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July 21, 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.

Registered Domain Names Pass the 330 Million Mark as Growth Continues But at a Slower Rate

Verisign, the administrator of the .com and .net registries, released their quarterly Domain Name Industry Brief (covering the 1st quarter of 2017) this week. The brief is always a must read because it encompasses all domain extensions, not just those operated by Verisign.

The company reported that approximately 1.3 million domain name registrations were added to the internet in 1Q-2017, bringing the total number of domain name registrations to approximately 330.6 million across all top-level domains (TLDs) as of March 31, 2017.

That increase represents a growth rate of 3.7% year over year (11.8 million more domains registered than at the same point in 2016). The number of registrations rose 0.4% from the previous quarter (4Q-2016). That is slower than the 6.8% year over year rate (and 1.8% increase from the previous quarter) that we saw at the end of 4Q-2016.

.Com remains, by far, the most popular TLD in the world with 128.4 million of them registered at the end of 1Q-2017. The next largest gTLD, .Net, stood at 15.2 million.  Those two combined totaled approximately 143.6 million, an increase of 0.8% year over year - still moving forward though the percentage growth rate for .com/.net combined was also a good bit slower than that of the market as a whole.

ccTTLDs (country code domains) as a group also grew more slowly than the market at large. Approximately 143.1 million ccTLD domains were registered as of March 31, up 1.7% year over year and 0.3% from 4Q-2016 (as with .com/.net, the ccTLD growth rates are down from the previous quarter's report).

(Posted July 21, 2017) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

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Can a New Cryptocurrency & Blockchain Technology Topple Google? A Startup Launching Next Week is Counting On It  

I first met serial entrepreneur Colin Pape at the 2009 GeoDomain Expo in San Diego, where the Founder & CEO of the ShopCity.com local community commerce platform came to share information about the innovative company he had started the year before. ShopCity is still going strong despite Pape having to simultaneously focus on an anti-trust complaint he lodged against search engine giant Google in 2011. Pape contended that Google rigged its search results to make it hard for consumers to find local sites in the ShopCity network.

That experience left Pape convinced that someway, somehow a viable alternative to Google had to be created. On the surface, given Google's dominance in search, that would seem to be an impossible task, but Pape believes the emergence of blockchain technology and crypto-currencies has created an opportunity to completely remake the search landscape. In fact in his latest venture, he intends to make it happen with the team he has assembled to bring Presearch to the market. The project will officially liftoff at 10am on Tuesday, July 25, 2017 when an Initial Coin Offering will begin to build funding. 

Colin Pape
Presearch Project Lead

The company describes Presearch as an open,  decentralized search engine that rewards community members with Presearch Tokens for their usage, contribution to, and promotion of the platform. Their website notes, "Presearch has an innovative go-to-market strategy to target the most frequent searchers - web workers - and gain early adoption, on our way to releasing future versions of the open source platform that will utilize a blockchain-based index, curated by the community." 

Here are some key bullet points outlining the strategy:

Decentralized Search Token Ecosystem
  • Open and transparent ranking factors enable content creators to access a level playing field, and users the choice of which data sources to utilize.

  • Community-driven decision-making process ensures that everyone’s interests are aligned, and the best content is surfaced and displayed.

  • Ability to vote on and fund dev projects provides ability to influence and improve the platform, and earn tokens for contributing.

  • Tokens can be purchased during the Presearch Token Crowdsale July 25.

  • Tokens will be issued to early adopters to reward usage and promotion of the platform.

  • Token-holders will be able to vote on decisions, suggest / fund dev projects
    Devs will receive tokens for contributing to features / projects.

  • Advertisers will be able to purchase targeted, non-intrusive, keyword sponsorships with DSTs


The full details on Presearch are available in this comprehensive White Paper (.pdf file). While many will find it hard to imagine anyone putting a dent in the massive machine that Google has become, Presearch has already made believers of some important supporters. In fact, earlier this month Presearch was featured on CNBC with Tim Enneking, the Managing Director of Crypto Asset Management, picking Presearch as one of his three recommended plays in the crypto world.



The core tenet of the Presearch strategy is that The Community Knows Best. In the weeks and months ahead they will be putting that belief to the test. As daunting as the task may seem, there is some precedent - after all David did defeat Goliath.

(Posted July 17, 2017) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

.TECH Goes Hollywood with Marketer to the Stars Sheeraz Hasan Launching New Venture on Radix TLD

As new gTLDs continue to battle for market share results have varied widely among the many different registry operators. Some continue to gain ground while others have had setbacks. We are still early in the game but most agree that in the long run, the success of new gTLDs 

is going to depend on them being adopted and developed into useful websites. That's why Radix Registry is excited about a new venture launched by marketing and advertising whiz Sheeraz Hasan on Radix's .TECH extension.

Hasan, who is known for successfully creating huge social media amplification for

Fortune 100 companies through celebrity endorsements and social media influencers, has set up shop at HOLLYWOOD.TECH - an especially relevant domain as the business aims to be a bridge between Hollywood celebs, social influencers and technology companies for brand endorsements.

Sheeraz Hasan

Radix said that Hasan, who has overseen campaigns for some of the most recognized brands, celebrities and government agencies in the world, has a direct network to social media influencers that reach over 3 billion people across all social media networks. He also manages marketing campaigns and works directly with a number of world-famous celebrities including Kim Kardashian, Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Priyanka Chopra, Zendaya and the Jackson family, among others, generating over $2 billion in earned media. That has prompted ArabianBusiness.com to include him in their list of  the Top 100 Most Influential People in Dubai.

