year later, T.R.A.F.F.I.C. returned to New York the very
same week that the world economy went into the scariest meltdown
since the Great Depression. By this time in 2008, PPC
revenues had already been cut in half and they have gone further
south since then. That has triggered a new wave of experimentation
as domain owners try to find ways to restore their revenue streams.
How have you tailored T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York 2009 to address
the landscape we have today and what do you see as the pluses and
minuses of the current environment?
Let’s start with the pluses and minuses of the current
environment. Tough times determine when you get your report
card and the grades you have achieved. Tough times test your
skills. Some are positioned to take advantage of others. The
strong will take over the weak. Nothing new. Already
happening. The big difference is the size of these
takeovers. So if you are in a strong financial and cash
position you can take advantage of great opportunity created
by those that are not in good shape. If you are not in good
shape, you are at the mercy of those that are.
2009 was the best deal making year I
have seen in my lifetime. That’s a good thing. But what
created that to happen was not a good thing. So with
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. and any of our shows, it is important to look
beyond the domain industry. We are investors first and
foremost whether we realize it or not. Just so happens that
at this moment in time, domains are what we invest the
heaviest in. So I always believe in studying the consumer as
he is the ultimate prize. They hold many of the
So while I think 2009 was a crisis unlike
anything we have seen, it won’t really trickle down until 2010. So
I think 2010 will have much more pain than 2009. Maybe a bit
more scared in 2009 because we had to adjust to a new economy. Now
the reality comes to be and a great divide will likely occur between
folks that made it with their homes and balance sheets and savings
intact and those that won’t make it and are likely to collapse. So
I see a lot of things playing out in 2010 and what we do at T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
is stay ahead of that curve. No value telling everyone we hit
an iceberg after the fact. We have to foresee things that nobody
sees and do it before anyone else. That’s what we do. That’s
what this industry is.
Domain investors are still looking for good domains at
reasonable prices and we believe that both Moniker
Latona Auctions will have plenty of those
domains up for sale. Additionally, we predicted last
year that domainers would be looking beyond PPC, and that
has become a reality. While there are more and more
domains being developed into web sites, creative businesses
are bringing out new programs and platforms for income
producing domains which will be showcased at T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
Last year the theme for your show was “Beyond PPC”.
I haven’t seen a theme for the upcoming conference posted
online yet. Is that because you haven’t settled on a
specific theme or are there too many forces at play to focus
on any one area this year?
I can name that tune in one note Ron: “Survival.”
As you can see last year when PPC was still flying pretty
high, we saw what was coming and we knew it would take time
to adjust. Look what happened since that show. I think it
just proved what I said in the first question. We saw
that iceberg from a long way off. Do the folks reading
this believe it was a popular decision to do this when the
|the sponsors are PPC companies?
Do you think that would be a subject tackled at another
show? Maybe now that the trail has been blazed and nobody
can argue with the facts as they have occurred since then.
It was imperative that domainers look beyond PPC last year.
So was that the right call? I sure as hell think so when you
look how it all unfolded. We saw it coming and alerted folks
and I bet it helped folks get on the right side of the
equation to survive. Not only survive, but then thrive. All
this in the worst of times. Make hay when the sun shines and
have plenty of hay when it doesn’t. That is what we
So last year it was easy to identify a theme
and that theme was timed perfectly. This year’s theme really is
survival. It is how do you bridge the gap over troubled waters?
How do you employ a long term strategy to what you hold and what you
have learned? So the theme of the show is to STOP and take
stock of where we are. The mistakes we made. The things we got
right. The biggest mistake was when the $$$ were flying around like
no tomorrow, that the industry never put together a war chest to
protect themselves. Now the industry is too weak to do it. The
dollars are no longer flying. That, my friends, was a missed
opportunity and we will all pay dearly for it. We are now at the
mercy of the big guns and hope they look at things the way we do.
But make no mistake. No domainer truly has control of his destiny as
things stand now. You may hate AT&T or Verizon or GE
or a host of other companies, but those are the ONLY ones that
can protect you. These type of companies will either protect you or
defeat you or both. This is the way things play out and if you
don’t get that part of the equation, you will as it happens.
As always you are introducing some new wrinkles this year including
the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Test Track. Tell is about some of the new
features and give us an overview of what you see as agenda
highlights in general.
Neu's Tonight Show styled man-in-the-street
interviews, introduced at T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
last spring, will return at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York
Test Track (our version of the popular ABC-TV show Shark
Tank), is the most exciting concept to hit the domain
world since we started live auctions four years ago.
We have a qualified panel of domain investors who will
be grilling applicants to determine whether their programs and
projects are worth investing their money.
On the other hand, we have applicants with exciting
programs and projects that they would love to see get off the
ground, if only the money was there to accomplish their
dreams. The results
promise to be fun and exciting for everyone.
