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The Lowdown
May 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.

Jay Westerdal  has set up a new website at niholdings.com to post developments as they happen in the ongoing high profile lawsuit filed by Thought Convergence against Westerdal 

and other shareholders in his former company, Name Intelligence, Inc. The site includes a timeline of events since Thought Convergence agreed to buy Name Intelligence (parent company of DomainTools.com and the Domain Roundtable conference, among other enterprises) in May of 2008 for $16 million. The relationship eventually went sour with Thought Convergence firing Westerdal and filing the lawsuit in a California federal court. Westerdal's site also has links to various news reports covering the dispute.  

Westerdal said "This website serves to answer questions and will be updated frequently. Sort of a no spin zone because we will only quote public domain documents." A notice on the site says "We  

Jay Westerdal

have been flooded by emails and questions about what is going on with our company. So we thought we would set the record straight and post links to all articles related to the the case and let people make up their own mind. We would like to share with the world what is going on and help people understand the matter from Name Intelligence, Inc. point of view. We will not be allowed to share information unless it is public. Likewise, false allegation or pure lies will be responded to legally first. We are deeply sorry we can't just respond to false statements but this has to be done legally. Once the documents are in the public domain with our answers we will post them or quote them. All information found on this website is already in the public domain."

I am on my way to Amsterdam for the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. ccTLDs conference that gets underway Monday at the NH Grand Krasnapolsky Hotel. The show runs through Thursday when it concludes with RickLatona.com's live domain auction and the official show party hosted by Parked.com. I will be speaking in the first seminar after lunch on Thursday and am looking forward to meeting many European domainers for the first time at this event.

Starting on Monday I will be posting daily updates from Amsterdam to fill you in on what is happening at the conference.  As always, we will also put together a comprehensive show review article for publication soon after the show ends.

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

The Internet Commerce Association has announced that Thought Convergence, the organizers of the Domain Roundtable conference coming up June 14-17 in Washington, D.C. has generously offered to provide time during the show's live domain auction to sell domains donated to support the ICA. The auction will run from 4-7pm U.S. Eastern time on June 16th

The non-profit ICA is asking the domain community to donate domain names for this auction event. Applicants can submit their domains to the ICA by email to [email protected]. All of the proceeds from the domains sold in the

auction will go directly to supporting upcoming ICA initiatives, including lobbying for domain owner rights in Washington and with ICANN. The domain donors who participate will receive a personal “thank you” on the ICA website and will receive an email from the ICA , confirming the amount received from the sale of their donated domain for tax purposes.

Jeremiah Johnston
ICA President

Jeremiah Johnston, president of the ICA, said “The ICA was founded to protect and defend the rights of domain owners and developers. By participating in our first live auction event, each domain professional has the chance to directly affect the level of protection and pull that they have in Washington. With the support of the Domain Roundtable organizers and those in the domain community who contribute, the ICA board is confident that a successful auction will help strengthen our resources and further our political progress.” 

For those not attending Domain Roundtable, but who are interested in participating in the ICA Auction, Domain Roundtable has an online auction platform where potential buyers can register to bid. The ICA is also accepting private donations to support initiatives such as its

Legal Defense Fund and the amicus briefs filed on behalf of its members’ interests. Donations can be made online at internetcommerce.org/donate or by check payable to Internet Commerce Association at: 

Internet Commerce Association
1301 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Suite 500
Washington , DC 20004  

(Posted May 28, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

I just got back from Tallahassee late today  but may as well not bother unpacking the bags as it's off to Amsterdam Saturday for the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. ccTLDs conference in the Netherlands. Before I head back out I'll be putting together a new weekly domain sales report that will be out Thursday night. 

Sedo is likely to rack up some more sizeable sales today (Thursday, May 28) when their latest GreatDomains.com premium auction ends at 1pm U.S.  Eastern time. Domains going on the block will include 80.com, BabyClothing.com and CD.net. You can see the complete auction inventory here

While I was on the road yesterday, NameMedia announced another expansion of their AfternicDLS domain sales platform that includes BuyDomains.com. A strategic partnership with TradeMark Express will allow the AfternicDLS and BuyDomains to offer their catalog of more than 2 million domains for purchase through TradeMark Express’s full-service trademarking process.

Trademark Express President Chris DeMassa said “TradeMark Express is excited to partner with NameMedia. Obtaining a premium domain name and ensuring that name is legally available go hand in hand; domain name buyers must make sure their proposed domain name is legally clear of existing trademark or common-law names that are similar in sound, appearance or meaning." 

The senior vice-president and general manager of NameMedia’s domain marketplace, Pete 

Lamson, said “TradeMark Express’s customers will benefit from having access to the world’s largest domain portfolio, providing them with enhanced options to create and protect their brand while driving traffic to their businesses.”

