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February 04, 2018

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The Lowdown
y 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.

Today is a major national holiday in the United States - Memorial Day - when we pause to remember U.S. soldiers who died while in the military service. This is a day I always think about my best friend from childhood - Ron Poole. We met when we were both five years old and stayed close from elementary school through high school. He joined the Marines after graduation and ten weeks after being sent to Viet Nam, still in his teens, was killed when he stepped on a land mine. Getting that news and spending time with his mother on the day it came was one of the saddest days of my life. The sacrifices our soldiers and their families have made over the years in service to our country is almost beyond comprehension. My thoughts (and thanks for their service) are with them today.
(Posted May 31, 2010)

Weekend News Round Up: T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Vancouver Update - Photos from T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Milan - Registration for DOMAINfest Europe Opens - Nelson Brady Responds to $33 Million Lawsuit - E.co is Going Up for Bid

What is shaping up to be the biggest T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference of the year to date gets underway a week from Tuesday (June 8) at the Renaissance Vancouver Harbourside Hotel in Vancouver, British Columbia. Canada's first ever T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference will run through Thursday, June 10. Conference organizers (led by Rick Latona) have updated the show's website with new details on the daily conference agenda.

I will be one of the panelists (along with Neustar's Ken Hansen and WebNames' Steve Smith) for T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Vancouver's first seminar on June 8th starting at 11:15am. The session is titled ccTLDs Are Taking Over the World - Is North America Immune? and much of the discussion will center on the prospects for America's .US extension and Canada's .CA TLD.

One of the day two highlights in Wednesday, June 9 will be a 1pm Fireside Chat with John Demco, the man who conceived the .CA country code domain in 1987 and served as the

.CA pioneer John Demco with T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
conference moderator Rick Silver (right).

extension's initial Registrar. Demco chaired the .CA Domain Committee until 2000, participated on the Canadian Domain Name Consultative Committee (which made recommendations concerning the structure and organization of .CA) and helped establish the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) where he continues to serve on the Board of Directors. 

John is often referred to as the "Godfather" of .CA and in 1997 he was recognized by Canada's Prime Minister as a founder and builder of the Canadian Internet.

Day two will conclude with a .CA only live domain auction from 4:00-6:00pm. The big all-extension main auction will provide the show's grand finale the next day (June 10) with that live auction slated to run from 3:45-6:45pm local time. 

Speaking of T.R.A.F.F.I.C., I had a previous commitment to speak at and cover the 2010 GeoDomain Expo in New Orleans at the same time the last T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference was running in Milan, Italy in late April. Conference moderator Rick Silver's lovely wife Debbie took plenty of photos though and those have now been posted online here. Rick also sent me the shot below from the Latonas.com auction in Milan that generated over half a million dollars in sales.

Scene from the Latonas.com live domain auction at T.RA.F.F.I.C. Milan in April 2010.

In another conference note, Oversee.net's DomainSponsor unit has announced the agenda and opened registration for their DOMAINfest Europe conference coming up in Prague, Czech Republic October 6-7, 2010. You can save a lot of money if you register before July 1. A $395 early bird rate is available until then. If you wait until October it will cost you $695

The opening day will include a series of educational seminars, power networking sessions and a live domain auction while day two will be dedicated to the 

registrant's choice of several unique excursions around Prague. Those are designed to help attendees build meaningful personal relationships by sharing one-of-a-kind experiences in the historic host city.

Oversee.net Senior Vice President Peter Celeste said, "From start to finish, our goal is to create an atmosphere and experience that fits with our DOMAINfest Europe theme: Building Bridges. Building Success. And for the first time ever, we will offer free on-site interpreters in select languages to help the largest groups of non-English speaking guests get the most out of their DOMAINfest experience."

Nelson Brady AKA "Hank Alvarez"

In another piece of important Oversee related news this week, Nelson Brady, a former VP of Oversee's SnapNames.com auction unit, admitted to shill bidding activity while he worked for the company. When Brady was caught he lost his job and is now facing a $33 million lawsuit filed against him by Oversee. 

As Domain Name Wire reported Wednesday, Brady's response to the Oversee lawsuit cited a desire to raise money for future health care needs as the primary motivation for opening an account under a pseudonym ("Hank Alvarez"), an account he used to acquire names for himself as well as to increase the amount other bidders paid for his company's names. 

Excerpts from his response said, "Brady mistakenly and wrongly believed that increasing other bidders’ bids would help a small number of SnapNames and Oversee employees other 

than Brady retain their jobs by creating better financial health for the companies....Brady’s mother suffered from a genetic neuromuscular disorder and died at age 56 wheelchair bound...Brady has the same symptoms as his mother....All these symptoms have gradually worsened as Brady ages (he is currently 54).... Brady’s use of the Hank Alvarez account to purchase domain names and accumulate savings for long term health care was driven by his intense fear that at some future undetermined time he will become incapacitated like his mother." You can read Brady's complete response here

Wrapping up our weekend news roundup,  Sedo announced they will support the introduction of the .CO TLD by powering a charity auction for an extremely attractive domain name - E.CO. The auction will run from June 7 at 12 pm EDT to June 10 at 4 pm EDT and will be hosted by the .CO registry, .CO Internet S.A.S., at Internet Week, a festival in New York City celebrating all things Internet. 

The last hour of bidding – June 10 from 3-4 pm EDT - will be conducted live from Internet Week’s broadcast stage and simulcast at both the Internet Retailer conference in Chicago and the  

T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference  in Vancouver, allowing show attendees at all three events and online participants from around the world to be a part of the action. In an especially nice twist, all proceeds will go to the charity of the buyer’s choice.