While his other venture, Sheeraz .Inc, works with brands across sectors, HOLLYWOOD.TECH will focus only on tech companies looking to amplify their brand through celebrity endorsements on social media. This is the 5th venture Hasan has launched on a .TECH domain.


Explaining his affinity for the extension Hasan said, “What is better than HOLLYWOOD.TECH as the name for a website that brings together two vastly successful giants of our modern world: Hollywood and Technology! The name is concise yet descriptive, and just perfect for my business debut in the tech sector.”


Suman Das, who is the Brand Manager for .TECH domains, said, “We are thrilled to have successful entrepreneur Sheeraz Hasan use www.hollywood.tech for his venture. As technology makes its way into each and every sector, .TECH is fast becoming the choicest domain name for brands looking for a short, memorable and meaningful name that instantly creates an impact.”


Radix launched .TECH two years ago and can now point to many companies that have adopted the TLD, some examples being www.ces.tech, www.cta.tech, www.tnw.tech and www.viacom.tech, as well as social media influencers like www.edgar.tech, www.dom.tech and  www.andru.tech, SEO experts like www.seo-hero.tech (the global winner of the WIX SEO Hero challenge) and tech startups like www.dadi.tech (an open source content management company). 

Suman Das
.TECH Brand Manager

Radix is part of the Directi Group, which is currently valued at $1.4 billion. In addition to .TECH, Radix operates the .ONLINE, .STORE, .WEBSITE, .SPACE, .PRESS, .SITE, .HOST and .FUN registries.

(Posted July 14, 2017) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

Bad News in HeidiPowell.com Case - Looks Like So-Called Celebrity Will Succeed in Stealing Grandmother's Domain

Many of you have been following the disturbing case involving Washington State grandmother HeidiPowell that I wrote about in February. Many others in both our industry and in national media have also covered this sad story. To briefly recap, Heidi's husband registered the domain name HeidiPowell.com for her as an anniversary gift in 2005. Last year a minor "celebrity" also named Heidi Powell came along and tried to buy HeidiPowell.com from the grandmother who declined the offers as the name has obvious sentimental and practical value to her. So, the "celebrity" responded by suing the grandmother and a court battle has been going in ever since, complicated by a 2012 bankruptcy the original Heidi had to go through.

Heidi Powell

The "celebrity" Heidi took advantage of that by telling the bankruptcy judge he should order the grandmother to sell the domain name to her and divide the money among her creditors. A final hearing was held on that motion Wednesday (July 12) and I was shocked and saddened to see Heidi come back from it and have to report this on Facebook (where she is a friend): "It did not go our way...The judge approved the sale of my domain to her. Proof positive that if you have all the money in the world you can do anything to anyone and get whatever it is that your heart desires, no matter who you hurt in the process. A year process to be exact."

Heidi continued, "We may appeal if we can find pro bono representation that will take it but need to wait for the audio (from the judge's ruling)  before that decision can be made. We believe the judge may have split the domain and my email up, where I would be keeping the 

Attorney David Weslow has helped Heidi

email part of the domain and she would get the domain for website purposes but not even our attorney totally understood it. Very confusing. We will be sorting that out when the audio shows up in an estimated five or so days."

Many in our industry have rallied around Heidi with both time and money since this all began (with attorney David Weslow (WileyRein.com) especially notable in that regard) and Heidi's thoughts were with them as she concluded her post with this, "Thank you from the depths of my soul to each and every one of you for caring about us and being our champions. We may not be rich monetarily but we are richer than anyone because of the love of caring friends, relatives and even strangers throughout the world that have stood beside us."

I hope this will not be the end of this - no one deserves to have their identity stolen in this way. 

(Posted July 13, 2017) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

BrandIT Makes Another Big Move - Jochen Kieler Comes On Board as Partner and Chief Strategy Officer

Last month I told you about a Europe-based leader in the corporate domain management business - BrandIT - acquiring popular domain brokerage company Igloo.com. In another big move designed to expand the company's reach worldwide BrandIT has just announced a new partnership with highly respected domain industry veteran Jochen Kieler who will also serve as BrandIT's Chief Strategy Officer

Kieler most recently served as the Chief Sales Officer and Executive Vice President of Business Development at European domain powerhouse Key-Systems. Kieler has specialized in International Corporate Management with over 16 years of experience in the Domain and Internet Industry with Key-Systems, InternetX and others.  Also known as an advisor to brand owners, domain investors and registries, Kieler is a regularly featured speaker at domain and hosting events around the world.  He was also a member of the Advisory-Team/Sales & Marketing at nTLDstats. Jochen is also the Co-Organizer of the German roundtable, Stammtisch.Domains and Co-Owner of NoticiasDeDominios.com, the best source of information for the Spanish-speaking domain community.  

At BrandIT, Kieler will be overseeing BrandIT’s international expansion and help strengthen operations as they grow.

Jochen Kieler
BrandIT Partner & CSO

The company, with clients worldwide and offices in Switzerland (HQ), Germany, United Kingdom, Denmark, Brazil and North America is known for its Domain Portfolio Services and expertise in Online Brand Protection and Enforcement and well as Legal in Digital.

BrandIT CEO Jesper Knudsen said, “We are so excited to welcome someone of Jochen’s caliber to BrandIT as we always seek to attract the most highly skilled people in the domain industry. Adding his expansive knowledge is crucial to continue and maintain the reputation BrandIT has as a leading provider in the Domain Industry."

