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May 28, 2019

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The Lowdown
April 2019 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.

Name Vs. Name: eCommerce.co and RealEstate.asia Sold for About the Same Price - Which One Was the Better Buy & Why?

16 years ago we started our weekly domain sales reports (that come out every Wednesday evening) as an educational tool. Showing the exact prices paid for specific domain names each week gives all of us a chance to learn more about domain values, gain insight into the latest trends (what's hot and what's not) and have access to a large pool of comparable sales that can be pointed to when buyers question domain valuations.

As sales data comes in each week I often notice very different kinds of domains selling for about the same (or exactly the same) price and thought this might present another interesting educational opportunity. In this case, seeing how our reader's currently value various kinds of domains by running a periodic Name Vs. Name poll and discussion in which two similarly priced but otherwise different kinds of domains are matched against one another. We ran a couple of these contests last month (links to those are in the table at the end of this post) and the response was good, so let's return to the battle field for round three!

 

Image from Bigstock

This time around we are going to pit a ccTLD again a non .com gTLD. Both have great keywords and sold for about the same price. As you may have seen in last week's domain sales report those two - eCommerce.co and RealEstate.asia - earned places on our weekly all extension Top 20 Sales Chart with eCommerce.co coming in at $16,650 and RealEstate.asia close behind at $16,095.co is officially the country code for Colombia but it was re-purposed several years ago to mean "company" and has had success with that re-branding (so much so that Neustar swooped in and bought the .co registry for $109 million in 2014). .Asia was launched in 2008 as a sponsored gTLD that serves as the regional domain extension for Asia and the Pacific. Now that we've introduced the opponents - let's get ready to rumble! The poll will remain open for 5 days (closing on Sunday afternoon, May 5, 2019. We will share the final results with you in our next Name vs. Name battle (or you can return to this page any tim after the voting ends and click the poll View button to see the winner). So, which one - eCommerce.co or RealEstate.asia - was the better buy and, if you care to comment, why? (the View button will let you see poll numbers and comments):

 

eCommerce.co ($16,650) and RealEstate.asia ($16,095) Sold for About the Same Price - Which One Was the Better Buy?
 
pollcode.com free polls
 
 

Previous Name vs. Name Battles (2019)

Date

Contestants and Amount Each Sold For

Winner

Score (ties)

3/21/19

StartupFunding.com vs. CryptoMining.org 
($7,000 / $7,000)

StartupFunding.com 

60-14 (3)

3/18/19

QV.net vs. Insurance.us 
($4,000 / $4,000)

Insurance.us 

76-46 (12)

*Each contest link goes to the original poll page where you can get more information on the matchup and also see reader's commentary (by selecting the View button on that page).

(Posted April 30, 2019) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2019/dailyposts/20190430.htm

Domain Registrants Urged to Weigh In On Unlimited .ORG Price Hikes Before Monday Deadline

Domain registrants are up in arms about an ICANN proposal to remove all price caps on popular .ORG domain names. Price increases have been limited to no more than 10% annually under .ORG's current contract with ICANN (already a far higher increase than the rate of inflation), but if this proposal is enacted,

 

the Public Interest Registry could increase prices to any number they want for .ORG registrations and renewals. If that happens you can bet demands for unlimited .com and .net increases won't be far behind. 

The Internet Commerce Association has already filed a detailed objection to the .ORG contract proposal with ICANN (the oversight body that governs the domain name system). To gauge community sentiment on this issue, ICANN opened a public comment period allowing all interest parties to weigh in on the proposal themselves. This is something all 

domain name registrants should do and the ICA has made it easy for you by creating this comment submission form. The key point to be aware of now is that time is of the essence as the comment period ends at 23:59 UTC on Monday, April 29. That is 7:59PM U.S. Eastern Time (4:59PM Pacific).  You can also access the comment form from the ICA's Facebook page, their Twitter feed and their LinkedIn page

(Posted April 24, 2019) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2019/dailyposts/20190424.htm

Criminal Hired to Force Domain Owner to Transfer a Name at Gunpoint Gets Shot Himself - Goes to Prison with His Employer Now Expected to Follow

If you were among the millions around the world busy celebrating Easter over the weekend you may have missed one of the most bizarre domain related stories of all time even though it was reported in dozens of mainstream media outlets Sunday.

