New York is the toughest market in the world...it is also the
fairest. Our job is to just be who we are, present our story, stick
to facts and stats, and destiny will take care of everything else.
Our job is not to sell, it is to present. Present the facts about
domain names; equating them to property addresses on Broadway and
42nd Street; some developed into high rises and some used as
parking lots; but all domain names in the form of targeted
We will emphasize the prestige that a generic
dotcom address has when you are battling your competition tooth and
nail; the disruptive ability so intense that a single domain can
change an industry. Hotels.com is the perfect example. We
will show how so many domains are priceless. Just ask Bank
of America how much they will sell Loans.com for?
The answer is that you most likely would have to acquire the entire
company to get that domain name. The same situation occurs with Baby.com
and Johnson and Johnson.
Schwartz and Howard Neu (seated)
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Conference Co-Founders
|New York is a chance to walk away with the
biggest prize ever. It is nothing Howard and I can do alone.
It is something only the industry can do. For the
effort; for the investment in coming to New York, its reward
will be an increase in domain values across the board.
Actually, I believe that we will see a dramatic rise
in value as domains become understood for the investment
that they are, the collectable value they have and the
potential value to world commerce just to mention a few.
What does it do to the value of domains when folks realize
there has been no stock or any other investment in
history that has gone up more in value in a faster rate
of time? I have repeated this question often, yet few
understand the dimension of the answer.
DN Journal: How have you tailored
the New York show’s schedule to take advantage of this opportunity
to interact with the unique audience that will be on hand in the Big
Rick Schwartz: For one thing, the
night before the show even starts (Monday night June 18th), we are
going to have a special cocktail party just for local New York ad
agencies, PR firms and Wall Street execs. It is not open to domain
owners or sponsors unless accompanied by a qualified member of one
of these communities and arranged in advance. There is no charge to
attend but you absolutely must be qualified and invited.
Additionally, our primary focus will be on investing. Domain owners are investors.
When you look at the ballroom at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. and see who is
sitting there, we anticipate that the persons in that room handle
investments in the billions of dollars. If they can’t
recognize the value of domain names, then I have confidence that
they will recognize a room filled with investors totaling
many billions of dollars. Greed will set them free!
Also Moniker is focusing on names that would be attractive to the
corporate world and investors as they assemble the list of domains
for the auction. They have sifted through at least 75,000 names and
the quality of the domains just keeps getting better. The last 2
auctions have seen $5 million in sales each. I will tell you
that it is our goal to break the $10 million mark in this
auction alone. That is an achievable goal, but won’t be easy. But
I sure would like to see the headline that would bring.
Langbaum and Moniker.com CEO Monte Cahn (right) at
Moniker/T.R.A.F.F.I.C. domain auction in Las Vegas in
For those that have not looked or kept track, the T.R.A.F.F.I.C./Moniker
and Internext auctions are responsible for and have accounted
for 6 of the top 10 reported sales of 2007; 11 of the top 20 sales;
21 of the top 50 and 39 of the top 100. That does not even include
the ones that Moniker has done via their own channel. So when folks
are serious about buying and selling the top premium domains,
we have proved that T.R.A.F.F.I.C. is the place to be and Moniker
has put together great domains event after event. And the story gets
more impressive. On DN Journal's “Global Contenders” chart,
our auctions are responsible for 32 of the top 100 sales. All
I can say is wait until after New York!!
Journal: The current issue of Business 2.0
magazine features a widely discussed cover story about Kevin Ham
who has made tens of millions of dollars with domain names.
That magazine will still be on newsstands when T.R.A.F.F.I.C. rolls
into Manhattan. People are debating whether the article will be good
or bad for the industry in the long run but, now that the media
spotlight is clearly on domains, there may never again be so many
eyeballs glued to an industry conference as this one in New York.
Could this be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get the word out
on why generic domains are such a great investment?
