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The Lowdown
The Lowdown
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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.


Back to the Future! ICA Members Got Together in Person for 15th Anniversary Meetup in Las Vegas 

When the Internet Commerce Association (ICA) - the non-profit organization that fights to protect domain registrant's rights - held their 15th Anniversary Meetup in Las Vegas September 19-21, it was the way we used to be and the way we hope to be a lot more often going forward.

The event based at the Green Valley Ranch resort in Henderson (just outside the city) marked the first time since the global Covid-19 pandemic began in early 2020 that a domain industry meeting

of any significant size was held in person, face to face. It was also the ICA's first stand alone meeting (all previous ones had been held at large industry conferences).

The pandemic is still far from over, of course, but a mix of factors including, vaccinations, natural immunity developed by some and careful attention to following safety protocols made it possible for this to finally happen for those ready to take the plunge back into the physical world.

There is a theory that we are all living in a computer simulation. I don't know about the rest of you, but after doing almost everything online for almost two years now, I definitely feel like I've been living in one! Regrettably, I wasn't able to go to to the ICA meeting that ended the day before the latest NamesCon Onine conference began, but I was there with my colleagues in spirit. Better yet, thanks to some information and photos I got from ICA Executive Director Kamila Sekiewicz, I was able to see and hear about some of what happened and now share that with you. 

Kamila, ICA General Counsel Zak Muscovitch (who came in from Canada), Board Members Paul Nicks (GoDaddy), Jay Chapman (Digimedia) Nat Cohen (Telepathy) and long-time ICA supporter Gregg McNair (who traveled from Panama) were among those who flew in to greet several dozen of their fellow members. 

Above and below: Nevada currently has an indoor mask mandate in place but the Green Valley Ranch made it possible to hold many functions outside, including meals and casual networking in cabanas near the pool. 

Above and below: There was no cost to attend the meetup and generous sponsors provided the meals, drinks and cabana rentals at no charge throughout the event. Thank yous for that went to GoDaddy, Above.com, Michael Cyger (DNAcademy.com), Zak Muscovitch, Ammar Kubba, Dynadot, Bodis and Gregg McNair’s PTL.

Above and below: After a busy opening day of socializing, casual talks and an evening reception, nearly half of the attendees got out of bed early the next morning for a hike near scenic Red Rock Canyon. Michael Law rounded up the ICA adventurers long enough to snap these shots.

(Below) Everyone got back to the ranch in plenty of time to sit in on a Q&A session with Paul Nicks, the Aftermarket Director at GoDaddy, as well as a presentation from DNAcademy's Michael Cyger and a Town Hall discussion about the past, present, and future of the ICA. During the town hall, one of the earliest ICA members, Nat Cohen, shared stories many members had never heard before. General Counsel Zak Muscovitch then spoke about issues the ICA is currently focusing on and their importance to the domain industry. After that the floor was opened for members to ask any questions they had.

(Above and below) With the business day done, attendees were taken to Virgil’s BBQ on the Las Vegas Strip, where they were treated to a sumptuous and drinks. 

With a large outdoor patio overlooking the LINQ promenade (at right), Virgil's was the perfect location to start a night out in Vegas.

The next day (closing day, Tuesday, September 21), the members of the ICA leadership team who attended the meetup got together for a team breakfast. It gave them a a rare opportunity to meet in person and review how the meetup went - which seems to have been all good judging from the comments we have seen on social media, More importantly, it  was a chance to plan for the  future and address the challenges ICA members and the domain industry are most  concerned about. 

Kamila Sekiewicz gave me this closing note - "Judging by the response we received after this event, we hope to do this again soon!" That should be music to everyone's ears.

Sun setting over the Green Valley Ranch where the Internet Commerce Association celebrated the organization's 15th Anniversary. If you are not an ICA member, you should be! You can join here.

(Posted September 28, 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/20210928.htm

*****

Photos & Highlights from Closing Day Friday at the September 2021 NamesCon Online Conference

The September 2021 edition of the NamesCon Online conference concluded Friday (September 24) with another flurry of activity on multiple stages, as well as virtual work rooms and the networking lounge, There was even a long online after party to celebrate the latest success in the popular series. If you missed our Day 1 photos and highlights from Wednesday, you will find those here. For the Day 2 photos and highlights from Thursday click here

During the course of the show, NamesCon reported over 900 registrants from 53 different countries logged on to hear what over 120 industry experts had to say about the latest trends and developments in this space and what they expect to see happening in the months and years ahead.

While the live event is over, the NamesCon Online platform remains open to registrants through October 29, 2021, so they can take advantage of our favorite feature - replays of all of the sessions staged during the event. There were too many to catch them all during the show's three-day run, but the replays give showgoers plenty of time to catch up and not miss a thing

Stage 1 Photos & Highlights (Friday, Sept. 24, 2021)

As we did on days 1 & 2, we will recap what happened for you Friday chronologically, one stage at a time. Following welcoming comments from the Chairman of the NamesCon Advisory Board, Soeren Von Varchimin, and an introduction from the multi-talented Stage 1 MC, Jonathan Tenenbaum,  I had the pleasure of hosting the first Sateg 1 business session (below). That was a Fireside Chat with my long-time friends and industry pioneers Michael Castello and David Castello, Founders of Castello Cities Internet Network (and the subjects of one of DNJournal's earliest and most popular Cover Stories back in 2006).

