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The Lowdown
June 2009 Archive

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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.

I received some interesting news and information about Oakville.com from developer/company president Richard Douglas that makes a pretty good case study on how to efficiently build and promote a geodomain website. Oakville, Ontario is a Canadian city of 

165,000 people (part of the greater Toronto area) located on the shores of Lake Ontario. If you are a sports fan you will be hearing a lot about Oakville next month when the city hosts the 2009 RBC Canadian Open golf tournament. 

In a mutually beneficial marketing move, Oakville.com worked out an arrangement with the 

Royal Canadian Golf Association to promote the PGA tour event on its popular city site. Douglas said Oakville.com has been attracting 1,000 visitors a day and with a flood of visitors coming to Oakville for he tournament July 20-26 at Glen Abbey, that number is sure to spike in the days ahead. Oakville.com is going out of their way to attract them by posting maps for tournament parking locations, ticket information and event details that will be updated throughout the competition. The site also has a directory of Oakville hotels

Photo of Oakville's Lake Ontario waterfront 
from Oakville.com.

Though the tournament will give Oakville.com a chance to showcase itself to visitors, Douglas said those who live in Oakville have already come to rely on the site for its combination of interesting articles, classifieds, and job listings. The site also has an  Oakville restaurants guide that has helped many discover new dining favorites and events calendars that keep residents abreast of everything happening in the city. 

There is also a story behind how the site itself was built. Douglas, who is 

the CTO of the biggest web hosting company in the Bahamas, SecureHost.com, said his team there built a custom platform specifically for geo domain development and Oakville.com is the first of about 100 domains that they are building into fully developed city guides. 

The completely automated Oakville.com site now has about 3,500 pages and has unique content added every day. Douglas said "We have engaged the community through social media and by posting their articles and photos on the site." Douglas shares more information about his mass development platform in a blog he writes about geo domain development and SEO techniques at TooManySecrets.com.
(Posted June 30, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

The boom in ccTLDs over the past year has me paying more attention to America's long overlooked official country code extension - .us.  I have always felt there was a great deal of 

potential there and over the years have invested accordingly, but it has been a long and winding road. While ccTLDs are well established in most other countries around the globe, .us hasn't enjoyed the kind of popularity that ccTLDs representing 


other major industrial powers (like Great Britain's .co.uk and Germany's .de) have.  The primary factor that put .us behind the 8-ball was the fact that the extension was reserved for government use until April 2002. By the time it was opened up to all Americans (and foreign companies with a U.S. business presence)  .com had already become the default choice for U.S. companies. 

At this stage, I don't think anything is going to change that, but I am seeing more signs that .us is finally starting to find an audience, especially in the small to medium sized business 

Ad on the Neustar (.us registry) website

market. In the seven years since the extension was opened up, the Internet has experienced a phenomenal growth spurt. The number of .coms registered today is 15 times greater than it was back then. As a result, virtually every meaningful keyword, phrase or short acronym you can imagine is long gone in .com. That has forced many new businesses, especially those with limited budgets (which is just about all of them given the current economy), to consider alternatives. 

Since the vast majority of businesses have a local focus, .us is the obvious second choice for many of them and I am seeing that manifested more and more often in the real world. While watching the Tampa Bay Rays play the Florida Marlins on TV Sunday, one of the big signs on the outfield wall was for TampaBay.us, a domain being used by the Tampa Bay Partnership, a highly respected regional organization focused on stimulating economic growth and economic development in the Tampa Bay area. They had no chance to get TampaBay.com because that was taken long ago by the St. Petersburg Times newspaper. 

A couple of weeks ago when I pulled up to the departures gate at the Tampa airport to head to the Domain Roundtable conference in Washington, D.C. I noticed a big web address on the back of the remote parking shuttle bus in front of me - A1Express.us. On my last trip to Chicago I noticed another airport shuttle company with the URL AirportExpress.us emblazoned on their vehicles. .Com became the 800-pound gorilla because .com addresses have always been plastered everywhere you look. By comparison, spotting high visibility .us names is still like spotting a rare bird in the wild, but sightings are becoming more frequent and that bodes well for the extension.

A larger sampling of .us usage in the business community can be seen by doing a Google search using this string: 
site:.us company -state -k12 -cc -ci -co -lib -pdf -pippin
That produces results that, for the most part, are limited to business pages at sites using the .us extension (the -state, -k12, etc. filters throw out the many government, school and non-commercial sites that use .us so names used in commerce are spotlighted). The search returns over 5.5 million pages today. If you use the same string for the two global alternate extensions that were released at about the same time .us was (replacing site:.us with site:.info and site:.biz), the results are considerably lower; 3.8 million for .info and just under 3.5 million for .biz.  

If you throw the extra word filters out all together and just use site:.us, site:.info and site:.biz to see all pages for a given extension in Google, regardless of how they are used, the .us sites still win with 295 million indexed pages vs. 224 million for .info and only 72 million for .biz. I have not previously bookmarked these numbers to see how they have changed over time, but now that I've done so, will revisit them periodically in the future to see what kind of growth we are seeing by this measure. 

If the old axiom that a rising tide lifts all boats is true, then the global boom in ccTLDs should give the .us an additional boost too. In market share it will continue to 

be .com's baby brother but there is nothing wrong with being a profitable niche in any industry and .us is showing signs that it is growing into that role. 

One other note today, and this is a sad one. Khalid, a popular domainer and member of Britain's AcornDomains forum, who was known to many by his user names JeeWhizz and Pixelcraze, passed away Thursday morning. A forum post said he had recently undergone surgery. Khalid is survived by his wife Emma and a 1-year-old baby daughter Abigail. Khalid was also an administrator at a general business forum, A1BusinessForums.co.uk, that also announced his passing.

(Posted June 29, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Veteran web designer and audio/video services provider Danny Pryor just filled us in on some major changes underway at his Fort Lauderdale, Florida company, Rodan Media. Pryor's company produced most versions of the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference website that you have seen in recent years and he has done (and contiues to do) development work for a number of well-known domain portfolio holders.

Pryor said Rodan Media has signed significant new development deals with key players in the domain industry as the company positions itself to become a key content provider, domain developer and producer of high-quality video and audio products for small business and individual clients.

To accomodate its rapid growth, Pryor said the company he formed in 2001 is reincorporating as the Rodan Media Group Corporation. A new President and CEO, Donnie Goodwin, is coming on board with Pryor becoming the Chief Operating Officer and corporate vice president. Goodwin brings a wealth of business experience to the enterprise, having spent 18 years as an investment banker with Merrill Lynch and Paine Webber. Goodwin has also been practicing corporate and criminal law for the past 10 years.

Pryor is a former radio news anchor and 

Danny Pryor at the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. 
Silicon Valley Conference in April.

Associated Press award-winning journalist who turned his attention to website development in 2000. He previously worked for KNUU radio in Las Vegas, WINZ and WIOD radio in Miami and served as news director for radio stations WGYL and WTTB in Vero Beach. He also spent two years at the Metro Networks Miami operations office before shifting his focus to the Internet.

Among other things, Pryor said Rodan is currently working on a mass domain development project that  involves building out nearly 200 domains across a network-style platform of interlinked websites. "These domains will feature news, sports, travel, weather, finance, science, legal, and volunteer information," Pryor noted. A gallery of his company's work can be reviewed on the Rodan Media website.

Rod Beckstrom
Will he be ICANN's new CEO?

