September 28, 2012    

 

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Bright Lights and Brilliant Domainers Await Traffic Attendees in Las Vegas 

By Ron Jackson
Editor/Publisher


When the organizers of Traffic West 2005 welcome domainers to Las Vegas May 24-27, their biggest challenge may be topping their own exceptional track record. Rick Schwartz and Howard Neu exceeded expectations with their inaugural show last October in Delray Beach, Florida and they are confident they will do it again this month in Nevada. Though they clearly have a recipe for success, it might surprise you to learn they’ll throw out the old cookbook this time around.

 

Schwartz told us, “we decided from the get go that the dynamics for the Las Vegas show would have to be different and the focus would have to be different for it to have the value we demand it to have to ask folks to leave their families, travel from distant places and spend many thousands of dollars to attend. In Delray at Traffic 2004 they came with unknown expectations and were surprised at the success to the degree of being overwhelmed. In Las Vegas they come knowing that this is not just another tradeshow. Not just another meaningless dance. This is a show where real deals are taking place and they are prepared to take advantage of those dynamics. This isn't the "I'll get back to you" type show. This is a show where it is slow paced enough that folks can sit down and do the deal right then and there. That is a lot more important and real than "I'll email you when I get back" or any of the other standard lines that generally don't materialize.”

Archived May 26, 2005

   

Las Vegas

 

The Venetian Hotel 
Location of 
Traffic West 2005

“These folks realize that deals being made now may have implications for many years if not decades and that alone gives great importance to Traffic West,” Schwartz said. “The show is comprised of all the elements needed in our business. It will expand from here to include end users by next year, adding yet another dimension to this convention. Just like the Venture Capitalists that were not in Delray who have signed up in mass numbers to be in Vegas.”

Putting on a show of this magnitude is a Herculean task. Schwartz and Neu had little to time to bask in the glow of their 2004 success before turning their attention to the future. “We started working on the May show less than one week after the Delray show ended in October. Howard and I knew that an entire year may be too long between shows with things moving so fast so we decided to let events dictate whether it would be necessary to move forward with the west coast show in May or not. In the meantime we continued to explore venues and dates. A bit tricky with Mother's Day and Memorial Day taking away several options. We explored several dozen venues looking for a place that would be distinctly different from the Delray Beach show, finally deciding on Las Vegas because as domainers we need to get away and have some fun and in polls we did Vegas won by a landslide. So about 90 days after the end of the 2004 show and 90 days before the west coast show would have to take place, Traffic West was born. It is already substantially bigger that the original Delray show and now our job is to make it even better."

"The goal is walking away enriched and feeling like it was a good investment of both time and money," Schwartz said. "The real difficulty is communicating the import of the event just 7 months after Delray and having folks travel to a distant spot to get there. At one time I did 55 trade shows a year so I got a very good education in the right and wrong way to do things and how to make a show meaningful to both sponsors and attendees. The key, like anything else, is to work with good people that are diligent in what they do and how they conduct business.” 

Schwartz has always been a big believer in "chemistry" - bringing together just the right mix of people - and he thinks the Las Vegas gathering represents the perfect brew. "The intellectual capacity of the attendees is beyond description," Schwartz said. "A very select group that can appreciate what they have accomplished and are still hungry enough to do so much more. I mean what do you call a group largely made up of  young motivated millionaires looking to become the “B” word, as in Billionaire? So while many focus on the venue, Howard and I see the challenge of bringing the right people together like a chemist mixing a very precise recipe as the biggest and most important hurdle." 

Schwartz told us the bottom line is to put on a show good enough and substantial enough that the prime companies in the space will be compelled to attend and have a presence. He said “We not only did that, we have exceeded it with a really great lineup of speakers at Traffic West."

"There is Dan Warner of Fabulous.com who really has his finger on the pulse of domains, traffic and the future of both. He speaks from a position of authority and his vision and my vision are as close as any two visions could be. Dan is articulate, backs up his findings with numbers and facts and as far as I am concerned, he and Fabulous.com understand the domain and traffic business better than anyone in the world," Schwartz said. 

"We have Peter Christothoulou of Marchex. Who better to talk with than the folks that made the largest domain purchase in history ($164 million purchase of the Ultimate Search portfolio last fall)? Listen to what they looked for, how they valued it and why they are buying domains."

"Then we have Marc Ostrofsky who is our keynote speaker. Marc may have given more publicity to domains than all of us put together as his sale of Business.com is still the largest sale of record in the domain business. But Marc has many more accomplishments and he has a vision that he too would like to share." 

"We also have Richard DeSilva with Highland Capital and according to our sources they just bought a domain portfolio for close to $100 million in their most recent deal." 

"Lastly, but not least, we have Dr. Sanford Sherizen, who is a former FBI expert in cyber crime. Being a “former” agent, he is free to talk with us in a frank manner instead of the usual scripted answers. Besides these five there is an all-star line up of other speakers from DomainSponsor.com, Google.com, Overture.com, Moniker.com, Directnic.com and Sedo.com, plus what are arguably the top 4 domain lawyers in the world along with many others."

