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August 27, 2012

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The Lowdown
May 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.

New Cover Story Profiles 26-Year-Old Elephant Orchestra Co-Founder Jan Barta

I hope all of our U.S. readers had an enjoyable Memorial Day holiday weekend. The three-day break is viewed by many as the unofficial start of summer, but it is always summer here in Florida so we don't notice the change of seasons a lot! :-)  I spent all of this first day back at work completing our latest Cover Story that was just published a few minutes ago.  

It is a profile of Elephant Orchestra Co-Founder Jan Barta, a wildly successful young entrepreneur with a remarkable family history. Could you imagine losing everything you own? Not just you, but every member of your family losing everything they own as well? Barta, one of the brightest young stars in the domain industry (as well as in the Czech Republic's mainstream business world), can imagine it because his family lived it.

The 26-year-old Barta has become well-known in the domain industry after co-founding his  Prague-based domain investment, monetization and lead generation company in 2007. Barta has since diversified into other businesses including feature film production, auto insurance, mobile marketing and many more that are giving him an ever growing financial footprint in Eastern Europe and beyond. 

Things could have turned out much differently 

Jan Barta  

for the young entrepreneur but he seems to have inherited a success gene from his forefathers - a trait that a Communist takeover in his homeland and confiscation of the family's property could not eliminate. 

Barta's burgeoning business empire keeps him on the go.

In addition to taking us through his family history and  his own rise to prominence, Barta shares his predictions on the future of domain monetization and the value of domains themselves. It may surprise you to know that he is not as optimistic about them as many of us are. I'm sure you will find his reasons for that to be very thought provoking. You can get the full story here: Czech Mate: After Making Sweet Music With Elephant Orchestra Jan Barta is Out to Conquer the Rest of the Business World

One other programming note today - since Monday (May 30) was a national holiday almost all U.S. business offices were closed, including those of our sales data suppliers as well as our own. As a result the production schedule for this week's domain sales column will be moved back one day. Instead of our usual Wednesday publication time this week's column will be out by the end of the day Thursday (June 2). 

(Posted May 31, 2011) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Memorial Day 2011 - Today's National Holiday in America Honors Those Who Made the Ultimate Sacrifice

Memorial Day 2011

Today (Monday, May 30, 2011) is Memorial Day - a major holiday in the United States that was first set aside in 1866, soon after the conclusion of the Civil War, to honor the men and women who gave their lives in military service. Nearly all in the offices in the U.S., including ours, are closed for this day of remembrance.

For most Americans, the three-day Memorial Day weekend that concludes today also represents the unofficial start of summer. Many mark the occasion by heading for the beach or gathering with family and friends for a cookout. If you are among the U.S. citizens enjoying this day off, we hope the holiday is an especially memorable one for you and yours. The crowded roads and waterways bring increased risk so be careful out there - we want to see you back here refreshed, safe and sound on Tiuesday!

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

Want to Beat the Competition? Domain Industry Pioneer Michael Mann Will Tell You How in a Free Webinar Thursday (June 2, 2011) + A DOMAINfest Europe Update

Domain industry pioneer Michael Mann, who co-founded BuyDomains (and later sold the company to NameMedia) has been featured in two DN Journal Cover Stories (one of the first 


Michael Mann

we ever did back in 2003 and another in 2007 after he sold BuyDomains and founded his next venture, WashingtonVC). Michael, who has been involved in buying, selling and developing some of the web's very best generic domain names, knows more than a little about how to beat the competition and now he plans to share his knowledge on that topic in a free webinar that will be presented next Thursday (June 2, 2011) at 1pm (U.S. Eastern time). You can register for the 45-minute session here. 

During the webinar, Mann plans to tell you how to:
   • Use best practices
   • Change directions when something isn’t going well
   • Benefit from “first mover advantage”
   • Embrace natural selection
   • Gain consensus
   • Master efficiency, leverage and scale
   • Sell your company

Several years ago, Mann produced another valuable resource when he wrote a book called Make Millions & Make Change! that he has kept updated and now makes available for online reading (also free of charge).

One other note today - Oversee.net, the organizers of the DOMAINfest Europe conference coming up June 7-9, 2011 in Barcelona, Spain, announced today that the show will bring back the popular Dine With An Expert feature they introduced at DOMAINfest Global in Santa Monica, California earlier this year. 

Dine With An Expert will give attendees a rare chance to have a power lunch on 

Wednesday, June 8 with one of ten DOMAINfest Europe speakers and panelists they can select to dine with. You can view the full list of experts and make a reservation at the table of your choice on this page at the DOMAINfest website (click the arrows on either side of the expert's photo to move forward and backward through the list).  Reservations are offered on a first come, first served basis, so you will want to act quickly because each table will be limited to nine attendees. 

One other update from DOMAINfest Europe. The host hotel, the five-star Pullman Barcelona Skipper, has no more discounted rooms available. However, DOMAINfest's hotel web page lists several nearby three and four star hotel options at around €100 per night that will keep you within a 5-minute taxi ride of the conference venue.

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

Hunger for Domain Names Continues to Grow as Worldwide Registrations Jump 8% From a Year Ago, Plus A T.R.A.F.F.I.C. 2011 Update

Verisign has released their latest quarterly Domain Name Industry Brief (.pdf file) covering the opening quarter of 2011. Verisign, as most of you know, operates the .com and .net registries, but their quarterly reports are always packed with useful information about registration trends across all TLDs, making them a must read.