(Posted May 27, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

I hope all of our U.S. readers enjoyed the three-day Memorial Day holiday weekend. For most Americans it is a time to relax, do some outdoor grilling and perhaps hit the beach if they have one nearby. As I mentioned we would be doing in my last post Friday, Diana and I spent the extended weekend in Tallahassee, Florida helping our daughter find an apartment near the Florida State University College of Medicine where she reported for orientation this morning. 

On Monday we found a suitable apartment near campus but won't get the keys until this evening so we are still in Tallahassee waiting to do the actual move-in later today. 

Brittany Jackson at the FSU 
College of Medicine
on Memorial Day

Markus Schnermann - the subject
of our new May Cover Story

While holed up in our hotel last night, I took advantage of the waiting time to complete our new May Cover Story about remarkable German domainer Markus Schnermann. Schnermann spent most of his youth battling spastic cerebral palsy, a condition caused by a shortage of oxygen at birth. It triggered an average of 30 convulsions a day and left him in need of constant therapy. "As a little kid it took much longer to learn to speak or walk," Schnermann said, adding that his medical issues led people to wrongly conclude that he was stupid and could never succeed. 

Teachers and doctors alike told Schnermann's parents that he basically had no future. Check out the complete story of how he managed to prove everyone wrong and went on to achieve international domain industry fame. I'm looking forward to seeing Markus again at the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. ccTLDs conference that starts next Monday (June 1) in Amsterdam, Holland.

Diana and I will be scrambling to clear the decks in time to make our flight to Europe Saturday. We will  begin the four-hour drive from Tallahassee back home to Tampa tomorrow afternoon. As soon as I get back I will start work on our new weekly domain sales report. It normally comes out early Wednesday morning but will be published late Thursday this week due to the holiday Monday and the moving chores I'm now waiting to help Brittany complete in Tallahassee. 

Friday we will repack for the trip to Amsterdam and what is shaping up to be a very interesting show devoted to country code domains. In case you missed it, we have a complete conference preview in our latest monthly newsletter. Six days after we return from the Netherlands we'll be on a plane again for the Domain Roundtable conference in Washington, D.C. Immediately after that I plan to collapse from exhaustion! In reality - the opposite is true. I always find the chance to get together with domainers from around the world to be invigorating and these two June events both look like meetings that will generate energy to spare. Hope to see many of you there!

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


I hope all of our friends in the U.S. will enjoy the long Memorial Day weekend that is now underway, and will pause to remember what the holiday is really about on Monday - the day set aside to honor the men and women who gave their lives in military service for the United States. My best childhood friend, Ron Poole, was killed in the Viet Nam War and on Monday I will be thinking of him and the promising life he lost while serving as a U.S. Marine

Memorial Day started in 1866, the year after the conclusion of the Civil War (it was originally known as Decoration Day but after World War II Memorial Day became the preferred term). For most Americans, the Memorial Day weekend signals the start of  

summer and many will be on the road this weekend headed for beaches and other vacation destinations.

Among those traveling is leading geodomainer Michael Castello (Castello Cities Internet Network) and his family. Diana and I were pleased to have them stop by our house just north of Tampa for lunch this afternoon while they were en route across Florida to see relatives in the Panama City area. 

Special guests at the Jackson household this afternoon (left to right): Jessica Castello 
(who made fast friends with our dog Savannah), Michael Castello, Sheri Castello and 
son Jonathan Castello (a budding author who is currently writing his first book!)

Michael and his brother David became instant friends when Diana and I first met them at the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East conference in Hollywood, Florida in October 2006. Hearing their remarkable life story while chatting with them at that event led me to write what became one of our most popular Cover Stories ever, Band of Brothers: How Michael and David Castello Morphed from Struggling Musicians to Domain Millionaires in December 2006. 

The Castellos (who own PalmSprings.com, Nashville.com, Acapulco.com, Daycare.com and Whisky.com, to name just a few) now frequently speak at domain conferences and one thing that has always impressed me about them is their willingness to help industry newcomers get ahead. As I noted in this column yesterday, they will be speaking at the Domain Roundtable conference in Washington D.C. on June 15

While the Castello family continued their journey to the Florida Panhandle after lunch, our family is preparing to head in the same direction Sunday. Diana and I will be taking our daughter Brittany (who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania on Monday) to Tallahassee to find an apartment. She begins Medical School at Florida State University with a three-day orientation that starts Tuesday, so we won't have much time to help her get settled in.

Most first year med school students don't have to start until late August, but FSU requires all first year students to take anatomy over the summer, immediately after getting their undergraduate degree. That will cut Brittany's "summer vacation" from three months down to less than 24 hours. She gets back from Philadelphia Saturday, gets to sleep at home just one night, then has to repack her bags and head to Tallahassee with us 

Brittany Jackson (left) & her friend Lakshmi Sivarajan
on the cover of Penn's 2008 Homecoming program.

Sunday. She is excited though, having been a Florida State fan ever since her older brother (a chemical engineering graduate from FSU) "indoctrinated" her in Seminole culture when she was still in elementary school. 