Juan Diego Calle, CEO of .CO Internet S.A.S., said “Since the dawn of the Internet, the letter “e” has come to signify all things electronic – from email and e-commerce to online exploration, education and entertainment – and everything in between. When paired with the .CO domain, the letter “e” takes on an even greater significance – offering buyers “perhaps the shortest, most memorable digital brand in the world – a domain name with endless possibilities.”

(Posted May 29, 2010) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Highlights from Verisign's 25 Years of .Com Gala Held Wednesday Night in San Francisco

Verisign staged the 25 Years of .Com Gala (that we previewed last week) on Wednesday night (May 26) in the ballrroom at San Francisco's City Hall. The gala, co-hosted by comedian Dana Carvey and Sun Microsystems Co-Founder Scott McNealy, was part of a year-long 

celebration to mark the 25th anniversary of the world's most popular extension. Aron Meystedt, the current owner of the first .com domain ever registered - Symbolics.com - was among those recognized by Verisign President & CEO Mark McLaughlin at the gala. Aron dropped me a note today to fill me on what he called a "great event - top notch all around!"

The highlight of the evening came when 25 people and companies (selected by a distinguished panel of some of Silicon Valley's elite) were honored for being remarkable innovators, entrepreneurs and companies whose inspiring contributions were fundamental in shaping the Internet. Scott McNealy was one of those selected (you can see the complete list of honorees here).


Verisign President and CEO Mark McLaughlin 
(left) with Symbolics.com owner Aron 
at the 25 Years of .Com Gala Wednesday night (May 26) in San Francisco.

Dana Carvey kept the crowd laughing and also proved he recognized the importance of a good domain name when he recounted what he had to go through to acquire DanaCarvey.com. "It turned out that a guy in Florida owned the name and when I called him, he wanted to know how  he could be sure I was really Dana Carvey. So I had to do a bunch of impressions to convince him!," Carvey said as he demonstrated with his well-known impressions of President George H.W. Bush and actor/Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

McNealy tried his hand at humor too, reading off his list of "10 Reasons I'm Surprised We Are Celebrating the Internet!". Those included Facebook "for ensuring that anyone under 20 is never employable" and CraigsList "for getting Tiger Woods, Elliot Spitzer and most of Congress in trouble" (a reference to escort services who advertised on the site). McNealy acknowledged that he wasn't as funny as Carvey, but he was quick to add he wasn't being paid either!

VeriSign also used the occasion to announce a grant program designed to promote and foster new research to strengthen the Net’s infrastructure. Toward that end VeriSign will fund four $75,000 research grant that are to be awarded this fall. The recipients will then present their findings at symposium in Washington D.C. in June 2011.

(Posted May 28, 2010) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

CentralNic's Joe Alagna Details How the Registry Services Provider Utilizes the World's Greatest Collection of 2-Letter .Com Domain Names

In yesterday's Lowdown post I ran a video interview with CentralNic Founder Robert Pooke who owns the world's greatest collection of 2-letter .com domain names. Pooke's 2-letter portfolio includes 23 geographically relevant domains including US.com, UK.com, EU.com and LA.com to name a few (the full list is on this page). That interview, recorded at this year's 

DOMAINfest Global conference in Santa Monica, California, focused on how Pooke managed to assemble such a valuable group of domain names in the first place. The same day I interviewed CentralNic's General Manager of North American Markets, Joe Alagna, for the other side of the story - details about how the company utilizes their 2-letter portfolio.

In a nutshell, CentralNic's business model involves selling sub-domains of their core 2-letter domains, offering third level names that end with extensions like .us.com, .uk.com and .eu.com through a number of major registrars including Enom, Name.com and Register.com to name just a few. With most meaningful .coms long gone, the CentralNic domains provide an alternative that still ends with the popular .com extension. For example if you were an American business named ABC Widgets you would find that the .com is already taken, but CentralNic's ABCWidgets.us.com would be an available option.

Joe Alagna
CentralNic, General Manager,
North American Markets

In this ten-minute interview Joe provides much more background on the CentralNic platform and how the company is faring with the sub-domain business model they introduced back in 1995 (a date that makes CentralNic the industry' second oldest registry services provider, behind only Verisign).


(Posted May 26, 2010) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Video Interview With the Owner of the World's Greatest 2-Letter .Com Collection - CentralNic's Robert Pooke

Wouldn't it be great to own a meaningful 2-letter .com domain like US.com, UK.com, EU.com or LA.com? Or perhaps an NO.com, DE.com, CN.com or SA.com. Well, as it happens one guy, Robert Pooke,  owns all of those domains and many more (including AR.com, BR.com, RU.com and SE.com to name a few more). Pooke has used his domains as the foundation for CentralNic, a registry services provider that sells sub-domains of those geographically relevant 2-letter gems.

When I was in Los Angeles for the 2010 DOMAINfest Global conference in January, Joe Alagna, CentralNic's General Manager of North American Markets, set up an interview with Robert for me. Joe, who has been bitten by the web video bug, videotaped the interview and recently sent me a copy of his recording. I'm making it the first video ever posted on DN Journal because the story of how Robert Pooke acquired all of those great domains and how he decided on his current business model for them is one that few people have heard before. I hope you find it as interesting as I did in doing it.


After talking to Robert I also had Joe Alagna, who is a very well known figure in the industry, sit down in front of the camera for an interview that goes into more detail about CentralNic's platform and services. I'll have that video for you in my next Lowdown post.

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

TechCrunch Launches New Website on a .CO Domain

In our April newsletter (2nd item on the page) I wrote about the .CO registry's innovative Founder's Program that is awarding high profile domains to early adopter developers who submit the best plans for a relevant .CO website. Today the registry announced that Michael 

Arrington's popular TechCrunch blog is one of the companies that has been awarded a .CO domain - in this case Disrupt.co - that will be used to host the “Startup Battlefield” for the TechCrunch Disrupt 2010 conference.