The latest report showed that demand for new domain names continues to rise worldwide. 4.5 million new domains were added to the Internet in the first three months of this year producing a 7.9% jump in the number of domains registered since this time a year ago and a 2.2% increase from the previous quarter (4Q-2010). 

1Q-2011 ended with 209.8 million domain names registered across all TLDs, 15.3 million more than the number that existed a year ago. 


Verisign's combined base of .com and .net domain names crossed the 108 million mark in the latest quarter, rising a solid 9.2% from a year ago and 2.7 % from the previous quarter. Verisign said the already healthy renewal rate for .com/.net domains also strengthened, rising from 72.7% in 4Q-2010 to 73.8% in 1Q-2011. 

Country code domains also continued to show growth but at a slower rate than .com/.net. The number of registered ccTLD domains increased to 81.7 million in 1Q-2011, 5.1% better than a year ago and 2.1% more than the previous quarter. 

While some claim that the importance of domain names is being diminished by social media, search engine changes, falling PPC rates and other factors, the numbers show that the none of those developments has dimmed the worldwide demand for domain names.

One other note today - organizers of the 2011 T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Conference coming up October 16-19 at the Ritz Carlton in Fort Lauderdale Beach, Florida, are extending a special offer to those who register by the end of the day Friday (May 27) at the current $1,495 rate. 

If you register by the deadline you can select one of four different bonuses (to get the bonus send an email to T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founder Howard Neu after you register). Your choices are:

1. A Ritz Carlton Bathrobe, 2. A $150 Room Credit (Use Group Code: AULAULA), 3. a Special Spa Treatment or 4. A $150 Ritz Carlton Gift Card. 

They are also offering a new payment option for those that want to lock in the $1,495 price (that will be increasing as the show approaches) but want to pay the bulk of the fee later. You can sign up now with a $495 deposit and then pay the $1,000 balance by September 15th. You won't be eligible for the bonuses above if you use the payment plan, but you will get a $50 Ritz Carlton Gift Card for signing up early.

A shot of the spectacular Ft. Lauderdale Beach Ritz Carlton pool directly overlooking 
the Atlantic Ocean. The Ritz will host T.R.A.F.F.I.C. 2011 October 16-19.

This is the only T.R.A.F.F.I.C. show in 2011 and, with the days of conference over-saturation now a thing of the past, it is also the only major multi-day domain investor's conference scheduled on U.S. soil for the rest of this year. Couple that with a new venue that I think is the most attractive in T.R.A.F.F.I.C. history, and this is shaping up to be a can't miss event.

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

The Carnage Continues: With the Web Continuing To Rise Magazines Lost Millions of  Readers Over the Past Year

Over the past few years when talking about how the Internet is siphoning readers and viewers away from traditional media, the focus has been on newspapers because they have been hit the hardest by the rise of the web. However, the paper's print media cousin - magazines - have also had a hard time holding on to their audiences as is illustrated in a Media Daily News column that Erik Sass posted Monday on Mediapost.com

Erik's article broke out some key results from a  Mediamark Research and Intelligence report that showed many individual magazine titles losing hundreds of thousands of readers each over the past year. The cumulative loss across all titles was 22 million! Certain categories were hit harder than others with magazines about cars and celebrities being among the biggest losers. Both topics are covered extensively online of course, especially celebrities whose lives are chronicled in the most minute detail (and often in real time) on one website or another, leaving most magazine coverage a day late and a dollar shot.

In the automotive field, Automobile magazine readership plunged 21% (from 4.6 million readers in the spring of 2010 to 3.63 million this spring). A car magazine I subscribe to, Motor Trend, also got whacked, falling 12% (from a little over 8 million to just over 7 million). 


Weekly news magazines, as you might expect with so much news content on the web, also took a seriousbeat down. Newsweek, which seems to change owners every other week, slid 12.8% (from 15.25 million to 13.29 million). Time (another title I subscribe to) fared better but still lost 4.1% of its readers (down from 19.74 mllion to 18.93 million). 

While the carnage was widespread, some titles still managed to gain ground despite the ever growing strength of the web. One of the biggest gainers was Entrepreneur magazine which shot up 34% (from 2.5 million readers to 3.36 million). That one doesn't surprise me a lot as the brutal recession we have been going through has forced many furloughed workers who couldn't find new jobs to go into business for themselves

I'm sure a lot of domainers aren't cheering Entrepreneur magazine's success though. The publication became something of a poster child for over-reaching trademark interests through their efforts to take domains that had the word "entrepreneur" in the string away from rightful owners of the generic term (in fact an entire website at Entrepreneur.net is devoted to exposing the magazine's bullying tactics.)

Despite there being some magazines that have managed to swim upstream against the  tide, you still have to believe it's just a matter of time before the inexorable growth of the web takes a big chunk out of their hides, just as it has done to so many other traditional media outlets. 

(Posted May 24, 2011) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

John Ferber's Domain Holdings Helps Forge Alliance Between Zappy Zapolin's Silver.com and the Northwest Territorial Mint

While I was traveling late last week, Domain Holdings, the new domain development, SEO and monetization company co-founded by Secret Millionaire John Ferber, announced their role in creating a strategic alliance between Silver.com (owned by industry veteran Mike "Zappy" Zapolin) and leading silver investment company Northwest Territorial Mint.

Soon after Zapolin's group acquired Silver.com (based on their belief that silver prices were going to explode - which they since have) Zapolin teamed up with Domain Holdings to transform Silver.com from a parked page into a global resource for silver information with tens of thousands of monthly visitors.  

Utilizing their in-house web design and development resources and original content management services, Domain Holdings produced an SEO-ready, informative destination whose features include a widget to track silver's real-time market value and updated industry news.


