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August 27, 2012

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The Lowdown
ly 2011 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.

Oversee.net President & CEO Jeff Kupietzy Stepping Down as Family Plans Move to Israel

After five years with Oversee.net, the past two-and-a-half as the company's President and CEO, Jeff Kupietzky is leaving the company effective at the end of August. While there have been rumors that Kupietzky might be departing, the official word came this afternoon in a statement released by Oversee.net's Communications VP Mason Cole.

Cole wrote: "I am confirming the departure of Jeff Kupietzky from his executive role with Oversee at the end of August. After five years with the company and the last two and a half years as CEO and President, Jeff has elected for personal reasons to relocate his family to Israel.  The day-to-day operations and strategic vision for Oversee will be led by the company’s Co-Presidents, Debra Domeyer and Scott Morrow. They are supported by an operating committee which includes CFO Liz Murray, and General Counsel Todd Greene."

Jef Kupietzky
Departing Oversee.net President & CEO  

Oversee.net Co-Founder Lawrence Ng

Board Chairman and Oversee co-founder Lawrence Ng said, “On behalf of the Board and all Oversee employees, I thank Jeff for his service to the company. He successfully navigated the company through some difficult challenges and positioned it as an industry leader. We all wish him the best of luck in his new home and as he continues his successful career.”  

In a September 2010 Cover Story we detailed Kupietzky's life story. The Columbia University graduate, who also holds a Harvard MBA, will be taking his wife Carolyn and five children to their new home in Israel.

Ng expressed his confidence in the company’s leadership going forward, saying “We feel extremely fortunate to have such a talented team of executives who are well respected throughout the industry. We are extremely confident in their knowledge and capabilities, as well as their passion to lead us to our next chapter of growth.”

(Posted July 29, 2011) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founder Howard Neu Enters the Parking Business - But Not the One You Think!

Parking has been a staple of the domain business for the past decade so it probably won't surprise you to hear that T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founder Howard Neu has entered the parking business. What will surprise you is that it's not domain parking - it is old school automobile parking! Of course, being an Internet guy, Howard's new venture does involve a website - a clean booking platform designed by Danny Pryor located at NationalParkAndFly.com that just opened yesterday (Tuesday, July 26). 

Howard is actually second in command at the new company where he serves as Secretary. His daughter, Wendy Goldberg, is the President and the one responsible for luring Howard into a new line of business. As it happens, Wendy is no stranger to conventional parking as she owns a parking lot near the airport in tourist mecca Orlando, Florida

Howard Neu  

Here's how it all came together. Earlier  this year Wendy opened a drive-away business (delivering cars to customers at locations they specify) for rental cars in six Florida locations; Orlando, Tampa, Ft. Lauderdale, Ft. Myers, Miami and Jacksonville and she also has an exclusive drive-away business deal with the major auto auctions in the state, leading her to hire 200 drivers and support personnel.

At the same time, Howard, who is always trolling for meaningful domain names, noticed that NationalParkAndFly.com was unregistered. So he grabbed not only that domain, but every geo targeted Park and Fly domain for all of the major airports around the country, including OrlandoParkAndFly.com, TampaParkAndFly.com, etc. Howard said the parking lot that Wendy owns

near the Orlando airport wasn't being fully utilized so by marrying that property with his new  category defining domains a new web based booking business was born (National Park and Fly, Inc.). 

With the click of a mouse travelers can now order a parking spot in Orlando that comes with immediate shuttle service to and from the Orlando International Airport. The daily rate at the secure lot is just $5.95, a big discount from airport garage rates. For a few dollars more you can have your car sparkling clean inside and out when you return. The company offers a wash and vacuum service that costs less than at full-service car wash locations in the area. Howard said the company plans to open up in a new area every 2 to 3 months with Tampa, Ft. Myers, Las Vegas and New York LaGuardia first on the expansion list.

Another feature the company expects to add by the Labor Day weekend is a nationwide database featuring airport travel information including flight delays and airport travel conditions. Use of the database will be free to all website visitors whether they are reserving a parking spot or not. 

With falling PPC rates over the past few years, a lot of people have been looking for an alternative to parking,  but who would have guessed that one alternative to parking would be parking!  

(Posted July 27, 2011) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Morgan Linton Launches DomainTheft.org in Effort to Stem Stolen Name Sales 

Domain investor/developer Morgan Linton has seen fellow domain owners victimized by domain thieves far too often, so he has decided to try to do something about it. Linton just launched his solution, a new centralized domain database service at DomainTheft.org designed to let buyers and sellers know if any given name has been reported stolen by its owner. 

Linton said that all of the domains listed as stolen at DomainTheft.org will be verified by a proprietary algorithm called DTVS (Domain Theft Verification System). Linton noted, "DTVS does an initial check to ensure that the theft report is valid, then sends it to a member of DomainTheft.org’s task force for investigation." To offset operational costs, Linton 

said domain owners will pay a small monthly fee ($5 per month for a basic listing or $10 per month for a premium listing) to publicize their stolen domains in a database that is available to every major domain name sales platform and marketplace, including platforms like eBay and Flippa

Morgan Linton
Founder, DomainTheft.org  

Linton said, "If every marketplace checks our database before listing a domain for sale it will not only dramatically reduce the number of stolen domains, but also improve the chance of recovery. Along with listing domain names in our database we have dedicated recovery agents that will work with registrars and law enforcement agencies to recover stolen domains." 

Of course, considerably more work would go into a recovery effort than a domain listing but, in a novel approach, Linton said that rather than charge a set price, DomainTheft.org will let domain owners decide what the service was worth to them and pay accordingly for successful recoveries.