It involved a social media influencer named Rossi Lorathio Adams II whose company, Social Snaps, has been attracting over a million visitors to his pages on platforms including Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter. According to CNN, for two years, Adams had been trying unsuccessfully to buy a domain he wanted, DoItForState.com, from the owner who lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Adams finally got the not so bright idea that he could just hire someone to pay the domain owner a visit and force him to transfer the domain at gunpoint. After all, what could go wrong?!

Image from Bigstock 

Well, plenty, as the guy he picked for the job, his cousin Sherman Hopkins Jr., soon found out. In 2017 Hopkins went to the domain owner's house, pulled out the gun and directed the man to his computer where he was told to log into his registrar account and transfer the domain. All the while Hopkins kept a gun against the man's head. Unfortunately for him, the domain owner decided to fight back and successfully wrestled the gun away from Hopkins and shot him several times with his own weapon. To add insult to insult Hopkins was sentenced to 20 years in prison last year. 

Meanwhile, authorities followed the trail from Hopkins back to the guy who hired him, Adams, who is now in custody awaiting sentencing himself. As CNN noted, "he faces a maximum 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release." I'm pretty sure he could have bought the domain for a LOT less than that though, on the plus side, it looks like he may get free room and board for the next two decades.

While this is obviously a very rare set of circumstances, it will likely cause a lot of domain owners to think about using the WhoIs Privacy option on their domain names so their address and other contact info is not readily available to someone who wants to pay them a visit!

(Posted April 22 2019) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2019/dailyposts/20190422.htm

It Pays to Speak Up: Australian Domain Authority Rejects Attempt to Ban Domain Investing There

In our last post we told you about Australian entrepreneurs being up in arms over a proposal that country's domain governing body, auDA (administrator of the .AU ccTLD), was considering that could have effectively banned domain investing in that country's TLD. From the moment the idea was broached a crescendo of protests began growing with everyone from a former auDA board member (Simon Johnson) to the Internet Commerce Association (ICA) lodging strong objections to what would have been an unprecedented development in the domain industry.

The united stand taken by the domain business community apparently caught the attention of auDA leadership because today they announced they have rejected the proposed policy changes for the Australian namespace. The auDA decision said ďthere is no evidence that domain name flipping as an investment strategy is having a negative impact on the utility of the .au domain nor resulting in a scarcity of domain names."

Australia image from Bigstock

The first word we got on the auDA decision came in a press release issued by the ICA this morning. It noted that auDA concluded, "the warehousing prohibition appears to disproportionately target domain investors, as the licence portfolios or holdings of trademark and brand owners will be excluded under the Policy Review Panel (PRP) proposal.  

This proposal elevates the rights of trademark and other intellectual property owners over other licence holders in the .au domain, which may give rise to issues of market power and anti-competitive practices. auDA management accordingly does not support the PRP recommendation for a resale and warehousing prohibition."

All domain investors owe a debt of gratitude to the ICA and all others who stood up in opposition to this encroachment on the rights of domain investors and entrepreneurs. They represent a significant portion of  domain registrants worldwide and should have the same standing as anyone else who chooses to invest their faith and money in the long term value of domain names.

(Posted April 15, 2019) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2019/dailyposts/201904015.htm

Australian Entrepreneurs Up in Arms Over Proposed Rules That Could Ban .AU Domain Investing

The domain investment community in Australia is sounding a red alert triggered by new rules being considered by AuDA (the overseer of the country's .AU top level domain) that many there see as attempt to institute an outright ban on domain investment. If

enacted domains that have already been registered and paid for could be taken away from their current registrants. AuDA is currently inviting public commentary on the proposed changes but the window is about to close with the deadline for submissions set for 5pm Australian EST Friday, April 12 (AEST is 14 hours ahead of U.S. EST which would make the deadline 3AM Friday morning in the eastern United States).