Once the site was well established, all that remained to do was find the best way to monetize the asset. Ferber said, "We had conversations with all of the top-level players in the silver industry and Northwest Territorial Mint was the perfect partner. Northwest Territorial Mint is leading edge in the industry, passionate about its business, and confident in the opportunities that have yet to be presented in the silver market."


Domain Holdings and Zapolin believe that the strategic alliance allows Northwest Territorial Mint to reach consumers while maximizing the credibility of the Silver.com brand, as well as Silver.com's strong base of  traffic. 

Zappy Zapolin arriving at a South Florida 
Domainers Group meeting hosted by 
John Ferber
(March 31, 2011)

Zapolin noted, "When we bought the domain name, we recognized that silver was an up-and-coming metal. It was trading for around $17 per ounce when we launched, and today, just over a year later, ounces are trading at record highs. Investors have woken up to the fact that silver has so many industrial uses, that there's a deficit of silver in the world, and as people continue to lose faith in paper money, silver will be one of the big winners."

Zappy added, "Identifying and building a site is an important complement to the real value of the domain process, which is developing strong partnerships with companies that are passionate about that specific vertical," Zapolin said.  

These kinds of development projects, when done well enough to attract direct advertising, end user partners or a buyer looking to acquire an established online business, have proven to be far more profitable than other domain monetization options. Zapolin, who has been involved in several development "home runs," knows this full well, as does Ferber and his fellow co-founders who created Domain Holdings to help generic domain owners realize the full potential of their assets. 

(Posted May 23, 2011) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

DotcomAgency's Ian Andrew Gets $358,000 for 33.com in Deal Brokered by DomainAdvisors.com  

Over the years Britain's Ian Andrew has sold hundreds of generic domains names through his company, DotcomAgency, but he decided to get some outside help to give one of his best domains special attention and it has paid off in a big way. DomainAdvisors.com (DA) has just closed a $358,000 sale of Andrew's 33.com in a deal brokered by DA Senior Adviser Gina Aubrey. The domain went to a buyer based in China where numeric domains are especially popular.

That is the highest numeric domain sale reported since we started tracking and verifying domain sales in the fall of 2003. Two other sales, both made in 2008, came close with each topping the $300,000 mark, but 33.com finished ahead of both. The previous leaders were 770.com, sold by Sedo for $343,208 and 173.com, sold by Moniker for $302,790.

Ian Andrew  

Andrew was understandably delighted with DA's performance saying, ""DomainAdvisors has been a pleasure to work with. I have worked with Gina and DomainAdvisors CEO Tessa Holcomb (who also serves as Group General Manager for DomainAdvisors' parent company, PPX International) and they are efficient, flexible and deliver smooth fast transactions. I would highly recommend them."

Ms. Holcomb said, "“As a young company, DA is performing beyond expectations. We’ve completed over $4 million in sales this year. and we’re proud to have been chosen to exclusively market some of the most premium

domains available including Temps.com, Sizzle.com, QB.com, Lawyer.net and Lawyers.net and CreditCard.net to name a few."

There was some other news from PPX today when they announced an expansion of their DM Pro domain management service. Gregg McNair, Group Chairman for PPX. said, “Having proven our domain management system with some of the largest portfolio holders in the world, we are now meeting the requests of many mid-sized owners wanting to take advantage of our established platform.” 

McNair added,  “DM Pro clients will be serviced by their own personal advisor from our DA team. Jeffrey Gabriel, President of DA (having assumed new duties solely in the areas of domain parking, CPA and other special projects) will be spearheading the DM Pro initiative.

PPX Group Chairman Gregg McNair

One other note today - our friends at Escrow.com are offering a chance for you to win a free iPad 2 in a contest they are running on Facebook. To enter all you have to do is leave a post 

on their wall noting anything you have bought or sold (or wish you had bought or sold) through Escrow.com. 

You can get a second entry in the contest by also posted a photo of an item you have bought or sold through Escrow.com (limit 1 text and 1 photo entry per person). If you want to enter you need to hurry. Sunday (May 22) is the last day you can do so and they are going to announce the winner on Monday (May 23).

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

.PRO Names New CEO Who Helped Get .INFO Off the Ground - Another Coup for .CO - DOMAINfest Europe Releases Preliminary Live Auction Catalog 

RegistryPro, operator of the .PRO registry has a new CEO. The company has hired Karim Jiwani, formerly a Senior Director at Afilias (operator of the .info registry) to fill the role. Jiwani will be responsible for all aspects of the .PRO registry's operations including strategy, marketing


Karim Jiwani
New CEO at RegistryPro

and sales, registrar support, expansion and policy. RegistryPro is also counting on Jiwani to help them benefit from the unlimited number of new gTLDs that ICANN plans to start approving soon. 

Lucas Roh, CEO of Hostway Corporation, the parent company of RegistryPro, said, "Our registry is poised to grow significantly in the coming years, as the awareness continues to grow for .PRO domains and our backend registry services for other TLDs. We wanted someone that could expertly grow the registry and take it to the next level. Karim has proven experience in the domain industry and is well respected in the community. With his knowledge and passion, he is well equipped to take the company to the next level in providing registry services to registrars and other TLDs."

Jiwani said "Our industry's landscape will look completely different in 24 months. I am excited to lead RegistryPro into the new era of the Internet naming space."  Jiwani brings over 12 years of industry experience to .PRO after being one of the original board members of Afilias. Prior to his role as Senior Director, he served as the Managing Director at EMA Afilias Ltd. 

