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March 23, 2017

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Here's the The Lowdown from DN Journal,
updated daily
to fill you in on the latest buzz going around the domain name industry. 

The Lowdown is compiled by DN Journal Editor & Publisher Ron Jackson.

Radix & Sedo Confirm Record-Breaking All Cash Sale of Casino.online for Over $200,000

Radix, the operator of multiple new top-level domains (gTLDs), has announced the sale of Casino.online to an anonymous buyer for $ 201,250 in an all-cash deal. The registry made the sale through Sedo, the world’s largest domain marketplace and monetization provider. This is the highest reported price paid to date for a single domain in a new gTLD

Casino is one of the highest valued keywords on the web and the term "casino online" is the 4th most valuable in the UK according to Radix. With

respect to the the extension, .online was launched in August 2015 and Radix is already able to  point  to several popular developed websites including TNW.online, Lending.online, Africa.online, Geeks.online and Sportwetten.online among others. The company also cites an ICANN survey that ranks  .online number 1 in customer awareness in Europe and countries like Germany, France and Poland vs. all other new domains. The survey ranked .online at #3 in awareness worldwide.

Sandeep Ramchandani (Radix VP/Business Head) speaking at the 2017 NamesCon conference in Las Vegas in January.

Sandeep Ramchandani, Vice President/Business Head at Radix, said, "This sale validates the global potential of our gTLDs owing to their top-notch quality and usability. As brands increasingly choose new domain extensions for innovative branding of their web address, the valuation of new gTLDs is going higher with each passing year."

Sedo CEO Tobias Flaitz added, “We believe five and even six-figure sales in this category should continue to be on the rise as Sedo supports Registries with a full suite of marketing and sales activities; helping to grow awareness for premium domains.” 

In addition to .online, the Radix portfolio of  gTLDs includes .tech, .website, .store, .space and .fun (which is currently in the Sunrise phase) among others.  Ramchandani and his team believe specific brand-TLDs or TLDs for a niche vertical have a limited market but generic domain names such as .online or .website have much wider usability, thus indicating that not all gTLDs are made equal in their estimation.  At the same time they noted that 

some of their sector specific TLDs such as .tech and .store are seeing considerable organic adoption thanks to their direct relevance to the technology and e-commerce fields.

(Posted March 23, 2017) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2017/dailyposts/20170323.htm

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Domain Consultant, Investor & Writer Joseph Peterson Joins Epik as Director of Operations

Veteran domain industry branding consultant, investor and writer Joseph Peterson has joined Epik Holdings, Inc. as Director of Operations (Joseph is also a veteran in the original military sense of the word having spent eight years as a Navy submarine officer)! Peterson entered the domain world in 2011 after leaving active duty and had an immediate impact with most first becoming familiar with him through his very well written, thoughtful commentary on industry issues. Initially that came in insightful posts on leading industry blogs, then in 2014 became more formalized when he became a regular contributor at DomainNameWire.com.

At Epik Peterson will oversee process improvements, manage customer relations, coordinate outreach, advise the company and its clients on strategy, and pursue new development initiatives related to naming, online presence, and the domain market.

Peterson said, “What most impresses me about Epik is the team’s readiness to innovate. Here we have a global company with talent spanning Brazil, Europe, and North America; yet they’re surprisingly nimble.  And while most of the domain industry is resting on its laurels, Epik management believes they have a mandate to reshape the entire field.  And why not?  

Joseph Peterson
Director of Operations
Epik Holdings, Inc.

It’s time.  We have emerging markets to bring online, new domain use cases to explore, a longstanding consumer awareness gap to close, and a wealth of digital brands awaiting the right owner. There’s much to be done."

Peterson added, "I’m excited to work once more as part of a team – in particular, to explore new ways to pair names with projects, boost liquidity for domain investors, and broaden participation in the domain market overall. Epik and I were already traveling in the same direction. It just makes sense to get there together.”

Over the past six years in this industry Peterson has been involved in market analysis, branding consultancy, domain portfolio management, buyer-side brokerage, and software projects, in addition to his prolific writing.