So while you are enjoying your holiday break Sunday and Monday, think of your old pal Ron who will be schlepping around moving boxes and furniture when he could have been sitting on the beach sipping a pina colada. I'll be back here with the next Lowdown post Tuesday (assuming I am not too sore to get out of bed that day!). 

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

The Domain Roundtable conference coming up June 14-17 in Washington, D.C. is starting to finalize the agenda for the show at the Grand Hyatt. One session that looks particularly 

interesting is scheduled for 11am on the first full day of business (June 15). Michael Mann, Rob Monster and the Castello Brothers will be on a panel discussing "Unique Opportunities to Increase Your Domain’s Value." To my knowledge this will be the first time that Mann, the co-founder of BuyDomains, and Monster of Monster Venture Partners, have ever appeared on a panel at a domain industry conference. Add the Castello Brothers (Michael and David), who always bring value to any discussion they take part in, and you have an all-star line up that will insure your time at the session is well spent. 

The seminar synopsis says, "With PPC revenues changing, what other opportunities are available for domainers? This session will explore the entire spectrum available to increase your domain’s value. Our panel

Rob Monster (Monster Venture Partners)
will speak at Domain Roundtable June 15

of experts will take a look into affiliate marketing, leasing, development and other notable monetization methods." Of course, with respect to PPC revenues, "evaporating" might be a better choice of words than "changing" but the upshot is the same, people are desperate to find viable alternatives. Every member of this group has already succeeded in doing that so they will be able to speak to the subject with authority from their own experience.  

You can register for the Domain Roundtable conference here. The cost is $995 and a spouse pass is also available for $395

(Posted May 21, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Sedo is going to be on an auction binge over the next month.  Their latest monthly GreatDomains premium auction starts tomorrow (May 21) at 12 Noon (U.S. Eastern time) and ends seven days later. The names going on the block include Compound.com, Substance.com and CD.net

Sedo will follow the GreatDomains event with two special auctions in June. The first, devoted to career and job related domains, will start at Noon on Wednesday, June 3 and close on June 10. Some nice ccTLDs will be up for grabs in that event, including Job.es, Manager.co.uk and Interviews.fr. Sedo is also still accepting names for that auction. Email Sedo's Domain Broker Matt Rosebrook, [email protected], if you have career related names you would like to enter.

On Thursday June 25, from approximately 12 Noon to 4pm (U.S. Eastern time) Sedo will be running a special private auction for the killer generic domain - Wealth.com. Interested buyers must certify to bid by Monday, June 15 with  senior broker and acquisition consultant Tessa Holcomb. Her email is Tessa at Sedo.com.

The folks at RickLatona.com are making final preparations for the big T.R.A.F.F.I.C. ccTLDs show they will be staging in Amsterdam June 1-4. A detailed updated conference schedule is now available on the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. website. T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conferences are very expensive to produce, but with this being the first ever T.R.A.F.F.I.C. show in Europe, the organizers want to make it possible for the largest possible number of  European residents to attend. As a result, they are offering a daytime pass for European residents only for just $395. This limited access pass won't include the evening events but it will give you the opportunity to attend the daily informational sessions and network with some of the world's top domainers. The full access pass for the week is $1,495. This conference will also feature a major domain auction on the closing day (June 4) starting at 4pm local time.

ICANN's next international meeting is coming up June 21-26 in Sydney, Australia. The .PRO Registry has announced that they will be the official sponsor for the event. Catherine Sigmar, general manager of RegistryPro, said “We’re excited and proud to support the 35th ICANN International Meeting. ICANN public meetings attract many of the best minds and influential companies in the Internet community in an energetic public forum...meeting sponsorship is a chance for us to connect with our core customers, accredited registrars, and those in the industry who may not have discovered the rich landscape of .PRO.”

Editor's Note (Tuesday, May 19) - I will be traveling today (from Philadelphia back to our home base in Tampa, Florida. Our daily Lowdown posts will resume Wednesday.

Google Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt  spoke to the 253rd graduating class at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia today. In addition to being the commencement speaker, Schmidt was given an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Penn (the Princeton graduate was already a doctor, having earned a Ph.d in computer science from Berkeley). I was in the audience because my daughter Brittany was a member of the class of 2009 at Penn, where she graduated magna cum laude with a degree in biochemistry (she is going on to medical school at Florida State).

Scene from today's commencement at the University of Pennsylvana. Penn was founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1740 and is one of the "Ancient 8" schools that make up the Ivy League. Google Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt can be seen speaking on the side Jumbotrons.

Schmidt began his talk by pointing out that the world's first electronic computer, ENIAC, was invented in a basement at Penn in 1946. He noted that every computer related device that we take for granted today stems from that breakthrough at Penn which he said makes the school "the center of my world." He added that 250 of Google's current employees are Penn alumni and said "this is the most desirable place in the world for us to hire interns." That had to be music to the ears of graduates who are facing one of the worst job markets since the Great Depression. 

