktails, and beer. It was a great opportunity
to meet fellow attendees and learn more about their
businesses and backgrounds. The DOMAINfest team also got to
know their global colleagues in a very congenial setting.
Day two got underway with a TLD Updates
session featuring dotMobi's Pinky Brand, Klemens Pidner
and Edmon Chung of DotAsia.
Chris Sivertsen, Business Development Manager of Oversee.net,
served as the moderator for this panel.
Mr. Brand, Director of New Markets for dotMobi,
provided an update on the mobile extension. Since the dotMobi launch
last September, 520,000 .mobi domains have been registered.
Among others, dotMobi has recently added Visa as an investor.
Brand defined the mobile web opportunity as four time bigger and
four times faster than the market for PCs. He believes that .mobi
will be an additional distribution channel for companies who want to
reach the mobile audience. To get attendees started on the .mobi
business opportunity, Brand gave each person in the audience a free
.mobi domain as well as instructions on developing their own
Klemens Pidner, IT Developer for Austrian
registry nic.at, highlighted key domain industry trends.
Nic.at specializes in .at domains which target the German-speaking
market of over 100 million users. On the IDN (Internation
Domain Name) front, Pidner remarked that 70% of all
internet users do not speak English, and 28% use non-Latin
script. On ccTLDs, Pidner predicted the policy liberalization
for acquiring ccTLDs, as well as the decreasing prices and vast
buying opportunities through TLD aggregators will trigger even more
growth and development in the sector. There have already been
approximately 38 million ccTLDs registered to date.
Update Panel (left to right): Moderator Chris Sivertsen,
Pinky Brand (dotMobi),
Klemens Pidner (Nic.at) and Edmon Chung (DotAsia)
Edmon Chung, CEO of the DotAsia Organisation,
gave a briefing on the status of .asia. The company has
secured a contract from ICANN and is on track to launch the .asia
TLD later this year. Chung informed the audience of the
requirements for obtaining a .asia domain, which include having
either an Asia-based Admin or Technical Contact listed on the domain
records. Chung compared the Asian market to other markets by
scale, saying that Asia has the largest online population—399
million to Europe’s 315 million and the US’s 253
million. Finally, Chung announced DotAsia’s Pioneer Domain
Program, a contest that will grant the right to operate the best
.asia domains to applicants with the best proposals. This program
will get underway this summer.
|Following a brief break,
attendees settled in for a 2-hour networking session led by Charles
D.A. Ruffolo, the self-proclaimed NetworKing. A US Army
veteran turned professional
networking speaker and trainer, Ruffolo
co-authored the book, Network Your Way to Success.
“The Rufman,” as he refers to himself, led a
high-energy, direct session that required attendees to
“look each other in the eye.” Attendees strolling in
after the session had started were put on the spot for a
self-introduction. Three DOMAINfest first-timers were put in
the hot seats—the speaker panel. Those that chose to
sit next to people they already know were asked to relocate.
At one point, “The Rufman” shut one
attendee’s laptop closed, saying, “I see people SMS-ing,
MSN-ing, and emailing—turn that crap off! You
can do that everyday of the week! Now you’re here to
meet new people. Why?...You came here to do business,
nothing else.” He entertained and inspired the
audience with his own stories of networking success, one of
which led him into President Clinton’s house.
Next on the agenda was Ask the Legal Experts
featuring a panel composed of Paul Keating of Renova,
Ltd., Christian Kerschbaum, John Berryhill and
Richard Lau of DomainManager.com.
The panel was moderated by Oversee's Executive Vice President Jeff
Paul Keating, founder of Renova, Ltd, an
international business and legal consultancy, gave attendees a
primer on trademarks and risks. Keating believes that
“trademark issues exist in every domain portfolio.” The
key is to handle issues appropriately and in a timely manner in
order to avoid claims and litigation. To minimize risk, Keating
advises domainers to (1) segregate their portfolios to avoid
jeopardizing an entire portfolio over one UDRP, and (2)
respond to Cease & Desist letters within 2-5 days.
Domainers must also weigh the costs of fighting a claim against the
monetary value of a domain.
Christian Kerschbaum presented next, focusing
on legal risk and specifics of registering .de (German ccTLD)
domains. He began by providing the audience with background on the
.de TLD which is the largest ccTLD and the second largest extension
of any kind (trailing only .com). Kerschbaum detailed
qualifications set by DENIC, the regulating authority for .de
domains, for registering .de domains. Anyone is able to
register .de names as long as the administrative contact listed is a
natural German person. There are key differences with the DENIC
system and .de names that everyone registering them should be aware
of. For example, there is no WIPO or UDRP process;
domain disputes have ordinary jurisdiction in German courts.
Additionally, if you get a ruling in your favor concerning a domain
dispute, the court will only grant you relief in the form of the
cancellation of the domain and not (like UDRP) a transfer of the
domain name. In order not to have someone else quickly reregister
the domain (after you have been granted relief in form of
cancellation) the Denic provides you with a procedure called
“dispute”. If you have placed a dispute on the domain name in
question, it can not be transferred (no owner handle update
possible) and if it is cancelled, the dispute claimant will
automatically become the new owner of the domain.
Panel (left to right): Moderator Jeff Kupietzky, Paul Keating
Christian Kerschbaum, Dr. John Berryhill and Richard Lau (DomainManager.com)
Dr. John Berryhill, who holds the unique honor
of being a three-time speaker in the DOMAINfest series, took to the
mic with his freshened stand up routine, which touched on wind
power, the Amsterdam flag and the Dutch people’s affinity for the
letter ‘a’! When he turned straight man, Berryhill offered the
kind of wisdom and industry insight that has made him one of the
most popular speakers in the industry.
