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The Lowdown
February 2010 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.

DevHub.com Completes Expansion of Their Seattle Offices - Says Major Platform Upgrades Coming Next

Your might recall a post from October in which we showed construction work getting underway at the Seattle offices of quickly-growing domain monetization/development company DevHub.com. Well the expansion job is finally done and the DevHub team is enjoying the extra 1,000 square feet they have at their disposal. 

Before (here's a shot from when the work was just getting started in October):

After (The DevHub team in their newly expanded digs)

(Left to right in the photo above): Gerald Thibault (Lead Back-end Developer), Mark Lee 
( Application Developer), Daniel Rust (CTO/ Co-founder), Dan Michael ( VP Interactive Media), 
Geoffrey Nuval
( CEO/ Co-founder), Mark Michael ( Co-founder/ Strategic Marketing), 
Arnold Dela Cruz
( Front End Developer/ Lead Designer) and Braden Hamm ( Designer)

Having just completed an office upgrade, DevHub Co-founder Mark Michael told me that the company is also getting ready to introduce some major upgrades in their product offering. "Most people in the domain industry look at DevHub as a parking/domain solution but we see DevHub as a site publishing and monetization platform," Michael said. "These upgrades will allow a publisher to build a simple site/blog and potentially grow it into the next Huffington Post, TechCrunch or DNJournal.com - all the while not charging since we are in the "cloud." The operating philosophy here is: Beyond Blogging, turn your passion into a web property that makes you money.

DevHub was one of five companies in our March 2009 Cover Story The Next Big Thing in Domain Monetization?: New Companies Are  Making the Dream of Affordable Mass Development a Reality

(Posted Feb. 25, 2010) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Two Dozen Domainers Set to Begin Climb of Mount Kilimanjaro Monday to Raise Funds for Safe Water in the Developing World

On Monday (March 1) at least two dozen men and women representing the domain industry will begin a climb of more than 19,000 feet to the peak of Tanzania's majestic Mount 

Kilimanjaro. They are doing it to raise funds for The Water School, an extremely worthy charity whose mission is to provide simple, safe, strategic, and sustainable clean water solutions to the developing world. Their exceptionally cost effective solar disinfection system is helping to stop waterborne diseases and save thousands of lives.

Gregg McNair and Rick Latona spearheaded the effort to put together an  industry climb team with each climber raising funds from their own sponsors and donors to support the mission. The climbers are putting themselves on the line for a cause they deeply believe in and this week-long ascent and descent, requiring 6-7 hours of daily hiking, is going to be extremely challenging for all of them. 

Mount Kilimanjaro

Gregg McNair
PPX International

In a letter I received from McNair today he wrote, "Many of us have been stretched to the absolute limit with travel and so many shows the past two months, plus having to work out every day in preparation for the climb. Information on the web says  that "Last year there were 997 evacuations from the mountain. The number of deaths on Kilimanjaro is not known but is estimated to be some 20-30 each year" So this is no walk in the park and all the climbers are taking it very seriously...especially me!"  

You can see the complete list of who is climbing and make a donation (any amount will be appreciated) to one or more climbers on this page at the climb's website - Kili2010.com. McNair said "Each climber was given an ambitious sponsorship target of raising $1 per foot climbed - $19,340 total. Now none of us have yet reached that mark but it is not too late to jump on the site and give for the kids in Africa and Haiti and at the same time encourage someone to keep plodding up that hill!"

Many companies within the domain industry have rallied around The Water School effort in recent months including Sedo.com, Latonas.com, Parked.com, DomainSponsor.com, TrafficZ.com, Neustar, NameDrive.com, TheDomains.com and PPX International and many others both directly and indirectly. Some of the climbers work for industry companies and other are just individual domain investors who want to help provide safe drinking water in places where it is in short supply now. The least we can do is support them from the comfort of our own homes. 

Sedo's Tessa Holcomb, who is on the climb team, told me that a $100 donation is enough to provide clean water for TWO families of six people each (a dozen people) for life. Is there anything you could spend $100 on that would have a more positive impact than that?

(Posted Feb. 24, 2010) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Registration Opens and Keynote Speaker Named for 2010 GeoDomain Expo in New Orleans

The 2010 GeoDomain Expo will be held in the Big Easy at the luxurious Roosevelt New Orleans Hotel (part of the Waldorf Astoria Collection) April 28-30. Associated Cities, who produces the annual domain developers conference, announced their keynote speaker today 

David Litman
Hotels.com co-founder will be 
the keynote speaker at the 
2010 GeoDomain Expo

and they came up with a winner. David Litman, the co-founder of Hotels.com, will deliver the featured address. Litman, a highly successful serial entrepreneur, has spent the last 25 years founding, building and growing five profitable companies with his partner, Bob Diener (who was the keynote speakers at the annual SedoPro Partners Forum held in Key West, Florida last October).  

Together Litman and Diener grew their best-known venture, HRN (later rechristened Hotels.com), from scratch to become the world’s largest hotel website. From a $1,200 investment they developed the company into an industry innovator and leader that quickly became one of the Internet’s primary sources of discount accommodations. They sold the company in 2003 at a business valuation of more than $5.5 billion but recently returned to the lodging industry by launching Getaroom.com, an innovative hotel booking site focused on carefully selected hotel values in major cities.

Early bird registration for the 2010 GeoDomain Expo opened today but to take advantage of the heavily discounted $795 rate you will have to act quickly as it expires Feb. 28. The registration fee will be $995 starting March 1 and will increase again to $1195 on April 1. Those who do not register before the show begins April 28 will have to pay the full $1395 registration fee. 

Hotel rooms at the historic Roosevelt Hotel may be reserved at the show's guaranteed lowest rate of $229 per night by visiting the online booking engine or by calling 504-648 1200 and referencing the GeoDomain Expo group rate.

The world famous New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival will be going on at the same time as the GoeDomain Expo, giving registrants a chance to see some of the world's greatest musicians while they are in town. This year's line up includes Aretha Franklin, B.B. King, Van Morrison, Simon & Garfunkel, Pearl Jam, the Allman Brothers, the Neville Brothers, Dr. John, Jeff Beck, the Black Crowes and Elvis Costello to name just a few. 

I have been at every GeoDomain Expo since the 2007 event in San Francisco where I was the keynote speaker and I have always found this to be an especially valuable conference for anyone interested in developing their domains. This show is all about development and becoming a business force in your local market - a single minded focus that makes it unique among the conferences in the domain industry. 

If you haven't been to a GeoDomain Expo before you can get some further insight into what the show offers by checking out our reviews of last year's conference in San Diego and the 2008 event in Chicago.

(Posted Feb. 23, 2010) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Directi Co-Founder (and Founder/CEO of Skenzo) Divyank Turakhia Featured on Bloomberg's UTV  Network in India

We profiled Directi Founder and Skenzo Founder/CEO Divyank Turakhia in our September 2008 Cover Story and featured his company in our latest monthly newsletter (in a guest 

article called Inside Directi's India Based Domain Empire written by Gregg McNair). Turakhia is constantly on our radar screen because he (and his brother/business partner Bhavin) have created not only one of the most important companies in the domain industry, but one of the fastest growing technology companies in all of Asia. Deloitte & Touche has ranked Turakhia's companies among the Top 50 Fastest Growing Technology Companies in India and Top 500 Fastest Growing Companies in Asia for the past four years in a row.

As a result, the 28-year-old Turakhia has become an increasingly important mainstream business figure in India (Directi headquarters are located in Mumbai). That fact was underscored when Bloomberg's powerful UTV network put him on the air to discuss changes required in the Indian government's forthcoming budget for 2010.