Google Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt delivering his outdoor commencement address 
at the Unversity of Pennsylvania's Franklin Field today in Philadelphia.

Schmidt drew many laughs by comparing today's technology and student attitudes to the way things were when he was in college. The crowd particularly appreciated Schmidt's observation that "We didn't tell people about our most embarassing moments in college. Today you record them and post them on Facebook!" Schmidt encouraged the graduates to continuing cultivating an inquiring mind and to search for new and better ways to do things. He noted, "A mind set in its ways, is a life wasted - don't do it!"

Grammy winner John Legend speaking to 
College of Arts & Sciences 
graduates Sunday night in Philadelphia.

While degrees were conferred to students from all of Penn's colleges today (including Penn's world famous Wharton School of Business), the indvidual colleges held their own graduation ceremonies (during which the individual students were recognized) on Sunday. At Brittany's College of Arts & Sciences ceremony last night we were privileged to hear an inspiring speech from six-time Grammy winner John Legend who graduated from Penn in 1999 (he was known as John Stephens before taking up his current stage name). 

Legend is also becoming known as much for his humanitarian efforts as for his musicianship. He recently launched The Show Me Campaign through which his fans are encouraged to donate funds toward improving the living situations and prospects of victims of extreme poverty in Mbola, Tanzania. Legend, in early 2008, also began touring with 

Professor Jeff Sachs of Columbia University's Earth Institute to promote sustainable development as an achievable goal.

Brittany loved her four years at Penn and Diana and I have really enjoyed our frequent trips to the great city of Philadelphia while she was there (Philly also happens to be home base for some of the domain industry's top pros, including attorneys John Berryhill and Ari Goldberger (Ari is also a Penn alumnus). Our family sends a big "thank you" to the University of Pennsylvania and "The City of Brotherly Love" for what has been a very special time in our lives.

Brittany Jackson

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

Editor's Note: I will be in Philadelphia through Tuesday (May 19) for activities surrounding my daughter's graduation from the University of Pennsylvania. Google CEO Eric Schmidt will be the commencement speaker so there will also be a domain connection to the trip as well. Schmidt will deliver his speech Monday at historic Franklin Field on Penn's campus. Later that day I will have a Lowdown update from the City of Brotherly to fill you in on how it went. 
(Posted May 15, 2009)

NameMedia's AfternicDLS just significantly expanded the reach of their aftermarket sales platform by signing a strategic partnership agreement with one of the world's top registrars, 

Directnic.com. Those who visit directNIC to search for a new domain to register will now also be offered a broad selection of existing domains, including those that the current owners have listed for sale through the AfternicDLS.

Jim Macallum, Technical Officer of directNIC, Ltd. said, “through this new partnership, directNIC will now have more than two million business oriented domain names available for purchase.”

Pete Lamson, Senior Vice-President and General Manager of NameMedia’s domain marketplace, added “We are pleased that the AfternicDLS membership will have the opportunity to list domains for sale with one the world’s leading registrars. DirectNIC’s customers will benefit from having access to the world’s largest domain portfolio, providing them with new options to create and drive traffic to their businesses.”

NameJet has announced that the .me registry has given them exclusive rights to auction off 15 premium .me domains early next month. The list includes Teach.me, Trust.me and Remind.me to name just a few. You can see 

the complete list here, as well as the deadline date to backorder the domains you are interested in and the start and end dates for each name (the individual auctions will get underway between June 5 and June 9).

Could you use an extra $1,000 in pocket money? Then you might want to enter a contest PremiumDomains.com is currently running in an effort to find a new slogan for the company. A catchy slogan is needed to help make people aware that the site has been re-launched as a sales platform for premium domain names, 

including some very nice one-word .coms. The contest runs through the end of this month when owner Francois Carillo (who also operates the popular news aggregation site, Domaining.com) will make his choice from the slogans enter and reward the winner with a cool $1,000. 

(Posted May 14, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

UPDATE - Though we just broke the news of Jay Westerdal's dismissal from Thought Convergence today, we have now learned that Thought Convergence had already filed a lawsuit against Westerdal, his father Per and multiple other parties 12 days ago. The suit, claiming breach of fiduciary duty (among other things) was filed in the California Central District Federal Court in Los Angeles on May 1. Here is a link to the lawsuit (PDF file) Tonight Westerdal told me he is beginning legal action as well. He claims Thought Convergence missed a multi-million dollar payment due him May 2 as part of a contract to purchase Name Intelligence, LLC from him for $16 million that was signed one year ago. According to the suit a $6 million down payment had been made with additional $5 million payments due May 2, 2009 and May 2, 2010

Thought Convergence released a statement on Westerdal's comments tonight:

"While we believe that employment matters should be dealt with internally rather than in a public discourse,  we feel compelled to address the misstatements by Jay Westerdal that were quoted today on various public forums.  Thought Convergence confirms that Jay Westerdal is no longer an employee or an officer of Thought Convergence, Inc. or any of its subsidiaries.  The Company will not comment on the reasons for Mr. Westerdal’s termination, other than to state that Mr. Westerdal’s dismissal is not related to a dispute with respect to Thought Convergence’s acquisition of Name Intelligence in 2008.