One other note today - we told you yesterday that former U.S. cyber security chief Rod Beckstrom was expected to be named the new CEO of ICANN when the DNS oversight body ended their current meeting in Sydney, Australia today. That in fact happened with ICANN Chairman Peter Dengate Thrush delivering the official announcement Down Under. Thrush said, "Rod Beckstrom has exactly the sort of strong personal and technical background that ICANN needs."

Vint Cert, who is considered to be the "father" of the Internet said in a statement, "Rod Beckstrom is strikingly well-prepared to undertake a new role as CEO of ICANN. His experience in industry and government equip him for this global and very challenging job." 

Beckstrom replace Dr. Paul Twomey who earlier this year announced his decision to the leave the post he had held since 2003.

(Posted June 26, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

The Associated Press is reporting that former U.S. cyber security chief Rod Beckstrom is likely to become the next CEO of ICANN, replacing Dr. Paul Twomey who recently announced he was leaving the post he has held since 2003. AP quotes unidentified sources as saying the ICANN board may vote to give Beckstrom the job as early as tomorrow when the current ICANN meeting concludes in Sydney, Australia

Beckstrom has been seen at several public sessions in Sydney and has also met privately with ICANN borard members according the the wire service story. Beckstrom was appointed to run the Department of Homeland Security's newly created National Cyber Security Center in March of last year but resigned 12 months later saying that a lack of cooperation from the National Security Agency and insufficient funding led to his resignation. Beckstrom runs a personal website at Beckstrom.com.

Rod Beckstrom
Will he be ICANN's new CEO?

In other ICANN related news, a chilling article from ComputerWorld.com confirms what many in the domain community have feared - that ICANN hopes to replace the current UDRP system with a Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS) system that could debut with the new gTLDs ICANN plans to start rolling out next year. The Internet Commerce Association and others have warned that if that happens domain owners would lose the scant protection they currently have from over-reaching trademark interests and reverse hijackers. 

ICA Legal Counsel Phil Corwin has said that if the dangerous URS is approved it could migrate to existing extensions like .com and .net and now, according to the ComputerWorld article, that is exactly what ICANN has in mind. CW quotes ICANN VP Paul Levins as saying “ICANN 

may be able to apply the new rules as existing registrar contracts expire. We may be able to retrofit the features that are in the new GTLD agreements to address abuse.” 

Most people in the domain community have sat on their hands while their rights are steadily being whittled away. If you needed to be whacked across the head with a 2 X 4 to get the message, here is your wake up call. Band together or kiss your assets goodbye. 

(Posted June 25, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Yesterday we told you about a couple of major new domain development partnership deals involving Skip Hoagland. Today we can tell you about another one involving two other giants from the geodomain space - the Castello Brothers - Michael and David - of Castello Cities Internet Network. Like Hoagland, the Castellos are best known for fully developed .com city domains (in their case, PalmSprings.com, Nashville.com and Acapulco.com to name a few). However, also like Hoagland, the Castellos own many top tier generic keyword domains that they have also developed into online businesses (examples include Bullion.com, Daycare.com and Whisky.com).

Their portfolio also includes Suntan.com and that is the domain that will be 

Michael & David Castello
Castello Cities Internet Network

developed in their new partnership with Birmingham, Alabama based LZ Domains, LLC. LZ's founders have been involved in the acquisition and development of  premium domains since 1998. LZ CEO Toby Hardy said, ""We are extremely excited about the July rollout of the Suntan.com brand and its robust website. When we analyzed the potential market on the internet for everything from tanning and sun protection to outdoor activities and tropical vacations we realized that the perfect global umbrella brand was Suntan.com. 

Suntan.com is going to quickly replace other sponsors that have experienced significant challenges in today's market conditions.  Whether it's surfing, beach volleyball or visiting your local tanning salon we'll promote and discuss it on Suntan.com. With that domain we have all four corners at the best intersection on the planet," Hardy said.

LZ Domains CEO Toby Hardy

CCIN Chief Operating Officer David J. Castello said, "Since 1995 we have developed intuitive domain names into worldwide brands. The synergistic relationship we have with LZ Domains made this partnership the logical choice to develop Suntan.com." 

(Posted June 24, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Over the weekend Skip Hoagland, who most of your know as one of the key players in the geodomain sector (owner of Atlanta.com, MyrtleBeach.com, BuenosAires.com and many

Skip Hoagland
(Hunting and fishing are a big part of 
this domain investor/developer's life)

others), sent out a press release announcing that his company,  DomainsNewMedia.com, had formed two new partnerships to develop some of his best generic non-geo keyword domains. Today I hooked up with Skip (who is currently in Argentina) to get some more information on what his new projects involve. 

If you read our July 2008 Cover Story on Hoagland you know he has always been a strong advocate of finding qualified partners to develop top tier domains. To do just that with four of his best sporting domains; Fishing.com, FlyFishing.com, Shooting.com and ShotgunSports.com, Hoagland has cut a deal with Argentina based Patagona Publishing and Media to build those properties into category killing web portals. 

Hoagland said Patagonia already manages 50 

hunting and fishing enthusiast websites as well as booking agencies that arrange hunting and fishing trips around the world. Patagonia also publishes coffee table books on these sports. In addition to Patgonia's expertise in the space, Hoagland said he was impressed by the two young U.S. educated leaders of the company and was confident in their ability to build the domains into dominating websites.

In another major partnership arrangement, Hoagland cut a deal with Databanq CEO David Bayer to develop Hoagland's ChamberOfCommerce.com and CVB.com domains (CVB is a major travel industry term for Convention And Visitors Bureaus).  

Hoagland said ChamberofCommerce.com would be built into a brand people will be able to rely on for trusted information on businesses from some 7,000 cities worldwide that are in the company's database. CVB.com will naturally focus on the areas of travel and tourism.

Hoagland said his company is also developing  geo-targeted domains he owns for classified ads and Yellow Pages directories. 

Partnering was a key topic at the Domain Roundtable conference in Washington, D.C. last week. More and more owners of top tier 

Databanq CEO David Bayer

domains are deciding the best way to maximize the potential of those names is to marry the best domains with the best possible managers to build full blown web based businesses on them.

Speaking of Domain Roundtable we just published our comprehensive show review article this morning with dozens of previously unpublished photos and details on that major industry event in the nation's capital.
(Posted June 23, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

The 35th public ICANN Meeting got underway Sunday in Sydney, Australia where the event will continue through Friday. Those on the scene say it looks to be one of the largest crowds 

ever for an ICANN meeting. Of course there are a number of hot topics that are drawing a crowd this time, including the introduction of new gTLDs and attempts by trademark interests to change dispute resolution procedures that, if successful, could have a huge negative impact on registrant rights. 

Internet Commerce Association Legal Counsel Phil Corwin is in Sydney to stand up for the domain community and he does an excellent job in detailing what is at stake in this 6-minute video interview from Australia that was posted on YouTube by Dyn Inc.

Corwin also wrote about the first full day of ICANN business today in a special report filed at the ICA website - InternetCommerce.org. Corwin said the ICA will continue to issue periodic updates from the Sydney meeting to keep members and other interested parties fully informed. 

ICA Legal Counsel Phil Corwin 

While many in the domain community are opposed to ICANN's plan to roll out an unlimited number of new gTLDs, it does look like it is going to happen and several companies are already hard at 

work offering consulting services to those who want to try to land their own extension. Minds + Machines probably heads that list since they have been chosen to help parties going after .nyc, .eco and .food among others. Famous chef Wolfgang Puck enlisted them to back his .food effort. Minds + Machines is also screening a 25-minute video in Sydney to support their campaign to land .eco.