Above and below: Screen captures of Divyank Turakhia 
from business giant Bloomberg's UTV Network in India

As McNair noted in the article he wrote for our newsletter, people outside of India would be stunned by the size and potential of the operation Directi has built in Mumbai. As just one example, McNair described his first visit to the company's new 7-story headquarters building this way, "Spread across 120,000 square feet, the Directiplex has a capacity of 1,500 seats and amenities that rival any contemporary Western IT business. From a staff restaurant employing highly credentialed chefs to a staff gaming room to a bowling alley in the soon to be completed basement, the staff in this company enjoys working conditions to be envied by most employees anywhere on this planet!"

If the domain industry eventually makes the breakthrough in mainstream business world recognition that many of us believe it one day will, odds are Turakhia and Directi (a company valued at more than $300 million) will be largely responsible for that.

Elsewhere today, Verisign has released their latest Domain Industry Brief, covering the 4th quarter of 2009. The report says The Internet added 11 million domain name registrations in 4Q/2009 sending the total number of active registrations in all extensions past the 192 million mark at the end of 2009. That represents an increase of 15 million registrations over the number in effect at the end of 2008 - a year over year growth rate of 8.5% in the middle of a severe recession.

The overall base of .com and .net domain names (the extensions operated by Verisign) grew to 96.7 million at the end of 2009, a 7% gain over the same quarter in 2008. There are many more interesting facts in this always useful quarterly report, so take some time to read it in its entirety.

Finally, I wrote last Thursday that my wife, Diana, and I were on our way out of town for an extended weekend mini-vacation (my way of making up for being away at domain conferences for three of the previous four weeks). Now that we are back I thought I would share some photos with you and let you know how it went. We took a trip to our favorite Central Florida resort town, Mount Dora, a charming place we first visited last July. This was the third time we've been back since that initial visit seven months ago.


Inexpensive horse and carriage rides are just one of the many delights to be found in Mount Dora. The photo above shows the carriage that Diana and I, along with T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founder Howard Neu and his wife Barbara had just stepped off of at the Lakeside Inn after driver Jason had given us a historical tour of the scenic town located at the foot of rolling hills (very unusual for Florida!) that rise up from the eastern shore of Lake Dora. We have raved so much about Mount Dora in the past that the Neus decided to drive up from Miami and meet us there for the weekend.

(Left to right in the photo above): Barbara Neu, Howard Neu, Ron Jackson and Diana Jackson.

One reason we wanted to go on this particular weekend was that Renningers was holding one of the biggest outdoor antique sales in the Eastern U.S. on a huge expanse of land they own just outside of Mount Dora. Diana once owned her own antique store and Barbara has also been bitten by the antiquing bug so they were both psyched up for this sale.

Above: A tiny fraction of the crowd that grew into the thousands by the end of 
opening day of the 3-day Renningers Antique Extravaganza in Mount Dora Friday. 

Below: Barbara and Diana check out one of the antique dealer's wares.

In addition to the antiquing we visited some excellent restaurants (the Goblin Market really stood out), Mount Dora's lakeside nature walk (taken on an elevated boardwalk that cuts through the dense tropical foliage) and the Lake Dora waterfront at sunset. 

Above: Barbara and Howard Neu on Mount Dora's nature walk.

Below: Sunset on Lake Dora.

Diana and I had to leave Mount Dora Saturday afternoon to attend a wedding but the Neus were so smitten with Mount Dora they refused to leave! They changed their plans and stayed over another night to enjoy concerts that were going on as part of an annual music festival there. When we got back to Tampa Saturday night, the two new converts were still in Mount Dora listening to 60's band Gary Lewis & the Playboys playing on an outdoor waterfront stage at the Lakeside Inn.

We all enjoy the domain business so much that it is hard to tear yourself away from it (neither Howard nor I probably would have taken the break without our wives' gentle persuasion), but excursions like this remind you that there is more to life than a computer screen, PPC stats and a registrar account!    

(Posted Feb. 22, 2010) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

After Setting .Org Price Record By Paying $1 Million for Poker.org, Buyer Reveals For the 1st Time That They Also Bought the 2nd Most Expensive .Org Domain

The owners of PokerCompany.com made waves last week when they purchased Poker.org from National A-1 for $1 million, by far the highest price ever reported for a .org domain. PokerCompany.com CEO Markus Sonermo, who had told me the Poker.org deal was about to be

completed a few days before the official announcement was made, just told me about another huge .org purchase that his company was involved in. In fact, with the release of that information in this post it becomes the second biggest .org sale ever reported, eclipsing Engineering.org (which sold several years ago for $198,000). 

The new runner-up is Blackjack.org, a name that Sonermo's company paid $298,000 for in a previously unannounced transaction completed on October 31, 2007. PokerCompany.com went on to develop that domain into one of the shining stars in their stable of gaming names. Google even ranks the Blackjack.org site higher than Blackjack.com. Clearly, Sonermo's company knows what they are doing. 

Their success with Blackjack.org also gave them a good indication of just how valuable Poker.org would be to their company, explaining why they had no qualms about plunking down a cool $1 million to acquire Poker.org last week. They already have a splash page on Poker.org collecting email addresses so they can notify everyone who is interested when the new site is launched.

My wife and I have just returned from the extended weekend mini-vacation I told you we were heading out on in my last post Thursday. The biggest news that broke while I was away came from Elliot Silver who reported that Sex.com is to be auctioned off in a foreclosure sale March 18th. It appears that the group that purchased the domain for an estimated $12-14 million in 2006, Escom LLC, wasn't able to keep up with payments due the company that financed the sale. Whether or not the auction will take place remains to be seen. I have heard rumblings that one or more disgruntled partners in the troubled venture may attempt to stop the sale with a legal challenge of some kind.

I have some other domain news to bring you up to date on and, in another post later today, will couple that information with some photos and details about the weekend trip to Mount Dora, Florida that T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founder Howard Neu and his wife Barbara joined Diana and I on.

(Posted Feb. 22, 2010) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:


After Being Away From Home 3 of the Past 4 Weeks It's Payback Time + Sedo Confirms $1 Million Sale of Poker.org

After being away from home three of the past four weeks covering domain conferences (T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Las Vegas, DOMAINfest Global and Domainer Mardi Gras), I owe my wife Diana some time together. So, this afternoon we are off to Mount Dora, a quaint central Florida resort town we visited for the first time last summer (regular readers may recall my Lowdown post about that trip). 

The town has a number of special charms; rolling hills (unique to Florida's otherwise flat landscape), Victorian houses, horse and carriage rides and a scenic nature walk on the edge of the five-mile wide Lake Dora whose Eastern shore the town was built on. As nice as all of that is, the primary reason Diana wants to go back is the fact that one of the biggest outdoor antique shows in the eastern U.S., the Renninger's Antique Extravaganza, gets underway there tomorrow morning. She used to have her own antique store here in Tampa and her 

The historic  Donnelly House in Mount Dora

passion for beautiful old things remains strong (I assume she has kept me around because I fill the "old" requirement but I'm not sure why she has given me a pass on the "beautiful" part). 

Renniger's runs their Mount Dora show three times a year (we went for the first time in November and loved it) and it attracts thousands of people during its three-day run. The antique dealers spread their wares across several acres of lovely hill country just east of town. The weather is supposed to be sunny and cool so we expect a glorious weekend for the event. 

