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September 15, 2013

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The Lowdown
October 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.

Editor's Note: We will be traveling from New York (and another great T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference) back to our home base in Florida today. We hope that all of the other attendees also have (or have already completed) a safe trip home. It was great seeing all of you in person this week and our only regret, one that comes at the end of every show, is that we didn't get a chance to spend more personal time with friends, both old and new. For everyone, have a great fall weekend and we hope to see you back here Monday when we return to our regular daily routine in The Lowdown
(Posted Oct. 30, 2009)

Photos & Highlights From the Closing Day at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York Including Annual Award Winners & Moniker Auction Results

The T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York conference concluded with a very busy day Wednesday at the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott. Technically the show ends this morning with a casual farewell breakfast for those still in the Big Apple and a T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Board of Advisors meeting that is also open to all registrants. However, the show's business schedule ended Wednesday evening with the close of Moniker's live domain auction.

The day began at 10am with one of the most interesting sessions of the week, Inside the Candy.com Deal, that featured both the seller of the $3 million domain, T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founder Rick Schwartz, and the buyers, Joe Melville and Greg Balestrieri of the Melville Candy Company.

Joe Melville (left) and Greg Balestrieri (right) of the Melville Candy Company gave 
Rick Schwartz
a bonus Wednesday morning. On top of the $3 million they paid for 
, the duo presented Schwartz with a giant lollipop to commemorate the deal. 

Both sides detailed how the often contentious negotiations led to a deal and Schwartz, who is known as one of the shrewdest negotiaters in the domain industry, revealed some of the tactics he has used in this and other landmark deals (like the $750,000 sale of iReport.com to CNN) to earn top dollar for his domains. I'll detail those in a comprehensive show review article we will be publishing before the end of the month.

Next up was a busy two-hour brunch, sponsored by EuroDNS, that featured an array of speakers plus the main event - presentation of the annual T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Awards.  The speakers included Gregg McNair (who is profiled in our current Cover Story), who spoke on behalf of The Water School, a great charitable organization that the industry has been rallying behind. 

I delivered a report on aftermarket domain sales through the first three quarters of this year. The numbers I cited are detailed in our latest monthly newsletter. I also had the singular honor of seeing Bobbleheads.com founder Warren Royal unveil a new Ron Jackson bobblehead doll during the brunch. Royal had one placed at every table setting so let me take this opportunity to apologize in advance for any indigestion that may have caused!

Royal, who is a dedicated domain owner/developer, introduced the company's first domain industry bobblehead last year in New York with a Rick Schwartz doll. He decided to follow up on the theme this year and I was certainly humbled that he chose to add me to his extensive inventory at Bobbleheads.com. In addition to retailing countless bobblehead figures, Royal has increasingly moved into manufacturing and recently inked a deal with the estate of the late Dr. Martin Luther King to produce and sell a commemorative bobblehead doll that will be available at the King Center in Atlanta among other outlets.

Ron Jackson bobblehead doll that was 
introduced by Bobbleheads.com Wednesday

The highlight of the Wednesday brunch was the presentation of the annual T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Awards. Honors went out in 8 categories and veteran domain investor Michael Berkens, who also writes a popular blog at TheDomains.com, picked up trophies in two of those. Berkens joined the Castello Brothers (David and Michael) as this year's inductees into the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Hall of Fame and also picked up the top individual award - Domainer of the Year.

Above (left to right): T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founder Howard Neu
Domainer of the Year Michael Berkens and his fellow Hall of Fame
 inductees David Castello and Michael Castello, and Rick Schwartz.

The award winners were all chosen in open balloting. Here are the winners in six other categories:

Sponsor Of The Year - Parked.com
Best Overall Domain Soultion - Sedo.com
Best New Monetizing Solution - Above.com 
Best Developer Of The Year - Shaun Pilford
Best Domain News Blog - DNJournal.com
The “We Get It” Award - Melville Candy Company/Candy.com

We will have photos of all of the award winners in our upcoming conference review article.

Also at the Wednesday brunch, Rick Latona (now a T.R.A.F.F.I.C. partner with Schwartz and Neu) released the full schedule for T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conferences in 2010. There will be six events, two in the U.S. and four international shows. Here is the complete line up:

Las Vegas - January 21-23
Milan, Italy - April 27-29
Vancouver, Canada - June 15-18
Dublin, Ireland - August 24-26
Miami (South Beach) - October 17-19
Hong Kong - November 15-16

The Wednesday afternoon schedule included a pair of panel discussions. The first, called Blog Roll, featured Man on the Street video interviews conducted by Howard Neu in Florida before the show, with the panelists (industry reporters and bloggers) then commenting on the sometimes surprising street sentiment expressed in the videos on three topics. Those were the interviewees' preferred computer operating systems and search engines (Mac rapidly gaining ground on Windows and Google trouncing Yahoo in search), preferred social media outlets (Facebook in a landslide) and their preferred source for news (the Internet overwhelming traditional media).

Blog Roll panelists (from left to right): Rick Latona (RickLatona.com), Elliot Silver (ElliotsBlog.com), Michael Berkens (TheDomains.com), Owen Frager (FragerFactor.com), Ron Jackson (DNJournal.com), Rick Schwartz (RicksBlog.com) and moderator Howard Neu.

The final session of the show was a Meeting of the Chiefs, with seven top level company executives fielding questions about the current state and future of domain monetization from four panelists; Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds, Gregg McNair, Ron Jackson and Lonnie Borck. The executive team featured Divyank Turakhia (Skenzo), Pete Lamson (NameMedia), Ammar Kubba (TrafficZ), Peter Celeste (Oversee.net), Kevin Ham (Reinvent), Sean Moriarty (DDC.com) and Donny Simonton (Parked.com). I'll have details on that wide ranging discussion in our upcoming conference review article.

The conference closed with Moniker.com's final T.R.A.F.F.I.C. live domain auction (Rick Latona Auctions will become the exclusive T.R.A.F.F.I.C. auction services provider in 2010).

Scene from Moniker's live domain auction Wednesday in New York.

With total sales coming in at approximately $412,150, the Moniker auction didn't fare as well as the Rick Latona sale the previous day that netted well over $1 million. Some frequent auction buyers in the audience told me they passed on many names in the Moniker event because they felt the reserves were set too high. The biggest sale was Multivitamins.com at $45,000 (the Latona auction Tuesday had been topped by Rio.com at $450,000). 

While we have given you a daily capsule view of T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York in our Lowdown posts this week, there is a lot more to tell you about. We will do that in a comprehensive show review article that we will begin work on soon after returning to our home base in Florida. Look for it by the end of next week (the article will be posted on our home page just below the current Cover Story). We are going to stay over in New York for an extra day to catch a Broadway show and a little extra sleep - something that will be a special treat after three non-stop days and nights in the Big Apple. It was time very well spent though and I would certainly do it again (and will when T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Las Vegas rolls around in January). 

One more bit of domain conference news. Organizers of the DOMAINfest Global conference, coming up January 26-28 in Santa Monica, California, have announced that attendees will be treated to a night out at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles for the second year in a row. As they did last January, DomainSponsor, the domain monetization division of show organizer Oversee.net, has arranged for their guests to take part in a charity fundraising party and accompanying celebrity auction. The 2010 event will benefit Jenny McCarthy’s autism organization Generation Rescue.

