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November 21, 2016

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The Lowdown
October 2016 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.

Latest DomainX Event in Goa Gave Indian Domain Investors Another Valuable Networking Opportunity 

By now most of you are aware of India's DomainX Conference that staged its 3rd annual event this past August in New Delhi. The conference has been well received but in a fast growing and rapidly changing market like India there is an appetite for face to face networking events more than once a year so conference producer DomainX Events moved to fill that void. 

This past weekend they staged their fourth event of the year - a two-day DomainX Workshop held at Vivanta by Taj in Panaji, Goa, India - one of the country's favorite resort/party hubs. This Workshop was scheduled after the first one, held last March in Goa, proved to be a success (as did DomainX Events' other 2016 production - the first BlogX Conference in August (held in New Delhi the day before the 2016 DomainX Conference).

The latest Workshop started Saturday morning (October 

22) with a breakfast gathering that kicked off a day dedicated completely to networking. Some of the top players in the Indian domain name industry were there including Manmeet Pal Singh (Founder, DomainX™ Events & Domain Name Owners Association of India™), Sunny Bajaj (CEO, JMM Interactive), Manoj Dhanda (CEO, MicroHost.com), Jijo Pappachan (CEO, DN.domains), Abdul Vasi (CEO, HostCats.com), Gaurav Nakul (Godaddy.com India) and Alpesh Shinde (Godaddy.com India). You can see the complete list of attendees here.

Photo of Domainx 2016 Workshop attendees from Manoj Dhanda.

The business day Saturday began at 11AM with a welcome note by Manmeet Pal Singh who shared his views on the "Importance of Networking" then invited attendees to do just that in a series of  personal discussions that continued until 7 o'clock in the evening! After that everyone rendezvoused for drinks and dinner in a festive gathering. 

Photo courtesy of Manoj Shanda.

The 2nd day of the Workshop got underway at 11AM Sunday (October 23) and once again ran all the way into the evening hours, finally wrapping up around 8 PM. After Manmeet Pal Singh's welcoming remarks attendees enjoyed an introductory speech from Sunny Bajaj (Vice President, Domain Name Owners Association of India™ & CEO, JMM Interactive). The sessions that followed included:

  • Domain Name Investor Session by Alpesh Shinde (Godaddy.com India)

  • How Not to Lose Money While Starting-Up as Domain Name Investor by Abdul Vasi (CEO,  HostCats.com)

  • How to Make Money Out of Your Neighbor (China)? by Jijo Pappachan (CEO – DN.Domains) who made US $150,000+ (INR 1 Crore) in less than 1 year during thr Chinese domain name rush.

  • Domain Name Sales/Acquisition Case Study of Airfare.in by Manmeet Pal Singh and Sunny Bajaj

  • Domain Name Sales Case Study by Manmeet Pal Singh who sold 143.com for US $150,000 within a few days of acquiring it.

An inside view of one of the Sunday workshop sessions (photo from Manoj Dhanda).

Another highlight of the Workshop was the completion of a significant .IN (Indian ccTLD) domain sale.  Sunny Bajaj acquired Airfare.in from Manmeet Pal Singh for $18,000 in a deal that was concluded in a unique way - with payment live on social media. You can see that video and many others from from the workshop here.

Sunny Bajaj (left) hands Manmeet Pal Singh an $18,000 check for Airfarfe.in.

The Workshop came to an end with Manmeet Pal Singh thanking the participants and also singling out for special recognition Abhishek Jain (Operations Manager, Reappoint Internet) who served as the event host. Abhishek, at right in the photo below with Anshul Goyal, is also a popular blogger at RustyBlogger.com. (Photos above and below courtesy of Manoj Dhanda).

Manmeet also thanked the sponsors who made the Workshop possible - Microhost.com, Reappoint Internet (Reappoint.com), GoDaddy.com, Worduct.com, Donuts LLC and the .CLUB Registry. They also provided some cool swag that Manmeet distributed to all attendees including Aishwin Vikhona (at left in the photo below from Manoj Dhanda).

The Workshop concluded a busy year for DomainX and 2017 promises to be another one for both them at the Indian domain industry as a whole. 

(Posted October 27, 2016) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

The Annual .US Town Hall Meeting Will be Held Online Wednesday Afternoon

Neustar, the administrator of America's .US country code top level domain registry, will host their annual .US Town Hall Meeting online Wednesday afternoon (October 26) starting at 3pm U.S. Eastern time. The meeting, expected to run about 75 minutes, is open to all but you will need to register here if you would like to sit in on the discussion. 

