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The Lowdown
December 2020 Archive
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Welcome to the The Lowdown from 
DN Journal
- your source for notable news 
and information from all corners of the global domain name industry! 

The Lowdown is compiled by DN Journal 
Editor & Publisher Ron Jackson.


Wishing You a Merry Christmas, Happy & Healthy Holidays and the Happiest of New Years in 2021

(image from BigStock)

For DNJournal readers around the world I want to wish those of you who are celebrating the season the very merriest of Christmases and to all a healthy and happy new year as we get ready to head into 2021. For those who celebrated Hannukah earlier this month and those who have been or will be celebrating favorite holidays and occasions of their own, I hope you are blessed and inspired by those special days as well. 

I know 2020 has been a very tough year for millions of people around the globe and my thoughts are with you too. My wish is that the new year will bring you peace, prosperity, love and healing. I am old enough to have seen a lot of ups and downs, good times and bad, but no matter what happened the sun always rose again the next day, presenting another chance to take another step forward (or change direction if needed). 2021 will bring us 365 more sunrises - that's a lot of opportunities to make things better for ourselves, our families and our friends. 

I also know that thanks to our industry being based in the virtual world, we've been more fortunate than most and I am thankful for that every day. My hope is that 2021 will be a better one for all - and that we will finally get to start seeing each other in person again! We will certainly have a lot of stories to share when that day comes and I am looking forward to hearing yours!

(Posted December 25, 2020) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
https://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2020/dailyposts/20201225.htm

*****

Music Loving Domain Pioneers Peter Maxymych, Michael Castello & David Castello Back in Spotlight

I've lost track of how many times I've noted that one trait an extraordinary number of successful domain investors and developers have in common is creativity. Success with domains is just as much an art as it is a science, if not more so (in noting the difference between the two, 1996 Nobel Prize winner Sir Harold Kroto said "In science, the universe is in control. In art, you are."). 

Many of the most familiar faces in our field are also exceptionally talented artists, musicians, writers (sometimes with skills in all of  those areas). One of Canada's most prominent domain pioneers, eMall.ca Founder Peter Maxymych, is a good example. Peter has a great .ca portfolio, filled with thousands of top tier keyword domains, and has posted some of the largest Canadian TLD sales ever made. Just last week he was on our sales charts again, this time with the industry's #1 ccTLD sale of the week - SportsBet.ca at USD $35,000. In addition to his skills with domains, Maxymych, a talented accordionist who has been playing since his teens, has produced some marvelous jazz CD's featuring some of the world's best musicians.

In 2013, I told you about Maxymych producing the critically acclaimed major label jazz CD The Montreal Sessions by the North American Jazz Alliance on Challenge Records. Fast forward to today and Peter is celebrating the release of another new CD - When Lights Are Low featuring Kenny Kotwitz & the LA Jazz Quintet, on which Peter served as the Executive Producer. 

I got a pre-release copy of the album a few weeks ago and was blown away by the tracks put down by the world class players Maxymych assembled for the project. In addition to Kotwitz (who is brilliant throughout) on accordian and celeste, the album has Nick Mancini on vibraphone, John Chiodini on guitar, Chuck 

CD Cover for When Lights Are Low by the LA Jazz Quintet

Berghofer on bass and Kendall Kay on drums and percussion. These members of the LA Jazz Quintet have performed live, recorded and toured with artists including Stan Getz, Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Torme, Barbra Streisand, Joni Mitchell, Michael Buble, Tony Bennett, Celine Dion, Dr. John, Nina Simone, Nancy Wilson and countless others. 

When Lights Are Low features 13 standards and is dedicated to the late jazz accordian player Art Van Damme. The title track, along with "Cry Me a River", "When Sunny Gets Blue" and "Harlem Nocturne" are a few of my favorites but I love them all. It is the kind of soothing, tasteful music you could put on repeat play and enjoy listening to all evening long. While I like all genres of music (I used to be a radio DJ and also owned a series of record stores), some may say "I'm not into jazz or country" or fill in the blank. If you have any pre-conceived notions, I'm pretty sure they will disappear if you listen to When the Lights Are Low. It is just great music, period. You can learn more at the LA Jazz Quintet's website

Of course, it is impossible to talk about domains and music in the same conversation without talking about brothers Michael Castello and David Castello who spent their formative years playing together in rock and roll bands in New York and Los Angeles (Michael as lead singer and guitarist and David as the drummer). After taking a long break from to concentrate on domains, David returned to the stage and the recording studio a few years ago with bree, another terrific rock band fronted by his wife. 

