Let's start with a question for Jay who was the original
force behind creating Domain Roundtable. Before we get into the
specifics for the upcoming conference, give us an overview of your
experiences staging Domain Roundtable – why it was started, what
you have learned from the first two outings and how that experience
has shaped your plans for the upcoming third show.
I learned that if you believe in an idea and you have people who
support your efforts, you need to continue to build upon that idea.
The first event in 2005 was wonderful. Everyone that attended loved
it and it was successful in that way even though it was a loss
financially. We started the conference because we had over
members in 2004 and thought a conference would be a great way to
bring our members together so they could discuss domain names on a
personal level. The scope of discussions and networking was world
class. I know that several people at that conference closed
some good deals that obviously made those people glad they attended.
The second conference we held the following year brought everyone
back and many more new attendees. It was an even greater event. I am
very proud of the second Domain Roundtable and what we achieved as
from second Domain Roundtable conference last year
This upcoming conference we have learned a few
more lessons. Even as we added a wider field of domain industry
interests at our topic sessions, we also decided to have some FUN!
Now we have added a hip party for every night of the conference.
That will be four nights of exciting friend-building parties. Those
parties will be either sponsored by a top domain company or hosted
directly by the Domain Roundtable. One of the parties will be a
charitable event dedicated to Michael Mann's Grassroots.org
group. We have several outstanding nightclubs and venues booked to
make sure this conference's "afterhours" will keep the
excitement going even when the conference day is over.
I think the Live Domain Auction (LDA)
will also be one of the main highlights of this year's event. It
will to be the largest Live Domain Auction ever held. We have over
450 domains going to auction. Those domains have been
well-selected and are some of the best names for the value, a key to
making an auction exciting and profitable for everyone. The reserve
prices are also very attractive to get the bidding started.
Now let's go over to Stephen who has taken on the role of
Executive Producer this year. Stephen, would you define the
Executive Producer's duties in staging a major conference like
Domain Roundtable and what you are bringing to the job from your
past career experience?
DRT Exec. Director Jothan Frakes
(now with DomainSponsor.com)
Douglas: My first duty was to thank
Jothan Frakes (the previous director for the Domain
Roundtable, now with DomainSponsor.com) for handing the
position off to me. He did a very good job on the prior
Domain Roundtables and it is hard filling his shoes. After
meeting with Jay Westerdal and Ray Bero and the rest
of the geniuses at Name Intelligence (I'm way outclassed
sitting at a table with them), I took over the duties of
designing the show format and creating the variety of
sponsorship opportunities so our fine friends in the
industry could help us produce a great conference. There are
truckloads of other details about producing an event of this
magnitude that I could blather about, but then you'd lose
Essentially, my vision for the event
was to bring as many people together in this industry as
possible. All of us who invest in domain names, domain
|website monetization are at the
forefront of an incredible expansion of our domain values
and our image on the internet. We all need to meet and
greet, and above all, STAY TOGETHER. Form a
"domain industry juggernaut", if you will.
What impresses me is there are domainers still
involved in pushing this industry forward that really don't have to
spend a moment dealing with it anymore because they've already
reached riches beyond the common domainer's dreams. They could kick
back and watch us all struggle while they sip on pina coladas, but
many of them are still out there fighting for all of us. Every
domainer listens to these veterans and respects their success, and
we want to learn not only the old solid lessons of hard work,
innovative thinking and focus, but also learn of the outstanding new
ideas and services so many new people are now bringing to this
space. My own direction for the show was to try to establish a
marriage between the two.
This is why attending every domain
conference is important. Any domain conference where more than six
domainers get together is very valuable for EVERY domainer to
attend. If you have never attended a domain conference, then you're
not really in this game or you've already won, and that's not hard
to figure out. Attendance can be somewhat costly, but not as
expensive as not knowing how to operate in this industry, or not
knowing what's around the corner, and more importantly, not personally
meeting someone who might make YOUR domain investment skyrocket.
My past production experiences have included
working at a Madison Avenue agency as Director of Sports
Sponsorships, suggesting which sports events and their
"heroes" that our client would want to pour millions of
dollars behind. For over 25 years, my other productions ran the
gamut of all sorts of fun events. My life has been FUN! I produced
rock concerts (my roommate was Matt Sorum, drummer for Guns
N Roses, now with Velvet Revolver), nightclub acts, live
TV events and modeling shows. This was all in the 80's and early
90's. I probably produced over 75 different live events.
Douglas (lower right) in group shot with
Guns N' Roses and friends (Axl Rose is at far left)
Then I became the COO of an internet community
portal for the "wild" crowd, basically college
demographics, and I started buying domain names that matched
"slang" terms and descriptive "types" of people
so they could rent the domain as their email address. That was in
1999 and it was the hardest lesson I learned on the internet. I
found out quickly that the email providing service was the most
difficult and weird internet business you could get into.
From that experience though, I met other
domainers, learned to park domains and started my own portfolio,
which hovers around 4000 domains today. I then helped design Domainhop's
domain management interface. After that, