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The Lowdown
May 2021 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.


George Kirikos Uncovers $1.945 Million Sale of Exodus.com - One of Top 3 Domain Sales Reported Year to Date

Domain industry veteran George Kirikos has a long history of finding previously unreported blockbuster domain sales, often while examining corporate SEC filings required by the U.S. government. George uncovered yet another huge sale that he reported on his FreeSpeech.com blog and closely followed Twitter feed on Sunday (May 30). In a recent SEC filing (page 21), Kirikos discovered that Exodus Movement, a company involved in the crypto field disclosed that they had purchased the Exodus.com domain name for USD $1,945,000 in the first quarter of 2021 (that page shows a rounded down figure of $1.9 million, but the exact number was listed directly on their balance sheet found on page 9 of the filing).

Image from Bigstock

Soon after George's revelation, MediaOptions.com CEO Andrew Rosener, who is perennially one of the industry's top brokers, confirmed on George's Twitter feed that his company had brokered the Exodus.com sale. MediaOptions normally does not share sales information but since this one was now on the public record he could disclose his company's role in the transaction.

When we publish our next bi-weekly domain sales report June 9th Exodus.com will be added to our charts. As of this writing the sale ranks as the third biggest domain sale reported so far this year, trailing only Christmas.com at $3.15 million and Angel.com at $2 million. Thanks again to Mr. Kirikos for finding and sharing this information. Every sale of this magnitude that comes to light raises awareness of how inherently valuable great domains are and that helps us all.

(Posted May 31, 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/2021/dailyposts/20210531.htm

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Bhavin Turakhia's Secret Sauce: The Process That Produced a $250 Million Investment and $1.45 Billion Valuation for His Latest Startup Zeta

Bhavin Turakhia needs no introduction in the domain and hosting worlds. He and his brother, Divyank, found Directi and went on to sell the company for $100 million in 2013. Their successes, collectively and individually have gotten only bigger since then, including Divyank's $900 million sale of Media.net in 2016. In the meantime, Bhavin founded new gTLD registry operator Radix, messenger and online collaboration innovator Flock, Titan, a next-gen email suite for the small business customers of web hosts and domain registrars, and co-founded fast rising banking tech company Zeta with Ramki Gaddipati (Bhavin serves as CEO, Rami as CTO).

The Zeta venture is on the verge of upending how business is done in the banking world. After watching Bhavin's presentation (under 10 minutes) outlining what Zeta can do for banks and their customers, I want my bank to adopt it now! It is so impressive that Soft Bank announced a $250 million investment in Zeta Monday, valuing the company at $1.45 billion and producing the tech world's latest unicorn. The proceeds from this funding round will be used to accelerate Zeta’s growth in the United States and Europe, including efforts to scale its operations, team, and platform to better meet the demands of its expanding customer base.

Turakhia noted, “Most banks are using decades-old software built at a time when Mainframes and

Bhavin Turakhia
Zeta CEO & Co-Founder

Cobol were in vogue. As a result, they have been slow to innovate and provide poor user experiences. With Zeta, financial institutions can now leverage a modern, cloud-native platform and improve speed to market, agility, cost to income ratio, and user experience.” Among its customers, Zeta counts over 10 banks and 25 fintechs across eight companies, including Sodexo, a leading issuer of employee benefits and rewards that touts over 30 million global users; Standard Chartered Bank; and HDFC Bank, the 14th largest bank in the world by market cap.

 

I had a call with Bhavin this afternoon to learn more about Zeta, as well as to catch up on the latest developments with Radix, Titan, and Flock. The interesting thing about Zeta is Bhavin told me when that journey began, the only thing he knew about the banking business was that it was broken! So he and partner Ramki, starting in 2014, spent a full year studying the banking industry to learn everything they could about systems, how they made their money, where improvements could be made, etc. They officially launched in 2015 and the company has been growing by leaps and bounds ever since and now has approximately 700 people on staff.

 

Bhavin Turakhia speaking at the 2019 
NamesCon Global conference in Las Vegas.

We talked a good bit about how Bhavin identifies new opportunities and his process for finding solutions to problems others have failed to solve - something he has proven to be successful at over and over again. Turakhia said that he always tries to start off with no pre-conceived notions. Instead, he and his team members set about doing exhaustive research on the subject, gathering mountains of data that they then mine to zero on bottlenecks and  how something can be done better. 

 

Radix was built in the same way. Bhavin's team began by considering over 600 TLDs, a number that their research whittled down to 31 and, once competitive bidding began for the TLDs, allowing them to determine which ones were the best values, they finally pulled the trigger on 10 (including .tech, .host, .store and .online, among others). With just those 10 TLDs, Radix commanded over 25% market share of new gTLD domain registrations in 2020 and their revenue has grown

by double digits annually.  Bhavin credited Radix CEO Sandeep Ramchandani and his entire team for that performance but was also proud to say he was absolutely certain that no one did more research and market study than Radix did before making their new TLD investments. 

