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How Fast Growing Saw.com Cuts Domain Sales & Acquisition Obstacles Down to Size 

Jeff Gabriel has been blazing a trail through the domain industry ever since entering the business as a broker with Sedo in 2009. Just two years later he brokered what was then the biggest cash domain sale ever reported (Sex.com at $13 million). Two years after that Jeff became President at Igloo.com/DomainAdvisor and, following two successful years there, he accepted an offer from industry legend Frank Schilling to help turn Uniregistry into a powerhouse that has since been acquired by GoDaddy.  Gabriel spent seven years at Uni, piling up hundreds of millions of dollars worth of domain sales along the way (during that time he was also the subject of a DNJournal Cover Story profile in February 2016). In the summer of 2019, when Jeff announced he was departing Uniregistry, everyone was left wondering what his next move would be. 

The answer came six months later when we broke the news that Jeff had formed a partnership with friend and long-time colleague Amanda Waltz to 

Jeff Gabriel & Amanda Waltz
Saw.com Founders

found a new brokerage, Saw.com  Amanda was a star in her own right after more than a decade in the business, including seven years as Director of Sales & Acquisitions at Igloo.

Two-and-a-half years have now passed since we flew from Florida up to New England to talk with Jeff and Amanda about the new company they were about to launch. Since then they made exactly the kind of major impact on the brokerage business you would expect two people with their track records to make. To find out more about exactly how far they have taken Saw.com since launch, we just connected with them again to get an in-depth account of what they have done over the past 30 months and what is ahead for Saw.com now. Given what the world has been through over the past two and-a-half years it won't surprise you to hear there have been many challenges along the way.

Amanda told us, "Shortly after we launched in January 2020 we hired Brooke Hernandez and Rob Wilson as part of the brokerage team and branched into nGTLD consulting. We were having a great month in March 2020 until the 15th of that month when the news about a global Covid pandemic broke worldwide. Like everyone else our business was greatly impacted - it seemed like virtually overnight our pipeline was deteriorating."

The ominous turn continued in April when Jeff and Amana saw buyers who had been hot to close a negotiation now hoping the seller would counter offer so they could decline and forget about making a deal with so much uncertainty in the air. This went on until around mid-May 2020 when Saw.com started seeing some small wins and a slight shift in buyer behavior as some  started cautiously re-entering the market. "We felt that if we continued to provide solid consulting and service, we would be their first call once consumer and business confidence resumed," Amanda said. "In mid-June we saw that confidence coming back and all of the fear and doubt stating to wane," Waltz recalled. 


Image from Bigstock

If it was like someone had flipped an instant off switch in mid-March, it was like someone flipped it back on in July. "July 2020 was our best month since our inception and it has been record-breaking sales since," Gabriel said. " To help the growth continue we added to our team by bringing in Kris Hou and Paul Thompson, we will have another new team member joining us this month and we could not be more excited! To keep our seasoned brokers supplied with leads and opportunities we have also added a team of four research/business development professionals to keep our pipelines full and accurate with contact details and, on the technology side, we have another team comprised of three developers, a designer/project manager and finally a marketing/social media specialist and a writer to help develop content." 

Saw.com's expanded team has been running full steam ahead for two years now with a customer-centric approach that continues to fuel growth, Amanda told us, "we approach each customer engagement with a consultative sales approach to achieve success on their behalf.  Getting to know our customers, understanding their needs, timeline, and budgets are what sets us apart and keeps

us not only relevant, but it also makes us recommendable.  Many of our customers continue to utilize our service and refer and recommend our team to their colleagues.  We use our industry knowledge and experience to set the right expectations and manage the transaction and the terms whether it is, cash, stock, health insurance payments, or payment plans to make it happen."    

Amanda added, "In doing so we found a lot of common questions we receive which are always how much, and why? Initially we thought providing our customers with a very basic tool that enlightens the user with specific information to make decisions would be helpful during the purchase process. That is why we built our automated domain appraisal tool. This is just the beginning of our suite of tools that are built for our customers to save their appraisal history, receive guidance, and further educate themselves about the domain purchase process. An automated appraisal tool is not always right, of course. Since every domain is totally unique, they might not reflect the true value assessed by a professional. "

Saw.com handled transaction at all price levels but, as is the case with almost all brokers, the deals they complete for top tier assets are typically subject to non-disclosure agreements. Still, Jeff and Amanda were able to give us some interesting background information on some of their biggest transactions as detailed below. They offer some striking insight into all of the obstacles that can get in the way before getting a deal done: 

M1.com: We acquired the M1.com domain name for a client that was looking to shorten their current domain to provide them with the flexibility to expand their product offering under the same brand. The acquisition took nearly 18 months with delays caused by the domain being hijacked mid-way through our negotiations. We were able to offer assistance to the seller in recovering the domain so our client could acquire it. We were really pleased to get to an agreement our client was happy with.  