We snapped the adjacent photo at the 2009 DOMAINfest Global Party at the Playboy Mansion. The world famous estate covers over 5 acres in the Holmby Hills section of Los Angeles. We will of course be at the 2010 event as well.

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

Photos and Highlights from the First Full Day (and Night) at the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York Conference  

Tuesday was a busy day at the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York conference. The first full day of business in the event being held at the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott got underway at 10am and didn't end until the wee hours of Wednesday morning. The day began with welcoming comments from T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founders Rick Schwartz and Howard Neu, folllowed by a new feature for the pioneering domain conference called T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Test Track. In this take off on the ABC-TV program Shark Tank,  people seeking funding for their development projects were given a chance to pitch their ideas to a panel of potential investors. 

Scene from the debut of T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Test Track Tuesday in New York. A panel of seven potential investors that included (left to right on the dais above) Michael Berkens, Rick Latona, Jon Waterman, Rick Schwartz, Michael Castello, David Castello and Dr. Chris Hartman listed to pitches from three different developers who stepped up to the microphone in front of moderator Howard Neu (standing at the podium at far right).

The developers making presentations were Kevin Woods (ByOwner.com), Mark Michael (DevHub.com) and Poland's Daniel Dryzek who has plans for a multi-service ccTLD conglomerate in Europe. The three were chosen from more than 20 applicants seeking the same opportunity. Though none won funding on the spot, all  impressed panelists with their presentations and some of the investors expressed an interest in learning more about the ventures before making a final judgment. I found the concept to be a fresh and interesting conference idea with tremendous potential - one that I hope will remain a part of the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. program in future shows. I'll have more details on the presentations and the benefits the audience gets from witnessing the interplay between developers and investors in a full conference review article that will follow the show.

At lunch attendees were treated to an informative an entertaining keynote address from CNN anchorman Rick Sanchez. Sanchez has been a pioneer in melding traditional TV journalism with live interaction from the audience via social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. Sanchez gave the audience a close look at the future of media and how their Internet development ventures can tap into the vast revenues that will be generated in the migration of media from traditional platforms to the web.

CNN anchorman Rick Sanchez delivering a lively and 
well-received keynote address at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York Tuesday.

Sanchez's talk was followed by a speed networking session that is perenially one of the most popular events at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. The format was changed this year to a more effective one (first used at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Amsterdam in June). Attendees sit facing each other in chairs arranged in two giant circles. Those in the outer circle rotated over one seat every two minutes allowing each particpant to meet and exchange business cards with dozens of new contacts before the hour was over.

Scene from Tuesday's Speed Networking session

The business day closed with the RickLatona.com live domain auction that reminded me a bit of the glory days of such events. A big crowd was in the room, with dozens standing along the back wall behind those you see seated in the photo below. Better yet, they were breaking open their wallets to make big purchases like Rio.com ($450,000), Whiskey.com ($185,000) and SchoolLoans.com ($137,500), the latter being a fully developed site with a nice revenue stream. While the final total of approximately $1.2 million was a long way from the record breaking days we saw a couple of years ago, the overall vibe throughout the energetic event produced a feeling that the aftermarket is on its way back.

Scene from the Rick Latona live domain auction Tuesday at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York.

After dark it was time to play, and Skenzo allowed attendees do that in style at their jam-packed casino night party in Manhattan. Guests were taken to the soiree at the Touch night club in a huge fleet of limousines. Those who won at the gaming tables received tickets to drawings for more than a dozen high tech gifts including Amazon Kindles, Sony cameras and a Blue Ray video system. The party drew well deserved rave reviews from everyone I spoke too.

Above: Scene from Skenzo's official T.R.A.F.F.I.C. party at the Touch night club in Manhattan.

Below: Faces in the crowd (left to right): Dr. Chris Hartnett (Reinvent.com), Divyank Turakhia (Skenzo.com), Michael Berkens (TheDomains.com), Rob Grant (domain investor) and Ray Neu (RickLatona.com). Hartnett, Turakhia, Berkens and Grant have all been featured in DN Journal Cover Stories and fast rising relative newcomer Neu may one day end up in one as well (his father Howard was profiled in our April 2009 Cover Story).

Another busy day is on tap today including the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Awards Brunch at 11am when I will also be delivering a brief talk on the domain aftermarket. There will be three panel sessions today as well (I'll be a particpant in both of the afternoon a seminars) along with the marquee event, Moniker's live domain auction scheduled to run from 4pm to 6:30pm. After auction networking will continue at the hotel this evening to close out this year's show. I'll have photos and highlights from all of today's activities for you in this space tomorrow morning.

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

T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York Conference Is Underway - New Cities for 2010 Shows to Be Announced Today

The T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York conference got underway last night with a welcoming cocktail party at the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott. A good crowd was on hand (show organizers said approximately 270 people has registered) despite conflicting dates with the ICANN meeting currently underway in Seoul, Korea that siphoned away a considerable number of people who would have been at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. otherwise. 

Scene from the welcoming cocktail party that kicked off the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. 
New York
conference Monday night at the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott.

Above (left to right): Alphan Culha (PPX International), Melissa Caputo (NameDrive.com) 
and Daniel Law (NameDrive.com) were among the opening night crowd.

Below (left to right): Also on hand were Larry Fischer (DirectNavigation.com), 
Michael Berkens (TheDomains.com), Lizzy Grant (New York based recording artist 
and daughter of domain investor/developer Rob Grant) and Judi Berkens.

While no official business was scheduled during the cocktail party, I picked up some interesting information in private conversations. T.R.A.F.F.I.C. will reportedly announce their final show schedule for 2010 today and the line up of cities that were on a preliminary list that was circulated when Rick Latona joined show co-founders Rick Schwartz and Howard Neu as a partner has changed considerably. It has already been announced that T.R.A.F.F.I.C. will return to Las Vegas in January, but conferences in four new international cities will reportedly be announced - those being Milan, Italy, Vancouver, Canada, Dublin, Ireland and Hong Kong. In addition there will be a Florida show at about this time next year and it looks very likely that that show will be held on Miami's trendy South Beach.

Speaking of T.R.A.F.F.I.C. co-founders Rick Schwartz and Howard Neu, after last night's cocktail party they headed to the Marriott's private 23rd floor concierge lounge to meet with CNN anchorman Rick Sanchez who will deliver the show's keynote address at a luncheon today. Diana and I happened to be there getting a late cup of coffee when the trio arrived so I took the opportunity to snap a shot of them on the balcony overlooking the New York skyline.

(Left to right): Howard Neu, CNN anchorman Rick Sanchez and Rick Schwartz. Sanchez 
will delivere the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. keynote address at a luncheon this afternoon.

Industry companies often use T.R.A.F.F.I.C. to make their debut or to announce new products or services. DomainAdvertising.com was the first new company to introduce themselves while sponsoring last night's cocktail party. The company said their mission is to evangelizes the domain medium and its merits to key online ad spend controllers, and help these media buyers effectively use the domain channel. VP of Strategy and Business Development, Alap Ghosh, is here to tell the company's story and they have a double booth in the exhibit area that will make them easy to find this week.

I'm getting ready to head to the conference area now for the first full day of business and it will be a busy one, including the Rick Latona Auctions live domain auction starting at 4:30pm. The day will actually run into the wee hours of Wednesday morning since Skenzo's official show party that gets underway tonight at 9 (at popular New York night club Touch) will run well past midnight. I'll have photos and highlights from today's activities for you in this space Wednesday morning.