Lau (left) chatting
with Charles Ruffolo
|Richard Lau of DomainManager, the 2004
Domainer of the Year, has generated millions of dollars in
revenue in the domain industry. As an expert in hijakced
domain recovery, he is credited for the rescue of stolen
high-value domains such as God.com and Wifi.com.
Lau talked about the importance of understanding what’s
really being said in your registrar agreements. He compared
policies of top registrars including GoDaddy, Fabulous,
and eNom, demonstrating the crucial differences that
lie in each registrar’s agreements, which are probably
being overlooked by many domainers.
Most important, according to Lau, is to “make sure that
[your registrar] knows you, so that when you call them, they
recognize you by your voice. If you have to explain to a
customer service rep why you need to be escalated to
someone…who is actually going to act on an issue, you are
at the wrong
|registrar.” Lau said that
another option domainers have is to become their own
registrar. This, he estimates, can cost $20,000-$30,000
to set up, and is by no means a cost savings measure, but
one of security and control.
The final seminar session, Global
Domain Experts, featured Xavier Buck of EuroDNS,
Marcus Schnermann of KeywordDomains,
Emiliano Pasqualetti of DomainsBot
and Sean Moriarty of Yahoo!
The moderator was Arthur Lathrop, Product Manager for
Xavier Buck, CEO and Co-Founder of EuroDNS, gave the
audience a brief update on the status of key
Experts Panel (left to right): Moderator Arthur
Lathrop, Xavier Buck (EuroDNS), Markus Schnermann (KeywordDomains),
Emiliano Pasqualetti (DomainsBot)
and Sean Moriarty (Yahoo!)
|European ccTLDs including .FR
(France), .BG (Bulgaria), .FI (Finland),
and .IE (Ireland). As a firm believer in the
accessibility of domain names for everyone, Buck outlined
ways non-residents could obtain domains in each ccTLD.
Buck says that the .FR market is where he sees
the biggest movement of new registrations. He also mentioned PayPal
Europe’s recent announcement of the company’s move into Luxembourg
in July of this year. This allows the company to operate under a
Luxembourg bank license, creating what Buck refers to as a “safe
harbor for domainers” on a legal and tax optimization viewpoint.
Markus Schnermann, Managing Director of
KeywordDomains, familiarized the audience with his four key
ventures: KeywordDomains, DomInvent, ConsultDomain, and
DomainersClub. Schnermann echoed what Lau had said in the
previous session about the importance of having close relationships
with registries and registrars. He also commented on the
liberalization of registration restrictions for European TLDs and
the continuing trend of localized content and advertising which
presents key business opportunities for domainers.
|Emiliano Pasqualetti, COO, Director of
Business Development and Co-Founder of Italy-based
DomainsBot spoke next. As an active promoter of the
partnership between the primary and secondary markets,
Pasqualetti believes that “we are at the eve of a
revolution with the secondary market.” Through
partnerships with primary market players like GoDaddy to
offer secondary marketing offerings (DomainsBot is behind
GoDaddy’s recently introduced secondary market feature),
DomainsBot provides technologies that help identify adjacent
or related domains in the context of extending a sale from
one domain to the next.
of the crowd listening in at panel discussion
Sean Moriarty, Director of Business Development
for Yahoo!, discussed Yahoo!’s perspective on domain monetization.
Moriarty gave attendees a brief history of Yahoo!’s involvement in
the domain industry, saying that the company formally entered the
market in 2003 with the acquisition of Overture. Moriarty informed
attendees of Yahoo!’s intentions to expand their publisher
network, as well as their focus on the international markets.
Moriarty concluded by making an announcement of great importance to
many domainers in the audience: Yahoo! will continue to monetize
Buck of Euro DNS gets in
a bid during the live auction
Next it was time for the first DOMAINfest
auction, an event sponsored and organized by
German-based aftermarket platform, NICIT. Most notable of
the auction results was the sale of Poker.de for 695,000
Euros, which is approximately $940,000 USD.
Selling for well above the reserve price of 500,000 Euros,
Poker.de becomes the highest sale for a .de name ever.
Of course no conference that
DomainSponsor is involved in would be complete without a
show-stopping party that people will talk about for months
to come. Attendees were shuttled over to Rain Nightclub,
located in Rembrandtplein, the nightlife district of
Amsterdam. DomainSponsor had transformed the trendy
hotspot into a lush tropical rainforest. Guests were invited
to enjoy “cocktails under the canopy” of imported palm
trees and nibbled on an array of Asian- and Dutch-inspired
The drinks and dancing went on until around 2
a.m., at which point guests either retired to the Hilton, or left in
search of an impromptu afterparty. Judging by the number of
heavy-lidded attendees and all-night partiers (some still wearing
their party clothes) at the farewell breakfast the next day, the
party was another success.
DOMAINfest Amsterdam proved to be a
memorable meeting of international minds. Attendees were a
mix of seasoned pros and industry newcomers. The event
provided something for everyone: face-to-face time,
informative sessions, and of course, as “The Rufman” so
matter-of-factly stated, what we’re all ultimately here
for: the opportunity to do business.
DOMAINfest has already solidified plans
for its annual Global event. The team is returning to the
majestic Renaissance Hollywoodhotel for another big
event January 21-23, 2008.
from the DomainSponsor party at Rain
|You are invited to visit the
DOMAINfest website (http://www.domainfest.com)
for complete photos and video from DOMAINfest Amsterdam, l as all the speaker presentations from the event.
to Domain Name Journal Home Page