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ICA Members Got a Master Class in Domain Business From Four Industry Pioneers Tuesday

Yesterday I told you about a special Virtual Event the Internet Commerce Association (ICA) would be presenting for its members this afternoon (Tuesday, December 8, 2020). As most of you know, the ICA is the non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the rights and interests of domain name owners and related service providers. The ICA also provides additional benefits like access to today's event that featured four of the most successful investor/developers in 

domain industry history - (listed alphabetically by last name): Ammar KubbaRichard Lau, Gregg McNair and Frank Schilling (the links in their names point to Cover Story profiles DNJournal published about those pioneers).


I joined dozens of other ICA members (a virtual Who's Who of domain industry leaders) who thoroughly enjoyed hearing the expert's war stories and sage advice in a fast moving session that was scheduled for an hour but ran an hour-and-a-half (and could have easily continued for two hours more without anyone losing interest). The talented quartet took time out of their busy schedules to help raise recognition for the ICA and encourage membership in the invaluable association that has been growing by leaps and bounds in recent years. Since their commentary was meant for ICA members, I will share just a few photos and notes here to give you an idea of what ICA Virtual Events provide and the caliber of people they give you access to.

Above: Serial entrepreneur Ammar Kubba originally entered the industry in 2005 as a service provider, having co-founded one of the most successful early domain monetization companies, TrafficZ. At the time Ammar was also an attorney, but once bitten by the domain bug he turned his full attention to domains and soon morphed from service provider to full time investor. Today Ammar recalled how he and partner Kevin Vo and had started with almost nothing, spending almost all the available cash they had on hand to pay for a booth at the 2005 T.R.A.F.F.I.C conference in Las Vegas. They had so little left over they had to pile their exhibit and promotional materials into a rented van with no air conditioning and drive it across the desert in the hot sun from Los Angeles to Las Vegas in a quest for  customers. They did better than they could have dreamed of and Ammar has been on an upward trajectory ever since. He is especially happy with his switch from service provider to domain investor several years ago.  "It's a lot more fun to be on this side of the business!," Kubba laughed. 

Kubba has supported the ICA from Day 1, knowing that in order to thrive, industry members have to band together to insure their rights are protected and that the public is made aware of the positive aspects of the industry and the critical role domains play in today's business world.

Above: Richard Lau has also had a meteoric rise in the domain world but the fact that he is here today at all is a true miracle. Soon after entering the business with his own domain registration company, Richard was diagnosed with cancer and was told he had three to six months to live. He was not expected to make it to his 30th birthday but he beat all the odds and beat cancer, going on to a full recovery and a new outlook on life. Some industry friends took Richard under their wing and taught him how to invest in and monetize domains and he was off to the races. With a desire to give back, Richard adopted the Water School charity and co-founded the NamesCon conference with Jothan Frakes as a way to raise money for the Water School. He also continued to assemble a great domain portfolio and started building businesses on his best names like Resume.com and his current project, Logo.com

Like so many in the industry, Lau has been especially impressed with the camaraderie that exists, even among competitors, in our field. "It is a breath of fresh air," Lau said, adding "I have been in cut-throat businesses before so seeing the kind of acceptance and camaraderie we have in the domain industry is mind blowing!" As to why he is a major supporter of the ICA (and gave the organization a huge push at NamesCon events), Lau said "I like to have people who are smarter than me protecting our interests and a guy like ICA General Counsel Zak Muscovitch is a perfect example." Lau has first hand knowledge of why domain owners have to have a powerful advocate to protect their rights. He described spending seven years and spending a six figure sum to win a legal battle over his RL.com domain and knows frivolous attempts to hijack valuable domain names have to be stopped. The ICA, with its active participation in ICANN (the industry's rule making body) is our first line of defense on that front.

Above: In addition to sharing his own story, multi-talented businessman Gregg McNair (Group Chairman, Premium Traffic Limited, Inc.) served as the moderator in today's discussion with his three pioneering companions. Gregg, who has invested in numerous successful domain industry enterprises as well as individual  domains and portfolios, never misses an opportunity to speak out on behalf of the ICA. He has also been one of the main architects of the sense of community you hear so much about in the domain world. 

Gregg knows success is built on relationships and over the years he has gone out of his way to give industry participants a place to meet face to face - not only to do business, but often form lifetime friendships. At just about every important domain conference over the years he would open up his own hotel suite and welcome all show attendees to gather there after hours. Those gatherings, much to the alarm of hotel staff, could sometimes run all night but they were much more than just late night parties - they were can't miss events that helped make this the kind of business Richard Lau described as a breath of fresh air.

Above: Frank Schilling, a true legend in the domain world (and the subject of two DNJournal Cover Stories (2007 and 2012), would be all the reason anyone would need to take a seat at the ICA Virtual Event today. In addition to building a world class domain portfolio from scratch, Frank founded an innovative domain registrar - Uniregistry.com - that domain pros (including me) flocked to. Industry giant GoDaddy took notice and bought Uniregistry (and the bulk of Frank's domain portfolio) in a nine-figure transaction this year. Frank was instrumental in the forming of the ICA itself and has continued to help fuel the organization's growth ever since it was founded in 2006.

Since selling Uniregistry Schilling has gotten involved in several other endeavors including starting his own record label. Known as one of the nicest guys in the domain business, one who freely gave encouragement and valuable advice to newcomers, Frank set about doing the same for talented young musicians in the Cayman Islands where he lives. To his surprise, that eventually led to making some major contacts in the L.A, music scene and getting a key investment opportunity in a music company there. Frank saw that as just more proof that when you do good things for others good things come back to you. "That all came about from just trying to help some kids make music," Frank said, adding, "It was not an accident - there are no accidents!"  

The endorsement of these four gentlemen says a lot about the ICA. They and the organization's current members have all seen what a great job the ICA's General Counsel Zak Muscovitch, Executive Director Kamila Sekiewicz and the Board of Directors have done over the years. If you are a domain industry professional you owe it to yourself to join the team and take your own seat at the next Virtual Event!

(Posted December 8, 2020)  


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