BrandIT CEO Jesper Knudsen with newly appointed CSO & Partner Jochen Kieler.

Kieler's arrival is the latest example of BrandIT's focus on attracting the talents of industry leaders, a campaign that previously resulted in the addition of Legal in Digital expert Caroline Perriard and continued with Amanda Waltz and Tessa Holcomb coming on board in last month’s acquisition of Igloo.com. 

In addition to creating a distinctive presence in his home country - Germany - Kieler will help bring the current blending of Igloo services into the BrandIT portfolio to a successful conclusion. Kieler said, “I have been following BrandIT since it’s foundation and have long admired their excellent reputation and growth. The first big important step in going global was the Igloo.com acquisition and I now look forward to partnering with BrandIT.  Our vision is to have the best reputation in the industry world-wide.”

(Posted July 11, 2017) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

NamesCon's Next Stop: China! Last Event Before NamesCon Global Coming to Shanghai in October

A major Chinese domain conference - the Global Domain Summit - just ended in Xiamen Sunday (July 9) but another one will be staged just three months from now, on Thursday, October 12, 2017, when NamesCon will present a one-day event in Shanghai. This will be the latest in a series of regional shows that complement NamesCon's multi-day main event in Las Vegas that has been re-christened NamesCon Global. The 

latter event is set for January 28-31, 2018 at the Tropicana Hotel where is has been held since NamesCon debuted in 2014.

NamesCon China will be held at the five star boutique hotel Andaz Shanghai Xintiandi in Shangahi (a concept by Hyatt). For this conference NamesCon has partnered with Racënt who, as the operator of  the largest portal for the cloud and domain industries in China, will bring vital regional experience to the event. Racënt also worked with NamesCon's parent company, World Hosting Days, to stage WHD.China in Beijing on May 23rd. 

Some of the 990 skyscrapers that 
grace the Shanghai skyline.
(image from Bigstock)

Between the WHD and NamesCon brands the company now presents ten annual international events ranging from invitation-only corporate executive retreats to global blockbuster meetings like WHD Global and NamesCon Global.

NamesCon said Shanghai was chosen for the upcoming China show because, "This amazing, modern location is the largest city and metropolitan area in the world. Shanghai is also a major financial, industrial, and communication center with the largest fiber internet cables in mainland China arriving on its shores. And of all the cities in China, Shanghai is one of the most welcoming and friendly — providing the perfect backdrop for the first NamesCon China."

The domain aftermarket saw a huge influx of Chinese buyers in the second half of 2015 that created something of a market frenzy that has since subsided with prices coming back down to earth. However, NamesCon organizers believe China's growth story is just beginning. Their NamesCon China website noted, "The domain market in China is unique, dynamic, and ripe with opportunity. NamesCon China 2017 will be a new exploration that builds a bridge — bringing both regional and international companies together in a spirit of cooperation and mutual success. The demand for websites, domains, content generation, and hardware are going to make China the largest technology market in the world over the next few years and NamesCon China will be at the forefront of this growing trend." 

Tickets can be purchased through the NamesCon China site now, priced at just $20 for general admission and $120 for a VIP pass (a small service fee is also added).

(Posted July 10, 2017) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

Biggest Italian Domain Name Sale Ever Reported Comes to Light - Price Obliterates Previous Record

A few weeks ago I met Shaun Wilkinson, the Director of English Speaking Markets for Nidoma.com, for the first time at the 2017 Domaining Europe conference in Berlin. Nidoma, who is based in Cologne, Germany, provides domain registration, drop catching and brokerage services. The company has been especially strong in Italy, no doubt helped by CEO &

Co-Founder Simone Ferracuti's intimate knowledge of the market (Simone is a native Italian). 

At the show, Shaun told me that last year Nidoma had been involved in the biggest Italian ccTLD (.it) domain sale ever reported and he hoped to get clearance to share the details with me. Those details came in a Skype call from Shaun today when he revealed that Nidoma had purchased Casino.it from a client themselves, paying €400,000 ($452,000 at today's exchange rate). That makes it the first six-figure .it sale reported to us and obliterates the previous high water mark - also set by Nidoma in April 2014 when then sold Like.it for €55,000 ($75,900 at the exchange rate then in effect).

Image from Bigstock

Nidoma.com CEO & Co-Founder Simone Ferracuti (above left) and Director of English Speaking Markets Shaun Wilkinson worked together to complete a €400,000 deal for Casino.it.

While Nidoma routinely sells domains for others they almost never buy domains themselves. Wilkinson said an exception was made in this case because it was part of a specifically structured deal to move the domain on to a new owner. That occurred later in 2016 when Nidoma completed a sale to the current owner for an undisclosed sum.

Both Ferracuti (who spent five years with Sedo as their Country Manager for Italy) and Wilkinson (also a Sedo alumnus) expect high dollar Italian sales to become more commonplace as time goes on. Wilkinson said, "The Italian domain market is underdeveloped but has a lot of potential, so we were extremely pleased to complete a sale that was many times higher than the previous largest recorded sale for a .it. We hope to see the market develop to the stage where six figure sales are no longer so uncommon.’

(Posted July 5, 2017) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

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First Name Summit in New York City Now Just a Month Away - Here's the Latest on What's Coming to the Big Apple 

In April I told you about a new digital branding conference (incorporating domains and development related disciplines like SEO, social media and marketing) that is coming to New York City this summer. With the big event at the Hilton Midtown Manhattan, Name Summit, now just a month away a lot of the agenda details that weren't available in my original report have since been filled in. 

