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May 18, 2018

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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.

Mugshots.com Co-Owner Sahar Sarid Arrested on Extortion and Money Laundering Charges

Throughout the 2000s Sahar Sarid was a widely-known figure in the domain industry as an investor, developer, blogger and conference speaker. So well-known that we profiled him in a 2007 Cover Story. In this decade, amid rumors of questionable business practices, Sarid has rarely appeared in domain circles. However, he is now suddenly back in the news and not in a good way. 

West Palm Beach, Florida TV station WPTV is reporting that Sarid and his partners in the Mugshots.com website have been arrested on extortion, money laundering and identity theft charges filed by the California Attorney General's Office. WPTV reports Sarid was arrested at his South Florida home and booked into the Broward County Jail Wednesday (May 16). California officials plan to extradite him to that state for prosecution.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra

Sahar Sarid at the 2007 Domain 
Roundtable conference in Seattle.

issued a press release announcing charges of "extortion, money laundering, and identity theft" had been filed against four defendants who are allegedly behind the exploitative website Mugshots.com. The release said, "The website mines data from police and sheriffs' department websites to collect individuals' names, booking photos and charges, then republishes the information online without the individuals' knowledge or consent. Once subjects request that their booking photos be removed, they are routed to a secondary website called Unpublisharrest.com and charged a "de-publishing" fee to have the content removed. Mugshots.com does not remove criminal record information until a subject pays the fee. This is the case even if the subject had charges dismissed or had been arrested due to mistaken identity or law enforcement error. Those subjects who cannot pay the fee may subsequently be denied housing, employment, or other opportunities because their booking photo is readily available on the internet."

Becerra said, "This pay-for-removal scheme attempts to profit off of someone else's humiliation. Those who can't afford to pay into this scheme to have their information removed pay the price when they look for a job, housing, or try to build relationships with others. This is exploitation, plain and simple."

According to the press release, "The defendants named in the complaint are Sahar Sarid, Kishore Vidya Bhavnanie, Thomas Keesee, and David Usdan. They are the alleged owners and operators of Mugshots.com. Over a three-year period, the defendants extracted more than $64,000 in removal fees from approximately 175 individuals with billing addresses in California. Nationally, the defendants took more than $2 million in removal fees from approximately 5,703 individuals for the same period."

It is impossible to escape the irony of seeing Sarid now in need of the "service" Mugshots.com was selling.

(Posted May 18, 2018) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

VPS Web Hosting

Internet Commerce Association Names Zak Muscovitch Their New General Counsel After His Outstanding Performance in Interim Role  

Ever since  the only General Counsel they ever had, Phil Corwin, left the Internet Commerce Association (ICA) to accept a position at Verisign six months ago, the organization that protects domain owner rights has been searching for just the right person to fill the shoes Corwin had ably worn for ten years. Turns out they didn't have to look far

When Corwin left the ICA board convinced one of the industry's top attorneys, Zak Muscovitch, to fill in on an Interim basis and help with a search for Corwin's successor. Zak, who has was already a long-time ICA supporter, did the job so well the Board, after a unanimous vote, decided there was no need to look any further if Muscovitch would agree to drop the work "interim" from his title. He did and the ICA got their man.

A letter that went out to ICA members today noted that since Muscovitch agreed to fill in last fall, "the pace of the ICA's activities has accelerated, rapid progress has been made on UDRP advocacy, and Zak has quickly built productive relationships with many of the key players in the policy arena. If that was not enough, Zak also dove into the GDPR/Whois Accreditation process and took the lead role in drafting revisions that were adopted by the

ICA General Counsel Zak Muscovitch

Business Constituency and the Intellectual Property Constituency to give domain industry players the ability to maintain access to Whois data."

ICA Executive Director Kamila Sekiewicz added, "I have heard from many of you directly confirming that you prized Zak's work, communication style and the positive impact he’s had on the ICA. Your feedback helped to confirm to me and to the ICA’s Board that Zak is the right person for the job and that we'd like him to stay on as ICA's General Counsel. We are grateful that despite the disruption taking on the ICA General Counsel role has caused to his thriving legal practice, Zak has agreed to stay on as General Counsel."