 

Another observation from our conversation today that I found especially compelling was Bhavin's comment that virtually every business idea starts with a domain name. An online presence is an absolute must (anyone who didn't know that before, in the wake of the Covid 19 pandemic, knows it now). Bhavin said that is creating a fabulous opportunity for domain registries, registrars and domain investors (the latter group is already benefiting from an aftermarket sales boom). We are fortunate to be in the right place at the right time.

 

While the Turakhia brothers have expanded their entrepreneurial reach well beyond the domain world, people in our industry will always have an interest in what they are doing.  Their process works and we can all learn from studying it, but there is also a pride factor. I've always said that the domain business attracts some of the smartest, most creative people I've ever met - people who would succeed in anything they did. By doing what they have done in such disparate fields - and doing it the right way -  Bhavin and Divyank have proven that and, by extension made our industry look good as well.  

(Posted May 25, 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/2021/dailyposts/20210525.htm

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ICA Announces September In-Person Meetup in Las Vegas to Celebrate 15th Anniversary

With things finally beginning to open up in the U.S. following a lockdown of over a year due to Covid 19, it looks like industry participants will be meeting face to face again before this year is out. The Internet Commerce Association (ICA), the non-profit organization devoted to protecting  domain registrant's rights, has become the first to take a major step in that direction.

In a letter sent to ICA members today, the association announced it will celebrate its 15th Anniversary with a Meetup in Las Vegas September 19-20, 2021 at a venue still to be determined. Las Vegas was chosen by a majority of members who picked their favorite from a short list of potential cities (the others were Chicago, the Los Angeles area, Miami and Nashville).

Kamila Sekiewicz
ICA Executive Director

The letter to members from ICA Executive Director Kamila Sekiewicz noted, "With so many meetings held in Las Vegas in the past, it'll be fun to reminisce about them as we create new memories. We are looking forward to meeting in person, and we're confident things in the U.S. will continue to improve. Still, we will monitor the situation to ensure we can provide a safe setting for our meeting and abide by CDC guidelines."

Kamila added, "We envision a fun event combining some member meetings and social activities. We will be announcing more details as the plans progress. There will be no admission costs; meals and drinks will be covered by members. We will be seeking sponsors and offering sponsorship opportunities to host cocktail hours, breakfasts, and dinners. We welcome your feedback and look forward to seeing many of you in Vegas this fall!"

If you are not already an ICA member, you are invited to join here. Various membership levels make it affordable for all industry participants to support the organization and its efforts on behalf of domain owners. 

(Posted May 17, 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/2021/dailyposts/20210517.htm

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.Tech Teams Up With Code.org and 3 Leading Registrars to Expand Access to a Computer Science Education

Radix's .Tech Domains, in collaboration Code.org, a nonprofit dedicated to expanding access to computer science in schools, has just launched a praiseworthy new program that deserves widespread attention. It is a campaign, labeled #MyStartInTech, that seeks to eliminate widening gaps that impact young women and students from marginalized communities who are interested in computer science.  

The collaboration, that is also being supported by leading domain registrars Domain.com, GoDaddy Pro and Namecheap, will direct all sales proceeds for every standard one-year .Tech domain registered through any of the participating partners during the program period to Code.org.  

The campaign comes at a time when the rapid acceleration of digitization compels all industries to embrace innovation, increasing the importance of coding skills and overall investment in STEM. However, Code.org data shows that as of 2020, less than half of high schools in the United States teach foundational computer science, despite the fact that the number of job openings in the space have been multiplying year over year.  

Suman Das, Sr. Director of Brand Operations for .Tech Domains, said, "We are proud to join forces with Code.org to support its mission of 

ensuring that everyone has access to the type of education and skill sets that will set them up for future success. This is something that closely aligns with our own vision at .Tech Domains, as we continue to strive to build a more sustainable and inclusive tech ecosystem of the future.”  

Hadi Partovi, Code.org CEO and co-founder, added, "The fields of software, computing, and computer science are historically plagued by stark under representation by gender, race, ethnicity, geography, and family income. We are grateful and excited to collaborate with .Tech Domains on this campaign to engage a top level domain used by startups and developers to help bridge this gap and drive our mission to increase diversity and equity in K-12 computer science."

Individuals from the tech industry can participate by visiting www.startin.tech and sharing how they got their start in tech and the role computer science played in their journey. The site also has more information on the partnership, how to donate to Code.org or help in other ways.

(Posted May 13, 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/2021/dailyposts/20210513.htm

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