Specifically addressing Mr. Westerdal’s commentary on our financial condition, Thought Convergence is a healthy, profitable and vibrant company, and despite these challenging economic times, we continue to grow and innovate in all of our business lines, including TrafficZ, DomainTools, Spry Hosting and Aftermarket.com.  Thought Convergence has and will continue to faithfully perform its obligations under the terms of the acquisition agreement.  A majority of the payment due has already been made to Name Intelligence, with the remainder being held in an escrow account at the Company’s outside counsel, pending resolution of the Company’s various claims against Name Intelligence and Mr. Westerdal.

Finally, Thought Convergence has not waivered from our vision of developing the industry’s first symbiotic Domain Ecosystem.  We consider DomainTools and Spry Hosting to be integral parts of our ongoing strategy, and, as such, we will continue to invest heavily in the further development and innovation of these unique assets."

Jay Westerdal

BREAKING NEWS - Jay Westerdal, who sold his company, Name Intelligence, LLC (which included DomainTools.com and the Domain Roundtable conference) to Thought Convergence last year, has parted ways with the buyers (operators of TrafficZ.com and Aftermarket.com). Westerdal had stayed on after the acquisition to run Name Intelligence operations. Westerdal notified business associates today that he had been terminated by Thought Convergence. In his note, Westerdal said Thought Convergence still owed him additional payments as part of the contract for the sale that was made in May of last year. Westerdal remains President of a company called Name Intelligence, Inc.,  a holding company that is a separate entity from Name Intelligence, LLC. Thought Convergence tells us they will be releasing a statement by the end of their business day on the west coast.

(Posted May 13, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Dr. Kevin Ham's firm - Reinvent Technology  is making a big move toward becoming a major player in the convergence of TV and the Internet. To that end, Reinvent has just appointed award winning TV producer David R. Sams to the newly created position of Executive Vice

President for Strategic Development, Marketing, and Creative Affairs. Sams is also an expert in TV syndication, direct marketing and Internet marketing. 

Sams launched the Oprah Winfrey national talk show in 1986 while head of global marketing for King World. He also is credited for reinventing how syndicated shows are marketed and promoted, having helped turn Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy into the two highest-rated syndicated series in TV history. Since leaving King World, Sams has built numerous Television, marketing, and Internet companies. His direct response TV campaigns have generated over $120 million (U.S.) in sales; he has won multiple Emmy, Addy, Telly and Angel Awards—as well as accolades for Infomercial of the Year, Program Length Advertisement of the Year, and Entertainment Advertisement of the Year. Sams brings over 30 years of Television, Radio, Newspaper, and Internet experience to Reinvent.

David R. Sams

Dr. Kevin Ham
Chairman & CEO, Reinvent Technology

Reinvent's Chairman and CEO, Dr. Kevin Ham, said “As the Internet and Television come together over the next few years, Reinvent, Inc. is preparing to take advantage of this convergence by using our premium domain brands to build channels that will serve both the public and advertisers in unique ways. David’s combined experience across multiple media platforms with content producers, program developers, TV networks and syndication companies, talent agencies, and advertising agencies provides us with the expertise needed to make Reinvent, Inc the global leader in interactive media. He’s an out-of-the-box thinker and marketer who clearly understands how to develop, license, syndicate, and market content that will appeal to a global audience of viewers and attract advertisers.”

Sams, who will be based in Los Angeles, said "I see the Internet as being where TV was in its early years. Dr. Ham has acquired thousands of premium dot-com domain names over the past decade that collectively garner millions and millions of monthly viewers. In my opinion, these domain names are no different than TV stations or networks. Each domain serves a specific niche—just like today’s leading cable networks. Each Internet domain has access into the home—via the same coaxial cable as TV is delivered. Now that many television set manufactures are beginning to make Internet-ready TV sets, I see, for example, the day when kids passively watch the Disney Channel and the interactive DisneyChannel.com on the same tube."

"Dr. Ham and Reinvent are in the unique position of creating branded Internet channels based on company-owned premium domains like Attorney.com, CheapTravel.com, God.com, Menopause.com, How.com, Hairstyles.com, Audition.com, Mother.com, Stockbroker.com, and thousands of others. The opportunity to create joint ventures, content partnerships, and clustered ad networks targeting specific niche audiences is tremendous. TV had its golden age; I now see the dawn of the medium’s platinum age as it converges with the Internet, and could not resist the opportunity to be a part of it."

Sams with Oprah Winfrey
at the 1986 launch of her talk show

(Posted May 13, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

It's look like 2009 is going to be "The Year of New Domain Monetization Initiatives." First we had the explosion of minisite development services, then the purchase of one of the leaders in that space, WhyPark.com, by a traditional PPC company, Parked.com, that will combine the two approaches. Then there was yesterday's news that former DomainSponsor Business Development Director Ron Sheridan was advising a new start up company, Octane360, that is offering still another alternative to standard PPC. 