When DomainInvesting.com's Eliot Silver (an ICA member) asked Muscovitch how he managed to handle his dual responsibilities so well Zak told him, "I have had to make room for more and ever increasing ICA work by turning down and referring some cases and files, and working much longer hours. It has been a challenge no doubt, and I am still finding the right balance between my law practice and the ICA work. But as they say, "If you want something done, ask a busy person!" In any event, it is an honor and a privilege to serve the ICA and its members. I am very happy that I have made this decision and am most grateful to the ICA Board and its members for entrusting me with this important work.”

(Posted May 8, 2018) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

Minds + Machines Acquires ICM Registry in Cash + Stock Deal Valued at $41 Million

Mind + Machines (MMX) - a new gTLD registry operator that administers 28 TLDs has acquired  ICM Registry LLC - another new gTLD operator with four adult related TLDs in its portfolio - .xxx, .porn, .sex and .adult. MMX (who is listed on the London Stock Exchange’s AIM market under the symbol MMX.L) paid $10 million in cash and $31 million in newly issued stock (subject to ICANN approval) according to UK-based business news website ProactiveInvestors.co.uk. At the same time, that site reported MMX had its first profitable year in 2017, turning a $3.8 million profit on $14.3 million in total revenue. 

The MMX acquisition continues the consolidation trend we've been seeing in the new gTLD space. A press release we received

from ICM about today's deal said ICM said had attracted offers from several other new gTLD registry operators before accepting the MMX proposal. 

ICM's outgoing CEO, Stuart Lawley said, “I strongly believe ICM’s shareholders, customers and employees will be well served by this acquisition; MMX has a very dynamic management team. We received 4 offers in total for the business, some all cash and others a mixture of cash and stock. After lengthy, detailed negotiations and due diligence with the interested parties, the arrangement with MMX was clearly the best fit.”

Lawley will become the largest shareholder in MMX with a holding just over 15% and as part of the transaction, the five remaining senior managers of ICM (who will stay on with MMX) will all have meaningful stock holdings in MMX. Lawley said he is leaving to pursue blockchain based Age Verification business opportunities with his new business AVSecure.com.

MMX CEO Toby Hall

MMX CEO Toby Hall told ProactiveInvestors.co.uk, ""We are delighted to have entered this agreement. We expect the acquisition to be earnings enhancing in the current year and believe it will deliver scale, strong recurring revenues and positive working capital to the company in 2018 and future years. Further, it will strengthen the quality of our revenues, both accelerating MMX's already fast-growing renewal base and improving the geographic make-up of our sales, given ICM's revenues are primarily derived from the US and Europe. We see this transaction as a major step forward in our ambition to introduce a progressive dividend policy over the next 18 months."

Hall added, "2017 has been about proving out the business model: firmly locking-in the operational gains of 2016 to ensure a profitable base, and developing a long-term growth strategy. It cements MMX's position as a

leading registry group in the new gTLD sector as we develop into a long-term annuity based business."

(Posted May 4, 2018) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

Firestorm Over France.com: Outrage Spreading After Domain Taken From Its Rightful Owner 

By now many of you have heard the news that the extremely valuable France.com domain name that Jean-Noel Frydman has owned and operated a business on since 1994 had been removed from his Web.com account without notice and turned over to the French government. For years Frydman, who was born in France but lives in the U.S. and holds dual U.S.-French citizenship, operated a thriving business promoting French travel on the domain with France's blessing.  

That changed in 2015 when France decided they wanted the domain for themselves but apparently didn't want to pay anything for it, so they started a legal battle to try to get it from

Image from Bigstock

Frydman. This, even though there are multiple legal precedents (PuertoRico.com, Barcelona.com and MyrtleBeach.com to name just a few) establishing that anyone can own domain names that match countries, states, cities and other geographic locations - they are places, not trademarks

In September 2017 a French court ruled in favor of the French government (no surprise there) and armed with that order the government asked Web.com to transfer the name to them which, even though Frydman's business, Web.com and the operator of .com domains (Verisign) are all based in the United States, not France. Nothing happened until March 12, 2018 when Web.com is alleged to have taken France.com from Frydman's account, putting him out of business overnight, and transferred it to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

As you would expect, Frydman has sued the French government in Virginia (where Verisign is located making it the proper venue for disputes over .com domains to be filed). This will be a very expensive fight for Frydman that, as anyone with experience in the legal system knows, will likely drag on for a very long time. Still many major owners of geographic domains are rallying around Frydman offering to help financially and by any other legal means necessary to right this wrong. The blatant unfairness of this situation has caught the attention of media outlets around the world - and not just in the domain and business worlds - the New York Times joined the chorus today.

