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August 17, 2016

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The Lowdown
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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.

$135 Million Winning Bid for .WEB Sets a Stunning High Water Mark for Rights to Run a New gTLD

After a legal challenge failed to stop ICANN from auctioning off the rights to run coveted new domain extension .WEB Wednesday, the competition among bidders went on as scheduled with the new gTLD going to Nu Dot Co LLC with a startling high bid of $135 million. That is more than triple the previous top dollar paid for a new gTLD (the $41.5 million that GMO Registry Inc. spent in an auction for .shop in January).

If the name Nu Dot Co LLC doesn't sound familiar to you it's because it is a new legal entity that, as Domain Name Wire noted Thursday, almost 

.WEB Sticker Shock!
(Image from Bigstock.com)

certainly represents the interests (and deep pockets) of domain industry giant Verisign, who already operates the .com and .net registries. That certainly makes sense (even if the price doesn't) as many considered .web to have the best chance of challenging .com's overwhelming dominance on the web. It is also a natural threat to their .net.

Now, if .web does prove to be a big winner, Verisign just gets stronger. If it doesn't the multi-billion dollar corporation is one of the few that can absorb a $135 million investment that doesn't pay off without batting an eye. In any case they keep .web from falling into the hands of a competitor.

The auction itself is big news for the industry and especially for the new gTLDs that need all of the publicity they can get as they struggle to make the public aware of the hundreds of new alternatives to legacy extensions. While it will pain many of them to see their chief 

competitor, the industry's 800-pound gorilla, snap up one of the new gTLD "crown jewels", the news is all over the web on both industry and mainstream media sites.

That will be little consolation to the bidders that didn't win .WEB (especially since all of the proceeds go to ICANN rather than being split up among other auction participants as has been the case in most previous new gTLD auctions), but  numbers like $135 million always draw attention, so it's another plank in the recognition bridge.

(Posted July 29, 2016) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

One of the World's 10 Most Popular TLDs - Netherlands ccTLD .NL - Continued Its Growth in 2Q-2016

With new gTLDs pushing the number of domain extensions available worldwide well past the 1,000 mark, the sheer numbers are making it more difficult than ever to stand out in the crowd. When I saw a new report on 2Q-2016 results for the Netherlands' .NL ccTLD today it occurred to me that even some that rank among the world's ten most popular extensions don't always get the recognition their positions would warrant. 

The Dutch love their TLD. Even though the country has only the 64th largest population 

Image from Bigstock.com

among nations, its ccTLD is the 6th largest in the world - and 9th largest among all extensions, including gTLDs like .com, .net and .org (this according to Verisign's latest Domain Name Industry Brief).


Sean Schuurman van Rouwendal
Marketing Analyst, SIDN

.NL is administered by SIDN (Stichting Internet Domeinregistratie Nederland). A post by their Marketing Analyst, Sean Schuurman van Rouwendal, on the SIDN blog today broke down the extension's results for the most recent quarter. The total number of .NL registrations rose to 5,643,201 at the end of 2Q-2016 after posting an overall gain of more than 25,000 domains in the second quarter when over 204,000 new names were registered and a little over 182,000 deleted. 

Schuurman van Rouwendal noted, "Growth was higher than expected because the number of cancellations was not as high as anticipated. The cancellation rate appears to be slackening throughout the registrar community. For some time now, the registration and cancellation numbers have followed near-parallel courses. That is in contrast to the pattern in the period up to the middle of 2014, during which registrations were falling while cancellations were rising."  

In his post Sean provide graphs showing this trend and other metrics, including the growth of new gTLDs that will be of special interest to those following that category. Schuurman van Rouwendal said most new gTLD growth came from bulk  buying in China at very low price points. How well that will pay off for registry operators will of course depend on how many of those domains get renewed.

(Posted July 26, 2016) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

Controversy Surrounds ICANN's .Web Auction Wednesday + Web.biz Sold & TDC Awards Nominations Open

The rights to .Web - a new gTLD that some think could become the most popular of the hundreds issued to date - are scheduled to be auctioned off by ICANN Wednesday (July 25). There are eight contenders for the TLD and some of them want the sale postponed, including the largest operator of new gTLDs, Donuts, who filed suit Friday in an attempt to stop the auction. 