We also will bring back our version of The
man-in-the-street interviews, which promise to be both
hilarious and enlightening. We
have a new version of Speed Networking that worked very well
This year there was tremendous interest in the annual
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Awards with voting in the various
categories topping all previous years.
The Awards, for the first time, will be presented at
our new Awards Brunch to be held on Wednesday, October 28th.
Schwartz: Last year I rang the bell and stated that PPC
was in trouble and domainers needed to start with other
alternatives. Many believed I was exaggerating the issue. Now we can
look back and see how things unfolded and see the almost
unimaginable weakness in that sector. As domainers our biggest curse
is lack of focus. It is time to start going through your
domain inventory and decide the domains that are worth trying to
develop a business around. It’s a bit ass backward. Normally you
have an idea for a business and then get a domain to match. That is
easier if you ask me. In our case we have the domain and have to
figure out the business plan around that.
When I watched the first five
minutes of Shark Tank I was sold. We have
some very intelligent people in the domain business. Really
sharp folks. But many of these folks are young and idealistic
and sometimes that just does not fly in business. So this show
smacks you upside the head and gives you a crash course in reality.
No nonsense. No mincing words. No worrying about hurt feelings; real
old school business being done by contemporary people. The T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
Test Track will take about three shows to evolve if what we have
planned works out. But we are willing to take the risk to move us
all up one peg.
So that is just one area.
Other T.R.A.F.F.I.C. shows have been much more defined
because you could clearly see what was going to unfold. In
times like this, that can’t be done in the same way. In a
“business fog” you have to move slowly and
deliberately. It is also a great opportunity to reach out to
allied industries and see what common interests we have. So
you will see different faces and different companies.
While T.R.A.F.F.I.C. will expand from three annual
conferences to six in 2010, the upcoming New York show still
marks an end of an era in one respect. I understand that you
and Howard have decided to turn over operations of all but
one of next year’s shows to your new
Schwartz (at podium) and Howard Neu welcoming
attendees to T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York last year.
|partner Rick Latona, with you and
Howard running the remaining show that is to be held (at a
date to be announced) in your home state of Florida.
How did you arrive at that decision and how will it affect
how you approach the last out-of-state show you will
directly oversee later this month? Also, looking further out
– how will it affect your roles with T.R.A.F.F.I.C. next
year when you slow down your personal involvement?
Schwartz: I was not looking for a job when we started T.R.A.F.F.I.C..
I was retired and enjoying life. T.R.A.F.F.I.C. is a LOT of
work. Folks really can’t understand the amount of time we have
invested in it. Folks don’t realize that we are lucky to break
even. But that was never our focus. We just wanted a rising tide for
all and that would be good for all. If it were up to me I would have
stopped T.R.A.F.F.I.C. in 2007 after Steve Forbes and rode
into the sunset. I knew the next few years would be difficult and we
would be basically volunteering our time. I don’t like working for
free and then taking a lot of complaints besides. But Howard and
others convinced me otherwise and I committed for two more
So when Rick Latona approached us
with his idea to expand T.R.A.F.F.I.C. globally, it was worth
sitting down and listening to his vision. Our visions have a lot in
common, but also quite a bit not in common. That sounded like the
right recipe at this stage to keep T.R.A.F.F.I.C. as the gold
standard while expanding to every corner of the world. How will it
work out? I think it will be a winner. But like everything else, we
will see it all unfold before our eyes. So I plan to give support
where I can, but it is also time for me to step back and start
devoting more of my time to my own businesses and projects. The one
show each year in Florida will remain the #1 event in the industry.
We will be announcing in New York that next October 2010 T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
will be going to South Beach!!
Bottom line, we added a booster
rocket to T.R.A.F.F.I.C. at a time everyone else is pulling
back. We are about to venture to all points of the globe and that is
a great thing for everyone reading this.
are both returning from a site visit to the venue that will
be hosting our 2010 show next October and we are really
pumped by the venue that is the most exciting that we have
had in our five years of presenting the very best networking
and industry expo to domainers from around the world.
We are also thrilled to be working with the Rick
Latona group who are putting together five outstanding shows
throughout the four corners of the world to make
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. the gold standard for the world’s domainers
to network and make money no matter where they live.
New York will also be the swan song for multiple domain
auctions at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. with RickLatona.com becoming the
exclusive auction provider in 2010. Multiple auctions were
one of the innovations T.R.A.F.F.I.C. introduced. With the
benefit of 20/20 hindsight how do you feel that experiment
went with respect to its pros and cons?
Schwartz: The auctions were Howard’s idea and
Moniker implemented it at a perfect time. It literally
changed the industry. It got to a point where Moniker was
doing things in their contract that really created some
issues and the boards were burning up for months if not
Wayne Wheat conducting
Moniker's live domain auction at
T.R.A.F.F.I.C New York 2008.
|year or longer about it. Bottom
line, I love Monte Cahn and the crew but it was
really more important that the industry not be choked off.