The Castello brothers have had huge success in both domain investing (with sales like Whisky.com at $3.1 million) and development (with PalmSprings.com, Nashville.com, Daycare.com, Traveler.com and many others). In our session, titled, How The Pandemic Launched A Domain Gold Rush and Why the Public Should Benefit, Not Monopolies, Michael and David talked about what has fueled the current domain sales and website development boom, one that David was among the first to predict in the summer of 2020 when it looked liked Covid-19 could wreak disaster on nearly every aspect of the economy. Skyrocketing domain prices have been no surprise to Michael either, but for several years now, he has also been sounding an alarm about an existential threat posed by repressive institutions and corporate titans. Left unchecked, they could snuff out the boundless opportunities the Internet has given entrepreneurs around the world. He detailed what has to happen to solve the problem.

Next up on Stage 1, another industry pioneer, Richard Lau, the founder of both NamesCon and Logo.com (left above) interviewed Morgan Linton for an NFTs Explained: Fireside Chat. Morgan, the co-founder of AI startup Bold Metrics, has been involved in the domain investing world for over a decade and jumped into crypto in 2016. In May of this year, Morgan dove into NFTs with his purchase of a Bored Ape. He discussed what he learned from that process and shared additional information from the leading edge of this new space.

NamesCon Online helped raise funds for Entrepreneurs for Knowledge during this week's conference. In this session (above) - Doing good - Feeling good: Social Responsibility as Your Success Factor - EFK Head of Program Leoni Rossberg and Bodis.com Business Development Manager Shaun Wilkinson addressed business owners and managers who feel an inner need to do something good and socially responsible. They detailed how corporate giving can be implemented successfully and sustainably, what makes communication trustworthy, how employees can be involved, and what actually defines an impactful project (a good example is NamesCon's 2021 school project in Kenya this year).

 

After a networking break, action resumed on Stage 1 with The Match Game: Ignite Explosive Value When You Hit the Bullseye (above). The right name can become a game-changer. This panel of expert brokers and daring end-users explores how exact-match category domain names are adding exponential value to the investors bold enough to buy them. The panelists, clockwise from top left) were Andrew Miller (broker of many of the biggest domain sales ever recorded), Amanda Waltz (Co-Founder of top tier brokerage Saw.com) and corporate end user Woodrow Levin (CEO & Founder at Extend.com).

(Above and below) Social media platforms like Instagram have become key places for businesses to communicate with customers and even sell directly to consumers. Yet when it comes to actually making a purchase, do consumers trust a social media site over a domain? This presentation - Don't @ Me: What We Learned about Millennials’ Shopping Behavior on Domains vs Social Media -  from The Domain Name Association (part of the i2Coalition) featured original research that produced unprecedented insight into this question.  The panelists, clockwise from top left in the photo above, were Brooke Edge (Research Consultant at Open Eye), Jeff Sass (CMO, .CLUB), Jonathan Thomas (International Marketing and Communications at Blacknight), Alvaro Alvarez (EVP, General Counsel & Secretary at Donuts Inc.) and Tim Smith (General Manager at Canadian International Pharmacy Association (CIPA).

In the final session Stage 1 Session Friday (above) DNJournal's Ron Jackson (top left) got together with (clockwise from top right) Tessa Holcomb (Founder & CEO at Domain Advisors | Igloo.com), Andee Hill (Director, GDD Accounts at ICANN) and Doron Vermaat (Co-Founder at Efty.com) to talk about how to Flip the Script: Impactful Methods to Shift Negative Perceptions of the Domain Industry. As a niche community within internet commerce, domain name investors—and the value they add—are frequently misunderstood. The panelists discussed how infringing behavior and other actions by unprincipled players, especially in the industry's formative years, cast a shadow over the industry as a whole - one that has not fully subsided even today. The situation has gotten much better, but there is still work to be done and the panelists opined on what they entails. 

Stage 2 Photos & Highlights (Friday, Sept. 24, 2021)  

As interesting as things were in Stage 1, the Stage 2 sessions were just as compelling. The opening session - Domain Court: Arguing a Real-Life UDRP Case, presented by the Internet Commerce Association and INTA - was one of the biggest home runs of the entire conference.

In that session (above and below), for the first time ever, actual domain name lawyers, trademark lawyers, and UDRP panelists conducted a UDRP hearing based on a real high-profile case. Each side presented oral arguments and the Panel decided the case. Registrants got to see how lawyers argue a UDRP case (.pdf file) and how panels deliberate and decide a UDRP case. It was fascinating from start to finish. In the end, the Respondent prevailed, winning a 2-1 split decision over the Complainant. 

The panelists and opposing attorneys were, (clockwise from left to right below) Francine Tan (Director at Francine Tan Law Corporation), Steve Levy (Attorney at FairWinds Partners), Gerald Levine (Managing Partner at Levine Samuel), Karen Bernstein, representing the Respondent (Managing Partner at Bernstein IP) and George Nahitchevansky, representing the Complainant (Partner at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP). If you missed it live, be sure to see the replay.

Everyone has heard about blockchain by now, but do you understand it yet? The Blockchain Panel (above) made sure registrants understood it a lot better over the course of this session. It's relevant to the domain industry because blockchain domains (involving alternatives to the traditional DNS managed by ICANN) have been made possible by the new technology. The panelists, clockwise from top left, were Encirca President Thomas Barrett, Dana Farbo (Partnership Lead at Butterfly Protocol), Mike Carson (Founder at Impervious.com), Brantley.eth (Director of Operations at Ethereum Name Service (ENS) and Tieshun Roquerre (CEO at Namebase).