Linton noted that law enforcement agencies currently do not have a procedure in place to track domain theft and generally nothing is done. He added, "Most domain registrars

and marketplaces try to stay-out of these situations as well and assume zero responsibility for the loss, even if the customer put their life-savings into the domain. There have been no domain name police, theft database, or recovery agents, until now."

“Our goal is big and the challenge is even bigger, but we think that we can make a huge impact in the Domain Name Security space," Linton said. "If everyone checks our database before they buy a domain name, it will be almost impossible for thieves to sell domains. By making it harder to sell stolen domains, thieves will become less inclined to even attempt a theft."

(Posted July 26, 2011) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Marc Ostrofsky Profiled in New Cover Story - Adam Dicker Opens Domain College - MTV Shines a Light on Lizzy Grant & DOMAINfest NYC Auction Deadline is Friday

Everyone in the domain business knows who Marc Ostrofsky is. He made domain names a global news story when he sold Business.com in a deal valued at a then world record $7.5 million in 1999 and he is back in the spotlight this year as the author of the best selling book Get Rich Click! The Ultimate Guide to Making Money on the Internet

While Ostrofsky's name has been synonymous with domains names for more than a decade, domains are just the latest chapter in a much bigger entrepreneurial success story that hasn't been told in its entirety until now. We put together the whole story in a new Cover Story that fills in the blanks and unveils many little known facts about the Houston-based entrepreneur and his many business ventures. One of the most interesting personal tidbits is the close link Ostrofsky has to one of the Three Stooges (in fact his middle name comes from that association!) If you thought you knew everything there is to know about Ostrofsky, think again! You can read the article here. 

Marc Ostrofsky
Author of Get Rich Click!  

Adam Dicker

Elsewhere, a former DN Journal cover boy, DNForum.com owner Adam Dicker (who we profiled back in 2005), has just launched an admirable new project at DNFCollege.com. It is a free domain course in which Dicker shares tips from his vast experience in buying and selling domains. He also provides advice on some of the best tools available for domain investors.

Dicker said sharing his knowledge through his DNF College is his way of paying it forward after more than ten very successful years in the domain business. "I learn something new every day in this industry so I don’t know everything, however I know what works as it worked for me," Dicker said, adding,  "I  have made mistakes over the years but have learned from them and I would like to pass on my teachings so others don’t make the same mistakes."

Nearly 150 "students" have already registered for the course. More background about DNFCollege.com can be found in this release.

In another item with yet another connection to someone who has been the subject of a  DN Journal Cover Story, Lizzy Grant (stage name - Lana Del Rey), the up and coming recording artist who is the daughter of noted domain investor Rob Grant, continues to make waves in the music business. Lana was the subject of a rave review published in the Style section at MTV.com last week. 

Writer Gaby Wilson wrote, "If you haven't heard of Lana Del Rey, YOU WILL SOON because we are convinced that this gorgeous crooner is going to be everywhere ASAP...The enormously satisfying juxtaposition of old-school glamour plus inexplicably morose contemporary images in her music video plus super-duper prettiness is completely blowing our minds."

You don't get much higher praise than that (and I completely agree with it). Also be sure to check out Lana's new video for her song  "Video Games" that is at the end of the MTV column.

Lizzy Grant/Lana del Rey

One other note today - Friday (July 29) is the deadline for submitting domains for the Moniker/SnapNames online auction that will be open in conjunction with the DOMAINfest

 New York City meet-up coming to the Big Apple Tuesday, August 23. A pair of seven-figure sales (involving Social.com and Data.com) resulted from publicity surrounding the last DOMAINfest auction (held in conjunction with DOMAINfest Europe in June). If you can get a name or two into the NYC sale it will undoubtedly give your domains an always welcome boost in visibility.  

The New York meet-up will take place from 7-10 pm at the Mad46 Rooftop Lounge, located on the 19th floor of the Roosevelt Hotel at Madison Avenue and 46th Street. Networking opportunities, food and drinks are included in the $150 registration cost. 

The associated auction begins on Tuesday, August 23 at 12 Noon US Eastern time (9am Pacific) and concludes on Tuesday, September 20, 2011 at 3:15pm. Eastern (12:15pm Pacific).

(Posted July 25, 2011) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

It's Official - Domain Thief Daniel Goncalves Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison in Precedent Setting Case

Last December I told you that a convicted domain thief named Daniel Goncalves would likely be spending five years in prison after pleading guilty in a plea bargain arrangement with the 

New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice (NJDCJ). That is the stretch in the Big House that the NJDCJ recommended and today it became official. Goncalves was sentenced to five years for stealing the domain name P2P.com from Internet entrepreneur Marc Ostrofsky and selling it on eBay.com for $121,000 to former NBA basketball player Mark Madsen Goncalves was sentenced before Superior Court Judge Stuart Peim in Union County, N.J. following a guilty plea to multiple criminal counts. Had he not pled out, Goncalves could have received 15 years in the slammer. 

In this landmark case, Goncalves became the first domain thief in history to be criminally prosecuted in the 

United States. Ostrofsky and his partners Albert and Lesli Angel worked to track down Goncalves with the New Jersey Cyber Crimes unit.  The successful prosecution sets a major precedent in that there are no laws currently in place to protect domain name theft. States like California consider an internet domain name similar to a piece of real estate. If it’s stolen the owner may have a remedy to get it returned but it’s a long and expensive process, However, most other states like New York or New Jersey consider the domain name a piece of “intellectual property” similar to a copyright or trademark, and owners have no legal recourse to get back that stolen asset.  Domain name owners hope that this case will instigate new legislation that will protect these valuable properties. 

Ostrofsky, a domain industry pioneer, is also author of the New York Times best-selling book Get Rich Click!, The Ultimate Guide To Making Money Online. He initially gained famed for selling Business.com in a transaction valued at $7.5 million in 1999. High profile transactions like that one helped to fuel interest in domain names as investment assets, but laws creating remedies for victims of domain theft have lagged behind market developments.  