As more people become aware of what happened, the blowback should continue to grow exponentially. I am not an attorney but I know many of the world's best in our field who have won cases 

Jean-Noel Frydman

like this involving geodomains. Based on the decisions I've seen in U.S. courts and UDRP filings, it is a case I would expect Frydman to win but anything can happen and it is apt to be a long, frustrating battle. It is a fight all domain registrants need to stay apprised of because of the serious ramifications for us all - if it can happen to Frydman it can happen to any of us.  

(Posted May 1, 2018) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

George Kirikos Uncovers 2018's Biggest Domain Sale to Date - a 4-Letter .Com That Commanded $2.5 Million

Update to this story: Shortly after this article was posted we learned that even though the SEC filing noted the sale of a single domain, a second "sound a like" domain, Go2.com, was apparently included with GoTo.com. Go2.com would constitute a small portion of the transaction value but since we can only chart individual domain sales (and exact prices paid for them) we won't be able to add GoTo.com to our charts. Even so, it was clearly valued at a higher level than any sale that has been charted thus far in 2018 and is very noteworthy news.

It looks like  our Year-to-Date Top 100 Domain Sales Chart will have a new leader when it our next weekly domain sales report comes out Wednesday evening (May 2, 2018). Unless a bigger sale is revealed between now and then, the honor will go to - appropriately enough - GoTo.com at $2.5 million. That is more than double the amount paid for the previous 2018 leader, Super.com, a domain that sold for $1.2 million.

As he has done with so many other major previously unreported  major domain sales, veteran investor George Kirikos uncovered the Goto.com sale while going through corporate SEC filings today. In this filing, made by LogMeIn, Inc., the company stated on page 17 that they had spent $2.5 million for a domain

Image from Bigstock

name earlier this month. By using DomainTools Reverse WHOIS and WHOIS history George was able to identify GoTo.com as the name that was purchased. LogMeIn is already using the name as a shortcut to their popular GoToMeeting.com site.

Kirikos also pointed out, "GoTo.com is a domain with a quite rich history (it was an IdeaLab spinoff, was publicly traded itself at one time, won money from Disney, was a pioneer in pay-per-click advertising, was renamed to Overture, etc.)"

As he has done past, Kirikos broke this news on his Twitter feed. If you are not already following him you might want to start. Were it not for his financial research skills there are countless top tier sales that might never had appeared on our charts. In addition to being the first to learn what George  uncovers on that front you will benefit from the steady stream of domain industry information and insights that he provides.

(Posted April 28, 2018) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

Uniregistry Reports Q1-2018 Domain Sales Top $13 Million - List Includes Four Previously Unreleased 6-Figure Sales

Uniregistry has closed the books on a very impressive opening quarter of 2018 domain sales. While touching base with Vice President of Sales Jeff Gabriel I learned that the company logged over $13 million worth of aftermarket sales in 1Q-2018. The company could not disclose all of their individual sales information due to NDAs, however Jeff was able to share a long list with with me that was led by four previously undisclosed six-figure sales

Those headliners (all of which will be added to our YTD Top 100 Sales Chart when our next weekly sales report comes out Wednesday evening, April 25) were CrosswordPuzzles.com at $249,980, Presto.com at $150,000, EMX.com at $120,000 and Hosts.com at $100,000.

Uniregistry's highest reported Non .Com gTLD sale in 1Q-2018 was AAH.org at $63,700 while the top ccTLD sales they were able to share were Token.tv and Wallet.tv at $21,275 each. The biggest new gTLD sale on their list was Music.audio at $15,000.

Jeff Gabriel
Uniregistry VP of Sales

The tables below will show you the 30 highest reportable Uniregistry sales across all extensions in 1Q-2018 as well as their top tens for both Non .Com gTLDs and ccTLDs. We will take a deeper dive into the numbers in Wednesday's weekly domain sales report. 

