investor Frank Schilling summed it up well,
"Ron Sheridan’s story is long overdue.
Ron’s fingerprints are on every facet of
the modern domain industry. It’s also heartbreakingly
beautiful how he’s made so much with the hand he was
dealt. Ron never knew his biological family. I like to
think this helps to explain why he adopts so many
Sheridan conducts a "Town Hall
Frank Schilling (right) at the 2008
Global Conference in Hollywood,
|Schilling gave me an example of
what he was talking about. "We had a mutual
acquaintance who’s life fell apart in a really
unfortunate way. This individual went through a messy
divorce, insolvency, drug addiction - it was
terrible. Ron took it upon himself to fly out to
his home and extend a helping hand,"
"Ron approached me and others to assist.
I gave Ron several domain names to pass along to
this gent so he could get his life back on
track. Ron went on to sell the names for
him at a T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference for
more than a hundred thousand dollars. Ron became
this man’s safety net. Were it not for
I'm not sure he would have had one. He’s a
wonderful person with the biggest heart.
I am really grateful our work-lives intersected
- that I could say I knew him during
these years," Schilling said.
With Sheridan now at a
crossroads in his own life I knew this was the
right time to tell his story, though I knew
pulling it out of him might not be the easiest
thing in the world to do.
| Sheridan is not a guy who likes to talk
about himself. He would rather talk about you
and what your needs are, about his co-workers
and what great people they are, about this industry
and how fortunate we have all been to be a part
of it - anything but himself.
I figured the best way to go about it would
be to get him to talk about something he
especially loves - then see if I could switch
the subject! With Sheridan, the best bait
for that trap is baseball - he is nuts
about it. At the April 2006 Domain
Roundtable conference in Seattle
Sheridan chartered a bus to take a big
group of show goers to a Mariners game
against the Texas Rangers.
Sheridan took the hook. "One of the things I liked best about traveling around and meeting
(standing with Sevan Derderian) among
group of domainers at Seattle's Safeco Field in
|with customers was taking in a ball
game," Sheridan acknowledged. " My favorite baseball fan in all of domaining is
Howard Hoffman, even if he is a San Francisco
Giants fan (GO DODGERS!!)
fan Howard Hoffman and Dodgers fan Ron
Sheridan at the ballpark.
Hoffman, a domain investor based in Palo
Alto, California, said advice from Sheridan
made it possible for him to quit his 9
to 5 job to concentrate solely on domains.
"Ron Sheridan really opened my eyes with
respect to the potential for domain parking
revenue. Around 2003, at a San Francisco
Giants baseball game (Ron is unfortunately a
fan of the hated Dodgers), Ron told me
about upcoming changes at DomainSponsor that
were certain to cause parking revenue to go up
substantially," Hoffman said.
a result of that meeting, I completely
changed my domain strategy to traffic.
Prior to that time, I focused on domains for
resale, with parking as a fringe benefit.
It was as if I was Benjamin, in the
movie, The Graduate, and a
trusted, wiser person just said "Howard, I
want to tell you one word: "Traffic."
anecdotes like Hoffman's and Schilling's over and over,
all underscoring what Schilling said earlier - that
Sheridan essentially decided to adopt the domain
industry. His path to becoming a father-like figure to
so many in this business was a long and winding road
Sheridan conducts a panel discussion
Jan. 28 at the 2009 DOMAINfest Global
Conference as Michael Castello looks
was orphaned at the age of 7. He never got to
know his real father because the Air Force
veteran was a POW during the Korean
War. "When he returned, things were
never the same for him and when our mother left
he decided the best thing for my brother Richard
and I was the orphanage and he was right,"
Sheridan had been born in the
tiny town of Roaring Spring in south
central Pennsylvania, but by the time he
was 17 he had lived outside Washington, D.C.,
in Miami, Minnesota and northern Indiana.