Today we learned that the Strata Services Group, a leading domain portfolio management and optimization organization, has acquired the business of domain development and monetization company PPX  for an undisclosed sum. PPX recently developed a new technology platform which allows its partners to access relevant high margin cost-per-action (CPA) advertisements in combination with other forms of monetization on the same platform.

The acquisition will allow Strata to give its clients new CPA revenue alternatives, automated implementation of CPA templates in high margin verticals optimized in real time, the ability to generate revenue from both CPA and PPC sources from the same domain, free full site development for high volume generic domains and, according to Strata, a significant increase in domain revenue and domain resale value.

Gregg McNair, Strata Services Group Director, said "The PPX purchase further solidifies us as a leader in domain portfolio management. Applying PPX expertise in CPA advertising with Strata Services traffic sources will generate an instant revenue lift in these times of declining PPC returns."

PPX Founder and CEO Sam Dennis will remain with PPX and continue to be very integral in the future development of PPX technology.  PPX will also retain its core marketing services located in Toronto, Canada, including its media buying and domain monetization divisions. Dennis said, “backed by the financial strength of the Strata Services Group, PPX technology will grow rapidly and become a major player in the domain monetization space. Our media buying division will also benefit tremendously from the new potential traffic sources and partnerships exposed to us through Strata Services."

Gregg McNair
Strata Services Group Director

PPX clients will continue to utilize their existing administrative interface. No changes will be required by current PPX clients.

(Posted May 12, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Ron Sheridan, the long time business development director at DomainSponsorwho was featured in our February Cover Story, has joined a new Los Angeles based technology-driven

marketing company called OCTANE360 as their Strategic Advisor. Sheridan will help build key relationships within the domain monetization industry for OCTANE360.

Sheridan said, "The time is right for the next generation of premium domain monetization to occur and I believe OCTANE360 is the company that has finally created a solution to achieve it. Not only do the founders of OCTANE360 have the right blend of advertising, technology and domain experience, but their platform has applications that go far beyond site development. It brings the Internet advertising industry, domain community, and small business owner together under one umbrella. I believe OCTANE360 brings much needed innovation to not only the domain space, but to online advertising as a whole.”  

Adam Rioux, the CEO and co-founder of OCTANE360, said “Having Ron join the OCTANE360 team is extremely exciting. Ron’s phenomenal track record, which has created 

Ron Sheridan
Strategic Advisor, Octane360

the tremendous amount of respect he holds within the domain industry, makes him a key addition to our team. In addition, his desire to join our team is a testament to the platform we have built at OCTANE360.”  

The company said "OCTANE is a web-based solution filled with dozens of traffic and revenue generating features, including providing its customers with the flexibility to create one website or thousands of unique websites in 

minutes." The OCTANE platform had only been available to a select group of clients and partners, but last week it was opened to the public with the release of a new client interface.

Sheridan and the OCTANE360 Co-Founders were at the recently concluded T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Silicon Valley conference to start getting out the word on their public launch. We are currently wrapping up work on our comprehensive T.R.A.F.F.I.C. review article that will be published tomorrow (Tuesday, May 12). Our review of the GeoDomain Expo that concluded in San Diego right before T.R.A.F.F.I.C. got underway was published over the weekend. You can read that report here

(Posted May 11, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

The domain aftermarket staged a strong rebound  in the opening quarter of 2009 compared to the previous quarter (4Q-2008). We just sent all of the details to opt in subscribers to our 

free monthly newsletter. In a nutshell, total sales reported to us in 1Q-2009 came in at $28.3 million, a 32% jump from the $21.5 million reported in the closing quarter of 2008. The 1Q-2009 total was also better than the quarterly average for all of 2008 (which was $27.3 million). 

However, the 1Q-2009 total was 25% less than the same quarter a year ago when we logged an all time quarterly record of $38 

million in sales. There is more to that story though. The largest all cash sale ever publicly reported, Fund.com at just under $10 million, was made in 1Q-2009. Had it not been for that 
single landmark sale, the 1Q-2008 total would have been $28 million, a bit less than 1Q-2009 even though the most recent quarter came at a time when the global economy continued to be mired in the worst downturn since the Great Depression. 

While the low to middle range of the aftermarket has held steady throughout the recession, high end sales evaporated in the closing quarter of 2008 when people feared a complete economic collapse. This spring, consumer confidence started becoming a bit more positive and even the very high end of the domain market has started showing signs of life again. 

Three seven-figure sales have already closed in 2009 (Toys.com at $5.1 million, Fly.com at $1,760,000 and Auction.com at $1.7 million) and a fourth, Ad.com, should close shortly. As most of you know, that name was claimed by Directi/Skenzo Co-Founder Divyank Turakhia for $1.4 million in Moniker's live auction at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Silicon Valley April 29.