TechCrunch Disrupt brings together both the innovators of disrupting technology and media and the companies that are successfully turning disruption into opportunity. The Disrupt.co website will showcase all of the ideas, products and services from emerging companies that were chosen from hundreds of applications to battle it out as the top startup of 2010.  

Arrington said, “We are excited to be one of the first companies to use a .CO domain as a way to further our engagement with our online readers, partners and event attendees. Like the other companies featured at TechCrunch Disrupt, the .CO domain is set to disrupt the status quo that exists in the world of web addresses — and will offer startups and established businesses new opportunities in online branding.” 

.CO Registry CEO Juan Calle

.CO Internet CEO Juan Calle said, "It is very exciting to see the TechCrunch Disrupt website built on a .CO web address. We are thrilled to showcase some of the best emerging companies of 2010 on Disrupt.co and look forward to an ongoing relationship with TechCrunch as one of our earliest .CO Founders.” 

In addition to TechCrunch, other .CO Founders like Politico, Transitions Optical, and Venture Hacks, have recently launched new web sites built on .CO domain names. The .CO Founders Program is open to all qualified applicants from individual bloggers to small businesses, agencies and big brands, as a way to encourage early development of the .CO namespace. 

The .CO global sunrise period (when qualified trademark owners can claim domains) is currently underway and will continue through June 10. Land Rush will be held June 21-July 13, followed by general availability of .CO domains beginning July 20.

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

Two New Domain Industry Websites Launch and Two Existing Sites Unveil New Features

Over the past couple of weeks I've received several notes letting me know about the launch of some new domain industry websites as well as the addition of new features at existing sites that you might like to check out. Everyone likes to save money so Gazi Cotak's new 

DomainPromoCodes.com site will likely find a place on a lot of bookmark lists. DomainPromoCodes tracks discount codes offered by more than 20 of the world's largest registrars. Cotak said they manually check the codes to make sure they are working and frequently monitor them once they have been

added to the site.  You can also set up alerts so you will be notified when your favorite registrar releases a new discount code. DomainPromoCodes also allows users to share, rate and comment on registrar promo codes. 

Another useful new resource is DomainGroovy.com - a site that categorizes and rates the best ways to find domain names. The list of links on the site are divided into eight categories. You will find sites offering  the Best 

Tools, sites that allow you to search Available & Expired domain lists, services that Generate names from random words or synonyms you enter, a similar section that has sites that take your Keyword List and create names and a Type It category where you type in a domain name and the sites search multiple extensions to find the ones that are available for registration.

There is also an Auction & Paid category where you will find registered domains that are up for sale, a section listing Domain Forums and another featuring Brand Name Generators that can create brand names for your business. 

Existing sites aren't standing still either. In December we told you about a new premium domain sales site, SimpleDomains.com, that was launched by industry heavyweight Andrew Miller who was featured in our September 2005 Cover Story. At the time almost all of the domains offered on the site were owned by Miller's company but he said he might eventually open listings up to others. He has just done that but Miller noted, "We are being very selective, only listing generic dotcom names that meet the criteria of our owned names." You can submit your domains for consideration here

Miller also writes a blog you might like to check out. His most recent post (as of this writing) features a video from a panel discussion he participated in at the Milken Global Conference held last month in Los Angeles.

Andrew Miller

Howard Neu

You may also recall that in January we told you about a new domain sales site launched by T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founder Howard Neu and Danny Pryor at BestDomainsWebsite.com. They started off with a low fixed price format, but, in case you think the price isn't low enough, they've just introduced a Make Offer button. The seller can accept or decline your offer. In the near future the site plans to add a counter offer option to make it possible to conduct extended negotiations.

Speaking of Howard and Danny, they will both be featured on the next installment of Owen Frager's Domain Success webinar series Tuesday night (May 25) at 9pm (U.S. Eastern Time). Danny, who is a veteran radio broadcaster will interview Howard (who I have often referred to as the domain industry's Renaissance Man due to his broad array of talents). In a session titled Howard Neu Bares All (I'm wondering if Howard's wife Barbara signed off on this!), Danny said Howard will 

share what he knows about "Internet Law, Domain Investing, PPC, CPA, Development, his business partner Rick Schwartz, Spaceballs, and much more!" Sounds like listeners are in for a very enlightening hour. You can register for your free seat at the webinar here. 

(Posted May 21, 2010) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Verisign Planning Blowout Party in San Francisco Wednesday to Celebrate .Com's 25th Anniversary 

The .com extension turned 25 years old this year and as part of a year-long celebration to mark the anniversary of the world's most popular extension, Verisign (the operator of the .com registry) will hold a special 25 Years of .Com Gala, hosted by comedian Dana Carvey, on 

Wednesday (May 26) in San Francisco. One of the special guests who will be recognized at the event will be Aron Meystedt, the current owner of the first .com domain ever registered - Symbolics.com. Meystedt, who runs XF.com Investments, was profiled in our September 2009 Cover Story

The 25YearsOf.com website said the Wednesday gala will honor "the innovators, entrepreneurs and companies whose inspiring contributions were fundamental in shaping the Internet and, thereby, forever changing the way we think and act as individuals and as a society."

A highlight of the day will be recognition of the .Com 25 - "the 25 people and/or companies whose inspiring contributions were fundamental in shaping the Internet and, thereby, our world." A panel of Silicon Valley influencers will select the ".Com 25" honorees who will be recognized


Aron Meystedt - owner of Symbolics.com
(The first .com domain ever registered)

at a dinnertime awards ceremony Wednesday. The .com 25 will be selected from a group of 75 people or companies who were nominated (you can see the full list of nominees here). We'll get a first hand account from Aron after the Gala to let you know what it was like to be there. 