If you have some money burning a hole in your pocket this is going to be a busy week for domain auctions. The extended online auction tied to last week's Domain Roundtable conference concludes tomorrow at 5pm (US Eastern time). You can check out the full catalog (with more than 250 lots still open) here

MyID.ca will be auctioning off more than 50 premium .ca (Canadian country code) domains Wednesday and Thursday. The catalog includes Job.ca, Theatre.ca, Timeshares.ca, Mike.ca, Newspapers.ca and IceSkating.ca to name just a few. Full information on that sale can be found here.

Meanwhile GreatDomain's latest premium auction will conclude Thursday (June 25) at 12 Noon (U.S. Eastern time). The names on the block there include 70.com, Consoles.com and Funds.net.

Looking a little further down the line, Rick Latona Auctions and Netcom.cm Sarl will team up to sell a group of 45 premium .cm (Cameroon country code) domain names in an online auction that will run from July 7 to July 14. These 

exclusive names, including Casino.cm, Poker.cm and Cars.cm, will not be included in the regular .cm land rush or open registration. Land rush for the soon to be unrestricted .cm extension will begin as soon as the auction ends. Interest is expected to be higher than usual because .cm is a common typo of .com, meaning that many of these terms are likely to get a lot of error traffic. 

(Posted June 22, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

The already crowded domain conference calendar (I have been to six shows in the past six months) is going to be packed even tighter in 2010. When the originators of the large scale domain conference concept, T.R.A.F.F.I.C.'s Rick Schwartz and Howard Neu, announced a new alliance with Rick Latona on Tuesday, the line up of T.R.A.F.F.I.C. shows alone doubled from three this year to six next year. 

Add in at least one show each from DOMAINfest Global, Domainer Mardi Gras, Domain Roundtable and the GeoDomain Expo, regional events like Canada's DomainConvergence.com and Germany's Domain Pulse and Domainvermarkter Forum and company specific events like the highly appealing SedoPro Forum (they've just announced the 2009 edition will be held in Key West, Florida next fall) and the dedicated show goer could easily spend all of 2010 traveling from one conference to the next without ever going home.

T.R.A.F.F.I.C.'s expansion comes at a time when some people are already complaining about "conference fatigue" and attendance at nearly all of the shows (except DOMAINfest Global in Los Angeles and T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York) has drifted down to around 200 (give or take a couple of dozen either way). You may have also noticed that the worst economic downturn since

Jimmy Durante was right, 
when it comes to domain conferences,
"Everybody wants to get into the act!" 

the Great Depression is currently underway. Given all of this, Latona, Schwartz and Neu think this is a good time to run more shows? Are they completely crazy? Yes, they are. Crazy like a fox. These three didn't get where they are by making a lot of bonehead moves.

Of the six locations they announced for next year, four are outside the United States - Amsterdam, Toronto, Hong Kong and Reykjavik, Iceland (this one could be switched to a different overseas location). Net change for the number of shows in America - zero. Guess 

where the fastest growth in the Internet (and domain registrations) is occurring? That's right, outside the U.S.  Latona, an inveterate world traveler, knows this because he has seen it first hand in his sojourns around the globe. That's why he confidently licensed the right to stage a T.R.A.F.F.I.C. show devoted entirely to ccTLDs earlier this month in Amsterdam, even though most people thought he was a couple of cans short of a six-pack. The show was a success and the majority of the domainers who made it fly were men and women from outside the U.S. 

The Latona-Schwartz-Neu triumvirate makes sense on several levels. It allows Schwartz and Neu to firmly establish their baby as a global brand and it gives Rick Latona Auctions exclusive rights to sell to the well heeled T.R.A.F.F.I.C. audience, dislodging rival Moniker from the mix. The impending T.R.A.F.F.I.C. six-show blitzkrieg also puts Schwartz and Neu back on the offensive after four years of watching a steadily growing pack of competitors whittle away bits and pieces of their market share. You had to know they were not going to stand idly by and watch that go on forever. 

Schwartz has been preaching for some time that the depths of the current recession was a perfect time for people to strengthen themselves through bold moves that would put them in a position to  thrive when the downturn inevitably ends. With this merger, he put into practice what he has been preaching.

Whether the trio's strategy pays off or not remains to be seen and it is unlikely their competitors are going to sit on their hands and let T.R.A.F.F.I.C. steamroll them into oblivion. Though it may be too early to call the winners in the battle between promoters, at least one huge winner is going to come out of all of this and that is conference attendees, regardless of which shows they go to. Competition can really slice and dice profit margins for promoters but it is always a good thing for consumers. You probably noticed a few days ago that T.R.A.F.F.I.C. offered historically low early bird prices for the October 2009 show in New York. Just today, Latona announced that the show was also dropping its invitation-only policy in favor of an open door approach. 

Attendance at the Domain Roundtable conference that ended in Washington, D.C. earlier this week was light (reportedly in the 175 range), limiting the revenue that Thought Convergence derived from staging the event, but do you think they cut any corners to offset that? To the contrary - ask anyone who was there - they dialed up the volume to 11! The venues were spectacular (both the hotel and club chosen for the closing night party), the food and drink was off the hook and the quality of attendees was top notch. That's how you have to treat people if you want to stay in the game and clearly TC has no intention of going away. As a result, you, the conference attendee, wins.

Rick Latona - collecting his 2008
Domainer of the Year Award
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York last fall.

Howard Neu

Rick Schwartz

I think that the industry at large could also win big from this. Getting the good news about domain names out in more places around the globe can only be good for business and it is a two way street. Investors in the host countries will have a chance to learn about the high value of quality domains and American investors who travel abroad will learn, just as Latona did, about new opportunities they would never have discovered otherwise (Amsterdam convinced me of that). 

Speaking of Latona - here is someone else who looks like a major winner in all of this to me. He is building a very impressive domain industry conglomerate with a web development company (AEIOU.com), auctions, direct sales (through his popular newsletter), financing units (DigiLoan.com and DigiPawn.com), forums (ccTLDs.com) and now conferences through a multi-faceted long-term licensing deal with T.R.A.F.F.I.C.  He and Schwartz are the two best marketers and negotiators in the industry and Neu is the perfect even keeled complement to his two Type A partners. 

There is some speculation that Latona and Schwartz could end up butting heads because they are both strongly opinionated and have had success doing things their own way. What if they can't agree on the best way to get from point A to point B? Friction between personalities is always possible but these two 

are consummate businessmen and I would be very surprised to see them take their eye off the ball.  If they do, Neu will be there to mediate and keep things on track. It is a powerful combination and I expect great things to come out of it. 

The biggest problem I see for all of the promoters is that there is a limited pool of sponsors, the unsung heroes who carry so much of the financial load involved in producing a conference. Even though we are in one of the best sectors you could possibly be in right now, most of the major sponsors have seen revenue dip and they are handling their expenditures accordingly. With the expansion of shows next year taking place exclusively outside the U.S., will they take on the higher cost of sending exhibit booths and teams of people to so many events in other countries? Their response (or T.R.A.F.F.I.C.'s ability to find new local sponsors in the territories they visit) will have a big impact on the financial success the shows have.

After Amsterdam, I don't think a shortage of attendees is going to be a big problem. If you read the comments from domainers outside the U.S. on the blogs operated by Schwartz, Latona and industry veteran Michael Berkens, you can see the widespread excitement among  non U.S. domainers that they are going to have shows in their own backyard.