One of the biggest developments is veteran domain broker Andrew Rosener from MediaOptions.com  

coming on board as a Co-Producer, joining conference founders Steven Kaziyev (New York Media) and Jason Schaeffer (ESQwire.com) in that role while Jodi Chamberlain (32Events.com) serves as Conference Director.

Regarding the addition of Rosener to the NameSummit production team, Ms. Chamberlian said, "Andrew's years of industry experience, knowledge and professionalism are top notch. He is a close colleague to both Jason and Steve which has made this trio an amazing one to work with. This new partnership brings more value to the event as Drew has a strong eye for 'smart' business and his desire to not only support the conference but join in as a partner speaks volume to the direction it has taken."

Regarding the show agenda, Jodi added, "We are covering everything including Influencer  and Social Branding, SEO, Adwords and even a panel on how Blockchain is being used to change paid advertising and search.  Participants will also get start up and business coaching from FOWNDERS.com and a great personal business coach, Stacee Mandeville."

"Our speakers list is 99.9% completed. To give you just a few examples, we will have serial

Andrew Rosener (MediaOptions.com)
NameSummit Co-Producer

entrepreneur, angel investor and philanthropist Gerard Adams, widely known as the "Millennial Mentor," on stage with Greg Yuna (known as "Mr Flawless") covering personal branding, and Gerard will also speak about Fownders, his new organization that helps startups and young entrepreneurs receive the knowledge, tools and support they need to become successful. Fownders will also have a booth in the Networking Lounge along with providing mentorship sessions from their team at no charge."

Sedo CEO Tobias Flaitz will be featured 
in a Fireside Chat at NameSummit

"The first day of the conference will be geared towards Digital Branding topics while day two with be more domain centric and will also include a legal panel to discuss brand and business protection. One of the first sessions on opening day will feature SEMPO's Marc Engelsman & Mike Grehan providing advice on an Integrated Marketing Mix," Ms. Chamberlain continued.

" Day two will begin with a Fireside Chat with Sedo CEO Tobias Flaitz who is coming over from the company's headquarters in Cologne, Germany, and a special lunch presentation from  Neustar evangelist and Head of Professional Services Tony Kirsch. Day two will be capped with an exclusive live auction that will include a few no reserve .NYC domain names as well as a handful of special .com domains (with reserves), including WallStreet.com."

"The full agenda is now online here. In addition to learning from so many industry experts there will, or course, also be ample opportunities to network with other attendees."

Jodi concluded, "We are also thrilled with the sponsor support we are getting from so many leading companies and organizations including Verisign, The DNA, SEMPO, Sedo, Fownders and Nominet. One more thing - to celebrate the 4th of July we are offering everyone $100 off the current ticket price, dropping the cost from $299 to judt $199!. Here is a link to the registration page where the discounted price has already gone live. We are looking forward to seeing everyone in the Big Apple!"

(Posted July 3, 2017) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

After Failed Attempt to Hijack a Generic Domain Denmark's Queen Flowers Has to Deal With the Wrath of Rick Schwartz 

Image from Bigstock

If you run a legitimate business being labeled a reverse domain name hijacker - or a hijacker of any kind considering the dictionary definition for one is "a person who steals goods" - does not reflect well on the way you do business or your enterprise. Unfortunately, there is no criminal or financial penalty for reverse domain name hijacking (trying to steal a domain from it's rightful owner) even though the attempted theft involves assets that can be worth a million or more dollars!

Such was the case when a flower seller in Denmark that operates from Queen.dk attempted to steal the Queen .com domain name from veteran domain investor/develolper Rick Schwartz, who has owned the name for two decades, through an ill advised UDRP filing. They resorted to that misuse of the dispute resolution process after Schwartz refused to sell them the exceptionally valuable domain for the price they wanted to pay.

Anyone who knows Schwartz knows he does not take this kind of thing lying down and will go out of his way to make life miserable (for a very long time) for anyone who tries to steal from him. When Queen Flowers filed their UDRP claim Schwartz promptly hired one of the industry's top lawyers, Zak Muscovitch, to file a response -  a masterful one that resulted in Queen.dk and their attorney, Marie Lykke Christiansen of Patrade A/S Denmark, not only losing the flimsy case but also - due to it being such an obvious attempt to steal a valuable name 

- being found guilty of a reverse domain name hijacking attempt. 

The 3-member WIPO panel's decision stated, '"In the Panel's view, this is a classic "Plan B" case where a party, having been frustrated in its negotiations to buy a domain name, resorts to the ultimate option of a highly contrived and artificial claim not supported by any evidence or the plain wording of the UDRP. This stratagem has been described in many UDRP cases as "a highly improper purpose" and it has often contributed to findings of Reverse Domain Name Hijacking."

Now the company, its CEO, Frands Jepsen of Knud Jepsen, and their attorney are dealing with the aftermath that Schwartz laid out in a detailed post on his personal blog Wednesday (June 28). Schwartz wrote, "Since there is no prison time nor is there even a monetary penalty for their attempted theft, it is up to domain and business owners like myself to tell everyone. Cattle Rustlers used to be HUNG!

Rick Schwartz

The only tool we have is public shaming and humiliation. Their names will be forever associated with their Reverse Domain Name Hijacking. Even though it was not successful, it cost me $5,000 to defend my own property and time and all the other crap! Well, I am here for my pound of flesh Frands Jepson and Company. You had your turn, now it is my turn!"