His travels began at 11 when he was adopted by a
foster family headed by a Federal Aviation
Administration bookkeeper named Edward
Holson. Soon after taking Ron in, Holson
went into business for himself, buying a
pizzeria in Riverdale, Maryland called Pizza
Haven. Over the next four years, Sheridan
would get a real education in what being in
business for yourself really meant.
"I worked in the restaurant long
hours, 7 days a week during the summers and many week
nights, even during the school year. We all did.
My foster father was a hard working entrepreneur
and I learned a lot just by watching him and
incessantly asking questions which he would
always patiently answer. Later I worked briefly at
a McDonalds down the street and absolutely hated
it. I think I those consecutive experiences were
the genesis of my personal entrepreneurial evolution,"
would learn much more after a series of family moves
eventually brought him to Indiana. "I started my
sales career selling aluminium siding
there," Sheridan recalled. "Yes, I was a Tin
I was a canvasser and my brother Richard quickly
became a closer. Talk about baptism by fire!
I was knocking down $1,000 a week or more while
all my friends were slugging it out working in
factories. I had found my calling: Sales,"
knew "I could not stay in the hard sell sales
business though, so I started looking beyond and settled
on retail and chose my favorite subject - music.
I set my sights on owning a retail music store.
After getting married an opportunity came up when an
employer wanted to close 2 of his 3 stores and I
offered to buy one of the two." There was one
small complication here. Sheridan didn't have any money!
However, like all good entrepreneurs, he found an
unconventional way around that obstacle.
wife let me sell her car for the down payment
and the money needed to “operate” the cash
register. It was thin but we made it.
Unfortunately I soon realized that being
anchored to a retail store was not the life I
wanted. I liquidated the business at a healthy
profit within a year and moved to
to get into a new field that I believed was going
to be the next big thing: Personal Computers."
he now had experience owning and operating his
own business, Sheridan had to start at the
bottom to learn the ropes in his new chosen
field. "I had to take a job at a computer
store for $3.25 an hour just to break in
but it paid major dividends as I was the
only “Sales Professional” working among a
team of serious geeks and propeller heads,"
Sheridan said. "I taught them how to ask
for the order and they tolerated my inane
questions. The IBM PC arrived soon
after that and the money seemed to be raining
down from the sky. Apple's Mac quickly
followed and I saw the light, and made even more
Sheridan at the 2007 DOMAINfest
Global Conference in Hollywood.
He had come a long way from his
$3.25 an hour job in a computer shop!
by his newfound success, Sheridan delved deeper into the
world of high technology. "I began going online and
trying to understand the BBS subculture and
services like the The Source and Compuserve.
Apple leaped over everyone with a GUI based online
service for it’s staff, dealers, educators, etc.
called AppleLink. I quickly discovered how to
pull down the entire subscriber list and became one of
the first bulk emailers the AppleLink staff had
encountered," Sheridan said.
was promoting a very popular software title from a
company I was working for at the time, which I offered
to Apple peeps at $15 a copy, so they were real
cool about it. As a result the company built a
large base of advocates within Apple and the reseller
network. I later learned by reading a book by Guy
Kawasaki that I had created a small army of “Evangelists."
Who knew! Next came the VC money and I learned how
venture capitalists sink as many companies as
the company that made the product he was promoting wound
up on the rocks, it was another great learning
experience for Sheridan and, as is so often the case,
when one door closes, another one opens. Over the next
few years that process repeated over and over with each
new opportunity moving his career further down the
after my Mac software foray I started my own
software publishing and distribution company,'
Sheridan said. "That effort led to a
friendship with a guy who ended up at Netcom
and that relationship was my entree to the World
Wide Web. I had to close my software
company in '94 but I was offered a VP of
Sales and Marketing position for a feisty
little budget software company in
California. By '95 I was convinced
I would soon be full time internet focused
and by '96 I was," Sheridan said.
had a brief stint playing with buying domains
but I was too focused on wanting to build out
companies and missed a major chance to build
an impressive portfolio," Sheridan recalled
ruefully. "I remember seeing a table at an InternetWorld
expo in San Francisco where this kid
was showing a long list of domains he owned and
was there with a booth at a trade show trying to
raise money to buy more. I asked him why raise
money to buy more, why not build out?