By the way, there are some very interesting video interviews on the 25YearsOf.com website featuring CEOs from ten of the biggest companies in the Internet business, including Bob Parsons (GoDaddy.com), Richard Rosenblatt (Demand Media), Jeff Kupietzky (Oversee.net), Bhavin Turakhia (Directi) and Tim Kelly (Network Solutions) to name a few. To view the videos go to this page and look in the right hand column (headlined Meet the Domain Pioneers). Under the headline you will see 10 company logos with a brief description of each company. Click on the More link next to each logo to bring up the page with the interview featuring that company's CEO.

(Posted May 20, 2010) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Another 6-Figure Domain Sale + New White Paper Educates End Users on How Generic Domain Names Can Boost Their Business 

The recent surge in high end domain sales continued this week with another 6-figure sale. We reported the name in this post earlier today, but at the request of one of the parties involved in the transaction we have removed the name (they did not know an NDA request had been made when they provided us with the sale information). YummyNames.com and BuyDomains.com worked together to close the $125,000 deal.

The high value of generic names made available on the domain aftermarket also happens to be the subject of a new white paper - Exploring the Domain Aftermarket (.pdf file)- that was just published by DomainAnimal.com Founder Michael Curving. In a concise and well-written 9-page report Curving details how business owners can use generic domains to help grow their enterprises. 

For those actively marketing their domain names, this paper could be a useful resource to send potential customers who want an explanation of what constitutes a good domain name and why quality domains routinely sell in the four and five figure range (with true blue chip domains going even higher). Anyone can download the paper at no charge. 


Curving said, "Domain names can play a substantial role in the marketing of a
business, product or service, yet their significance still flies under the radar of most in the business world. I'm routinely surprised by the resistance met to domain acquisitions by most businesses. They tend to view (domains) in terms of cost, rather than value. The paper points to the evidence of the value of generic keyword domains in improving Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to facilitate traffic and lead generation, as well as lowering advertising costs, including pay-per-click advertising."

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

Photos and Highlights from the DOMAINfest Ft. Lauderdale Power Networking Day

The popular DOMAINfest conference series introduced a new show format Thursday, May 13 with their one-day DOMAINfest Ft. Lauderdale Power Networking Day at the W Hotel in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Due to a prior family commitment out of state I wasn't able to attend the event, but our friend Steve Kaziyev of CityGuideMedia.com was there and was kind enough to shoot some photos and take notes for us so we could share some of the highlights with you.

As you can see from the photo above, an excellent crowd turned out for the event at the oceanfront W Hotel. In the photo below, Jeff Kupietzky, the President of DOMAINfest parent Oversee.net, kicks things off with a talk about the latest Internet Trends.

Jay Berkowitz, author of Ten Golden Rules, followed with a well received keynote address covering SEO, SEM and Social Media best practices designed to drive more traffic to websites and improve conversion rates. After a lunch break, it was time for two hours of power networking. Four seperate stations were set up with experts addressing a specific topic at each. Attendees could circulate from station to station to listen or ask the experts questions about their area of expertise.

Above an below: shots from a couple of the power networking sessions 
Thursday afternoon (May 13, 2010) at DOMAINfest Ft. Lauderdale.

Next up at 4pm was Moniker.com's Live Premium Domain Auction, an event that went exceptionally well with nearly $2.4 million in sales recorded. The biggest sales were Dating.com at $1.75 million, BoardGames.com at $450,000, Therapists.com at $50,000, Antidepressants.com at $30,000 and GolfResorts.com at $22,500.

After the auction, DomainSponsor hosted a 7:30pm outdoor networking dinner party. Those who still weren't ready to go home after dinner were invited to gather in Craig Snyder's room (Craig is the General Manager of Oversee's Registrar and Aftermarket division) where lively conversations continued until around 2am.

Among those on hand for  DOMAINfest Ft. Lauderdale were (left to right 
in the photo above): Steve Kaziyev, Scott Ross, Bari Meyerson and Lonnie Borck.

The oceanfront W Hotel proved to be a popular choice as the show venue. Enjoying the Atlantic Ocean view from the hotel balcony are (left to right in the photo below): Donny Simonton, Steve Kaziyev, Bari Meyerson, John Yeomans, Tony Cassala and David Evanson.

DOMAINfest has another Power Networking Day coming up August 18, 2010 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City. Judging from its maiden voyage in Ft. Lauderdale, it looks like the DOMAINfest Power Networking Day is a concept destined for success. 

(Posted May 15, 2010) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Six and Seven Figure Domain Auction Sales This Week May Help Re-Ignite the Domain Aftermarket

As of Wednesday when our latest weekly domain sales report was released, three seven-figure domain sales had been completed so far in 2010, but all of those were at or just above the $1 million mark (Photo.com at $1.25 million, Flying.com at $1.1 million and Poker.org at an even $1 million). In the past couple of days there are indications that high ticket domain sales are heating up along with the temperature as summer approaches. 

Moniker.com says they have brokered a deal to sell Slots.com for $5.5 million and they expect that sale to close next week. As I write this, Moniker's live domain auction at the DOMAINfest Ft. Lauderdale conference is underway and another domain, Dating.com, has gone for seven figures there - $1.75 million to be exact. Another name, BoardGames.com, went just shy of the half million dollar mark at $450,000

Moniker's Ft. Lauderdale sale attracted mainstream media attention from one of Florida's major newspapers, the Sun Sentinel. An article by Arlene Satchell about the auction and the aftermarket in general was published last night. Though blockbuster sales have always been a rarity compared to the overall market (where hundreds of domains change hands every week at four and five figure levels) they are very beneficial to the industry at large because nothing draws the general public's attention like a seven-figure domain sale. 