I shared Michael and David's life 

Michael Castello and David Castello

story in a DNJournal Cover Story soon after we met for the first time back in 2006 and have written often about them (and their six and seven-figure domain sales) since then. Having become personal friends over the years, I was delighted to see that Giuseppe Graziano has published new back to back individual profiles of Michael and David on his blog at GGRG.com. That is a great approach because, while Michael and David have much in common (including great character qualities instilled by their parents), they also have their own unique personalities, lifestyles and innovative ideas. Giuseppe's informative and entertaining articles bring their stories completely up to date, so you won't want to miss these profiles of two of the best people in this business. You can read the piece on Michael here and the just published article about David is here

(Posted December 16, 2020) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
https://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2020/dailyposts/20201216.htm

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Kate Buckley Closes 2nd Biggest Domain Sale Reported So Far This Year in $800,000+ Transaction

The upcoming holidays will be especially happy ones for Kate Buckley and her team at Buckley Media. I say that with confidence after getting a note from Kate today letting me know that she has closed an $803,025 sale of Engage.com - a deal that ranks as the 2nd biggest publicly reported domain sale so far this year (only the $1,080,000 sale of Bullish.com last month has been bigger). Kate represented the seller of Engage.com with the domain going to an as yet unidentified end user. We will be officially adding the sale to our Year to Date Top 100 Sales Chart when our next bi-weekly Domain Sales Report is published December 23rd.

This is just the latest in a long line of blockbuster sales Ms. Buckley has booked in her more than 20 years in the domain industry. Those have included Rate.com ($725,000), Refi.com, Sleeping.com and Snoring.com ($500,000 each), Inspection.com ($335,000), Advance.com ($300,000) and many others in the six-figure range. That track record has fueled rapid growth at Buckley Media, most recently evidenced just a month ago when the company announced a major expansion of its executive management team. 

Kate was also the subject of an in-depth DNJournal Cover Story profile that was published in 2018.

Kate Buckley
Founder & CEO, Buckley Media

(Posted December 11, 2020) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
https://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2020/dailyposts/20201211.htm

*****

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) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
https://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2020/dailyposts/20201208.htm

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All-Star Lineup Set for ICA Interactive Event Tuesday - Lau, Schilling, McNair and Kubba to Field Questions

If you are a domain industry professional it is in your best interests to become a member of the Internet Commerce Association (ICA), the non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the rights and interests of domain name owners and related service providers. Having ICA General Counsel Zak Muscovitch, Executive Director Kamila Sekiewicz and a six-person Board of Directors comprised of long-time industry leaders advocating for you around the clock is an invaluable asset. 

 

Even so, the ICA is continually seeking ways to give ICA members more for their money. Just one example of that is a series of Virtual Events (open to members only) that bring some of the most successful domain investors in domain industry history together to share  advice and experiences we can all learn from. 

You may never find a better example of that than the all-star lineup the ICA will present Tuesday afternoon (December 8, 2020) at 3pm (US Eastern Standard Time). Members will hear from serial entrepreneur and NamesCon Founder Richard Lau (top left in photos at left), Uniregistry Founder and legendary domain investor Frank Schilling (top right), PPX International Chairman and  multi-talented businessman Gregg McNair (bottom left) and the always smiling (and always investing, creating and encouraging) entrepreneur Ammar Kubba (bottom right). All four have been profiled in DNJournal Cover 

Stories over the years (the link in their name leads to the story about them. Frank was actually featured twice - in the 2012 article linked to above as well as a prior piece published in 2007). All four have also been among the strongest supporters the ICA has had since it was founded in 2006.