Growth has also been the watchword at another registry, .CO, and they continue to make major strides. Registry operator .CO Internet SAS just sold four domains; A.co, K.co, Z.co and Cloud.co to Amazon for an undisclosed price. It remains to be seen how Amazon will use those domains but if the Internet giant widely publicizes them it should give .CO a significant boost in public recognition.

Despite being available for less than a year, .CO is already closing in one 1 million registrations and the outstanding marketing job the company's executive team has done is considered to be the new standard for rolling out a new or newly re-purposed TLD. 

With the DOMAINfest Europe conference in Barcelona, Spain less than three week away, show organizers have released the preliminary auction catalog and opened pre-bidding for the Moniker/SnapNames live auction that will be held on July 8. The catalog includes gems like Data.com, Fares.com, Social.com and Houses.co.uk. Bidders will be able to participate either at the show or online from anywhere in the world.

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

In a Constantly Changing Domain Industry Individual Lives Are Undergoing Big Changes Too - Cases in Point: Morgan Linton, David Sams, Marc Ostrofsky, Rick Latona & Frank Schilling

One thing I have always loved about this business is that it never stands still. There is no time to get bored because the industry landscape is continually shifting. Even though the twists and turns are not always good ones, at least they keep things interesting and force you to keep your head in the game if you want to continue playing with some degree of success.

Just as the overall industry is constantly reinventing itself, a lot of well-known people in our industry are going through big changes and/or landmark events in their lives as well. Fortunately, most of those developments have been for the better. Take for example, Morgan Linton. This past weekend Morgan and his long time, lovely girlfriend Daina got engaged during an idyllic trip to the beautiful wine country in Santa Barbara, California

Morgan said, "'It really was the best weekend of my life and an incredible time for Daina and I to appreciate each other and the commitment we are making to spend our lives together. I’ve never been happier, I’ve never felt luckier, and I can’t wait to share all our future adventures with all of you!" 

Morgan Linton & his fiance Daina
(photo from MorganLinton.com)

While Morgan and Daina are starting their new life together, veteran domain investor David Sams is in Chicago for a very special event that much of the nation is tuning into - the final week of Oprah Winfrey's wildly successful TV talk show. It all starts with a huge celebration at the United Center tonight where David, who is on the VIP list, will be in the middle of the action.

For those of you who don't know, David, who lives in Nashville, is a veteran TV Producer who back in 1986 was an integral part of the King Syndicate team that put the Oprah show on the air for the first time! Sams also helped launch syndicated classics like Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune.

Above: young TV producer David Sams 
with Oprah Winfrey in 1986.

At right: David Sams now

Meanwhile another domain industry veteran continues to make waves in the media world - this one in publishing. Marc Ostrofsky's book Get Rich Click!, which was released May 2, continues to be a best seller. The book hit #1 at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, the Wall Street Journal and USA Today! I understand it will also be on the next New York Times best seller list due out May 22. In addition to changing Marc's life the book is introducing a lot of new people to the domain business and that will end up changing some other lives as well.

Rick Latona, who seemed to be everywhere in the domain industry a year ago, is going through some big changes too. Latona exited so many of his domain enterprises that people were wondering what he is up to now. Latona himself answered the question in a post on his blog Sunday in which he revealed he has enrolled in an executive education program at the Harvard Business School.

Latona said, "I'm here for a number of reasons, most notably to make better decisions. I need and want to learn the advanced financial and analytical skills that they will teach me. Too much has gone wrong in the last couple of years and I feel that sometimes it's better to take one step backwards so you can take two steps forward." Latona added, "It feels like a warm and sunny new day to me." 

Rick Latona

Frank Schilling

Elsewhere, legendary domain investor Frank Schilling has gotten a lot of people excited by quietly rolling out a new domain monetization service at InternetTraffic.com. You will need to have very high quality type-in domains to get onto the platform, but if you have the qualifying traffic Schilling promises "You will make significantly more money here" 

A lot of people or companies could make such a statement and have it immediately dismissed as hype. However, with Frank's track record of success, honesty and integrity, he is going to attract a lot of business because people know he doesn't say something like that unless he means it. People have been praying for something to revive the moribund PPC business. This won't do it for everyone, but from those who have quality traffic portfolios it could provide a most welcome change. 

(Posted May 17, 2011) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Small Businesses Are Flocking to Social Media Marketing But Say Websites Remain Their Most Important Promotional Tool

National Small Business Week 2011 started today (Monday, May 16) and will continue through Friday. The annual event recognizing the contributions of small businesses to America's economic well being has been held every year since it was established through a Presidential proclamation in 1963. A highlight of the week will be a three day conference that will be held at

 the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington, D.C. Wednesday through Friday (May 18-20). In turn, one of the most anticipated sessions during the conference will be a  Social Media Forum Thursday morning at 10am.

In an enlightening Online Media Daily article at MediaPost.com today, author Les Luchter shared some revealing statistics on how many small businesses are utilizing social media marketing vs. other means of promoting their businesses. Luchter's information came from a survey of more than 1,500 small businesses that was conducted over the past two months by Constant Contact, a leading small business marketing resource (as an aside, I take a special interest in small to medium sized business (SMB) developments because the vast majority of domains I sell go to SMB end users and I'm sure that is true for many other portfolio owners as well). 