Seven-figure domain sales are starting to 
re-appear. Is this a sign that the domain 
aftermarket is ready to take off again?

Those who have been around for a few years will remember that the news of Rick Schwartz's $1.3 million sale of Men.com in late 2003 triggered a turnaround in the domain aftermarket which had been in a tailspin since the 2000 .com bust. A powerful five year market expansion followed the Men.com sale before the global recession applied the brakes again in 2008. The sales we're hearing about this week could be just what the doctor ordered to rev things up once again.

One other note today - Francois Carrillo (founder of Domaining.com, Valuate.com, BargainDomains.com,  and a number of useful sites) has rolled out yet another valuable free service with a ClosingAuctions feature at Domaining.com (this section has its own tab on the Domaining.com home page). 

The free service shows you domains that will be closing within 24 hours at almost all of the major auction services including Afternic.com, Sedo.com, GoDaddy.com, Latonas.com and BargainDomains.com. Carrillo said AuctionPus.com will be added in the next day or two with SnapNames.com scheduled to come onboard in another week or two. You can sort and filter domains to meet your personal criteria and the service is a great time saver because now you can keep track of what is about to close across the industry's main sales venues in one convenient spot. 

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

DOMAINfest Ready to Introduce New Conference Twist With One-Day Power Networking Event in Ft. Lauderdale Thursday

As we wrote about in our February 2010 Cover Story, domain conferences are popping up everywhere these days. To stand out from the crowd, show organizers are trying out new

locations, formats and pricing plans to attract attendees and spread the "domain gospel". Oversee.net's DOMAINfest conference will roll out a new one-day power networking format for the first time Thursday (May 13) at the W Hotel in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

They have put together an impressive agenda that will include a live Moniker domain auction from 4:00-7:00pm (U.S. Eastern time). The sale is packed with high profile domains including Dating.com, Jeans.com, BoardGames.com and HardDrives.com to name just a few (you can view the entire auction catalog here). 

The conference and auction is drawing mainstream media attention. Today I was interviewed by Arlene 

Satchell, a reporter from the Sun Sentinel (the leading newspaper in the Ft. Lauderdale area), for a piece she is doing on the domain aftermarket after hearing about Thursday's event. 

This is a story that would not have been written if DOMAINfest had not taken their show on the road, bringing more people's attention to opportunities in the domain space. While I remain a fan of the established multi-day conferences (including Oversee's superb annual DOMAINfest Global event) I think the affordable one-day format taken to a variety of locations will really help get the word on domains out to people who might never have been exposed to them otherwise and that is good for everyone in the industry. 

Unfortunately I have a previous out of state family commitment this week so will not be able to be in Ft. Lauderdale. However, I have arranged coverage of the event so we will be able to bring you some photos and highlights from the show when it is over. 

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

T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Vancouver Registration Prices Drop "So Low They Are INSANE!" 
+ Have Lunch With Morgan Linton Tuesday

When Rick Latona announced today that he was slashing the registration price for the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Vancouver show coming up June 8-10 to just $395, the first thing I thought 

of was the Crazy Eddie electronics ads that blanketed TV in the Northeastern U.S. in the 1970's and 80's. A "crazy" character played by radio DJ Jerry Carroll would scream "Prices so low they're INSANE!" and the phrase became burned into many viewer's minds. Latona may not be insane, but that is one heck of a bargain price for a T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference, especially one that would likely have drawn a big crowd anyhow. 

Vancouver is almost the domain industry equivalent of Mecca given how many legendary domainers have come out of that area (Frank Schilling, Kevin Ham and Garry Chernoff to name a few). Just about everyone I've talked to in recent weeks was planning to go before the price cut was announced so now I'm expecting the Renaissance Vancouver Harbourside Hotel (where the show will be held) to really be rocking next month. 

T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Promoter Rick Latona

To meet his lower price point, Latona has dropped  some of the perks associated with past T.R.A.F.F.I.C. shows including sumptuous meals (Vancouver will have only a daily brunch) and fabulous parties at night (an opening night cocktail party is the only official evening function on the Vancouver agenda). Latona has done his research though and after having the vast majority of respondents tell him networking is the most important thing to them, he is betting fewer frills is a tradeoff a lot of people will accept in an exchange for a conference fee that meets their budget. 

Still it is a huge departure from what has been the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. "brand" in the past. Going forward it will be interesting to see how the show positions itself against all of the other competitors in the space. As of today, T.R.A.F.F.I.C has become the low cost leader among major multi-day conferences though.  

Morgan Linton (left) interviewing 
Rick Silver
(N49 Interactive) for 
his Domainvestor TV series.

One other note today, Owen Frager has lined up another solid guest for the next edition of his Domain Success Power Lunch series. Morgan Linton (and at least one unidentified friend) will be the special guest on the webinar that will run from 2:00-3:00pm (U.S. Eastern time) Tuesday (May 11). 

You can expect Morgan to discus domain monetization, his series of Domainvestors TV interviews, domaining seminars in his home town - Los Angeles - and other ventures of his, including ccTLD Investors Magazine and the 3rd edition of his Domain Flipping ebook. You can reserve a free seat at the webinar by registering here

Looking a little further down the line, 

T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founder Howard Neu has been slated for the May 25th Power Lunch. Registration is also now open for that webinar here. 

(Posted May 10, 2010) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

No Sale of SanDiego.com Friday - Noteholder Forecloses and Takes Control of the Domain

As we reported last Monday SanDiego.com was scheduled to be sold in a foreclosure auction Friday (May 7). This morning I  received information about what happened Friday from 

Fred Mercaldo (the owner of Scottsdale.com who was elected President of Associated Cities last week). Mark Burgess, the founder and original registrant of SanDiego.com, asked for Mercaldo's assistance in handling communications about the SanDiego.com situation.