The part of the game that will be really interesting to watch now is the dates the various shows fall on. That is going to be very important. Despite offering a great show in an exciting new town for the show circuit - Washington, D.C. - Roundtable lost some attendees simply because they were sixth in a string of six shows (and followed T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Amsterdam by just one week). It is going to be hard to find breathing room on a 2010 calendar packed with (at least) ten major shows and several smaller ones. 

As the year's first show, Oversee's DOMAINfest Global has blossomed in their late January slot. There is a good chance T.R.A.F.F.I.C. will try to erase that 

advantage by moving their 2010 Las Vegas kickoff in front of DOMAINfest. That could trigger quite a chess match as the year plays out.  

As Amsterdam showed, even when a conference is outside the U.S., it pulls away some of the sponsors and attendees that might otherwise have gone to an event in America. So all of the shows (except Domainer Mardi Gras whose event is tied to the dates of the annual Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans) will likely be looking to see what the others are doing and what available dates will give them the best chance to succeed. It could result in finalized show dates being announced later than usual - but that could be counter productive. If you don't give people time to plan you could lose more attendees than you would by going toe to toe against a competing show in an adjacent time slot.

Watching it all play out should be quite a spectacle - 2010 is shaping up to be the domain industry's version of The Olympics. Let the games begin!

(Posted June 18, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

The curtain came down on the 2009 Domain Roundtable conference  Tuesday night with a farewell party at  Washington. D.C. hot spot Club Josephine. The final order of business before attendees headed to the party to celebrate was Aftermarket.com's live domain auction that wound up yielding over $498,000 in sales. The blockbuster was Contests.com, a gem of a name that went to National A-1 for $380,000.  

Scene from Aftermarket.com's live domain auction Tuesday 
at the Domain Roundtable conference in Washington, D.C.

Shortly before the auction began, Larry Fischer of DirectNavigation.com told me he thought the name would go for $400,000, a prediction that just missed being a direct hit. Just over half of the names in the live auction were sold and more will change hands in the extended silent auction that runs to June 24

I mentioned yesterday that Diana and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary Tuesday during the Roundtable conference. For some time Diana had been hinting that she wanted to go on a romantic cruise for the occasion, so it took a little while for her to warm up to the idea of going to Washington instead (as you can see in the photo at right). 

However, the show organizers from Thought Convergence (including CEO Kevin Vo, CSO Ammar Kubba and Director of Corporate 

Diana's reaction when I told her we 
would be celebrating our 25th 
anniversary at a domain conference. 

Events Laura Schmidt, who did an amazing job of putting this conference together) totally won her over by surprising us with a beautiful cake during the party at Club Josephine. 

Better yet, we also got to help one of the nicest guys in the industry, Rob Grant (at left in the photo above), celebrate his birthday Tuesday. Thought Convergence also surprised Rob with a delectable cake of his own. The thoughtful gestures from the TCI team and the opportunity to 

Laura Schmidt (left) - the woman 
who put Domain Roundtable together.

celebrate with so many industry friends left all three of us in agreement that we were exactly where we wanted to be on these special occasions.

We arrived back home in Florida tonight and as soon as I complete the weekly domain sales report (that should be polished off and posted between 1-2pm Friday, U.S. Eastern time) I'll begin work on the comprehensive Domain Roundtable review article that we expect to publish by Monday night (June 22). We only had time to scratch the surface in our daily Lowdown posts from the show, but in the upcoming article we'll give you the details on all of the sessions and social events, along with dozens of previously unpublished photos.

In tomorrow's Lowdown post I'll have some comments on the big news that broke Tuesday about Rick Latona teaming up with T.R.A.F.F.I.C. co-founders Rick Schwartz and Howard Neu and their plans to run a half dozen T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conferences around the globe in 2010.

(Posted June 17, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

The final day of the Domain Roundtable conference is underway in Washington, D.C. As I write this the day's opening seminar, "Utilizing Online Tools to Benefit Your Business" is in progress with panelists (left to right in the photo below) Daniel Negari (Cyber2Media Inc.), Sean Stafford (ComWired.com), Susan Prosser (DomainTools.com) and Gregg McNair (Strata PPX Services) on stage with moderator Jamal Hacque.

I'll be detailing the key points made in all of the various conference sessions in our comprehensive show review article that will be published early next week.

McNair made it to the dais early this morning even though dozens of his friends kept him up into the wee hours last night helping him celebrate his birthday. The stylish Obama sunglasses Gregg is sporting in the photo at right were one of the many gifts he received to mark the occasion.

Diana and I are celebrating a special day of our own at the conference today - our 25th wedding anniversary. She was thinking about taking a romantic cruise for the occasion, but when she found out the date coincided with Roundtable  she was gracious enough to put the industry event first. I told her I would make it up to her later and she said, "You bet you will!" 

Gregg McNair

Fortunately, the Grand Hyatt Hotel staff (who sent us a complimentary bottle of champagne), Roundtable organizers and many friends helped get me off the hook by making the week here an especially enjoyable one for her. NameMedia certainly helped by including us on the guest list for a fabulous dinner they hosted last night at Wolfgang Puck's Source Restaurant (at the Newseum).

Guests at a NameMedia dinner last night at The Source in Washington, D.C.  
(clockwise  starting at lower left): Ron & Diana Jackson (DNJournal.com), Bob Mountain (NameMedia), Jeff Bennett (NameMedia President), Andrew Allemann (DomainNameWire), 
Kirsten Frederick
(NameMedia), Larry Fischer (DirectNavigation.com), Leonard Holmes (ParkQuick.com) and, also representing NameMedia,  Cortnee Gunn, Brian Carr
Kristen McCarthy
& David Zakur).

I also just got a photo from a pre-show dinner that the Castello Brothers (Michael and David) hosted Saturday night for some of the early arrivers (and local domainers) in Washington at the Central Michel Richard restaurant.

Guests at the Castello Brothers dinner Saturday night at Central Michel Richard in 
Washington, D.C.
(clockwise starting at lower left): Patrick Carleton (Associated Cities), 
Rick Waters (Webcast1), Phil Corwin (Internet Commerce Association), Andrew Allemann (DomainNameWire), Michael Mann (WashingtonVC), Brian Taff (BuyDomains co-founder), 
Ammar Kubba (Thought Convergence), David Castello and Michael Castello (CCIN.com) 
and Steve DelBianco (NetChoice).

 The Castellos were part of a great seminar session Monday on "Unique Opportunities to Increase Your Domain's Value." We'll have details on that in our upcoming show review article.

Today's closing day schedule includes a final seminar, "The Macro View of Domain Valuation", the big Aftermarket.com live domain auction that will run from 4-7pm (U.S. Eastern Time) and in the grand finale, TrafficZ.com and Parked.com will host the show closing party tonight at Club Josephine

Today's auction will include a nice group of donated domains that will be sold to help raise funds for the Internet Commerce Association. That list includes Castaway.com, ParkingShare.com, Deployed.com, Slices.org, LikeHer.net, SleepSafe.com, HolidayLoan.com, 

PlasticSurgeryWebsite.com and a name from conference organizer Thought Covergence that will be revealed during the sale. You can see the complete auction category here and you can also take part in the bidding online.

I'll have a wrap up post on Roundtable in this column tomorrow, including photos and highlights from the upcoming events today and tonight. That post will be up in the early evening as we will be traveling back to Florida in the morning and afternoon hours Wednesday.   

