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The Lowdown
May 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.


Pioneering Domain Investor/Developers Michael & David Castello Launch New Site at CastelloBrothers.com

Michael & David Castello are very distinct individuals but in the domain world they've been so successful together that they have turned The Castello Brothers into a third equally prominent identity. We first wrote about them back in 2006 in a Cover Story that remains one of the most popular ones we've ever published. Since then we've written about several of their landmark sales, including a 2014 Cover Story that provided an inside account of the $3.1 million sale of Whisky.com. They are equally well-known for their successfully developed websites including PalmSprings.com, Nashville.com and, most recently,  Kennel.com, a site that was just launched in March.

The Castello Brothers: 
CEO Michael (left) & COO David
Co-Founders, Castello Cities Internet Network

Still, the brothers, with many similar category defining .com domains in their portfolio, have much more to do. Today, they opened the next chapter of The Castello Brothers story by announcing the launch of a new site at, where else?, CastelloBrothers.com. The site features many of their premium domain names for sale, biographies about the brothers and a F.A.Q. section that contains their unique perspective about what makes these names so valuable.

Michael said, "We equate owning premium domain names such as Cost.com, Sample.com and Traveler.com to undeveloped beachfront property. Development takes vision, but the monetary benefits are incredible. Regardless, as much as we enjoy breathing life into these names, my brother and I began to realize that it would be impossible to develop all of them." The new site gives them a showcase to offer other entrepreneurs an opportunity to acquire and develop a top tier online business of their own.

At left: Michael Castello, wife Sheri and daughter Jessica with Diana Jackson at Marina del Rey in Los Angeles.

Michael added, "COVID-19 forced a lot of people to work from home and these premium names are the perfect vehicle to build a successful on-line business from the convenience of your home office. David and I generated millions of dollars from the power of these worldwide brands and we did it all from home."

With the launch of Kennel.com, the brothers think they have another big winner on their hands. David said, "We changed our minds about selling Kennel.com and I'm glad we did. By the end of 2020, Kennel.com will be one of the largest sites about dogs in the world."

David Castello and wife Bree on their way to visit
the Castello family's ancestral homeland in Italy.

You can read more about Michael and David here and can also contact them through CastelloBrothers.com.

*****

(Posted May 29, 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/20200529.htm


Domain Investor/Developer/Blogger Morgan Linton Goes Deep in New Interview with GGRG's Giuseppe Graziano 

Giuseppe Graziano, the founder of domain brokerage & consulting firm GGRG.com is continuing his new series of in-depth domain industry interviews with the release of his third article, this one featuring veteran domain investor/developer/blogger Morgan Linton (whose home base online is at MorganLinton.com).  Among the many topics covered in the wide-ranging interview are:

•  

The most common mistake domain investors make and how to avoid it.

How domain investing will change over the next 10 years.

The lessons Morgan learned by working at Sonos and a firm he co-founded, Bold Metrics.

Morgan's favorite extensions and domain categories to invest in.

His favorite resources to learn about domains and startups. 

Morgan Linton  

In his introduction to the article, Giuseppe noted, "Morgan Linton is the first face I saw in the domain industry, when watching his 5-part video series called Domaining Power Course (published by a young Morgan 11 years ago!). Yet, I only met Morgan in person last year in Lisbon in occasion of NamesCon Europe 2019. We hit it off right away, and it is easy to understand why – Morgan is personable, well-traveled and with a lot of great stories!"

Giuseppe's started the series with DNJournal's Ron Jackson in March and veteran domain investor Yoni Belousov in April.

*****

(Posted May 21, 2021) 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/20200521.htm

 

The Secret Is Out! After Making Millions for Others Veteran Domain Broker Arif Sengoren Has Opened His Own Shop 

With very few exceptions, domain people are entrepreneurs at heart. Over the years I've lost count of how many started out working for someone else in this field, then went on to open their own shop. The latest to do that is veteran domain broker Arif Sengoren, whom I've known ever since he entered the domain world as a Domain Sales & Acquisitions Specialist with NoktaDomains in 2010. Arif piled up millions of dollars worth of sales in his five years there, then millions more after he moved on to Uniregistry's DomainNameSales unit. Now, he has decided it is time to fly solo, so he just launched his new firm at SecretBrokerage.com (I guess it's not a secret anymore)! 

Arif embodies something about domain people that has always fascinated me - the  incredibly diverse backgrounds they came from before stumbling upon this business. As a still relatively new field, there aren't many who started their business careers in our world. Many were doing something dramatically different, with no connection to domains or even the Internet itself.

In Arif's case, he went almost directly into domains after college but his degree was in...drum roll please....agricultural engineering! At first blush, that might look as far away from domains as you could get, but there is a common thread - technology. Agricultural engineering involves the design, construction and improvement of farming equipment and machinery. Agricultural engineers integrate technology with farming.