You can a report on the current state of the domain industry and .US specifically. Policy 

considerations for domain growth including Privacy Service, Premium Names (including one and two character strings) and IDN are also on the agenda with five speakers scheduled to participate. Those are: 

  • Scott Blake Harris - Host, Chair .US Stakeholder Council

  • Shane Tews - Host, Co-chair .US Stakeholder Council

  • Crystal Peterson - Director, Registry Services Neustar

  • Kimberly Miller - Associate General Counsel Neustar

  • Becky Burr - Deputy General Counsel Neustar

Becky Burr
Deputy General Counsel Neustar

Ms. Burr, in a post on the .US Blog, noted, "Neustar introduced the .US Town Hall last year to reflect our commitment — and the Commerce Department commitment to the bottom-up, multistakeholder model of DNS management. The public forum is an important part of ensuring that .US continues to be a vibrant namespace that reflects America's diversity, creativity, and innovative spirit. This is an opportunity for stakeholders and enthusiasts to collaborate, sharing expertise and ideas and providing feedback for everything related to .US and the Domain Name Industry. It is also an opportunity to share the policy work of the .US Stakeholders Council over the past 18 months."

I've always felt that .US has a lot of still untapped potential. ccTLDs are very popular in most other countries around the world. While it is often said that .com is America's de facto "country code" most useful acronyms, 

numbers and keywords were taken in .com long ago. In .US, many names taken in .com are to still available to hand register or buy for a relatively low price on the aftermarket. As a geographic "exact match" for Americans (along with built in patriotic appeal) the extension should be a top alternative to .com for a lot more registrants (t only recently passed the 2 million mark). 

The problem remains largely the same one that new gTLDs face - a lack of widespread public recognition. As someone who holds a number of .US domains I will say that I have seen my aftermarket .US sales increase over the past couple of years, something I believe is largely due to the arrival of new gTLDs. That program as a whole has resulted in more people becoming aware of the options to the right of the dot. There is still a very long way to go to catch up with the legacy TLDs (including .net, .org and the more popular ccTLDs) but it's a start.

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

The Domain Industry Mourns the Loss of One of Our Brightest Lights - Lonnie Borck

Lonnie Borck
President, B52 Media

One of the most widely loved people in our industry, Lonnie Borck, the Baltimore based President of B52 Media, unexpectedly passed away in his sleep Friday night. The cause of death was reported to be a heart attack. In the blink of an eye the devout family man devoted to his five children and wife Ronit was gone at the age of 47.   

We and everyone who knew Lonnie were shocked and saddened by the news of his passing. Why was such a loving spirit - the kind of person we need the most in this world - taken away from us so prematurely?  Lonnie made a friend of everyone he met and I never knew him to ask for anything unless it was "what can I do to help?" (in his spare time he volunteered as an Emergency Medical Technician). 

The only way I can make sense of it is to believe God put Lonnie on this Earth to show us how we should treat each 

other, and, by taking him back so soon, make us realize that we should follow his example today because we may not be here tomorrow. 

Lonnie has been one of the most successful people in our field for the past 16 years but he was so unassuming your wouldn't hear that from him. Still his accomplishments were so big they could not go unnoticed. The serial entrepreneur, who owned two high end restaurants before turning his focus entirely to domains in 2007, sold names for as high as $1.2 million (the sum he fetched for Scores.com in 2007) and he also developed successful online businesses. Lonnie learned a lot along the way and was generous with his advice to anyone needing guidance in their own business journey. 


Above: As one of the industry's brightest investor/developers, Lonnie Borck was often called on to speak at domain conferences. This shot was taken at the 2008 T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Conference in New York City

As much as Lonnie accomplished in our business the most important thing in his life was his family and his faith. To me the greatest testament anyone can make to their faith (Lonnie was an Orthodox Jew) is to let God's love shine through them in the way they live and treat others. There was never a moment around Lonnie that I did not see that love shining through him. It is a light that can't be extinguished and it will live on in the lives of his family and the countless friends he influenced over the years. Thank you Lonnie for the life you led and the lessons you taught us while you were here. 

Above: Lonnie Borck with his son Ezra ( photo snapped while together at the home of our mutual friend Ari Goldberger in the summer of 2013).

A memorial service for Lonnie Borck is scheduled Wednesday morning, October 26, 2016

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

City Brand Media Lands Partnership Deal to Develop HongKong.com for Port Media 

City Brand Media, LLC (CBM) has announced a major partnership agreement with Vancouver, Canada based Port Media to develop their HongKong.com domain into a marquee website devoted to one of the world's  greatest cities.