Next up on Stage 2, the question was Are Legacy Domain Names the Original NFTs? and the answer was provided by panelists, clockwise from top left), Shane Cultra (CEO at Uncomfortable.com), domain investor Jason Sheppard and Brad Kam (Co-founder at Unstoppable Domains).  The understanding they have of the foundations of legacy domain names gives them a lot of insight into the dynamics around NFTs. As digital assets explode, the panelists provided the fundamentals of buying, selling, and owning something that has no physical form.

In the final Stage 2 session Friday (above), another interesting question was posed - Where Have All the Good Names Gone?  Many domain investors say it is harder than ever to find quality domain names. The panelists, clockwise from top left, moderator Krista Gable (Founder at Domain Domme, LLC), Andy Booth (Direct at Booth.com Ltd), Deepak Daftari (CEO at eSiksha.com), Bill Sweetman (President at Name Ninja) and Josh Reason (Founder at DNWE.com) provided some tips on where the new opportunities are when most premium domains are not available.

Handshake Stage & Masterclass Photos (Friday, Sept. 24, 2021) 

Over eight hours of content was provided on the Handshake Stage on days 1 and 2 of the conference. That left Friday's Flamingo Handshake Domain Auction (above) as the last order of business. Registrants were able to bid on emoji and single-word TLDs on the decentralized internet, and see how things in this space are heating up.

There was also one final session on the Masterclass track Friday (below). After delivering terrific masterclasses on days 1 and 2, ParkLogic.com Co-Founder Michael Gilmour added a third on closing day when he explained why Future Domain Investment Opportunities are Now! Michael's ParkLogic teammates Laci Nagy and Robert Lasky-Davison also chipped in to make this masterclass an especially memorable one.

NamesCon always closes with some Closing Remarks in a party atmosphere celebrating another job well-done. Stage 1 MC Jonathan Tenenbaum (top left) and NamesCon Chairman of the Board of Advisors Soeren Vonb Varchmin presided over the fun and brought DNJournal's Ron Jackson (top right), Handshake stage moderator Michael Michelini (bottom right) and Stage 2 moderator Elisabeth Klughardt (bottom left) on board to try to keep things under control. As you might have guessed from Michael's palm tree and flamingo sunglasses, we failed in that task! However, we clearly won in the fun department :-)  The absolute highlight was JT's jaw-dropping NamesCon Rap that brought the house down in a fitting finale. The replay is now available for registrants to see - so do not miss that!

...and that was still not all! As soon as the official conference closed, a full-blown after party started shaping up on Zoom where Arif Mirza (top left corner below) presided over The Domain Social - DomainPodcast.com Inaugural Edition - an event that went on for several hours. Arif is the Producer, Host, CEO at DomainPodcast.com, the successor to The Domain Socials he previously hosted every week. 

To sum it all up, NamesCon Online once again delivered an amazing virtual version of NamesCon's real-world conference that has temporarily been sidelined by the global Covid pandemic. At this time, plans are to return with a physical conference next spring if conditions allow. We'll close with a special thank you to the entire NamesCon crew, including Soeren, JT, Elisabeth, Helga Neumer and so many other NC all-stars - and a special shout-out to NamesCon's event production team - no one does it better than you! 

(Posted September 26, 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/20210926.htm

*****

Photos & Highlights from Day 2 Thursday at the September 2021 NamesCon Online Conference

Day 2 of the NamesCon Online conference Thursday was again jam-packed with expert speakers, business sessions running on multiple tracks and another live domain auction (this one the big Right of the Dot premium auction that is a traditional conference highlight). If you missed our Day 1 photos and highlights from Wednesday, you will find those here. The three-day event will be wrapping up with another full day of business Friday (September 24).

Day 2 began very early for those of us in the U.S. when the Europe Stage made its debut with three sessions, the first of which began at 6am U.S. Eastern time (five hours before the sessions on Stage 1 and 2 even got started).

Having been up late putting the Day 1 column together, I was only able to catch the final session on the Europe Stage (above and below) this morning, titled The Future of Intermediary Liability. The discussion around Intermediary Liability is drawing ever closer circles around Internet infrastructure intermediaries like access providers, DNS resolver operators and domain name registrars. The panelists (clockwise from top left), Volker Greimann (General Counsel at CentralNic LLC), Lars Steffen (Director at eco – Association of the Internet Industry), Julia Reda (Project coordinator control at Gesellschaft für Freiheitsrechte e.V.), Klaus Landefeld (MoB Infrastructure & Networks at eco e.V.) and Thomas Rickert (Director Names & Numbers at eco Association of the Internet Industry), talked about the legislative trends they are currently seeing in the European Union and around the globe, as well as what the potential liabilities and risks in the future are for intermediaries.

A great thing about NamesCon Online is that the conference offers replays of virtually all sessions within a day or two when they first ran (those will be available to all show registrants until the end of October). That, will give me an opportunity to see the two earlier Europe Stage sessions I missed live today. Those were The Future of Domain Name Registration Data and New gTLD Subsequent Procedures - The next round of TLDs.

Stage 1 Photos & Highlights (Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021)

A little before 11am, the Chairman of the NamesCon Advisory Board, Soeren Von Varchmin, welcomed viewers to Day 2, then turned the reins over to moderator Jonathan Tenenbaum (above) to get the business sessions on Stage 1 started. The first of those (below) covered the connection between Domainers and Daily Fantasy Sports. NamesCon has decided to expand its horizons into other Internet areas that have proven to be popular with domain investors due to their potential for big returns and/or their recreational value. 

The Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) session featured Andrew Miller (top left) and Roman Edmond, two of the most successful domain name investors and deal-makers that have also both won multiple high-paying daily fantasy sports tournaments. Roman is world champion in fantasy football as well as one of the biggest movers and shakers in the domain industry and Andrew is one of the most widely-known domain investors, having founded CreditCards.com, InsuranceQuotes.com, and recently overseen the sales of Home.com, Candy.com, and Universal.com. Andrew and Roman provided some basic DFS education and strategies on how to win a big-money, large-field NFL tournament on Draftkings and Fanduel

 The next session (above), Develop Your Domain Portfolio, featured Tommy Butler, widely renowned in the geodomain development space for the network of websites he built devoted to Glasgow and surrounding communities, including Glasgow.com. Tommy shared his vast experience in turning a domain name into an online business including how to generate revenue and  increase the value of your domain by having a social platform that matches the domain. 

After a short networking break, one of the world's top domain brokers, Kate Buckley (CEO at Buckley Media) took center stage (in the session above) with a presentation on The Art of Collaboration. In her talk Kate said The Art of the Deal is dead. It’s out of date, and no longer speaks to the values of an integrated, ever-evolving society—one in which it’s recognized that creativity loves company. Effective collaboration, creating values-based community, and developing deals that benefit all parties is the next-level way to grow a business vs. the churn-and-burn tactics and scorched-earth aftermath of old-paradigm thinking such as the "Art of the Deal.”  She noted, "Collaboration ensures the systemic health of not only your business or brand, but also the health of our industry, and society as a whole

Next up, the Internet Commerce Association (ICA) presented a session called Decoding the Domain Leasing Agreement, that explained how domain owners can unlock a major new stream of revenue by leasing domains. The key is doing to doing it safely is having a professionally written agreement that spells out the terms of the lease, an agreement the ICA will provide you with free of charge! This session featured (clockwise from top left), ICA's General Counsel Zak Muscovitch, ICA Executive Director Kamila Sekiewicz, attorney Stevan Lieberman (Greenberg & Lieberman) and Nat Cohen (Founder of Telepathy, Inc. and ICA Board Member).

The topic turned to domain parking in the final Stage 1 business session Thursday - DomainParking.com - How to build and maintain a profitable domain portfolio, hosted by James Tuplin (Director of Business Development at BODIS). James shared his personal experience of how to build and maintain a profitable domain portfolio by understanding which domains which are worth registering, how and where to find them, and how much to pay. 

Now it was time turn attention to one of the conference's biggest events - The NamesCon/RightOfTheDot.com Live Premium Domain Auction. To get everyone ready for the big sale, the Auction Red Zone session (above) brought together a panel of experts to talk about the 112 domains that would be going up for sale and the ones that were among their favorites. The panelists were, clockwise from top left, moderator Jonathan Tenenbaum, Manish Lunja (Founder at BrandPros.com, Inc), Kate Buckley (CEO at Buckley Media) and Laszlo Schenkhuysen (Account Director at Dan.com).

In addition to talking about the upcoming auction, Laszlo took the opportunity to announce the winners of  five new Dan.com Awards. The winner and their categories were: 

  • Most data-driven domainer of the year 2021 – Nikhail Jain

  • Most community-driven domainer of the year 2021 – Leanne McMahon

  • Best newTLD domain investor of the year 2021 – Swetha Yenugula

  • Best ccTLD domain investor of the year 2021 – Nils Buurman

  • Best .com domain investor of the year 2021 – Ehren Shaiberger

One of the new Dan.com Awards presented Thursday afternoon at NamesCon Online.

Then it was on to the big auction, with RightOfTheDot.com Founder & President Monte Cahn (at left in photo below) and World Champion Auctioneer Wayne Wheat conducting the sale live from a studio in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

RightOfTheDot will not be releasing the final auction results until after their extended online auction concludes on October 7. Name that did not meet reserve or sell in the live auction will remain available in the extended auction until that date.

Stage 2 Photos & Highlights (Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021)

The auction officially concluded the activity on Stage 1. Now let's take a look at the four sessions that were presented on Stage 2 Thursday. 

First up was a session titled So You Want to Run a New gTLD featuring, clockwise from to left, moderator Christa Taylor (Head of Marketing at Dot Brand Services & Founder), Phil Buckingham (CEO at Dot Advice Consultancy), Jeff Neuman (Founder & CEO at JJN Solutions, LLC) and Jothan Frakes (CEO at Private Label Registrar). This session filled registrants in on the timeline for ICANN’s second round of nTLDs, the challenges applicants to run a new gTLD will face, and how the landscape has been shifted by the changes put in place since the first round was released. 

The next session was for those who are more interested in running their own business than administering a new TLD. Titled From Start-Up to Grown-Up: Strategies to Make it Happen! it featured, clockwise from top left, moderator Krista Gable (Founder at Domain Domme, LLC), Richard Lau (Founder at LOGO.com) and Tatiana Bonneau (Founder & MD at MarkUpgrade). This group provided insight into why some startups make it and others don’t. They also detailed how certain verticals, particularly those that were already beginning to grow before COVID, have accelerated tremendously due to the pandemic forcing so many businesses to build or improve an online presence. 

The next session on stage 2 covered a subject that always draws huge interest at NamesCon - What’s my domain worth? With panelists, clockwise from top left above, Braden Pollock (LegalBrandMarketing.com), Leanne McMahon (Domain Investor at Pixel Corp), Josh Reason (Founder at DNWE.com), Alan Shiflett (Sr. Director at GoDaddy) and Louis Pickthall (Co-Founder & Vice President at BrandForce.com), NamesCon assembled the right people to answer that question. The panelists provided real-time, no holds barred domain name valuations, with case studies from high-profile sales used to back up their appraisal instincts.