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

The T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York Conference Gets Underway This Evening at the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott 

I will be traveling to New York today for the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York conference that gets underway this evening with a welcoming cocktail party at the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott (a hotel that also hosted last year's show). The business sessions begin Tuesday morning at 10am. I will be posting daily photos and highlights from the show in this column starting tomorrow. 

In addition to covering the conference I will be speaking about domain sales at the Wednesday Awards Brunch and will also participate in two panel discussions that afternoon, one called Blog Roll at 1pm and then the Meeting of the Chiefs, featuring 11 company CEOs at 2pm. 

The latter session will include PPX International Executive Chairman Gregg McNair who was the subject of the new October Cover Story we published Sunday. Gregg's path from a farm in Tasmania to a major role in the domain industry is a fascinating story so check it out and if you are at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. this week and haven't met Gregg, be sure to seek him out and introduce yourself. He is one of the most interesting guys you will ever meet as well as one of the smartest when it comes to domains. 

There will also be two big live auctions at the show and both have exceptionally strong catalogs this time out. The Rick Latona Auction is scheduled to run from 4:30pm to 

Gregg McNair
Executive Chairman
PPX International

7:00pm Tuesday and the Moniker Auction is set to go from 4:00pm to 6:30pm on Wednesday (the closing day of the show aside from a farewell breakfast Thursday morning). 

For more information on the show, you can check out our exclusive conference preview interview with T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founders Rick Schwartz and Howard Neu. In addition to our daily show highlights posts this week we will be producing a comprehensive conference review article that will be published late next after we have returned to our home base in Florida

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

Sedo Provides Stats Showing DDOS Attacks Thursday Did Not Materially Impact Sales Results from Their GreatDomains Auctions

A lot of the blogs and forums today have been buzzing with comments about problems Thursday at Sedo.com's main website and their GreatDomains.com premium auction site. The 

issues came on a day when the company had a lot going on including pre-bidding for one, two and three character .de domains at Sedo and the close of bidding in their monthly online auction at GreatDomains. While unusually high traffic for these events slowed server response time the company said the bigger issue was an 

orchestrated distributed denial or service (DDOS) attack that began near the end of the GreatDomains auction and later reached a level that caused Sedo.com to go down.

As you would expect, a lot of clients have been asking Sedo if the DDOS attacks negatively impacted the results in their GreatDomains auction. Sedo's North American Marketing Team Director Heather Del Carpini told me, "While the site was slow as the auction was closing, our 

bid logs show the we did not experience downtime until after the close of the GreatDomains auction. We still received bids until the auction closed, and were able to extend the auction time for domains that were still receiving bids in the last five minutes of the auction. Throughout the auction bids were 

high and consistent, and in the end this GreatDomains auction resulted in higher than average bids and sales volume, easily beating the numbers from our September auction. Close inspection of the bid logs also reveals that the number of bids in the last few minutes of the auction is consistent with our other GreatDomains auction events." 

Ms. Del Carpini provided us with some examples of auctions that received bids in the last five minutes and remained open for additional bidding as the system is designed to allow them to do: Delusional.com, Casinos.de and XAI.com

In addition, Ms. Del Carpini provided us with these statistics comparing the results from the October auction that closed Thursday with those from the previous month's auction (one that Ms, Del Carpini said also had higher quality inventory overall):

October Auction:  



Total Number of Domains


Number of Domains sold (=reserve met)


Sold (%)


Sales Value (USD)


Sales Value (EUR)


Sales Value (GBP)


Avg. Price (USD)


Avg. Price (EUR)


Avg. Price (GBP)


Total number of bids


Avg. bids per auction


Total number of different bidders


Total number of different bidder countries


Total number of different buyers


 September Auction:



Total Number of Domains


Number of Domains sold (=reserve met)


Sold (%)


Sales Value (USD)


Sales Value (EUR)


Sales Value (GBP)


Avg. Price (USD)


Avg. Price (EUR)


Avg. Price (GBP)


Total number of bids


Avg. bids per auction


Total number of different bidders


Total number of different bidder countries


Total number of different buyers


Ms. Del Carpini also noted, "We have invested heavily in a robust IT infrastructure that can handle high traffic, even during multiple auction events. As mentioned in our earlier statement, we also protect ourselves with a third party solution that worked with us to minimize downtime and successfully fight the DDOS attacks."

One other note today, George Kirikos announced in a thread at the DomainState.com forum that he has resigned from ICANN's Business Constituency. Over the years Kirikos has done a remarkable job of examining what ICANN does and holding them publicly accountable for their actions. Some of the issues he brought to light helped stop or alter policies that would have cost domain registrants an untold amount of money had they sailed through uncontested. 

Kirikos detailed his reasons for resigning in a letter posted on ICANN's website Thursday in which he noted, "The BC cannot legitimately 

George Kirikos

represent the views of businesses when it is captured, top-down, anti-democratic, and actively discourages participation." At DomainState, Kirikos added, "I'll still keep an eye on ICANN issues from time-to-time, albeit from afar. Others might want to pay closer attention, though."

(Posted Oct. 23, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Nearly Half of America's Newspaper Reporters Want Their Companies to Speed Up The Transition from Print to the Web 

The Media Management Center (MMC) at Northwestern University has released an interesting and surprising study that found there isn't nearly as much resistance among print reporters to moving online as many thought. The report called "Life Beyond Print: Newspaper Journalists' Digital Appetite" was analyzed by MediaPost's Jack Loechner in a column he posted today. Loechner noted, "The study found that almost half of today's newspaper journalists think their newsroom's transition from print to digital is moving too slowly, as they have no trouble envisioning a career where news is delivered primarily online and to mobile devices instead of in print." 

MMC executive director Michael P. Smith said in the report that "For several years we have heard that it is the journalists' resistance to change that was holding newspapers back... this study shows that they are ready, and some are even impatient, for change." Unfortunately the owners of many newspapers have not been equally motivated even though they have now spent years watching online eat their lunch.


The study of almost 3,800 newsrooms employees found that many of them are heavily engaged in digital activities in their personal lives and fully understand the advantages of digital delivery. While the common perception is that print reporters are hostile to online media, the report says that only 20% of the newspaper workforce said they like things the way they are or yearn for "the good old days." 

Loechner wrote that half of newsroom workers say they want to do "Moderately More" online, arriving at something closer to an equal split with their print efforts. 11% of the workers said they wanted to see a the "Major Shift" and that they would "devote five times their current effort to online if given their druthers."

Desipte all of the turmoil in the newspaper industry, 77% of journalists said they are somewhat or very satisfied with their current jobs. 67% think it somewhat or very likely they will still be in the news business two years from now and 59% think they'll likely be with their same newspaper. The flip side of the latter question is that 41% of today's newspaper reporter don't think they will still be with their current employer just two years from now. With respect to the historic upheaval the web has created in traditional media, that is the most telling statistic in the report to me. 

One other note today, WhyPark.com is organizing a unique charity domain auction that will run December 7th to December 11th. They are looking for high-quality com/net/org domain submissions for the event  before the November 6 submission deadline. Approximately 50 domains will be chosen  from the submissions and all 

domains will start with no reserve. At the close of the auction, the single highest bid from all auctions will be able to choose the charity to receive all net proceeds from the names sold. WhyPark said they will still ensure the single charity that benefits is a neutral, socially-responsible, respected charity and noted "It's an extra incentive to open your wallets a bit more while bidding on great quality domain names."