Simon Johnson

Veteran Australian entrepreneur and domain investor Simon Johnson, who served as Chairman of the AuDA Board's Security and Risk Committee until resigning in 2017, is among the well-known figures who have taken a firm stand against AuDA's proposal. Johnson told us the Australian Internet industry must be defended and there is still time to act. "Given that Directors need to exercise due care and diligence, for auDA to retrospectively go back and delete domain names from Australian businesses, does more harm than good," Johnson said. "As such, I donít believe it would be in the interests of the organisation for the auDA Board to accept the recommendations in the PRP report.Ē

The Internet Commerce Association (ICA) also issued their own strong objections to the AuDA proposal in a nine-page letter sent to AuDA's Policy Review Panel Tuesday (April 9). The letter written by ICA Legal Counsel Zak Muscovitch noted, "Whether in land, a catalogue of Beatles songs,or domain names, investing in assets is a natural by-product of a free and open market. Domain registrants use and risk their own money to lawfully purchase generic and descriptive domain names on a first-come, first-served basis and from prior owners a nd should have the right to do so. Domain name investors range from an at-home mom making a casual investment in a handful of names to professional domain name investors who spend substantial money and efforts on building a portfolio and marketing it to the public. Such business activities involving domain names are entirely legal, expected, and natural. Indeed, Australia is the only country that we are aware of that has such restrictive policies when it comes to domain names."

Muscovitch added, "The attempt to stamp out domain investing will create a multitude of unintended collateral harms. The effort will either be ineffective or will entrap those who are not primarily domain investors in an overly 

ICA Legal Counsel Zak Muscovitch

broad net. The supposed harms the policy is attempting to address are largely illusory while the actual harm created by the proposed policies, if enacted, will be deep and widespread."

In a related noted, the ICA is hosting an open public webcast Friday afternoon (April 12) at 1pm US Eastern Time. Anyone can sit in on the session by registering here. The controversial AuDA proposal is one of several topics set for discussion on the webcast.

(Posted April 11, 2019) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2019/dailyposts/20190411.htm

Domain Industry Expert George Kirikos Launched a New Blog at FreeSpeech.com and The Fireworks Have Already Begun

If you been in the domain business for any appreciable length of time, odds are you are already familiar with industry veteran George Kirikos who, in addition to his record of success in domain investing and development, also operates Leap of Faith Financial Services Inc. 

from his home base in Toronto. When we launched DNJournal.com in 2003 George was already widely known for the quality of his domain and website holdings. Examples include Math.com (which serves millions of visitors annually) and a more recent acquisition,

 

School.com. Kirikos also has Options.com and StockOptions.com under development in the financial arena, and many others in an assortment of industry verticals.

The financial domains fall in Kirikos' wheelhouse - he holds both Bachelor's and Masters Degrees in Economics from the University of Toronto. For years now he has used those skills to uncover previously unreported major domain sales and acquisitions while poring through public  corporate filings. If you are a regular reader of our weekly domain sale report you have seen Kirikos credited for finding some of the biggest sales that have ever appeared on our sales charts (sales that likely would have remained undiscovered to this day if George hard not dug them out).

Over the years Kirikos has proven to be just as adept at uncovering actions that threaten domain registrant's rights, especially when it comes to governance issues handled by ICANN, the overseer of the global domain name system. Since the early days of domain forums and more recently on his Twitter feed, Kirikos has repeatedly taken ICANN to task. 

The matters he has brought to light left many encouraging him to start his own blog so he would have full control of an important "soap box" and have room for more in-depth commentary that Twitter's 240-character limit allows. Kirikos has finally heeded that call by launching his new blog on one of his marquee domains - one perfect for this application - FreeSpeech.com. In his first post on April 5, 2019, he discussed some of his background and his plans for the new site. 

Not surprisingly, ICANN quickly became the hottest topic on FreeSpeech.com when they banned Kirikos from membership on any of their working groups shortly after his blog was launched (for the past three years, George has been a member of ICANN's RPM PDP working group, which is chartered to review ICANNís UDRP and other policies that affect domain name registrants). That move came shortly after Kirikos had revealed in an earlier post the same day that his position was being threatened due to his critical commentary.

You can bet these early fireworks will not be the last at FreeSpeech.com. Kirikos's record of  straight forward, no punches pulled commentary on a wide variety of industry matters warrants adding a bookmark to his blog if you want to hear both sides of the industry's hot topics as well as broader issues beyond the domain world related to free speech. 

 

(Posted April 8, 2019) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2019/dailyposts/20190408.htm

20 Big City .Com GeoDomains Offered in Unprecedented Portfolio Sale: Houston.com, Philadelphia.com & SanDiego.com Among Those Included

It is rare for any major city .com geodomain to be put on the market so the sale of a portfolio full of such domains is something few would ever imagine seeing. Well, the unthinkable is now a reality as GeoCentric Media has assembled just such a dream portfolio and is now brokering it with a price tag in the $20 million range. 