The final session on stage 2 - ParkLogic - A Future of Innovation - featured a presentation by ParkLogic Co-Founder Michael Gilmour, who had also presented another one of his Masterclasses on a separate track earlier in the day. This session was put together for large portfolio investors that already understand the basics of domain monetization and wanted additional insights into advanced domain traffic management.

Day 2 Masterclass Track (Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021)

In addition to Michael Gilmour's masterclass, there was a second session (above) on the Masterclass track - All Things Expiry 2.0 - presented by GoDaddy. In this well attended workshop GoDaddy Aftermarket experts shared tips on how to build your portfolio through Expiry Domain acquisitions.

Handshake Stage  (Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021)

There was also another four full hours on content on the Handshake Stage Thursday. We had a chance to catch the session below - Handshake: A community-first blockchain project, that featured, clockwise from top left, Kiba Gateaux (Founder, DATA Index), Fist Full (HNS fund community manager at HNS Fund), Matt Zipkin (Lead Developer at Impervious), 0xStefan (Creator at niami.io) and Chad Folkening (Leader at RealtyDAO).  This group discussed how Handshake fits in to the larger blockchain ecosystem. Rather than going into the technical details of the project, they covered how the project was started, funded, developed, and released. 

 All of the other Thursday sessions on the Handshake Stage will be available for replay with the next day or two. Those included Alexa100k - The Missing Link Between Alexa Ranking Sites & Handshake, What is Bob Wallet?, Decentralized Name Exchange and You, Issuing Lifetime Domains: Data and Insights, War Stories: Handshake Pioneers Share SLD Sales and Lessons Learned for TLD Owners and Use cases for Handshake names.

This edition of NamesCon Online concludes with another full day of activity Friday. I'll have all of the final day photos and highlights for you in my next Lowdown post!

(Posted September 23, 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/20210923.htm

*****

Photos & Highlights from Day 1 at the September 2021 NamesCon Online Conference

The latest edition of the NamesCon Online conference got underway Wednesday with registrants around the world logging in to see what experts from every corner of the industry had to say about the newest trends and developments in the domain business. 

The 3-day event opened with activity on four separate tracks - Stages 1 and 2, plus a new stage dedicated to Handshake domains and another reserved for a daily Masterclass from domain monetization expert Michael Gilmour. Day 1 also featured the first of three domain auctions that are being staged in conjunction with the show and, throughout the day, registrants could connect with each other in the virtual Networking Lounge.

Soeren Von Varchmin, Chairman of  the NamesCon Advisory Board, got things started just before 11am (US Eastern time) with his welcoming comments, followed by introductions to the conference's three primary moderators. Moving clockwise after Soeren (in the top left corner of the photo below) are moderators Elisabeth Klughart (i2Coalition), Jonathan Tenenbaum (MediaOptions.com) and, for the Handshake track, Michael Michelini (Shadstone).

To give registrants a big-picture look at the domaining industry, and set the tone for the next three days of learning, sharing, and networking, Soeren also spoke with wildly successful serial entrepreneur Bhavin Turakhia, Founder of Flock, Radix and Zeta (at right above) and DomainNameWire Editor Andrew Allemann (at right below).

The first business sessions of the show then got underway and through much of the day, discussions were going on concurrently on multiple stages. To give you a better idea of the flow on each stage, we'll run down one at a time, starting with Stage 1.  

Stage 1 Photos & Highlights (Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021)

Above: The Stage 1 track started with a session called The Investor Experience with GoDaddy Leadership that featured, clockwise from top left, Alan Shiflett (Sr. Director at GoDaddy), Bob Mountain (Chief Revenue Officer at Afternic.com), Deeksha Mittal (Sr. Director Product Management at GoDaddy) and David Helgeson (VP of Sales & Care for GoDaddy Aftermarket). They covered areas where progress has been made and opportunities created, with their focus on providing the tools and resources domain investors need to succeed.

Next up (above), registrants learned How to Value Domain Names Step-by-Step with Michael Cyger. The DNAcademy.com Founder is the top educator in the domain name field. Michael detailed metrics that need to be examined (like relevant, recent and retail-priced comparable sales) that help owners value domain names in the wholesale and retail markets. Cyger noted they must also make educated assumptions about factors like desirability, traffic and appreciation.

Judging from comments left during the above session - Finally, Some Real Numbers - it was a big hit (one wrote that this session alone was worth the cost of admission for the entire show). Moderator Andrew Allemann (top left) talked with domain investors Mark Levine (Domain Theory LLC) (at top right) and Logan Flatt (Media Code LLC) about their 2021 sales and the two industry veterans were very forthright in detailing both the names they sold and the prices they were paid. Levine and Flatt have each made dozens of sales already this year and both have had success with both .com and non .com TLDs (especially with hot ccTLDs like, but not limited to, .io). NamesCon makes their sessions available for replay for a month after their conferences end and this is one that should be on your watch list if you missed it today.

Given what Mark Levine and Logan Flatt revealed about their own success selling multiple TLDs, the next session (above, featuring Neha Naik, Sr Director, Channel Partnerships at Radix) titled Don’t invest in New Domain Extensions, they said! Here’s some food for thought, proved to be timely. Neha detailed how new gTLD registry operator Radix has been marketing their TLDs and the results they’re seeing with some of the most sought-after new domain extensions. Radix administers .tech, .online, .store and many others.