Let's face it. This story cuts every way but Sunday. It is
bad, it is good and it is everything in between. Some of the
reactions are interesting. I will say there is no question
that this has opened a hornet’s nest. I think it will be
months before we see the total effect this has on the
industry. The TM issue is very hot. There are a lot of
ramifications. But I believe the focus should be on the
sponsors that are paying for this traffic. Take the profit
out and the problem will greatly improve. Short of that we
will be whining about the same thing in 10 years. Just
because something makes money does not mean you are
compelled to do it. The TM line is far from clear and there
have been abuses on all sides. That is my own personal
opinion on the subject. I think we all need to conduct
ourselves responsibly. But it’s not for me to judge how
others run their businesses. We have a court system and
other outlets to decide those things.
That aside, black holes are intriguing, especially $300 million black
holes that are growing by the day. So when folks see that they
scratch their heads and wonder if there are other untapped
gushers just waiting to be discovered. So maybe we can be
called “Opportunists.” The good news is that we are going to the
“Opportunist” Capital of the world in New York City. They love
little black holes there. The mindset there is different. I don’t
know what the industry will look like on the morning of June 22nd
when this show wraps up and I fly home. I know it will be different
than today. We might refer to the industry as “Pre New York” and
“Post New York.” I don’t know. What I do know is that
things are in place, the stars are aligned and we have an
opportunity to break through! You just don’t get that many
opportunities like this in life.
The greatest gift most of us posses is the gift of recognizing
opportunity when it passes. So the answer is yes. This is a
once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get the word out on why
generic domains are such a great investment! It’s what makes
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. such a great value regardless of the cost of entry.
We create a circumstance in which great things can happen with great
people working with great companies. That’s 5 dimensions further
than what your average trade show can accomplish. When you look down
the list of T.R.A.F.F.I.C. shows, it looks like a list of important
benchmarks. The introduction on T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
#1 rang in a new era in Delray Beach, Florida.
The focus on Hijacking of domains in T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
#2 in Las Vegas created a fund of $56,000 that we
used to try and prevent the increase in fees coming this fall. With
a little broader support, who knows?
We saw the legal aspects of things in T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
#3 with a priceless consultation with the brightest lawyers in
our space. 10 weeks later we were bringing deep pocket
investors and VC guys in Silicon Valley for T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
#4 which manifested itself in Las Vegas for T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
#5. That brought us to the Madison Ave showdown
with T.R.A.F.F.I.C. #6
in Miami. Then last March, Las Vegas brought us T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
#7 with a record crowd of over 600 strong and
some real momentum building. On top of that, each show produced a
more important live auction by Moniker.
Now the big one in New York City. It took 7 shows to build the momentum
we have. But as you can see, each show had a reason and a vision and
all are tied into the main vision. So while everyone tries to
imitate our success, let me say once again that you can’t lead
by copying. Don’t leave your family and homes to go to a
“trade show.” That is a waste of your time and
money. With T.R.A.F.F.I.C., we create opportunity because we have a
formula, a vision and a record of success. We create life changing
conditions and that is why folks continue to make
T.R.A.F.F.I.C the key event in our space. When you bring the
biggest, the best and the brightest together and you do that in New
York City…great things will happen.
the Grand Hyatt
Journal: Of course going to New York comes with a
cost, a lot of cost – both for you and Howard Neu
as the show’s promoters and for those who are attending.
Everything is more expensive in New York from hotel rooms to
hot dogs (let alone the filet mignon you typically serve at
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. dinners). It hasn’t stopped you from
deciding to stage the show there, but do you think it will
have an affect on how many people attend?
Rick Schwartz: Howard
and I knew the minute we considered New York that this show
would cost money out of our pockets to produce. But we have
a mission and we are determined to bring that mission to a
There was no way to have this success we dream of without
marching into New York City. The prices there are about 2x
higher than anywhere else and more. For attendees, we negotiated a
rate $200 a night less than the regular rate. The $350 price is the
same as it was at the Miami show. Most of the cost is in the food.
When we serve 600 steak and lobster dinners, we are talking nearly
$150 a plate plus, plus, plus. So luckily most of the increases are
being absorbed by us.