(Posted June 16, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

The 2009 Domain Roundtable conference (staged by Thought Convergence) got underway last night in Washington, D.C. with a welcoming cocktail party at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. In addition to a great networking session than extended over an hour past the scheduled close, attendees were treated to a lavish buffet laid out by a chef who was honored as the best one in the Hyatt's U.S. system.

(Left to right): Andrew Allemann (Domain Name Wire), Simonetta Batteiger (Sedo), 
Tessa Holcomb (Sedo), Brian Carr (NameMedia) and Monte White (Parked.com) chat 
during the opening night cocktail party at Domain Roundtable in Washington, D.C.

The first full day of business opened this morning with Thought Convergence CEO Kevin Vo and CSO Ammar Kubba welcoming attendees to the fifth annual Roundtable conference. One of today's three seminar sessions is underway as I write this with an estimated 150-200 registants in the ballroom.


Scene from the opening seminar at the Domain Roundtable conference this morning.

Today's schedule will include a keynote address from Jonathan Zuck (President of the Association for Competitive Technology) and a late afternoon session in which experts will answer audience questions on multiple topics . 

Several dozen domainers who arrived in town early enough were invited to a pre-show party at the Bethesda, Maryland home of Michael Mann Sunday afternoon. Mann founded BuyDomains.com and later sold the company for a reported $80 million to NameMedia. He was als a featured speaker at one of the opening day sessions at Roundtable.

Above: Scene from the pre-show pool party Michael Mann hosted Sunday afternoon.
Below: (L to R) Ammar Kubba, Michael Mann and Divyank Turakhia (Directi) at the party.
(these two photos courtesy of Richard Meyer)

I'll have more photos and highlights from today's activity at Roundtable in our next post tomorrow. Check the Lowdown daily this week to stay up to date on all of the key events at the conference. 

(Posted June 15, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

As many in the domain blogosphere had predicted the real estate domain auction that J.P. King auctioneers had intended to conduct on behalf of portfolio owner Craig Harrison 

yesterday in San Francisco did not go well. Monte Cahn of Moniker.com (whose company was slated to handle escrow for any competed sales) told me that, while he was not there himself, Harrison had informed him that his reserve prices were not met. However, according to an article and photos in the San Francisco Chronicle today, the real problem was that almost no one showed up at the Fairmont Hotel for the sale, resulting in the public auction being scratched all together. 

I couldn't glean much else from the Chronicle article as it was riddled with errors, including the obviously incorrect statement that "live auctions of Internet 

Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco
Site of a cancelled real estate related
public domain auction Thursday.

domain names are still  rare." To the contrary, they have been around for years now and there are so many these days that some within the industry complain about live auction overload (for the record there was one just last week in Amsterdam and there will be another one next week in Washington, D.C. - so they are hardly rare events). 

This brings up something that has become a sore point with me. Virtually every time mainstream reporters write about domains their articles are mangled with mistakes that could easily be avoided with a little bit of simple fact checking. As traditional newspapers fade into oblivion, a common lament from "professional" reporters is that the quality of online journalism will pale in comparison to what has been delivered by traditional outlets in the past. Articles like this one are pretty much blowing that theory out of the water though. Honestly, in recent years, I have seen better reporting from some of the so-called "amateur" bloggers in our space than I see coming from very well known print outlets like the Chronicle.

End of media rant and back to the auction. This one pretty much had the deck stacked against it from the start. Most of the names were in the form of (CityName)RealEstateListings.com 

rather than the more appealing (CityName)RealEstate.com (a form owned in the thousands by Rob Grant). 

Adding the word "listings", while it is a logical term, results in names that are just too long to appeal to most buyers. For example, districtofcolumbiarealestatelistings.com looks like a bowl of alphabet soup that would be hard to fit on a business card, let alone key in without making multiple typos.  

Add to that the lack of online bidding (who is going to travel to San Francisco to bid in an auction for anything but top tier domains?) and a very stiff buyer's premium (20%) and the odds of success were extremely long indeed. Still, we all learn from experience and I can't fault anyone for trying a different approach as Harrison did here in an attempt to seek out end users rather than target domainers who make up almost 100% of the audience at industry auctions. 

With all of the advertising that was done, the enlistment of a major real estate auction house and the rental of an expensive hotel ballroom, it had to be a very expensive exercise and I'm sorry to see that it didn't bear more fruit. There is always a chance that the publicity surrounding the event will catch the attention of someone in the real estate field who can make use of some of the names among the 2,600 offered. However with the real estate market currently going through a historic meltdown, the odds at this point in time are not good for a happy ending to this story.

Speaking of domain auctions, The extended online auction associated with RickLatona.com's live auction at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Amsterdam ends Monday (June 15) at 5pm U.S. Eastern time. Nearly 500 domains in the auction has a reserve price of 500 euros or less. Then on Tuesday (June 16), Aftermarket.com's live auction at the Domain Roundtable conference will be held from 4-7pm U.S. Eastern time. You can review the 71-name auction catalog here.

That's it for today. Have a great weekend. I will be flying to Washington D.C. Sunday for Domain Roundtable and will have the first of our daily posts from the show in this column Monday. 
(Posted June 12, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Less than 72 hours from now  the annual Domain Roundtable conference gets underway in a new location - the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Washington, D.C. This will be the first major domain 

conference ever held in the nation's capital. With so many legislative and regulatory threats currently facing domain owners, this is the perfect time and place for the domain community to gather and start mapping out a strategy to meet the challenges we will be facing in the months ahead. 

Things get underway with a welcoming cocktail party Sunday evening then everyone gets down to business with three seminar sessions and Jonathan Zuck's keynote address on Monday. Tuesday's schedule will be highlighted by a pair of seminars, Aftermarket.com's live domain auction from 4-7pm and a big show closing party from 9pm-1am hosted by TrafficZ and Parked.com at Club Josephine

Domain Roundtable Wants You
(to be in Washington D.C.)!

You can review the entire show agenda here, including details on the topics and speakers for each of the individual sessions. There is still time to register if you want to be a part of it. If you can't go, check this column for our daily updates from Roundtable starting on Monday. We will also be publishing a comprehensive show review article after the conference.

There is some interesting news from NameMedia (parent of the AfternicDLS and BuyDomains.com) today. I haven't seen an official release yet but I have it on good authority that Bob Mountain is coming on board as VP of Business Development. Bob comes to NameMedia from Hangout Industries where he was the VP of Sales and Business Development. In another personnel move, Ted Olson is being promoted from Acquisitions Manager to Business Development Manager.

In a related note, NameMedia recently rolled out an affiliate program and it has 

already paid off for new affiliate Y3.com of Ireland. They referred a buyer who purchased A6.com for $34,000 and that earned Y3 a 5% commision ($1,700) on the sale.

The people at dotNYC LLC, a group that hopes to land the .nyc extension when ICANN starts rolling out new gTLDs next year, got some good news today when former New York City Mayor Ed Koch endorsed their bid. Koch said "I can’t wait to sign up for edkoch.nyc, and while I’m at it I’ll probably sign up for mayorkoch.nyc as well. I’ve done my homework and the experienced team behind dotNYC LLC is the right team to run .NYC.”

dotNYC LLC CEO Antony Van Couvering, who lives in Manhattan, said, “Ed Koch is a New York icon 

and we're thrilled to be partnering with someone who cares so much about this city. With his support we have total confidence that NYC will happen, and happen the right way for the benefit of all New Yorkers.”