Unregistry Top 30 Reported Sales Q1-2018


Price Domain



Unireg Top 10 Reported Non. Com gTLD Sales

Unireg Top 10 Reported ccTLD Sales

Domain Price Domain Price

I want to thank Jeff and the Uniregistry team for their willingness to share their results with us. The insight provided by the data they can release is invaluable to domain investors and developers who need to stay abreast of the latest market trends to help determine where they may want to allocate their dollars.

(Posted April 23, 2018) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

New Domain Conference Coming to South America in October When Domaining Americas Will Debut in Rio De Janeiro

Veteran domain investor  Abner Duarte from PremiumDomains.com.br was one of the first people I bumped into at this year's NamesCon conference in Las Vegas. I couldn't help noticing Abner was wearing a T-shirt promoting a new event called Domaining Americas to be held in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil in October 2018. I asked what that was all about and Abner, a native of Brazil who now lives in Boston, told me he was putting together a major domain conference for South America with only a few details - primarily picking the hotel and exact dates - left to nail down. He told me he would let me know as soon as that was done and the news came today.

The debut edition of Domaining Americas will be held at the five-star Grand Hyatt Rio De Janiero on Saturday and Sunday, October 6-7, 2018. The conference website is now up including the registration page where early bird tickets priced at $275 (+ $17.39 ticketing fee) will be available through June 1. After that tickets rise to $475 through September 1 then reach the full $699 rate that will be in effect from that point forward.

The show site notes, "Domaining Americas will bring people together from around the globe, including investors, startups, registries, registrars, registrants, hosting and eCommerce

Abner Duarte
Domaining Americas Founder

companies.  You will be able to  interact with industry leaders such as Nic.br, GoDaddy, Verisign, ResellerClub, Sedo, AfterNIC, HostGator and many more.  Win prizes, collect swag, and hang out at beach on your spare time. Our exciting After Hours Party will be another way to network with people from the industry. With over 200 attendees expected, DomainingAmericas will be the first of its kind in Latin America."

The conference agenda and list of featured speakers will be finalized in the weeks ahead with those updates to be posted on the show website as they develop. With its location in one of the world's great cities and a currently underserved market for face to face domain industry networking opportunities, DomainingAmericas looks like an event with great potential - one that is a welcome addition to the global conference calendar.

(Posted April 12, 2018) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

Donuts Reports Highest New gTLD Domain Sale to Date - Vacation.Rentals at $500,300 

Donuts Inc., the world's largest operator of new generic top level domain registries (new gTLDs), announced a record-breaking sale for that category this morning after closing a $500,300 all cash transaction for Vacation.rentals. The sale was brokered by Brooke Hernandez, senior domain broker at Uniregistry. The buyer was VacaRent LLC, a newly formed company led by veterans in the vacation rental space. The founders include longtime resort owners and entrepreneurs Michael and Handan Kugler, Marshall Hart, William Whelpley, ITM Investments, Kalus Enterprises and Jim and Wendy Sherrill.

The Kuglers, who operate Hunter's Friend Resort in Branson. Missouri,  have 14 years of experience in the short term rental market. Michael Kugler, who is VacaRent's CEO, said "While online rentals are well established, there is a growing unfulfilled need with property owners. We aim to give owners the best online destination for them to easily market their properties. The term "vacation rentals" is THE most frequently searched term online for vacation properties; it's a name I've had my eye on for a while and finally it's our brand. We're excited to leverage our name and our website to benefit both property owners and vacationers."

VacaRent wasted no time in putting their new acquisition to work. They quietly launched their vacation rentals website on the domain on March 30, 2018. According to the release announcing their acquisition of the domain they expect to differentiate themselves in two ways: "First, they wanted to offer property owners a more responsive online experience from a trusted provider with direct understanding of their needs, and a business model that was based on annual subscriptions – not on bookings transaction fees. Second, they wanted to empower vacationers with the ability to easily find what they need and interact directly with property owners."

Donuts Senior Vice President of Sales Matt Overman noted, "Vacation.rentals is a terrific domain name and already has "page one" ranking on popular search engines. We look forward to following the growth of Vacation.Rentals and supporting its success."  At $500,300 the Vacation.rentals sale eclipses the previous new gTLD record of $500,000 that was paid for Home.loans in another Donuts sale that was reported in January 2018.