Albert Angel

Marc Ostrofsky

Albert Angel, who spoke at the sentencing, said “in our effort to redress the injuries inflicted on us, we came to appreciate how undeveloped this area of the law is, and how victims of domain theft face an unmarked and totally uphill battle to get a remedy. Today’s sentencing helps to define a path for other victims and law enforcers to follow, and reinforces the likelihood that the theft of a domain can and will be prosecuted.”

The industry owes a debt of gratitude to the Angels and Ostrofsky for the years they spent pursuing this criminal and bringing him to justice. The prospect of going to jail is something other domain thieves will now have to take into consideration when contemplating whether or not they want to commit this crime.

(Posted July 22, 2011) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Fueled by Multi-Million Dollar VC Investment Domain Holdings Charges Into the Domain Development Race With DomainPower.com

The Domain Holdings Group that was founded just a year ago by former DN Journal Cover Boys John Ferber and Chad Folkening (along with partner Erik Simons) continue to make major waves in the domain industry. The company announced it has received a $2.9 million investment from Valhalla Partners, WWC Capital and BrokersWeb Inc. Founder and CEO Matias De Tezanos (who was also the subject of a DN Journal Cover Story in 2005), as well as other angel investors.

Most of that money is going to re-launch the company's beefed up domain development platform, Rapid Domain Builder, under a new name and address at DomainPower.com. With more horsepower under the hood, DomainPower provides a turnkey solution for domain owners, offering vertical-specific frameworks for quick SEO-ready website development, site enhancement plug-ins and multiple revenue opportunities, all managed in one location. 

Domain Holdings CEO Jason Boshoff said, "We are excited to come out of stealth mode with a new look to our award-winning platform (Editor's note: Rapid Domain Builder won the

judge's award in the Pitchfest Contest at DOMAINfest Global in 2010). This gives users a powerful domain management and monetization solution that can help identify the overall status of a domain portfolio, recognize growth opportunities and, overall, offers easy management." 

The redesign's primary focus was a new user interface, developing a larger selection of vertical-specific frameworks and adding domain portfolio management solutions. The newly launched UI features an upgraded dashboard, sortable by individual domain performance or a full portfolio performance overview, with real-time updates of site and portfolio statistics. Updates include revenue, traffic, traffic sources, keywords and other site vitals integral to the growth, health and maintenance of domains. 

On a related note,  last week I reviewed a new state of the art platform at Protrada.com that makes acquiring, managing & monetizing domains a breeze. At the time the company was offer a 7-day free trial so people could check it out for themselves. Today they informed me that they 

have increased the free trial period to 14 days. I think that is an excellent idea. While I found the platform very intuitive and easy to use, there are so many features included that having the extra time to explore them will be a big plus for potential clients. 

(Posted July 20, 2011) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Tabs Bill Karamouzis To Deliver Ft. Lauderdale Keynote - Ron Jackson to Speak at 1st GeoPublishers Expo in Chicago

 The agendas for two key domain conferences coming up in October are shaping up nicely. The granddaddy of them all - T.R.A.F.F.I.C. - has settled on the keynote speaker for their big show coming up October 16-19, 2011 at the Ritz Carlton Hotel on Florida's Ft. Lauderdale Beach. HallPass Media Founder Bill Karamouzis (who was the subject of our April 2010 Cover Story) will do the honors. 

T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founder Rick Schwartz said Karamouzis will speak on a topic he is intimately familiar with - "The Challenge of Developing Our Domains Into Businesses." That is indeed a challenge, but few have done it better than Bill who has had some massive successes with Hallpass Media's game websites. That success caught the attention of MindJolt, one of the largest cross-platform game developers and publishers in the world, and they wound up buying Hallpass earlier this year. 

Bill Karamouzis
Founder, Hallpass Media 

With so much interest in developing to maximize domain value, Karamouzis is an excellent pick to headline what will be the only T.R.A.F.F.I.C  conference in 2011. I've been looking forward to this one all year and am even more so  with Karamouzis on the agenda.

Speaking of T.R.A.F.F.I.C., TheParkingPlace.com, Media Breakaway's new domain monetization platform that I told you about last month, is currently running a promotion that is giving their clients a chance to pick up a free pass to T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Ft. Lauderdale (worth $1,595 at the current registration rate). Any client that earns $10,000 at TheParkingPlace.com over the three-month period from July 1 through Sept. 30 will get a free ticket.

Another conference I am very much looking forward to is the first GeoPublishers.com Expo coming up October 1-2 at the Fairmont Hotel in Chicago (there will also be a welcoming reception on the evening of September 30, the night before the show begins). This event is being staged by a new association that was launched earlier this year by leading geodomain owners.

I just accepted an invitation to speak on the opening morning of the conference October 1. I 

will be talking about how geodomains give their owners the disruptive power to assume a leadership role in local media as traditional outlets continue to wither with their audiences moving to the Internet.

The GeoPublishers Expo is offering a very reasonable registration rate of $495, with additional registrations taken by the same company priced at just $395.

(Posted July 19, 2011) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Ex-ICANN Chairman Jumps to New gTLD Job, Google Adopts .CO & Doors Open in Domainsville 

Peter Dengate Thrush, who was ICANN's Chairman of the Board until stepping down from that position after last month's ICANN international meeting in Singapore, has already stepped into a new position, one that will keep him closely tied to the domain industry. 

Top Level Domain Holdings Limited, the only publicly traded company focused exclusively on acquiring and operating new generic top-level domains, today announced that Thrush has joined the company as its Executive Chairman, effective immediately. Thurush is joining a company that, through its wholly owned subsidiary Minds+Machines,is working on plans to operate a variety of new gTLDs, including .nyc, .eco and .radio.