DomainIncite.com detailed what is 

Internet auction image from BigStock.com

behind dispute in an article released over the weekend and DomainNameWire.com provided additional background today. You can also see some opinions on what is at stake in this piece at TheWhir.com. We are well past July 4th but there could be some more fireworks ahead in the next day or two while we wait to see what happens Wednesday.

Anshul Goyal
Founder, iWeb.biz

"Web" is, of course, also a popular keyword when used with any domain  extension. We just learned of another example of that when well-known Indian domain investor/developer Anshul Goyal let us know he has sold Web.biz for $19,200 via Sedo to Romania's Hosting Media SRL

Goyal had a new development ready to go on  Web.biz when the offer came in. As a result, that project was moved to iWeb.biz. The site went live over the weekend and should be fully functional shortly (at this writing some features return "coming soon" notices).  Goyal's new project is a  platform offering a domain name, website, hosting and 10 email addresses in one low cost bundle ($10 or less). For those on a tight budget - often the case with small businesses in India where the vast majority still has no web presence at all  - there is also a $3.99 option built on a sub-domain of iWeb.biz.

Elsewhere today - THE Domain Conference (that is coming up September 10-14, 2016 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida) has opened nominations for their annual Domain Industry Awards. The deadline for nominations is 6pm Thursday, July 28 (U.S. Eastern time). The Awards Ceremony is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, September 13th as one of the featured events at THE Domain Conference that will again run at the  Hyatt Regency Pier 66 Hotel.

You are welcome to submit your own nominations by filling your choices in on the form below and emailing it to  [email protected].

You may nominate one person or company in each of the following categories:  


I nominate ___________________________________________



I nominate ___________________________________________



I nominate __________________________________________



I nominate ________________________________________



I nominate _______________________________________



I nominate _______________________________________



I nominate ____________________________________



I nominate _____________________________________


DOMAIN INDUSTRY HALL OF FAME (two people are inducted each year, but only nominate one):  

I nominate _____________________________________

*(The following have already been inducted to the DOMAIN INDUSTRY HALL OF FAME: Rick Schwartz, Ron Jackson, Monte Cahn, Michael Berkens, Dr. Chris Hartnett, John Berryhill, David Castello, Michael Castello, Frank Schilling, Yun Yi, Scott Day, Sahar Sarid, Rick Latona, Howard Neu, Adam Dicker, Mike Mann, Chad Folkening, Jeff Gabriel, Igal Lichtman, Andrew Rosener, Michael Cyger, Richard Lau). 

(Posted July 25, 2016) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

Elliot Silver About to Bicycle 163 Miles to Raise Money for Cancer Care & Research + a 2016 DomainX Conference Update

On August 6 & 7 DomainInvesting.com Founder Elliot Silver will be riding a bike 163 miles over a two-day stretch to help raise funds for Boston's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, America's #1 ranked pediatric cancer center. The ride, from Wellesley, Massachusetts to Provincetown, Massachusetts is part of the 2016 Pan-Mass Challenge that hopes to raise $46 million for Dana-Farber. 

The money will come from donations made in the name of each of the approximately 6,000 riders from over 40 states and many foreign countries. Each rider sets his or her own goal and maintains their own fundraising page. Elliot, who will ride in the Pan-Mass Challenge for the 3rd time, raised over $8,300 in his 2015 ride. This year he set his goal at $10,000 back in February and as of this writing his page shows him just shy of the $8,000 mark with two weeks to go.

On his page Elliot noted that he and his wife Karen have been members of the Friends of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute since moving to Massachusetts. He noted, "I think just about everyone knows someone who is battling or who has battled cancer. I have friends and family 

Elliot Silver

who have dealt with cancer, and I want to help support Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, a great organization that is helping people fight cancer and helping to find a cure for cancer."

Today, NamesCon Founder Richard Lau (a cancer survivor himself) wrote an article for DomainInvesting that included a generous offer designed to help Elliot reach his fundraising goal (Richard also donated $500 to the effort on behalf of NamesCon). 

The 2017 NamesCon conference is coming up January 22-25 in Las Vegas and many in the industry are already buying their tickets for the event. By buying them within the next week, you can get them for $599 and support Elliot's effort in a big way. That is because Lau made this offer in his article: "For each Advance Savings Ticket purchased between now and July 30th, NamesCon will donate $300 directly to Elliot’s fundraising efforts – and we’ll even include your name in the supporting message!"

