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Ron Jackson

Some Highlights From NamesCon Global 2022 As We Head Into the Home Stretch 

Before I even left for NamesCon Global 2022 in Austin my plan (as I wrote in my last Lowdown post) was to change the way I normally cover the conference. After a two and half year dearth of domain conferences due to the Covid pandemic, my top priority was to spend as much time as possible on the show floor re-connecting with friends and colleagues. In the past I would spend 4 or 5 hours of each 24 hour cycle in my room editing photos and writing a long daily recap as the show went along. This time I spent those hours catching up with as many people as I possibly could. 

It was the right decision. The pandemic delivered an important life lesson - never take the time you have with people you care about lightly. The opportunity could disappear forever overnight.  Being able to see everyone in person again has already made this the most appreciated conference I've ever attended. The first three days have been a pure delight on every level and we still have one more to go today - a Fun Day that will close the show. 

On this beautiful Saturday morning in Austin I finally had enough time to sift through the hundreds of photos I've taken and pull out a few highlights to share with you. Once we get home the real work will begin on a new Cover Story that will cover the complete conference from start to finish (expect to see that by Tuesday evening, Sept. 6).

Above: There was a full house when the 2022 NamesCon Global conference opened Wednesday morning (August 31) at the Omni Hotel in downtown Austin, Texas.

Below: When Soeren von Varchmin, the Chairman of the NamesCon Advisory Board, hit the stage at 10am to open the show, the level of excitement (clearly reflected in Soeren's face) was off the chart. A wait over more than two and a half years to see each other face to face was finally over!

Above: After Soeren had called me (at left) onstage to talk about what has been happening in the domain world since we last met, I was surprised to see NamesCon CEO Christian Jaeger walk in with a birthday cake. I had spent my birthday Tuesday flying to Austin, seeing other early arrivers in the hotel lobby and attending Sedo's pre-show party (there could not have been a better way to spend a birthday)! This thoughtful gesture from Christian, Soeren and Helga Neumer (Head of NamesCon Operations) is something I will always treasure. We also celebrated landmark dates for two of the industry's leading companies - NamesCon coincided with the 25th Anniversary of Trellian (whose Above.com unit was NamesCon's title sponsor) as well as the the 10th Anniversary of Radix.

Below: Now it was time to get down to business! Paul Nicks, the President of GoDaddy's Domain Registrars and Investors division, delivered the first keynote - titled Igniting Investor Success. Paul has always been an advocate for domain investors as he has risen through the ranks at GoDaddy. We would not be getting the attention and continually expanding investor-oriented services from GoDaddy we have seen in recent years were it not for Paul.

Above: I was back on stage for two other sessions in the Bodis Keynote Hall on opening day Wednesday. The first was a morning Fireside Chat with Artist Christian Calvin (that we will dig into in the upcoming Cover Story on NamesCon Global 2022) and the second in the afternoon (seen here), Insights Into the Domain Industry's Evolution, with Trellian President and Co-Founder David Warmuz (right). As I mentioned above, Trellian is celebrating this 25th Anniversary and David has been there to see and help build this industry from its beginning. He had some great stories to share, including a fascinating account of his 22-year-long efforts to acquire the domain Trillion.com. The original plan was to use Trillion as the company name. David did finally get it but by that point Trellian was the established brand. Still, check out Trillion.com to see how many well-known brands the company owns and operates now. I think you will be surprised!

Below: In another highly anticipated session that drew a wall to wall crowd, two of the best negotiators in the business, Kate Buckley (Buckley Media) and the Domain King himself, Rick Schwartz, shared their views on the The Art of Negotiating. Kate and Rick have very different negotiating styles, yet they both consistently ring up huge sales. Insight into the way they go about it made this session alone worth the cost to attend NamesCon. 

Above: Throughout the opening days of the conference, the Exhibit Hall area was a bee hive of activity. It was conveniently located on level 1 of the Omni's beautiful atrium. There was a steady flow of attendees up and down the staircase at right that leads to the Bodis Keynote Hall, the TITAN Breakout Stage and other meeting rooms.