(Posted April 11, 2018) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

Neustar Announces 4th Auction of Premium .NYC Domains to be Held Next Month on Sedo Platform

Neustar, the registry services partner of New York City's .nyc top-level domain, has announced they will be holding their 4th auction of premium .nyc domains next month. The eight-day event, to be conducted on the Sedo platform, will begin at 1PM (Eastern time) on May 3, 2018 and will have a travel and tourism theme - an obvious choice for the Big Apple. The 25-domain catalog includes Flights.nyc, See.nyc, ShowTickets.nyc, Tour.nyc and Lodging.nyc to name just a few (you can see the full list at www.auctions.nyc). Bidding on each name will start at $500 (also note that a physical New York address is required to own a .nyc domain).

Nicolai Bezsonoff, General Manager, Registry 

Solutions at Neustar, said, “I can think of no more  fitting tribute to kick off the summer travel season than with these travel-related web addresses. Reaching those in-market travelers with a unique domain that signals they’ve reached a legitimate travel business based in New York will go a long way to engender the kind of brand trust that will keep customers coming back again and again.”

(Posted April 3, 2018) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

No Fooling! .CLUB Marketing Whiz Jeff Sass Offering FREE Kindle Copy of His Best Selling Book This Weekend Only

Last spring I told you about a terrific new book that had just been released by .CLUB Chief Marketing Officer Jeff Sass. With an attention grabbing title - Everything I Know About Business and Marketing I Learned from The Toxic Avenger - and great stories from Jeff's previous career in the movie business - the book quickly became a hit. 

Jeff was so happy about the book's success he decided to celebrate one of his favorite holidays - April Fool's Day (if you know Jeff and his sense of humor you this will not surprise you!) - by giving away free Kindle copies of his book this weekend only (Saturday & Sunday, March 31 an April 1, 2018)...and No, despite the April Fool's tie-in to the giveaway, this is not a joke! All you have to do is go to the Amazon order page for the book and you will find the price set at $0.00 those two days. After that the price reverts to the usual $4.99 (Kindle) or $9.99 (paperback), so it's a no brainer if you want some great tips on marketing that Jeff delivers in a very entertaining way.

Before you head over to the order page to download your copy you might also want to check out this video Jeff made to promote the 48-hour giveaway (you know a guy lives and breathes marketing when he puts this much effort into something he isn't even trying to sell - he just can't help himself)!   


(Posted March 31, 2018) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

Disney World Offers MERGE! Attendees Reduced Ticket Prices During 2018 Show in Orlando 

A lot of Disney lovers  would like to find a way to magically reduce ticket prices to the wildly popular Disney World theme parks in Orlando (that include EPCOT, Disney's Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom alongside the Magic Kingdom). Well, if you are planning to go to the 2nd annual MERGE! conference coming up September 15-18, 2018 at the Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista Hotel, show Founders Jothan Frakes and Ray Neu have some good news for you. They have gotten Disney World to sprinkle some of their magic dust on entry fees to any of their four parks - and not just for the four conference days - for a full week before and after MERGE! in case you want to transform your work trip into a dream vacation.

Disney has even set up a special webpage to make it easier for MERGE! attendees to take advantage of the offer. Knowing that show goers will be spending at least part of each conference day at MERGE!, Disney came up with flexible options that allow you to only pay for the part of the day or evening you want to visit a park. If you don't want to go over until later in the day

(when Florida's hot summer temperatures begin cooling down) tickets starting at 5pm (to any one park) will be just $59.15 (+ tax). If you want to go earlier, you can get in to a park starting at 1pm for $88.26 (+ tax) - or select a 1pm Park Hopper pass for $139.90 (+ tax) if you want to freely travel between all of the parks the rest of the day and night.  Another thing that will make this deal especially attractive is that the widely acclaimed Epcot International Food & Wine Festival will be going on at the same time as MERGE! (and yes, you can use the discounted tickets to go). 

