DomainSponsor party rolled on until 3am, which led to a
precipitous decline in attendance at breakfast Thursday morning!
Since most of the second day’s speakers had been at the party,
we also wondered if they would make it to their seminars on time
and to their credit, all came through with flying colors!
toughest assignment went to the guys who had to get up first!
That was Roland LaPlante (VP & Chief Marketing
Officer for Afilias, the .info registry), Bill Mushkin
(CEO, Name.com), Freddy Schiwek (EuroDNS.com)
and Adam Dicker (owner of DNForum.com and High
Impact Sites). They constituted the perfect line up for the
seminar’s theme, "Other Extensions and ccTLDs".
Adam Dicker at the podium during
opening seminar Thursday (May 4)
of the slides in LaPlante’s presentation asked the question,
“Why consider non .coms?”
His answers included these points:
are in a period of unprecedented expansion and the
“suburbs” are beginning to take off.
.Com market is extremely competitive; names are expensive and
hard to get, available .com names are longer and more complex.
domains are emerging with less competition; lower cost of
entry, “good” names still available— including some of
the same names that have value in .com.
.coms can add value to your best .coms by giving you more
control of the brand.
a classic portfolio principle: diversify!
is a good emerging domain to try! (Somehow we knew Roland
would feel that way - Afilias runs the .info registry :-)
sees ccTLDs growing in importance because by nature they are
perfect for local search, something that virtually everyone agrees
will be a primary use of the web in the years ahead. He also likes
the branding potential of certain country codes, noting that he
has Who.is (Iceland ccTLD). Mushkin also likes .info
because it tells the visitor what to expect from a site.
highlighted the spectacular growth in registration of European
ccTLDs and the explosive rollout of the .eu extension that
saw more than 1 million registrations on the opening day! Schiwek
also expects the upcoming .mobi extension for mobile
devices to be very successful. .Mobi has some very deep pocketed
backers including Google, Microsoft and major mobile
who runs the web’s oldest and busiest domain forum at DNForum.com,
has become a big fan of International Domain Names (IDNs) and
has registered thousands of them. He made a persuasive case for
why IDN’s may represent one of the best investment opportunities
currently available in domains.
Mushkin (CEO, Name.com)
Managing Director, RBC Capital Markets
second session Thursday was a star-studded financial seminar
featuring Bob Martin (CEO, iREIT.com), Jordan
Rohan (Managing Director, RBC Capital Markets), Robert
Hoult (VP, Walnut Ventures), Lou Doctor (Arbor
Advisors) and Dan Levitan (Managing Partner, Maveron).
noted that he is a big fan of direct navigation but he believes
the current high multiples being paid are temporary. He thinks
domain owners should strive for differentiation through
development and partner with someone if you can’t handle
development yourself. He also advised looking for other ways to
diversify. He added that technology changes, even as soon as the
release of Microsoft's new Windows Vista operating system early
next year, could have a negative impact on type-ins.
also thinks the highest multiples are possibly being paid right
now. Looking beyond PPC he thinks lead generation and ecommerce
will be more lucrative. Doctor and Hoult also joined Rohan on the
Managing Partner, Maveron
who has been involved in 40 major investments worth more than $600
million (including the Starbucks IPO) congratulated
everyone in the room, saying “buying domain names in the
1990’s was a damn smart thing to do!” However,
Levitan also said he sees some frothiness in the market rivaling
the late 90’s. He thinks values are at the high end now. Only time will tell if he is right.
said his company has acquired over 400,000 domains since 2004 but
he believes iREIT's best deals were in the people they drew from
the domain community to become members of the company's management
and operations team. Martin said there is tremendous room for
growth in this business but to take advantage of it, iREIT needed
to get the best possible people into their organization.
organizers added another networking wrinkle for the lunch
sponsored by SmartName.com Thursday. Each table had a sign on it
designating a particular category of traffic (for example,
financial, real estate, travel, etc) so that people could sit with
and meet others involved in their sector. Attendees were
encouraged to sit with people they did not already know.
had the honor of conducting the final seminar session after lunch.
I had originally planned to talk about domain sales trends,
but changed my mind at the last minute after a Washington Post
article on the domain business was released that grossly
misrepresented comments I had made to the reporter.
I decided it
was more important to talk about the flood of coverage the
industry is now getting, the quality of that coverage and
potential problems that companies and individuals needed to be
aware of when dealing with the press. I have already detailed this
incident in our May
newsletter so if interested I will direct you to that
link rather than repeat myself to regular readers in this article.
rest of the afternoon Thursday was devoted to that historic live
auction that saw the gavel drop on over $2 million worth of
domains. As I noted earlier, Sex.net went for $450,000, CD.com
commanded $275,000 and POS.com pulled $250,000.
You can see a complete list of all of the high bids here.
Jackson (DNJournal.com) grabs a
sip of "Google" water before speaking about
media coverage of the domain business.
were a few operational hiccups during the event but from my front
row seat it was a very exciting auction that served as a great
test lab for what will be a centerpiece of future T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
shows. My wife was with me and told me at the beginning of the
auction that she planned to leave after the first 15 minutes to
take care of some other business. She wound up staying the entire
three hours because she found it to be too much fun to break away.
from historic live domain auction May 4
handled the event and their staff put in an enormous amount of
work to pull it off. They deserve a lot of credit for that and
with what they learned from this event the next auction at the
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East conference in Florida next October should make
this one pale in comparison despite its success.
John Berry directs the action
while Moniker.com CEO Monte Cahn looks on.
official Thursday schedule closed with another delightful cocktail
hour hosted by Casale Media. However a big “unofficial”
event drew a large crowd to iREIT’s private party in the
Renaissance Suite at the top of the Venetian Tower. It was a great
group of people to spend the evening with and the party ran well
past the scheduled 10pm closing hour.
conference concluded Friday, a day that opened with another great
breakfast followed by a board meeting of the World Association
of Domain Name Developers (the organization headed by Schwartz
and Neu that stages the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conferences and supports
other activities aimed at moving the industry forward). The
meeting was open to any registrant that wanted to attend and the
main topic of discussion was the location for future
current plan calls for holding the next show, T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
East 2006, at the plush new Diplomat Hotel in Hollywood,
Florida October 24-28. In 2007, a return to Las Vegas is
penciled in for March, followed by the first international show in
London in July, then a New York City show in
October. Florida would return to the rotation in February of 2008.
That schedule is subject to change and there was considerable
sentiment expressed for finding a way to move the New York show up
to help educate Madison Avenue
to the unlimited potential represented by quality domain names.
Diplomat Hotel in Hollywood, Florida
Site for T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East in October
the meeting, the final conference event, strictly for fun, was the
2nd Annual T.R.A.F.F.I.C. West Poker Tournament. Our
congratulations to Bob Deemer who walked away with all of
brought the curtain down on another great event and golden
opportunity to meet face to face with the people who have turned
the domain business into one of the hottest sectors of the
Internet economy. We join with the other attendees in expressing
appreciation for the work put in by Rick and Alina Schwartz
and Howard and Barbara Neu to make it happen, as well as to
the corporate sponsors that wrote the checks that made it
possible. You’ve all contributed to changing the domain
landscape in a way that no one could have dreamed of just 18
& Rick Schwartz
& Barbara Neu
For more photos from T.R.A.F.F.I.C. West 2006,
click the link below to continue on to our conference Photo
to Page 3 - The 2006 T.R.A.F.F.I.C. West Photo Gallery!