Epik CEO Rob Monster

Epik CEO Rob Monster said, “I am beyond delighted to welcome Joseph into the fast-growing Epik team as Director of Operations. This appointment comes during a time of accelerating global growth. I have come to know Joseph as a visionary with a strategic mind, very high attention to detail, a prolific work ethic, and uncompromising personal and professional integrity. I look forward to partnering with Joseph to do amazing things.”  

This announcement arrives on the heels of Epik’s  acquisition of marketplace and auction platform Undeveloped.com earlier this month. Rob Monster was also in the new in February when we told you about his new domain-based project for cities called Smart Web in partnership with DigitalTown and operators of descriptive TLD registries. 

(Posted March 21, 2017) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2017/dailyposts/20170321.htm

We've Just Learned That Pioneering Numeric Domain Investor T.J. Demas Passed Away Last Summer

I was shocked to learn tonight that pioneering young numeric domain investor T.J. Demas had passed away last summer after a two-year battle with esophageal cancer. I got the news in a phone call from Michael Berkens (TheDomains.com) who, like me, was both saddened by the news and surprised it had taken this long for word of the passing of such an important person in our industry's history to get back to us. 

While domains were just one of T.J.'s successful entrepreneurial pursuits he tried to make it to at least one conference a year in the mid 2000s and we were frequently in touch during those years when he amassed a phenomenal portfolio of short numeric .com domain names. In 2008 T.J.'s company (known as E8) spent over $1.1 million to buy a group of 11 short numeric domains (including 11.com). This was years before short numeric domains skyrocketed in value in a boom triggered by Chinese buyers that is still going on today (in fact the biggest domain sale reported so far in 2017 is 01.com at $1,820,000).

T.J. Demas 
at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York 2008

In 2011 we reported T.J.'s $525,000 sale of 11.com which at the time was an all-time record for a numeric domain sale. T.J. had paid  $188,888 for the name when he went on the 2008 buying spree noted above.

T.J. was a  very personable young man who struck me as having a genius level intellect. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with degrees in Economics and International Studies,  then went on to earn an MBA at the University of Pennsylvania's prestigious Wharton School in 1995. Demas then built a successful equity investment career at American Century Investors in Kansas City and then as a consultant to Friess Associates before founding his own firm, Aspen Edge Research

Once Demas discovered domains he decided - as he did with everything that interested him - to dive in head first and learn everything he possibly could about the business.

T.J. Demas (left) with domain industry friend William Gormally 
at the 2007 T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York conference.

T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founder Rick Schwartz (who has had some landmark numeric domain sales of his own) also just learned of T.J.'s passing tonight.  "I was shocked and saddened to hear of his passing," Schwartz said. "I am pretty sure our relationship goes back to Rick's Board in

the early 2000's. It's a reminder to all that when we invest in domains we have to factor in life expectancy and the part of life when we are totally healthy and mobile."

"I exchanged emails with T.J. for many years and he was into numeric domains long before the frenzy for numerics in China. He has always been cutting edge, ahead of his time with very big ideas doing dynamic and great things. I remember him working on a fantastic watch that was just incredible and he was working on it for years."

Schwartz added, "One email back in 2009 explained why he couldn't come to T.R.A.F.F.I.C. that year because he was going to meet Richard Branson in San Francisco to make a sales pitch for E8.com. Life challenged T.J. Demas and he challenged it right back in a very dramatic and courageous way that many of us, including me, can learn from. My condolences to his close friends and family."  

Rick Schwartz
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founder

T.J. and his family (wife Dawn and their twin children) split their time between homes in North Carolina (where T.J. was born) and Aspen, Colorado.  The bout with cancer that took his life was his second encounter with the deadly disease. In 1991 he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease but, with the help of a bone marrow transplant, beat it and remained cancer free for 25 years.  Knowing how fragile life was he lived those 25 years to the fullest radiating gratitude and joy that made simply being around him an immense  pleasure. The ability T.J. had to make people feel that way - and continue to feel that way just thinking about him - is a great comfort at a time when no words are sufficient to convey the stunning loss of such a bright star so much sooner than any of us could have ever expected.