Some of the most fun I've ever had at a conference was at the 2008 T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Orlando event that was held at Disney World's Grand Floridian Hotel. Now, in 2018, after debuting at the Orlando Marriott World Resort last year, MERGE! is moving right next door to Disney World with their new venue at the Hilton in dining/shopping/entertainment mecca Disney Springs. That will put attendees in the middle of everything Disney World has to offer, including free transportation to and from the parks. While I plan to put in a full workday every day at MERGE! when the suns starts heading down I'm going to re-live some of that fun we had a decade ago when domainers ruled the (Disney) world! 

Above: At the 2008 T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference at Disney World, Dr. Chris Hartnett 
leads a band of domain buccaneers into the Pirates of the Caribbean shop.

Below: In another photo from the 2008 event in Orlando, this group - with Directi Co-Founder Divyank Turakhia in the front seat - emerges from a wild rollercoaster ride through the darkness of Space Mountain. By the way - that guy in the seat furthest back is MERGE! Co-Founder Ray Neu who is set to lead the way back to the Magic Kingdom in 2018!

For more details on MERGE! 2018 including show registration and room reservation visit the MERGE! website here.

(Posted March 28, 2018) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

New Company Led By Domain Industry Veterans Set to Launch New gTLD .ICU in April

Another new gTLD  will be arriving next month and while .icu (shorthand for "I See You") will be a new option for domain registrants, the people behind it are old hands in the domain/tech industry.  .icu is being operated by the Luxembourg based ShortDot SA registry whose management team and board of directors consists of Lars Jensen, Kevin Kopas, Mogens Nielsen and Michael Riedl. They have selected CentralNic as the backend service provider for .icu  which will go live with Sunrise April 24, 2018, followed by General Availability May 29.

When ICANN opened their new GTLD program in 2012, .icu was applied for and delegated but ownership was recently transferred to the ShortDot registry who will now carry the flag forward.  Kopas, Co-Founder and COO, joined the .icu effort after previous stints with Moniker, Radix and PIR (administrator of the .org extension). He told us, "I’m excited to be part of shaping the future of this industry. Many years ago, I started as a broker and I’ve seen the best and the worst of what we can offer end users. New domains are moving this industry forward by allowing branding opportunities across the globe, especially within

Kevin Kopas
.icu Co-Founder & COO

startups and small/medium businesses. Our goal is to reconnect with registrars, show them we have skin in the game and simplify their sales processes. When we accomplish that, we’ve made it."

Additional information from the company details how they plan to differentiate .icu in a crowded market, noting, ".icu is not just a domain registry, with our innovative and global marketing plans we are transforming .icu into a true media company.  We help and encourage our end users to promote their businesses in all social networks using the hashtags #icu #iculive. We are keen to promote our end users’ businesses globally and thus created a 21 day manual for .icu end users on how to run their social media and attract the target audience. Our marketing strategy involves a powerful boost of promotional campaigns for registrars and end user outreach with the goal if driving end user interest back to the registrar, essentially driving business up the sales funnel and creating more end user demand and usage."

.icu expects to be live and available for registration at most internet registrars around the world and to be priced below most other extensions on the market. In the Sunrise period trademark holders will be able to register a .icu domain that matches their existing trademark, then when General Availability begins anyone can register .icu domains. For more information about launch dates, pricing, availability and more visit www.nic.icu. .icu can also be found on Facebook here.

(Posted March 22, 2018) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

Crypto.com Owner Says Stop Calling! No Interest in Multi-Million $ Offers and No Fan of Cryptocurrencies

A very interesting new article about the Crypto.com domain name and its owner, written by Adrianne Jeffries, was published at TheVerge.com today. I found out about it when Adrianne contacted me shortly before publishing the piece to get some background on current market conditions for cryptocurrency related domain names. As you all know they have become very popular with some selling for millions of dollars (like ETH.com for $2 million last fall). 

Matt Blaze, an Associate Professor at the University of Pennsylvania and a leading expert on cryptography (he has a Ph.D. in computer science from Princeton and over 41,000 followers on Twitter), happens to own what may be the best domain in the entire category in Crypto.com. With the boom in cryptocurrencies Blaze has been besieged by people trying to buy the domain from him and he is not happy about it -  especially since

Crypto.com Owner Matt Blaze
(Photo from Twitter)

he insists the name is not for sale at any price - and especially not to anyone who would use it for cryptocurrency purposes. Blaze even has a warning notice on Crypto.com stating "Many cryptocurrencies are scams, and I strongly advise against their use as investment vehicles."