me that domains would be more valuable than
people imagined since every internet
business needed a domain, and many would be
willing to pay a real premium for the right
name. Another missed opportunity for Ron!"
doesn't remember who that young domain investor was but
before long he would find himself immersed in the world
of domains too. "I stumbled around in the online
advertising and marketing space until I decided in the
middle of the dot com bust of 2000 that PPC
and other performance based models would dominate the
space in time," Sheridan recalled. "By 2001 I
was aggressively looking for a
based company that needed an experienced sales
professional as much as I needed a place to leverage my
skills and experience (a job that paid money)."
|Sheridan said by
that time he had realized that he was
better suited to be an “Intrapreneur”
(a team player who could help build a new
company up from the inside) than an
entrepreneur. Sheridan added, "I also
lacked any technical skills or depth. I was
actually unemployed when I came across
Ng online as a result of reading an online
|advertising discussion list."
(Editor's Note: Ng,
the subject of our March
2008 Cover Story, co-founded Oversee.net
with Fred Hsu). I think it took me
two months to even get a face to face meeting.
Lawrence and Fred had a perfect combination
of focus, discipline, dedication and drive. Fred
also has some serious tech skills and I knew
there was a strong fit and the chances
for success were even greater. I started
on September 16, 2001 as their first
Over the next seven years, Oversee would
become a powerhouse in the domain industry,
starting with the pioneering PPC company, DomainSponsor,
that Sheridan would become the front man for.
Oversee, who also had their own ad network,
would go on to acquire Moniker.com,
a key registrar and provider of brokerage and
aftermarket sales services, as well as SnapNames.com,
a company that birthed the drop catching
Co-Founders Lawrence Ng
and Fred Hsu (right) made Ron
their first employee in 2001.
soon as Oversee put Sheridan in the DomainSponsor saddle
as their Director of Business Development, he was off
to the races. In addition to courting individual
domainers face to face, he attached the DomainSponsor
name to every high visibility sponsorship opportunity he
could find - including lead sponsor for the industry's
first major domain conference in the fall of 2004, the
initial T.R.A.F.F.I.C. show in Delray Beach,
Berkens, a veteran Florida based domain
investor (who writes a popular blog at TheDomains.com)
still has vivid memories of his first face to
face meeting with Sheridan. "I had talked to Ron on the phone and online and
had actually started doing business with
DomainSponsor, as we all tend to do, before we met more than
six months later," Berkens said. "Ron called and said he was coming to Florida and could I suggest a place for lunch.
I suggested a restaurant where we could sit outside right on the beach.
I thought you’re coming to Florida, how can you
not see the beach."
"So I brought my wife,
Judi and my dog Bandit and we had a great
two-hour lunch. I think it was the first business meeting Ron ever held, that a dog
attended! Strike one on me," Berkens
smiled. "It was mid-July and very hot and humid.
By the end of the lunch Ron was just dying from the
heat. I of course, never having met Ron, didn’t realize that he was a bigger guy, more
likely to be effected from the heat. I remember
him saying. "How can you live here!" Strike
"Hot and exhausted from the heat and sun,
Ron gets into his rental car that had been parked in
the sun for hours with the windows closed, and he turns on the A/C, but doesn’t know about the recycle air button, and as he tells it, he sat in this boiling hot car waiting for the air to kick in, thinking to himself
“I’m going to die right here in this
car." Strike 3!," Berkens laughed.
But Sheridan was quick to forgive - if not to forget.
"Finally he figured out the A/C system and got the recycle button working and cool air came into the car.
He said it still took an hour for him to cool down. He tells me every time I see him he remembers that day like it was yesterday.
Over the years, every time Ron was in Florida he would call me.