At the ICANN meeting in Singapore, Thrush led the ICANN Board to approve the organization's controversial roll out of an unlimited number of new gTLDs. His shift, less than a month later, to a leadership position in a new business that ICANN created and has regulatory control over, is already drawing criticism from those who view it as a conflict of interest. None the less, there are no regulations in place that bar such a move and Thrush's expertise and connections in the area of new TLDs obviously make him a very valuable addition to any company operating in that space.

Peter Dengate Thrush
Executive Chairman
Top Level Domain Holdings

Photo source: ICANNPhotos 

TLDH CEO Antony Van Couvering acknowleded that, noting, “Peter will be an outstanding asset to TLDH. Peter and I have worked together as ICANN participants since its inception, and I am very pleased to welcome him as our Executive Chairman. Peter championed successfully the approval of the new gTLD programme at the highest levels and with Peter on board I have every confidence we will achieve the same success at TLDH. I can’t think of a better addition to our team - Peter is a superstar in our field, and we are delighted to have him at the helm.”

Thrush added, “I am delighted to be welcomed to this first-class team, which has had an extensive and productive involvement with the new gTLD programme and which has stood out as innovative, bold, and effective. New gTLDs represent a major opportunity for the Company and its investors, for TLD applicants and for the Internet community, and I welcome the chance to make a contribution.”  

Elsewhere today, yet another internet giant - Google this time - has bought a one-letter .CO domain, G.CO (for an undisclosed price),  to use as a URL shortener (following in the footsteps of Amazon, GoDaddy and Twitter among others). The official announcement came from .CO registry operator .CO Internet S.A.S. this afternoon.

The registry's CEO, Juan Diego Calle, said, “We are thrilled to have Google join the select group of premium Internet brands that are using the .CO domain to innovate online. By featuring G.CO in its product and service marketing efforts worldwide, we are confident that Google will help to drive massive awareness and adoption of the .CO domain extension in the years ahead.”

.CO Internet S.A.S. has certainly scored an unparalleled string of marketing coups in a roll out that has made it the gold standard when it comes to launching a new TLD (in this case, actually re-launching an existing TLD, Colombia's country code, as a global extension).

One other note - a new domain information portal just opened its doors today at Domainsville.com. The free site is the brainchild of Abdu Tarabichi, a long time domainer who is based in Charlotte, North Carolina

Among the site's many features are a home page  headline feed from various industry 

blogs and news services (as well as a direct connection to Domainsville's own blog), another section on the home page that gives you currently active promo codes that can be used to get discounts from registrars and other service providers, as well as a directory of companies and individuals that provide professional products and services.  

There is also a calendar of events on the home page that will help you keep track of domain conferences, meet-ups, webinars, and live auctions. Users who are signed in can also  customize, edit, or remove information widgets as they desire. For example, if you do business with select domain registrars, you can eliminate the clutter by hiding promo codes from all other companies. 

The site, still listed as being Beta, looks to be off to an excellent start with a ton of useful features all under one roof.

(Posted July 18, 2011) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

New Domain Sales, Financing & Analysis Tools from CAX.com, Zenscrow & Sedo Show Industry Innovation Is Alive and Well

On Wednesday I told you about the innovative new domain acquisition and management platform at Protrada.com. In recent weeks I've seen the debut of several other new services that are offering interesting new approaches to domain sales, financing & leasingand market analysis. 

With respect to domain sales, Francois Carrillo, who runs the popular domain news aggregation site, Domaining.com, has come with a novel twist to encourage more bidding at his domain sales site CAX.com. It allows those who list names for sale there to offer cash bonuses to those who get the bidding going, whether or not they end up winning the auction. 

For example, the seller could offer 10% of the final sales price to the first person to bid in an auction. If a name sells for say $500, that first bidder would get $50 even if they didn't win the auction. If they end up being the only bidder and win the auction, they still get that 10% - so if they bid $500 and no one else bids, they get the $50 due them taken off the sales price, reducing it to $450. 

The seller can offer incentives in a number of other ways too. For example they could offer 5% to the first bidder and 5% to the person who places the 2nd highest bid in the auction (giving the person who is nosed out at the end some compensation for making it a race which, of course, generates a bigger sale for the domain owner). You can find more details on the system, including the measures that are taken to prevent shill bidding at Carrillo's Everytime.com.

Another new service, Zenscrow.com, offers a new way to facilitate seller financed domain sales (through monthly payments) and domain lease agreements.  

Zenscrow Founder Adam Paddock said, "We see the secondary market as a place where prices are well outside the reach of most buyers, including corporate end users. There is a great need for financing to enable deals to close, but current financing options have been plagued with restrictions and high interest rates. Seller financing or leasing is a great solution as the seller and buyer directly determine the finance terms, but there are security issues and the process of entering into these types of transactions can be complex. We created Zenscrow to solve those issues."

To do this, Paddock said Zenscrow monitors the way buyers use a domain while making monthly payments to the seller. "During the finance or lease term the domain is held in escrow with Escrow.com or NeuLaw.com and the buyer is given full use of the domain. Zenscrow's patent pending process constantly reviews the buyer’s development and use of the domain to prevent trademark or copyright infringement, Google penalties, or other misuses that can cause devaluation," Paddock said. "If an  

Image: renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

issue is found, the buyer is notified and provided with a chance to make a correction. If he fails to do so he loses his right to use the domain while making payments."

