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June 10, 2014

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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.

The Lowdown on DomainFest: Conference Organizers Talk About What Has Changed and What's Ahead Next Week in Hollywood

The final countdown to the 2014 DomainFest conference in underway with the show set to kick off Monday morning (March 31) in Hollywood, California at the Loews Hollywood Hotel.

As you know, things are always changing in the domain business and the conference field is no exception. While this will be the 9th run for DomainFest, the show organizers from Oversee.net (and their DomainSponsor monetization unit) are switching things up this year with 

changes in dates and the show's name, location and format (multi-track for 2014). To get the Lowdown on why the changes were made and what's in store for attendees I connected with Oversee.net CEO Debra Domeyer and  Senior VP Dwayne Walker for the special pre-show interview below. 

DN Journal: Debra and Dwayne, with DomainFest just days a way, first let me thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to give us this pre-show update. Before we jump into what you have planned for 2014 DomainFest, let's catch up on the changes that have been made since last year's show. The 2013 event, titled Webfest Global for the first time, was held in early February, in what had become the traditional DomainFest time frame (late January/early February). This year you have gone back to the original DomainFest name, moved the dates to early spring and switched the location from Santa Monica back to Hollywood where the show ran for several years before moving  across town to the oceanfront Fairmont Miramar where it has been held since 2010. What led to the name, date and location changes for this year's conference? 

Debra Domeyer (CEO, Oversee.net): When you run a conference for 9 years, the challenge is to keep it fresh. Attendees are always our top priority and it’s essential that our conferences continue to offer a valuable experience and lots of fun and networking. So we cleared the board and looked at this from a new perspective. We realized that DomainFest is a very strong brand and needed to be the centerpiece of our conference series. The growing strength of the domain industry also played a huge part in our decision-making. Hollywood was always a favorite for attendees. 

DN Journal: With your move to early spring, a new conference, NamesCon quickly filled the January gap and drew well in Las Vegas, where the next T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference will also be held in late May. This created an unexpected situation for many show goers - three west coast conferences in the first six months of the year. There was also the just 

Oversee.net CEO Debra Domeyer
at Webfest Global 2013

completed ICANN Singapore conference in March. Even though the industry is back in expansion mode, there is only so much money to go around. Has the bigger crowd in a shorter time frame had any noticeable effect on DomainFest 2014?

Oversee.net Sr. VP Dwayne Walker
at Webfest Global 2013

Dwayne Walker (Senior Vice President, Oversee.net): We’ve had a very positive response to the conference with its new date. There is so much interest in domain names today that our industry is rapidly going mainstream. This is good news for domain owners, online businesses, startups and investors. Our format with different tracks is attracting new attendees to the conference. Clearly, the focus on startups, raising money, running online businesses, gTLDs and monetizing Internet traffic has created a buzz. We expect that attendance at this DomainFest to be larger than last year’s DomainFest. There are also a record number of companies sponsoring DomainFest this year!

DN Journal: DomainFest has a long record of success built upon on world famous keynoters, a solid agenda, unique social events and an attractive location in Los Angeles. Looking at the agenda,  that would appear to be one thing that remains 

the same. Tell us about some of the agenda highlights you are particularly excited about this year.

Dwayne Walker (Senior Vice President, Oversee.net): Our agenda really hits the hot topics for our industry. In a departure from the past couple of years, we are running multiple tracks so we cover all the subjects that are important to our industry. We have experts covering gTLDs and Registrars, Domain Monetization, Successfully Running Online Businesses and Start-ups.  We’ve been able to attract speaker experts with deep knowledge in their respective fields. And for the first time, we have a startup track with some very memorable names in the world of venture capitalists.

Our first keynoter is best-selling author, successful online business entrepreneur and social media expert Gary Vaynerchuk. Gary is a terrific speaker with millions of Facebook fans and Twitter followers. Stay tuned for a “ jab," in Gary’s  lexicon--anything of value — a joke, an idea, shared information, an introduction. We are also happy to welcome .CLUB Domains CMO Jeffrey Sass; Dan Schindler, Co-Founder of Donuts; and Rich Merdinger, Vice President, Domains for GoDaddy; Daniel Negari CEO of .XYZ and .College as keynoters on the second and third day, respectively, of the conference

There’s also an online premium domain name auction in partnership with NameJet with some great domains available for sale. 

DomainFest has always been known for its networking and social events. That tradition is alive and well. On Monday night,  .CLUB is hosting a welcome reception to kick off the .CLUB land rush. On Tuesday, there’s a private concert with Grammy-award winning rock band Stone Temple Pilots with Chester Bennington.  And we close out the event with our networking party at the Hollywood famous SkyBar, one of LA most beautiful venues. 