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

Countdown to T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York - the Last Conference That Will Feature Two Competing Live Auctions 

T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York gets underway Monday evening (Oct. 26) at the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott. This will be the last show in the series to feature multiple live domain auctions (starting in 2010, Rick Latona Auctions will be the live auction provider for T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conferences). Both Latona (starting at 4:30pm Eastern time Tuesday) and Moniker.com (beginning at 4pm Eastern on Wednesday) will be running live sales in New York and both have catalogs loaded with gems for their events. 

Moniker's list got a further boost today when it was announced that Neustar, the .biz registry, is putting some one and two character domains into their auction. The live event will feature i.biz, NY.biz, OK.biz, EZ.biz and HD.biz and Moniker's silent online auction that will run for a week after the live sale will have TX.biz, HI.biz, HA.biz, UR.biz, LO.biz and KC.biz on the block.

You'll recall that Nesutar partnered with Sedo to auction off a group of one-character domains last month and that sale went better than many expected - pulling in over $360,000 for 31 domains. With the Big Apple as its stage, this sale should do well too, especially since the names are going to be auctioned off with no reserve

Almost all new extensions since the original launch of .com, .net and .org have struggled to build recognition. I think that Neustar's strategy of using some of their high profile one and two character domains to draw interest to the extension is a smart, cost effective way to promote the TLD. With luck, some of the buyers of these domains will develop them into real businesses (as Overstock plans to do with O.biz). If that happens, these seeds that Neustar is planting now could bear some very nice fruit a couple of years down the road. Real world use of new extensions is the best (actually probably the only) hope any of them have to break into the public's consciousness. 

Neustar operates another extension, America's official country code, .us, that I have always felt has great potential.  If their .biz gambit works, I would expect them to try something similar (along with additional novel strategies) in an effort to light a fire under .us. Domain owners with an interest in a particular extension will have to do their part too by building out some of their non .com domains or getting then into the hands of someone else who will. 

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

Video from Local Comedian Drives New Traffic to Chicago.com, Afilias Offers Cash Prizes to the Best .Info Developers & Our Thoughts on the Demise of AEIOU.com

Yesterday I told you about progress being made by a number of domain owners who are developing full scale business websites. There is more on that front today. Associated Cities Co-Founder Josh Metnick dropped me a note today to let me know about a new twist at his marquee property - Chicago.com, that is driving a lot of new traffic to the site. Chicago.com enlisted popular local comedian Vinnie Rapponi to do a special video for the site's home page extolling some of the Windy City's most beloved restaurants and hotspots. With the success of this new feature, Metnick said he expects video to be a big part of Chicago.com's evolution. 

Comedian Vinnie Rapponi
is drawing a crowd to Chicago.com

If you happen to have a developed .info website, you may want to enter the 2009 .Info Awards contest that the .info registry, Afilias, currently has underway.  A 6-person panel of judges was chosen today to select the best submitted .info website with the winner to be awarded a cool $7,500! The runner-up will get $5,000 and the third place finisher pockets $3,000

The panel will review all eligible sites submitted for consideration based on five criteria: presentation of content, functionality of the website, design, usability, and originality. Their scores will determine a shortlist of the top ten submissions, which will be published

at www.info-award.info on November 2nd.  From November 2-6, the public will be invited to vote on the sites selected by the judges. Public votes will be combined with the judges scores to select the top three Award winners. If you want to enter you will have to hurry, the deadline for submissions is 11:59 p.m. (U.S. Eastern time) Friday, October 23.

Those who have been trying out mini-site development lost a key service provider yesterday when Rick Latona's AEIOU.com announced they were exiting the business. Latona, who runs many other domain related companies, decided his time could be better spent on enterprises 

other than the low margin mass development business. Some have speculated that Latona's move indicates that mini-site services in general are already becoming passé.  I think it is much too early to write the sector off though, especially if you are willing to apply some elbow grease yourself to keep an initial mini-site moving forward with fresh content. 

Any site will quickly die on the vine if a few pages are thrown on the web and never changed. I haven't used any of the minisite services yet but if I do in the future I would go in with a plan to let the service do the basic site and then start building on the foundation they provide. If you find a service whose design work you like, that alone could save you a ton of time en route to a fully developed site and, time being money, that alone could represent a good return on your investment. 

If you are looking for a good .de domain (German ccTLD) to build on, you may be able to land one later this week when DENIC (operators of the .de registry) opens the extension up to one, two and three character domains Friday (Oct. 23) at 9am Central European Time

Sedo is already working with registrar partners to let you enter pre-bids on domains you want through 12 Noon U.S. Eastern Time Thursday (Oct. 22). When the registration period opens Friday, Sedo’s registrar partners will place bids on your behalf if you win the domain in their 

Pre-Auction.  If they are unable to register the domain right away, their brokerage team will use your winning bid to try to buy the domain from the successful registrant. You can get all of the details on the process here

Speaking of Sedo, we just published our comprehensive review of the 2009 SedoPro Partner Forum conference that was held at the Waldorf Astoria's Casa Marina Resort in Key West, Florida October 7-9. The article contains many previously unpublished photos and meeting details that we didn't have time to bring you in the daily updates from the conference that were posted in this column. 

This was the 4th annual event in the Partner Forum series which alternates each year between the United States and Europe

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Domain Owners Who Have Gone Down the Development Path Report Continuing Expansion of Their Enterprises

More and more domain owners are taking the plunge into website development, a path that offers a chance to end dependence on Google and Yahoo (for PPC revenue) and gain control of their own financial destinies. Development (like any other business strategy) certainly comes with no guarantee of success, but with a good domain name, hard work and the right niche, it is possible to earn a return that dwarfs any other monetization option currently available to domain owners. 

A number of domain portfolio owners have been on the development path for some time now and it is encouraging to get reports back from them as their websites gain traction and make major advances.  For example, Warren Royal (who was the subject of our December 2008 Cover Story) just scored a major coup for RoyalBobbles.com (an offshoot of his flagship development - Bobbleheads.com) that focuses on manufacturing premium bobblehead dolls that are sold through dealers, museums, gift shops, and online web stores. 

The estate of Dr. Martin Luther King has given Royal Bobbles LLC the right to produce and sell an officially licensed Bobblehead commemorating the late civil rights leader.  Royal said this oversized, limited-edition model will be of the highest possible quality and will be sold at the King Center in Atlanta, as well as in museums, gift shops, and through online web stores, like Bobbleheads.com. The target date for release is Dr. King's next birthday - January 18, 2010

Warren Royal

The licensing agreement also provides Royal Bobbles with permission to use copyrighted material owned by the estate, such as images, speeches, and recordings, in the packaging, promotion, and advertising of the product. 

Bruce Marler is another domain portfolio owner who is continuing to expand his development efforts. After making a splash with his statewide network at Missouri.me, Marler will officially launch Oklahoma.me this week. The new site will follow the successful strategy Marler has employed with Missouri.me (see our July 30 Lowdown post for more on that). 

A lot of domain owners focus their development efforts on websites that serve the domain industry. Mike Cohen just debuted a new service over the weekend at DomainStryker.com that 

falls into that category. The site says "There are millions of domains expiring each month, however only a tiny fraction of them are valuable and worth re-registering. We monitor tens of thousands of those auctioned off domains daily, analyzing 60+ variables for each and every domain and then re-publish an exclusive filtered list." The site, currently in beta, adds that lists from SnapNames, NameJet and GoDaddy will be available free until DomainStryker competes beta testing and moves to a membership model.