Just about everyone I know in the industry will be going to NamesCon anyhow, so if you haven't gotten your ticket yet, this would obviously be a great time to do it so you can simultaneously help this great cause.

One other note today. On the same weekend Elliot will be riding in the Pan Mass Challenge, I was planning to be at the 2016 DomainX conference in New Delhi, India. Unfortunately, an unexpected development has arisen that will  prevent me from attending. However I still expect to be able to provide our readers with coverage of the event with the help of DomainX organizers and associates who will be on site and will share their photos and first hand accounts of conference activity with us (as they did with this month's World Domain Conference in Wuzhen, China).

I will miss seeing the many friends we made at last year's show (and making new ones) but am looking forward to continuing to cover one of the world's fastest growing and most promising domain communities for many years to come.

(Posted July 23, 2016) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

Verisign's Latest Domain Name Industry Brief Shows Global Registrations Jumped 11% in Past Year

Verisign, the administrator of the .com and .net registries, released their latest quarterly Domain Name Industry Brief (DNIB) covering the first quarter of 2016 today. The 1Q-2016 DNIB, covering all domain extensions, revealed total domain registrations worldwide had reached 326.4 million at the end of the first quarter. That is 12 million more than the number at the end of the previous quarter, representing a 3.8% increase in 90 days. 

The year over year jump was 32.4 milion names - a  healthy double digit increase of 11%. Verisign said .com, the world's most popular extension by far, now has 126.6 million registrations with .net reaching 15.9 million. Between the two their 142.5 million total registration is 7.1% more than at this time last year.

The latest DNIB also revealed that 4.9% of all current registrations represent new gTLDs with 16.1 million of those now on the books. The total number of ccTLDs rose to 148.2 million - an 8.2% increase year over year (10.4% if you take out .tk which is an extension that is given away at no charge). You can download the full brief (with more interesting data) here. There is also an infographic version here.

(Posted July 19, 2016) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

THE Domain Conference Adds Separate Startup Saturday Event to September Show Week in Florida 

THE Domain Conference (TDC), that returns to Fort Lauderdale, Florida for their 2016 show September 10-14, just announced conference week will include a separate "Startup Saturday" event for new businesses that will be held from 10am-5pm on September 10th. Startup Saturday will be 

staged at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 Hotel - the same venue where THE Domain Conference will conduct their second annual five-day domain industry summit.

The Hyatt Regency Pier 66 Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida where Startup Saturday and THE Domanin Conference will be staged in September.

TDC's announcement of the event noted, "Many potential Startups and small businesses are missing certain building blocks that will lead it to being a success, so we decided to bring in some of our incredible TDC speakers to share the key to their success. Startup Saturday attendees will  leave with an idea or project that they can begin working on immediately to help bolster their business or better cultivate their idea."

FashionMetric.com Co-Founder Morgan Linton and Ambition Insight Founder & CEO Brett Napoli will be featured speakers at Startup Saturday. Topics will include Key Components of Branding, How to Create a Great Logo, Finding the Perfect Name, Beware of Domain Limiting and Marketing for the Year You're In. There will also be live website and social media critiques and advice on raising money from VCs and Angel Investors.

The first 50 people who register for Startup Saturday will get free tickets

After that the cost is $49.99 (there is no cost for anyone that is registered for THE Domain Conference). TDC organizers are promoting the event to mainstream business entrepreneurs in South Florida so expect to meet a lot of new people if you attend. 

THE Domain Conference already had its first day of poolside cabana networking scheduled for September 10th. Now TDC guests will have a second option for part or all of that day with Startup Saturday going on indoors. Cabana networking continues Sunday, Sept. 11 with TDC's welcome party that night in the revolving rooftop on top of the hotel. Two full business days will follow Sept. 12 & 13 with the 2016 event closing with a Farewell Breakfast on the rooftop Wednesday morning, September 14. 

(Posted July 18, 2016) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

THE Domain Conference Tabs Tobias Flaitz and Lori Anne Wardi to Deliver Keynotes at Florida Show in September 

THE Domain Conference (TDC) has landed two accomplished keynote speakers for their 2nd annual show coming up September 10-14, 2016 at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. As most of you know, TDC debuted last September under the direction of Howard, Barbara and Ray Neu, all well known throughout the industry after a decade of helping stage the pioneering T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference that Howard co-founded with Rick Schwartz in 2004 (T.R.A.F.F.I.C. held its final show in 2014 when Mr. Schwartz retired, with TDC then formed to fill what would have been a large Florida void on the conference calendar). 