The final order of business on Stage 1 Wednesday was the RapidFire Domain Auction, the first of three auctions (one per day) being held during NamesCon. Before, the auction, five industry experts got together (above) for the Auction Red Zone Countdown show, in which they discussed their opinions of the various names going up for bid in this low cost auction (no reserves above $500 were allowed) that also benefited charity (Entrepreneurs for Knowledge). The entertaining preview featured (clockwise from top left) Braden Pollock (LeaglBrandMarketing.com), Reza Sardeha (DAN.com),  Alistair Banerjee (Founder, Quaint Media LLC), Ammar Kubba (CEO, afterTHOUGHT, Inc.) and Leoni Rossberg (Head of Program at Entrepreneurs for Knowledge).

Above, the two-hour auction then got underway, hosted by Aaron Sanders (Founder, Repeat Brands), Tom Gallagher (Co-Founder, RapidFireDomaining.com) and Michele Rae (Co-Founder, RapidFire Domaining.com). 73 names went up for sale with 10 those donated to raise funds for Entrepreneurs for Knowledge (EFK). 40 of those names totaling $11,000 were sold, with $3,495 going to EFK. Good job by everyone involved!

Stage 2 Photos & Highlights (Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021)

While all of the above was happening on Stage 1 Wednesday, things were just as busy on Stage 2!

The action on stage 2 began at 11:20am (US Eastern time) Wednesday with The Traffic Jam (above), in which four of the most widely-known figures in the domain monetization business covered the state of that domain science. The panelists (clockwise from top left) were Gregg McNair (Chairman at Premium Traffic Limited Group), Matt Wegryzn (CEO & Founder at BODIS), David Warmuz (CEO, Above.com) and Michael Gilmour (Co-Founder, ParkLogic.com). The all-star group covered search to parking and beyond in providing information on how to make the most of the traffic you get –and get more of it. 

The next session was one of the most engrossing ones I've seen at any conference. In it Jay Paudyal, Co Founder at DN School (at left above with moderator Elisabeth Klughardt) told his remarkable story of Domain Name Trading on a Crazy Road Trip, in which he and a half dozen passionate people spent two months and traveled more than 20,000 kilometers around India to share information about how how domains and affordable technology could change people's lives.

As Jay noted, in his talk and slide show (below), they all piled into one van on a mission to impact the lives of millions of their countrymen and women. They were greeted by inquisitive and sizable crowds everywhere they went. You will absolutely want to put this one on your replay list when those become available after the conference.

The Stage 2 action continued with CentralNic's Marie Lanyon and Martin Spreer (above) talking about Domain Migrations Done Right. The session covered how resellers can address the challenges of moving domains to another provider should the need arise. CentralNic's ICANN accredited registrar, RRPProxy, provides the services and support that help reseller registrars  increase their profits without overwhelming their teams or disrupting their customers. 

In the next session (below), Jebidiah Burnett (Business Development Manager at Above.com), spoke about Killer Cash Flow: Unlocking Your Portfolio’s Potential. With over 20+ years of experience in monetizing portfolios with innovative services such as Above's Optimizer, Maximizer and now Managed Monetization, the company specializes in creating innovative opportunities that can help you flourish in today’s monetization environment. 

As they headed down the opening day home stretch on Stage 2, Brad Karn (above), Co-founder at Unstoppable Domains, answered the question What Are Domain Name NFTs?  Karn covered how how this decentralized domain option can give your more control over your digital identity, as well how you can start accessing the benefits now, before the decentralized web hits the mainstream.

In the final Stage 2 session below, is was all about What's Up with .IO? This ccTLD was assigned to the British Indian Ocean Territory but, after being re-purposed for global generic use, it quickly found a home in the startup world. With that new association, .io popularity and prices have skyrocketed. This panel of experts included clockwise from top left, Christa Taylor (Head of Marketing, Dot Brand Services at Com Laude), Jay Paudyal (Founder, UrbanSkill.com), Morgan Linton (Co-founder & COO at Bold Metrics Inc.), Braden Pollock (LegalBrandMarketing.com) and Mark Ghoriafi (MrPremium.com). They explored the dynamics of .IO’s pricing and use cases, and how these factors can work in your favor as a domain investor or entrepreneur.

Day 1 Masterclass (Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021)

ParkLogic.com Founder Michael Gilmour (above) is conducting a daily Masterclass in domain monetization and investment at NamesCon Online. In the first one Wednesday, Michael delivered a performance analysis of the traffic industry and followed it up with a fireside chat with his ParkLogic teammates Laci Nagy and Robert Lasky-Davison. Together they have over 50+ years of combined experience in domains.

Handshake Stage Photos & Highlights (Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021)

In something totally new for NamesCon, an entire stage was dedicated to the rapidly developing Handshake naming system. Activity on this stage kicked off started at 4pm (US Eastern time) with a Welcome and Handshake Highlights session (above) hosted by the stage moderator, Michael Michelini (President at Shadstone).

Below, the first business session, Handshake 101, presented by Matt Zipkin (Lead Developer at Impervious), started with all of the basic to prepare for the deeper dive that followed in five additional sessions.

Activity on the Handshake Stage continued until 8pm (US Eastern time) with sessions on Namecheap Now Offers Handshake Domain Registration, The Risks and Impacts of Name Collisions, Why Decentralization Matters, NFT and Blockchain Investing and Numbers on Handshake Investing. Four more hours of Handshake content will be presented Thursday (September 23), again starting at 4pm (US Eastern time).