Mercaldo wrote that, according to Burgess, this is what happened Friday: "Jim Fitzpatrick who just bought San Diego Magazine back from CurtCo and Randy Frisch, former CFO of the San Diego Union-Tribune, both showed up, but Robert DeuPree, the investor holding the notes used to foreclose, met them in the lobby and told them they had to have a check ready to fill out and that the bidding started at $3 million, which is about $50,000 less than the combined notes he held.  Neither had the ready check, so both bidders left.  Deupree then presented the foreclosure notices to James, the manager of the LLC (that held SanDiego.com), and took possession of the assets and asked us all to leave."

Mercaldo went on to quote Burgess as saying, "So now, the LLC we created last September, in which I had ownership, is assetless and owes thousands in payables and hundreds of thousands in unsecured loans - including my severance and $100,000 note which was the other half of what I was to be paid for selling. That company will just die in place. So it's over for me with SanDiego.com, except for my history as founder for the last 15 years."

"In early 2008, I had other offers that would have taken me out of control of the domain but left me with nearly $500,000 in free cash. I allowed this deal to take 16 months (June 2008 - Sept 2009) because I thought I was 

Fred Mercaldo

Mark Burgess

bringing on a partner to work with to grow SanDiego.com faster than I had done alone with slim resources in the past. Turns out he wanted the company for himself. While I believe relationships are the fabric of business, he told us "don't take it personally, it's just business."  Mercaldo said that Burgess told him the LLC started with $1.4 million in debt and that the debt had grown by an additional $1.6 million by the time the foreclosure took place Friday.

Mercaldo noted, "Mark and I both served on the Associated Cities Board of Directors the past three years and he has become a very close friend of mine. Surely Mark would have made different decisions in retrospect, but there is no denying the sadness that is shared by many of us in the GeoDomain industry regarding Mark's fate and his loss of control and ownership with SanDiego.com.  I can tell you Mark is blessed with a terrific mind, work ethic, family, fiancé, friends, and spirit. Mark will move on, learn from this, and no doubt thrive. Mark can be reached at [email protected]. 

(Posted May 10, 2010) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

People & Companies in the News: Directi's Divyank Turakhia, Sedo, IDN Newsletter and DNS.com

Directi Co-Founder Divyank Turakhia, who was featured in our September 2008 Cover Story, continues to build a reputation as one of the world's brightest young businessmen. The 28-year-old entrepreneur, who is based in Mumbai, India, started programming computers when he was 8 years old and he was a millionaire by the time he was 18! 

Divyank and his brother Bhavin founded Directi in 1998 and since then they have grown it into a company with a valuation of over $300 million, approximately 600 employees and over 2 million customers around the globe. Despite his phenomenal success, Divyank has kept his feet solidly on the ground and he is one of the nicest people you will ever meet. 

In view of all of that it is no surprise that Divyank caught the eye of Bloomberg's UTV Network in India and they recently aired an inspiring 22-minute video profile about Divyank that I highly recommend watching. 

Divyank Turakhia
Directi Co-Founder

On another front, Sedo reported a record number of domain sales in a Q1 2010 Domain Market Study (.pdf file) that they released this week. The company said that nearly 12,000 domains changed hands via the Sedo marketplace during the quarter, accounting for more than $23 million in transactions. This marked Sedo’s best quarter for domain sales since 2008 and represents a 36% jump in dollar value vs. the same quarter a year ago and an 18.6% increase in the number of sales compared to the previous quarter - Q4 2009.

During the quarter, Sedo said it witnessed a surge in both generic gTLD and ccTLD (country code) domains, including several blockbuster sales like Poker.org for $1 million, Credit.fr for €587,500 and Pilot.com for $300,000. The Sedo report said, "Overall, the strong 

growth in the domain name market this quarter can be attributed to an increase in marketing spend among larger corporations, as well as the introduction of one and two-character domains and IDN domains that use non-Roman scripts."

The .com extension remained the most popular gTLD at Sedo, accounting for 76% of gTLD domains sold. The average price of a .com domain was $2,373. Among ccTLDs, Germany's .de extension was the frontrunner accounting for 38% percent of ccTLDs sold. The European Union's .eu extension moved into second place at 36%, a surge that Sedo said can be attributed to the launch of new IDN domains under .eu in Q4 2009 and the beginning of Q1 2010.

Congratulations are also in order today to IDNNewsletter.com who Register.com has chosen to broker a select portion of their vault full of premium IDN domains.  IDNNewsletter is run by Gary Males and Aaron Krawitz, the duo who also founded IDNTools, IDNBlog and IDNDemystified.

Krawitz said "it is an honor to have been given access to Register.com's IDN vault, and we doubled our efforts, hiring multiple sets of native speakers and consulting with our colleagues as we vetted and priced these names."  Males added, "IDNNewsletter is serious about catering to our many newsletter subscribers and there are some tremendous bargains that you will be seeing in the coming weeks." 

Among the names that will be up for sale are ラブ.com ("Love" in Japanese) and כיף.com ("Fun" in Hebrew"). The IDNNewsletter / Register.com launch is planned for the first week of May and will be exclusively going out to IDNNewsletter subscribers.

In closing today, I want to send a belated shout out to Daniel Kimball and Sean Stafford of managed DNS provider Comwired.com, who while I was away covering the GeoDomain Expo last week, announced that they had acquired the industry's category-defining domain name, DNS.com, in a private transaction. 

With this great domain in hand, Kimball, the company's CEO, also announced the launch of the company's most advanced hosted DNS solutions at DNS.com where a new website details pricing and plans targeting the enterprise market. 

Kimball said, "This opportunity was the next step in solidifying our position in the DNS marketplace while also giving clients a peace of mind that they are being supported by a highly-robust, and economically practical DNS solution. Like many of our customers, we pride ourselves on being a technology and service-oriented business. The DNS.com domain is a powerful asset which will help expand our online community through increased name recognition and memorability." 