CBM CEO and Partner Fred Mercaldo said, “Our entire organization is excited to finalize this very important agreement, as Hong Kong is one of the top 10 cities in the world. HongKong.com will be a very special project, and will headline our very strong international portfolio, which now numbers over 200 cities and regions. With over 28,000,000 visitors per year going to Hong Kong, generating over $40,000,000 per year in revenue, CBM will focus on the travel and tourism aspect of this incredible city, along with providing a visual and content rich experience on what is sure to become the #1 trafficked site for all things relating to Hong Kong.”

Mercaldo said that site development is already underway, and numerous local relationships have been established in Hong Kong to assist the project. The finished site is  expected to expected to launch in the first quarter of 2017.

Vancouver-based PortMedia began negotiations with CBM in early 2016, and after many discussions regarding strategies and the direction in which the site would be developed, decided that CBM would be the ideal partner for this project.  A statement from Port Media said, “PortMedia is very excited to be 

Fred Mercaldo
CEO & Partner
City Brand Media, LLC

working with CityBrandMedia on HongKong.com. We are looking forward to developing a great site that is a fitting representation of the world-class city of Hong Kong, and we anticipate a long and fruitful partnership with CBM.”

Hong Kong skyline photo from Bigstock

City Brand Media, with offices in Oakland, California and Scottsdale, Arizona, is an online advertising, media and marketing company that specializes in developing domains that follow the (CityName).com format. They develop the software platforms and manage all sales, marketing, social media, advertising, and strategic partnerships for its portfolio of over 450 City based brands.  For more information you can phone Fred Mercaldo at (602) 859-3786 or email  [email protected]

(Posted October 20, 2016) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

New Quarterly Report  from GGRG's Giuseppe Graziano Tracks Latest Sales Trends for Liquid Domains 

Veteran domain broker and consultant Giuseppe Graziano of GGRG.com has earned a reputation for having extraordinary insight into short .com domains - a group that has proven to offer the most liquid assets on the aftermarket. If you follow our weekly domain sales report you know the kinds of name I'm talking about as the highest prices are often commanded by two and three letter .coms or those with two to three numbers.

Four letter .coms and numeric domains of four and sometimes even five numbers have also been consistent sellers. The aforementioned categories, along with two-character domains (one letter and one number) comprise a group that GGRG keeps a close eye on and classifies as liquid domains (those that are relatively easy to sell at prevailing market prices).

Where those fluctuating prices have been most recently settling - as well as many other details about the entire group -  are thoroughly covered in an excellent free quarterly report that GGRG, in association with Estibot, has just launched. You can down the first edition here (.PDF file) for a breakdown of the second quarter of 2016.

Giuseppe Graziano

Here are just a few of the facts Graziano uncovered from 2Q-2016:

  • 2 letter .coms are the most developed assets (41.27%), 5 number .coms are the least developed (14.24%).

  • The U.S. dominates the registration of 2 and 3 letter .com domains (with over 50% of registrants). China is the king of numeric domains with more than 50% of 2, 3, 4 and 5 number .coms owned by Chinese registrants (they own 65.41% of 4 number .coms). 

  • The most traded classes in Q2-2016 were 4 letter .com and 5 number .com. Both classes had a 1% turnover. 

  • The most concentrated (owners/number of domains) domain class is LLLL .com, the least concentrated is NN .com

  • Q2-2016 was a negative quarter. 4 number .com performed best (though still down -7.46%), 5 number .com had the worst performance (-23.26%). 

While a drop in Chinese demand resulted in lower prices for short .com domains in 2Q-2016 GGRG still forecasts that 3 letter .coms, due to their high development index, are likely to retain their value and low market volatility over time.

There is far more in the 12-page report than what he have touched on here, so you will want to check out the full document for all of the details.

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

Google Announces Nomulus! New Domain Registry Platform Will Power Their TLDs as Well as Others & Donuts Helped Develop It

Google just announced a major move into the domain registry back end services business with the launch of Nomulus, a new open source cloud-based registry platform that, in addition to powering  Google’s own new TLDs (including their dotbrand  extension - .google - and their generic TLDs like .app), is available to other registry operators as well. 

Google was already a player in the registrar side of the business with Google Domains but their  new registry initiative took five years to build. Google Software Engineer Ben McIlwain said "Work on what became Nomulus began in 2011 when ICANN announced the biggest ever expansion of Internet namespace and Google applied to operate a number of new gTLDs with Nomulus to help run them."

Image from Bigstock

"We designed Nomulus to be a brand-new registry platform that takes advantage of the scalability and easy operation of Google Cloud Platform, McIlwain added. "Nomulus runs on Google App Engine and is backed by Google Cloud Datastore, a highly scalable NoSQL database. Nomulus can manage any number of TLDs in a single shared instance and supports the full range of TLD functionality required by ICANN."