To simplify the process, Zenscrow handles all other aspects of seller financed domain sales and domain leases including the creation of a sale or lease agreement, assisting with domain transfers, and managing scheduled monthly payments between buyers and sellers. Paddock added that for a limited time Zenscrow is also offering a free brokerage service where a Zenscrow agent will negotiate a seller financed domain sale or domain lease on behalf of a buyer or seller. 

Sedo announced another cool innovation this week - the industry’s domain price index (IDNX) for the secondary domain marketplace. The index offers domain name managers and investors unique insight into fluctuations in the domain name market. FoxBusiness.com even wondered if the new Sedo tool could predict the next recession!

The IDNX was developed by Berlin-based economist and internet entrepreneur, Thies Lindenthal, and uses Sedo’s current and historical sales figures data (more than 200,000 transactions), going back over the last six years. From this data, Sedo said the IDNX can provide domain investors with critical insight into the current market value of domains, as well as highlighting domain industry trends to help determine the true value of their domains. 

By comparing domain sales trends against mainstream business metrics, the IDNX also highlights the connections between the online and offline economy, showing that domain prices have a clear economic foundation. For example, the index shows a strong correlation between the domain name market and standard economic indicators, including changes in the NASDAQ 100 index and the stock prices of internet giant Google. Despite a big decline in parking revenues, the IDNX indicates domain name values climbed to an all-time high in May 2011.

Sedo CEO Tim Schumacher

Sedo CEO Tim Schumacher said, "Lindenthal’s extensive research on domain pricing validates the domain name market and shows that domain markets are not a fantasy land where dreamers trade esoteric goods at imaginary prices. Domainers who use the insights IDNX offers and ancillary domain pricing tools to set fair and fixed prices on their domain names, ultimately help make our industry more valued and respected. In turn, this will continue to positively impact domain name sales.”

If you want to learn more about the IDNX, Schumacher and Lindenthal will be hosting a free webinar on August 23, 2011 to provide a broad overview of the tool, and best practices on how domain investors can use the tool to make the best domain buying decisions. You can register for that event here.  

(Posted July 15, 2011) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Verisign Jacks Up .Com and .Net Prices Yet Again

In yet another painful reminder of how egregiously ICANN sold domain registrants down the river in their last contract negotiations with Verisign, the company announced another wholesale price hike for .com and .net domains today. One can only imagine how many millions of dollars ICANN's failure to put the .com and .net contracts out for competitive bidding have cost domain registrants around the world. The latest jump in prices takes effect Jan. 15, 2012

The complete press release is below:

Verisign Announces Increase in .com/.net Domain Name Fees

DULLES, VA (Marketwire) - VeriSign, Inc. ( NASDAQ : VRSN ), the trusted provider of Internet infrastructure services for the networked world, today announced, effective Jan. 15, 2012, an increase in registry domain name fees for .com and .net, per its agreements with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

Verisign announced that as of Jan. 15, 2012, the registry fee for .com domain names will increase from $7.34 to $7.85 and that the registry fee for .net domain names will increase from $4.65 to $5.11.

Continued strong global Internet usage growth, along with increasingly powerful distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks leveled against all parts of the Internet's critical infrastructure, have dramatically increased the demands on Internet infrastructure providers such as Verisign. In the last five years, the volume of Domain Name System (DNS) queries on Verisign's global Internet infrastructure has more than doubled, increasing to an average daily query load of 57 billion in the first quarter of 2011. Future growth is expected to occur at an even faster pace. Verisign's infrastructure has maintained 100 percent operational security, accuracy and stability for more than a decade due to continued innovation and investment in the infrastructure.

(Posted July 14, 2011) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

New State of the Art Platform at Protrada.com Makes Acquiring, Managing & Monetizing Domains a Breeze 

Troy Rushton
CEO, Protrada.com

When I entered the domain business almost a decade ago I quickly found myself spending 12-16 hours a day, 7 days a week, researching, acquiring and managing a rapidly growing portfolio of domain names. I wish Protrada.com had been around then - it would have allowed me to get all of my domain acquisition and management chores done in a fraction of the time. Not that I have any regrets - this business has been good to me, as it has to hundreds of others - but time is our most valuable asset (it's the only thing we can never replace) and Protrada makes it possible to save prodigious amounts of time and still run a huge domain portfolio including all of the tasks attendant to that - acquisition, sales, monetization, management and even a respectable level of development.

Protrada, built by the same talented Australian team that created the Parklings.com domain monetization platform, made its public launch this evening, but I got a preview last night when the company's Business Development Manager, Louise Munck arranged for CEO Troy Rushton to take me through a complete demo of what the platform is capable of. I came away from the hour extremely impressed with what I saw. 

Protrada might be described as the domain world's version of the Swiss Army knife - it does everything and it is extremely easy to use. I am going to touch on a few of the features in this post but the best way to see what Protrada can so is to see it for yourself, something they allow you to do through a free 7-day trial. If you decide it is for you, they have four different monthly price levels (ranging from $29 a month to $199 a month) based on the number of domains you want to have under management and the feature sets you want. This is a serious platform with unbridled power designed for domain professionals (or those hell-bent on becoming one). 

A screenshot of a sample Protrada dashboard detailing auctions you are watching, winning and losing, as well as those you are selling. Access to other functions are accessed from the menu in the black bar at the top. 

Let's start with domain acquisition functions. You can enter specified keywords and each day Protrada will automatically search all of the major auction platforms (including expired and aftermarket domains) and import a list of names available that day along with key data for each name to help you decide what to go after (you can set up parameters in advance to further filter the list to show only those that meet data metrics you specify). The system will also bid for you and hold those bids until the last possible minute so your activity doesn't attract competitors to names you are interested in. It can even grab Buy It Now domains that meet your pre-set price and criteria. 

A list of domains up for bid that have been imported and assessed by the Protrada system.