Within the domain community there has been considerable debate over whether or not the rise of social media (and having that powerful new tool available for businesses to promote themselves) would one day supplant domains. I don't think that will happen and the data from this new survey supports that, showing that while more and more businesses are adopting social media as a marketing tool, it is just one of many tools they are using and that the one they rely on most is marketing through their own websites

95% of the respondents said they rely on website marketing. 91% of them said they use email marketing and the third most popular tool is print advertising used by 77% of the small businesses polled. The fact that website marketing is now used by considerably more businesses than print advertising is a remarkable testament to how far the web has come vs. traditional media over the last few years. 

Graphic: Renjith Krishan / FreeDigitialPhotos.net

Social media marketing now ranks fourth but is quickly closing on print with 73% of the businesses reporting they use social media to promote themselves (the next largest shares went to online advertising used by 69% of the respondents and event marketing used by 53%). Social media marketing will continue to grow because of those businesses not yet using social media, 62% of them said they plan to start doing so within the next year

Among those who are using social media, Facebook was easily the most popular choice, used by 95% of those businesses, far outdistancing Twitter (used by 60%), LinkedIn (used by 58%), YouTube and other video sharing (used by 45%) and daily/local deal services (used by 23%). The social media business users also rated Facebook as the most effective tool with 82% saying Facebook was effective. 73% said that about video sharing and 55% felt daily/local deals were effective. Twitter and LinkedIn brought up the rear - in a tie - with 47% of businesses using social media saying those are effective tools.

It seems pretty clear to me that nothing is likely to replace websites (and by extension the importance of domain names) any time soon. Small business entrepreneurs are smart enough to use every affordable tool at their disposal and they continue to say that their websites remain the most important weapon in their arsenals.

(Posted May 16, 2011) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Taryn Naidu Moves Up the Ladder at Demand Media - Named Executive VP & General Manager of eNom

Domain industry veteran Taryn Naidu has been named Executive Vice President for Registrar Services and General Manager of eNom, the popular registrar that is a wholly owned subsidiary 


Taryn Naidu
Executive VP & General Manager

of Demand Media and the world’s largest ICANN accredited domain name wholesaler. Naidu joined Demand Media in 2006 as an executive advisor to the eNom management team. He soon joined the company full-time with responsibility for driving business and product development strategy and corporate growth. 

Naidu, a Senior Vice President prior to his latest promotion, will take  on executive leadership of the eNom business. Michael Blend, who previously held that position, will now be working full-time on special projects for Demand Media, reporting to CEO Richard Rosenblatt (who was the subject of our April 2007 Cover Story). 

Blend said, "Coming off a record quarter for eNom in Q1, this is a great time to turn the leadership over to Taryn. We have worked closely together developing this business for nearly five years, and Taryn is the ideal person to lead eNom through its next phase of growth.” 

Prior to joining Demand Media, Naidu, who has a computer science degree from the University of Regina, was the CEO of Pool.com. That domain marketplace originally hired him as an engineer but Naidu rapidly rose through the ranks to become President and ultimately, CEO. 

As industry followers know, Demand Media is a leading content and social media company that,  through its owned and operated web properties, attracts more than 100 million monthly visitors. Demand has also assembled a global network of digital partners and operates an innovative content studio. The Santa Monica, California based company recently went public and is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol: DMD.

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

Executive Re-Alignment at EVO Media/DevHub Gives the Company TWO Presidents + a DOMAINfest Europe Update

Seattle-based EVO Media Group, best known for their DevHub domain development platform, has always done things a little differently and now their unconventional approach is also being 

reflected in the executive suite with the installation of two of the company's founders as Co-Presidents. Mark Michael, who has been serving as EVO Media/DevHub's Vice President of Marketing has moved up to the President's office along with Daniel Rust who has been the Chief Technical Officer. The pairing is appropriate since these two have been in business together since they were 16 years old!

Geoffrey Nuval joined them   

Mark Michael (left) and Daniel Rust
EVO Media Group Co-Presidents 

to co-found EVO Media Group in 2007 and while serving as CEO Nuval helped build the firm into an operationally sound and profitable business. Nuval is also donning another cloak in the executive hierarchy as VP for Business Development.  

Michael said that in their new role as Co-Presidents he and Daniel are "ready to turn EVO into a development powerhouse beginning with several international deals already closed this year which aim to bring 1 million small business websites onto the platform within the next 14 months."

Elsewhere today, with DOMAINfest Europe in Barcelona, Spain now less than a month away, the show organizers at Oversee.net have issued an update on the event that will be held June 7-9, 2011 at the Pullman Barcelona Skipper Hotel. The big news is that for the first time ever, based on requests from local Spanish domainers, DOMAINfest Europe is offering a one-day pass. Anyone can purchase the Wednesday 

(June 8) Day Pass for $295 or the Wednesday Day & Dinner pass for $495. Wednesday’s agenda includes all presentations, panel discussions and Moniker's live domain auction.

A conference spokesperson said "Presentation and panel discussion topics and experts were carefully selected to provide the domain investors, online marketers and website developers in attendance with ideas on how to address important issues impacting their businesses today. Networking activities will play an important role in helping attendees continue the dialog on these topics." You can see the full agenda here, including the slate of relationship-building excursions scheduled for the closing day (Thursday, June 9). 

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

Teen Domainer Brian Diener Wins $10,000 College Scholarship in GoDaddy Essay Contest

I had the pleasure of meeting impressive teenage domain investor Brian Diener a few weeks ago at the South Florida Domainers Group meeting that Secret Millionaire John Ferber hosted at his Boynton Beach, Florida home. I already knew about Brian from reading his well 

written blog at TeenDomainer.com where he has been recounting his adventures as one of the industry's youngest entrepreneurs. From his writing I was expecting to meet a personable, smart young man who is going places and that is exactly what I got. 