After a successful debut in 2015, the stars also appear to be lining up for their return to Fort Lauderdale, especially with the two seasoned leaders they have lined up as headliners - Sedo CEO Tobias Flaitz and Neustar VP Lori Ann Wardi.  

Tobias Flaitz (Sedo CEO) and Lori Anne Wardi (Neustar VP Registry Services)
will be Keynote Speakers for the 2016 edition of THE Domain Conference

You can read the impressive bios of Tobias and Lori Anne on the TDC website's Speakers page where you will also find details on another 16 (and counting) industry experts that have already been added to the agenda. Despite their experience in the field many of them will be people taking time out to speak to a domain investors group for the first time, including Stacey King, the General Manager for Amazon Registry Services.  

The burgeoning China market will be represented by another featured speaker  - Liangji Zhuang (BookSir), a successful serial entrepreneur, domain name investor, Booksir investment founder, vice director of ISCSME, expert advisor of ISC, and executive vice-director of research center for the commercial development of SMEs. Mr. Zhuang published a book that named “拆掉互联网那堵墙 (Dismantling the Wall of Internet)” in 2014 that has sod more than 100,000. copies.

Registration for THE Domain Conference is open now. You c an also book hotel rooms at the beautiful Hyatt Regency Pier 66 (situated on 22 lush acres between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway) at a show rate of $109 a night for pool view rooms or $129 for tower view rooms (those rates include free internet and no resort fee). 

Liangji Zhuang (Booksir)

(Posted July 14, 2016) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

Escrow.com Moving U.S. Office from Southern California to San Francisco - Reports Other Major Changes

There have been a lot of changes at Escrow.com since the company was acquired by Australia's Freelancer.com last year. After expanding their management team and giving the company's website a major makeover, Escrow.com has also just announced major change in their physical location. They are moving their U.S. office from its long time home in Southern California (in Orange County, southeast of Los Angeles) to downtown San Francisco where Vice President of Sales Danny Raja will head the office. 

Danny joined Escrow.com in April after serving as a Senior Sales Executive at both Box and Yammer. General Manager Jackson Elsegood and Keith Gettle, who has been promoted to Operations Manager, will be working closely with Danny on Escrow.com’s major partnerships. Their new San Francisco office at 180 Montgomery Street is one of four new Escrow.com offices with others located in Vancouver, Canada, Sydney, Australia and Manila, in the Philippines.

Danny Raja
Escrow.com VP of Sales

Escrow.com's new U.S. office at 180 Montgomery Street in downtown San Francisco.

Matt Barrie, Chief Executive at Escrow.com parent  for the Freelancer Limited Group (ASX:FLN), said, "San Francisco is the logical best location for the headquarters for Escrow.com, being closest to partners, as well as allowing for further expansion in customer support, payments and major account management.” (Escrow.com’s relocation to San Francisco is subject to approval by the Commissioner of Business Oversight in California).

At the same time they announced their move to San Francisco, Escrow.com provided an update on several other changes made since Freelancer acquired the business. A press release noted, "The backend infrastructure for Escrow.com has been upgraded and migrated to Amazon AWS. Support hours have been extended and customer support is now multilingual (commencing in Chinese). New transaction types including domain name 

Matt Barrie
CEO, Freelancer Limited Group

holding transactions have been launched and the payments management team has been greatly expanded (headed by group CFO Neil Katz). In addition, the Escrow.com compliance team has grown significantly under Group VP Compliance Greg Robinson (formerly with Paypal and Colonial First State).

Escrow.com added that those changes helped the company pass 1 million registered users this year. Gross payment volume for Escrow.com in 2015 exceeded US $430 million, growing at almost double the five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR), with total payment volume to date reaching US $2.9 billion.

(Posted July 12, 2016) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

Agenda Released for 2016 DomainX Conference in India - Frank Schilling & Bill Karamouzis to Deliver Keynotes 

India's 3rd annual DomainX conference will be held August 6-7 at Shangra-La's Eros Hotel in New Delhi, India. The event was launched to fuel growth in the domain business throughout India and toward that end it has been held in a different location each year, starting with Hyderabad in 2014 then Bangalore in 2015 and now the nation's capital in New Delhi.