Arif Sengoren
Founder 
SecretBrokerage.com

After joining Nokta, Sengoren kept a foot in both camps for quite awhile. In addition to dealing in domains at Nokta he started taking classes aimed at getting an advanced degree in agricultural engineering. Arif explained how this tug of war came about and eventually got resolved. "I was into "selling" when I was a kid," Arif noted. " I started selling some pastry summertimes, then game and music CDs when I was at high school. I was organizing events and selling tickets when I was studying at the University. While doing my Masters in "wind-erosion", I was also looking for a job in sales and heard that Nokta was looking for a Domain Sales Representative. I applied for the position and got accepted. The domain part was actually quite random. However, after I got into the domaining, I loved it and dropped out of my master's degree program to fully focus on it. 

Looking back at his highlights over the past decade, Sengoren said, "I sold and/or acquired thousands of domains for over $5 million on behalf of Nokta. We broke the highest domain sale record for the Turkish Domain market by selling UcakBilet.com for $250,000. Then, when I moved over to Uniregistry (formerly DomainNameSales.com) for the next four years, I brokered around 700-750 domains for roughly $4 million USD. My highest sale was Kiwi.com for $800,000. Plus, I set another record  for sale made in Turkish currency (Turkish lira) by selling MNG.com for the USD equivalent of $141,960

In this shot from the 2013 T.R.A.F.F.I.C. West Conference in Las Vegas, we caught up with 
Arif Sengoren (left) and his then fellow Domain Specialist at NoktaDomains, Merve Engin.

Now that Arif has decided to realize every entrepreneur's dream and work for himself, Sengoren feels he has a good grasp on what will make his company different in a very competitive space. "There are definitely a lot of great marketplaces and brokerages that are mainly focused on selling domains," Arif said. "That's why I decided to focus on domain acquisitions, appraisals, portfolio management, creating and maximization (with subscription), and online brand protection. My motivation is to help domain/brand owners understand their assets and manage them to maximize their profit and protect them from online threats with very competitive prices."

Of course, we had to ask - what's behind the name, Secret Brokerage? "There are two reasons," Arif said. "I believe every broker has their own secret and I thought using this within the name would be a good idea . Second, lots of buyers prefer staying anonymous on the acquisition side so I thought the "secret" keyword would cover that as well!"

So, now you know the reason for the name but this may be the last time you see Arif "spill the beans!"

*****

(Posted May 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/20200516.htm

Escrow.com's Latest Quarterly Domain Investment Index Report Filled With Key Sales Data

Escrow.com has released their latest Domain Investment Index (.pdf file) report covering the 1st quarter of 2020. The 17-page data rich report revealed that Escrow.com closed $85.5 million in domain sales in the opening quarter of this year, a significant jump from the previous quarter when the total was under $75 million. Compared to the same quarter a year ago, total sales stayed steady with virtually the same dollar amount booked in 1Q-2019.

 

The U.S. didn't start seeing the full force of the global Covid-19 pandemic until 1Q-2020 was winding down, so we will have to wait for Escrow's 2Q report to see how that calamity affects transactions on their popular platform.

Some of the highlights from the new report include these observations:

*  Domain prices grew from last quarter, with especially high growth for 5 character domain names, a category that reached a record quarterly high across 17 years of Escrow data.

*  The U.S. led Q1 2020 global domain sales at $70 million, followed by the UK with $10.1 million.

*  Q1 2020 domain names with content tripled the volume of Q4 2019, a double edged sword as that was partly due to a surge in transactions of lower-priced domains.

*  Prices for Two to three number .com domains increased surged in Q1 2020, reaching the 2nd highest quarterly level in Escrow.com history with a median price of $193,500.

(Posted May 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/20200508.htm

New Guta.com Domain Market Report Shows Covid-19 Impacting Sales But 1-Word Dictionary .Coms Still Shine  

International domain brokerage firm Guta.com has released their latest quarterly Premium Domain Sales Observation Report (.pdf file) covering the first quarter of 2020. With offices in both the U.S. and China, Guta, founded by CEO George Hong, has a great vantage point to see what is happening in the domain aftermarket in both the Eastern and Western hemispheres. Their reports focus primarily on .com domain sales in these categories: 1-4 Numbers, 1-3 Letters, 2 Characters and one-word English dictionary domains. 

As you would expect with China battling the coronavirus  epidemic for the entire quarter and the U.S. doing so in the final month of it, sales activity was negatively impacted. The Guta report tells the story in an extensive series of charts then, in a final summary, notes "relatively low sales volumes across all categories of premium domains. Total sale counts of domains in LL .com, NN .com, NNN .com, NL .com, LN .com categories dived to 9-quarter lows. Total sale counts of domains in NNNN .com and one-word English .com categories fell to the lowest level in 4 quarters."

It goes on to say, "The world is experiencing uncertainty and hardship due to the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic. In Q1 2020, cash was indeed king for many investors, who were selling everything from stocks to bonds to gold to bitcoins aiming to raise cash. Under the circumstance, many premium domain owners were more motivated to sell, however most premium domain buyers suspended their purchases or lowered their budget substantially."