He would say "It’s your town and I have to call and say
hello". Sometimes we would get together, sometimes one of our schedules meant we couldn't meet up, but he would
always call," Berkens said.
went on to tick off the qualities that he and
others appreciated in Sheridan. "A straight shooter.
Hard, hard worker. Huge heart. Big personality. Visionary.
Those are the first words that come to me when I think of
Ron," Berkens said. "For many of us, Ron
was DomainSponsor and although over the years I got to meet many people at
Oversee, I had a special relationship with Ron."
"The funny thing is everyone who Ron dealt with probably felt the same way.
Ron made you feel like you were his most important
client. That was his magic."
"Ron only wanted the best for the industry and his company.
In my opinion he personally pushed the domain industry forward miles and miles from where it would have been without him.
Ron still has all those valuable traits - he’s still is the guy I meet 7 years ago.
Ron’s still a young man, especially by my
standards. He’s still got a lot left in the tank and I’m sure he will continue to accomplish much in his life.
|Personally I know I have
a friend for life, because, as we all know.
I am Ron’s most valuable client!,"
Berkens concluded with a smile, knowing so many
others feel the same way.
his uniique approach to his job, Sheridan said "The
ETHOS that I believe became the genesis for our
success was set by Lawrence from day one: We
would take the high road in every instance and always
treat people with respect, we would always express our
gratitude, and be humble."
had the know how on building and growing high value
business relationships and I leveraged that steeped in
the confidence that we would treat our clients with
respect and gratitude, and I could always count on
Lawrence to allow me to do the right thing when the
time came. We learned so much from our friends and
customers in the early days. So many shared so much and
had a hand in our early success. I will never be
able to say thank you enough to so many people."
invested a lot in opportunities to meet people
face to face sometimes when they least expected
it, to make sure they understood how much we
valued the chance to work with them. A belief in
the immense value of a high valued relationship
was always at the forefront of my thinking and
actions. Having spent over 2 decades in
professional sales I knew that one-on-one
relationships are the bedrock of any
successful business, so I set out to make that
the bedrock of our business," Sheridan
facilitated a lot of face to face meetings in
unforgettable surroundings by throwing a series
of spectacular parties at major domain
conferences - events that ran the gamut from the
hottest night clubs (like the legendary Ghost
Bar in Las Vegas at T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
West on 2006), to a James Bond
themed casino night at
Global 2007 in Hollywood and right
on down the line to this past January's crowning
event at the Playboy Mansion during
DOMAINfest Global Conference.
In the photo
below Sheridan (wearing the red vest) enjoys a
special moment with his Oversee teammates. Sheridan said
"This is my favorite picture and one of my fondest
memories – from DOMAINfest Global 2007 in
California. This is the best team and the finest
people I have ever worked with."
to be James Bond for one night was a hard act to
top, but last month Sheridan was on hand to see it
happen at a Playboy Mansion party that set a new high
water mark attendees will be talking about for years to
come. Like Ted Williams who hit a home run in his
last at bat, Sheridan knocked one out of the park in his
final trip to the plate for Oversee.
wanted to do the Playboy Mansion party last year but the
stars did not align properly," Sheridan said.
"This year we had an opportunity to work with an
excellent event coordinator and promoter Jon Orlando
(son of Tony Orlando) who suggested we
incorporate a charity auction to our event as a
way to broaden it’s appeal and shift the focus off of
the images some have of an event held at the Playboy
think it worked and allowed us to help Autism
Speaks at the same time. Aaron
Kvitek, Oversee’s Marketing Director and the
entire DOMAINfest Global marketing team put so much
effort into conference and the party and everyone saw
the results. I truly deserve none of the
credit, they do, and I will always be grateful to them
for their hard work and dedication."
DOMAINfest Global 2009 guests begin arriving at
the Playboy Mansion
The DomainSponsor tent fills up as the party
swings into high gear.
the night of the Playboy Mansion party (January 29th),
Sheridan let his friends know that the event would be
his last as a full time employee at Oversee. He would be
leaving his position at the end of the week. The
Oversee-Sheridan marriage has worked so well for both
sides, that many questioned why they would split now.