I envied Brian for getting such an early start in a business that still offers some of the greatest opportunities you will find anywhere in the business world. I would love to have gotten started in domaining when I was his age - the problem is there was no such thing at the time! Brian is lucky this business exists now and he is taking full advantage of it. The high school senior's experience has already paid off for him in a big way. He just won a $10,000 college scholarship in GoDaddy.com's .ME scholarship competition

In a post about the win on his blog today Brian said, "The essay was on how the internet and social media has had an impact on your life and growing up as a high schooler. I wrote


Brian Diener 
Won $10,000 college scholarship
in GoDaddy,com essay contest.

about my experience in the domain industry and how I see domain names. All of the hours I have spent learning about domaining have finally paid off in my parents eyes!

The $10,000 will come in handy for Brian when he enrolls next fall at Emory University, a top notch (and expensive) private college in Atlanta. He had already won another smaller scholarship ($1,000) for his domain business activity in the National Federation of Independent Business Young Entrepreneur Awards competition. As I said, this young man, whose last day of high school was today, is obviously going places and at the rate he is going, it is not going to take him long to get there!

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

Here We Go Again: New URS Ploy From Overreaching TM Interests Aims to Make It Easier to Take Away Your Domains 

Every time someone asks me what the biggest threats to the domain industry are I always put attempts by covetous parties to change ICANN policies (or even the laws of the land) to make it easier for them  to take your domains without paying for them at or near the top of the list. Well, they are at it again - this time trying to slip one such trojan horse into the .net contract with ICANN that Verisign has up for renewal.

In this case, ICANN's Commercial and Business Users Constituency is proposing that .net be required to adopt some " rights protection" mechanisms from the new gTLD program (even though that program hasn't even been implemented yet!), including the Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS) system that could prove to be enormously damaging to domain owners. If this plan, which would open the door for valuable domains to be suspended, and even transferred, based on a proceeding that costs only $300, slips through unchallenged, the untested URS could be available to complainants against .net domains as soon as July 1st. Even worse, you can then expect it to be imposed on .com next year when that contract comes up again.  

I'm sure it is no coincidence that this proposal was made late in the game - ICANN"s public comment period on the .net contract renewal ends tomorrow (Tuesday, May 10). So, if you want to help head off this latest assault on your assets, you must file your own comment by the end of the day Tuesday by sending an e-mail to [email protected] (as comments come in you can view them here). 

The Internet Commerce Association's Legal Counsel, Phil Corwin, has already posted a strong public objection to the .net contract being altered in this way (other comments in that discussion can be viewed here, including the original objectionable proposal from Mark Monitor's Director of Product Marketing, Elisa Cooper, that URS be inserted into the .net 

ICA Legal Counsel Phil Corwin

contract upon renewal). Corwin wrote, "There has never been any suggestion in the debate on RPMs (rights protection mechanisms) for new gTLDs that whatever was adopted would be immediately imposed on the incumbent gTLDs via the contract renewal process. That position was never even considered, much less supported, by the RAPWG (Registration Abuse Policies Working Group). And imposing URS right now on .net (and by implication, on .com next year) is at complete odds with a balanced UDRP reform process that is informed by, but not necessarily bound to, the experience with new RPMs at the new gTLDs."

Corwin added, "To be clear, ICA has consistently advocated that the goal should be to have equivalent RPMs across all gTLDs so that registrants have the same rights and responsibilities throughout the DNS. But we oppose the immediate imposition of URS on .net, the second largest gTLD and third 

largest overall, through a contract renewal process where those changes would take effect in less than two months - when we don't even know what the final form of those RPMs will be... much less have any real world experience with their workings, effectiveness, and potential for abuse."

So, again, if you want to head this extraordinarily bad idea off at the pass, email your own comment to ICANN at [email protected] letting them know you do not want untested rules developed for new gTLDS to be applied to existing TLDs, particularly through an attempted last minute end run like this one meant to bypass debate on a critical issue and proper vetting of the URS system before it is applied to any gTLD. 

(Posted May 9, 2011) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Messy Divorce: Moniker Founder Monte Cahn's Multi Million Dollar Lawsuit Against Oversee.net Could Get Ugly + One Domain Conference Cancelled, Another Scheduled

I had heard this was coming and Wednesday (May 4) the rumor became a reality when Moniker.com founder Monte Cahn filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit (PDF file) against his former employer, Oversee.net, as well as that company's co-founder Lawrence Ng and its President and CEO Jeff Kupietzkty who were named as individuals. That sets up a domain 

industry version of Clash of the Titans (Cahn, Ng and Kupietzky have all been profiled in DN Journal Cover Stories, with the Cahn article dating all the way back to our first year of publication in 2003 when he was already one of the most widely known figures in the industry).

Cahn had joined Oversee as Moniker's President when they purchased Moniker for $35 million in a deal announced in January 2008. Cahn parted ways with Oversee at the end of 2010 when his contract expired and now alleges that they violated the contract terms of a Management Incentive Plan under which he could have earned as much as $13 million (but wound up receiving nothing). Cahn also alleges that Oversee did not pay him a commission he was due for the sale of Restaurants.com in February 2011, even though he claims to have written evidence of the commission agreement. 