Of course the biggest conundrum that owners of large scale portfolios face is how to economically develop hundreds or even thousands of domains at once. A successful method for

doing that remains something of a "holy grail" for the industry and many companies are actively involved in finding a solution. The CEO of  a major industry conglomerate told me they will be announcing a new service aimed at filling that need at the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York conference next week. 

Rob Monster's Epik.com is another company that believes it could be on the verge of solving the puzzle. Monster has made several acquisitions in the process of building his model - the most recent being drop catching service JustDropped.com. Over the weekend, Monster published a very interesting post on his blog describing how JustDropped fits into Epik's strategy. He went on to detail how the company is going about the task of making capital-efficient domain development a reality at a time when the general economy is struggling to escape a debilitating recession. 

Rob Monster

On other note today, Luxembourg-based Domain Invest (DI SA) announced that it has successfully closed a €10.2 million financing round.  BIP Investment Partners and Société Nationale de Crédit et d’Investissement (SNCI) participated for an amount of €2.5 million each. Businessmen from the European media and finance industries also significantly contributed to the financing of the company, investing another €5.2 million. Markus Schnermann, Co-Managing Director of Domain Invest said “Thanks to this fundraising, we are becoming the major European player in domain name monetization and our main priority is to keep expanding and offering our services on a larger scale." 

The business model for the company chaired by Xavier Buck is based on the acquisition, monetization and resale of domain names. Co-Managing Director Frederick Schiwek said, “In 

less than one year of operativity, we have acquired great portfolios already performing an EBITDA more than 30% the net revenues; we are expecting to increase this result significantly in the coming years."

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Final Agenda Released For This Month's T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Conference in New York + Additional News Tidbits to Tide You Over This Weekend 

Organizers of the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York conference coming up October 26-29 at the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott have released the final agenda for the event. It is shaping up to be another excellent show. We covered a lot of the highlights in a conference preview interview with T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founders Rick Schwartz and Howard Neu, but some additional features have been added since our conversation was published.

 I think a Wednesday morning (Oct. 28) session, "Inside the Candy.com Deal as seen by the End User" will be particularly interesting as it will feature Candy.com executives Greg Balestrieri and Joe Melville (of the Melville Candy Company) explaining why they felt it was worth ponying up $3 million to buy Candy.com from Schwartz. It will be especially interesting to hear from them how owning that category killing domain has impacted their confectionary business. 

Lana Del Rey
(Elizabeth Grant)

My favorite thing about T.R.A.F.F.I.C. is always the opportunity to see old friends in person again, as well as make new ones during the course of the week. Rob Grant dropped me a note today to say he would be there, but the main reason for his message was to let me know that his daughter, recording artist Elizabeth Grant (whom many T.R.A.F.F.I.C. veterans met at the Orlando show in 2008), has been chosen by Keds Shoes to serve as a spokesperson for a new line of celebrity shoes. Using her stage name, Lana Del Rey, Lizzy is featured in a new video that is a key part of the campaign. This very cool video features a clip from Lizzy's single "Yayo" that is also available at iTunes

Another item with a T.R.A.F.F.I.C. connection that crossed my desk this week was Danny Pryor of the Rodan Media Group announcing the launch of their new social networking website at MyGiftwire.com. Danny was the designer of most versions of the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. website prior to this year. MyGiftWire.com lets users tell their friends what gifts they want for birthdays, holidays, anniversaries or any other special occasion.

One other note from our People file - Joe Alagna, the long time General Manager of North American Markets for Centralnic, Ltd., is celebrating the birth yesterday of his first grandchild. Beautiful baby girl Aurelli Chen Mei Alagna weighed in at 7 lbs. 8 oz. and 19 inches long. She is the new daughter of Joe's son Anthony and daughter-in-law Stephanie. Both mom and baby are doing great. More photos have been posted on the Alagna Family's website

Joe noted, "I'm used to having lots of boys and men around (three brothers, two sons - no sisters, no daughters). This is going to be fun!

Joe Alagna with his new granddaughter
Aurelli Chen Mei Alagna

A couple of other items to tell you about before we head into the weekend. GoDaddy today launched a new service at http://geo.godaddy.com that is designed to help customers find available geo-targeted domain names. When you search for names, you can click on a map to bring up names from any locality you are interested in (there is also a search box that lets you specify the city you are was to zero in on). For sellers, the new site offers a slick new interface to help draw attention to your domains. There are instructions on the site detailing how to get your domains listed. 

Last but not least, the folks at EVO Media/DevHub.com are probably happy to be heading home this weekend because the office has been a lot noisier than usual. A cacophony of hammering, sawing and other construction activity is underway that will end up adding 1,000 square feet to their downtown Seattle offices. 

Construction under way to expand EVO Media/DevHub.com offices in Seattle.

The company is expanding its staff as well as it space. They currently have openings for two more skilled developers. If you an interest and believe you have the necessary skills you can send an email to [email protected] with your resume, rough salary expectations, URLs of cool things you've built or worked on and your favorite thing in the world.
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How Rick Schwartz, Rick Latona, Monte Cahn, Michael Castello & Aron Meystedt Really Made Their Money 

Over the years I thought that I had come to know a lot of people in the domain industry fairly well, but I have just received a link to a shocking video that proves you never really know the full story. I have always assumed that T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founder Rick Schwartz, his new T.R.A.F.F.I.C. partner and all-around industry impresario Rick Latona, Moniker CEO Monte Cahn, Michael Castello of the famed Castello Brothers and quick rising newcomer Aron Meystedt owed their success to domains. Now I learn that much of their capital may have been derived from a joint "moonlighting" venture. They say a picture is worth a thousand words (so a video must be worth 10,000), so rather than try to describe what I saw, I'm going to put the video evidence on the public record. You can watch it here

I never reveal my sources but I will let you know that the person who passed this information on to me revealed that it was assembled by web designer/domainer Tia Wood. If so, she deserves credit for bringing the truth to light.

Now you can see Rick Schwartz (above) 
and four other well-known industry figures
 in a way you have never seen them before.

P.S. I know this kind of muckraking is a departure from our usual style and I apologize in advance to Theo Develegas of DomainGang.com for this one-time infringement on his territory. 

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Castello Brothers Join Fred Mercaldo To Launch Another Developed Site at Manicure.com

The Castello Brothers (Michael and David) and Fred Mercaldo have joined forces to launch the Manicure.com Beauty Network with Manicure.com as the project's foundation. The Castello Brothers are already known for their developed geodomain websites (including PalmSprings.com and Nashville.com) as well as developed category killing generic domains like Whisky.com and Bullion.com. Mercaldo also has a track record of success that includes Scottsdale.com.

Michael Castello of the Castello Cities Internet Network, Inc. (CCIN) said "My brother David and I are elated to be working with Fred Mercaldo and his team on the Manicure.com Beauty Network. Fred's brilliant success with his Scottsdale.com geo network is indicative of the future the Manicure.com Beauty Network will have as it evolves into the premier industry network for nail care, hand care and all things beautiful."

Michael Castello & David Castello
Castello Cities Internet Network, Inc.