"I want everyone to know that the decision to
leave my full time role was mine and mine alone,"
Sheridan said, adding, "I never intend to “leave”
Oversee. I am now engaged as a consultant to the company
and hope to be indefinitely. There is much more I can
and hope to do, and with good reason. As for the why:
it’s time for me to try to do it all over again."
|"Work wise, many
of my friends in and out of the space will tell
you I am a start up guy. I need the
environment of a startup to fully realize my
potential on a day to day basis. I
have a burning need to achieve, I love the
challenges, and believe only when I am back in
||start up situation will I be able
realize more of my potential. Oversee has grown
so much and has been able to attract some of
the most talented people I have ever
worked with. With any luck the startup
opportunity I seek will be one that I can help
develop with Oversee. Nothing would make me
happier or more successful," Sheridan said.
my personal life I will spend more time
with my family and friends, invest more in my
own personal enjoyment and take more time to
play with my toys. I’d really love to go back
and travel across the continent for a while,"
who know Sheridan cannot envision him in a
"life of leisure" for long though.
Like others in this industry, he is used to
putting in far more hours on the job that anyone
could ever guess. He has gladly done it because
he loves the business. Is there really anything
he would enjoy enough to keep that desire to get
back to work at bay?
question!," Sheridan said, one he obviously liked
because it gave him the chance to talk another true
love. "I’m a hobbyist musician, as in I have little
talent but enough money to buy the instruments.
I tried the professional route in the early 80s and all
I got for it was a pile of debt and a one line mention
Sheridan was the drummer for a notable Portland
garage rock band called the Miracle Workers)."
the end I realized I really just loved playing
music and in particular playing live and non
rehearsed. We in the biz refer to this
style as Jamming. I also realized the
other route requires some real serious skills.
Just ask “Mighty” Joe Higgins of
note: Joe is a top notch drummer who was
featured on national TV in 2007 when he was with
The Likes of You, a group competing on
the FOX TV show America's Next
Great Band). Some months back I moved up
and reunited with some old musician friends and
converted my living room into my own personal Abbey
Road studio," Sheridan said.
my last trip back before DOMAINfest Global our
bassist Phil gave myself and our
guitarist Barry a compilation CD he made
of our recorded jams to date. I can’t
tell you how exciting it was to listen to
the tracks. Seriously it is possible
alcohol played a role in my enthusiasm - I
honestly don’t remember."
had previously decided to take the
moniker of “The Skid Row Clowns”
as our band name. And yes I
reserved the domain. No typo
regs guys please! Our music (using
the term liberally) can best be
described as wet cats climbing
blackboards meets Death Proof. I
need to find a world class webmaster to
build us a site worthy of our eminent
worldwide acclaim! At left is a picture
of the planned cover for our
first CD release which will be
online only and free (priced in
direct relationship to the value
listeners will get from it). The songs
were never rehearsed, were only played
once and will never be played again (for
good reason)," Sheridan
|While Sheridan freely
admits that music isn't likely to pay the bills,
he thinks he knows of an asset that will,
despite the perilous economic times the
world finds itself in now. "Domain owners
are sitting on massive collections of some of
the most essential assets that will
||in greater and greater demand,
and used by more and more business operators all
over the world," said Sheridan (who has
some gems like Manage.com, tucked away
himself). "Using a build out domain as a marketing
platform for generating new revenue for an
existing or new business is now, and will become
even more so, the most cost effective way
to drive New Revenue, and New Revenue IS
the life blood of every business."
"The opportunities are greater,
not less, however so are the challenges.
I think we will see some much needed
innovation in the space, and as a major
shareholder in Oversee I hope it starts there
but it can of course start anywhere and
likely already has," Sheridan
opined, adding as he said goodbye (at least for
now), "If it was easy they
wouldn’t need us, right?" Right.
One door closes - another one opens. It
will be interesting to see which one Ron
Sheridan steps through next.