With each outing, the goal of DomainX organizers Manmeet Pal-Singh Mahal and Gaurav Kohli is to have a bigger event than the last with more registrants, speakers and sponsors from around the world. With respect to putting industry leading experts on their stage, the 2016 agenda features a line up that any conference would be delighted to present. On the main business day Sunday, August 7, in the morning alone, attendees will see in succession, Chief Guest Samiran Gupta, the Head of India for ICANN, followed by two keynote addresses - one from legendary domain 

investor and Uniregistry Founder Frank Schilling and another from celebrated developer Bill Karamouzis (CEO at TeachMe.com). 

The main business day at DomainX 2016 wil get off to a fast start with successive addresses from (left to right) Samiran Gupta (ICANN India), Frank Schilling (Uniregistry) and Bill Karamouzis (TeachMe.com CEO).

In yet another interesting talk before the 1pm Lunch Break Sunday, Sedo's Global CSO Dima Bietzke will have a presentation called Premium Domain Names: The hidden champions for your success. With ace moderator Braden Pollock from LegalBrandMarketing.com on hand to elicit the most valuable information from panelists possible, four more business sessions will follow lunch before the day and conference closes with a 5pm Awards Ceremony.

The afternoon Sunday will begin with Donuts Inc. Business Development Director Anand Vora answering the question Is India a Domain Investor's Market? Next up attendees who need answers to their legal questions will have an opportunity to Ask the Domain Name Legal Experts in a panel discussion that will feature Zak Muscovitch, Rodney D Ryder, Gurpreet Singh Monga & Ankur Raheja.

Another highly anticipated address is scheduled for 3:15 pm when Jon Yau will talk about the Evolution of StockPhoto.com - a domain he bought for $250,000 and built into a highly successful ecommerce business. The show's final business session also looks like a winner with a panel discussion about domain values called Will This Sell? Jon Yau, Bill Karamouzis, Jordi G Cros, AbdulBasit Makrani, Paul Singh and Gaurav Kohli will all weigh in on how to improve your prospects for making end user sales.

Anand Vora (Donuts Inc.) will kick off the DomainX afternoon sessions July 7. 

While that sums up the Sunday schedule you may be saying, "wait a minute - didn't you forget something - what about opening day - Saturday, July 6!?" There will be plenty going on that day too but it will be devoted entirely to what just about every conference goer worldwide says is the most important reason they go to shows - the opportunity for face to face networking and relationship building. DomainX is going to facilitate that in a spectacular way by taking guests on a daytrip to the world famous Taj Mahal in Agra on Saturday.

Where else but DomainX can you do some casual networking while visiting one of 
the world's most famous icons - the Taj Mahal?
(Taj Mahal image from Bigstock). 

After everyone is back from the Taj Mahal - a full evening of networking will still be ahead of them, starting with tea, coffee & cookies at 5:30pm. Saturday evening will also include a whisky tasting session and dinner (at 9:30pm) with festivities continuing until around midnight. 

DomainX is set up in a way that allows you to customize your conference experience by buying tickets only to the events you want to attend.  Just want to go to Saturday night networking? There's a ticket for that. Just Sunday's business sessions? There's one for that too, as well as other individual events and reduced price tickets that combine events. 

If you are a blogger (or want to be one), you should also know that there will be a separate conference - the first ever BlogX event - at the same hotel Friday, July 5 (the day before DomainX starts). Domains and blogs have a lot in common (if you want to have a blog you would be wise to build it on your own domain rather than a platform you have no control over), so you might want to make a 3-day weekend of it and hit both shows.

In addition to drawing in Indian and international Internet entrepreneurs with these unique networking opportunities, DomainX and BlogX are also attracting an impressive array of corporate sponsors who want to reach them (and will have representatives there to do so), including Sedo, Donuts Inc., OpenSRS, MicroHost, Mapta.gs, ThemeMarket, GetVOIP, Airfare.in and the Domain Name Owners Association of India.

Whether you come to New Delhi for a day, two, three (or even more, as we will do so we can explore the city), co-organizers Manmeet Pal Singh Mahal and Gaurav Kohli are looking forward to welcoming you to DomainX 2016 and giving you an inside look at the rapidly growing Indian and global domain name industry.

DomainX Co-organizers Manmeet Pal Singh Mahal (left) and Gaurav Kohli 
seen at the 2015 DomainX Awards Ceremony in Bangalore last August.

