Schwartz and Neu will resurface on the show
circuit only once in the upcoming year, having retained the
rights to run a big show in their home state of Florida at
the Loews Hotel on Miami's South Beach in October 2010
(October 17-19, 2010 to be specific).
Though not exactly their swan song, this third
consecutive annual show in the Big Apple was a fitting first
class send off for Schwartz and Neu as they head off for a well
deserved 12-month break from the show production grind. Equally
deserving of an extended vacation are their wives, Barbara Neu and
Alina Schwartz, who have worked tirelessly alongside them at
every show for the past five years.
Neu (left) and Alina Schwartz (right) welcome
Judi Berkens (center) to T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York
The Neu's son Ray Dillman has done the same, but
that young man's work has just begun. Now an executive with the Rick
Latona team, Ray will continue to work on the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. shows
when the Latona crew takes charge beginning with T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
West in Las Vegas January 21-23.
Even though an ICANN meeting was running
in Seoul, Korea at the same time (pulling away many people
who would have been at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. otherwise) a solid crowd of
close to 300 people was on hand when the New York event got underway
with the traditional opening night cocktail party at the Brookyln
Bridge Marriott Monday evening, October 26.
Neu in New York
in the crowd at the
opening night cocktail party that kicked off T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New
Above (L to R): NameMedia team members Joanne Rim, David
Zakur and Cortnee Gunn
Douglas (Oakville.com) and Patrick Ruddell (ChefPatrick.com)
The opening night networking always gets the week off
to a sizzling start and
invariably ends well after the scheduled
closing time with hotel staffers having to nudge
people toward the
exits so they can finally go home!
The next morning, Schwartz and Neu kicked off
the first full day of business with welcoming comments at 10am. At
10:30 the first of several new T.R.A.F.F.I.C. features was unveiled.
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Test Track, a takeoff on the ABC-TV
show Shark Tank, gave three people
seeking funding for their development projects a chance to pitch
their ideas to a panel of potential investors that included (left to
right in the photo below) Michael Berkens, Rick Latona,
Jon Waterman, Rick Schwartz, Michael Castello, David
Castello and Dr. Chris Hartman (moderator Howard Neu is
standing at the podium at left).
developers making presentations were Kevin Woods (ByOwner.com),
Mark Michael (DevHub.com) and Poland's Daniel Dryzek
who has plans for a multi-service ccTLD conglomerate in Europe.
The three were chosen from more than 20 applicants seeking the same
opportunity. Though none won funding on the spot, all
impressed panelists with their presentations and some of the
investors expressed an interest in learning more about their
audience members (right) and moderator Howard Neu (left) looking on,
makes his pitch to the investor's panel during the T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
Test Track session Oct. 27.
Kevin Woods kicked off the session seeking $500,000
for 20% of his profitable ByOwner.com real estate listing
service, a business that Woods said generated a $150,000
annual profit on $225,000 in revenues. Most of the panelists
bowed out either because they thought Woods' valuation was too high
of because they thought there would be too much brand confusion with
a popular company at BuyOwner.com. Woods said his company
offered different services than that site and had huge growth
potential, also adding that he owned his name first so trademark
concerns were not an issue.
Though Woods didn't get the funding he sought
his presentation was very well done and he did T.R.A.F.F.I.C. a
favor by immediately demonstrating the viability of the Test Track
concept as an informative and entertaining addition to the
conference program. Audience members got some unique insights
into the mindset of both web-based business owners and potential
investors that could help them as they develop their own online
far right, Mark Michael (DevHub.com) make his pitch to the Test
Mark Michael of DevHub showed that the
opportunity to present is also a great way to publicize and promote
an existing business. Michael, who sought $1,000,000 for 10%
of the company, told everyone he didn't know Test Track was
going to be conducted in front of a live audience. He thought
it would be a private pitch to the investors but Michael quickly
adapted and used the platform to spread the word about DevHub, a
company that already has a number of high profile investors,
including Rob Monster.
|Poland's Daniel Dryzek was the final
presenter. He sought $1 million for 20% of his
company, a firm that plans to invest in European ccTLDs
and become a one stop service provider for domain
owner/developers on the Continent. Dryzek already owns 5,000
generic keyword ccTLD domains and runs the MeetDomainers
conference that just conducted its second
annual show in Warsaw. Panelists liked
him and his plans but most were out due to unfamiliarity
with some areas in the European market, including Dryzek's
home base in Poland. The Castello Brothers urged him to seek
funding at home, where people would be more familiar with
his targeted market than U.S. based investors are.