If you have thought about joining the ICA, this opportunity to hear from four guys who have been there and done it all successfully, would be a perfect entry point. You can find full details about ICA membership here and if you sign up before Tuesday afternoon you'll get an invitation to this highly anticipated Virtual Event. it will be an Interactive session, so be sure to come with any questions you may have!

(Posted December 7, 2020) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
https://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2020/dailyposts/20201207.htm

*****

Domain World Mourns Loss of Domaining Europe Founder Dietmar Stefitz - An Industry Champion Since 1994

The domain industry lost one of its most fervent supporters today and the world is without one of its nicest guys. We and countless others in our business were saddened to hear of the passing of Domaining Europe conference founder Dietmar Stefitz who leaves us after a long battle with cancer.

Dietmar had a passion for domains that started the day he registered his first name back in 1994. The native of Austria who spent the last 30+ years of his life living with his family in Spain, was one of the first to fully grasp how the Internet and its essential building blocks, domain names, would change the world. Stefitz immediately began investigating ways to merge the physical and virtual worlds and by 2000 he was using the web to produce virtual trade shows in a variety of fields. 

Over the next few years Stefitz learned there were others who shared devotion to domains and website development. Since these were his true brothers and sisters in arms, Dietmar wanted to meet compare ideas with these special

Dietmar Stefitz

people in person. So, in 2008 he staged his first domain conference in the physical world, an event dubbed Domaining Spain that he hosted is his hometown - beautiful Valencia, Spain. Only about 30 people attended but Dietmar was in heaven and the seed had been planted. 

Stefitz put on a professional production and was such an affable and accommodating host that those early attendees spread the word around Europe (and beyond) and his show soon quadrupled in size and adopted what had become a more fitting name - Domaining Europe. I went to my first one in 2012 when Dietmar surprised me by personally showing  up at the airport to pick up my wife and I. Once at the show hotel, he stayed by our side to make sure there were no problems getting checked in to our room. It was the first time I ever met him and I would soon learn the unexpected "special attention" I got from Dietmar is what everyone got from him. He loved domain people, loved every day he spent with them and would go out of his way to help them.

Domaining Europe Founder Dietmar Stefitz sharing a laugh with Gregg McNair (PPX International Chairman) during the 2012 Domaining Europe conference in Valencia, Spain.

Dietmar Stefitz and Ron Jackson at the 2017
Domaining Europe conference in Berlin, Germany.

That 2012 conference remains one of my all-time favorite events and as the years went on it was great to see Dietmar  continue producing great shows that helped grow the domain industry in Europe. After seven years in Valencia, he took another major step toward that end when he decided to start staging the event in different cities each year so it could truly become a continent-wide event. In 2016, the conference was held in The Hague, Netherlands and in 2017 it went to Berlin, Germany where Dietmar celebrated his 10th year at the helm of the popular event. Domaining Europe Berlin was yet another great Stefitz conference, but that year was tempered by the sad news Dietmar shared with some friends that he had been diagnosed with a serious illness. Since then he has been fighting it tooth and nail like the champion he is. 

As he turned his attention to his health Dietmar found a new steward for his conference in NamesCon and they joined forces with him to bring the event back to Valencia in 2018. The 

show was re-christened NamesCon Europe, a name it will carry, along with Dietmar's legacy, into the bright future Dietmar always envisioned for it. NamesCon Europe was held in Cascais, Portugal last year and would have been held in Budapest, Hungary this year if not for the Covid-19 pandemic (that show has been rescheduled for July 2021 in Bucharest).

Dietmar Stefitz stopping to the smell the roses in his Valencia home garden in 2018.

While the show must go on (just the way Dietmar would want it), he will be sorely missed. Still, it is gratifying knowing Dietmar was able to spend his life doing what he truly loved to do. He certainly brightened our world too, with that big smile whenever you saw him and the boundless enthusiasm he shared for the business we are in. People like Dietmar are the reason why so many of us consider this a "family business" rather than just another generic spoke in the global business wheel. It was an honor to know you sir and we will never forget you. 

