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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.

Oh My! Rook Media Buys DomainSponsor in a MAJOR Shakeup of the Domain Monetization Business 

Consolidation continues to change the domain world as we knew it. In one of the biggest mashups to date, Rook Media acquired Oversee.net's seminal domain monetization business, DomainSponsor (including a large portfolio of domains owned by DS), in a deal announced today. The price was not disclosed. DomainSponsor was founded in 2002, the same year I entered the domain business and they quickly became a huge power in the PPC space. It was such a lucrative sector that many competitors followed and even in the wake of a devastating recession and upstream providers (primarily Google) dramatically slicing payouts to domain owners, new entrants continued to join the fray (even as others were exiting). 

One of the most successful new players has been Zurich, Switzerland based Rook Media 

who we profiled in an April 2013 Cover Story. While Rook, founded in 2011, was new as a corporate entity, its five principals are very experienced players in the domain monetization business with their bonds formed during time they spent together at NameDrive.com. I spoke with Rook Media COO Daniel Law this afternoon and he said he has been working on the DomainSponsor acquisition for two years now. Law also credited Gregg McNair, who has close contacts at both Rook and Oversee, with helping make the deal happen (McNair is involved in many industry enterprises, including domain brokerage company Igloo.com). For the foreseeable future the Rook and DomainSponsor websites will continue to operate under the same names with Rook incorporating the best features of each on the two platforms.

Debra Domeyer, the CEO at Los Angeles based Oversee.net said, “Rook Media is the perfect company to buy Oversee’s domain monetization business. They value its industry leadership, technology, clients, and talented team. Coupled with Rook’s leadership in Europe, the combined entity has an unsurpassed breadth of product offering and monetization solutions.” 

Rook Media CEO Ash Rahimi

Rook Media CEO Ash Rahimi
Rook Media CEO Ash Rahimi

Rook Media CEO Ash Rahimi said, "The combination of Rook Media and DomainSponsor is a game changer for our industry. These two companies complement each other’s strengths and will provide our customers with the best US and international domain monetization solution.  With unmatched relationships with the biggest advertising providers in the industry and our combined in-house technology solutions, there has literally never been a better way to monetize domains.” 

Oversee said that over 230 million unique users per month visit DomainSponsor’s direct navigation ad network. Rook Media believes the know-how that has allowed them to raise payment standards and realize substantial growth in the monetization space will allow them to serve DomainSponsor's current clients very well.

Oversee.net continues to own and operates a portfolio of websites and mobile apps in travel, retail and consumer finance and, with the completion of this transaction, they now expect to focus on more aggressively developing those growth businesses. 

It remains to be seen what Oversee will now do with the DomainFest conference that they have staged under the DomainSponsor banner annually for the past decade (the 2014 edition was just held in Hollywood, California). The conference was not part of the deal with Rook and 

with Oversee having now divested itself of DomainSponsor, as well as domain registrar Moniker.com and auction platform SnapNames, it would not be surprising if they decided a domain conference no longer fits their business model. 

With Easter having just been celebrated Sunday, it is also interesting to note that Daniel Law left a little "easter egg" in the comments he made in our annual State of the Industry Cover Story back in January. Law had already been working on the DomainSponsor acquisition for some time and though he couldn't talk about it openly he did say this about the domain monetization space, "It seems to me that the field is ripe for consolidation and I think one of the further challenges of 2014 will be how to take advantage of and engender this needed maturation, as well as tempering it to be a positive change clearly evident to the outside world." As of today, at least from Rook's standpoint, consider that challenge met in a big way with David essentially acquiring Goliath.

Rook Media COO Daniel Law

It seems to me that the field is ripe for consolidation and I think one of the further challenges of 2014 will be how to take advantage of and engender this needed maturation, as well as tempering it to be a positive change clearly evident to the outside world. - See more at: http://www.dnjournal.com/cover/2014/january-page2.htm#sthash.DpHVPX6J.dpuf
It seems to me that the field is ripe for consolidation and I think one of the further challenges of 2014 will be how to take advantage of and engender this needed maturation, as well as tempering it to be a positive change clearly evident to the outside world. - See more at: http://www.dnjournal.com/cover/2014/january-page2.htm#sthash.DpHVPX6J.dpuf
It seems to me that the field is ripe for consolidation and I think one of the further challenges of 2014 will be how to take advantage of and engender this needed maturation, as well as tempering it to be a positive change clearly evident to the outside world. - See more at: http://www.dnjournal.com/cover/2014/january-page2.htm#sthash.DpHVPX6J.dpuf

(Posted April 21, 2014)


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