Reporter Adrianne Jeffries

Blaze also bemoans how the cryptocurrency frenzy has muddied the original meaning of "crypto" which is the root of the information security science of cryptography - his specialty. Blaze wrote on Twitter, “I think calling cryptocurrencies ‘crypto’ is a poor choice, with bad consequences for both cryptography and cryptocurrencies. That doesn’t mean I’m some kind of language prescriptivist, and your saying that ‘language evolves’ or other such prattle doesn’t invalidate my concerns.” 

As hard as it may to be imagine someone saying no thank you to a multi-million dollar payday, I have no doubt Blaze is sincere. In academic circles there are a lot of brilliant people for whom money is not at the top of their priority list (my daughter happens to be a UPenn graduate so I  had the pleasure of meeting many of them on the same campus where Blaze now works). So, despite the old adage that "it never hurts to try," it probably is a waste of time where Crypto.com is concerned. It will not be a waste of your time to read Adrianne's fascinating full article here though! 

(Posted March 13, 2018) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

Dates Set for 5th Annual DomainX Conference in India - Event Will Return to New Delhi in August

India's DomainX  conference will be returning for its 5th annual event this summer and for the 3rd consecutive year it will be staged in the nation's capital - New Delhi. The two-day show will run August 4 & 5, 2018 and its focus will be expanded this year with Web Hosting and Cloud topics joining Domain Names on the agenda. 

The hotel for 2018 has not yet been confirmed but show registration just opened with three ticket options priced (in rupees) at 99, 1999 and 2999 (the dollar equivalent at the current exchange rate would be $1.52, $30.77 and $46.17 - rates that have made DomainX one of the world's best conference values).

A scene from the 2017 DomainX conference at ShangriLa's Eros Hotel in new Delhi, India.

The 2018 agenda and speakers line up will be finalized in the weeks ahead but there is already a preliminary list of expected speakers on the DomainX website. DomainX organizers Manmeet Pal Singh and Gaurv Kohli launched the conference with a 2014 event in Hyderabad, followed by the 2015 conference in Bangalore (that we attended) then 2016 and 2017 shows in New Delhi.

(Posted March 12, 2018) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

After Selling Ring to Amazon for Over $1 Billion CEO Confirms He Paid $1 Million for Ring.com Domain

In one of our  weekly domain sales reports in June 2017, I wrote about plausible but unconfirmed speculation that the Ring video doorbell company had paid $1 million to buy the Ring.com domain name in 2014. That number has now been confirmed. As you probably heard Amazon bought Ring a few days ago in a deal valued at more than $1 billion. Thanks to eagle-eyed domain investor George Kirikos, I  learned that shortly after the sale, a mutual friend, Digimedia.com President Jay Chapman, tweeted out a link to a podcast interview that Danny Fortson did with Ring CEO & Chief Inventor Jamie Siminoff in August 2017. About midway through that 43-minute interview Siminoff revealed that he had indeed paid $1 million to acquire the domain name.

Even more interesting are the details Siminoff revealed about the purchase in a five-minute stretch of the interview that starts at the 26:15 mark. If anyone ever wanted to make

Image from Bigstock

a case for the enormous value of a great domain name in building a business, Siminoff does it in those five minutes. Siminoff revealed that in 2014, with his company then known as Doorbot, he only had $187,000 in the bank when he approached the owner of Ring.com (then privately held by a Minnesota doctor). When the doctor told him the price Siminoff said "I don't have a million dollars but I will give you $187,000 now and another $825,000 in two years for the domain" (which would be the $813,000 balance and an extra $12,000 in interest). The doctor accepted and Siminoff lived up to his word (we have charted the sale on our 2016 Top 100 Sales Chart - at #5 - since that was the year the final payment was made). 

Jamie Siminoff making his pitch 
on ABC-TV's Shark Tank in 2013.