Another Thursday (Day 2) highlight will be the opening of the Europe Stage at 6am (US Eastern time). That will be early for U.S. residents but that is why NamesCon's replay system (available soon after the conference closes) is so valuable. We will be back with you here with the Day 2 Photos & Highlights in our next post from NamesCon Online September 2021!

(Posted September 23, 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/20210922.htm

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CA & INTA Will Provide an Unprecedented Inside Look at the UDRP Process in a Session at NamesCon Online

The UDRP (ICANN's Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy) is used to settle disputes that occasionally arise over who has the right to own a specific domain name. It allows a party (usually a trademark owner) who thinks someone has registered or purchased a domain that infringes on their rights to use a given name online to file a UDRP complaint against the domain owner.

The process usually involves the Complainant and the Respondent hiring an attorney to present their side of the argument. Depending on the value of the domain, some respondents decide to  represent themselves or don't respond at all but, as you would expect, doing either of the latter dramatically increases the risk of losing a domain.

Unless you have been involved in a UDRP dispute yourself, you are likely unfamiliar with  the inner workings of the process and you might think there is no need to be concerned with it. However,  since anyone who owns domain name could get caught up in an unexpected UDRP complaint, ignoring the possibility is not a good idea. Forewarned is forearmed became a popular saying because it's true.

That is why the Internet Commerce Association (ICA) and the International Trademark Association (INTA) came up with a novel idea to give everyone in the industry a chance to fill in that potentially dangerous knowledge gap. On Friday (September 24, 2021), as part of this week's NamesCon Onlline conference), you will be able to see, for the first time ever, a “live” demonstration of how al UDRP domain name dispute case is adjudicated when ICA and INTA present a mock UDRP hearing. ICA Executive Director Kamila Sekiewicz said, "This innovative and lively session will feature three actual UDRP Panelists as they hear a fictional UDRP case influenced by real-world facts. The case will be presented by experienced lawyers making arguments for the trademark owner and for the domain name registrant, respectively." You can read the facts of the case here (.pdf file).

The ICA and INTA put together a dream team of counsel and panelists that includes George Nahitchevansky as Complainant Counsel, Karen Bernstein as Respondent Counsel, and Gerald Levine, Steve Levy, and Francine Tan (Chair), serving as Panelists. Lori Schulman from INTA and Ms. Sekiewiucz will both be making brief remarks at the beginning of the 45-minute session that will begin on NamesCon's Stage 2 at 15:50 UTC (11:50am U.S. Eastern time) Friday. The format will feature a video of the entire hearing followed by live commentary by the experts. This brief YouTube  video clip with snippets from the hearing will give you a better idea of what you will be seeing in this special event (you can also access the video by clicking on the photo below).

Screenshot from the mock UDRP hearing that will be presented Friday at NamesCon Online.

To attend the session, you can register for NamesCon Online here. The regular pass (that covers all sessions and activities at the three day conference that runs Wednesday through Friday)  is $99 but if you are an INTA member you can get an exclusive $19 ticket by contacting info@InternetCommerce.org and requesting the INTA discount code.

(Posted September 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/2021/dailyposts/20210921.htm

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With Over 120 Speakers and 100+ Sessions the Upcoming Edition of NamesCon Online is a BIG Deal With a Small Price Tag

Due to the global pandemic the domain industry has not been able to come together in person at a major conference since the NamesCon Global event in Austin, Texas in January 2020. Though Covid-19 is still preventing us from getting together face to face in significant numbers, we are fortunate that NamesCon has managed to create and produce an online version of the big show that has  proven to be the best possible solution to current conference hurdles. 

They did it for the first time in  September 2020, then repeated that success with another widely praised event in January 2021. Now are set to do it yet again when the 3rd edition of NamesCon Online runs Wednesday through Friday, September 22-24, 2021. 

The scale of what will be going on over those three days is beyond the scope of a single article like this, so let me sum it up this way. NamesCon Online will bring together more than 1,500 registrants from over 60 countries around the world. They will hear from more than 120 expert speakers who will appear in over 100 sessions that will be spread across four stages, as well as a separate daily MasterClass being provided by ParkLogic.com Founder Michael Gilmour. You can see the entire agenda here. You can also see who the individual speakers will be on the Home Page at NamesCon.online.

The remarkable thing about this is that the cost for all of that value comes to a grand total of $99 for the three-day event pass that you can get here.

Soeren Von Varchmin

It all gets started at 11am US Eastern Time on Wednesday, September 22 when moderator Soeren Von Varchmin, the Chairman of the NamesCon Advisory Board, will welcome everyone to the party. The first business sessions will begin a few minutes later on Stages 1 and 2, followed by  a beehive of activity on the Handshake Stage and more coming from the Europe Stage that opens on Thursday. As we have previously reported, there will also be three separate domain auctions during the conference.

 As always, I will be covering the conference from start to finish with daily photos and highlights in this column. I will also be hosting two sessions on the closing day, Friday (September 24) including a Fireside Chat with the Michael Castello and David Castello that kicks that day off and a panel discussion about improving perception of the domain industry that will be the conference's final session on Stage 1. I look forward to seeing all of you (virtually) there!