(Posted June 10, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

A heavily advertised auction  of geo-targeted real estate related domain names will be held tomorrow (Thursday, June 11) at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. The live sale, being 

conducted by the J.P. King Company, an Alabama based real estate auctioneer, will get underway at 1pm U.S. Pacific time (4pm Eastern). Internet bidding, a staple of most live domain auctions, will not be available for this event. Over 2,600 domains owned by Craig Harrison of RealEstateNet LLC have been broken into geocentric lots for the sale. Most follow the form (City Name)RealEstateListings.com. You can see the full list here

The no-internet auction format, a 20% buyer's premium that will be added to winning bids and the nature of the names in the catalog indicate the sale is primarily targeted toward real estate industry end users rather than domainers. Even so many domain industry media sites 

(including DN Journal) were utilized in J.P. King's ad campaign and Moniker.com was picked to handle escrow services for the sale. It will be interesting to see how this unique auction strategy (for a domain portfolio) plays out.

Internet Commerce Association Legal Counsel Phil Corwin has been working overtime lately. Last night he filed a letter on behalf of the ICA with the U.S. Department of Commerce, urging the DOC to Extend and Revise its Joint Project Agreement with ICANN that expires Sept. 30. ICANN, eager to escape U.S. government oversight, does not want to renew the agreement, but Corwin  makes a compelling case for the DOC to block ICANN's rush for the exit. 

The letter expresses ICA’s continued support for the principles underlying ICANN’s creation as well as for its eventual full transition to an independent, private sector-led technical coordinator of the domain name system (DNS). However, Corwin wrote, "when measured against the concerns articulated by ICA in its February 2008 submission to DOC’s Midterm Review of ICANN’s performance, adequate  

ICA Legal Counsel Phil Corwin

progress has not been made to justify termination of DOC’s “light touch” relationship with ICANN - nor have adequate steps been taken to assure that ICANN will not be “captured”, politicized, and transformed into an unaccountable Internet regulator following the termination of the JPA." 

Given the way ICANN has routinely ignored input from the Internet community when making decisions (even when that sentiment is virtually unanimously opposed to ICANN proposals) I  thought they were already an unaccountable regulator - but I digress.

Corwin goes on to explain, point by point, the areas where ICANN has been lacking, as well as those where they have made progress. I urge you read the letter in its entirety. The legal and regulatory environment is shifting under domain owner's feet and if situations like this are not closely monitored many are likely to find themselves put out of business by their own indifference.

(Posted June 10, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Yesterday I brought you up to date  on several bits of conference, company and domain community news that developed while I was in Amsterdam last week covering the

Skip Hoagland

T.R.A.F.F.I.C. ccTLDs conference. Today I'll finish up the housekeeping with some notes on recent developments involving prominent industry people. Just as I was leaving for Europe, Skip Hoagland (GeoDomains New Media LLC President & CEO) contacted me to let me know that he had just expanded his geodomain empire by acquiring LocalDomains.com.

Hoagland (who owns Atlanta.com, BuenosAires.com, Cuba.com and many other prime generic domains) said, "LocalDomains.com will connect people from around the world to websites where they can find useful information that pertains to their local area." He said the planned new site will serve as a cross-linking network that will tie together websites and online properties that span the globe ranging from local websites to tourist sites.

Over the years Dark Blue Sea COO Dan Warner had become the public face of the Australian company's best known subsidiary, Fabulous.com (Warner also wrote several well received articles for DN Journal). Last week Warner left the company, following in the footsteps of CEO Richard Moore who previously announced he would be departing July 1.

After 7 seven years with Dark Blue Sea, Warner, who played a key role in staging the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Down Under conference on Australia's Gold Coast last November,  said he was ready to take on a new challenge. He will remain active in the domain industry in both consulting and development roles. 

Warner always has plenty to say on industry issues so I would also look for him to resume blogging at DanWarner.com soon. He 

Dan Warner

posted on the site a year ago but his obligations at DBS did not leave him with enough time to utilize that platform.

Simonetta Batteiger

Simonetta Batteiger is taking on new responsibilities at Sedo.com. Simonetta has been with Sedo for three years, serving most recently as the company's Director of Finance and Sales. She has just moved into a new role as Director of Parking Sales which will give her responsibility for Sedo's North and South American account managers, as well as the company's customers in those markets.

Simonetta has become a regular at the major domain conferences and you may have already had the good fortune to meet here at Domainer Mardi Gras in New Orleans earlier this year or at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York last fall. You'll have another chance to chat with her about Sedo's services at the Domain Roundtable conference that gets underway in Washington, D.C. Sunday night.

The globe trotting Gregg McNair continues to build a new domain monetization system at Hong Kong based Strata PPX Services. The company has been on an acquisition binge and last week they added another key piece to their platform by purchasing JB Media LLC of Scottsdale, Arizona. JB Media is an on line consumer product marketing and manufacturing company currently specializing in high volume consumer verticals and generating millions in sales. 

McNair spoke about Strata's CPA (cost per acquisition) based strategy at the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference in Amsterdam last week. "Strata PPX is expanding operations to maximize returns for our partners and domain clients” McNair said, adding “The JB Media acquisition will initially double the revenues of the PPX media division through vertical integration. Reciprocally, PPX will use its marketing and technology expertise to increase the global reach of JB Media."

Gregg McNair, speaking at T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
ccTLDs last week in Amsterdam.

Rick Schwartz

Finally, all of you must have heard by now about Rick Schwartz's latest sales coup as he closed a deal to sell Candy.com for $3 million to the Melville Candy Company of Massachusetts. That landmark sale, the second biggest of 2009 (trailing only Toys.com at $5.1 million), will head the weekly domain sales report we are currently working on (the complete report will be published here Wednesday around lunch time in the Eastern U.S.).

I think that Schwartz, widely known as the co-founder of the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference, has now firmly established himself as the best negotiator in the domain business. For anyone else, Candy.com would be a once in a lifetime sale but for Schwartz deals like this (including Men.com, Property.com and iReport.com) are becoming almost commonplace. You have 

to hand it to the guy. He has always preached the high value of domains and he never sells one for less than he thinks it is worth. 

(Posted June 9, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

I'm back from Amsterdam and a T.R.A.F.F.I.C. ccTLDs conference staged by RickLatona.com that surpassed the expectations of everyone I talked to at the event. The 

Latona team did a remarkable job in their first trip around the track as a show promoter (they produced this conference under a licensing agreement with T.R.A.F.F.I.C.). With T.R.A.F.F.I.C. co-founder Howard Neu, his wife Barbara and son Ray pitching in to help in Amsterdam the end result was an exceptionally rewarding show filled with fresh content, new faces and a series of unforgettable social events in historically significant locations. 

I just scratched the surface in my daily Lowdown posts from Amsterdam. We'll have much more detail and dozens of previously unseen photos in the comprehensive conference review article that we will be publishing at the end of this week.

With this successful run in Amsterdam now completed, the folks at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. now 

Rick Latona speaking at the T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
conference last week in Amsterdam.

turn their attention to their final show of the year - T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York, coming up in Brooklyn this fall (October 26-29 to be exact). Today show organizers announced some major changes for the New York conference. Early bird registration prices (good through June 30 or until 100 tickets are sold - whichever comes first) will be slashed to just $895 - an unprecedented low for T.R.A.F.F.I.C. (the fee will rise to $1495 by show time). The early bird fee to bring spouses was also slashed to $199, a remarkable value considering how much food, drink and entertainment is included in the ticket price. If you want to go buy your tickets now - the bargain prices go away July 1.