When Siminoff revealed he had drained his bank account to buy the domain he said people told him "he was an idiot who had just bankrupted the company!"  If you watch ABC-TV's Shark Tank, you may have seen the 2013 show that Siminoff appeared on, seeking $700,000 for a 10% stake in Ring. The sharks weren't convinced either - missing out on a chance to see a $700,000 stake grow to over $100 million with the sale to Amazon. Siminoff said getting the domain name was critically important to the company's success, giving them an unforgettable brand and instant credibility that helped turned their product into a household name (as it happens I was one of the early buyers of a Ring video doorbell and and it was one of the best purchases I've ever made). Siminoff said the same thing about

Ring.com. Putting it in dollar terms he said he would estimate the name turned out to be worth between $30 million and $50 million to the company. If anyone asks you if the right domain name is really worth 7 (or more) figures, no one knows the answer to that question better than Jamie Siminoff. 

(Posted March 7, 2018) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

Annual NameCheap Event Aims to Add to Over $350,000 They've Raised for the Electronic Frontier Foundation

Popular domain registrar and hosting company  NamesCheap's 6th annual Move Your Domain Day will get underway Tuesday night (March 6, 2018) at 12 midnight. During this 24-hour event anyone can transfer domains into NameCheap for $3.98 (and that includes a free year of private email and SSL). .Com domains cost registrars nearly $8 each wholesale, so NameCheap will take a sizeable loss on every name transferred in. Even more so because they will donate $1.50 from each of those $3.98 transfers to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a highly respected organization that works to protect online freedom and digital civil rights.  

NameCheap started doing this in 2011 in response to the US Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a bill many felt threatened people’s right to privacy, anti-censorship and a free and open Internet. Sensing a need to mobilize the community, Namecheap CEO Richard Kirkendall launched the first Move Your Domain Day. Seven years later, Namecheap has used its platform to raise awareness about other dangerous bills like the Protect IP Act (PIPA) as

Rick Kirkendall
NameCheap CEO

well as the continued battle to save Net NeutralitySince  starting their event they have raised more than $350,000 for EFF. Kirkendall said, "Our passion and dedication to Internet neutrality and freedom cannot be overstated. Namecheap’s long-term commitment to these principles dates back to the founding of the company. Our pledge to stand with organizations such as EFF, in their fightto keep the Internet open and free, is the reason why Move Your Domain Day is such an important initiative for Namecheap." 

EFF Legal Director Corynne McSherry added, "EFF is grateful for the support from Namecheap’s Move Your Domain Day. We’re fighting to protect online innovation and creativity. With the help of supporters across the web, we will continue standing up for Internet users in the courts, in Congress, and around the world."

(Posted March 5, 2018) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

NamesCon Acquires Domaining Europe Conference From Dietmar Stefitz - June Show in Spain Renamed NamesCon Europe 2018

Domaining Europe  conference founder Dietmar Stefitz will present his 10th annual show June 7-9, 2018 in Valencia, Spain but the event will run under new ownership having just been acquired by NamesCon. Stefitz will still be on hand to manage the upcoming conference that has been renamed NamesCon Europe 2018 with the assistance of NamesCon producers Terri Potratz and Tania Kabantsov. Stefitz also plans to remain with the organization as its Brand Ambassador for the European show.

Stefitz said, “After 10 years of hard work I am thrilled to find a new home for Domaining Europe. NamesCon is the only entity to carry on this conference in the spirit of all involved, be it attendees, sponsors, or speakers. I want to thank all participants of Domaining Europe in the last years and wish the team of NamesCon Europe all the best for the future.”

NamesCon President & CEO Soeren von Varchmin added, “We are very excited to contribute to a successful NamesCon Europe 2018 under the direction of founder Dietmar Stefitz. Europe is an important forum for NamesCon, and as we enter into the 10th year

Dietmar Stefitz
Domaining Europe Founder

of Domaining Europe we look forward to honoring Dietmar’s legacy and bringing even more value to the event for both attendees and partners.”

Rolf Larsen, who runs the Europe based .GLOBAL registry, also commented on the change, noting, “The initiative to create NamesCon Europe as a successor to Domaining Europe will likely benefit the domain industry in much of the same way NamesCon Global has done in USA. The industry needs events that has a primary focus on commercial use and ownership of domain names. Naturally, an event like this becomes a melting pot for meetings between all layers of the domain industry."

NamesCon Europe is celebrating the news with a 50% off promotion on tickets to the June event that will be in effect until March 16. 

(Posted March 2, 2018) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

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