Again proving the power of a great generic domain, Kimball added that the DNS.com name has provided the company with a 700% increase in the online audience for the company's DNS service. Having built the first enterprise-class DNS network with local geo-

Daniel Kimball & Sean Stafford
Comwired Inc./DNS.com

aware capabilities, Comwired Inc. serves websites that require maximum protection against DNS-based online attacks and other forms of downtime. In addition to selling directly to businesses and consumers, the company offers its hosted DNS services via resellers including web hosting companies and domain name registrars.

I've gotten to know Daniel and Sean well over the years and have a great deal of respect for both of them both personally and professionally. If you are in the market for DNS services you won't find more reliable people to work with. 

(Posted May 6, 2010) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Innovative Domain Auction Service Bido.com Abruptly Calls It Quits

I was surprised and saddened to get today's news that innovative domain auction service Bido.com is closing down effective tomorrow (May 5). As some of you know, I was one of the four original founders of Bido (my role was minor and short lived as I left before the site went

live in 2008), along with Sahar Sarid, Darren Cleveland and Jeff Bhavnanie. I have had no special insight into how the company has been faring since 2008 but of course noticed the many changes along the way that produced a site that was dramatically different than the original concept. Those changes were no surprise to me though. From the start Sahar said he planned to let the marketplace be his guide and adapt accordingly. 

Sahar eventually teamed up with Jarred Cohen to implement a number of unique elements for an auction site, including

Bido.com's Sahar Sarid & Jarred Cohen

some very cool social media twists. Unfortunately, despite their best efforts, the revenues needed to keep the venture going never materialized. I hated to see their hard work and investment go down the drain but it happens to just about every entrepreneur at one time or another along the way. The good ones take what they learn from the projects that don't succeed and use that experience to make the next one better.  

External forces also had a lot to do with Bido's plight. Since the site debuted, the number of competing auction services exploded at the same time buyers became more conservative in of the worst recessions of the past century. That is a tough environment to get a start up off the ground, especially against entrenched and well capitalized opposition like Sedo, Moniker, SnapNames and the AfternicDLS

I'm sure you haven't heard the last from Sahar and Jarred though. Setbacks sometimes turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to you as they send you off in a new direction that produces success you never would have known had the previous enterprise continued. I experienced it myself when the Internet put our local brick and mortar record stores out of business in 2000 after a 12-year run. I had to start all over again but it turned out to be a massive blessing in disguise as my search for a new venture led me to the domain industry and a continuing 8-year love affair that has been the best time of my life on almost every level. I wish the same for Sahar and Jarred when they make their next move. 

(Posted May 4, 2010) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

SnapNames and Parent Company Oversee.net Files Suit Against Formed VP and Alleged Shill Bidder Nelson Brady

SnapNames.com and its parent company Oversee.net today announced they have filed suit against Nelson Brady in federal court in Oregon ( Portlan d district). The company said that Brady,    

a former SnapNames VP, used the false name “Hank Alvarez” to improperly bid in certain SnapNames auctions. A company statement said, "In some cases, Brady also embezzled funds from Oversee by fraudulently refunding himself a share of the purchase price for names he won." The suit seeks to recover $33 million from Brady, including punitive damages. 

The official statement added, "For several months, the company has in good faith attempted to settle privately with Brady to recover its losses, including the rebate fund established by Oversee to address Brady’s activities and the funds he embezzled from Oversee. Those settlement efforts have been unsuccessful."  

Oversee and SnapNames discovered the fraudulent activity in the fall of 2009 and notified its customers and employees of the situation last November.  Oversee made available to affected customers a cash rebate in the amount they

Nelson Brady
Former SnapNames VP

overpaid due to Brady's activity, plus 5.22% interest (the highest applicable federal rate during the affected time period). SnapNames said that since that time, more than 60% of the aggregate rebate amount has been claimed.

In a comment on how Brady's actions impacted the company the statement said, "Oversee will be demanding millions of dollars from Brady for the damage he caused to Oversee and SnapNames.  No amount of money, however, could compensate the damage Brady has caused to SnapNames’ and Oversee’s reputation in the marketplace."  

With respect to any criminal charges against Brady, the company statement said "In November 2009, Oversee voluntarily disclosed Brady’s conduct to both the U.S. Attorney’s Office and to the Federal Trade Commission.  Oversee will not publicly discuss anything relating to law enforcement matters. "

(Posted May 4, 2010) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

SanDiego.com To Go Up For Sale in a Foreclosure Auction Friday (May 7)

I have learned that the assets of SD Acquisitions LLC, owner of the SanDiego.com domain name, will go up for public auction at 5PM (Pacific Time) Friday (May 7), in the SanDigeo.com offices at 610 West Ash Street, Suite 1405, in San Diego. 

Mark Burgess, the founder of the company and the original registrant of SanDiego.com, said that two notes secured by the domain name and the rest of the company assets were foreclosed on; one representing about $2.6 million held by Blackthorn Equity and another for $500,000 held by North American Equity Partners with both firms acting for Robert DeuPree, formerly of American Internet

Services.  Burgess said that DeuPree put another $700,000 into the company that gave him 37% equity.  

Mark Burgess

Burgess said an independent assessment done by local media experts Borrell Associates estimated the value of SanDiego.com to be as as high as $8 million, given the appeal of the San Diego market. SanDiego.com is already a well developed site that Burgess indicated was doing around $700,000 annually in ad sales and search revenues. 