The next stop on the show circuit is the Domain Roundtable conference that gets underway Sunday evening at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, D.C.  I'll be repacking my bags and heading to the nation's capital to cover that event for you. Thought Convergence is presenting this show and in a very positive gesture for the industry, they are making time available during their live domain auction to sell donated domains to raise funds for the Internet Commerce Association (you can still donate domains by writing [email protected]). 

The ICA proved how important it is to keep their Legal Counsel, Phil Corwin, on the job when a brief they filed helped the Coalition for Internet Transparency (CFIT) win a key court battle against Verisign that could lead to lower domain registration fees for all domain owners. Michael Berkens had a very good breakdown on what is at stake in a post on his blog last week.  

The ICA has also pointed out the many flaws in an Implementation Recommendation Team (IRT) proposal to ICANN that, if adopted, would leave domain owners at an unfair and permanent disadvantage against frivolous trademark objections aimed at separating legitimate investors from their assets (You can read more about this very serious issue in this thread at ICANN.org. I think you will find the arguments made by veteran domainer George Kirikos to be particularly enlightening).

The value of domain names has become common knowledge and from now on there are going to be covetous parties who want to take away what you have without paying for it. Without someone watching out for their interests in Washington and before ICANN, there is no chance domain owners are going to win the critical battles ahead. 

One other note today. While I was in Amsterdam last week, Verisign issued their quarterly Domain Name Industry Brief, a report that is always filled with interesting statistics and domain registration trends. The latest DNIB report shows that Q1-2009 ended with a total base nearly 183 million domain name registrations across all of the Top Level Domains (TLDs), representing 3% growth over Q4-2008 and a 12% growth over the same quarter 

from last year. Quite impressive when you consider we are in the midst of the most severe recession in decades and further evidence that the Internet is one of the safest harbors in the current economic storm.

That brings you up to date on conference, company and community news. Tomorrow I'll have several items about industry people that are making headlines this month.

(Posted June 8, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

The T.R.A.F.F.I.C. ccTLDs conference  in Amsterdam closed Thursday night with a Parked.com farewell party at a local townhouse owned by a company executive. An endless parade of food trays circulated among the crowd on the ground floor while caricature and portrait artists sketched attendees in a quieter lounge area upstairs.

Above: Scene from the Parked.com party on the first floor of an Amsterdam townhouse 
Thursday night.  Below: On the second floor a local artist gets ready to sketch Ammar Kubba 
(Thought Convergence) next to a portrait she had just completed of Ammar's brother Omar.

World champion livestock auctioneer Matt 
conducting the RickLatona.com live 
auction Thursday in Amsterdam, Holland.

The party was held barely an hour after the business portion of the show concluded with Rick Latona.com's live domain auction back at the show hotel - the NH Grand Krasnapolsky.  The auction, made up almost entirely of ccTLD domains, exceeded expectations by booking over $600,000 in sales. The highest prices went to DiamondRings.com (€162,000 = $230,179), Houses.co.uk (€43,200 = $72,429) and Job.us (€25,200 = $35,179).

RickLatona.com also staged the conference itself under a licensing agreement with T.R.A.F.F.I.C. co-founders Rick Schwartz and Howard Neu. I think the feedback you will hear universally from show attendees is that the Latona team did an outstanding job in producing this show. It was first class in every

respect and with its previously untried ccTLD theme, it was packed with fresh faces, content and moneymaking opportunities that sent everyone home happy that they had attended. 

Many people stayed over in Amsterdam for one or more days to enjoy some of the many attractions in this historic and charming city. Diana and I went to the Rijksmuseum today (The Netherlands national museum) to admire the 17th century Dutch master paintings that are on permanent display. The museum houses a stunning Rembrandt collecting including his largest and most famous work, The Night Watch

Entering the Rijksmuseum today in Amsterdam (photos are not allowed inside).

After rhe museum visit we headed to another must see local museum - the Anne Frank House to see the rooms where the gifted teenager wrote her famous diary about the nearly two years she and seven other friends and family members hid from the Nazis in a secret upstairs annex during World War II. Being in those rooms and seeing Anne's actual diary on display is a very emotional experience for everyone who visits. The eight were eventually caught and as a result Anne's life ended tragically in a concentration camp, just a month before the Allies liberated the prisoners there. 

As depressing as man's inhumanity to man can be, there is still something very uplifting about how a single, seemingly powerless young woman, could impact millions of people around the world in a meaningful way decades after her death - and will continue to do so for many generations to come.

The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam

We will be heading back to the U.S. Saturday and by the end of next week we will be publishing our comprehensive T.R.A.F.F.I.C. ccTLDs show review article. It will feature dozens of previousy unseen photos plus our usual in-depth coverage of all conference sessions and social events.

(Posted June 5, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

The final business event at the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. ccTLDs conference, RickLatona.com's live domain auction, is underway as I write this from the front row of the auction venue at the NH Grand Krasnapolsky Hotel in Amsterdam. We have already seen one blockbuster sale, DiamondRings.com at €162,000 ($230,179 at today's exchange rate). In a solid ccTLD sale, Houses.co.uk just went for €51,000 ($72,429). There is a very good crowd in the room that includes domain investors from all over the world.

Scene from today's RickLatona.com Live Domain Auction 
at the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. ccTLDs conference in Amsterdam.

After the auction, the curtain comes down on the conference with a big closing night party that will hosted by Parked.com. This final day of the show began this morning at 10 local time (that would be 4am in the Eastern U.S.!) with a seminar focused on things to consider when investing in multiple ccTLD markets. After the lunch break I spoke about current trends in the domain aftermarket, then interviewed conference organizer Rick Latona and ccTLDs.com administrator Ray Neu who were on stage with me.

The show's final panel discussion followed with Sedo CEO Tim Schumacher, NameDrive European Domain Development Director Alexander Wagner, Parked.com President Donny Simonton and KeywordDomains.com founder Markus Schnermann (who is the subject of our current Cover Story) sharing the stage. Schnermann filled in at the last minute when his partner in Domain Invest S.A., EuroDNS CEO Xavier Buck, was called away. The lack of preparation time didn't stop him from contributing greatly to a well received session on the future of domains and hot spots for investing now. 

Schumacher, as he has done at past shows, offered his current Buy, Sell and Hold recommendations for various domain extensions. His current Buy list includes .info, .us, major ccTLDS like Germany's .de and Italy's .it plus IDNs. Schumacher rates .com, .net, .eu and .mobi as Hold and he recommends selling .biz, .cc, .ws and .tv.

Sedo CEO Tim Schumacher speaking at the
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. ccTLDs conference today. 

After my post yesterday (filed during the final event on the Wednesday schedule), I joined show registrants at a fabulous dinner at Amsterdam's famous Restaurant d'Vijff Vlieghen ("The Five Flies" in English). The restaurant has nine unique dining rooms spread across five historic buildings. Attendees were randomly assigned to the various dining rooms so there was an opportunity to spend the evening making new friends as well as enjoying a truly memorable night out in Amsterdam.

Some of the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. ccTLDs regiistrants who enjoyed a great dinner 
at the world famous Restaurant d'Vijff Vlieghen in Amsterdam Wednesday night.

Diana and I are staying over an extra day to visit museums in Amsterdam Friday, then will fly home Saturday. I'll have a final post from the Netherlands in this column tomorrow including final live auction results, highlights from tonight's closing party and some final thoughts on a very rewarding week at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. ccTLDs.
(Posted June 4, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

The past 24 hours at the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. ccTLDS conference in Amsterdam has been packed with activity including the conference keynote address from Dr. Kevin Ham (Reinvent Technology) that is in progress as I write this from the ballroom at the NH Grand Krasnapolsky Hotel where the show is being staged. When I posted yesterday I was just getting ready to leave for the evening dinner at the historic West Indies House (where the original plans for the city of New York were drawn up in the 1600's). That wound up being a great evening that began with a cocktail hour in the courtyard and culminated with an Indonesian dinner served both indoors and out.