(Posted July 11, 2016) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

Photos & Highlights from Closing Day at China's World Domain Conference Friday in Wuzhen

The 2016 World Domain Conference (WDC) ended today (Friday, July 8) in Wuzhen, China with a morning devoted to business sessions and an afternoon spent touring waterways of the scenic city of some 60,000 residents, located 67 miles southwest of Shanghai. WDC, sponsored by Yumi.com, is held just once every three years. The recent boom in China's domain market resulted in domain investors, brokers and company representatives from around the world coming in for the event. 

You will find photos and highlights from the Reception Day Wednesday here and the first day of business Thursday here. Today, thanks to George Hong (Guta.com), Deepak Daftari (eSiksha.com) and Dietmar Stefitz (DomainingEurope.com), who were all at the conference, we have some closing day photos and highlights for you.

Above & below: The final day of WDC began at 9:30 Friday morning when Mr. Yongdong Xie, the CEO of conference host Yumi.com, gave a presentation on how to use big data to gain an understanding of domain industry trends. (Photos courtesy of George Hong, as are others in this article unless noted otherwise).

Above: A view of the conference hall taken from the stage during a morning break.
(photo from  Dietmar Stefitz).

Below: The opening morning session continued with a panel discussion of current domain values and the direction the various experts think those may go in the future.

Above: WDC made sure there was plenty of time of informal networking with coffee breaks built into both the morning and afternoon schedules each business day. Here (left to right) Deepak Daftari (sSiksha.com), Frank Schilling (Uniregistry), Dhananjeyan Thangavelu and Anand Vora (Donuts Inc.) pose for a group selfie. (Photo from Deepak Daftari).

Below: The morning concluded with the conference's final business session - a discussion of Domain Security, Arbitration, Legal Issues and Traffic.

Above: While the business sessions were now done, the day was far from complete. Attendees enjoyed a 90-minute luncheon before heading out together for an afternoon of touring scenic Wuzhen. (Photo from Deepak Daftari)

Below: One of the boats carrying WDC guests heads out for a beautiful day on the city's waterways. (this and all remaining photos from George Hong)

Above: The view from a WDC boat floating through one of Wuzhen's many scenic waterways.

Below: As the sun heads down, this pastoral view of Wuzhen resembles a painted masterpiece.

Above: WDC attendees will be heading home Saturday morning with conference shuttles taking those who need to fly to their respective airports. But Friday night it was time for informal get togethers at local restaurants and bars. Industry veterans will recognize several of the faces in this photo from one of those final gatherings.

By all accounts we've heard, it was a very enjoyable and productive week in Wuzhen. We expect  to get some more feedback and commentary from a couple of attendees who helped us cover the show for you after they are back home and settled in. Congratulations to WDC and Yumi.com for running another world class event!

(Posted July 8, 2016) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

Photos and Highlights from the 1st Business Day at China's World Domain Conference Today

After getting guests from around the world settled in at the Waterside Resort in Wuzhen, China Wednesday (July 6), organizers of the  World Domain Conference, being staged there by Yumi.com, opened the two-day business portion of the show today (Thursday, July 7, 2016). Thanks to Anand Vora (Donuts Inc.), Deepak Daftari (eSiksha.com) and George Hong (Guta.com), who are all on site, we have some photos and highlights from the first day of business to share with you. 

Above: A shot of the WDC conference hall at Wuzhen's Waterside Resort, taken shortly before attendees began filing in for the first day of business this morning. 
(Photo from Anand Vora)

Below: Mr. Jason Lin, the Founder of conference host Yumi.com, kicked things off at 9:15am with a welcoming address to World Domain Conference attendees
(Photo from Deepak Daftari)

Above & below: The day's first of four panel discussions, covering the latest global domain name developments and trends, got underway at 9:30am with six industry experts on the dais. They included pioneering domain investor and Founder of Uniregistry.com Frank Schilling who is seen seated on the side video screens above (photo from Yumi.com) and standing at the podium below left (photo from Anand Vora).

Above: During a coffee break that followed the opening panel discussion, WDC participants, including speakers, sponsors and attendees, got together for this group portait
(Photo from George Hong)

Below: The morning session closed with nine more international experts taking the stage to discuss New gTLDs. The panelists included two who traveled from the U.S. - Anand Vora, Business Development Director at Donuts Inc. (the largest operator of new gTLDs) and Michele Van Tilborg, VP of Business Development at the .CLUB Registry. China has been the most receptive global market to new gTLDs.