Fred Mercaldo

Fred Mercaldo noted "The decision to partner with the Castello Brothers to develop Manicure.com was a natural for us, as we were already developing our portfolio of 215 U.S. city nail salon domain names such as ChicagoNailSalons.com, PhoenixNailSalons.com, etc." 

Mercaldo added, "The manicure/nail salon industry is a multi-billion dollar business and with the addition of Manicure.com we now have our network of cities united under one mega-brand. Whether an advertiser desires to target a specific region and/or the entire national and international market, we will be their obvious marketing choice. We look forward to working with the Castello Brothers and building the Manicure.com Beauty Network into one of the major e-commerce success stories of 2010."

One another note today, Moniker.com has released the catalog for their live domain auction at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York October 28th (the sale will run from 4:00-6:30pm U.S. Eastern time). The list includes such gems as 40.com, Bands.com, Fiction.com, FreeEstimates.com, Photo.com, QB.com and Stage.com, to name just a few. 

As we told you last night, Rick Latona Auctions has also released the initial catalog for their live auction October 27th at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York. This will be the last T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference with multiple live auctions. Rick Latona Auctions becomes the sole auction provider in 2010.

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From the Night Shift: More News About the Upcoming T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York Conference & Free Passes to a Pair of of Appealing Webinars 

Sorry for the late post today. A family member from the west coast (Diana's niece) visited us a couple of weeks ago and borrowed one of our cars. Unfortunately, en route to where she was going she got involved in a 16-car pile-up and totaled our SUV. Amazingly, no one was hurt and for that we are all very thankful. After receiving the insurance settlement today we spent the entire day visiting various dealerships before settling on a replacement - an Infiniti FX35 that we finally returned home with tonight (many hours later than I expected to be back). Glad I don't have to go through the tedious car buying process very often!

Many bits of news and information came in while I was out including two new announcements related to the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York conference coming up later this month (October 26-29 at the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott). Rick Latona Auctions released the initial catalog for their live domain auction that will run from 4:30-7:00pm (U.S. Eastern time) on Tuesday, October 27. They have put together a very impressive list, including Bananas.com, Bourbon.com, BroadwayShows.com, Dancing.com, GolfClubs.com, Rio.com, SM.com and Tacoma.com to name just a few. 

Also, T.R.A.F.F.I.C. organizers sent out an email offering a special "night pass" for the New York show that is available for $995 (half the rate of the standard $1,995 registration fee). The night pass provides entry to the Opening Night Cocktail Party, Rick Latona Live Auction, Moniker.com Live Auction (plus free cocktails at both auctions), the Exhibit Hall after 4PM, and the official Skenzo Show Party at Touch (including Limo transportation). 

Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge
Site of T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York 2009

Elsewhere, DomainSuccess.com will be holding their latest webinar tomorrow (Wednesday, Oct. 14) from 2:30-3:30pm. The special guest will be George Pickering who will be talking about "Getting Hitched On Domain Profitability." The site's summary of the webinar says, "In a world where many domainers pursue domains first – and the business elements often as an afterthought, George Pickering flipped the model. A seasoned exec who possesses a top-tier business pedigree, Pickering approaches domaining with the acumen of running a Fortune 500. That’s because he’s helped drive numerous Internet businesses to profitability. Now, he’s ready to show you how to hone the business side of your domaining business to boost your profitability." You can reserve you free seat at the webinar here.

Speaking of webinars, BuyDomains.com continues their popular free series with an October 22nd webinar on "How to Price Domain Names.” BuyDomains says "The webinar will cover the strategies and tactics behind our proven pricing methodology, optimized and perfected over our 10 year history of data driven domain valuation.

Participants will learn how to:
• Determination of domain pricing objectives
• Unlock the hidden brand value of domain names
• Avoid common domain sales missteps such as pricing based upon traffic volumes or revenue multiples
• Maximize your profits through proper determination of Asking, Reserve and Floor prices
• Use of negotiation tactics designed to insure “win/win” outcomes for both buyer and seller
• Enjoy domain sales results similar to those reported each week by AfternicDLS"

The webinar will conclude with a question and answer session. The event will run from 2:00-2:30pm (U.S. Eastern time) on the 22nd. You can register for the event here

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CNN Anchor Rick Sanchez to Deliver Keynote Address at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York October 27

CNN news anchor Rick Sanchez  has been chosen to deliver the keynote address at the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York conference October 27th (the show runs Oct. 26-29 at the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott). There is a connection between CNN and T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founder Rick Schwartz who sold the domain name iReport.com to the cable news network for $750,000. In reference to that transaction, Schwartz noted "It was a sale that could be pointed to for many years to come by every domainer and every time a domainer watched CNN and saw iReport.com it would give them the fuel to keep going." Sanchez has already decided to donate his fee for speaking to charity.

Yesterday, we published an exclusive T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York preview featuring an in-depth interview with Schwartz and fellow T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founder Howard Neu. The wide ranging conversation touched on a number of topics, including some that reached beyond the bounds of the show itself - most notably Schwartz's view of the general economy and how its prospects will affect domain owners in the year ahead.

CNN Anchor Rick Sanchez
will be the keynote speaker at
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York Oct. 27

In another conference note, organizers of the 2010 Domainer Mardi Gras show coming up in New Orleans February 11-13, are reminding those interested in attending the event that Wednesday (Oct. 15) is the deadline to get the early bird admission price (as low as $495). Starting Thursday, the cost to register jumps to $895.

Another reminder for domain auction fans - a nice group of names related to money and finance will be featured in the SnapNames October Showcase Auction that gets underway tomorrow (October 13) at 12 Noon Eastern time (9am Pacific). 

The catalog includes Bankruptcy.net, DiscountRates.com, EscrowAgents.com, OnlineMortgage.com, ProfitSharing.com and Silver.net to name just a few. You can check out the entire catalog here. The three-day event ends Thursday (Oct. 15) at 3:15pm Eastern time (12:15pm Pacific).

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Photos and Highlights from the Final 24 Hours at the SedoPro Partners Forum in Key West, Florida

The 4th annual SedoPro Partners Forum  ended at the Casa Marina Resort in Key West, Florida Friday afternoon (Oct. 9). Our last post brought you up to date on meeting highlights through Thursday afternoon. That evening guests were treated to a gourmet dinner on the waterfront deck of one of Key West's most popular restaurants - The Strip House

Eric Sundberg (left) and Sedo Co-Founder Ulrich Priesner chat 
during the Thursday night dinner at The Strip House restaurant in Key West.

After dinner, everyone headed to the grand ballroom at the Casa Marina Resort for a 1920's themed gala complete with flapper girls and a great live band. 

Above: A scene from the Thursday night gala during the SedoPro Partners Forum.
Two photos blow: Guests enjoy the show before hitting the dance floor themselves. 

Knowing that the gala would keep everyone up late Thursday night, the final business session of the conference wasn't scheduled until 10:30am Friday. That 90-minute panel discussion on The DNA of TLDs was moderated by Sedo's COO & General Counsel Jeremiah Johnston and featured (left to right in the photo below) Andrew Allemann (DomainNameWire.com), Ron Jackson (DNJournal.com), Jeremiah Johnston, Lance Wolak (.Org registry) and Ken Hansen (.Biz registry). 

The wide ranging discussion touched on a number of areas, including ICANN's plans to roll out an unlimited number of new gTLDs. I'll have details on this session (and the others conducted during the conference) in a comprehensive show review article that we will be publishing next week. 