Scene from the Tuesday night cocktail party/dinner 
at Amsterdam's historic West Indies House.

This morning the focus returned to business with an opening session featuring representatives from two more registries (America's .us and Cameroon's .cm) providing details on what is happening with their ccTLDs. I'll have details on all of the sessions in our comprehensive conference revew article that will be posted next week. Ryan Steel, President of mini-site developer AEIOU.com spoke at lunch followed by two afternoon panel discussions. 

In the first of those, domain monetization alternatives were discussed by Gregg McNair (Strata PPX Services), Laurent Muellender (Sedo.com) and Rick Silver (N49 Interactive). Attorneys John Berryhill and Paul Keating followed in an informative and entertaining session in which T.R.A.F.F.I.C. co-founder Howard Neu (who is also and attorney) served as both the moderator and a participant.

John Berryhill (left) and Paul Keating fielded questions from Howard Neu in a
Wednesday afternoon session devoted to the latest legal issues facing domain investors.

The business day closed with Dr. Ham's keynote address that was delivered via an Internet video hookup with Dr. Ham speaking to attendees in Amsterdam from his office in Vancouver, Canada. The connection worked flawlessly and the two-way hookup allowed moderator Rick Latona to call on audience members who asked Kevin questions at the end of his talk. 

Rick Latona watching Dr. Kevin Ham's T.R.A.F.F.I.C. ccTLDs keynote address 
from the stage at the NH Grand Krasnapolsky Hotel in Amsterdam Wednesday.

I have been taking notes throughout Dr. Ham's speech and will have a summary of his comments in our upcoming show review article. The Wednesday schedule will conclude this evening with dinner at another historic Amsterdam location - Restaurant d'Vijff Vlieghen.  With one day still to go I can tell you this has been an exceptionally informative and entertaining conference. During his talk, Dr. Ham mentioned that his brother Don, who is here in Amsterdam, told him that he thought this was the best show since the first T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference in Delray Beach, Florida back in 2004. High praise indeed.

(Posted June 3, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

The T.R.A.F.F.I.C. ccTLDs conference  got underway Monday night in Amsterdam, Holland with a welcoming dinner at the NH Grand Krasnapolsky Hotel where the show is being staged by RickLatona.com. Approximately 200 people registered for the show and it looked like just about all of them were on hand for an opening night get together that went very well.

Scene from the opening night dinner at the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. ccTLDs conference 
Monday night in Amsterdam, Holland.

This morning the first full day of business got underway with a session featuring representatives from four of Europe's most successful registries, Germany's .de, Great Britain's .co.uk, Austria's .at and the Netherlands' .nl.  It was a very interesting overview of each ccTLD, covering their growth rates, nexus requirements and other registry policies that investors need to be aware of.

Scene from the opening session at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. ccTLDs in Amsterdam today.

In the lunch break that followed, Internet Commerce Association President Jeremiah Johnson spoke about new threats facing domain owners, including efforts being undertaken by trademark interests to have the UDRP process replaced with a new system that would make it easier for them to take domain names away from their current owners.

The first afternoon session was an especially informative one that featured five major portfolio owners  discussing their ccTLD strategies.  The panelists were Rick Latona (USA), Hennie Groot Lipman (Netherlands), Nicco Ziefang (Germany), Alexander Schubert (Germany) and Edwin Hayward (a British domainer who has lived in Japan for the past 15 years). I'll have the details of what they talked about (as well key points from all of the other seminars) in our conference review article that will be published a few days after we return to the U.S. next week.

Next up was a session featuring three of the world's fastest growing registries; Poland's .pl, India's .in and Mexico's .mx. As I expected from this conference I am getting a great education in how the world's various ccTLDs differ and where some of the best opportunities lie. It really opens your eyes to the many possibilities beyond the dominant .com extension that most American investors seldom stray from. 

The day's final business session was T.R.A.F.F.I.C.'s always popular speed networking event.

Scene from this afternoon's speed networking session

In a slightly different twist, an inner circle of chairs was placed around the sofas where people can lounge in the sponsor exhibit area during the day. An outer ring of chairs was placed around the first circle so attendees were facing each other around the hall. Every couple of minutes those on the outside circle moved one place to their right so that each person was able to meet dozens of new people during the 90-minute session.

This evening attendees will walk to the historic West Indies House for cocktails and dinner to complete the first full day at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. ccTLDs. Tomorrow I will have photos and highlights from that event as well as Wednesday's business sessions.

(Posted June 2, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

The T.R.A.F.F.I.C. ccTLDs conference  gets underway tonight in Amsterdam, Holland with a 7:30pm dinner at the show hotel - the NH Grand Krasnapolsky - located on Dam Square in the center of one of Europe's most popular and picturesque travel destinations. The first full 

day of business will get underway Tuesday morning at 10:15 with an opening seminar featuring representatives from four major ccTLDs (Germany's .de, Great Britain's .co.uk, Austria's .at and the Netherlands' .nl). 

In walking around Amsterdam since we arrived early Sunday morning I've seen the local TLD - .nl - on display everywhere, It appears to be in much wider use here than .com. This is the case in many countries outside the U.S. and is the reason why Rick Latona decided it was time to stage a conference that gave ccTLDs the recognition they deserve (his company is staging this show under a licensing agreement with T.R.A.F.F.I.C.).

Latona has traveled to all corners of the 

NH Grand Krasnapolsky Hotel in Amsterdam
Site of T.R.A.F.F.I.C. ccTLDs

globe and after being exposed to ccTLDs so often he recognized an investment opportunity and began devoting much more time and money to buying and promoting country code domains. This week attendees will hear from registry operators from around the world and will surely leave with a far greater understanding of ccTLDs and the growing opportunities in the country code space. 

Sunday night Diana and I joined T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founder Howard Neu (who was the subject of our April Cover Story), his wife Barbara and son Ray (an executive for RickLatona.com) for dinner at one of Amsterdam's many outdoor cafes. 

(In the foreground left) Howard and Barbara Neu with (foreground right) Diana Jackson
Ron Jackson and Ray Neu at the La Pampa restaurant in Amsterdam Sunday night (May 31).

Ray Neu is the administrator of a new forum devoted entirely to country code domains that was started earlier this year by Latona at ccTLDs.com. While still a teenager, Ray was exposed to the domain business while helping his parents out during the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conferences. He has since become so well known in the space as an investor, developer and administrator that Howard jokes people now know him more as "Ray Neu's dad" than for his own prominent role in the industry.

The T.R.A.F.F.I.C. ccTLDs conference continues through Thursday when RickLatona.com's live domain auction, devoted almost exclusively to ccTLDs, will get underway at 4pm local time (in Amsterdam it is six hours later than U.S. Eastern time, so the auction will start at 10am Eastern/7am Pacific in the U.S.). The final auction catalog is out, all bidding will be done in Euros and you don't have to be in Amsterdam to take part as online bids will be accepted during the sale. To participate you would just need to create an account at www.proxibid.com/ricklatona.

I will be posting daily updates from Amsterdam throughout the week so check back here  tomorrow for the latest highlights. 

One of the 100 kilometers 
of canals that grace Amsterdam.

(Posted June 1, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

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