Sunset on Lake Dora

We have raved so much about the antique show and Mount Dora that Howard and Barbara Neu are going to drive up from Miami and meet us there. It will be fun showing them around town this afternoon and evening and guiding them through the massive antique sale tomorrow as they experience both for the first time. Barbara also enjoys antiques, so while she and Diana are distracted by the merchants Howard and I might get a chance to talk about domains - out of their ear-shot of course - that is kind of a taboo subject this weekend and we don't want things to get ugly!). 

On Saturday afternoon, Diana's uncle Bud happens to be getting 

married in a town adjacent to Mount Dora, Leesburg, so we are going to the wedding before returning home that night. Bud is 91 years young and in spectacular shape - you would think he is 30 years younger (when it comes to aging, Diana has great genes on her side of the family). Bud's blushing young fiancée is a mere 87 and also looks fabulous. They regularly go out dancing and living life to the hilt. I plan to study them closely this weekend because whatever they are doing it obviously works!

Since we will be off on this mini-vacation there won't be a Lowdown post Friday (I have been warned that if I am caught online during the trip I will not like the consequences!) So, I'll see you back here with a new post Monday and I hope that you all have as great a weekend as we are anticipating.

One other note before I go, Sedo has just confirmed that they have brokered the $1 million sale of Poker.org - the highest .org sale ever reported. The owners of PokerCompany.com bought the domain from National A-1. Last Saturday PokerCompany.com CEO Markus Sonermo dropped me a note to tell me the deal was going to be finalized this week. I wrote to Sedo for confirmation and on Tuesday they replied that they could not yet confirm the deal was complete. While I held the information pending confirmation it leaked out from other sources yesterday and the formal announcement finally came today. Congratulations to everyone involved - it looks like a .org will be topping our weekly sale chart next Wednesday!

(Posted Feb. 18, 2010) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Creating Goodwill for Your Business and GeoDomain Websites Through Community Involvement - Rob Grant Shows How It's Done

On Monday (Feb. 15) the 113th Annual Saranac Lake Winter Carnival came to an end in Saranac Lake, New York. What does this event that dates back to the late 1800s have to do with domains and developing a successful business on one? Everything. Especially if you are trying to promote a geodomain website or build goodwill for your locally oriented online business. 

Saranac Lake is an Adirondack Mountains resort town that also happens to be home to veteran domain investor/developer Rob Grant (who was profiled in our April 2008 Cover Story). Rob has built a number of geo targeted sites devoted to the area, including SaranacLakeNY.com and LakePlacidNY.com, and also runs a successful real estate business there. He has found that the best way to create goodwill for his various sites and business enterprises it to get involved in high profile local events like Saranac Lake's popular winter carnival. 

If you visited the link to the Carnival's official website in the first sentence of this article you visited a domain that Grant donated to the carnival organizers in 2007 and a site that he hosts for them at no charge on his servers. In addition, Grant's flagship Adirondacks.com website and his Rob Grant & Associates real 

Rob Grant

estate firm (online at AdirondackRealEstate.com) have both been high profile sponsors of the town's Winter Carnival for years now. 

In another initiative that has paid especially big dividends, Grant founded and continues to sponsor an Annual Childrens Ice Palace Contest (now in its 15th year) that has become an immensely popular part of the Winter Carnival. The contest was inspired by one of the biggest attractions at the Carnival - a huge real life ice palace that is built each year by cutting giant blocks of ice from nearby Lake Flower and hauling them to the palace construction site (February temperatures in the area range from 0-15 degrees so melting ice is not an issue). 

Above: Workmen cut blocks of ice out of Lake Flower to use in building 
an Ice Palace for the annual Saranac Lake Winter Carnival.

Below: Fireworks go off behind one of the most spectacular Ice Palaces 
in recent years - the one built in 2003 (see the large crowd in the foreground).

A different ice palace design is used each year, so Grant came up with the idea of having kids build ice palace models of their own design, using tasty materials like sugar cubes, M&Ms and gum drops. "The contest generates a lot of interest and involvement from parents and kids from the local school systems here in northern New York," Grant said. That means more traffic for his geo websites and business enterprises. He has even developed a separate site dveoted entirely to the Ice Palace (both the real one and the ones created in his contest) at WinterCarnivalIcePalace.com

This year's winning Ice Palace model "Castle Ranch" had an Adirondack Cowboys theme.
It earned 1st prize in Grant's contest for Christa Irvine (at far right in the photo above).

There are many ways you can promote a geodomain website and a local business, but Grant believes from experience that the most effective method of making your site and business a community fixture is to get personally involved in high profile local events and to help community organizations establish their own web presence. This will not only benefit you and your business, it will benefit the domain industry as a whole as people see domain owners using their names in a constructive way while being proactively involved in local community life. 

(Posted Feb. 17, 2010) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

The Royal Connection Between Ron Jackson, King Tut and the Castello Brothers

As most of you know the Castello Brothers (Michael and David) of Castello Cities Internet Network, Inc.) have developed successful websites on many of the great geo and generic domain names in their portfolio. I have often talked about their sites at PalmSprings.com, Nashville.com, Acapulco.com, Whiskey.com and Daycare.com, but those represent just a handful of the assets in the CCIN collection.  

Michael Castello (left) and David Castello of Castello Cities Internet Network, Inc. 
speaking at the Domainer Mardi Gras conference in New Orleans Friday (Feb. 12). 

You may not have heard about another generic gem owned and developed by the Castello Brothers - KingTut.com. I had forgotten that this domain was in their portfolio myself until Michael sent me a photo and note last night that said, "King Tut is now prominently positioned next to you on my bookshelf!" And so he was...

New King Tut bobblehead doll takes a place next to the Ron Jackson 
on a bookshelf in Michael Castello's home office. 

This odd couple is the result of a royal connection - a Warren Royal connection to be precise. Royal (who was profiled in a December 2008 DN Journal Cover Story) is a domain investor/developer who owns and operates a burgeoning business at Bobbleheads.com. After buying the domain for $30,000 Royal has leveraged the direct navigation traffic from that category killing domain into a leading ecommerce site that offers hundreds of different bobblehead dolls for sale, including two that feature domain industry figures, Rick Schwartz and Ron Jackson. Royal released the Rick Schwartz Domain King bobblehead at the 2008 T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York conference and the Ron Jackson bobblehead at the 2009 T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York show.

With his business booming, Royal soon branched out into contract manufacturing, producing custom made bobbleheads for other retailers. 

Bobbleheads.com owner Warren Royal

The Castello Brothers were at the 2009 T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York conference where Royal introduced the Ron Jackson bobblehead and gave a free one to every attendee. The Castellos were impressed with the quality of Warren's work so they decided to ask him to produce a King Tut doll that they could offer on KingTut.com. 

The site gets tremendous traffic spurred by an explosion of public interest in boy king Tutankhamun that began back in 1922 when archaeologist Howard Carter received worldwide acclaim after finding Tutankhamun's intact tomb in Egypt's Valley of the Kings. Tutankhamun was nine years old when he became pharaoh and reigned for approximately ten years. He was one of the few kings worshiped as a god in his own lifetime.  

Michael was so pleased with the final proof  of the King Tut bobblehead he sent me his bookshelf photo right after the doll had arrived for his approval (all that remains to be added to the retail dolls is the King Tut name on the base). Michael told me, "The detail is incredible! It is a real piece of art. The thing weighs like 2 pounds. Warren brings a new "collectors" appeal to bobbleheaddom."