Vamp.com: The buyer received a quote that was too high and couldn’t come to agreement on a cash deal so then offered a payment plan that allowed them to come to an agreement on price. However, then a change of CEO at the company delayed a deal and could have killed it. We continued outreach and once the dust settled with the new CEO we reached out to the buyer again this time he paid cash and no payment plan was needed!    

Ollie.com: In an effort to acquire a domain a client wanted, we reached out to the owner numerous times with no responses but finally spoke to a gate keeper who said no because they use the domain for internal products. We decided to continue to reach out to higher ups. Again no responses so we sent certified letters to all executives and board members and finally had a board member get in touch and help get negotiations started. We reached an agreement, leading to a final discussion with the President to give final approval and wanted to double the price agreed 

Image from Ollie.com website
(nutritious dog food delivered to your door)

to in the previous meeting. We stayed firm with our final offer and obtained domain. It took four months and not listening to a no to just get someone to respond and engage in talks - eight months in all to close the deal. Persistence pays off! 

YAC.com: The buyer tried to obtain the domain before calling us into help. The buyer had never received a  response from company so we told them a starting offer was needed to get company to engage. The buyer wanted to make low ball offer but took our advice to present a realistic offer. That triggered a call from the company's lawyer to go over all details. We raised our offer, and the company accepted. We had a deal done in a week once we had made contact with the proper decision maker and made an offer to get them to engage in talks.     

Kevel.com: As was the case with YAC.com, the buyer had reached out to the seller with no success. We reached out and had to do so repeatedly as the seller kept being either out of town or unable to focus on a sale. We finally got a call arranged and during that call were able to come to an agreement on the price with the sale closed within 6 days.     

Arbitrage.com: We reached out to the seller, got a price and made an offer that the seller accepted - but then the seller spoke to friends who felt the seller had undervalued the domain so the deal was off.  The buyer agreed they had undervalued the name but would no go up to the new asking price. We were at a stalemate that was complicated by Covid. Due to the pandemic, the buyer thought prices should go down, not up. We showed there had actually been a significant uptick in domain sales during the pandemic as more companies came to understand the importance of their online presence and brand. We were  finally able to get the seller to come down and the buyer to go up and got the deal done, though it took about a year to do so.

Emescent.com: The owner was an older gentleman who had just lost his wife and had no idea how to do anything in the process of making a domain sale. We had to assist him in transitioning all his emails of the domain into storage and the forwarding of his emails to a new email address. We also assisted with every little detail surrounding escrow and transfer and still receive calls every so often from him when he has a question about the internet.    

Comet.com: This was a situation where other firms had tried to purchase the domain on behalf of multiple other businesses without having success.  Our team was able to discuss and convey the value of this name to the potential buyer.  This was such a great brand opportunity, and the team of buyers was incredibly savvy from start to finish.  It was a great experience for our team to take a buyer from zero interest to a very engaged buyer through our education process.      

Finally.com – This one was in the news as Backoffice underwent a complete re-branding to Finally. It was a whirlwind engagement for us.  They knew exactly what they wanted and why.  They had been working with another brokerage team and they were not having success but as soon as we were introduced to them we got to work. Amanda noted, "The online stalker in me came out quickly and I used all available information to get to the ultimate owner and continue to provide offers until we got the deal done.  

Tornado.com: This rebrand from a sub-par domain happened fairly quickly.  Our team asked a few key questions about their target customer base, budget, timeline, etc.  It was great to work with the seller who was very straight forward with his price expectations.  In the end the client was thrilled to get the new brand they desired under budget and in time for their launch.      

Mojo.com: This one was about six months in the making.  One of the key investors always loved “mojo” as a brand and Amanda had previously sold the domain to a Fintech company who was continuing to decide what they would do with the brand.  We kept revisiting the domain with their general counsel on a monthly basis to increase our offer for the domain.  This included Jeff calling on Board members, the CFO, CEO, and their investors.  Finally, once we got our offer high enough that it was a significant enough profit for the company the rest of the negotiation on timing, and transfer etc. become quite easy to finish up.    

Candy.com: We provided our consulting and acquisition services to the lead investors to find the perfect brand for their new company.  We worked through all of our seller contacts for their top tier names knowing this was going to be a blockbuster! In the end there were three top tier .com domains that rose to the top of the list and after some very tough negotiations with the sellers through their advisor/broker we were able to come to terms and get the deal done for our client.

RainPlan.com: After the deal for this domain was done the buyer told us, "Paul Thompson did a superb job acquiring the Rainplan.com domain for our green infrastructure marketplace. He got the attention of the seller and guided us from beginning to end with professionalism. We would absolutely work with Paul and Saw.com again in the future."

Summing it all up, Jeff and Amanda told us "All of these sales and really all of our work requires a real commitment to our process which is how can we create the most value for our clients? How can we get them what they need in the most effective way for their company and stakeholders within their organization?  What bring us the most satisfaction time and again is succeeding where others have not.  As we all know, while what we do is NOT rocket science, it does require diligence and follow through. We are super proud of our work and the team we have both customer facing and behind the scenes making this all happen for our clients."


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