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August 27, 2012

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Hooray for Hollywood: Debut Edition of DOMAINfest Global Deals Attendees a Winning Hand
Page 2

There were two afternoon panel sessions following lunch Thursday. The first, titled “Where is the Domain Space Headed?” covered the prospects for IDNs (International Domain Names) ccTLDs (country code extensions) and new TLDs (like .mobi). Jothan Frakes (who produced the first two Domain Roundtable conferences in Seattle and is now a DomainSponsor executive) moderated a panel that included Tina Dam (Director of ICANN’s IDN program), Hiro Hotta (representing Japan’s .jp registry), Leona Chen (.asia registry), Pinky Brand (.mobi registry) and Matt Serlin (MarkMonitor). 

Ms. Dam said that ICANN is currently focused on implementing full native character set addresses for IDNs (meaning that the full domain name and extension would be available in the local alphabet – today IDN’s have the name in the local script with the extension in Latin characters like .com or .net). She said there are still a few technical issues to be resolved but ICANN is trying to fast track that.  

Dam also said that a revision of the protocol that handles IDNs is coming that may result in characters from some scripts being removed. In those cases, existing domains with the deleted characters will no longer work, so they are working on minimizing dislocations caused by that. Dam said no target date has been set for full IDN (including extension) availability though she is thinking late 2007 or early 2008 is possible. 

Tina Dam
Director of ICANN IDN Program

Hotta said that IDNs are gaining widespread acceptance with Japan’s .jp extension. He noted that since Microsoft announced in December 2004 that the IDN enabled Internet Explorer 7 browser was coming, the number of .jp IDNs registered jumped from 40,000 to over 125,000 today. He added that the IDN.jp segment is growing at 10% annually with a renewal rate above 80% (and as high as 90% among Japanese citizens).   

Leona Chen
.Asia registry

Ms. Chen introduced the upcoming .asia extension which is expected to go live with a sunrise period later this year. Land rush and open registration is not expected before February 2008.  It is being operated by a non-profit organization based in Hong Kong. Chen said .asia holds enormous potential as there are 132 million people with Internet access in China alone and 387 million people with web access in Asia as a whole. 

Brand gave an update on the progress of .mobi, noting that more than 370,000 domains have been registered since the September 2006 launch of the extension for mobile devices. Brand said .mobi is pursuing their holy grail – trying to convince hardware, software and search providers to make .mobi the default extension on cellphones and other mobile Internet enabled devices. .Mobi has done an excellent job in marketing their extension, staying in touch with registrants through blog.mobi and making development tools available through dev.mobi and ready.mobi.    

I moderated the second afternoon session on the Future of the  Domain Name Aftermarket and had the good fortune to be assigned a panel that included Sedo.com CEO and Co-Founder Tim Schumacher, SnapNames.com Vice President Mason Cole and Fabulous.com COO Dan Warner, all widely recognized experts on this topic.

Tim Schumacher
CEO & Co-Founder, Sedo.com

Schumacher said the market trends they were seeing at Sedo included diversification (into multiple TLDs), internationalization, lower transaction costs and higher levels of sophistication among buyers. At the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East conference in October, Schumacher introduced a domain rating system similar to the stock market’s Buy – Sell – Hold ratings. Schumacher currently has Buy ratings on .info, .us and other major ccTLDs and IDNs. He rates .com, .net and .eu as Holds (.eu was downgraded from a Buy rating in October). Schumacher advises selling .biz, .cc, .ws and .tv

Naming names in that manner will obviously make some people happy and leave others annoyed. There has been a lot of buzz around .tv this year since DemandMedia’s eNom has taken over management of the registry from Verisign with big marketing plans ahead (starting with a .tv relaunch dinner in Las Vegas next month that I will be attending). 

Given that seemingly positive new turn for .tv, I asked Schumacher about his sell rating. He said that he still has reservations about small country code extensions (.tv actually represents the island nation of Tuvalu) being marketed to mean something else and is not convinced the strategy will work. 

Cole said there is no doubt that the aftermarket is expanding and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. He said the reasons for than include the influx of investment capital into the market over the past 12-18 months, increasing accessibility to the internet all over the world, the fact that people of all ages are starting to use computers and the “web 2.0 effect” which Cole called “one of the greatest, exponential impacts on the value of domains”. He noted that it is becoming possible to buy a domain and let the world populate it with content for you.


Mason Cole
VP, SnapNames.com

Dan Warner
COO, Fabulous.com

Warner, who is one of the best statistical researchers in the industry, presented a talk detailing the seven primary factors that commonly lead buyers to purchase a domain name. Those factors are brandability, mindshare, commerciality, specificity, realization, immediacy and intent. His analysis of the role each factor plays is too detailed for this article but Warner provided us with his complete paper on aftermarket domain valuation factors and you can read it in its entirety here

The business day concluded with a 90-minute networking session hosted by Bruce Honig who employees a unique format we haven’t seen before. Attendees were repeatedly separated into different groups based on a variety of factors. For example Honig would have everyone who lives east of the Mississippi River go to one side of the room with those from west of the river gong to the opposite side. After a few minutes, the groups would be separated again using a different criteria, for example those who have been in the industry for less than 5 years and those who have been in it longer. The format ensured that various groupings brought people together who has something in common which is a good starting point for any new relationship. 

Thursday networking session

The big evening event was still another spectacular DomainSponsor Party – one with a James Bond Casino Royale theme that DS party veterans declared to be the best one ever. A large room in the hotel was converted into a full scale casino and everyone was given $1,000 in play money to bet with. Lovely “Bond” girls staffed the gaming tables, a live DJ kept the music flowing and ample food and drink was always close at hand. The top three money winners were awarded prizes topped by a limited edition 007 Casino Royale watch valued at $7,000 that was won by Michael Dowdell.

Scenes from DomainSponsor's James Bond Casino Royale Party Feb. 1, 2007

Above: Bond girls deal them out

Roulette wheel draws a crowd  

Ron Sheridan and Stephen Baldridge 
of DomainSponsor decked out!

Above left: DomainCapital President Robert Alfano cashes his chips (now we know where they get all of that money to finance domain purchases!) 
Above right: Partygoers select hand-rolled cigars

Fabulous.com COO Dan Warner hides behind shades to throw 
the paparazzi off his trail, but the shirt is a dead giveaway!


Next Page:

  • Microsoft Sent a Representative 
    to Speak at a Domain Conference for the First Time. Guess Who Showed Up?

  • World's Most Successful Domain Investor Speaks to Attendees Via Video

  • The Experts Tell You How to Build 
    a Business on Your Domain Name

  • Where is DOMAINfest Global Headed Next?


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