As we get closer to the event I think folks will realize that this is
the moment they really have been waiting for. To let an extra $400
or $500 stand in the way of coming may be terribly shortsighted when
you compare it to the upside. I mean if you were a baseball player
and you were going to the World Series would you let $500 stand in
the way of you going? Then there are some that plan to show up
in New York, that won’t pay the admission fee and think they can
set up shop and do business at our expense. That only disrupts
the show and cheats both sponsors and attendees. I’ll tell you
right now, don’t do it! It is unacceptable and I am going to get
on stage and name names at the show if this happens. It’s not fair
to us and it certainly is not fair to the industry. When sponsors or
attendees cheat like this I often wonder if they would cheat on the
payouts or traffic? Like I have said, “All hands on deck!”
Don’t be cheap with your destiny because it just may come back and
bite you in the ass. It’s really not worth it. It stinks that I
even have to say it.
Journal: When this show is over and done
with – what do you hope to have accomplished by taking
domains to Madison Avenue’s doorstep?
If Madison Ave can just see domains as another tool for
their toolbox or another illusion as they perform their
magic it will have been a great success. If we can present
compelling evidence of what we have learned about online
selling and branding it may make just one of them to
sit up and take notice. What I learned in Miami in October
is there is no courage in Corporate America. It will
take one guy with brass balls and a strong gut to break from
the pack and the rest will follow like a row of dominos
falling in sequence.
Even if Madison Ave is not ready, I can guarantee you that Wall
Street is. Some accuse Madison Ave of being out of touch with
the digital era. There have been stories written about it. But
you asked the right question…the only thing we can do is
bring it to their “Doorstep.” Like the papers they advertise in.
They will either pick that paper up or just toss it out. I’ll
accept either because I know we did our job by investing 3 shows in
presenting what we have and why they should pay attention. Meanwhile
we will be on record for the day that they do put 2 and 2 together.
It won’t be the first time that I make a presentation and make a
sale 2 years later. So no worries either way. Our job is just to do
our best to bridge the gap sooner rather than later. I hope if
nothing else they will appreciate that we gave it our best
Additionally, I hope we can use our efforts to help the ICA
(Internet Commerce Association) stand strong against
predators that want our assets without paying fair market value.
There is so much infighting that nobody is looking at the real pitfalls
we are about to face. If folks want to protect their futures they
need to be proactive. We buy all this insurance for our homes, cars,
boats, jewelry, toys and it amazes me that domain owners and
sponsors won’t pony up the dollars needed to defend our assets and
to get some positive PR out. Many focus on the negative and a lot of
it is self inflicted. But there is a positive story to tell
and at the end of the day this industry needs a Madison Ave PR firm
to brand us differently. Maybe someone smart will show up and show
us the way.
Collectively our industry will begin to pay tens of millions in extra
fees this fall for no bona fide reason. Actual expenses going down
but someone got a sweetheart deal at the expense of everyone.
Extra fixed costs. Extra overhead for no reason other than we
failed to fight the fight. I hope we learned something. They
don’t deserve to get away with this ever again.
DN Journal: It’s often said that
once you have made it to New York you have really arrived. What is left
for you to accomplish with T.R.A.F.F.I.C. once this one is in the
Schwartz: I can’t say it any clearer or
stronger. All hands on deck!! We need everyone’s
help. I am not ashamed to ask for each of us to put an oar
in the water and paddle. This is our moment and
moments like this are ones that we live for. Don’t even
think twice. This is it. We can do some of it, but we
can’t do all of it. Your support and enthusiasm along with
each of your stories is needed. I approached T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
as a 3 year mission, not a career. In Miami in October, I am
going to take that stage and say two words. “Mission
accomplished” then together we will chart the
When we look back at where we were in October 2004 and where we will be
by October 2007, there will be no disagreement about the
progress we have all made; profound and life changing
progress. This business will never be the same when we
leave New York. After that, I won’t know until that
plane ride home when I sit and reflect what we have
accomplished. Howard and I have talked about making the show
twice a year as the sprint is over and the marathon now
begins. But that is a bit premature. It will be one of the
things we discuss with the attendees themselves and the WADND
Board of Advisors and as always it will be events that
dictate our decision.
In closing, I would just like to say that as an industry we are on
the threshold of a new exciting era. I have patiently waited
close to 12 years for this overnight success and I believe when we
leave New York, the folks that came will feel that it was the single
smartest thing they ever did. We will engage people that will engage
back and great things will happen. Destiny awaits and I am anxious
to see what the future holds for all of us.
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