(Posted March 15, 2017) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2017/dailyposts/20170315.htm

Kate Buckley Closes Half-Million Dollar Sale of Refi.com - Now Has Two of Year's Top Three Sales

Domain broker Kate Buckley, Founder/Principal at the Buckley Media Group, is on a hot streak that shows no signs of cooling off. Regular readers will recall that in the spring of 2016 Kate brokered the $725,000 sale of Rate.com that wound up being one of last year's 10 biggest sales. This year also got off to a great start for her when she handled the $300,000 sale of Advance.com to Advance Publications, Inc. (a privately held American media company that counts Condé Nast among its holdings). 

Today we got word that Kate has brokered yet another six-figure blockbuster, orchestrating the $500,000 sale of Refi.com to a group of mortgage entrepreneurs led by Ryan Herman, Founder and Co-CEO of First Direct Lending. With Advance.com this deal gives Kate two of 2017's three biggest sales to date

Ms. Buckley, who represented the seller of Refi.com, told us,  "My client is a private 

Kate Buckley
Buckley Media Group

individual who had the vision to register the domain in the early 90s. He followed the market, knew the value of ultra-premium .coms and, when he was ready to sell, reached out to Buckley Media Group to find the right end user, and negotiate desirable terms.”

Mr. Herman said, “In a changing interest rate environment it’s even more important that we continue to inform and educate customers on how effective refinance loans of all types can be to ensure smart family finances. Customers should have an easy, elegant path to the wonderful companies across the spectrum of loan types that provide exceptional service in both conventional and technology platforms. We feel Refi.com is the perfect domain platform to make that happen.”

Ms. Buckley added, “I worked with the buyers to negotiate terms and facilitate a smooth transaction. They immediately understood the value of the domain. They were a pleasure to do business with in every way, and I look forward to them putting this authoritative, legacy domain to its highest and best use."

(Posted March 14, 2017) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2017/dailyposts/20170314.htm

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India's Annual DomainX Conference Announces Dates & City for 2017 Event

The 2017 global domain calendar continues to fill up. Today organizers of India's DomainX conference, Manmeet Pal Singh and Gaurav Kohli,  announced the dates and city where their 4th annual event will be held this summer. The two-day show has been scheduled for 

August 5  & 6, 2017 in New Delhi at a venue that will be named shortly. This will be a return visit to the nation's capital for DomainX. Their 2016 conference was held there last August at the Shangri-La's Eros Hotel. DomainX was launched in 2014 with an event in Hyderabad followed by a 2015 conference that I attended in Banagalore.  

Above: A scene from the 2016 DomainX conference in New Delhi.
(Photo courtesy of Gaurav Jain)

Below: Several 2016 attendees went on a DomainX sponsored visit to the Taj Mahal.

A preliminary list of likely speakers is already up on the DomainX website with that roster to be expanded and finalized, along with agenda details, in the weeks ahead. Seats can be reserved now with tickets priced at a standard rate of $150 (as I write this early bird tickets have been temporarily discounted by 25% to $112.50 but that could change at any time when the limited allotment runs out). A small ticketing service fee (under $5) is added to the ticket price.

In another DomainX related note, a one-day event that the organization had planned to stage in London on April 9, 2017 has been cancelled due to an unexpected extended illness that Mr. Singh is now recovering from. If that event is rescheduled for a later date we will let you know.

(Posted March 10, 2017) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2017/dailyposts/20170310.htm

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Domaining Europe 2017: Updated Show Site Has New Details on Big Event in Berlin May 14-16

The 9th annual edition of the Domaining Europe conference is now just 66 days away. The show will be held in Germany for the first time with the 2017 event running May 14-16 in Berlin at the Steigenberger Hotel Am Kanzleramt.