So after over a year of consideration, we opened it to
everyone and had multiple auctions. Sometimes you can’t
let a friendship stand in the way of the future and progress
for an entire industry. These are not easy decisions. But
“Easy” is not our focus. It gave folks a choice and it
helped to alleviate a lot of things that were going on at
the time. Today there are a number of choices and I think we
helped to bring that out. Let the marketplace determine
Last year at this time, due to the explosion of events on the
conference calendar, we were talking about “show fatigue”.
Even though there were more shows than ever in the first half of
this year, the second half has been an entirely different story with
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York standing alone as the only major global
conference scheduled in the final six months of 2009. Has this
situation produced an noticeable change from your perspective in
terms of the level of interest and anticipation for this event?
Schwartz: I think 2009 was definitely a year of fatigue
with shows. But it is also clear that the Fall is the beginning of
the business cycle. That is why our October show is so important.
Like I always say, “Timing is everything.” I think there
will be fewer big shows in the future and more smaller satellite
events. I could sit here and critique all the shows in 2009. But we
all saw the successes and failures. In 2010 folks are going to be
much more choosy as to where they go. Either way, T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
remains not only the leader, as we have set the tone and agenda for
years, but will emerge more valuable as other shows focus more on
their own sales and survival.
Bottom line, we can
discuss things that they never would. We have the freedom to
call it like we see it. How do they effectively and honestly
criticize Google or Yahoo? How can they
possibly act as an “honest broker”? They dare not do
what we can because they have too much at stake to speak
out. So if Google collects .25 from the advertiser and we
get .02, where is the breakdown on the other 23 cents??? We
have to stop “Asking” for this information and start to DEMAND
it. But better yet, domainers should do everything in their
power to make sure they are not dependant on either
of these companies or anyone else to make a living in the
future. Do you really believe any one at any other show
would say something like that??
Maybe folks forgot why T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
came about in the first place. It was born out of anger and
frustration because folks like Google and Yahoo really did
not understand the
|differences in types of T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
at that point in time. They do now. So we have never been
afraid to take the bull by the horns and in New York that
BULL is going to do some pretty straight talking and let the
chips fall where they may! Domainers should no longer accept
being treated and looked at as TOE JAM! When is it time to
take your destiny back in your own hands? Isn’t watching
payouts drop as they have a good motivator??
So here is the bottom line. If you
like to be passive and not make waves ….. DON’T COME TO
If you are happy with your current
situation and earnings …… DON’T COME TO T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
If you don’t care that the bulk
of YOUR earnings are landing in pockets of others …….. DON’T
COME TO T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
If you are too scared to confront
Google and Yahoo ……. DON’T COME TO T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
I can give you many reasons not to
COME TO T.R.A.F.F.IC. It does not scare me to do that because we are
not here to make friends. We are here to do business. Make business.
I will give you one GREAT
reason to come to T.R.A.F.F.I.C…… Take back your own destiny!
Rick and I have been thrilled with the enthusiasm of
everyone in the industry who will be coming to New York.
Last year, the food, the ambience, the networking,
the food, the parties, the food, the presentations, the
Keynote Speaker Barbara Corcoran and the food, were
so well-received that everyone is looking forward to going
back to the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott for more of the same.
Anything else you would like to add about T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New
York 2009 before we let you get back to your last minute
preparations for the event?
Schwartz: For many, the best days of domaining
are now behind them. For some, the best days still lay
ahead. The decisions you make in 2009 and 2010 will
determine which category you fall into. We are in the midst
of a record breaking year for domain sales. I have been
saying this for months; a fact that has just yet to unfold.
Unfortunately, it is a record that will be made on the
weakness of the industry and not the strength of the
industry. Big overheads are driving these sales. Getting
one’s fiscal house in order is driving this record.
|There is a time to go to a show
primarily for the parties and a time to go to the shows
primarily for business. New York MEANS business. The
networking in New York will be as important as ever. And one
last tidbit. This is the biggest percentage of domainers
over sponsors coming to our show ever. 60% domainers,
40% sponsors. So the “Chemistry” that is the invisible
byproduct of T.R.A.F.F.I.C. will make this the most
important show to this point. Isn’t it time to figure out
how to take your own destiny back?
Neu: We have
opened the doors of T.R.A.F.F.I.C. to anyone in the domain business
who wants to make money and have made this show the most affordable
one ever. For our FIFTH
ANNIVERSARY SHOW, we are pulling out all the stops to provide the
very best information, networking, parties and presentations to make
it the MUST ATTEND event of the year.
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. has always been about making money for our
attendees , because T.R.A.F.F.I.C. MEANS BUSINESS.