After the closing session, the curtain came down on the SedoPro Partners Forum with a farewell buffet luncheon on the beach.

Early arrivals at the farewell luncheon Friday staked out the shadiest positions 
in this picture postcard setting on a 90-degree day in Key West.

Just as its predecessors did, this SedoPro Partners Forum drew high praise from attendees. The annual event alternates between Europe and the U.S. so it will return to the other side of the Atlantic in 2010. Sedo invites its customers to send in their suggestions on where the next edition should be held. 

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Photos & Highlights from Wednesday Night and Thursday Morning at the SedoPro Partners Forum in Key West

The annual SedoPro Partners Forum  opened last night (Wed. Oct. 7) at the Casa Marina Resort in Key West, Florida with a cocktail party and buffet dinner served on the beach. Sedo Co-Founder and CEO Tim Schumacher welcomed Sedo's guests and in his opening comments Schumacher noted that he was optimistic about the direction the domain business is headed now, a sentiment he said he didn't hold a year ago when the general economy entered a historic financial crisis. 

Schumacher also took the opportunity to express the company's support for The Water School, a charity project strongly supported by a domain industry group headed by Gregg McNair (International Director of Strata PPX Services) that we told you about in July. McNair helmed a group of 18 industry leaders who just returned from Kenya where they got a first hand look at The Water School's efforts to eliminate waterborne diseases in Africa. Sedo's support came in the form of a much appreciated $4,500 check that Schumacher presented to McNair last night.

Gregg McNair (left) receiving a $4,500 donation from Sedo CEO Tim Schumacher 
last night at the SedoPro Partner Forum in Key West, Florida

After Schumacher's talk, attendees were treated to a buffet dinner on the spectacular beach at the Casa Marina Resort.

Above: Guests check out the buffet at the SedoPro Partners Forum opening night dinner.
Below: Attendees dined at tables that were set up directly on the beach.

The dinner was capped off by an interesting keynote panel featuring Hotels.com founder Bob Diener (now the Executive Administrator of GetARoom.com), Sedo Director of Sales Kathy Nielsen and Sedo Senior Broker Tessa Holcomb.

(L to R above) Sedo's Kathy Nielsen, keynote speaker Bob Diener and Sedo's Tessa Holcomb.

As part of the contract agreement when his company sold Hotel.com and Hotels.com in late 2003, Diener accepted a five-year non-compete clause. Once that expired he decided to re-enter the travel business and called on Sedo to help him secure a memorable domain name. Holcomb brokered his eventual purchase of GetARoom.com for $30,000. Diener presented an end user's perspective on the importance of a good domain name, noting "If a name stands out in the marketplace, it costs you a lot less to market." After the keynote session, people stayed on the beach chatting until almost midnight. 

The conference resumed this morning with a pair of presentations from Sedo Co-Founders and executives. In the opener, Co-Founders Ulrich Essman and Ulrich Priesner detailed Sedo's One-Stop Shop Product Solutions.

Sedo Co-Founders Ulrich Essman (left) and Ulrich Priesner conducting the opening 
seminar at the SedoPro Partners Forum in Key West, Florida this morning (Thur. Oct. 8).

Part of the audience at this morning's business sessions.

Next up was a session titled Sedo: The Future & You, conducted by Sedo CEO & Co-Founder Tim Schumacher and Sedo's COO & General Counsel Jeremiah Johnston.

Sedo CEO Tim Schumacher & COO/General Counsel Jeremiah Johnston 
at this morning's second business session.

I'll have the details on what was covered in both of today's business sessions in a comprehensive wrap-up article on the conference that we will be publishing next week. After the the morning presentations, everyone returned to the beach for a waterfront luncheon on a beautiful day in Key West.

Scene from today's luncheon on the beach in Key West.

As I write this, attendees are enjoying a variety of fun in the sun afternoon activities including Waverunner rides, snorkeling, biking or just sunning by the pool or napping in a hammock. This evening the event continues with a 7pm dinner at one of Key West's best restaurants, The Strip House, followed by a 1920's themed gala with live entertainment and dancing back at the Casa Marina's Grand Ballroom that is scheduled to run from 9pm-1am.

The conference concludes tomorrow with a morning panel discussion called The DNA of TLDs that will be moderated by Jeremiah Johnston. The four panelists will be registry representatives Lance Wolak (.Org) and Ken Hansen (.Biz), plus media representatives Andrew Allemann (Domain Name Wire) and myself. After our session, a farewell luncheon on the beach will bring the 2009 SedoPro Partners Forum to a close.

I will have photos and highlights from the events scheduled tonight and tomorrow morning in a final post from south Florida tomorrow evening. I'll put that together when we stop in Miami for the night en route back home to Tampa.

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4th Annual SedoPro Partners Forum Opens at the Casa Marina Resort in Key West, Florida

I just arrived in Key West, Florida where the 4th annual SedoPro Partners Forum gets underway this evening with a cocktail hour and dinner on the beach. The meeting runs through Friday at the Waldorf Astoria's Casa Marina Resort. To set the stage for you, below are some photos from the conference venue that I snapped upon arrival this afternoon.

The Casa Marina Resort in Key West, Florida where the SedoPro Partner Forum is 
being held held today through Friday (October 7-9). The view above shows the hotel 
from the walkway returning from the beach. The view below is the opposite direction, 
looking down the hotel walkway to the water.

At the end of the walkway you come to the Casa Marina's white sand beach below.

Sedo CEO Tim Schumacher will deliver welcoming comments at tonight's dinner that will also feature a keynote address. The business portion of the conference gets underway tomorrow morning with a pair of sessions in the hotel ballroom. Thursday afternoon and evening will be devoted to recreational activities and social events. The conference concludes Friday with a morning panel session that I will be part of, followed by a closing luncheon on the beach.

The weather in Key West is beautiful - though a little on the warm side. It is expected to be a near record 90 degrees every day this week. Tomorrow I'll have photos and highlights from tonight's opening activities and the Thursday morning business seminars for you.

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Editor's Note: I am traveling today, en route to Key West, Florida where the SedoPro Partner Forum begins tomorrow. I will have daily posts from Key West starting late Wednesday.
(Posted Oct. 6, 2009)

Despite the Recession, Third Quarter Domain Sales Equal Year Ago Levels and Rise 15% From the Previous Quarter

I've been scrambling today, getting the decks cleared before heading out in the morning for Key West, Florida where the SedoPro Parner Forum will be held later this week at the Casa Marina Resort. The event, that runs Wednesday through Friday, returns to the U.S. for the first time since the summer of 2007 when it was held at the Mohonk Mountain Resort in New York state. People who were there still buzz about that event and I'm sure this one will be something special as well. The meeting begins Wednesday evening and I'll have daily highlights for you in this column.

Before leaving I had to put the finishing touches on our latest free monthly newsletter that goes out to opt-in subscribers (it is also available online now). The lead item in the newsletter is a breakdown of domain sales for the just concluded 3rd quarter of 2009. As we went through the summer months that comprised the third quarter, I had the feeling that despite the obstacles presented by the current recession, aftermarket sales (unlike PPC revenue streams) was managing to hold their own. When I ran the numbers today they confirmed that gut feeling.