Conference Founder Dietmar Stefitz started the show in his beautiful hometown of Valencia, Spain where the first seven events were staged. People came from all over Europe (as well as overseas) to participate but last year Stefitz  decided it was time to 

start taking the conference to the people by staging it in other high profile locations across the continent. That "new" tradition began with the 2016 event at The Hague, Netherlands and will continue in Germany - a perfect location given than country's status as a world leader in the domain industry with many leading companies and investor/developers located there. That also makes Domaining Europe 2017 a can't miss event for us, so I will be in Berlin to cover it all for you. 

Many new details about the show agenda, speakers and sponsors have just been posted to the conference website. It all gets started with an exhibition and informal networking from 3pm-8pm in the hotel foyer on Sunday, May 14. Two full business days follow with a variety of keynote speeches and panel discussions highlighting the schedule. Speakers from around the world - to name just a few (and with more still to be announced) - will include Joe Styler (GoDaddy, USA), Jeff Sass (.CLUB, USA), David Warmuz (Above.com, Australia), Jackson Elsegood (Escrow.com, Australia), Ilze Kaulins-Plaskacz (ExcellentDomains.ca, Canada) and of course many top names from Europe like Axel Kaltz (ParkingCrew, Germany) and Rolf Larsen (.GLOBAL, Norway).

In addition, super moderator Braden Pollock from LegalBrandMarketing.com (who was profiled in our November 2011 Cover Story) will be making the trip over from the U.S. to again serve as the  conference moderator.

Dietmar Stefitz
Domaining Europe Founder

The agenda highlights include sessions on investing, traffic, parking and development and will cover all domain categories including gTLDs, ccTLDs and Geo TLDs. There will also be sessions on Internet governance, domain leasing, valuation and structuring. The conference will conclude Tuesday, May 16 with a two-hour live domain auction handled by Undeveloped.com (who was just in the news yesterday after being acquired by Epik).

Verisign will be the Platinum Sponsor at this year's conference. The six  Gold sponsors are  ParkingCrew, .CLUB, Sedo, .GLOBAL, Italy's Nidoma and China's Yumi. Silver sponsors are Nominet and GoDaddy with additional featured sponsors and media sites also supporting the effort. 

Tickets are available in two categories. The standard ticket including all catering and VAT tax is €477.95 ($504.17 at today's exchange rate). There is also a special VIP ticket (VAT tax included) at €786.50 ($829.65). The 

show site says the VIP ticket includes "VIP treatment, all side events and a Boat Trip and Sightseeing Tour on Sunday." In addition,  €100 from every fully paid ticket will go to The Hope Children's Centre

I'm looking forward to seeing our many European friends (as well as those coming in from other parts of the globe) for what should be a very productive week in Germany's vibrant capital city.

(Posted March 8, 2017) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2017/dailyposts/20170308.htm

Epik Expands with Acquisition of Domain Name Marketplace Undeveloped.com

Epik Holdings Inc., the operator of U.S. based domain registrar Epik.com, has acquired Netherlands based domain marketplace Undeveloped.com for an undisclosed price. The deal was announced on the Undeveloped.com website this morning. Undeveloped will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Epik group of companies with their current management team remaining in place. The agreement will allow Undeveloped to introduce a "full-service solution for buying, selling, leasing and managing domains."

The Undeveloped release added that the deal will "help Undeveloped further accelerate the growth of its marketplace for digital brands, after more than doubling transactions in 2016, while accelerating Epik’s international expansion." 

Epik Founder and CEO Rob Monster (left) and Undeveloped Found and CEO Reza Sardeha 
in Amsterdam where Epik's acquisition of Undeveloped was announced today.

Undeveloped Founder and CEO Reza Sardeha said, "By combining Epik’s reputation, market knowledge, worldwide presence, and complementary technology, we expect to be able to create an even more appealing solution for our customers. A vastly improved Undeveloped marketplace will accelerate the progress of more development-grade domains into becoming thriving Digital Brands used in commerce. All things considered, we could not have asked for a more worthy or more capable partner at this exciting time in the history of the Internet."