Bobbleheads.com begins the manufacturing process by producing clay models that can easily be modified to incorporate changes or special details their clients want. You can see the exceptional detail in the late stage clay model of the King Tut doll in the photo at left. Notice how advanced this model is compared to one of the earlier renderings in the photo on the 

left below. The photo on the right below is a side view of the finished proof that shows the exceptional detail, craftsmanship and coloring that went into the final product. 

The King Tut bobblehead is expected to be available for purchase by the end of this month. In addition to being sold on KingTut.com, it will be available from this page at Bobbleheads.com. 

While I'm happy to see the Castello Brothers taking a big step forward with another one of their developed sites, I have to tell you that the King Tut bobblehead created a nightmare for me last night. I saw the movie A Night at the Museum (and the sequel Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian) in which statues of historical figures, including Egyptian pharaohs, come to life and wreak havoc after dark. After seeing Michael's bookshelf photo of King Tut and I, I dreamed that our bobbleheads had come to life and were fighting over who gets to drive the model Ferrari on the shelf next to us!

Unfortunately, I got my butt kicked in the dream and Tut roared off in what should have been my ride (after all my bobblehead is a year older than the Tut one, so I figure it should have had seniority). Next time instead of taking on the 19-year-old Tut I am going to start the dream when he was a 9-year-old. I figure that will give me at least a 50-50 chance of taking him! It still may require a sucker punch to get the job done, but when there is a Ferrari on the line a man's got to do what a man's got to do. 

(Posted Feb. 16, 2010) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Editor's note: I'm back from Domainer Mardi Gras in New Orleans. After working through the weekend covering the show and traveling, I'm taking Monday off to catch up on email, personal errands and, after three days at Mardi Gras, the thing I need most - sleep! I'll resume our daily Lowdown posts Tuesday (Feb. 16). 
(Posted Feb. 15, 2010) 

Photos and Highlights From the Closing Day (and Night) at Domainer Mardi Gras 2010 in New Orleans

The 2010 Domainer Mardi Gras conference closed last night in New Orleans (or to be more precise, in the wee hours of Sunday morning). The final day of the show got underway at the New Orleans Marriott Saturday morning (Feb. 13) at 10:45am with a panel discussion titled Domain Name Investing in 2010 and Beyond: Where is the Industry Heading?

Panelists for the Domain Name Investing session Saturday morning were (left to right 
in the photo above) Leonard Holmes (ParkQuick.com), Hui Tam (AdKnowledge), 
Gregg McNair (PPX International) and Donny Simonton (Parked.com).

The discussion was moderated by Domainer Mardi Gras's Executive Director Michael Ward 
(seen during this session in the photo below). As I mentioned in our Friday highlights from the 
show, Michael and his team did a superb job in producing some great content for DMG 2010.

One thing that made the DMG sessions so interesting was that Ward brought panelists together who offer had sharply divergent opinions on things. They made for lively discussions that took several points of view into consideration. For instance, in this session on Domain Name Investing, Parked.com President Donny Simonton expressed the opinion that the industry was already experiencing an upturn after a long recession. Simonton noted that his companies revenues over the past five months are running about 20% ahead of the same period a year ago.

Gregg McNair, never one to mince words, had a different take saying he thinks the industry's best days are behind it. "We're in trouble," McNair said, "Yahoo is a basket case, Google is a ruthless monopoly, PPC is struggling and will consolidate which (with less competition) could lead to further revenue drops. Then you have issues with ICANN, CADNA and lazy domainers who won't defend themselves be supporting the ICA." I'll have more on this session, as well as all of the others held during show week, in a comprehensive conference review article that will be published by Feb. 22.

Gregg McNair (PPX International) at left and Donny Simonton (Parked.com) had 
different opinions about the direction the domain industry is currently headed in.

This provocative session of DMG 2010 was the final business event of DMG 2010. Unlike most other shows, no live domain auction was attached to this event. Instead, an online Moniker Showcase Auction was tied to DMG with that week-long auction concluding Tuesday (Feb. 16) at 3:15pm (U.S. Eastern time). 

Though the conference business schedule was now complete, the fun was just getting started.  Lunch was served in a 41st floor dining room at the Marriott that offered a sweeping 360 degree view of New Orleans. From that perch, I was able to zoom in on Canal Street and get a great aerial view of the Mardi Gras parades going by below.

One of the Mardi Gras floats going down Canal Street Saturday afternoon. The photo 
was taken from the top of the New Orleans Marriott - 41 floors above the street.

The afternoon schedule was left wide open so attendees could get outside and enjoy the parades, shopping, clubs, casinos, strolling through the French quarter or any of the other many attractions this historic city has to offer. New Orleanians have always been friendly people and they are especially ebullient this week as they continue to celebrate the New Orleans Saints first ever Super Bowl win last Sunday. 

As darkness fell, DMG attendees regrouped back at Parked.com's private balcony on Bourbon Street where they found a buffet and open bar waiting in a spacious break room adjoining the balcony. They would close the 2010 DMG experience by spending the rest of the evening enjoying the Mardi Gras Carnival atmosphere from their special vantage point above the street. 

Above: Looking up at the Parked.com private balcony from Bourbon Street.

Below: Ammar Kubba (Thought Convergence Inc.) and Rick Latona (Latonas.com)
in the break room behind the Parked.com balcony.

Below: View of the sea of humanity below the Parked.com balcony Saturday night (Feb. 13)
(looking west down Bourbon Street).

For the night owls in the group, the celebration actually continued well into Sunday morning, not ending until the balcony closed at 3am, and even then some guests who just can't get enough of Mardi Gras, simply moved took the party somewhere else. I'm normally in bed at a pretty early hour,  but I can understand why visitors to the Big Easy put off sleep until they get back home - this is a town that never sleeps.

As for the Domainer Mardi Gras conference, the organizers had a solid debut in 2009 but this year, just like the city's beloved Saints, they took took it to a new level. Well done and it will be very interesting to see how they try to top themselves next year.

(Posted Feb. 14, 2010) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Friday (Day 2) Photos and Highlights From the Domainer Mardi Gras Conference in New Orleans

By the end of the first full day of business at the 2010 Domainer Mardi Gras Conference in New Orleans Friday (Dec. 12) I had enough bracelets around my wrist to make even Madonna jealous. The green Parked.com band went on Thursday night for admission to the welcoming cocktail party and Crawfish Boil that they sponsored to kick off the event. On Friday, the conference hotel - the New Orleans Marriott - required all of their guests to put on the copper-colored middle band to get in an out of the building. The Marriott is right in the middle of the French Quarter Mardi Gras craziness and 

the ID bands helped them keep the fort from being over run by wayward revelers. Then Friday night DMG guests were given the orange band to gain entrance to Parked.com's private balcony on Bourbon Street. From there they had a birds eye view of one America's best known spectacles - a seemingly endless sea of colorful Marci Gras celebrants flowing by into the wee hours of the night.

Part of the sea of people celebrating Mardi Gras on Bourbon Street Friday night (Feb. 12)
Photo taken from Parked.com's private balcony for Domainer Mardi Gras guests.

Day 2 at DMG, the first full day of business, had begun at 10:30am Friday with welcoming comments from the show's Executive Director Michael Ward and fellow executives from conference organizer Parked.com, Sig Solares and Donny Simonton. Simonton said the theme of the conference was "Show Me the Money" - something the event set out to do with sessions devoted to learning how to earn revenue through domain monetization, buying, selling and development. Appropriately enough, Show Me the Money! was also the title of the first panel discussion devoted to new revenue oppotunities in the domain business.