(Note: In addition to new acquisitions, you can of course import any of your existing domains into the system, either manually one by one or in bulk with a text  of .csv file. You can also pull them into this system directly from many major registrar accounts).

If you want to go off auto pilot from time to time and get into the middle of the action there is also a 24-hour live trading floor that will be right up your alley. 

Another great feature is that you can set up various Actions that will automatically put the domains you acquire to work instantly. Those actions can change DNS to the nameservers you specify, place the domain up for sale (on multiple platforms with a price marked up by any percentage you specify) or even do a quick development project, complete with articles, user generated content and social media features that are much better received by search engines than the usual parked page. 

The powerful Create Action screen at Protrada

Another big plus is that you can collect email addresses from your site visitors so you can build a valuable lead database that can be tapped over and over.

You can also add your own advertising network codes to display ads and, if you wish, add your own original content and images - but most will probably prefer to let the system do all of the work. Most sites are generated in well under one minute. You can see an sample auto-generated site at FiremanTShirts.com.

The Portolio area of the platform lets you track how each domain is performing across a variety of monetization options than can be tapped with each name (everything from CPC and CPA to Amazon, Shopping.com, ClickBank and others). Domains are sorted into four performance categories (from Dog to Star) making it easy to see which ones are doing well and which might be better letting go. 

A screenshot from the Protrada Portfolio area

In the portfolio area you also have access to all of your management tools including those that edit the look and content of your auto developed websites. 

The Reports area is also extremely robust with access to Google analytics, detailed data on your sources of traffic and much more. Having these stats constantly at hand can also be a big help in selling your domains. 

As I noted earlier this is a very intuitive system than I found unusually easy to use for one that has so much power under the hood. To further aid those who need a little help along the way, pop-up videos are available across the platform to show you how things are done. 

I've barely scratched the surface here, so if it looks interesting, explore the platform in depth for a week via Protrada's free trial and see how this compares to the way you are currently managing your domain business. This must be what it feels like to upgrade from a Model T to a Ferrari.

(Posted July 13, 2011) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Domain Industry Sole Men Complete 330-Mile, 29-Day Barefoot Walk in Bali to Help Indonesia's Needy Children

In a post last month I told you about a 330-mile barefoot walk around Bali that was being undertaken by UK domainer Robert Epstone and fellow Rotarian Beat Schmid de Gruneck to

Sole Men Robert Epstone and Beat Schmid 
de Gruneck
(right) on their barefoot journey

 raise funds for needy children in Indonesia where they both reside (the week after my post Owen Frager published a very interesting in-depth profile of Epstone who once managed the seminal rock band T Rex). I'm happy to report that the two men, who formed an organization called Sole Men of Indonesia to support their efforts aimed at helping the more than 232,000 homeless children in Indonesia, have successfully completed their 29-day journey

Epstone told me just over $12,000 was received over the course of the walk with more still coming in. Not bad considering this first walk was planned to be a 'proof of concept' mission that will now allow them to credibly approach corporate sponsors and major donors for support in a series of similar walks they have planned in Indonesia and other locations around the globe. 

More importantly they drew a great deal of attention to their cause. Epstone said "We 

achieved great publicity for our awareness campaign in a number of newspapers in Indonesia, the UK and globally online. We had coverage by four Indonesian TV stations - TVRI-Bali, Bali TVAlam TV and Bali's ITN as well as the UK's ITV news channel and two Indonesian film companies including BaliTodayShow.com that constantly posted progress videos to YouTube. Through reports in these media and our own including Facebook, Twitter (robertepstone) and Solemen.org we have received donations from the UK, Japan, China, the USA and Switzerland so far, as well as donations on the road from interested tourists from France, Belgium and Australia."  

The Governor of Bali, Pak Made Mangku Pastika (center), came out to thank Robert and Beat 
for their efforts during a stop at Kuta Beach where they helped with a beach clean up effort. 

Epstone detailed how the money is being used noting, "Sole Men Indonesia has been funding the printing and distribution of basic health care manuals for poor children of different ages. For example, advice on basic health care for the younger children coupled with information on HIV prevention, alcoholism, drugs, and addiction for the older children. Together with a doctor and/or nurse from Yayasan Anak Anak we used these for health presentations we made in schools, orphanages and villages around Bali during our 535 kilometer (330 mile) barefoot walk. Going forward our plan is to fund additional mobile health clinics to reach children in places where currently they have little or no access to medical health care, health education as well as much needed education regarding their environment."  

"As funds are increased through donations we plan to donate an urgently needed replacement ambulance for the Bumi Sehat Foundation (Ibu Robin) in Aceh as the previous second hand one donated by Rotary is now dead from rust and wear and tear after seven years in constant use."

"Our final mission is to establish a center for homeless children with facilities to help them readjust emotionally, intellectually and spiritually with education programs and vocational training to prepare for work within the Bali Tourist industry through our relationship with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism," Epstone said.

Sole Man Robert Epstone (4th from left) with another supporter, I Gusti Putu Laksaguna 
(3rd from right), the Inspector General of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism for Indonesia

If you are wondering why they decided to walk barefoot, Epstone answered, "We did it barefoot to be in solidarity with those unfortunate shoeless children and adults who don't have a choice as we have."

Epstone said special care is being taken to insure than all donations go to help those need. "Due to Indonesia being pretty highly ranked in terms of corruption, our policy is never to hand over money and like Rotary not to fund overhead. Instead we will continue to fund actual projects as outlined above. In the case where we may fund a vehicle, either an ambulance for Aceh or one elsewhere to serve as a mobile health clinic, we will always retain the original registration documents to prevent them being sold for cash - perhaps an unlikely situation but one which we intend to avoid," Epstone said.  