Divyank Turakhia (left) with Moniker CEO 
Monte Cahn on April 29, after Turakhia 
bought Ad.com for $1.4 million.

There are more sales data details, including a year over year median sale price comparison, in our new newsletter which is also now available online. You can read it here

By the way, the extended online auction associated with Moniker's T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Silicon Valley sale concluded yesterday with over $460,000 in sales. The top sellers were Diego.com ($58,830), DVDShrink.com ($43,180) and Casco.com ($23,530). Added to the $2.1 million they rang up during their live auction April 29, Moniker wound up booking close to $2.6 million in sales this time out. 

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

Congratulations to Rick Latona  for landing Dr. Kevin Ham as the keynote speaker for the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. ccTLDs conference coming up June 1-4 in Amsterdam (Latona's company will stage the show under a licensing agreement with T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founders Rick Schwartz

Dr. Kevin Ham
will be keynote speaker at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. 
in Amsterdam next month

and Howard Neu). Dr. Ham has to be the world's best-known domainer after being featured in a Business 2.0 Magazine Cover Story by Paul Sloan (titled "The Man Who Owns the Internet" in 2007.

The congratulations are in order, not because of Dr. Ham's fame, but because of the value of the message he will bring to the conference and its attendees as a speaker. Dr. Ham delivered an impromptu speech during a panel session at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. West in Las Vegas last year and the few who heard it live will never forget it. I happened to have been sitting on the panel that morning and soon after the talk ended I wrote the paragraph below for this column:

"For me and many others, the highlight of today's schedule has been an unexpected delight delivered by Kevin Ham of Reinvent Technology. During the day's first panel discussion, Dr. Ham, probably the most 

financially successful domain investor of all time, delivered a spontaneous from the heart talk about what constitutes real success in life that, with its focus on family and loved ones, left some in the room near tears. It was one of the most eloquent and moving speeches I have ever heard and Ham was given a well deserved standing ovation when he finished. Since it was early in the morning and most registrants slept in after being out late last night, only a few were lucky enough to be in the room when Ham started talking. I'm sure glad I was one of them." 

The European domain community is in for a real treat in Amsterdam next month. 

(Posted May 7, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

In another remarkable sign of the times, local newspapers, once the dominant media powerhouses in their respective markets, are being subjected to raids on their talent pool 

Skip Hoagland

staged by competing local websites. Atlanta.com owner Skip Hoagland has been at the forefront of that movement and he just upped the ante with a letter he sent to over 200 employees (including all upper management) at the Atlanta Journal and Consititution today. Hoagland told them, "We are offering independent contractor home based business opportunities for writers, and reporters to produce articles and content for our official website Atlanta.com."

Faced with a dramatic decline in both subscribers and advertising revenue, the Atlanta paper has been slashing payroll for months now. Hoagland has come up with a revenue sharing model that he is using to attract displaced writers and those looking to leave before the axe falls on them. He has already signed up the Constitution's very popular former outdoor editor, Kent Mitchell.

At last month's GeoDomain Expo in San Diego

.com city domain owners discussed strategies they could use to position themselves as the successors to collapsing local newspapers. Hoagland shared his battle plan there and he has put it into action with this new overture aimed directly at the local paper's remaining employees. 

In his letter to the newspaper's management and staff Hoagland wrote, "We are simply eliminating everything that starts with letter "P",  except one, PROFIT, to run this successful business model. Eliminated are Paper, Paper Ink, Printing Presses, Postage, Paper Delivery Trucks, Petrol, People, Property Taxes, Property and Buildings, etc. This is why we can share our profits with local independent writers and reporters and offer much more than many other high overhead local and traditional medias would be able to do." Details of the arrangement Atlanta.com is offering are spelled out in Hoagland's full letter

The extended online domain auction associated with the GeoDomain Expo closed yesterday with $208,844 in sales. Added to the proceeds from DomainConsultant.com's live auction at the show, that brought the final auction tally to $303,683

This afternoon, RickLatona.com's extended online auction tied to their T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Silicon Valley auction closed today with $186,675 in sales. French.com provided the bulk of the revenue after going for $150,000. Added to the $375,000 generated during the company's live auction at T.R.A.F.F.I.C., they wound up with over $560,000 in sales.

That leaves one extended online auction to go - Moniker's T.R.A.F.F.I.C. related sale. It closes Thursday afternoon at 3:15 U.S. Eastern time (12:15 Pacific). Moniker expects to add considerably to the $2.1 million in sales they booked during their live event at T.R.A.F.F.I.C Silicon Valley.

(Posted May 6, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Internet Real Estate Group Co-Founder Mike "Zappy" Zapolin  has opened his new Internet Warrior project that promises to help newcomers learn how to make money on the Internet by 

harnessing the power of domain names. Zappy's marketing program includes a website, hardcover book and DVD tutorials. 