DN Journal: The main topic of 

Stone Temple Pilots with Chester Bennington
will play at Domainfest Tuesday night (April 1)
Photo courtesy of StoneTemplePilots.com

discussion in just about all industry circles this year is the arrival of new gTLDs. After a long recession, many are hoping that new gTLDs will help fuel a new growth spurt in the industry.  Are they, at the early stage they are in now, having a positive impact on DomainFest in terms of attendee and sponsor interest?

Dwayne Walker (Senior Vice President, Oversee.net):  .CLUB being the platinum sponsor of DomainFest says it all. During the conference .CLUB will launch its Land Rush period with thousands of premium quality names included at Land Rush prices. Other gTLDs are sponsoring as well: Donuts, .bar and .rest, and .xyz & .college. All in all, we have a record number of sponsors this year.

Attendees are very interested in gTLDs. We are running three days of panels on this subject because the topic is so hot. The speaker/experts who are participating cover a very broad range of topics that include:

•  The New gTLD Land Grab – Panelists provide an overview of the gTLD landscape and the players.  The moderator is Daniel Schindler, Co-Founder & Executive Vice President of Donuts Inc. Panelist include Steve Banfield, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Registrar Services for Rightside, and Raymond King, CEO of Top Level Design, LLC.

•  Winning Registry Strategies – Listen to the top registry strategies. The moderator is Karen Bernstein, Principal, Bernstein IP. Panelists include Colin Campbell, CEO of .CLUB Domains LLC; Daniel Negari, CEO of .XYZ and .College; and Daniel Schindler, Co-Founder and Executive Vice President of Donuts Inc.

•  Rising Stars – Experts debate which gTLDs are the clear winners in the market and which are the ones to watch and why. The moderator is Tina Dam, Co-Founder of MyTLD. Panelists are Aaron Grego, CEO of Punto 2012; Joe Alagna, Vice President of Channel Development for 101Domain.com; and Bret Fausett, Esq., General Counsel for Uniregistry, Inc.

•  Untapped Opportunities for Promoting gTLDs - This session focuses on using new business models to generate revenue. The moderator is Andrew Allemann, Editor of DomainNameWire.com. Panelists are Melissa Dafini, Marketing Strategist for Punto 2012, and Bob Mountain, Chief Revenue Officer for Afternic.com.

•  Self-Regulation within the DNS Industry – The moderator is Raymond King, CEO of Top Level Design LLC. Panelists include Akram Atallah, President of the Global Domains Division for ICANN, and Reg Levy, Vice President of Compliance and Policy for Minds and Machines.

•  ICANN Update on gTLD Rollout – This panel provides information on what ICANN is doing.  This discussion features Akram Atallah, President of the Global Domains Division for ICANN.

•  The Next Generation Registrars and Registry Services – This seminar provides insights into the engines behind gTLDs.  Panelists are Rich Merdinger, Vice President of Domains for GoDaddy, and Ben Crawford, Chief Executive Officer for CentralNic PLC.

•  Risks and Limitations – The panelists share their thoughts on brand, trademark, and legal issues involved in owning gTLDs. The moderator is William A. Delgado, Partner, Willenken Wilson Loh & Delgado LLP. Panelists include Karen Bernstein, Principal of Bernstein IP; Kelly Hardy, North American Business Development for .ME; and Don Moody, J.D. and M.S., New gTLD Disputes.

•  How Long Until This Pays Off? – Experts discuss building long-term value around gTLDs and when to buy, hold, resell and flip. The moderator is Victor Pitts, Director of Domain Services for Above.com. Panelists are Alan Dunn, Senior Vice President of Acquisitions and Divestments for Domain Holdings, and Pinky Brand, Vice President of Strategy and Partner Relations for TLD Registry Ltd.

DN Journal:  One other question about the industry at large. We are sensing a renewed optimism about how things are going in the industry, including seeing a lot of large aftermarket domain sales (with several seven-figure sales reported this month alone) and all of the activity surrounding new gTLDs. Oversee is in a position to know what is happening in multiple industry categories. Based on your own business, how have things been going over the past year and what is your sense of how things will trend through 2014?

Debra Domeyer and Dwayne Walker:  We see very positive trends for 2014. We believe that the value and success of domains, online businesses and the Internet economy in general will continue to increase. 

Growth image from Bigstock

DN Journal:  Thanks again for your time and sharing your insight. Is there anything else you would like to add before about DomainFest 2014?

Debra Domeyer and Dwayne Walker: We’re really looking forward to a great DomainFest conference filled with tremendous speakers, panels, attendees and of course networking – we’re really looking forward to seeing everyone!!  

(Posted March 27, 2014) 

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