The Test Track
concept has terrific potential so I hope it will remain
a part of the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. program in future shows. Before
the debut of this feature Schwartz said it would take about
three shows to get the recipe
for this idea right, just as it took the live domain
auctions that T.R.A.F.F.I.C. and Moniker pioneered a
few outings before they got the formula right and started
having great success with it. Eventually, the Test Track
investors panel could include
capitalists (like Rob Monster, who was in the audience)
rather that the well-known domain figures on this panel who
are already so busy with their own successful projects that
investing in additional outside ventures is less appealing
that it might be to pure angel investors.
Anchorman Rick Sanchez
delivering his keynote address
lunch break that followed featured CNN anchorman Rick
Sanchez's keynote address. Sanchez
has been a pioneer in melding traditional TV journalism with
live interaction from his audience via social media
platforms like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace.
Like print, TV has been losing viewers to the Internet so
Sanchez decided he had to come up with a way to re-engage
the audience. By turning his newscast into a social media
platform of its own, featuring live commentary and questions
posted by viewers, he has succeeded in that quest and his
career has been on an upward trajectory ever since.
"The more I
did it, the better the show got," Sanchez said.
"It was no longer the Rick Sanchez Show,
it was their show." Sanchez
told the audience that the new media delivery system
is going to push out the old one and urged them to
incorporate social media in their own
development ventures if they want to better tap into the
vast revenues that will be generated in the migration of
media from traditional platforms to the web.
who donated his speaking fee to charity, also made a funny comment
about Rick Schwartz's $750,000 sale of the domain name, iReport.com
to CNN. Most people in the domain business thought the domain was
worth only a fraction of that amount, but noting that the iReport
concept has been a huge success for his network, Sanchez said with a
smile, "Rick didn't get enough money for the name - he
Ghosh - DomainAdvertising.com's VP
of Strategy and Business Development at the
company's booth. He was on the Ad Networks
and Traffic Quality panel Tuesday, October 27.
lunch the first afternoon session covered Ad Networks
and Traffic Quality - a New Weapon in a Down Economy.
Panelists included Alap Ghosh (DomainAdvertising.com),
Steve O'Brien (Click Forensics), Adam Epstein
(AdMarketplace), Adam Heimlich (Razorfish) and Richard
Sim (Anchor Intelligence).
made its debut at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York. Ghosh said the
the domain medium and its merits to key online ad spend
controllers, and helps these media buyers effectively use
the domain channel, thus creating sustainable value for both
the advertiser and the publisher." Buying Domain
Traffic, Leasing Domains, Advanced Audience Targeting via
Domains and Competitive Elimination are some of the services
that DomainAdvertising.com provides to agencies,
advertisers, ad networks and other aggregators.
studies show that online advertisers are very interested in
learning more about the domain channel. The advertisers who
aren't using the domain
yet said that they will jump all over it, if someone just
shows them how. Across all advertisers, the primary
focus of 2009 has been ROI improvement on ad spend.
Advertising on domains provides just that. We are bringing
in fresh thinking and out-of-the-box solutions that will
help advertisers buy the right traffic and publishers sell
their inventory for the right price." DomainAdvertising.com
is accepting pre-registrations for its domain publisher
program on it’s website.
up was one of T.R.A.F.F.I.C.'s perenially
popular events - speed networking. The format was changed
this year to a more effective one (first used at T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
Amsterdam in June). Attendees sit facing each other in
chairs arranged in two giant circles. Those in the outer circle
rotated over one seat every two minutes allowing each participant to
meet and exchange business cards with dozens of new contacts before
the hour was over.
from the Speed Networking session Tuesday, Oct. 27.