Schwartz goes on to make the most of his highly visible soap box and the thousands of readers it attracts by laying out a permanent record of what Queen Flowers tried to do, a record that - due to his blog's authority and high ranking in Google - will result in searches for Queen Flowers, as well as those on the names of the company CEO and legal representatives, bringing this event up over and over again (references that will continue to grow in visibility as more people link to Schwartz's blog post and other online postings). Schwartz has also shared the story extensively on his Twitter account where his posts get similar love from Google.  In fact in a Google search I just made for Queen Flowers CEO "Frands Jepsen" Schwartz's Twitter post on the UDRP decision is already on page 1

So in the end, by taking the low road, Queen Flowers ends up with nothing but a damaged reputation, wasted attorney fees and any hope that Schwartz will ever sell them the domain at any price now. It is a lesson that others who would misuse the UDRP process as a vehicle for attempted theft should take to heart.

(Posted June 29, 2017) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

.CLUB Presents Million.Club Domain Name to Person Who Made the New gTLD's One Millionth Registration 

Last week the .CLUB domain registry announced they had passed the 1 million mark in total registrations - only the 5th new gTLD to reach that level to date (along with .xyz, .top, .loan and .win according to NTLDStats.com). .CLUB managed the feat without engaging in the drastic price cutting some others new TLDs did to build market share. That is not meant as criticism of any registry's strategy, but it does make .CLUB's achievement especially impressive.  So,  congratulations are in order to .CLUB Founder Colin Campbell (who was profiled in a 2016 DNJournal Cover Story) and the entire .CLUB team.

Liz Mejia - the registrant of .CLUB's
1 millionth domain - MyWineShop.Club.

In a new post on the .CLUB blog today Chief Marketing Officer Jeff Sass revealed that Liz Mejia, an entrepreneur based in Guatemala, used GoDaddy to register what would be the TLD's 1 millionth domain - MyWineShop.club. Sass added that in recognition of Ms. Meija's role in reaching the landmark, the registry has also given her the domain Million.Club

Regarding the new website Ms. Mejia plans to build on MyWineShop.Club, she told Sass, "the website is an affiliate website and I needed a great name for my platform and all the others, .com, .org , etc. could not help me. Only .CLUB had the name that would work best for my site. I chose this name because we sell incredible wine and accessories - and we wanted that the website be personal, hence the name MyWineShop.club.” 

As a wine fan who has registered several wine-related domains over the years, I like Liz's choice of MyWineShop.Club too. In fact, back in 2003 I registered MyWineShop.com and have had the domain ever since, so I can say that Liz and I are, both figuratively and literally, on the same page here!

(Posted June 22, 2017) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

Update on the 2017 DomainX Conference Coming to New Delhi in Early August

India's 4th annual DomainX conference is coming up August 5-6, 2017 at Shangri-La's Eros Hotel in the nation's capital - New Delhi. Uniregistry has signed on to sponsor this year's two day event, organized by Manmeet Pal-Singh and Gaurav Kohli (President of the Domain Name Owners Association of India).

DomainX 2017 will begin with a full day of business sessions on Saturday (August 5) followed by evening networking at Lodi - the Garden Restaurant that will include a cocktail hour and dinner. It will conclude with a unique outing Sunday (August 6) - a cricket match pitting a team of domainers against one representing bloggers!

Ali Zandi will be the keynote speaker 
at the 2017 DomainX conference.

Among the many agenda highlights will be a keynote address from Ali Zandi of Starfire Web Holdings titled Confessions of a 7-Figure Domain Name Broker. Zandi closed a blockbuster $2 million sale of Freedom.com last month, a deal that (as of this writing) is the 2nd biggest sale reported so this year.

Mr. Kohli noted, "We are delighted that Ali will be a part of DomainX 2017 and are excited because his participation really ups our game. Given his track record I know the audience is keen to hear from him and his participation adds so much more value for our attendees and the Indian domain name investing community. The opportunity to network with him and benefit from his insights, experience and mindset will be a rewarding one, we're sure."

Troy Rushton (NameBrokers.com) will also be making his first appearance on the DomainX stage this year. Full details on speakers and sessions is available here

VIP tickets to DomainX 2017 are priced at 9,999 rupees but for a limited time a 40% discount is available using code  UNI40  that bring the cost down to 5,999 rupees - about $93 at the current exchange rate - an obvious bargain by U.S. conference standards. Having been to DomainX myself I can tell you the organizers produce a first class event that has helped fuel the continual growth we have been seeing in the Indian domain market. 

(Posted June 18, 2017) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

Donuts to Acquire Rightside Under $213 Million Merger Agreement Announced Today

Donuts Inc., the biggest domain name registry operator for new domain extensions, and Rightside Group, Ltd. (NASDAQ:NAME)  today announced that the two companies have entered into an Agreement and Plan of Merger under which Donuts will acquire Rightside for $10.60 per share in an all-cash tender offer, for an aggregate purchase price of approximately $213 million. The purchase price represents a premium of approximately 12% over Rightside’s average closing price for the 30-day trading period ended June 13, 2017 and a premium of approximately 22% over Rightside’s average enterprise value (excluding cash) for that period. 

Closing of the deal is contingent upon tender of more than 50% of outstanding Rightside common shares, the receipt of certain regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions. The transaction is currently expected to close during the third quarter of 2017. Following the transaction, Rightside will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Donuts, a privately-held company, and Rightside’s common shares will no longer be listed on any public market.