(Posted September 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/20210917.htm

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ROTD Announces 1st Group of Premium Domains for Next Week's NamesCon Auction, Pre-Bidding Open Now

As we told you at the end of August, the NamesCon Online conference coming up next week (Wednesday, September 22 through Friday, September 24) will feature three separate domain auctions. The marquee event will be the traditional RightOfTheDot (ROTD) live Premium Domain Auction that is set to run Thursday, Sept. 23, starting at 3PM U.S. Eastern Daylight time). ROTD just released a list of the first group of premium domain names that will be up for sale and opened  pre-bidding on those names at ROTD.hibid.com

After receiving thousands of submissions for the auction, ROTD selected 300-400 premium names for pre-bidding, with new names being added daily. At the end of the pre-bidding period, 75-100 domains will be selected for the live auction September 23. That event will be broadcast live from a professional video streaming production studio in South Florida.  World Champion Auctioneer Wayne Wheat and RightOfTheDot President Monte Cahn will run the sale that will be live streamed on both the NamesCon website and the ROTD YouTube Channel. ROTD provided this sampling of some of the premium names that are available for bidding now:

Rye.com
Mam.com
Automobile.com
Celebrities.com
ill.com
Sweepstakes.com
Autoloans.com
Lie.com
SaveMoney.com

Top.jobs
URN.com
My.realestate
5.gg
HormoneTherapy.com
Lodges.com
TruckLeasing.com
BoredApes.info
BlackPower.com

To participate, bidders must first register at https://rotd.hibid.com. To place bids over $2,000, bidders must be verified so it’s important not to wait until the last minute to register. Registration with NamesCon Online is not required but is strongly encouraged. You can register for the conference here

RightOfTheDot will also conduct an online extended auction starting on September 24th that will feature additional premium domains, along with those that did not meet reserves in the live auction. That will be a timed auction without an auctioneer. The first lots in the extended auction will begin closing on Thursday, October 7, 2021, at 1:30 PM EDT.

(Posted September 14, 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/20210914.htm

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11 Years After an Electrifying Domain Purchase, Bill Karamouzis Sells His Company for $35 Million 

Back in 2010, game developer Bill Karamouzis made a purchase that changed the way many of us thought about the value of domain names. As we detailed in a DN Journal Cover Story about Bill that year, his $350,000 purchase of CookingGames.com left just about everyone in this industry in a state of utter disbelief. Literally. We were flooded with messages from people who thought the sale couldn't possibly be real. Most wondered "what are "cooking games" anyway? Bill knew what they were and he knew just about everything else there was to know about both the game business and the kinds of domains he could use to make money in that field. Prior to the CookingGames.com purchase he had already spent over $4 million on other domains that his company, Addicting Games, had developed into big winners.

Having been schooled on just how valuable some obscure (to the rest of us) two-word .com domains could be, we have been following Bill's career ever since and watched his gaming empire keep getting bigger and bigger. The culmination

Bill Karamouzis
Addicting Games Founder

of his wisdom and years of hard work arrived this week when Karamouzis sold his Addicting Games empire to Enthusiast Gaming for $35 million. The acquisition includes Addicting Games, Shockwave, Type Racer, ioGames Space, Little Big Snake, Diep.io, EV.io, Mope.io, Math Games and more than 1,000 instant games.

Toronto-based Enthusiast Gaming, is a public company that calls itself the world's largest platform of communities for gamers and eSports fans. Their CEO, Adrian Montgomery, told GamesBeat author Dean Takahashi (at VentureBeat.com), “We’re super-excited about this deal and about bringing Bill and his team into the fold. We’re trying to own the fan experience. I think it’s such a strategic fit for us to have access to this content and grow our loyal subscriber base and fan base to unlock new revenue streams.”

Karmouzis noted, “We’re game developers. Everything we’re doing is around product and around the player. And that’s really what we focused on. Enthusiast Gaming brings so many eyeballs. They have partnerships with influencers and content creators. They have marketing relationships and partnerships with major advertisers. It’s a nice marriage of the two talents between the two companies. And so for us, we’re, we’re excited to get our products in front of their audience!”

Congratulations to Bill and his entire team. Enthusiast Gaming has already stated they are keeping everyone from the Addicting Games crew in their rapidly growing line up. 

(Posted September 8, 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/20210908.htm

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While the Domain Aftermarket Boomed Verisign Reports New Registrations Were a Mixed Bagged in 2Q-2021

Verisign (the administrator of the .com and .net TLDs) has released their latest quarterly Domain Name Industry Brief covering the 2nd quarter of 2021. The quarter closed with 367.3 million domain name registrations across all top-level domains (TLDs) worldwide, an increase of 3.8 million domain registrations (a 1.0% gain) from the previous quarter. The new total is down 2.8 million registration from the same point last year but that entire drop (and then some) came from one source - new gTLDs. They lost 8.8 million registrations year over year, plunging 27.8% to 22.9 million total. The new G's did show some stabilization since the last quarter though, actually registering a small 2Q increase from 1Q-2021.

Verisign's marquee TLD, .com, finished 2Q-2021 with 157.0 million registrations, up 2.4 million 
(+1.55%) from the previous quarter and a healthy 8.3 million (+5.5%) year over year. Their .net TLD inched up to 13.6 million registrations from the 13.4 million .net stood at both a year ago and a quarter ago.

Total country-code TLD (ccTLD) domain name registrations came in at 157.7 million at the end of the second quarter of 2021. This is an increase of 1.2 million registrations since the end of the first quarter, but a decrease of 2.4 million registrations year over year. As was the case with total registrations, the ccTLD drop YOY can be attributed to a single culprit. The .tk TLD, that is given away free and is subject to huge fluctuations, accounted for all of the country code drop. Taking that extension out of the equation, ccTLDs gained 400,000 registrations over the past year. 

The bottom line in the new registration business was determined by what you were selling. There were some big winners (especially .com), some that treaded water and others that lost ground this time around the track.  

(Posted September 6, 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/20210906.htm

*****


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