Still the report found some bright spots, adding "The end-user purchase rate of one-word English .com domains showed year-over-year growth." The Guta chart showed this category has rocketed to a 41.67% market share in Q1 2020 after holding just 25.8% of it two years ago. Guta reported that, "End users are still actively buying domain names. Businesses adapt to the pandemic by moving online. There will be a higher demand for premium domains from end-users. The new online businesses probably will start with hand registered domains or low priced aftermarket domains. Some of the companies will choose to upgrade their domain names to premium ones when their online business flourish, and they have money to spend. There is hope ahead!

(Posted May 6, 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/20200506.htm

Liquid Domain Market Platform LMXE Rebrands as LMX.com with New Features Designed to Fast Track Trading

Most of our readers are familiar with the quarterly liquid domain sales reports released by the Lisbon, Portugal based firm LXME that was launched a few years ago by Giuseppe Graziano, the founder of domain brokerage and consulting company GGRG.com. Giuseppe has just dialed things up several notches with LXME, rebranding the service as LMX.com, a now full featured trading platform for liquid domains. 

Graziano defines "liquid domains" as short .com domains comprised of 2-4 letters, 2-5 numbers and a combination of 2-3 characters mixing letters and numbers. He regards them as " liquid" because there are almost always buyers (at least at the wholesale level) for them.

Giuseppe said, "The purpose of LMX is to create a safe environment in which investors are able to trade liquid domains quickly, efficiently and at low fees.  You can now list One Word .com domains if they match certain quality criteria, the most important one being that the domain's Estibot appraised value has to be above $10,000. You can also now list 3-character, 4-letter and 5-number .com domains, as long as they have an appraised value of at least $10,000."

Graziano added, "Platform fees for a transaction are 7.5% (with a $1,000 minimum fee and Escrow.com fees covered by the buyer). However, to incentivize users to list domains, we are offering a reduced 5% fee for each domain listed and activated before the 7th of May 2020." 

 

Giuseppe Graziano
LMX.com Founder

The LMX.com platform is invitation-only, however, if you own a domain supported by the platform, you can use the self qualification process to create an account. Users are able to create opportunity alerts, so they can get instantly notified when domains that match their criteria are listed. The platform is meant for investors only, so LMX encourage users not to post domains with end user pricing.

(Posted May 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/20200504.htm

Controversial .ORG Registry Sale Stopped In Its Tracks as ICANN Bows to Fierce Public Pressure 

ICANN has a long history of ignoring public sentiment. The organization that oversees the domain name system is famous (or I should say infamous) for their public comment periods that are allegedly aimed at gauging community support on various issues. Infamous because time after time, even when the public is overwhelmingly opposed, they simply ignore the comments and institute the unpopular policy anyhow. 

The charade has played out so many times over the years that few expected the result to be any different when ICANN queried the community on allowing ISOC to sell the Public Interest Registry, the administrator or .ORG, to a private equity company, Ethos Capital for $1.135 billion..and in fact, despite a firestorm of widespread public protest, ICANN appeared to be on the verge of doing just that. 

The wind suddenly shifted when California's Attorney General Xavier Becerra wrote ICANN a letter April 15 advising them to reject the deal. With ICANN headquartered in California, Becerra was in a position to hold ICANN's feet to the fire and they buckled late Thursday night (April 30), announcing they would not approve the sale to Ethos. Some think Ethos may now sue, but the immediate threat has been defused.

 

 

ICANN said many factors went into their decision - not just the threat from Becerra - but given how quickly his entrance into the fray had them doing a head-spinning 180 degree turn, there is a lot of skepticism about that. Opposition to the deal has been voiced from countless quarters for months now to what seemed to be no avail. As just one example, the Internet Commerce Association wrote a strong letter condemning the deal back in November 2019. 

In our own pages in March, domain industry pioneer Michael Castello (Castello Cities Internet Network) had this to say in an article titled Foxes in the Henhouse - "Many non-profit organizations built their charities over many years to engender trust within the .org sphere. How can ICANN, a “non-profit organization”, allow the .org universe to fall under private control with no true security for its protection into the future? What made the legacy extensions were the people. Now, these people have no rights to their virtual futures. This is akin to allowing the House of Representatives to fall under the control of a company like Amazon. What is next -- .net to Apple, .com to Google? Once that happens, our hope of individual freedoms in the virtual world will be all but gone."

I have often stated a personal fondness for the .org domain. It has a truly unique character and hard earned level of trust that has allowed it to stand out in a sea of meaningless extensions. It took months of hard fighting over rough terrain for the community to preserve that legacy (and this may not be the last battle of the war) but it was good to see community wishes prevail for a change - if that continues in other matters that come before ICANN, it will be a welcome change indeed.

(Posted May 1 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/20200501.htm

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