Scene from the first panel discussion, Show Me the Money!, Friday at Domainer Mardi Gras.

Panelists for this opening discussion were (seated left to right in the photo above) Patrick Carleton (Executive Director of Associated Cities), Bruce Marler (Missouri.me Network) and Sean Stafford (Comwired.com). Moderator Sig Solares is at the podium and the video screen at left has a close-up view of Carleton. I'll have details on this session and all of the other DMG seminars in a comprehensive conference review article that we will be publishing a week or so after the show ends (we will have hundreds of photos and conference notes to go through in compiling that wrap up report).

After a lunch break, Moderator Michael Ward turned the tables on industry reporters Andrew Allemann (DomainNameWire.com) and I in a 45-minute session during which he asked us the questions, reversing the roles Andrew and I are used to. Michael did such a good job as an interviewer we are hoping he doesn't get into the news business too - the competition is already fierce as it is!

Next up was a session on Building Websites, featuring a panel of experts who have learned the ins and outs by building and operating their own successful sites.

Building Websites panelists (left to right above); on the video screen - Elliot Silver 
(ElliotsBlog.com), who took part via a Skype connection after a snowstorm in New York 
prevented him from flying to New Orleans, Craig Rowe (WhyPark.com), Michael Castello 
and David Castello (CCIN.com) and moderator Donny Simonton

With the historic snowstorms that shut down much of the northeastern U.S. this week, I was impressed that the DMG crew went the extra mile to set up Skype connections enabling panelists who couldn't travel to still take part in their sessions. In addition to piping in Elliot Silver for the Building Websites seminar, they did it with attorney John Berryhill, who was snowbound in Philadelphia, so he could be part of the next session - New TLDs: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.

Despite the distance seperating Dr. Berryhill from New Orleans, he managed to get into a full Mardi Gras mindset for his appearance, popping up on screen wearing a jester's hat and beads while accompanied by a bottle or two of his favorite liquid refreshments. I won't mention those by brand name as I suspect they may have been part of a product placement deal John had on the side, but for the record I should note that you have to be over 21 in most states to buy these particular beverages.  :-)

New TLDs panelists (left to right): John Berryhill (on the video screen live from Philadelphia), 
Mike Rodenbaugh (IP attorney and consultant), Ken Hansen (Nesutar), 
Michael Berkens
(TheDomains.com) and Jeffrey Eckhaus (Demand Media/eNom). 
The session was moderated by Andrew Allemann.

This was an exceptionally interesting discussion (one that Dr. Berryhill helped enliven with his patented blend of salient points and off the wall humor). As Allemann pointed out, the varied and often opposing viewpoints expressed during this session underscored the many difficult issues ICANN is having to wrestle with in the process of activating their plan to roll out an unlimited number of new gTLDs. 

The opening day panel discussions were also one of the most pleasant surprises I have had at a conference in a long time. Naturally, people are going to expect that a conference tied to the world famous Mardi Gras celebration is going to be all about the partying. However, Michael Ward and his staff put together some of the best content I have seen anywhere on the conference circuit. Every session has held my interest from start to finish with fresh information, lively discourse and truly expert advice on a wide range of topics. I'm sure many attendees came because of Mardi Gras, but they will go home with more than just a hangover thanks to the outstanding job Ward and his staff have done with the business program.

Night fell soon after the final panel discussion ended but the 24-hour Mardi Gras day was just beginning for many. The doors to the Daisy Dukes Restaurant, adjacent to the Marriott (and owned by Parked.com's Sig Solares) were thrown open to DMG guests at 6pm so they could grab a bite to eat before heading over to Bourbon Street for the balcony party.

Judi and Michael Berkens grab a snack at Daisy Dukes 
before heading to the Parked.com balcony party.

DMG attendees throw beads to Mardi Gras revelers from 
Parked.com's private balcony on Bourbon Street Friday night (Feb. 13).

The balcony party ran until 3am Saturday morning but I was in bed way before that! Had to rest up for the final day of Domainer Mardi Gras today. It gets underway with a 10:45am panel on Domain Name Investing, followed at Noon by a brief summary of a week-long Moniker Showcase Online Auction that continues until Tuesday. Show organizers will have closing comments at 12:15pm after which lunch will be served, with the remainder of the afternoon open for guests to go view the Mardi Gras parades. The Parked.com balcony on Bourbon Street will also be open again for 13 hours, from 2pm today until 3am Sunday. I'll have highlights from today's activities for you in a final post from New Orleans Sunday morning.  

(Posted Feb. 13, 2010) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Opening Night Photos and Highlights From the 2010 Domainer Mardi Gras Conference in New Orleans

The 2010 Domainer Mardi Gras Conference got underway last night with a welcoming cocktail party at the show venue - the New Orleans Marriott, a hotel that is perfectly located on the western edge of the French Quarter within a couple of blocks of both Bourbon Street and one of the main Mardi Gras parade routes, St. Charles Avenue.

Scene from the Domainer Mardi Gras welcoming cocktail party 
at the New Orleans Marriott Thursday night (Feb. 11)

With severe winter weather disrupting travel plans to New Orleans from several other parts of the country, some people who had planned to attend were forced to cancel. Others, in a testament to how much they wanted to be here, managed to complete the trip despite a number of obstacles thrown in their way.  When DomainNameWire's Andrew Allemann had his connecting flight from Austin to Dallas cancelled he grabbed a rental car and drove eight hours, most of it in a steady rain, to reach the Big Easy last night (Andrew and I will join forces for a Reporter Roundtable session this afternoon).

Brothers Michael and David Castello, who will also be speaking later today, finally arrived after a snowstorm in New York City had left them temporarily stranded following their talk at the Borrell Associates Local Online Advertising conference there on Tuesday.

Sean Stafford (Comwired.com) and Michael Castello (CCIN.com) 
enjoy the opening night cocktail party at Domainer Mardi Gras.

Despite people's travel travails, there was a good crowd on hand last night and more will be coming in today. With a cold rain falling outside, a bus was brought in after the cocktail party to transport attendees to the opening night's main event, a traditional New Orleans Crawfish Boil held at a tri-level rowhouse located a few blocks west on Camp Street. Guests sat down for the feast under tents in the courtyard or in one of several dining rooms set up indoors. 

Guests plow through mounds of crawfish at the Crawfish Boil Thursday night.

I spent a good part of the Crawfish Boil watching in amazement as Scott Ross (Promediary.com) consumed a prodigious number of mudbugs. Scott decided to treat his son Evan to a taste of domain life by bringing him along on a 14-hour road trip from their Miami area home. Scott obviously worked up an appetite along the way. No one keeps track of who eats how much, but if there is a crawfish eating contest in the future, I'll take Scott and give up the points (or in this case the pounds - of crawfish). Having watched him in action I would say he would be about a 14-pound favorite over just about anyone.

Scott Ross (left) and son Evan at Thursday night's Crawfish boil. Scott hovers 
over the remains of one platter while preparing to raid the tray for a refill. 

The first full day of business at Domainer Mardi Gras gets underway this morning with a 10:30am session called Show Me the Money! that will focus on new domain monetization models. After a lunch break the Reporter Roundtable will be held followed by a panel offering website building tips then one that will discuss ICANN's plans to roll out an unlimited number of new gTLDs. That will end the business day at 5pm.

At 6 o'clock, Parked.com's private balcony will open on Bourbon Street, giving guests a birds eye view of the Mardi Gras revelry on the street below. The balcony will be open until 3am which could make for light attendance at breakfast tomorrow morning. I'll have photos and highlights from all of today's (and tonight's) activitities for you in a post Saturday.

