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August 27, 2012

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Domain Roundtable Set to Reconvene April 19-21 in Suburban Seattle 

By Ron Jackson

The Domain Roundtable Conference made a very successful debut last spring at the Sheraton in downtown Seattle. For the 2006 event, coming up April 19-21, show host Name Intelligence is moving the event just across Lake Washington to the new Westin Hotel in Bellevue, Washington

We got together with the Executive Producer of Domain Roundtable, Name Intelligence VP of Business Development Jothan Frakes to get the inside scoop on the upcoming conference. The event will feature four keynote speakers and a remarkably diverse range of seminars covering every aspect of the domain business.

Jothan Frakes (Executive Producer of Domain Roundtable) at the podium last year in Seattle

DNJournal: Let’s start by telling people a little about the new venue. I know you had considered taking the second edition of Roundtable to a different part of the country. Why did you decide to stay in the Seattle area and Bellevue in particular? 

Main Ballroom at Westin Bellvue

Jothan Frakes: Home court advantage would be my oversimplified answer, although the beauty of the Pacific Northwest in the spring has an attraction unlike any other area. Our CEO, Jay Westerdal, is a Bellevue native, and he wanted to have an upscale atmposphere for this show. The brand new Westin provides a great forum for the event.


We will be considering other locations for future Domain Roundtable Conferences, such as New York City, Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles.

The domain industry and the community are distributed throughout the U.S. and internationally, so we’ve selected a beautiful location for this year and we’ll look at rotating cities for future conferences. 

DNJournal: For those who attended last year, what will they find different about this year’s show?

Frakes: The growing focus on investment is something new this year. This has been a red hot area, receiving a lot of press in mainstream publications like the Wall Street Journal, Forbes and Business 2.0. There will also be information on tax planning, corporate structuring, some success stories from investors and a keynote by Marc Ostrofsky of Internet REIT

There are more keynote sessions and we’ve adjusted the schedule to include lunches instead of dinners. There are lots of options for great dining in Bellevue within walking distance and we’ve made sure there is time to enjoy them. This year we have even deeper industry involvement from more domain name registries, including  ccTLDs. 

Marc Ostrofsky, InternetREIT.com

Another important thing to note here is that we have not strayed too much from what worked well last year. We understand the attraction to the conference largely being around building the integrity of the industry, so we’ve also been careful to not introduce egos and overt self promotion to the mix, so that the conference can be about domain names and the industry. 

DNJournal: You have four excellent keynote speakers in Vint Cerf, Paul Twomey, Matt Bentley and Marc Ostrofsky. For newcomers who are not already familiar with those industry leaders, tell everyone about them and the value they they will bring to this year’s conference.


Frakes: Diversity and balance were the focus of the keynote speaking arrangements this year. Academia, Entrepreneurs, Governance and Enterprise are all represented by an amazing  roster of well respected speakers.


Internet Pioneer Vint Cerf

Vint Cerf is Chief Internet Evangelist and a Vice President for Google and is the Chairman of the Board for ICANN’s Board of Directors. Vint’s accolades and career of contributions to the Internet would merit their own article. Among his humbling list of lifetime achievements, he was a co-inventor of TCP which is to the internet what electricity is to a light bulb. 

Vint embodies to me the voice of academic/scientific expertise and pragmatic pioneering from a position of immense experience and calm reason as the Internet continues to grow exponentially. He is an amazing public speaker and I am still humbled that he accepted our offer to speak.

Marc Ostrofsky is also an amazing public speaker. Marc is an entrepreneurial spirit that saw the early opportunities in domain names and made some market making moves. Internet REIT is an example of his amazing skills and experience. A person who holds domains personally should absolutely not miss hearing Marc speak.


Dr. Paul Twomey is the CEO and President of ICANN.  His appearance at the Domain Roundtable is something that is fairly unprecedented and we are glad to have him as our opening keynote. Since taking his position in March of 2003 there has been a broad spectrum of accomplishments and Paul’s immense experience with internet governance and the information economy have helped move things forward. 

Before becoming CEO/President of ICANN, Paul was the Chair of the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) to ICANN, and served as the Chief Executive Officer for Australia’s National Office of Information Economy (NOIE).

Paul Twomey
CEO & President, ICANN


Last year hearing about ICANN from ICANN directly (versus sound bites or press releases) is something that helped many of our attendees appreciate what ICANN is (and isn’t), and hearing Paul Twomey speak about ICANN is something that is an opportunity typically reserved to folks that travel the world to the various locations that ICANN meets in order to serve the many global interests that participate.


Matt Bentley, who is the Chief Strategy Officer for Sedo, will be presenting an overview of the domain aftermarket. His experience at the enterprise level will be of great interest to the audience. The presentation on the trends in the marketplace (from the perspective of a large participant/player in the aftermarket for domain names) will be great to hear for people with any involvement in domain names.

DNJournal: You have spent much of the past year putting together the 2006 show agenda and line-up of participants. Tell us about the ground that will be covered in the seminars and some of the other industry experts people will be able to listen to and meet at Domain Roundtable.