That's certainly not pocket change, but when you look at the assets included many would consider it to be a bargain. especially when it includes three of America's largest cities - Houston.com, Philadelphia.com and SanDiego.com - as well as big league cities like Denver.com, Detroit.com, Indianapolis.com and Oakland.com

As a point of reference, LasVegas.com alone was sold in 2005 for an up front payment

Philadelphia skyline image from Bigstock

of $12 million with additional payments continuing until 2040 that could make the final value of the deal $90 million.  Here is the full list of domains in the new offering:

With respect to value, another interesting point of reference from the media world (this one from just two weeks ago) came from the announcement that the Nexstar Media Group was selling 19 of its local TV stations to Tegna for $1.32 billion - 66 times more than this portfolio of 20 city domain names is being shopped for. Yes, the TV stations are developed businesses but each one broadcasts to a very limited geographic area. Every developed domain has a global reach and can offer all forms of media including print, audio and video at once - making the potential of each property essentially unlimited. Developed city domains also have an excellent track record in producing revenue. This article noted that Boston.com generated over $44 million in digital ad revenue in 2012 alone.

 

Fred Mercaldo, CEO and Founder of Scottsdale-based Geocentric Media, told us, ďThis portfolio gives a buyer an incredible footprint of digital assets on much sought-after pure City branded domain names. These domains provide an unprecedented opportunity to acquire a portfolio of this breadth and magnitude. As the future of news, travel and tourism bookings, real estate, and content goes digital at breakneck speed, this portfolio represents a unique opportunity to acquire a significant group of domain names in one single acquisition."

Mercaldo added, ďThe high value of local and hyper-local news and content that each City .com can generate has been long described as Ďoceanfront real estateí because these pure City brands in each marketplace can be positioned to serve large audiences for future generations to come. The credibility, natural type-in traffic and the allure of residents to Ďsupport and buy localí, combined

Fred Mercaldo
CEO & Founder
Geocentric MEdia

with the travel and tourism potential as well as the potential for Real Estate transactions makes this portfolio a very attractive acquisition target for a savvy buyer. As the inevitable transition to digital news and media is happening, whoever has the best brand names will prove to be the big winners." 

The cities in this portfolio represent the following cumulative demographics, population, tourism dollars, real estate market size, and immediate, organic reach: 

  • Population:  81,000,000

  • Annual Tourists:  300,000,000

  • Annual Tourism Financial Impact:  $90,000,000,000

  • Residential Real Estate Sales:  $2,000,000,000,000+  (Trillion)

Mercaldo, a widely-known domain investor/developer who also founded Scottsdale.com, cited two other successful domain industry veterans, Peter Niederman of Denver.com (and former owner of Kentwood Real Estate in Denver) and Ammar Kubba, (Thought Convergence, afterTHOUGHT and DomainTools.com) for their advice and support in putting this portfolio together and bringing it to market. 

Peter Niederman

Ammar Kubba

Niederman noted, ďThese City brands in the right hands are invaluable, and this portfolio is really priceless.  I experienced first hand what Denver.com could produce.  Fred has assembled this portfolio at the right time, place, and price point.Ē 

Kubba added, "This portfolio that Fred has assembled is unprecedented in terms of the reach and influence afforded by these domain assets. For the right buyer with vision and ambition, this acquisition will be a game changer, forming a compelling foundation for a future media powerhouse. The value of domains has proven undeniable, and the power of this collection is irrefutable"

Interested parties can learn more about this opportunity by contacting Mercaldo directly at: Info@GeocentricMedia.com

(Posted April 5, 2019) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2019/dailyposts/20190405.htm

Sale of NorthDakota.com Puts New Yorker John Colascione in Charge of Developing Site Devoted to the State

It's a long way from Long Island to North Dakota, in terms of both mileage and differences in culture. So it may surprise you to know that the new developer (and pending co-owner) of NorthDakota.com is native New Yorker John Colascione, a veteran online entrepreneur whose successful businesses have included LongIsland.com and his home base, Searchen Networks (founded in 2002).