"We hope that by providing access to our implementation of core registry functions and up-and-coming services like Registration Data Access Protocol (RDAP), we can demonstrate advanced features of Google Cloud Platform and encourage interoperability and open standards in the domain name industry for registry operators like Donuts who made early contributions to the Nomulus code base."    

Donuts, the largest operator of new gTLD registries with some 200 extensions in their portfolio, confirmed that in February 2015 Google invited the company to evaluate and contribute code to Nomulus which they began  

doing in March of this year.  A press release from Donuts noted their contributions to Nomulus include "technical specifications for the Domains Protected Marks List (DPML), Early Access Period (EAP) and tiered pricing — all hallmarks of Donuts innovations —along with other features that take the system well beyond critical back-end functions."

Donuts co-founder and CEO Paul Stahura said, "the option to evaluate and contribute to the Google Nomulus project presented a unique opportunity. As the world’s largest operator of new TLDs, Donuts must continually explore compelling technologies and ensure our back-end operations are cost-efficient and flexible. Collaborating with Google on this groundbreaking project is an opportunity to do exactly that.”

“Google has a phenomenal record of stability, an almost peerless engineering team, endless computing resources and global scale," Stahura added. "These are additional potential benefits for us and others who may contribute to or utilize the system. We have been happy to evaluate and contribute to this open source project over the past 20 months because this platform provides Donuts with an alternative back-end with significant benefits."

For registrars interested in exploring a Nomulus EPP interface, Donuts has opened a preview environment at preview.nomulus.donuts.domains. More information about access to the system is available to registrars from their Donuts representatives.

Paul Stahura
Donuts Co-Founder & CEO

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

NamesCon Recruiting H2Officers to Help Break WaterSchool Fundraising Record at WaterNight 2017 in Las Vegas

The 2017 NamesCon Conference is just 3 months away. The big event will return to the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas January 22-25. If you read our December 2015 Cover Story about NamesCon Co-Founder Richard Lau, you know that the primary reason for starting the conference in the first place was to raise money for a life saving charity - the WaterSchool - whose inexpensive, highly effective clean water solution has played a key role in reducing disease and premature deaths in developing nations.

The most effective fundraising tool for WaterSchool supporters like Lau, his fellow NamesCon Co-Founder Jothan FrakesDr. Gregg McNair and many others has been a series of head shaving events held at domain conferences around the world over the past five years. The 

biggest of those has been the WaterNight Gala held at the annual NamesCon conference. Approximately $115,000 was raised at 2016 WaterNight last January - a number organizers hope to boost to 

$150,000 in 2017. WaterNight has worked so well because of selfless industry leaders who volunteered to have their heads shaved in exchange for donations to the Water School and hundreds of generous donors who answered the call to arms. 

Above: Four super heroes who volunteered to have their heads shaved for The WaterSchool at the 2016 NamesCon conference last January. (L to R) are "barber" Gregg McNair, "shavees" Omar Ahmed (Uniregistry), Larry Fischer (DirectNavigation.com), attorney Derek Newman, Alan Dunn (NameCorp) and NamesCon Co-Founder Richard Lau (who had his head shaved a few years back at the first WaterNight). 

Below: One of the last minute volunteers, NamesCon staffer Shallom Johnson, getting a her new look touched up by Tucows CEO & President Elliot Noss who made a generous donation to the 2016 fundraising effort. The final tally of approximately $115,000 got a huge boost from NameCheap who spurred giving by agreeing to match funds. 

In an effort to meet their $150,000 goal for the 2017 conference, NamesCon WaterNight organizers have launched a new campaign (.PDF file) to recruit volunteers - henceforth to be known as H2Officers - who would be willing to sit in the barber's chair in January to help this outstanding cause. 

To give you a few examples of what would be involved (taken from the campaign page): You should be able to solicit donations in the weeks leading up to NamesCon by sharing your official donation page with friends, family and on social media. Be willing to be interviewed for the NamesCon blog and other interested media parties and be keen to go above and beyond the call of duty, such as by recording a video message outlining why you decided to become an H2Officer and sharing your passion for the WaterSchool charity with anyone who will listen! For a full list of what it takes click here

When you are ready to enlist just E-mail [email protected] with your application or nomination. Tell them a bit about yourself and why you’d like to take part. Also, if you have a recent headshot that would be much appreciated as well. Applications and nominations will be accepted until October 31, 2016. Successful officers will be contacted the following week, at which point their training will promptly begin. 

Of course, there are a lot of ways to get behind the fundraising effort other than having your head shaved. You can find a full list of WaterNight sponsorship opportunities here. For more information on WaterSchool, visit www.waterschool.com.