(Posted Feb. 12, 2010) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Domainer Mardi Gras Forecast: Cold and Wet With a Few Missing Guests But a Little Rain Won't Stop This Parade

The 2nd Annual Domainer Mardi Gras conference gets underway tonight (Thursday, Feb. 11) in New Orleans with a traditional Crawfish Boil at a tri-level French Quarter house on Camp Street. After the feast, guests can walk a block over to St. Charles Avenue to watch Mardi Gras parades but it looks like they will need to bring their umbrellas. As I write this Thursday morning the forecast calls for a steady rain to start falling in New Orleans around 6pm today with the showers continuing until around noon Friday. The good news is the weather should clear in time for the popular Bourbon Street private balcony parties scheduled for Friday and Saturday nights - though it will be chilly, likely dipping into the 30's Friday night and low 40's Saturday night.

Above: View from the Parked.com balcony at last year's Domainer Mardi Gras conference.
 Below: Revelers on the street clamor for beads from the domainers above.

Though the weather will be less than ideal, this is New Orleans - a town where a little rain and cold weather will never stop a good party (especially when the city is already rocking in a non-stop celebration of the Saints Super Bowl win Sunday). A bigger disappointment is that several attendees that people were looking forward to seeing are stranded by the snowstorm in the Northeastern U.S. and won't be able to make the conference.

Attorney John Berryhill, who was scheduled to speak on a Friday afternoon panel about New gTLDs had to cancel because he cannot get out of Philadelphia. Likewise blogger Elliot Silver, who is based in New York City, said it is not looking good for him either. His airline, Jet Blue, cancelled his Wednesday flight and has no room to re-ticket him until Saturday. Other airlines want an arm and a leg for a one way ticket out so it  looks like he is out of luck. I'll be flying over to New Orleans from Tampa, Florida this afternoon and no problems are anticipated from here. Those of us who make it to the Big Easy will raise a toast to our friends in the Northeast who remain snowed in and hope that you are able to dig out soon.   

I'll have daily updates from the conference for you in this column Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings (the show closes Saturday night). The first full day of business kicks off tomorrow morning at 10:30am (local time) with a panel discussion called Show Me the Money! that will focus on new domain monetization models. After a lunch break Andrew Allemann (DomainNameWire.com) and I will join moderator Michael Ward for a wide ranging Reporter Roundtable discussion that I think will be informative and a lot of fun. You can check out the full show agenda here

Now it is time to start packing and get on my way.  I'll see you back here tomorrow morning with photos and highlights from tonight's opening activities at Domainer Mardi Gras!

(Posted Feb. 11, 2010) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

First Video Interview in Morgan Linton's New Domainvestors Television Series is Online - Dozens More to Come 

In our comprehensive review of the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Las Vegas conference that ran Jan. 21-23 at the Hard Rock Hotel I noted that Morgan Linton was there shooting dozens of video interviews for an ambitious new series called Domainvestors TV. This week Linton posted the opening episode in the series and I had the honor of being his first guest. You can see the approximately 12-minute interview here

Linton filmed more interviews at the DOMAINfest Global conference that ran Jan. 26-28 in Santa Monica, California and he now has a wealth of material in the can that will be steadily released in the weeks and months ahead. 

Linton said he wanted to put together a series with industry experts so that people interested in learning about domains and investing in them will have a diversified video resource they can go 24/7 for the kind of information they need to get a running start in the business.

I feel confident that Morgan's enthusiasm for the business, excellent interviewing skills and the high technical quality of his videos will attract a sizeable audience and help spread the word about the many 

Morgan Linton (left) interviewing Rick Silver 
(N49 Interactive) at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Las Vegas
 for an upcoming episode of Domainvestors TV

opportunities in this industry. I'm looking forward to the upcoming episodes that will feature a virtual who's who of the domain business and I'm sure I will pick more than a few valuable tips myself.

One other note today - the .PRO Registry announced  plans for releasing one, two and three-character .PRO domain names over the remainder of the opening quarter of 2010. The release schedule posted at www.registry.pro/123 says the first phase of the release and allocation 

process is Request for Proposals (RFP), which opened today. Interested parties can submit proposals detailing their qualifications and how they intend to use and promote a name if awarded. According to the release schedule, names not awarded through RFP will also be made available through two additional allocation methods: auction and first come, first served general availability

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Castello Brothers Speak at the Local Online Advertising Conference in New York, Sedo Releases Their Latest Market Survey & Oversee Teams Up with NameMedia

The ever-increasing importance of the Internet to local advertisers drew a large crowd to the  Borrell Associates' Local Online Advertising Conference that ended today in New York City at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. The domain industry was well represented there as the Castello Brothers, David and Michael, spoke this morning in a session wryly titled "While You Were Sleeping...These Guys Ate Your Lunch!" Their audience included many executives from traditional media outlets who are trying to survive the historic transition from old platforms to the web.

Michael Castello (left) and David Castello of Castello Cities Internet Network, Inc. 
speaking today at the Local Online Advertising Conference in New York City.

The session notes pointed out that while local media companies use the Internet to protect their assets, hungry entrepreneurs are building out independent Websites and tuning them exactly to the specs of consumers' and advertisers' needs. They include sites like Toledo.com, MyrtleBeach.com, SanDiego.com, and the Castello Brothers' Nashville.com and Palm Springs.com sites.  David & Michael were introduced as representatives of a new class of scrappy and innovative geodomain operators whose sites generate enough revenue to rival that of big in-market competitors such as local newspapers and city magazines. 

The Castello Brothers were scheduled to fly to New Orleans tomorrow for the Domainer Mardi Gras conference that gets underway Thursday night. However, David told me that snowstorms in the Northeast are causing cancellations of nearly all flights out of New York, including their own. They hope to fly 

Thursday which would still get them into the Big Easy before the show begins that evening. They are scheduled to speak at DMG Friday afternoon in a session titled So You Think You Can Build A Site? Lessons Learned and Pitfalls to Avoid in Developing a Site.

I have a couple of other notes to pass along to you today. Sedo.com has released their latest Domain Market Study, a 2009 Overview and 4th Quarter Highlights. Sedo said they saw strong growth in 2009 sales compared to 2008, with  a good portion of that boost coming from the fourth quarter when sales rose 5% versus the same quarter a year ago.  Sedo accounted for 11 of the 20 biggest sales reported to us in 2009 handling such blockbusters as Fly.com for $1.6 million, Russia.com for $1.5 million, Call.com for $1.1 million and Brazil.com for $500,000


Jeff Kupietzky
Oversee.net President & CEO


In another announcement, NameMedia and Oversee.net said that Oversee will join NameMedia’s Domain Listing Service at AfternicDLS.com, opening a new sales channel for Oversee's massive domain name portfolio. Oversee President and CEO Jeff Kupietzky said “NameMedia has built the industry’s largest global reseller network for domain names, particularly for retail buyers and small and medium businesses. DLS will help Oversee tap into this retail channel and expose its inventory to millions of customers looking for a premium domain name.”

Kelly Conlin, Chairman and CEO of NameMedia, added “Oversee’s portfolio is one of the largest in the world and will significantly enhance the size of the inventory offered to NameMedia’s reseller network." AfternicDLS reached retail buyers of premium domain names through its websites at Afternic.com and BuyDomains.com and through a network of over 40 distribution partners, including many of the world’s largest registrars. 