Schwartz added, “in addition to presenting leaders in all aspects of the business we will be accumulating tens of thousand of dollars to employ a lobbyist or activist to watch out for issues that affect domainers and to raise the awareness of domain hijackings to a level that will put folks in jail for such a crime. The hijacking issue is a concern shared by every domain owner whether you own 1 or 1,000,000 domains. It is the one thing we should all be able to agree about with the exception of hijackers themselves. We spend all types of money to insure our cars our home and our jewelry but who is protecting our livelihoods against theft? Who insures domains?” Schwartz asked. 

"While we tackle the problem of domain hijacking on one hand we will address the increasing value of domains and payouts on the other. Understanding domains is directly connected to the value of domains. The overriding focus of all TRAFFIC shows will be to increase the overall value and demand for great domains and the potent traffic they produce. Many domains we own will be worth many millions of dollars in 50-100 years. The only problem with that is most of us will be dead or very old. So the challenge is to educate the world exactly why domains are the real estate of the new century with numbers they can’t argue with and that is why it is so important to educate folks about this phenomenon. When they really understand the power of a domain and the traffic they produce, domains will soar in value and we have yet to get to that point. Both Traffic West and Traffic East have that as a goal," Schwartz said.

"When it is common knowledge that type-in traffic will outperform all other traffic, the value of that traffic will go up drastically. Our job is to help accelerate that by explaining what targeted traffic is all about and how domains have an endless supply of the greatest traffic on the net. Numbers don’t lie and at the end of the day, that is why domains are so hot now and will only get hotter in the future. The price for potent traffic and crap traffic are about the same. That will change and when it does our payouts will go up because they won’t be wasting their money on traffic that does not convert to sales. That directly translates to higher domain prices. Sales are what makes the world go round, causes rising ad prices and that translates to higher domain values." 

Schwartz has been preaching his domain gospel for a long time now and he continues to make converts. "Skepticism has turned into enthusiasm!" he declared. Last year we had no “visible” venture capitalists in attendance. Traffic West adds about 8 of these guys and they are coming loaded for bear. They are now in a race that we were once involved in except at a much higher level. They are buying every decent portfolio in sight and time is of the essence. Besides them we are starting to attract some end users that are ready to understand how they can utilize domain traffic. So not only will we be adding more segments, the overall attitude is fueling something much bigger than us. The domain channel is finally getting the interest and respect it always deserved and domainers as a whole can now see the rewards of staying the course and being stubborn in their domain quests," Schwartz said.  

“It is one of the reasons we encourage folks to bring their spouse," Schwartz noted. "Let them see just how important and just how real what we do is. Expose them to the world we deal in and let them know we are on the cutting edge of history and not some wild scheme that will only last for a short while. By the time the next Delray show happens in October, it will be twice as big as last year and 100 times more important. With the new dimensions it is like taking a V8 engine and making it a 12 cylinder with a turbo charger!"  

In looking back at what Traffic has already accomplished, Schwartz said "I think folks were just amazed at Traffic 2004 - that renegades such as domainers could put on such an event and have it go flawlessly. But that was just scenery. What blew them away is that we came armed with numbers, ratios, stories, successes, failures and a great deal of earning potential both in past and future terms. They found out that domainers may know as much about other parts of the net as they do about domains. They learned we have tested and re-tested and found things that they themselves did not know about their own businesses. So while I know it played a role in things, it is really for others to comment to give it the credibility it deserves."

"TRAFFIC has now put a face on domainers and what they see are many serious business savvy folks that know how to make money while the masses failed. When folks look around the room at Traffic West and see the very sharpest and brightest minds in the business they will have a true understanding of exactly why they are there and then only great things can happen. Is TRAFFIC important to the domain industry? As important as beef is to beef stew. If we do it right, the show will only become more and more important to domainers, sponsors, end users, VC guys and all other associated areas."  

Schwartz concluded by saying "We all know the potential of domains or we would not be here and nobody would be reading this. Our dreams are close to becoming a reality. What took over a decade to accomplish is about to change before our very eyes, virtually overnight. That change has already started and I would estimate it will be complete in the next 18-36 months. Like I said, it is for others to comment. But don’t lose sight of the fact that Traffic 2004 was born during the darkest days our industry has seen. It is no coincidence. However, let me be clear, the domain industry was going to fly high with or without TRAFFIC. I think TRAFFIC put a face on the industry and that is something that will never be able to truly be measured."

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Editor’s Note: For those who would like to comment on this story, we invite you to make use of our Letters to the Editor feature (write to editor@dnjournal.com).



If you missed our previous Cover Story click on the headline below: 

Tools of the Trade: Free Resources That Will Help You Identify Domains That $ell 

All other previous Cover Stories are available in our Archive

 

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