Rightside administers 40 new gTLDs of its own that will add to a Donuts portfolio of some 200 g TLDs - already the largest in the industry. Rightside also owns a popular retail domain registrar in Name.com. The Merger Agreement was unanimously approved by Rightside’s Board of 

Donuts CEO Bruce Jaffe

Directors following a comprehensive review of strategic and financial alternatives that Rightside announced in the first quarter of 2017.

Rightside CEO Taryn Naidu said, “We believe that this agreement offers a substantial cash premium to our shareholders. We look forward to working closely with Donuts to consummate this merger.”

Donuts CEO Bruce Jaffe added, "Donuts and Rightside have a long history of working together, and we are delighted to take the next step with this transaction. We believe that the combined company will be well positioned to serve our registrar customers and the millions of businesses and individuals who are embracing new ways to brand their online identities.” 

The deal comes just one year after Donuts had offered to buy Rightside for $70 million. 

(Posted June 14, 2017) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

New Merge! Show Names Another Keynote Speaker, McGrady Domain Academy Also Added for October Event in Orlando

The new Merge! conference I told you about in April continues to flesh out the agenda for the inaugural event at the Marriott World Center in Orlando, Florida October 14-18, 2017. The show is the result of a new partnership between domain industry conference production veterans Jothan Frakes (NamesCon and Domain Roundtable) and Ray Dillman Neu (T.R.A.F.F.I.C. and The Domain Conference). 

Last month they named their first keynote speaker - entrepreneur, author, digital leader and global IP strategist Jen Wolfe - and today they added another - the Honorable Neil Brown, a distinguished panelist at WIPO and the National Arbitration Forum. Mr. Brown, who is based in Melbourne, Australia, is a Queens Counsel, Arbitrator and Mediator in private practice with a long and distinguished career in government and the law. 

Mr. Brown was a Minister in the Federal Government in Australia in charge of portfolios in Attorney-General’s, Communications and Employment and Youth Affairs. In the law, he has appeared in every jurisdiction in Australia and has had experience in commercial, intellectual property, town planning and taxation matters. He is an Adjunct Professor of Law at Murdoch University in Western Australia. Mr. Brown is a qualified arbitrator and mediator practicing in international and domestic matters in the commercial, communication, intellectual property and governmental fields, as well as a leading arbitrator and adviser on internet domain name disputes

Neil Brown
Merge! Keynote Speaker

While many professional domain investors feel panelists in UDRP filings have a bias against them, Mr. Brown has a record of being one of the top panelists in denying complaints filed against domain investors (this according to semi-annual surveys published by NeusNews.com).

Paul McGrady Jr.

In another major new conference development, Merge! announced it will host the McGrady Domain Academy as part of the multi-faceted show. It will be helmed by Paul D. McGrady Jr., a partner in Winston & Strawn’s Chicago office and chair of the firm’s trademark, domain names, and brand enforcement practice. 

Mr. McGrady is also the author of McGrady on Domain Names, the definitive treatise on domain name law, and McGrady on Social Media.  McGrady serves as adjunct professor of law at DePaul University College of Law, and is a frequent lecturer on Internet-related aspects of intellectual property.  Mr. McGrady received a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Political Science from Cedarville University, and a Juris Doctor degree from DePaul University School of Law. 

Registration for the Merge! conference is open now as are room reservations at the Marriott World Center where the event will take place. 

This is the largest Marriott resort in the world and typical October rates at the popular Orlando retreat are in the $300 range. However, the Merge! show has secured a limited block of rooms that start at just $129 a night for their attendees (I booked mine as soon as the show was announced). Merge! also secured a small number of Hospitality Bay Suites that typically cost $500 nightly but are available at $250 per night on a first come first served basis.

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World Hosting Days Picks Las Vegas as Site for Their 3rd Annual WHD.USA Conference in September

World Hosting Days (WHD) has picked the location for their 3rd annual conference in the United States. WHD.USA 2017 will be held in Las Vegas September 11-12 and, given WHD's acquisition of the domain industry's largest conference, NamesCon, last year, you won't be surprised to hear that the hosting event will be held at the Tropicana Hotel. The Tropicana has hosted every previous NamesCon event (and will do again when the 5th annual show is staged there January 28-31, 2018).

WHD describes the USA show (one of several regional shows they operate around the world in addition to their massive annual WHD Global event that is held each March in Germany) as "the main industry event in North America. It is 

a two day celebration of the technology and incredible potential of the internet featuring inspiring keynotes from industry leaders, sessions on the latest business practices and trends, an exhibition hall featuring cutting edge technologies and services, fun networking events and an exciting hackathon that will bring great code to life. Our goal is to provide content and experiences that are fun and valuable to the entire industry."

I covered the inaugural WHD.USA event held in Pennsylvania in 2015 (that was followed by last year's show in Phoenix) and I can attest to the conference meeting its promise to provide a high value, entertaining event for attendees. I can also tell you that you will see many well-known figures in the domain industry there taking advantage of the cross pollination opportunities with the closely related hosting world. That makes it even more remarkable that the cost to attend is $0 - absolutely free admission - if you register no later than June 30 - and that includes lunch, snacks and coffee breaks!