As you would expect, their 29-day journey produced some unforgettable moments. "We met with some amazing people along the way helping poor and homeless children in Bali as well as incredible kindness, humility and selflessness in teachers, villagers and communities," Epstone said. "We learned the value of a smile and sympathy :) - which meant so much especially as quite often we were in some pain from the roads."

"We also learned to recognize where help is needed especially when making the health education presentations which were very eagerly received by the children. We learned and were reminded time and again that sharing is caring and that there is still so much that can be done in Bali, not only with health education but also environmental issues which of course impact on health. For example the main reason for pollution is the burning of plastic which later causes cancer in the community."

The barefoot trek took a toll on 
Epstone's right leg, ankle and foot. 
All had to be patched soon after 
he passed the 300-kilometer mark.

So what's next for the Sole Men? "We have just been invited to do a barefoot walk all around the southern part of Bali from August 9th to 11th to support education, re-skilling and creation of eco-friendly job and business opportunities, for the poor and disadvantaged in that area," Epstone said.  The Sole Men will be joined by nine volunteers and staff from the R.O.L.E Foundation and end up at a special fund raising dinner at the Ayana Hotel (formerly the Ritz Carlton).

Yet another big event may be on the horizon. Epstone said, "The Quicksilver Foundation has invited Sole Men, subject to board approval, to do a 500 kilometer barefoot walk to the World Surfing Championships on Australia's Gold Coast (ending February 27, 2012) where 10,000 people will attend the final day.

For two guys walking without shoes, Robert and Beat are certainly covering a lot of ground! If you wish to donate to their cause you can do so here.

(Posted July 12, 2011) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

South Florida Domainers Group Ready to Reconvene on the Intracoastal Waterway 

One of the most active local domain investor/developer groups in the U.S., South Florida Domainers,  has another exceptionally attractive event coming up next week - the evening of Thursday, July 21 to be specific. After attracting the largest crowd in the group's history for an event at the home of Secret Millionaire John Ferber (Of DomainHoldings.com) at the end of March, organizers had a new standard to live up to. It looks like they have come up with the strong follow-up they were looking for, again with the help of the Domain Holdings Group, along with two new sponsors - the upcoming T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Ft. Lauderdale conference and local limo company Limousines.bz.

Attendees will meet at Domain Holdings headquarters in Delray Beach at 5:30pm on July 21. The Domain Holdings crew will host a meet and greet and present a quick demo of their platform, then everyone will take a short walk to an adjacent dock for the main event - a two-hour cruise up and down the Intracoastal Waterway on the Delray Yacht Cruises boat S.S. Lady Delray.

South Florida Domainers Group guests will board one these boats operated by Delray 
 Yacht Cruises next Thursday evening for a ride on Florida's Intracoastal Waterway.

Everyone will  board the boat by 6:45pm where they will find appetizers and a cash bar. They will then enjoying cruising and networking from 7-9pm.  Organizers say they have a  couple of speakers lined up, but most of the time is being left open so local domainers can socialize. Space is limited to 70 passengers so it is being made available on a first come, first served basis. Domainers can bring a spouse or guest (one only due to space limitations). If your plans change, be sure to let them know so someone else can use the spot. To RSVP for this free event and reserve your place you will want to visit this page ASAP.

(Posted July 11, 2011) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Domain Industry Pioneer and Best Selling Author Marc Ostrofsky Shines On National TV Again Today

Marc Ostrofsky is a domain industry veteran who first gained fame for selling Business.com in a deal valued at $7.5 million in 1999 but these days he is better known as the best selling author of Get Rich Click!, a hot new book about making money on the internet that he released in May. The success of his book earned Marc an invitation to appear on ABC-TV's national morning talk show The View June 9th (you can read our review of his appearance here). Marc performed so well on the show that the producers invited him to come back for today's network telecast (Friday, July 8, 2011).

Last time Marc talked about how you can use domain names and other tools to make money on the Internet. This time producers ask him to talk about some of his favorite apps for smartphones and Apple's Ipad in a segment titled Amazing Apps. Once again Marc did a terrific job of explaining  technology in terms that non-techies can easily understand and get excited about (you can view his segment here). 

Marc Ostrofsky (right) on today's national telecast of ABC-TV's The View 
with co-hosts Whoopi Goldberg (left) and Elisabeth Hasselbeck (center).

After watching Ostrofsky's two guest shots I have come away convinced that some smart network producer will make him a regular on their show (if I ran The View I would sign him up before someone else does) or give him a show of his own. The Internet and closely related fields like mobile are among the few exceptionally bright spots in an otherwise dismal economy. With the web providing a path for people to bypass the moribund job market and go into business for themselves there is currently a great hunger for information on how to to do that so Marc's message comes at a perfect point in history. Plus, he has the personality, the been there done that credibility and the communications skills necessary to impart that message to the masses, making him a valuable media commodity

Though today's appearance was about apps rather than domains I found it just as interesting as I learned about some cool new apps I will download myself. I already use several that Marc highlighted like Yelp, Shazam and Red Laser but was not aware of Word Lens, one that wowed me (as well as the show's hosts). That app allows you to point you phone's video camera at printed words and see them instantly translated from one language to another. You almost have to see it to believe it.

Marc is serving up some good stuff and shining a bright and positive media light on our business in the process. I can't wait to see more.

(Posted July 8, 2011) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Castello Brothers Moving Their Home Base From Palm Springs to Nashville, DNForum Goes Mobile and Marc Ostrofsky Returns to The View Friday

Castello Cities Internet Network, the corporate entity that administers the Castello Brothers' blue chip portfolio of geo/generic domain names and developed websites, has been based in Palm Springs, California since 1998 (PalmSprings.com is one of CCIN's premier properties). 