Sequin (HavanaJournal.com) makes a new contact.
business day closed with the RickLatona.com
live domain auction, a sale that reminded me a bit of the glory days
of such events. A big crowd was in the room filling most of the
seats and overflowing along the back wall where dozens viewed the
action while standing. Better yet, they were breaking open their
wallets to make big purchases like Rio.com ($450,000), Whiskey.com
($185,000) and SchoolLoans.com ($137,500), the latter
being a fully developed site with a nice revenue stream. While the
final total of approximately $1.2 million was a long way from
the record breaking days we saw a couple of years ago, the overall
vibe throughout the energetic event produced a feeling that the
aftermarket is on its way back.
Bidders crowd into ballroom for the Rick Latona live domain
Another scene from the Rick Latona auction Tuesday, Oct. 27
the day's business done, it
was time to play, and Skenzo allowed attendees do that in
style at their jam-packed casino night party in Manhattan.
Guests were taken to the soiree at the Touch night club in a
huge fleet of limousines. Those who won at the gaming tables
received tickets to drawings for more than a dozen high tech gifts
including Amazon Kindles, Sony cameras and a Blue Ray video system.
The party drew well deserved rave reviews from everyone I spoke to.
from Skenzo's official T.R.A.F.F.I.C. party at the Touch
night club in Manhattan.
to right in middle of photo above: Rob Grant with daughters Lizzy
Vishal Manjalani (center) calls out winning ticket numbers in a
schedule opened with a fascinating 10am session
called Inside the Candy.com Deal, that
featured both the seller of the $3 million domain,
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founder Rick Schwartz, and the buyers, Joe
Melville and Greg Balestrieri of the Melville Candy
Company. This was the first time the three men had met in
person. Morning sessions held the day after the official show party
have always been very lightly attended as people sleep in after a
long night out. This one was no exception and it's a shame because
it was one of the most interesting sessions, not just for the New
York conference, but for any conference I have attended over the
Melville (left) and Greg Balestrieri (right) of the Melville
gave Rick Schwartz a bonus when they met in person for
the first time Oct. 28.
On top of the $3 million they paid for Candy.com,
the duo presented
Schwartz with a giant lollipop to commemorate the deal.
sides detailed how the often contentious negotiations led to a deal
and Schwartz, who is known as one of the shrewdest negotiators in
the domain industry, revealed some of the tactics he has used in
this and other landmark deals (like the $750,000 sale of iReport.com
to CNN) to earn top dollar for his domains.
In defense of his often brusque negotiating tactics Schwartz said,
"I have a theory that if someone really wants something
it is impossible to piss them off! You can't take negotiating
personally. If people stick around even when I try to brush them off
I know they can be serious partners. If people get offended I
know they didn't seriously want the domain and I am better off not
wasting my time with them."
this was the first time Melville and Balestrieri had heard
Schwartz's theory, Balestrieri essentially confirmed what Schwartz
said. "He did try to piss us off," Balestrieri laughed,
"but we didn't care. He is stern but he is fair and he knew how
much that domain was worth."
Melville gives his account
of the Candy.com deal.
is a good thing that a category killing domain like
Candy.com went to two young and energetic end users like
Melville and Balestrieri who couldn't be better evangelists
for the inherent value of owning such a powerful domain. The
two executives from the family-owned Massachusetts-based
candy company said that since they took over the domain in
June they have received thousands of daily type-in visitors
and they believe they can make $1 million a year on
that traffic. "We will see a return on our investment
very soon," Balestrieri said. On that note Schwartz
said, "As time goes on this purchase is going to get
smarter and smarter from their perspective and dumber and
dumber from mine! These guys have won the game, the other
guys in their industry just don't know it yet."
noted that buying the domain has brought them a lot of
positive attention including a cover story in the industry
a spotlight they never could have gotten otherwise. He added
that despite being a small company, the domain has given
them instant credibility and respect from the large players
in their industry, even though some still don't fully
understand why they paid $3 million for a generic domain
said, "We are young and we want to think outside the box.