A scene from the first WHD.USA conference in 2015

In addition to their business sessions and keynote speeches, WHD.USA, like NamesCon puts a heavy emphasis on networking opportunities like the ConneXion Party (featuring the Lords of Uptime on stage). This and other events are designed to provide attendees with a relaxed atmosphere to connect, share experiences, and make new friends. 

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Sedo Names New Global Chief Sales Officer - Matthias Meyer-Schönherr Fills Spot Vacated by Dima Beitzke

Domain sales and monetization giant Sedo announced a key change in the company's management team today. Sedo and industry veteran Matthias Meyer-Schönherr has moved into the role of Chief Sales Officer (CSO) Global, replacing Dima Beitzke who stepped down to pursue a new opportunity outside of the domain industry. 

Meyer-Schönherr has been with Sedo for ten years, most recently as Vice President of Global Business Development where he led critical business development efforts including the establishment and successful expansion of the SedoMLS network. The Sedo announcement noted, "Matthias has been integral in the relationship development and management of Sedo’s vast Registry and Registrar partnerships as well as the promotion of the Sedo brand globally. He has represented Sedo at countless international conferences and trade shows. At many of these events, Matthias has served on panels and given talks on the value and commercial benefits of a quality domain name."

While Meyer-Schönherr is moving into a new position, the management of both Sedo's North American and International sales teams will continue from Sedo’s headquarters in Cologne, Germany under Meyer-Schönherr’s leadership.

Dima Beitzke joined Sedo in 2013 bringing with him a wide breadth of management experience in sales and online marketing that helped Sedo further grow its sales distribution network into Asia and other emerging markets. In early 2016, he was promoted to CSO Global taking on the responsibility of overseeing Sedo’s North American based sales team and the corresponding markets in addition to global efforts. Sedo's announcement noted, "Very much a people person, Dima’s natural upbeat morale lifted the already lively spirit and friendly culture of Sedo while simultaneously encouraging an even more intense focus on sales performance."

Matthias Meyer-Schönherr
Sedo Chief Sales Officer Global

Dima Beitzke
Former Sedo Chief Sales Officer Global

Today's announcement concluded, "Sedo CEO Tobias Flaitz and all of Sedo very much enjoyed working alongside Dima and Tobias is very optimistic and positive towards the latest adjustments to his management team." Flaitz added, "Naturally there is sadness when someone leaves but at the same time change provides opportunity for both the employer and employee like the pursuit of different avenues and advancement in career growth. We have extremely good retention rates within our skilled group of employees and are very fortunate to be able to fill this position with a successful, proven and well-liked leader from our own team."

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Radix's Startup League Wins New Fans at TNW in Amsterdam and on Road Trip Through Portugal

While I was in Germany for the Domaining Europe conference in Berlin last month our friends at Startup League (a startup-support program launched last year by new gTLD registry operator Radix), were also on the Continent taking part in The Next Web Conference (TNW) that was held in Amsterdam May 18-19. Startup League sponsored 15 startups that use Radix TLDs to exhibit at TNW - an event that put the new businesses and their domain extensions in front of 15,000 attendees, 275 investors and 250 exhibiting startups (resulting in 1,788 pre-booked investor-startup meetings)!  

The Hackathon at TNW conference, that was also supported by Radix, saw 8 out of 10 finalists on Radix TLDs; including Sensors.fun, Rock-On.space, ToonBNB.host and the Hackathon winner - BikingDrunkIs.Fun.

TNW had four startup tracks: Bootstrap, Boost, Scale and Impact. Startup League and TNW had joined forces to launch the ‘Tickets to Boost’ program in February 2017 to select 15 startups to exhibit for the Boost track for free. As part of the 100% sponsorship, the selected startups got a free Startup Exhibitor Table at the TNW Conference, along with two  

free attendee tickets. Curated face-to-face meetings with investors and opportunity to pitch the startup on stage were also part of the program. The package, which would have otherwise cost €1,299 to startups, was made free for the chosen startups who came from 11 different countries.

Suman Das of the Startup League, said, “The startups got great exposure to investors and media. The event was an appropriate platform for them to test their product amongst a relevant audience.”

Last year, the Startup League had supported 15 startups at the Web Summit in Portugal. One of the startups that exhibited at that event with the support of Startup League, Nu-Rise.tech, raised funding due to the exposure at the event and the connections made there. The same startup also got selected for the Mass Challenge, a global non-profit startup accelerator and competition. By forging similar partnerships with TNW and similar events, the Startup League hopes to create similar opportunities for other startups as well.

Looking ahead, the Startup League is now gearing up for RISE in Hong Kong, TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco and Web Summit in 

Suman Das
Radix Startup League

Lisbon, Portugal. In recent years, Portugal has emerged as a startup hub with vested interest from its government that is empowering young businesses to boost the local economy. The Startup League has supported that effort by rolling our special programs for Portugal’s startup community. Last month the Startup League team visited the country's five main entrepreneur-hubs on a five-day road trip that took them to Braga, Porto, Aveiro, Coimbra and Lisbon.

Startup League's Suman Das (3rd from left) and Tanisha Guptya (front center) 
visiting with members of the Portugal Startup Community last month.

With respect to that effort Mr. Das noted, “The idea was to meet with major incubators, accelerators and startup communities across Portugal. We interacted with them to understand their marketing challenges and how the Startup League could help them leverage event marketing to their advantage. Over the five days, we met 22 incubators and over 100 members of the startup ecosystem in Portugal. Through our interaction with them, we were able to create  tremendous awareness of new TLDs in the Portugal startup community and got an overwhelmingly positive response towards new TLDs in general and our program on the whole.”