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Stars Lining Up For Domainer Mardi Gras - Saints Super Bowl Win Promises to Take This Week's Show to a New Level

With the publication earlier this evening of our comprehensive review of the DOMAINfest Global conference that ran in Santa Monica, California January 26-28, I've finally completed our coverage of the two domain shows that got the New Year off on the right foot (our review of the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Las Vegas conference that was held the week before DOMAINfest at the Hard Rock Hotel went up Sunday). 

Those two pieces have a lot of photos and details that you didn't see in our daily Lowdown  coverage from the events. When the shows are underway, the action is pretty much non-stop from sun-up until well past midnight each day so there is no way to do in-depth coverage without holing up in your room and missing the things you are there to cover in the first place. That is why I spend a few days after I get back from each show thinking about what happened and trying to put it all into perspective with a  comprehensive wire to wire report on each event. I also think it is important to have a thorough review on the record as each major meeting is another chapter in the history of our industry

The outside world may not appreciate what is happening in this business yet, but I believe the 

day is coming when Main Street will sit up and take notice and finally realize the major role that domain names play in the new media world and the future of advertising and marketing. When those businessmen and women are ready to do the research I want them to have a body of work available that will make the job easy for them. Everything I've written over the past seven years has been done with that historical context in mind.

Now that DOMAINfest Global 2010 and T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Las Vegas are in the books, the deck is clear for me to head over to New Orleans Thursday for what is suddenly shaping up to be the event of a lifetime. The Domainer Mardi Gras conference will run Thursday through Saturday (Feb. 11-13) in the Big Easy - smack dab in the middle of the world famous Mardi Gras celebration. A lot of us found out what that was like last year when DMG made a successful debut. That

was more than enough to convince me to book flights to the 2010 encore, but now you add in the New Orleans Saints first Super Bowl win ever (a 31-17 stunner over the Indianapolis Colts Sunday) and you just know things are going to be completely off the hook in NOLA during DMG.  

That doesn't mean we won't get some work done. They've got some great content lined up too (see our DMG Preview interview with the show's Executive Director Michael Ward for more on that). So, even though I just unpacked from the 10-day road trip to Las Vegas and Los Angeles, I am really looking forward to DMG this week because it looks like the stars have lined up in such a way that they are going to wind up with the whole enchilada when it comes to holding a truly unforgettable event. 

I will of course have daily updates for you in this column starting Friday morning (the first event is the big Crawfish Boil and Parade Viewing Thursday night). Then a week or so after the show, I'll write a comprehensive report on an event that looks like it will be a standout chapter in the ever growing book of domain business history.

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Sweden's .SE Registry Claims Victory Over .Com as ccTLDs Enjoy Growth Spurt in Major Markets Around the Globe 

One of the most interesting trends in 2009 was the growth spurt we witnessed in ccTLD sales despite a global economy going through one of the worst economic downturns in the past century. As we noted in our latest monthly newsletter, the total dollar volume of ccTLD sales reported to us in 2009 soared 28% above the total for 2008. This happened even though total sales reported for the entire domain aftermarket slid 12.5% year over year.  Clearly the major country codes have been outperforming the market as a whole, and doing so by a very impressive margin. 

Yesterday, I  ran an item about increasing interesting in Australia's .au extension, especially now that registry operators there have removed some of the severe restrictions on .au ownership (prior to mid 2008 resale of .au domains was prohibited - talk about a damper on aftermarket sales!). Today I ran across an article about surging ccTLD sales in another market - Sweden. 

Sweden's country code is .SE and this headline on the .SE registry's website caught my eye - The .SE Domain Dominates the Swedish Market While .Com is Receding. The article says that according to a report published in January 2010 by the government commissioned Central Bureau of Statistics (SCB), "The .se domain is growing stronger while .com is losing its’ foothold in Sweden."  According to SCB’s report, IT Use By Enterprises 2009, 88% of all companies chose to register .se addresses, while 32% opted for .coms.

Danny Aerts, the CEO of the .SE registry said, “We see the same trend internationally.  Country code top-level domains, like .se, are growing faster compared to the generic top-level domains, like .com, .net and .org, in other markets as well.  In Sweden, .se  is the obvious top-level domain choice for companies.  Now we are also clearly seeing that smaller companies and individuals are to a larger extent choosing .se over other top-level domains." 

According to the SCB, Swedes are choosing .com less often. In 2008, 42% chose .com among companies with more than ten employees, but in 2009 .com's market share among those companies fell 6% to 36%.  Small companies with less than ten employees went in the same direction. In 2008, 34% of those companies chose .com, while in 2009 that number shrunk to 28%.

At the end of 2009 there were 936,428 active .SE domains, a 12% jump from the 834,004 that were registered at the end

of 2009. Sweden is just one of several nations that are seeing strong growth in use of their local ccTLDs. These high growth ccTLD markets (as well as blossoming IDN usage around the world) are creating welcome new opportunities for domain investors looking to diversify their holdings.

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With the ccTLD Market Booming Drop.com.au Joins the Growing Competition for Expiring Australian Domains 

Two weeks ago at this time I was sitting on the opening panel discussion at the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Las Vegas conference talking about the growing aftermarket for ccTLD domains (some hard data from that talk is included in our latest monthly newsletter). At that show and again at 

the DOMAINfest Global conference that ran last week in Santa Monica, California, I ran into Fabulous.com's long-time Business Development Director Mike Robertson, who is taking advantage of the ccTLD boom with Fab's new drop-catching service at Drop.com.au

The service focuses on catching expiring games in Australia's .au extension (most 

notably .com.au and .net.au) and they have had a lot of success. As of mid-January, Robertson said Drop.com.au had caught over 82% of the domains they went after. As with most dropcatching services, you can enter as many names as you wish and you only pay if they are successful in getting the domain. When multiple orders exist for the same name, the caught domains go to auction, but even in that format the prices have remained very reasonable with the average sale price being just over AU $43 since the service opened last May. As more players have entered the space, that figure has been steadily rising in recent months and hit AU $73 in December.

With the growing interest in Australian ccTLDs the competition is getting stronger for the best keywords too. Drop.com.au's top five sales have been Printing.com.au (AU $9,221), MotorHomes.com.au (AU $5,556), LiveMusic.com.au (AU $4,501), FinancialAdvisor.com.au (AU $3,889) and MotorSport.com.au (AU $2,531)

When I was in Australia for the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Down Under conference that Fabulous staged in November 2008, I couldn't help but notice the .com.au domains on signs and billboards everywhere I went. I also couldn't help thinking that the extension could be a big hit in the aftermarket if the severe restrictions on .com.au ownership were relaxed. Prior to the middle of 2008 .com.au domain owners weren't allowed to resell names at all

The space is less regulated now, which is opening up aftermarket activity, however there are still some restrictions on who can register and own .au domains. That 

doesn't mean you can't invest though. Robertson said Drop.com.au can get overseas customers set up so they can participate in the Australian domain market. You can learn more about Drop.com.au services in this PDF file.

You might also want to review some of the interesting monthly reports released by AusRegistry.com on growth in the .au space. For example, their December report shows that the  total number of .au domains registered grew over 23% from the previous year to more than 1.58 million. With the aftermarket for this great nation now beginning to open up, I expect we will also see more transactions and higher prices for .au domains in our weekly domain sales reports in the months and years ahead. 

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The ccTLD That Represents a Place Where No One Lives! Plus 5 More That Serve Areas With Less Than 1,000 Residents 

Peter Alguacil at Pingdom.com has a knack for turning up very interesting tidbits of information about the world of domains. I got a note from him while I was in Los Angeles covering DOMAINfest Global last week telling me about a new post on his site detailing the most sparsely populated places on earth that still have their own country code 

domain extensions. One of them even has NO residents whatsoever. I finally got a chance to check out his research this evening and it is interesting indeed.