There are a lot of people on the web who claim to know the secret to Internet success, but few of them have the credentials to back up their claim. Zappy, by contrast, is the real deal. He has been involved in the purchase, sale and development of some of the greatest one-word generic domains on the web, including Music.com, CreditCards.com, Diamond.com, Beer.com, Chocolate.com and many others. 

Many of you have seen him speak at the major domain conferences (most recently at DOMAINfest Global in Hollywood in January). Zapolin and his partners at IREG, Andrew Miller and Peter Hubshman, were the subject of a DN Journal Cover Story in September 2005. 

Mike "Zappy" Zapolin

Zapolin's book and a pair of tutorial DVD's (plus other perks) can be purchased for under $40, but he is also making many free resources available including a one-hour podcast, "Building Wealth", and a free newsletter. You can get those at InternetWarrior.com.

Scene from Howard Neu's "Man on the Street" video 
shown at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Silicon Valley last week

One other note today - in my Lowdown post from T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Silicon Valley last Wednesday (April 29), I mentioned that the show got underway with an entertaining new format in its opening session. The stage was set up in Tonight Show fashion and host Howard Neu screened an entertaining "Man on the Street" video (a la Jay Leno's Jaywalking segments on the Tonight Show) before interviewing his live guests. 

That video, in which Neu asked 

people what they knew about domain names and the Internet, is now available on YouTube. You can check it out here.

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

I'm back at our Florida home base  after a nine-day west coast swing to cover the GeoDomain Expo in San Diego and the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Silicon Valley conference in Santa Clara. Both were very productive events that drew highly favorable comments from those 

who attended. We will be publishing comprehensive review articles about each show and expect both of those to be online by this time next week (introductions and links to each story will appear on our home page as soon as the respective articles are completed).

A highlight of the trip was the electrifying Ad.com auction staged by Moniker.com at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. that ended with a $1.4 million sale to Directi Co-Founder Divyank Turakhia. Two different videos showing the spirited bidding for that name have been posted on YouTube. You can check those out here and here (the first is shot from a wide angle perspective whle the second has a lot of close ups of Dviyank during the dramatic bidding). 

The extended online auctions associated with both conferences are still underway. The GeoDomain Expo's extended auction ends tomorrow (Tuesday, May 5) at 3pm U.S. 

Moniker's John Mauriello (left) with 
Divyank Turakhia
immediately after 
Turakhia won Ad.com with a $1.4 million 
bid. (Photo Courtesy of Barbara Neu).

Eastern Time (Noon Pacific). Names still up for grabs in that sale include Reserve.com, Ponce.com, ChicagoTravel.com and Geography.info. RickLatona.com's extended online T.R.A.F.F.I.C. auction will conclude Wednesday at 5pm Eastern time (2pm Pacific). The catalog includes TechnicalSuport.com, FLR.com and IT.co.uk. Moniker's extended T.R.A.F.F.I.C. auction will continue until 3:15pm Eastern time (12:15pm Pacific) on Thursday. Some of the notable names in that auction are Plans.com, Relatives.com and RepairMyCredit.com.

Though I've just gotten back home, I'll be back out on the road in less than two weeks and have three trips scheduled over the next six weeks (one of those overseas). First stop will be Philadelphia where my daughter Brittany will graduate magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania on May 17 (she was a bio chem major and will be moving on to medical school 

with plans to be a pediatrician). As an Internet guy, Penn's commencement speaker, Google CEO Eric Schmidt, is someone I am really looking forward to listening to.

Two weeks later the show circuit resumes with the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. ccTLDs conference in Amsterdam June 1-4. Then, less than two weeks after I return from that European show I'll be back on a plane headed to Washington, D.C. for the Domain Roundtable conference June 14-17. The conference schedule was heavily frontloaded this year with six shows in the first six months. So far, only one major general interest conference is scheduled in the second half of the year. That is T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York October 26-29 in Brooklyn.

(Posted May 4, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:


I'll be spending today on airplanes flying back to Florida from the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference in Silicon Valley. It has been a very productive west coast trip and I really enjoyed attending the back to back conferences (the GeoDomain Expo in San Diego last week and T.R.A.F.F.I.C. this week). As soon as I get back I will start work on our comprehensive review articles of both shows. Those articles will be much more detailed (with many more photos) than my daily Lowdown briefs from the conferences. I expect to have those articles up late next week. 

Incidentally, I understand that the posts in this column from the past two days were not displaying properly in the Firefox browser (they are fine in Internet Explorer). I'm sure it is related to having to switch to a different HTML editor two days ago when the usual one that is installed on my laptop suddenly stopped working. I got a file corruption error telling me to reinstall the original program but with the discs back home in Florida couldn't do so. I just made some changes with a back up program and now yesterday's post on the closing day at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. is displaying properly in Firefox (but added some extra white space in IE). No time now to fix the previous day's post for Firefox, but I'll take care of  these issue when I return.
(Posted May 1, 2009)

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