Another great resource is a new 12-minute video, produced by the NamePros domain forum, that we just received from their Managing Director, Edward Zeiden. The video has highlights from WaterNight 2016, information on what is in store for 2017 and interviews with key WaterSchool and WaterNight supporters including Richard Lau and Tony Woodruff. Click Play below to see that and we will look forward to seeing you at WaterNight 2017!


(Posted October 17, 2016) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

A Look at Opportunities In the Latin American Domain Market With LatinTLD President Alfredo Pinochet

LatinTLD President Alfredo Pinochet was one of the most interesting speakers at the first edition of THE Domain Conference in 2015, so when he returned to Fort Lauderdale for the 2016 edition of the show last month I took the opportunity to connect with him and set up a post-conference interview about domain investment opportunities in Latin America

Santiago, Chile based LatinTLD, founded in 2007 by Alfredo and Business Development VP Natalia Viera (you can read their bios here), is a one stop shop for all things related to Latin American ccTLDs, including registration, renewals, transfers, appraisals, buying, recovering and various other services

As most of your know country code domains can have wildly varying nexus requirements, rules and local peculiarities that can be very difficult to navigate if you don't have an insider's knowledge of the various markets. The LatinTLD founders, who have worked in the domain industry since 2001, found more and more 

Alfredo Pinochet
President, LatinTLD

people asking them for advice as the industry began booming in the early and mid 2000s. "That's what prompted us to start our own company to assist individuals and companies that required help registering domains in Latin America by providing them all available Latin and Caribbean ccTLDs in one place, with the added benefit of providing advice when needed," Pinochet said.

Latin America image from Bigstock

Asked to give us a more detailed breakdown of the broad region that LatinTLD operates in, Pinochet added, "In terms of domains per registry South and North America are the most developed (Brazil, ArgentinaMexicoChile and other smaller ccTLDs ), in the middle is Central America with El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama and other smaller ccTLDs, and the smallest registries are in the Latin Caribbean (Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and other smaller ccTLDs) and in the non-Latin Caribbean (Anguilla, Bahamas, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago,  US Virgin Islands and many other smaller ccTLDs)."

Pinochet noted, "The highest growth in demand is currently for domains in Cuba, because of the lifting of the trade 

barriers, but NIC.cu still has high registry fees as compared to most other NICs in the region. We have also seen renewed interest for .ai domains of Anguilla.  Those and the most developed markets like Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Chile, etc. are the ones investors should start registering in and then, with time, in smaller registries." 

Concurring with what I noted above, Pinochet cautioned, "Registering domains in Latin America can be tricky, since, given the current small scale of domain operations, it is usually more useful to know who is in charge at each Registry than to know the bylaws of every Registry, especially when in many cases those are not even published!"

Still Pinochet believes the size of the opportunity makes dealing with the intricacies of the Latin American market worth the effort. "With only 10 million domains registered in Latin America,  there are still many opportunities to get, in most countries, the domain you want, be it in just one country,  or better yet, the same name in a group of countries, with a medium to long term investment perspective." Whether you are looking to build a portfolio of names or need just one for a new website or enterprises, Pinochet said his firm can make the task much easier for you.

LatinTLD President Alfredo Pinochet speaking at the inaugural edition of 
THE Domain Conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida (September 2015).

If you do decide to take a closer look at the Latin market Pinochet noted there is one other question to consider when investing there. Should you register 2nd level or 3rd level domains? Pinochet said, "Most Registries in Latin America started with the US model of extensions, that is, they started offering “.com.countrycode” (like Brazil's .com.br) with the same 3rd level format using .net and .org. However, now most of the countries also offer registrations on the 2nd level (like Mexico's keyword.mx format for example). Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and some other countries do not offer 2nd level registration yet but  should follow suit in the future. Currently, due to internet users being more accustomed to using domains on the third level, they still outweigh 2nd level domains, but new domain registrations on the 2nd level are on the rise (except in countries where the 2nd level is more expensive)."

With the arrival of hundreds of new gTLDs you may also wonder how those might affect investments in the Latin America market. On that topic, Pinochet said, "new gTLDs are, in many cases, a branding solution to the scarcity of ".com" and other domains in developed counties' ccTLDs.  Currently in Latin America, with a grand total (including all ccTLDs in the region) of around 10 million domains registered, there are plenty of opportunities, in most countries, to get the name that you want, so the the idea of getting a new gTLD, instead of the local ccTLD has yet to appear in the domain registrant's mind. If you are uncertain about registering readily available new gTLDs vs. local ccTLDs that are more complex to register, do take into account that the former have yet to prove they have a niche, whereas the latter will be important as long as the country exists."