We hope to revolutionize the industry with bold ideas and thinking.
This purchase made our company an internationally recognized brand overnight.
" Schwartz concurred saying, "They will disrupt an
industry that has been around for a long time and will go it on a
worldwide basis. They are going to shock the established
sides stressed the importance of the role their attorneys played in
drawing up an ironclad contract that made the deal acceptable
to both sides. That is a separate story in itself but both sides
said getting the exact terms spelled out in writing to the
satisfaction of both sides is critical in making a deal like this
the Candy.com session was another T.R.A.F.F.I.C. first, a
two-hour brunch, sponsored by EuroDNS,
that stretched from 11am to 1pm and featured an array of
speakers plus the main event - presentation of the annual T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
Awards. The speakers included Gregg McNair
(who is profiled in our current Cover
Story), who spoke on behalf of The
Water School, a great charitable organization
that the industry has been rallying behind.
I delivered a report on aftermarket
domain sales through the first three quarters of this year.
The numbers I cited are detailed in our latest monthly newsletter.
I also had the singular honor of seeing Bobbleheads.com
founder Warren Royal unveil a new Ron Jackson
bobblehead doll during the brunch. Royal had one placed at
every table setting so let me take this opportunity to
apologize in advance for any indigestion that may have
Owner Warren Royal
Jackson and his pint-sized doppelganger. The new bobblehead
was introduced by Bobbleheads.com at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New
Royal, who is a dedicated domain owner/developer, introduced the
company's first domain industry bobblehead last year in New York
with a Rick Schwartz doll. He decided to follow up on the theme this
year and I was certainly humbled that he chose to add me to his
extensive inventory at Bobbleheads.com. In addition to retailing
countless bobblehead figures, Royal has increasingly moved into
manufacturing and recently inked
a deal with the estate of the late Dr. Martin Luther
King to produce and sell a commemorative bobblehead doll that
will be available at the King Center in Atlanta among
In another nice gesture, Schwartz and Neu called representatives
of Moniker.com to the podium to thank them for the role the
company has played in T.R.A.F.F.I.C.'s success over the years,
especially as the original operator of the show's live domain
auctions. Starting next year, that five-year relationship will end
as Rick Latona Auctions becomes the sole auction provider for
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Moniker CEO Monte Cahn was singled out for
praise but unfortunately, because he is recuperating from a foot
injury, could not be at the conference. Bari Meyerson and John
Mauriello stepped up to represent Moniker (Victor Pitts was
also at the conference but missed the brunch due to a meeting).
Neu (left) and Rick Schwartz (right) thank Moniker.com
reps John Mauriello
and Bari Meyerson for Moniker's role in
T.R.A.F.F.I.C.'s success over the past 5 years.
The highlight of the Wednesday brunch was the
presentation of the annual T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Awards. Honors went out in
8 categories and veteran domain investor Michael
Berkens, who also writes a popular blog at TheDomains.com,
picked up trophies in two of those. Berkens joined the Castello
Brothers (David and Michael) as this year's inductees
into the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Hall of Fame and also picked up the
top individual award - Domainer of the Year.
(left to right): T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founder Howard Neu,
Domainer of the Year Michael Berkens and his fellow Hall of
inductees David Castello and Michael Castello,
and Rick Schwartz.
award winners were all chosen in open balloting. Here are the
winners in the six other categories:
Of The Year - Parked.com
Award accepted by Donny Simonton
Overall Domain Solution - Sedo.com
Award accepted by Frank Tillmanns
New Monetizing Solution - Above.com
accepted by Nancy Bianchi
Developer Of The Year - Shaun Pilfold
Shaun could not be in New York to accept the
Award but here is a photo of him from our files.