Matthew Bentley
Chief Strategy Officer
Sedo GmbH


Frakes: Every angle of the domain industry will be covered, and we’ve tried to not leave anything out. There are four key demographics at the conference; Search Engines and the general public (SEO/Search, PPC, traffic generation), Intellectual Property (corporate interests, specialist attorneys, WIPO panelists, anti-phishing tools), Domain Industry (registries, registrars, committees), and Domain Portfolio Holders (investment community, domain buyers and sellers, domain drop-catching, auction providers and domain speculators).


Within the four groups are subject matter from distinctive focuses that have been great areas of growth, such as IDN and ccTLDs, new Top Level Domains, domain appraisal, domain parking and monetization, intellectual property interests, domain auctions, Wall Street’s perspective on domain names, tax planning for domain portfolios and much, much more. 


We’re also in talks with a very prominent member of the technical community to keynote on Friday after the Name Intelligence Awards and the CEO Roundtable. We literally leave nothing out and have created a forum, unlike anything else, where people can talk domain names with respected peers and ask questions of industry heavy-hitters.


DNJournal: Domain Roundtable has a unique multi-track format in which multiple seminars will be running at the same time. What is your reasoning behind this approach and how difficult is it for attendees to make up their minds when there is such a multitude of options open to them during the various breakouts.


Frakes: The premise of the multiple tracks was to cover all angles of the domain industry in a three day period. It also allows folks to structure the event into something best meeting their needs. An individual will best know what their desired focus is within the various conference tracks.

We’ve made it a point to classify the content and messaging in the sessions by which demographics the session might be most appeal to.
The only downside (and it is really a high quality problem if you think about it) is that someone might want to attend two or more sessions at the same time, so we’ve opted to make mp3 recordings of the sessions and include these along with provided presentations on a DVD-ROM.


The conference DVD-ROM is something that we have a lot of requests for and we will record the sessions this year and sell the 2006 DVD-ROM about a month after the conference. The 2005 DVD is still available and contains fantastic sessions and presentations from big industry names. I would also like to mention that the 2005 DVD-ROM was just approved for 17.75 Self Study WSBA CLE by the Washington State Bar Association due to all the great content surrounding intellectual property and domain disputes. The 2005 DVD is still available while supplies last and there is a link to the order form on the Domain Roundtable website.


DNJournal: Interest in the industry has grown exponentially in the past year or two with mainstream media now routinely covering domain related news and events. For many newcomers this may be the first domain major conference they will have attended. What are some of the beneficial aspects they will take away from being there (in addition to the knowledge gained through the seminars that we addressed above)?


Jothan Frakes

Frakes: The industry has gone through immense growth in the twelve years that I have been at it. What is noteworthy since last year is that there are two strong domestic domain industry conferences and four international conferences now in addition to the ICANN meetings, more top level domains opening, a growing focus on the opportunities internationally such as ccTLDs and internationalized domain names (IDN) and the growing convergence of the investment community and traffic portfolios.

There are a lot of new faces to the domain industry that have many, many years of experience in other industries like investment capital, corporate branding, advertising, financing, the legal profession and web hosting companies, to name just a few. Domain names touch every aspect of everyday life on the internet. As new minds and wisdom enters the industry, the new innovative ideas open the door to more opportunity.  


The social scenarios that exist at a conference like the Domain Roundtable give opportunities to meet the right people and like minds. We started the idea of a social mixer for example. On Day 1 of this year’s conference we’re doing a power networking session after lunch. We mix speed dating with business introductions and the goal of the session is a person meets 5-10 people that they don’t already know. The motto is: “There are no strangers, just friends who have not met”.


Last year, at the Roundtable, there were a lot of opportunities to introduce people from different focuses of the domain industry and it was fantastic to see the results. There were a lot of  “Mr. Peanut Butter, allow me to introduce Mr. Chocolate” moments and great things have grown from these new relationships since then. This power networking session turns that up a notch or two as far as the individual value of attending. 


DNJournal: What differentiates the Roundtable from other industry events like INTA, T.R.A.F.F.I.C., SES, Ad-Tech, Webmaster World or the ICANN meetings?


Frakes: Our conference incorporates the very fabric of all these great events and brings together all of these various individual benefits in a way that helps inspire new opportunity. Lots of different scenarios play out when you identify the various industrial and personal focuses and bring them together in an environment rich with social scenarios that can lead to relationships.


There are people who are large portfolio holders that know how to monetize, but might not be aware of governance issues that can affect them. Perhaps there are attorneys who specialize in a particular field who registrars or registries have not yet met but would really benefit from knowing them. There may be an advertising channel that pays better ROI on parked pages and eliminates click fraud issues that someone with a rock star domain portfolio could benefit from.


Whatever the particular individual case, getting people and companies together like this, straddling industries and interests and having it happen in a forum with integrity like the Roundtable where egos and politics are virtually absent is the way to make great things happen!





Editor's Note: DN Journal will be at Domain Roundtable to cover the event for you. We plan to publish our wrap-up article on April 27 as the first part of twin Cover Stories for May (part 2, scheduled to appear May 11, will be our wrap-up of the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. West conference in Las Vegas which runs May 2-5).

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