(Posted December 4, 2020) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
https://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2020/dailyposts/20201204.htm

*****

New Partnership with MediaOptions Gives DAN.COM Customers Access To Domain Brokerage Services

MediaOptions, the premium domain brokerage firm founded by Andrew Rosener in 2007, has announced a new partnership with DAN.COM, the blockchain-powered Domain Automation Network, to provide brokerage services to customers listing domains on the DAN.COM platform. The partners expect the alliance to drive significant increases in conversions and sales for participating domain portfolio owners when it rolls out next month.

A press release we received about the partnership noted "The demand for available domains continues to increase, however, the 

domain market is failing to efficiently organize and keep pace with the increase in demand. DAN.COM aims to close this gap using blockchain technology to better automate and streamline escrow processes, and also introduce new domain purchase and use models in a scalable and frictionless way.  The end goal is to make domain transactions more fluid and secure, providing buyers and sellers with more options and opportunities than ever before."   

 

Reza Sardeha
DAN.COM Founder & CEO

DAN.COM Founder and CEO Reza Sardeha said, "Our partnership provides DAN.COM customers with greater returns while democratizing access to MediaOptions, which is the number one domain brokerage firm in the world. We continuously strive to provide our customers with the most advanced domain transaction platform in the world, including the integration of services from trusted and valued partners like MediaOptions.”  

"With 9 million domain names listed on its platform, DAN.COM regularly fields a substantial number of brokerage requests. Under this new partnership, MediaOptions will handle these requests and convert them into successful transactions. MediaOptions will manage the brokering of these sales, while the escrow, payment and related domain transfers will be done on the DAN.COM platform - providing buyers and sellers with an unprecedented combination of platform features and brokerage capabilities."

MediaOptions Founder and CEO Andrew Rosener added, "I have been a big fan of DAN.COM for years. They continuously innovate in the domain space and have built an impressive and highly functional platform. At the same time, we continue to make strides in growing our business and finding efficient ways to bring our best-in-breed services to more customers. Our  partnership with DAN.COM will allow us to continue that growth, significantly increase our lead flow, and bring our ‘Domains-as-a-Service’ model to more customers - all while working with one of the most technologically forward-thinking companies in the industry.”   

Since its founding, MediaOptions has facilitated hundreds of millions of dollars in domain name transactions. In addition to its domain brokerage services, MediaOptions also owns and operates its own portfolio of super-premium domain names. To learn more about MediaOptions and its services you can visit https://www.mediaoptions.com.

Andrew Rosener
MediaOptions Founder & CEO

(Posted December 3, 2020) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
https://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2020/dailyposts/20201203.htm

*****

New Global Domain Registration Stats from Verisign Show .Com Still Outperforming the Market with Mixed Results for Other TLDs

Verisign (the administrator of the .com and .net TLDs) has released their latest quarterly Domain Name Industry Brief covering the 3rd quarter of 2020. The quarter closed with 370.7 million domain name registrations across all top-level domains (TLDs), an increase of approximately 10.8 million domains that represents a 3% rise year over year. About 600,000 of those domains were registered in 3Q-2020, a less robust 0.2% increase from the previous quarter. 

.Com domain registration jumped by 5.7 million year over year to 150.3 million (a 4.4% rise that easily bested the overall market growth rate). .Net, which has been steadily slipping in recent years looks to have stabilized. .Net closed 3Q-2020 with approximately 13.4 million registrations, the same figure it posted at this point a year ago.

ccTLDs also remained static ending 3Q-2020 with 160.6 million registrations, down a hair (minus 0.7%) after a year-over-year decrease of 1.2 million domains. However, the ccTLDs regained 500,000 of those domains over the last quarter, a 0.3% increase since the end of 2Q-2020.

The new gTLDs flipped that script, falling 4.7% from the end of 2Q-2020 after losing 1.5 million domains. However, the new gTLDs still ended up with a big year-over year increase, having added 6.2 million domains to finish 3Q-2020 with 30.2 million registrations, a jump of more than 25% since the same point a year ago. 

(Posted December 2, 2020) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
https://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2020/dailyposts/20201202.htm

*****


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