In addition to matching reporting sales from the same quarter a year ago, 3Q sales enjoyed a double digit rise from the previous quarter this year. In the 2nd 

The domain aftermarket overcame recession obstacles in 3Q-2009 to match last year's 3Q performance.

quarter of 2009 a total of $21,108,655 in domain sales were reported to us. In the just concluded 3rd quarter, that number rose to $24,361,644 - an increase of 15.4%

That $24,361,644 for 3Q-2009 is almost identical to the total for 3Q-2008 which came in at $24,542,784, a year over year decline of less than 1%. Keep in mind that most of last year's third quarter played out before news hit in late September 2008 that the world was facing a historic financial crisis. Just about all markets have been trying to overcome a reluctance on the part of consumers to spend money ever since so I believe that equalling the '08 figure in today's environment is a positive sign.

That is not to say that things are completely back to normal of course. While the total sales volume for 3Q-2009 equaled the same quarter in 2008, we did see a slight slippage in the median price paid for domains (the median is the point at which half of all reported sales were higher and half were lower). In 2Q-2008, the median price is our database was $2,788. In 3Q-2009, the median was down 8% to $2,563. That indicates that overall, buyers are paying a bit less per domain than a year ago.

You can see more sales data details in our newsletter including a year-to-date comparison of sales for the first three quarters of this years versus the first three of 2008.

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Photos and Highlights from the 2009 MeetDomainers Conference in Warsaw, Poland

The 2nd Annual MeetDomainers Conference concluded at the Marriott in Warsaw, Poland Sunday (September 27).  We've just received some photos from the three-day show for European domainers, courtesy of conference founder Daniel Dryzek. The event got underway on Friday (Sept. 25) with welcoming comments from Dryzek followed by a seminar on legal matters. 

Part of the crowd at a MeetDomainers 2009 opening day seminar on legal affairs.

The afternoon session then kicked off with a speed networking session - always one of the most popular attractions at any conference.

Scene from the opening day speed networking session at MeetDomainers 2009 in Warsaw

Next on the agenda was a session covering registrars and registries in Poland and around the world. Dryzek moderated a panel that included (left to right in the photo below) Ken Hansen (Neustar), Adam Wagner (EuroDNS), Michau Pleban (Aftermarket.pl) and Daniel Kotyras (NetArt).

After a lunch break, the opening day of business concluded with a live domain auction that generated close to €80,000 ($116,800) in sales. 34 of the 60 domains that went up for bid changed hands. The biggest sale was Lekarze.pl ("doctors" in Polish), a Polish ccTLD that went for €33,750 ($49,275). A complete list of auction results is available here

Above: scene from the MeetDomainers live domain auction September 25

Below: Auctioneer Krzysztof Konieczny conduction the sale

Conference founder Daniel Dryzek was among the bidders in the live domain auction.

The Saturday (September 26) schedule was highlighted by four seminars including the day's opening panel discussion featuring a group of European domainers who shared their experiences and opinions with the audience, while also taking questions from the crowd. 

Above: Leszek Sękowski (left) and Frederick Schiwek (DomainInvest.lu) were panelists  
for the opening session Saturday (Sept. 26) called "Domainers Meet Domainers"

EuroDNS hosted the conference party at the Opera Club Saturday night and the show concluded with a day of social activities Sunday (Sept. 27), including a tour of the city (complete with English speaking guides).

Ken Hansen of Neustar (left) came from the U.S. to make some new friends in Poland.

From everything we have heard the event was very well received by everyone who attended. Poland is a rapidly growing market for domains and with the success of this year's show, round three would appear to be a certainty for 2010.

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

ICA Legal Counsel Says New Agreement Between ICANN and the U.S. Government Could Speed Up IDNs But Delay New gTLDs

Internet Commerce Associated Legal Counsel Phil Corwin has posted a letter on the ICA website detailing how he thinks yesterday's new Agreement of Commitments (AOC) between ICANN and the U.S. Government will affect several key issues of interest to the domain industry.

One of Corwin's section headers said "New gTLDs Will Take a Back Seat to IDNs." On that topic he wrote, "The AOC conspicuously endorses the introduction of non-Latin character International Domain Names (IDNs) at country code TLDs (text in Italics is taken directly from the AOC): DOC…endorses the rapid introduction of internationalized country code top level domain names (ccTLDs), provided related security, stability and resiliency issues are first addressed. 

Simultaneously, it gives tepid non-endorsement to new gTLDs, first stating: Nothing in this document is an expression of support by DOC of any specific plan or proposal for the implementation of new generic top level domain names (gTLDs) or is an expression by DOC of a view that the potential consumer benefits of new gTLDs outweigh the potential costs. And it later adds this requirement: ICANN will ensure that as it contemplates expanding 

Phil Corwin
ICA Legal Counsel

the top-level domain space, the various issues that are involved (including competition, consumer protection, security, stability and resiliency, malicious abuse issues, sovereignty concerns, and rights protection) will be Adequately addressed prior to implementation...

Corwin went on to say "The very use of the word “contemplates” (and every word is carefully negotiated in a document such as this) indicates a stage of the new gTLD process far earlier than an imminent opening of the application window in the first quarter of 2010, as “contemplates” is generally synonymous with “thinks about”. And the additional verbiage indicates a belief that the introduction of new gTLDs is not a foregone conclusion and that the Draft Applicant Guidebook has not yet adequately addressed these matters of concern."

Corwin added, "Given the recent GAC (ICANN's Governmental Advisory Committee) call for many additional studies prior to the introduction of new gTLDs, and its resistance to allowing for unlimited applications (see http://www.internetcommerce.org/GAC_to_ICANN_gTLDs), it hardly seems likely that the newly empowered GAC will give a green light to near-term opening of the new gTLD application window."




In other news, Oversee.net has announced a partnership agreement with Dark Blue Sea's Domain Distribution Network (DDN) that it says will significantly expand marketplace options for aftermarket domain name buyers and sellers who utilize Oversee’s SnapNames and Moniker services.  

For sellers the DDN agreement means those listing names for sale at Moniker and SnapNames can opt in for listing on DDN’s network of partner registrars. Once listed, the seller is not required to perform any manual tasks to complete the sale. At the same time, sellers listing names through DDN will have their names automatically listed at Moniker’s registrar and on the SnapNames aftermarket platform with a “buy it now” price.  

For buyers DDN-listed names bring additional fresh inventory to SnapNames and Moniker listings and transactions are fully automated, with instant transfer of the domain name.

Both companies hailed the agreement as a step in attracting new customers from different sectors of the economy to the domain name space. Oversee.net CEO and President Jeff Kupietzky said “Domain names are growing in value as an asset class. Corporations, brand marketers, individuals and investors now understand that having the right domain name is essential for value creation online. Our arrangement with DDN will bring additional breadth to our marketplace.”  

While we are on the subject of the Domain Distribution Network, we want to wish the DDN's Business Development Manager Jen Sale well on her current trip to the Sudan with the Door of Hope charity organization. They are there now filming a documentary about devastation in the African nation and what can be done to help spur development there.

Jen wrote on her blog, "I want to be a part of something BIG. Special. Good. Inspiring. I don’t want to be a taker in life. I want to be better. I want to help people in need, and I can. So I’m going to." Anyone who has met Jen knows her "can do" attitude well and you can bet that she will do everything in her power to help anyone she encounters in need.

Door of Hope is a child-focused, non government organization established to help alleviate the suffering caused by poverty in developing nations. They do that by supporting projects that preserve, improve and sustain the quality of life of children in their communities. 

Jen Sale

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

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