Moniker Founder Monte Cahn 

Oversee VP Mason Cole

In Oversee's response to Cahn's suit, Mason Cole, the company's Vice President of Corporate Communications wrote (in a passage I first saw Wednesday night on the Domainers Magazine website): 

"Predictably, the path Monte Cahn has chosen is needlessly confrontational and provocative. Regrettably, his perceived dispute with Oversee is a result of his own falling short of expectations. This action will do nothing to further his cause and will only result in the needless expense of time and attorneys fees. It is unfortunate that Monte’s actions will impact employees and clients of Moniker, the company he helped found. Monte’s unfounded claims are well overstated and singularly without merit. We will vigorously defend this action and we look forward to resolving this in court at the earliest possible opportunity."

The unusually pointed nature of Cole's response came as a bit of a surprise to me. I have known Mason for a number of years now and have always found him to be a very professional and even tempered person. I have never seen this tone in his corporate communications which indicates to me that, while there is naturally some animosity in just about any lawsuit, there seems to be a higher than usual level of friction between the parties in this one. I asked Cahn about Cole's response but he had no comment, noting that we will all have to wait and see how it all pans out.

Unfortunately, lawsuits like this tend to drag on for at least a couple of years and frustration with the slowly unfolding process and unresolved dispute will likely produce more divisions within the domain community. Cahn is a well liked and widely respected industry pioneer (which is why Oversee wanted him to be part of the package when they acquired Moniker), so you can expect his supporters to be very vocal in his defense, with Oversee backers on the other side of a debate that could quickly get ugly on the blogs and in forums. 

We already know what to expect in that respect because Oversee, over the past couple of years, has already been the target of a number of detractors due to widely publicized incidents involving shill bidding by a SnapNames executive (whom Oversee is now suing) and a privacy breach by a Moniker employee (who is no longer with the company). The lawsuit gives Oversee's opponents more ammunition to fire against them.

Still, while people will have their say on both sides of the issue, in the end it will be up to the court to decide who is in the wrong in this particular instance - that is if the suit goes that far - and that is a big if. While both sides feel they are in the right and will ultimately prevail, the seemingly endless cost and aggravation of being involved in a lawsuit frequently wear down both sides, leading to a settlement before the court rules (as happened last year when the long, drawn out case between DomainTools founder Jay Westerdal and the company that bought DomainTools, Thought Convergence, was settled). If I had to make a prediction that is what I would guess will happen here. 

A couple of other notes today regarding domain conferences. The DomainConvergence conference that was scheduled to run next week (May 12-13) in Montreal has been cancelled by organizer Frank Michlick due to a lack of  registrations. Michlick said, "All paid registration fees will be refunded and sponsors will be compensated"

Meanwhile, Daniel Dryzek, who stages Europe's MeetDomainers conference tells us the date and location for the 2011 event have now been set. This 5th edition of the event will be held in Warsaw, Poland on Friday, October 14, 2011 at the Polonia Palace Hotel. The date falls two days before the 2011 T.R.A.F.F.I.C. connference will be held in the U.S. on Ft. Lauderdale Beach.

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

Second Generation Domain Investor Heather Hartnett Stars on Heather.TV - Plus $20,000 In Cash Up For Grabs in New .Biz Contest at Reseller Club

Regular readers know that I like to keep tabs on offspring of well-known domainers who are making a splash in their own chosen fields of endeavor (in fact one of them, Evan Ross, was featured in this column yesterday). The domain business has always had a "family feel" to me (probably because fellow domain investors are the only people who understand exactly what it is we do for a living!). Over the years, while getting to know a lot of domainers I've also become acquainted with some of their kids and gotten interested in watching them excel at what they do too.  

One of the most successful kids to come out of what we might call the "domain industry gene pool" is Heather Hartnett, daughter of Dr. Chris Hartnett (who was the subject of our June 2008 Cover Story). The interesting thing about Heather is that in addition to her success in the mainstream business world, she is a domain investor too

In her professional life Heather specializes in marketing and communications on behalf of web-based start-ups, non-profit organizations and an array of new media. She is currently the Director of Communications for the David Lynch Foundation and David Lynch Foundation Television (DLF.TV), the online TV channel and media company that showcases the good works of the not-for-profit Foundation founded by the award winning movie director, producer and writer.

Dr. Chris Hartnett & his daughter Heather
at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. West 2008 in Las Vegas.

Now Heather also has a cool new website of her own at Heather.TV that includes some great content including her celebrity interviews with people like Sheryl Crow, Beach Boys lead singer Mike Love, Moby, Ben Harper and others. 

Chris told us how he recently landed the Heather.tv domain to serve as Heather's home base (her new site just launched on April 18th). "Ray Neu (yet another second generation domainer) sent me an email a few weeks back and told me that Heather.TV was for sale in the SnapNames DOT TV auction," Chris said. "So I put in a bid and loaded up the gun with a bunch of gunpowder just in case someone else named Heather was going to try and out bid me! Well I lucked out and it was a whole lot cheaper than a year's college education which I had planned to spend to get Heather her name if I had to. Of all the DOT TV's we own, and we have a few good ones, this is by far my favorite!"

Chris added, "Heather is the TV interviewer to the stars, ranging from the Beach Boys to the Beatles and she jumped on the Russell Brand  band wagon long before anyone in this country really knew who he was and now he has two of the top three movies playing in the USA."

Chris also filled us in on Heather's background as a domain investor. "Heather started  buying domains when she was 11 years old and she was the one that got me to start buying ORGANIC domains long before most were even into organic food," Chris said. "We were living in Europe at the time and by 1996 all of Europe was starting to label food with Organic. Heather said "hey dad, why don't you buy organic domain names?" Some 300 names later I realized that she had a very good idea there. They are in great demand now and my wife Linda and I went to the Organic Health 

Heather Hartnett

Food Show in Los Angeles in March and everyone wanted to buy our domain names. Come to think of it Ron,  I really should listen to the kids more often!," Chris said.

