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May 21, 2015

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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.

Closing Day Photos & Highlights from the 1st WHD.usa Conference Held in America

The first WorldHostingDays conference ever held in America - WHD.usa - came to a close Wednesday night (May 20, 2015) at the Seven Springs Mountain Resort in western Pennsylvania. WHD is known for both the quality of the shows they run and their preference for gorgeous but remote locations that keep attendees close together in one place. The locations they choose and their creative approach to social activities creates an ideal atmosphere for networking and relationship building. You'll see what I mean in the photos & highlights from the final day of WHD.usa below.

Above: In one of the most interesting morning sessions Wednesday Weebly.com Vice Presidents Chris Sheridan (left) and Nick Dellis (right) provided insight into who is building websites today and the key trends in the website creator space (a space where Weebly is one of the most dominant players). They emphasized their growing focus on enabling people to build sites that are universally mobile friendly. Sheridan summed it up as "your vision on every device" (all the way down to smart watches).

Below: WHD.usa also scored a coup by landing Tim Wu as a featured speaker for the noon hour. Wu is the Columbia University Law School Professor who created the term "net neutrality" and authored the book The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires." Wu laid out all of the compelling reasons why the Internet must remain an open playing field with no single (or small number) of mega corporations controlling the pipeline and what flows through it. 

The daytime business sessions ended at 1:30pm when lunch was served. Then the rest of the day was devoted to some special outdoor networking activities that were tremendously effective in bringing people together. Attendees could choose from golf tournaments (9 hole or 18), riding ziplines through the sky or sporting clays shooting. Looking for something out of the ordinary (at least for us) we split our time between the Screaming Hawk Zipline and Sporting Clays.

Above: With an instructor looking on Felipe Guacache of Open-Xchange tries his hand at shooting clay targets. I met Felipe for the first time in Pennsylvania, only to learn that he lives just a few miles from me in Tampa, Florida!

Below: Re-loading before another set of targets is released.

While the novice marksmen were shooting (above) others were getting ready to test the Screaming Hawk Zipline a few miles away (below). I jumped on a shuttle bus to go check out what they were doing.

Before you can go flying through the sky on a zipline safety consideratins requires some careful preparation. Above: Instructors fit WHD.usa guests with harnesses, hooks, ropes and gloves.

Below: While still at ground level, an instructor shows everyone what they need to know and do when they get up on the platform and go airborne.

Above: One of the hardest parts is climbing the long rope net to the launch platform!

Below: Finally! A chance to fly with the eagles across the Pennsylvania mountainside.

Below: After landing on a narrow perch a couple of hundred yards away, it is time to take the return flight!

The afternoon activities had everyone buzzing when they returned to the hotel for the final events of WHD.usa 2015

Above: At 6:30pm, Erik Martin (left), the former General Manager of Reddit who is now the US GM at Depop was interviewed by Servint President (and i2Coalition Chairman) Christian Dawson in a pre-dinner session that was both highly informative and delightfully funny thanks to the off kilter sense of humor the two men share. They would have fit right in on David Letterman's final show tonight.

Below: An hour later the curtain came down on the first WorldHostingDays show in America with a VIP Executive Dinner that put an exclamation mark on an awesome week.

Of course, with conferences, they are never really over until you are in the car or on the plane headed home. As soon as I left the closing night dinner I ran into a half-dozen friends lingering outside and just had to stop to spend another half hour or so trading stories and figuring out where our paths would next intersect down the line. It's a good thing I stopped too because I stumbled upon some breaking news. Popular domain industry veteran Frank Michlick (DomainCocoon.com) finally got a haircut! I never knew why our friend from Canada wore glasses because his hair always covered them anyhow! Frank (below) allowed that the shorter hairdo has indeed improved his vision dramatically. Thanks to this less than extreme makeover, we also now know that Frank is not only one of the smartest guys in the business, but one of the best looking too! 

So, now it is time to fly back to Florida, though for some reason I have an itch to go by zipline rather than airline. A big thank you to WHD.usa (who made a great first impression on the side of the pond) and InterNetX who invited me to come up and see what a hosting conference looks like. I learned some things I didn't know about the relationship between the domain and hosting businesses - a relationship there is reason to believe will get closer in the years ahead. I'll expand on that and some other topics inspired by this trip in an upcoming Cover Story.

(Posted May 21, 2015)

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