Epik Founder and CEO Rob Monster, who is Dutch-American, added, "“We have spent the past 5 years developing and operating an integrated set of solutions to help domain investors navigate the life-cycle of their domain investments. With this acquisition, we add another company with potential for hyper-growth. This acquisition has all of the things that I look for in a deal: great leadership, differentiated technology, and complementary locality. The expanded presence in Amsterdam will significantly increase our capacity to deliver to customers in Europe, Middle East and Africa, the type of Legendary Support and customer-centric innovation that our customers have come to expect from us.” 

Epik customers can seamlessly use the services of Undeveloped through the same single-sign-on that already powers existing services at Epik.com, Anonymize.com and Masterbucks.com.

(Posted March 7, 2017) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2017/dailyposts/20170307.htm

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NamesCon Elaborates on 1-Day Event in India May 19 & Planning Another in China September 28 

The NamesCon conference has big plans to expand the brand far beyond their annual event each January in Las Vegas where the most recent one - the 4th in the series - concluded January 25, 2017. It is a natural progression since the conference was acquired by World Hosting Days (WHD) last year. WHD already stages popular conferences for the hosting industry around the world and already have the infrastructure in place to incorporate the closely related domain shows -  via NamesCon - into those international events. 

As we told you a couple of weeks ago, NamesCon will hold a one-day event in Mumbai, India on May 19, 2017. More details on that have now been released in a newsletter from the conference. NamesCon India will be held in conjunction with a WHD-India conference that will take place at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Mumbai May 18-19. The NamesCon India web page notes, "NamesCon India will be jam-packed day with three keynote presentations and six informative sessions where industry experts will discuss the hottest topics and the latest advancements in the domain industry. Plus, the event will close with one of our renowned domain auctions!"

Image from Bigstock

Image from Bigstock

The same newsletter NamesCon revealed that planning is also underway for a one-day event in China on September 28, 2017 - however no further details, including the city or venue, has been released yet. More information is to be revealed in upcoming newsletters. As of this writing the WHD website doesn't list any conferences in Asia this year, so it to remains to be seen if NamesCon China will stand alone or be part of as yet unannounced WHD conference. 

Last year NamesCon ran a four-day September show in Hong Kong under its Domainfest brand but WHD has decided to retire the Domainfest name and run all of their domain events under the NamesCon banner.

(Posted March 6, 2017) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2017/dailyposts/20170306.htm

Verisign's Latest Quarterly Domain Name Industry Brief Shows Registrations Expanding in All Categories

Verisign released their latest quarterly Domain Name Industry Brief, covering the 4th quarter of 2016, this week. The administrator of the .com and .net TLDs reported that approximately 2.3 million domain name registrations were added to the internet in 4Q-2016, bringing the total number of domain name registrations across all top level domains to approximately 329.3 million as of Dec. 31, 2016. That is a 6.8% jump year over year and a 1.8% rise from the previous quarter.

Verisign's .com and .net TLDs had a combined total of approximately 142.2 million domain name registrations at the end of 4-2016. That  represents a 1.7%  increase year over year.  126.9 million of those were .coms (the world's most popular TLD by far) and 15.3 million 

were .nets (a number that maintains that extension's place as the 2nd biggest gTLD in the world). .Net is the 5th largest TLD overall, trailing three ccTLDs - .cn .tk and .de in total registrations (many discount .tk because it is given away at no charge).

Total ccTLD domain name registrations were approximately 142.7 million at the end of 4Q-2016, an increase of approximately 4.3 million domain name registrations - a gain of 3.1% year over year (if you take .tk numbers our, the ccTLDs were up 6.9% year over year).

As of Dec. 31, 2016, new gTLDs totaled 25.6 million domain name registrations, which represents 7.8% of total domain name registrations worldwide.

Verisign publishes the Domain Name Industry Brief to provide internet users throughout the world with statistical and analytical research and data on the domain name industry. 

(Posted March 3, 2017) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2017/dailyposts/20170303.htm


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