Above: A two-and-a-half hour lunch break started at noon. George Hong of Guta.com (center) who has bases in both the U.S. and China, took advantage of some of his break time to catch up with two of the many Western visitors at WDC, GoDaddy Aftermarket Director Paul Nicks (left) and NameJet.com General Manager Jonathan Tenenbaum (right). 

Below: The afternoon session got underway at 2:3pm with another distinguished panel of nine experts discussing Registrar and Domain Aftermarket Developments.

Above: After a mid-afternoon coffee break, the day's final panel discussion got underway at 4pm with many familiar faces from the global domain investment community among the eight experts on hand to discuss Investment Strategies. The panelists included, at far right, the CEO of host Yumi.com, Mr. Yongdong Xie.

At right: veteran domain investor Thunayan K. AL-Ghamin of Future Media Architects (left) and broker George Hong from Guta.com were also among the experts featured on the closing panel. 

After the business day was done attendees were treated to an evening banquet and theme party (both now concluded as it is 12 hours later in Wuzhen than it is in the U.S. Eastern time zone where we are based).  

Everyone will be back for another busy day that gets 

underway Friday morning at 9:30am (Wuzhen time). We will have photos and highlights from the day's events for you again in this column.

(Posted July 7, 2016) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

Opening Day Photos & Highlights from China's World  Domain Conference in Wuzhen

China's World Domain Conference got underway today in Wuzhen with a day primarily devoted to the logistics of shuttling guests from three area airports to the show venue - the Waterside Resort - and getting them registered for the business sessions that will begin tomorrow morning (Thursday, July 7). There will also be a welcoming dinner tonight that is actually underway as I write 

this (there is a 12-hour time difference between the U.S. Eastern time zone and Wuzhen - when it is 10am here it is 10pm there).

Below: In a fortuitous coincidence, Deepak Daftari (eSiksha.com), at left, and Anand Vora (Donuts Inc.) bumped into each other at the airport and rode to the hotel together. Since I couldn't be there this week, Anand and Deepak agreed to be our "eyes on the ground" with Anand sending in daily photos and Deepak planning a post-show review of the event that will continue through Saturday morning when guests will begin their journeys back home. 

Above and below: Anand snapped these beautiful shots at the Wuzhen Waterside Resort where registration for the World Domain Conference, being presented by Yumi.com, got underway today. Wednesday was a day for getting settled in and doing some casual networking before the business sessions start Thursday morning.

Above: "Pillars of the community!" on the grounds of the Wuzhen Waterside Resort.

Below: Inside, approaching the Reception Desk for the World Domain Conference

Right: The arrangement of water bottles at the Reception Desk  signaled WDC loves their guests!

Below: The magnificent Grand Hall at the Wuzhen Waterside Resort that will become the center of activity when the World Domain Conference business sessions get underway Thursday morning (July 7). That first business day will run from 9:30am to 5pm with a banquet and cocktail party following tomorrow night. 

Friday will be a mixture of  business and pleasure with speakers and panel discussions in the morning, followed by an afternoon devoted to touring Wuzhen. Saturday, like today, will be devoted more to logistics with WDC shuttling guests back to their respective airports. You can see the full conference agenda here

Above (left to right): Donuts Inc. Director of Business Development Anand Vora, Bridge Song (Head of Registry Operations at Alibaba) and Bridge's Alibaba colleague Charles check out the view in the Grand Hall at the Wuzhen Waterside Resort

Due to the time difference with China, when we wake up Thursday morning the first business day will already be over there! Photos and highlights from how that went will be in our next look inside the World Domain Conference. 

(Posted July 6, 2016) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

Domain Pros From Around the World Have Begun Arriving in Wuzhen for the Start of China's World Domain Conference

Domain industry professionals from around the world have begun arriving in Wuzhen, China where the World Domain Conference (WDC) will get underway tomorrow (Wednesday, July 6) and continue through Saturday. The event, hosted by Yumi.com, is held just once every three years. It comes on the heels of another successful show in China - the Domain Name Industry Summit -  that drew approximately 1,000 guests to Hangzhou last month.

While most of the WDC attendees will, of course, be from China, our Facebook page is filled with posts from friends in the U.S., Europe, India and other regions who are going to Wuzhen too. Among them is Donuts Director of Business Development Anand Vora who has graciously offered to send us some photos and highlights from WDC  to share with you as the conference unfolds. For another viewpoint, veteran domain investor Deepak Daftari, who is making the trip from India, will be sending us his review of the event after it concludes.