Below: Of course, one thing attendees especially love about the Exhibition Hall is the chance to pick up some cool swag! Here a visitor checks out the .HipHop booth where a huge pile of T-Shirts was steadily whittled down as the show progressed (as a former radio DJ and owner of several record stores in a previous business life, I had to pick up one of those myself)!

Above: At the end of the first business day it was time for the Above.com Opening Night Reception at the Omni. NamesCon Global attendees came from all over the world. Those as the Above party included industry veteran (L to R) Aishwin Vikhona and Prakhar Bindal (both from India) and Truc Tran (from Norway).

Below: Unfortunately, there was one tragic event at the Above.com party - the premature death of an 18-year-old bottle of Macallan Scotch! This particular star-crossed bottle was won by Mark Mojica from Sniamod LLC (at left below with Above.com Executive Vice President Nancy Bianchi) as part of a day-long Above.com Scavenger Hunt contest. Right after Mark won the bottle, another attendee picked it up and accidentally dropped the bottle, shattering it and sending the sweet smell of Scotch through the room - at least one attendee even dipped a napkin into the pool of liquid to sniff it! Macallan 18 typically retails for $400-$500 but to show how guests at NamesCon this year would not let anything dampen their spirits, Mark was still smiling when he told us about the mishap. As he noted, he now has a great story to tell even if it leaves a big hole in his liquor cabinet! (One way or another, odds are that problem will be fixed too).

Above: Evening social events are always a big part of the NamesCon experience, typically with multiple events, private and public, every evening. We were honored to join some longtime friends of industry legend Frank Schilling (at left above with dinner host Dr. Gregg McNair (center) and Frank's closest friend, Vern Jurovich) at Eberly in Austin Wednesday night to celebrate Frank's success and thank him for the inspiration and encouragement he has provided so many of us along the way. After the private dinner, a party open to all NamesCon attendees got underway at Eberly and ran well into the night.

Below: The second day of business Thursday, September 1, got off to s great start with iconic broker Andrew Miller (Managing Director at Hilco Digital Assets) sharing The Secret to Premium Domain Deals. Andrew has been in the middle of many of the biggest domain sales of all time. You don't hear the specifics about most of the them because sales at this level almost always come with non-disclosure agreements, but industry veterans are well aware of what Andrew has accomplished over the past two decades. In this session he shared how sales at this level get done and this was another one of those sessions where you needed to get there early or you weren't going to find an open seat!

Above: Another day two highlight Thursday was the RightOfTheDot NamesCon Global Live Domain and Digital Assets auction. As always, the sale was orchestrated b World Champion Auctioneer Wayne Wheat (left on stage) and ROTD President Monte Cahn. At this writing we don't have all of the auction results in (and the offline auction is still going on) but we should have more on that in our upcoming Cover Story).

Below: After another full day of business, another round of social events followed Thursday, including the annual Internet Commerce Association Dinner, held at Parkside, just a couple of blocks from the Omni. A highlight of the dinner is always the presentation of the annual Lonnie Borck Memorial Award and that was again the case this year. The award, recognizing a person who has done outstanding work in helping foster a sense of community within the domain name industry went to Andrew Allemann of Domain Name Wire. ICA Executive Director Kamila Sekiewicz presented Andrew with the well-deserved award.

There was another full round of business sessions Friday, including some big news from Soeren von Varchmin in his daily kickoff session. He confirmed that NamesCon Global will return to Austin in 2023. The dates are still to be determined but Soeren said they would fall in either the spring or fall seasons.

Now, it is time for me to run again - it's off to Banger's Sausage House and Beer Garden for the closing Fun Day at NamesCon Global 2022. I'll likely have some photos from that for you by Sunday night - and again - today's column was just a sampling to give you some of the flavor of the show - the big wrap is still to come early next week!

(Posted September 3, 2022)  


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