Chris added, "My daughter Kristen got me into the Jewelry and Gemstone Domains in 1998 and my wife Linda got me into the Global Domains in 1996 and my daughter Grace is the one who told me to get into the DOT TV's in the first place - just before the Demand Media May 2007 DOT TV auction -  because she read about it on Demand Media Founder Richard Rosenblatt's Facebook Page. The kids all friended him early on because of MySpace. Actually when you stop and think about it, without all those women in my life, I wouldn't have any decent domains!," Chris laughed.

Elsewhere today, a number of our readers have their own reseller accounts with well-known registrars or hosting companies that allow them to easily set up their own domain registration or website hosting business. Directi's Reseller Club is one of the biggest providers in that space with over 65,000 

resellers currently in their system. A lot of their growth has come from innovative promotional offers like one they announced today that is open to both current and new clients. 

The latest incentive program is a Race Ahead With .BIZ contest offering $20,000 in cash prizes. The money will be divided up between resellers who have the highest number of .BIZ Registrations and those with the highest growth rate in .BIZ registrations between May and July 2011. The contest was divided into those two categories to make sure that all resellers have a shot at the cash. Even new resellers can win by increasing their Growth Rate over the three months contest period.

CEO Bhavin Turakhia said, "We feel these contests not only help incentivize resellers to increase numbers but also encourage a healthy spirit of competition. It definitely makes things interesting!"  

The 'Race ahead with .BIZ' contest runs through July 31, 2011. To opt-in for the Contest and for more details, visit http://www.resellerclub.com/promos/dotbiz.

(Posted May 3, 2011) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

People, Companies & Events in the News: Get Rich Click Debuts at #1, DomainConvergence, Future Trend Domains,  Arabs.com, Evan Ross & Ray Hackney


I've had so many interesting news items come across my desk since Friday I decided to start the new week off with a round up of some those items. Let's start with Marc Ostrofsky's new book about how to make money on the Internet - Get Rich Click! As I told you on Friday when I ran a special pre-release interview with Marc, the book's official release date was today. So, how are sales going now that the book, five years in the making, is finally on bookstore shelves? The answer is spectacularly well!

In fact, as of this writing, Get Rich Click! is the #1 best seller at BarnesAndNoble.com! It is also #1 in three separate categories at Amazon.com - Business Management, Marketing and Business & Culture! I am delighted for Marc to see his hard work paying off and also delighted for our industry as the spotlight that Ostrofsky, a veteran domain investor, is shining on the many opportunities online is a great thing for all of us.

The next stop on the 2011 domain conference circuit - DomainConvergence - is coming up in Montreal, Canada less than two weeks from now - May 12 & 13, 2011 to be specific. The third annual event (Canada’s only annual domain conference) will be held at the La Place D’Arms Hotel and Suites. The show, founded by Frank Michlick, offers a combination of sessions, meals and evening events all geared toward fostering the thought advancement in the domain community. 

This year’s speakers include Randy Panté of FreshBooks, Sharon Hayes of Domainate.com, 

Mark Jeftovic of EasyDNS and Nicolai Bezsonoff of .CO. Rick Silver of N49 Interactive will moderate the conference. You can review the full  agenda here. The registration fee is $599 (Canadian $).

Future trend domains have been getting a lot of attention over the past year, so much so that one of the primary proponents of that category, SuccessClick.com President Stephen Douglas, has organized an online Future Trend Domain Auction that will be run June 21-28, 2011 as a Moniker Showcase auction. Stephen provided all of the background and details on the event (including how to submit domains) in a post on his blog today. 

The founder of Future Media Archtects (a company with a portfolio of more than 120,000 domain names), Thunayan K. AL-Ghanim (who was the subject of the 2nd Cover Story 

in DNJournal's history back in 2003), today announced the launch of a new discussion forum at Arabs.com. The site (available in both English and Arabic languages) is dedicated to freedom of speech and the diversity of voices that make up the heterogeneous region of the Middle East and North Africa.

FMA's press release said, " The site aims to be a free space to publish stories and observations by the peoples of the region as well as those knowledgeable and interested in the region and current affairs enthusiasts in promotion of objective dialog and fostering of understanding amongst participants and members."

In an April 1st post reviewing a South Florida Domainers Group meeting at the home of Secret Millionaire John Ferber, I ran a photo of domainer Scott Ross and his 21-year-old son Evan with Ferber. I referred to Evan as "a rapidly rising young star on the Florida political scene." That was illustrated again Friday (April 29) when the White House tabbed Evan to manage the press corps on hand when President Obama arrived at Miami International Airport for a visit to South Florida. 

Evan Ross (circled at far left in the TV screen capture 
above) was in the official delegation that greeted 
President Obama when he visited Miami last week.

A little over 48 hours later the President was on national TV delivering the stunning news that Osama Bin Laden has been located and killed by a special forces assault team. 

Finally today, I wanted to share a link to a clever animated YouTube video that dispels a lot of the common "easy money" myths about  the domain business. The video was put together by industry veteran Raymond Hackney (who blogs at HybridDomainer.com), a real pro whom I've had the pleasure of knowing for several years now. I think educational YouTube videos like this are great educational tools that foster more understanding of what the domain business in really about. It's a link you might want to bookmark to share with those curious folks we all run across from time to time who want to know more about what we do for a living.

(Posted May 2, 2011) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

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

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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