Burgess noted that Borrell believes those revenues can be increased significantly. "Without properly applied marketing dollars and enough sales people, SanDiego.com was likened to a potential world-class marathon runner without a coach, a sponsor or registration in the race or a 16-year-old Elvis picking his guitar in his room in Tupelo, Mississippi," Burgess said. "As original registrant of the domain name and founder of the company, I agree. The site receives a very high amount of direct traffic that gives the site a chance to convert like no other site related to San Diego." 

Burgess added, "It's not a technology play, it's a publishing play and that expertise will be required to take it to the next level.  I believe the domain name and the business opportunity is worth a lot more than $3 million and I am hoping that someone will acquire the assets and build a successful and profitable website that will serve the citizens and visitors to San Diego."

One other note today. I just returned home over the weekend after spending last week covering the 2010 GeoDomain Expo in New Orleans. Our comprehensive show review article will be published within the next seven days. Next up on the conference schedule is the one-day DOMAINfest Ft. Lauderdale power networking event coming up Thursday, May 13 at the

Hotel. The conference will run from 10:30am to 10:30pm on that day. The show agenda has been expanded to include a keynote from Jay Berkowitz, the CEO of TenGoldenRules.com.

Highlights also include an update on Internet Trends from Oversee.net CEO & President Jeff Kupietzky and a two-hour power networking session after lunch. The remainder of the afternoon will devoted to four panel discussions. The first will be a session offering Website Development Tips and Success Stories that will feature Brian Gilbert, Rick Waters, Howard Yeh, Mike "Zappy" Zapolin. Another devoted to Keyword Tools and Tactics in Buying Domains and Acquiring Traffic will follow featuring Jay Berkowitz, John Carcutt, Pablo Conde and Jean-Pierre Khoueiri.

Rounding out the panel program will be a session on Domain Buying, Selling & Valuation Trends featuring Monte Cahn, Bob Mountain and Kathy Nielsen and a Legal Q&A discussion of Intellectual Property & Domain Names featuring Ari Goldberger, Zak Muscovitch and Joel Magolnick

Next up - from 4-7pm - will be Moniker's Premium Domain Auction. Conference organizers said hundreds of domain names at all price points and covering numerous categories will be auctioned at the Ft. Lauderdale auction. The grand finale will be a Dinner Networking Party from 7:30-10:30pm hosted by DomainSponsor.com.

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

Closing Day Photos & Highlights From the 2010 GeoDomain Expo in New Orleans

The 2010 GeoDomain Expo completed a successful run Friday night (April 30) at the historic Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans. The final day of the three-day event opened with Ari Bayme (ModernCapital.com) and Kim Mac Leod (Regional Media Advisors) conducting a seminar on Finding the Exit Door - Cashing Out Now or Later. They provided valuable tips on partnership and development deals as well as maximizing the value of your site should you decide to put it on the market.

Ari Bayme

Kim Mac Leod 
Regional Media Advisors

In  the next morning session, Bruce Marler (Missouri.me Network), Fred Mercaldo (Scottsdale.com) and Vic Chabra (Chitika.com) were featured in a panel discussion on Developing Any City - how to make the most of any local geodomain asset. We'll have more details on this and all of the other business sessions in a comprehensive conference review article that will be published next week.

(Left to right): Bruce Marler (Missouri.me Network), Fred Mercaldo (Scottsdale.com) and Vic Chabra (Chitika.com) on the Developing Any City panel.

At the noon luncheon the Internet Commerce Association's Legal Counsel Phil Corwin brought attendees up to date on ICANN policy issues and legal threats to domain owners. A few months ago it appeared that the ICA might disband due to lack of financial support from the domain community but thanks to generous donations from a handful of companies and individual domain owners, the organization was able to re-organize and allow Corwin, who is based in Washington, D.C., to continue doing his valuable work on behalf of the industry. 

After lunch it was time for the Expo's keynote address, delivered by GetARoom.com Co-Founder David Litman. Previously Litman co-founded Hotels.com and grew the company from a $1,200 initial investment into a corporation that sold in 2003 with a valuation of $5.5 billion! The theme of Litman's talk was Conservative Entrepreneurship - ways to build a business with minimal risk.

Phil Corwin
ICA Legal Counsel

David Litman
Co-Founder, GetARoom.com

The Expo closed with a pair of afternoon business seminars. In the first Jessica Bookstaff (eDestinations) and Sara Mannix (Mannix Marketing) offered tips on Creating a Unique GeoDomain Image. Jessica's company operates PigeonForge.com and Durango.com while Sara's firm runs a number of successful geodomain sites in upstate New York including LakeGeorge.com and Saratoga.com.

Jessica Bookstaff (left) and Sara Mannix 
talked about Creating a Unique GeoDomain Image.

In the closing session, NewOrleans.com Co-Owner Don Jones moderated a panel devoted to Building Your Local Business Directory. The panelists were James Chubb (eDirectory), Dawn Paduganan (Local.com) and Doyal Bryant (Universal Business Listings). 

(Left to right): James Chubb (eDirectory), Dawn Paduganan (Local.com), moderator 
Don Jones (New Orleans.com) and Doyal Bryant (Universal Business Listings) 
closed the business day with a session on  Building Your Local Business Directory.

The 2010 GeoDomain Expo closed with a Friday night dinner that saw attendees taking over several tables on the top floor of celebrity chef Donald Link's Cochon Restaurant - a New Orleans hot spot famous for its Cajun food (Link was on hand and autographed copies of his Real Cajun cookbook for guests who wanted to take copy home).

One of the Cochon Restaurant tables occupied by 
GeoDomain Expo attendees last night in New Orleans.

Associated Cities, with the help of local host NewOrleans.com, produced another memorable GeoDomain Expo. With its unique single-minded focus on developing domains into real businesses, the Expo has a special place on the conference calendar and it continues to provide exceptional value to its attendees. More on the show to come in next week's complete conference review article. 

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

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