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

Domaining Europe Founder Dietmar Stefitz is Bringing Two New gTLD Events to Spain in December 

Dietmar Stefitz is known for staging the annual Domaining Europe conference, the most recent of which was the 2016 event held in The Hague, Netherlands this past May. Now he is adding two special one-day new gTLD events to his show production duties - both to be held in Valencia, Spain on the first two days of December. 

The first of those will be the inaugural Brands & Domains event on Thursday, December 1, 2016 at the Hotel Sorolla Palace in Valencia. That venue will be familiar to anyone who attended a Domaining Europe conference prior to this year as it was the permanent home for that show until Dietmar decided it was time for a change of scenery and took it to Holland last spring.

Stefitz said, "Brands & Domains "will bring together experts on digital marketing, registry operations, search engine and branding with major companies that have registered Brand TLDs, or those considering applying for a Brand TLD in the future." 

As those who have been following ICANN's new gTLD program know, dotBrands, as they are often called, are new domain extensions that are being operated by specific companies for branding purposes - examples being TLDs like .google, .canon and .philips, to name just a few. 

Dietmar Stefitz

Stefitz noted, "This is a neutral event that, in addition to serving Brands that have their own TLD or wish to apply for one, will include organizations that offer supporting services to Brand TLD registry operators and applicants, such as front and back-end registry service providers. So, we expect there to be interest from a variety of the key players for a day that will close with a gala dinner that will provide some great networking opportunities." Registration for Brands & Domains is now open.

One perk of registering for Brands & Domains is that you will also be given free admission to Stefitz's other new event - The Name Show - that will be held the next day, Friday, December 2, 2016, also at the Hotel Sorolla Palace. 

Stefitz said, "The Name.Show is the first traveling event dedicated to raise awareness of new domain extensions and education about the opportunities for businesses and professionals to enhance their presence online. A panel of experts on the Internet, digital marketing, e-commerce, etc. will explain the developments related to the new domain extensions that are emerging every day through the main Spanish and European cities." 

This Valencia event, that will cover the board array of general use new gTLDs (as opposed to those that are brand specific) will be the first on the Spanish leg of the tour Stefitz has mapped out - one that is to include later events in Bilbao, Zaragoza, Barcelona, Sevilla and Madrid. You can register for The Name Show here and get more details about the event on TheName.Show website.

(Posted October 13, 2016) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

Domain Industry Golfers Invited to Tee Up for Wounded Veterans at SoCal Charity Golf Tournament Next Month

Last week I told you about former Escrow.com President Brandon Abbey returning to the domain industry with Payoneer. During his time at Escrow.com, in addition to running a highly regarded company, Brandon was known for a key role he played in helping to raise more than a  million dollars for wounded U.S. military veterans through an annual charity golf tournament in southern California (where Escrow.com was headquartered prior to the new ownership's recent relocation of the company to San Francisco).   

I'm pleased to tell you that as President of Orange County Supports Our Troops (a registered 501(c)3 charity), Brandon will continue  to help stage the Semper Fi/America’s Fund Charity Golf Tournament to raise funds and awareness of the Semper Fi Fund and the associated America’s Fund Charity. The 2016 event is coming up Monday, November 14th at Orange County's Coto De Caza Golf & Racquet Club with a registration deadline of November 7th. Brandon would like to see as many domain industry golfers as possible sign up to play and support the effort. 

Brandon told us, "This lively and inspiring day includes golf, hearty refreshments and inspiring guest speakers with silent and live auctions in a gorgeous country club setting. Semper Fi/America’s Fund provides immediate assistance and continuous support for the injured heroes who have served our country in all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. The primary goal is to give back to those who selflessly support, protect and serve our country."

Brandon Abbey
Payoneer Senior Advisor


Above: A photo from the 2014 OCSOT Semper Fi Fund/America's Fund Charity Golf Tournament featuring (L to R): retired  Master Sergeant Davey Lind (a 20-year Marine veteran who lost both legs during his second deployment to Iraq in 2007 when his vehicle struck an IED), NHL hockey great Teemu Selanne, Brandon Abbey and Golf Pro Rick Booth.

Abbey added, "The last four tournaments raised over 1 million dollars in donations. With 100% of the proceeds given back to this 501(c)(3) nonprofit A+ rated charity, your support makes an enormous impact and provides financial relief to injured and critically ill service members throughout the Southern California area. Since 2004, the Semper Fi Fund has issued over 44,000 grants totaling more than $63 million to 8,000 heroes and their families."

To sponsor, donate, sign up or volunteer for this All-American tribute to our military heroes, you can visit the OC Support Our Troops website at www.ocsot.com. You can also direct any question you may have be emailing [email protected] or calling (949) 274-5654.