As a result of this campaign, the Startup League has now partnered with various Portugal based startup communities, including Startup Braga (Braga), UPTEC (Porto), IEUA (Aveiro), IPN (Coimbra), Startup Lisboa and Beta-i (Lisbon). The Startup League currently, it has 75+ startups on board and 40+ partners from the global startup ecosystem.  

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NDDCamp Set for 3rd Annual Domain Name Event in Paris, France on June 26th

If you missed the 2017 Domaining Europe conference in Berlin three weeks ago that doesn't mean you have to wait another year for an industry get together on the Continent. In fact the 3rd annual NDDCamp is coming up later this month at the Paris School of Business in France. The Monday, June 26, 2017 event is being sponsored by Sedo and AFNIC (the administrator of France's .fr country code domain) with the Paris School of Business assisting in organizing the event.

NDDCamp was founded by two French domain name investors, David Chelly and Philippe Franck. The have succeeded in establishing an event that attracts registrars, lawyers, domain names investors, SEO consultants and other professionals who deal with domain names. 

While NDDCamp is a conference and networking event designed to help participants make new contacts and improve their knowledge of the sector, the founders say it also have some key differences from other industry events. A primary one is that the event is free to attend, though registration is reserved for industry professionals. They also skip other standard conference fare like a sponsor exhibit hall and live domain auction. The focus is entirely on face to face relationship building and learning. 

Lead speakers for the 2017 NDDCamp in Paris will be 
Tristan Colombet
(Domraider) and Sophie Pieck (Sedo).

The lead speakers for the 2017 NDDCamp will be Sophie Pieck (Sedo manager of the France Italy markets) and Tristan Colombet (Founder of Domraider, the leading expired domain name service in Europe) with many others on the agenda. Workshop sessions will begin at 11am, 2pm and 4pm with three workshops being conducted simultaneously during each of those periods (9 sessions in all). The first two editions of NDDCamp targeted a French-speaking audience 

however, for this 3rd edition, an English workshop will be held in the afternoon. The conference day will conclude with a cocktail hour and open buffet beginning at 5:30pm.

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BrandIT Acquires Igloo.com to Create a New Corporate Domain Management Dream Team

BrandIT GmbH (BrandIT) a European-based leader in Corporate Domain Name Management specializing in Strategic Domain Consulting, Domain Portfolio Services, Online Brand Protection and Enforcement and Legal in Digital and Igloo.com (Igloo) a Global Domain and Website Brokerage, announced today they have reached an agreement under which BrandIT will acquire Igloo for an undisclosed sum. BrandIT has clients worldwide with offices in Switzerland, the UK, Denmark and Brazil.

Igloo, founded by Dr. Gregg McNair & Tessa Holcomb as Domain Advisors in 2010 before rebranding to Igloo.com in 2013, has been a leading broker of premium domain names and websites known for its discretion, white-glove

service, and proven results. The company’s main focus has been working with clients on their overall brand strategy, educating end-users on the importance of owning the right domains and intellectual property assets, and both divesting of and acquiring high value domains for companies and investors alike. With over $140 million in brokerage transactions, Igloo has made a significant impact in the domain industry by capitalizing on personal relationships, hard work and the dedication of its extraordinary team.  

As part of its expansion plans, BrandIT intends to include Igloo’s online marketplace and the recent roll out of their exclusive Premium Broker Network, both of which the company credits for  increased engagement and financial results.

While the US Market has been in BrandIT’s line of vision for some time now, they have been waiting for the right channel for growth. A joint release about the acquisition noted, "BrandIT and Igloo are two purpose-driven organizations that are well aligned strategically, sharing a strong track record of performance and a deep commitment to delivering the highest level of quality, integrity, innovation and service. This is a perfect match of two companies with complementary skill sets, strengths, values and reputations for delivering superior results. The combination of BrandIT’s and Igloo’s skills, teams and impressive client lists will create a highly differentiated company uniquely positioned to bring a fresh approach to corporate domain services."

BrandIT CEO & Founder, Jesper Knudsen said, “In searching for the right people to bring BrandIT to North America, we couldn’t think of any team better suited for the job. Igloo’s experience with the start-up and VC communities speaks volumes and their  reputation, both individually

Jesper Knudsen
BrandIT CEO & Founder

and collectively, is second to none. Amanda Waltz and Tessa Holcomb represent the experience, professionalism, integrity and drive we were looking for. We have no doubt that the new BrandIT North America team will exceed all expectations.”

Amanda Waltz
Igloo.com VP of Sales & Acquisitions

Tessa Holcomb
Igloo.com Co-Founder & CEO

Igloo.com Vice President of Sales & Acquisitions, Amanda Waltz, added, “Becoming part of the impressive BrandIT team makes it possible for us to offer our clients the opportunity to work with a proven leader in brand protection and corporate domain management. Our goal is to respond to the growing intellectual property needs of companies today with the same personalized, concierge service our Igloo clients have become accustomed to.”

Tessa Holcomb, Igloo.com Co-Founder & CEO, said, “The best part of my job has been the privilege of getting to know our clients personally, forging those relationships, and sharing in the excitement as their businesses grow. I’m excited to bring the Domain Advisors vision full circle by working with our clients to secure, manage and protect their brands. We have great respect for the BrandIT team and find in them a similarly strong, results-oriented culture that prioritizes execution and long-term value creation. We look forward to this next chapter and accelerating BrandIT’s growth in North America.”

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