In addition  to domain investors and brokers (like Guta.com's George Hong who was featured in a Lowdown post Sunday), various company representatives and  founders of other domain conferences are also going to WDC. The latter group will include Domaining Europe's Dietmar Stefitz and Manmeet Pal Singh from India's DomainX conference. 

WDC staff member greeting conference attendees at the airport and directing them to free shuttle buses to their hotel. (Photo courtesy of Anand Vora)

The trip will give Manmeet an  opportunity to tell Chinese investors about the 3rd annual edition of DomainX that is coming up August 6-7 in New Delhi, India (preceded by a separate inaugural BlogX conference on August 5 at the same venue - Shangri-La's Eros Hotel in New Delhi). I am scheduled to participate in 

both of those events. The DomainX agenda (which will include an opening day trip to the world famous Taj Mahal) is being finalized this week. I will pass the details along to you as soon as they are released. 

(Posted July 5, 2016) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

No China Market Slowdown for Guta.com - Founder George Hong Moves Expanding Brokerage to New Offices in Xiamen

A boom in domain buying by Chinese investors was the biggest story in the domain business last year. Sales were being made at a blistering pace and ever increasing prices in the kind of feeding frenzy that always eventually exhausts itself. Now that the market has come back down to earth and more historical norms it feels to some like sales have stalled but the Chinese are still actively buying and selling - just putting more thought into what they are pulling the trigger on and how much they are willing to pay for it. 

George Hong, who founded domain brokerage company Guta.com, is a native of China who has lived in the United States for many years. Working from his base in Philadelphia, George, who is fluent in both Chinese and English, has been in the middle of China's emergence as a global domain industry power and has facilitated many major transactions  between buyers in the East and sellers in the West. 

As demand for his services grew, late last year Hong opened a new office in Xiamen, a regional economic center on the southeastern coast of China that many domain companies and key 

China flag image from Bigstock

Guta.com Founder George Hong in his original Xiamen office last year. He has just moved the expanding company to new offices in the Xiamen Software Park.

investors call home. He has already outgrown that space. After adding several new employees to his team George went back over to China in March to find and relocate Guta.com to new offices in the Xiamen Software Park - the information technology hub in that city of 2 million residents. He is still there putting the finishing touches on the project.


Above: The Xiamen Software Park (XSP) in China where domain brokerage firm Guta.com is now located.

At right: the entryway to Guta.com's new China offices at XSP.

Xiamen was one of the first Chinese cities opened to the outside world and with its strategic location on the western coast of the Taiwan Straits, Xiamen has enjoyed an economy that has been growing quickly and consistently for decades now. 

Hong said that and equally impressive progress on the social front has helped turn Xiamen into what many consider to be China's "Capital City of Domains." Hong told us, "At one point, nearly 80% of domains owned by Chinese people and/or companies were registered through Xiamen based domain registrars."

Above: The spacious reception area at the new Guta.com office in Xiamen.

Below: Hallway leading to more offices, a meeting room and balcony terrace in the suite.

Above: Members of the Guta.com sales team at work in their bright new environment.

Below: The conference room at the new Guta.com office suite in Xiamen.

George told us there were other key reasons for moving Guta.com to the Xiamen Software Park than additional space alone, giving us this list with his personal notes: 

  • Attracting new talent - It is much easier to hire IT and Sales talent. Xiamen Software Park is the information technology hub of Xiamen.

  • Nice Domain Atmosphere: Many domain companies and investors are located in the Software Park. The real estate broker who helped us find the office is also a new domain investor. 

  • Closer to buyers: Many big buyers of premium domains (especially numeric domains) live in Xiamen or surrounding cities that are within a two-hour drive.

A view of Xiamen - China's "Capital City of Domains"

While market conditions will always continues to ebb and flow, George Hong has obviously made a major investment in (and significant bet on) the Chinese market continuing to be a key driver in the increasingly global domain industry.

Speaking of China and domains, the World Domain Conference hosted by Yumi.com will get underway Wednesday (July 6) in Wuzhen. This event (formerly known as Traffic China) is staged only once every three years. It will continue through Saturday, July 9 with domain industry representatives from around the world scheduled to take part.  

(Posted July 3, 2016) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

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

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