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

.LA Update: GeoDomain Gains Ground with TechDay Push and October Promotions

When people talk about alternatives to .com these days they are usually talking about the hundreds of new gTLDs that have been released over the past couple of years. However,  

there were quite a few alternatives even before ICANN's new gTLD program began churning them out en masse. Several of those were re-purposed TLDs like .co, .cc, .ws and .me that began life as ccTLDs (delegated primarily for use in specific countries) that, through licensing agreements, started being marketed as global options with alternative meanings (such as .co standing for "company" rather than Colombia - the nation for which it served as the official county code domain).

.LA has a similar lineage in that it was originally designated as the ccTLD for Laos, however unlike the examples above, .LA moved forward as a geo-specific extension - one that has now been used for several years as an online destination for Los Angeles related enterprises, organizations and individuals. 

One thing fans of almost all of the re-purposed 

TLDs seem  to agree on is that the arrival of so many n ew gTLDs has helped them by making more  people aware that there are lot more choices to the right of the dot than there used to be. 

Veteran domain investor/developer Page Howe (an L.A. native who was profiled in an August 2008 DN Journal Cover Story) has become the best known proponent of .LA domains through his ILove.LA website and his many personal appearances on behalf of the extension he serves as Local Advocate for .LA Premium Domains and .LA's Partners Program. In that role Howe took .LA to Los Angeles's big TechDay event that was held on September 22 with over 4,000 attendees and 400+ exhibitors on hand (one of Howe's wins was getting TechDay to adopt a TechDay.la domain as a much more streamlined link to its existing website at https://techdayhq.com/los-angeles).

Above: Page Howe at his .LA TechDay booth in Los Angeles. Page also spoke at the 
event where Amplify.LA, DWS.LA and Donuts.domains were also among the exhibitors.

Below: TechDay attendees threw down in games of 
to win .LA teddy bears.

.LA is getting some more mileage out of their teddy bears by giving them away in social media promotions this month. Winners are chosen at random for liking the .LA Facebook page, following @ladomains on Twitter or signing up for the newsletter at ILove.LA.  

While this kind of promotion and marketing is critical to spreading awareness for any alternate TLD, in the end they will stand or fall based on how many people actually end up using their domains. Howe told us that .LA has been very pleased on that front as well, pointing to the wide variety of live .LA sites on Pinterest as one example. Howe 

is particularly enthused about  PenFactory.LA, the home base for a 222,000 square-foot development that is under construction in Santa Monica. You can learn more about the latest happenings at .LA through this post on Howe's ILove.LA blog.  

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Major Makeover at Undeveloped.com Gives Domain Buyers & Sellers an Attractive New Option

Reza Sardeha
Undeveloped Founder/CEO  

Domain buyers and sellers have a lot of good options to choose from when they go looking for a place to buy or sell names. With so many well established platforms on the scene it can be tough to break out from the highly competitive pack. That hasn't deterred Amsterdam-based Undeveloped from going for the brass ring though. They have just rolled out a fully re-designed, higher horsepower website that Founder/CEO Reza Sardeha firmly believes will put his company in the upper echelon of aftermarket sales sites.

Undeveloped.com already offers over 21 million domain names that have been listed by sellers in more than 100 countries. That is a lot of domain to wade through which is why the new site's improved search capability has Sardeha especially excited. He cited, "Increased discoverability of domains listed on our marketplace with the addition of curated domain lists" as one of the best new features. "These lists are promoted across Undeveloped but also optimized for SEO so we can get the right buyers from search engines to your lists," Sardeha said.

A "curated list" from Undeveloped com shows the best available names 
related to a specific keyword, in this case "cars".

Sardeha said sellers will also benefit from dramatically improved for sale pages. "After 9 months of A/B testing, experimenting  and finding the right balance we proudly introduce v1.0 of what we believe is the best designed for sale page available on the market," Sardeha said. "Premium domains deserve a premium for sales page. This is step one. In the course of time more rich additions will be introduced on these pages like unique content."

An example of one of Undeveloped's new Domain for Sale Pages

If you have a large portfolio Undeveloped is also allows you to set up your own customizable,  professional storefront. Sardeha added, "We've also improved the sellers control panel by putting even more emphasis on simplicity and letting you manage your portfolio and close your leads easily. With the new iteration of our platform we  have taken a big step forward in our mission to professionalize the domain industry and to introduce more liquidity in the market."

There are no charges to list names at Undeveloped.com. They only make money (a 15% commission) when successful sale are made. Sardeha also takes pride in prompt transfers and  payment, noting "98% of our transactions are completed within 24 hours after payment. We help you get your domain online, so you can focus on your project."  