“We Get It” Award - Melville Candy
Award accepted by Joe Melville and Greg
Domain News Blog - Ron Jackson
The Wednesday afternoon
schedule opened with Blog Roll, a session that
featured Man on the Street video interviews conducted by Howard
Neu in Florida before the show, with the panelists
(industry reporters and bloggers) then commenting on the sometimes
surprising street sentiment expressed in the videos on three topics.
Those were the interviewees' preferred computer operating systems
and search engines (Mac rapidly gaining ground on Windows
and Google trouncing Yahoo in search), preferred
social media outlets (Facebook in a landslide) and their
preferred source for news (the Internet overwhelming
Roll panelists (from left to right): Rick Latona (RickLatona.com),
Elliot Silver (ElliotsBlog.com), Michael Berkens (TheDomains.com),
Owen Frager (FragerFactor.com), Ron Jackson (DNJournal.com),
Rick Schwartz (RicksBlog.com) and moderator Howard Neu.
up was a Meeting of
the Chiefs, with seven top level company executives fielding
questions about the current state and future of domain monetization
from four panelists who operate their own companies (left to
right in the photo below); Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds (Precision
Marketing Solutions, Inc.), Gregg McNair (PPX International),
Ron Jackson (DNJournal.com) and Lonnie Borck (Bookmarks.com).
executive team featured
(left to right in the photo below): Divyank Turakhia (Skenzo),
Pete Lamson (NameMedia), Ammar Kubba (TrafficZ), Peter
Celeste (Oversee.net), Dr. Kevin Ham (Reinvent), Sean
Moriarty (DDC.com) and Donny Simonton (Parked.com).
revenues have declined across the board over the past year prompting
many domain owners to actively seek out alternative methods of
monetization. However, the company executives all said they are
working on various innovations to improve conversions and payouts
including incorporating additional monetization methods (such as CPA
and ecommerce platforms) alongside PPC. Another strategy for
some is making acquisitions that they think will help them retain
their roles as the leading providers of domain monetization services
(one example being Parked.com's purchase of minisite services
conference closed with Moniker.com's
final T.R.A.F.F.I.C. live domain auction. With total sales coming in
at approximately $412,150, the Moniker auction didn't fare as
well as the Rick Latona sale the previous day. Some frequent auction
buyers in the audience told me they passed on many names in the
Moniker event because they felt the reserves were set too high. The
biggest sale was Multivitamins.com at $45,000 (the
Latona auction Tuesday had been topped by Rio.com at $450,000). Moniker
did add an additional $278,338 in sales through a week-long
extended online auction that followed the live event, increasing
their total take to more than $690,000.
from Moniker's live domain auction Oct. 28 in New York.
New York closed the industry's 2009 conference schedule. 2010
action opens in January when T.R.A.F.F.I.C. returns to Las Vegas.
Here is the complete list of locations and dates for next year's T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
conferences, a slate that will feature four new
Las Vegas - January
Milan, Italy - April 27-29, 2010
Vancouver, Canada -
June 15-18, 2010 (Update - Vancouver
dates have been changed to June 8-10, 2010)
Dublin, Ireland - August 24-26, 2010
Miami (South Beach) - October 17-19, 2010
Hong Kong - November 15-16, 2010
closing we would just add our voice to those who have expressed
appreciation to Rick Schwartz, Howard Neu and their families for
what they have done to advance the industry by creating the
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference in 2004 and ensuring that the event has
continually evolved over the past five years to stay abreast of
current industry issues and trends. Going forward, we think
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. will be in good hands with the Rick Latona team who
will put their own unique stamp on the five shows they will produce
Latona and his team at RickLatona.com will stage five of
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conferences coming up around the world in
remains the only constant in this fascinating business and in our
view the best way to keep pace with those changes and make them work
in your favor is to
take advantage of the incomparable networking and educational
opportunities provided by our industry's top notch trade shows.
Thank you New York!