Have you seen many .hm domains around?  Well, if you have seen even one, you have seen more of them than there are people living in the place the extension represents - the Heard and McDonald Islands. They are barren, uninhabited volcanic islands in the middle of the ocean between Africa and Antarctica that are officially a territory of Australia. Peter noted that the primary reason that any .hm domains have been registered at all is that .hm has been marketed (with little success) as an abbreviation for "home."

Not far behind .hm in the race for most unnecessary ccTLD is .pn - an extension that represents the Pitcairn Islands - a cluster of four volcanic islands in the southern Pacific Ocean that is a former British colony. Total population: 50. You probably have more pairs of socks than there are people in the Pitcairn Islands! 

Now let's start moving toward the more urban centers. With a population nearly triple that of the Pitcairns is the French Southern and Antarctic Lands who, despite having only 140 residents, have their own extension too - .tf. This place also consists of a number of islands spread over a large area in the Indian Ocean. Peter said "There is no permanent population; merely a group of military personnel, scientists, officials and support staff."

Compared to some places with
their own ccTLDs, Antarctica 
is downright crowded!

Things are considerably more congested on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, another Australian territory, where the .cc extension represents 596 residents. As most of you know, about a decade ago this extension was marketed as the second coming of .com. Unfortunately, it never quite arrived.

Two other places with their own ccTLDs, despite having populations below 1,000 are Vatican City (826 people) represented by .va and Ascension Island (a UK Territory with 940 people) represented by .ac.

Antarctica (.aq) just misses the cut with a population of 1,000 even. Obviously, still plenty of elbow room there and, I would imagine, some pretty decent unused keywords. Better check first and make sure the Nexus rules don't require you to live there though!

For details on several other sparsely populated places with their own ccTLDs, check out Peter's article which also explains how these remote places wound up with their own domain extensions in the first place. 

(Posted Feb. 3, 2010) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

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Over-Reaching AOL Loses a Battle in Their Trademark War Against Advertise.com - Will Decision Impact the Aborted $1.4 Million Sale of Ad.com?

A Federal Appellate Court has ruled against AOL and given Advertise.com the right to continue doing business under their generic domain name.  A three-judge panel representing the 

9th Circuit Court of Appeals stayed an injunction that would have required Advertise.com to stop using the name, which according to AOL, violates a trademark they hold for Advertising.com. AOL said that Advertise.com was tricking companies into believing that it was affiliated with AOL's Advertising.com and the shorthand term they have used for that site - Ad.com - despite the fact that AOL doesn't even own the domain Ad.com

Advertise.com argued that whatever marks AOL registered for Advertising.com are generic, and therefore, subject to cancellation. The court did not give a reason for its 2-1 decision in favor of Advertise.com but the fact that generic words are at the heart of the dispute was likely a key factor.

Moniker's John Mauriello (left) with 
Divyank Turakhia
immediately after 
Turakhia placed a $1.4 million 
winning bid for Ad.com in April 2009.

With respect to Ad.com, AOL believes the owner of that name is also infringing on their Advertising.com mark and they have applied for a trademark on Ad.com to buttress their claim (others say their claim to the generic domain and trademark application are a blatant attempt at reverse domain hijacking). The possibility that AOL would go after the owner of the Ad.com domain name scuttled a $1.4 million sale of the domain that was made during a live auction at the April 2009 T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Silicon Valley conference. Directi Co-Founder Divyank Turakhia placed the winning bid of $1.4 million but soon after the auction ended he learned that AOL was claiming rights to the name. Believing that he had been sold an expensive legal dispute with the Internet giant that he had not been aware of, Turakhia declined to complete the sale, which resulted in the seller, Marcos Guillen, and the auctioneer (Oversee.net's Moniker.com) filing a suit against Turakhia's company. 

The stay of the injunction against Advertise.com does not end their legal battle with AOL, but it was an important round for Advertise.com to win. If the appellate process ends with AOL's claims rejected once and for all, as we believe it should, that would also clear the way for the owner of Ad.com to complete a sale of his domain without unjustified interference from AOL who threw a monkey wrench into his seven-figure transaction.

(Posted Feb. 2, 2010) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Domain Auction to Raise Funds for Haiti Earthquake Victims + Why Rick Latona  is Riding a Bicycle from Atlanta to New Orleans

I returned from my 10-day west coast conference swing over the weekend and immediately started whittling away at the work that piled up while I was away covering the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Las Vegas and DOMAINfest Global conferences (we expect to publish comprehensive review articles of both shows within the next 7 days). During the trip, my Lowdown posts were focused on bringing you daily photos and highlights from the conferences. Now that I'm back I want to bring you up to date on some other happenings around the industry.  

First, on Friday of this week (Feb. 5), Sweden's MissDomain.com will open a special week-long online charity domain auction with all proceeds going to Haiti earthquake relief efforts being undertaken by UNICEF. Domain donations are being accepted until Feb. 4 (email [email protected] for donation details). The auction is being supported by both the .SE and .NU domain registries. You can get more details on the auction here.


In another piece of news from Europe, the sunrise period for .LU (Luxembourg ccTLD) IDN domains opened today and will continue through March 31. This sunrise period if open only to those who already hold a .LU domain and want to register IDN equivalents that will allow companies and individuals to acquire names in their own languages and alphabets (Three languages are widely used in Luxembourg; Luxembourgish, French and German). In a related note, as of today, domain registrants who live outside Luxembourg are no longer required to give power of attorney to a Luxembourg based agent in order to register and manage .LU domains.

The AfternicDLS and SmartName have a free webinar coming up Thursday (Feb. 4) at 2pm (U.S. Eastern time) on The one-hour sessionis titled Discover the Top Domain Parking and Selling Strategies for 2010. Topics to be discussed include: 
How to use simple, efficient, and free solutions to make you more money you’re your domains.
• Why enhanced PPC should be part of your monetization strategy.
• When to use, ecommerce, and content solutions.
• Specific examples and techniques to help you achieve your goals for your domains.

You will also have a chance to ask your questions in a Q&A session that will conclude the webinar. You can reserve your free seat here: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/792040306

I was surprised and impressed to see a post on Rick Latona's blog today announcing that he and Latonas.com President David Clements have begun a 10-day bike ride from their homes in Atlanta to New Orleans where they will celebrate completion of their journey at the Domainer Mardi Gras conference that opens Feb. 11

Rick Latona (left) and David Clements are riding bikes from Atlanta to New Orleans.

Latona explained that he decided the marathon bike ride was the best way to get in shape for next month's Kili 2010 Climb. On March 1st Latona will join several other domainers, Internet professionals and adventurers from around the world who will be climbing the great Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa in an effort to raise awareness and funding for sustainable clean water solutions (via The Water School) on that continent. I wish Rick and David a safe ride across the deep south and congratulate them for what they are doing to draw attention to this very worthy charity.

Speaking of Domainer Mardi Gras - even though the host hotel - the New Orleans Marriott - is now completely sold out for the show, DMG Executive Director Michael Ward tells us he  held back some rooms so if you need one, contact him immediately ([email protected]) to see if he can  transfer a room to you. You can

still register for the show here. To learn more about what will be happening in the show, check out our conference preview article, featuring an interview with Michael.

(Posted Feb. 1, 2010) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

If you've been out of the loop lately, catch up in the Lowdown Archive!

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