Another feature that could help close more sales is Undeveloped's installment payment option. "Once you settle on a price with the seller, you proceed with check out where you can pay in full or in monthly installments and there is absolutely no extra cost for that. We keep the funds safe until we get the domain from its current owner," Sardeha said.

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Brandon Abbey is Back - Former Escrow.com President Helping Payoneer Make Push Into Domain Space

Those of us in the domain space are used to a competitive landscape. For as long I have been in the business there have been a lot of different service providers to choose from including registrars, parking companies, brokers and aftermarket sales platforms, to name a few. While we have also seen competitors come and go in the escrow business, one player - Escrow.com - has long dominated that turf. 

Certainly having the category defining domain name helped their cause but that had to be backed up by outstanding and consistently reliable service, something that former company President Brandon Abbey and his team became widely known for. A few months after Freelancer, a public company based in Australia, acquired Escrow.com in the spring of 2015, Abbey wound up leaving the company - a common occurrence with management changes that often accompanies acquisitions. However, now Brandon is back in the domain escrow business as Senior Advisor at Payoneer, a deep pocketed, long established payment services firm with a global footprint that is based in New York City.

With Abbey on board, Payoneer served notice that they intend to be a major player in our space when they set up in the Exhibit Hall at THE Domain Conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida last month. I re-connected with Brandon there and followed up with him after the show to find out more about Payoneer, his role with the company and how they hope to make inroads against the powerful competitor he was so  instrumental in building. 

Payoneer Senior Advisor Brandon Abbey in a photo taken during his time as President at Escrow.com.

Above: Payoneer.com Senior Advisor Brandon Abbey and Business Development Director Matthew Watts at THE Domain Conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida (September 2016). 

"There are only a few companies that are actually licensed to provide online escrow services," Abbey began. "Armor Payments was one of those and they were acquired by Payoneer earlier this year. I had followed their progress and knew their CEO, Scott Reynolds, through our dealings with the California Department of Business Oversight. My specific duties are to support the needs of the domain industry and a few other key areas of opportunity."

"Payoneer is a cross-border payments company that provides services in over 200 countries, in 150 different currencies. Founded in 2005, Payoneer has been ranked one of the fastest growing companies in North America by Deloitte for the last four years. This year, our CEO, Scott Galit, was recognized as EY's 

Entrepreneur of the Year - Financial Technology.  We have millions of account holders and thousands of corporate clients who receive billions of dollars annually. Our business partners include some of the best known companies doing business on the internet including Amazon, airbnbGoogle and many others. We have an illustrious board of directors including the former president of VISA and the former CEO of SWIFT. With over 750 employees we are able to provide 7/24 support in 70 languages.  Being able to work with resources like these and bring them to the domain community is very exciting," Abbey said.

Regarding their plans in this field, Abbey noted, "Payoneer recently started offering escrow services for the domain industry. We would like to be the "GO TO" escrow provider for the domain community. Our objectives are to provide escrow services to buyers, sellers and brokers directly through our PayoneerEscrow.com website and to allow marketplaces to integrate our escrow services using our API.  The API provides a solid user experience that will keep customers on the marketplace’s website."

Payoneer's Matthew Watts and Brandon Abbey arriving at THE Domain Conference's 
Opening Night Party in Fort Lauderdale, Florida Sept. 11, 2016 (Photo courtesy of TDC).

After his many years at Escrow.com, Abbey felt right at home at THE Domain Conference where he was surrounded by industry participants he has known for years. "For me it was great to see many old friends and the Neu family (Howard, Barbara and Ray) did a spectacular job putting on the conference. Most all the feedback I received was positive about having a licensed alternative enter the escrow space. There were some that feel Escrow.com is so well established they are invincible, I choose to believe differently. Our solution is getting a lot of traction with marketplaces as well as individual buyers and sellers. We recently enhanced our escrow service to include brokers,  which I am very excited about."

"Being able to hold domains is a key initiative we are currently working on with some very well-known brokers and marketplaces," Abbey added. "I hope to be in a position to share specific information with you in the near future. Another important feature for the domain community is having the ability to pay with credit cards.  We expect to release this very soon. Finally, with Payoneer also offering cross-border payment solutions, it is easy for sellers and brokers to safely expand their business globally.

If you would like to know more about Payoneer services Brandon said you can drop a note to him directly at [email protected] or email [email protected]. In closing, Abbey issued an invitation, saying "For those of you who have ideas about features that would make doing business even easier, please reach out. When I was at Escrow.com the domain holding product was developed from a customer suggestion. So, let's work together. I used to share this with the team at Escrow.com -  "There is a reason they call it work instead of fun, but if it isn't fun you should find other work!

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