That will officially change July 15th when Michael and David Castello are relocating the company's headquarters to Nashville - the home of another one of their marquee websites - Nashville.com.  In fact, David told me that CCIN's development work on Nashville.com over the past couple of year's has turned the site into their largest geo brand


Rising star Bree Pelkey in Nashville

Another reason for the move is that David's girlfriend, Bree Pelkey, is a rapidly rising Nashville singer/songwriter who will be going into the studio for rehearsals this month with David in her backing band. David, who is a  professional drummer, will join Bree for sessions that start at Diamond Studios on July 21st, the day before Bree's 22nd birthday. 

If you happened to be at the 2010 T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Las Vegas conference you will remember seeing David light up the stage at the Hard Rock Hotel when he performed a solo set at an evening event on the show's opening night.

In another news item from the Castello Brothers' camp, they will be delivering a “State of the Geos” address during lunch on Saturday, October 1, 2011 at the first ever  GeoPublishers Expo in Chicago.

David Castello playing at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas (Jan. 2010)

Elsewhere, you can now follow the hundreds of ongoing domain conversations at the web's original domain name forum - DNForum.com - while you are on the go! Owner Adam Dicker just released slick new smartphone apps for iPhone and Android phones that let you interact with the more than 100,000 forum 

members (and read over 1.7 million posts) anywhere that a cellphone signal exists. I downloaded the $4.99 iPhone app last night and love it. Discovering DNForum in early 2002 was one of the primary reasons I got involved in this industry and having the site in my pocket wherever I go is an advance I really appreciate.  

Marc Ostrofsky
Author or Get Rich Click!

One other note today - Domain industry pioneer Marc Ostrofsky, author of the best selling book Get Rich Click!, will be making a return appearance on ABC-TV's morning talk show The View Friday (July 8) at 11am (U.S. Eastern time). Marc first appeared on the program June 9th (see our review here) and was such a hit the producers immediately asked him to come back. Set your DVRs now to make sure you catch his return engagement Friday morning.

Marc gave domain names a huge plug in his first appearance on the show but he really draws the audience in by expanding the scope of his advice to cover multiple ways to make money on the web. With the economy in the doldrums and jobs harder to find that hen's teeth, Marc's message comes at a perfect time when millions are seeking a viable way to become their own boss. Those of us in the domain business know the web makes that possible and Marc is spreading the good news.

(Posted July 6, 2011) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Back From My Longest Break From the Domain Business In a Decade!

Since entering the domain industry in early 2002 rarely a day has gone by that I haven't been immersed in one aspect of the business or another - including days when I was supposed to be "on vacation." However, I just returned from a vacation that wound up being different than in the past as a set of circumstances developed that required me to totally disconnect from domains on this trip. Normally I would expect to experience withdrawal symptoms in such a situation but time didn't allow that.

Diana and I went to one of our favorite places in the world - Sarasota's Siesta Key - for a week on a spectacular white sand beach that was named America's best beach by noted authority Dr. Beach several years ago (once a beach wins that award it is retired from the competition). During the 11 years I was a sportscaster at the ABC-TV station in Sarasota I spent almost every morning walking on this beach. We still live just over an hour's drive away and always love going back.

Scene from Siesta Key, Florida last week

While we had a chance to enjoy Siesta Key, two other things - one good and one bad - required our attention during the hours we were not at the beach. Shortly before we left for Sarasota, Diana's mother suffered a stroke and was hospitalized in Venice, Florida (about 25 minutes south of Sarasota). She came through it much better than many do (for which the entire family is very thankful) but will have to undergo therapy to regain full use of here left hand and leg. We visited her several times during the week and were happy to see her mental faculties and speech fully intact and her determination to put in the rehab work needed to get back on her feet as soon as possible. We have no doubt she will do it as that side of the family comes from some very hardy stock (Diana's uncle on her mother's side drove round trip from Florida to Michigan after his 90th birthday and he is still going strong today)!

The other event that fell during our vacation week (and the prime reason we picked this past week to go) involved our daughter Brittany. She started her third year of medical school last Wednesday, as fate would have it, in Sarasota - one of six cities where the Florida State University College of Medicine trains third and fourth year students. So, we spent time helping her get settled into a new apartment and buy a new car - a necessity since she will be doing rotations between three area hospitals over her final two years of med school (as well as driving home once in awhile we hope!)

Men (and Women) in Black: Until a couple of years ago, no one in our family had ever 
bought a black car - now we all have one. Diana (center) started it, I was next (far left) 
then Brittany (at right) made it unanimous when she got her new Mustang last week. The day 
this photo was taken one of our neighbors asked if we were having a black car convention :-)

So, there was plenty keeping us busy right through July 4th (a national holiday in the U.S.). I finally got back in the office today and have been chipping away at a mountain of backed up email and assorted tasks. Still not done, so if you sent an email over the past week and haven't heard back from me yet, you should soon. Thanks for your patience! Now it's back to work with a lot of projects to take on including a double-length sales report that will be out Thursday, a resumption of these daily Lowdown posts, work on a new newsletter and Cover Story, etc. etc. I'm glad I love my job! I hope all of our friends in the U.S. had a great extended Independence Day weekend and are as psyched as I am about getting back to domains! 

(Posted July 5, 2011) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Editor's Note: I will be on vacation through July 4 so there will be no Lowdown posts this week. Monday, July 4 is Independence Day - a national holiday in the U.S. - so I want to wish all of our American readers a safe and enjoyable extended holiday weekend and look forward to seeing everyone back here on Tuesday, July 5.

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

We need your help to keep giving domainers The Lowdown, so please email [email protected] with any interesting information you might have. If possible, include the source of your information so we can check it out (for example a URL if you read it in a forum or on a site elsewhere). 

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