John doesn't live in North Dakota - in fact, he recently moved from Long Island to Florida so he is even further away from North Dakota than before. Even so, John knows it is rare for any state or major city .com domain to come on the market and he wasn't about to pass up a chance to get involved in the acquisition of one when the opportunity arose. To find out how that came about and how John is tackling long distance management of the new website at NorthDakota.com we connected with Colascione for the answers.

John Colascione
NorthDakota.com

Image from Bigstock 

"NorthDakota.com came onto my radar for three reasons," Colascione said. "#1 - it was being sold by domain broker Mark Thomas of VIP Brokerage who has become a good friend through the years of attending domain name events. We always manage to have a good time at the events we attend together, especially NamesCon and sometimes get together outside of domaining circles. Mark was representing the seller and has other premium GEO domain names for sale."

"#2 - the price; although I do not want to release the exact number the domain was purchased for, it was relatively 

inexpensive - under six figures, and represents a geographic area of the country which is growing rapidly with jobs due to its agriculture and oil riches. My ownership interest will be assigned when the business has earned back its initial purchase price that was provided by an investor that I have already done several successful projects with. At that point Iíll immediately acquire a third of the business."

"#3 - after exiting LongIsland.com and moving off of Long Island, I wanted to remain in the geo domain business since I have so much experience in it and this time, I found interest in doing an entire State, instead of a region, city or town," John said.

Colascione wasted no time getting a new site online. We asked him about what is there now and what he has planned for it in the year ahead? 

"I trashed the old site which was built on a platform was old and I was unfamiliar with, transitioning the site to Wordpress, which is very easy to use," John noted. "While I do love Wordpress, Iím not sure how it will work for a geo domain, but I chose it to control cost and installed a Wordpress plugin for a business directory. I then obtained a CSV file of all of the businesses located in North Dakota and stuffed that data into the database immediately creating over 100,000 listings which creates 100,000 pages of the site. Search engines will index these pages and the site can then receive search engine traffic for these listings and will likely lead to increased interest in adding additional listings which can be purchased and upgraded. As far as the future, Iím not completely sold on the logo, or the theme/design, so those may change as time allows and I may look to implementing features and functions for both real estate and travel which is appropriate for a geo domain."

Screenshot from the new NorthDakota.com

Regarding the distance between his location and the subject of the site, we had to ask how difficult is it developing a geo site that is not in one's immediate locale compared to doing it with something closer to home as LongIsland.com was for him?

"I anticipate it will be much more difficult as I will not have the same familiarity with the area and will lead to more of a learning curve in developing its content and core purpose," Colascione allowed. "Iíll have to see how it goes for now but I would like to find a local person to act as a single sales person for the entire site much like LongIsland.com had in the beginning, and they can then reach out to local business owners to find a happy medium between cost and ROI for advertising on the site which is will be very inexpensive as the site needs to grow and mature with time."

Adding to the challenge is the fact that Colascione also has other businesses to run. " For the most part what I do is consult clients on the development, improvement, maintenance and marketing of their sites for a retainer fee through my consultancy company, Searchen Networks. However, I also develop internet properties for myself and for clients to increase and boost lead generation and/or to earn revenue which generates growth and income to the business so that it makes sense for them to pay for my consulting services and development time."

"When I work on a project it is either as a consultant for a client or a project of my own; itís quite ambiguous and thatís the way I like it. All projects are designed to generate revenue so that I can maintain the 

John Colascione (right) with Go Daddy 
Founder Bob Parsons at the 2011 Wild West 
Domains Reseller Conference in Arizona

servers, marketing programs, computer programming talent, and revenue to make a living while creating spin-off businesses and endeavors which I sometimes sell off to someone else. Iíve gone through three or four acquisitions and mergers over the years to keep afloat. In a nutshell, I help guide businesses with their SEO, sponsored search positioning, server management, outsourcing of their web team (to save money rather than having an employee) and build web businesses which are profitable. Most everything I do is geared towards website monetization and search engine positioning."

That may seem like a lot of balls to juggle at one time but Colascione has been doing it for almost two decades now - so if anyone can successfully pull off this unusual coupling of a New Yorker and North Dakota - John is probably just the guy to pull that rabbit out of his hat. 

(Posted April 1, 2019) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2019/dailyposts/20190401.htm


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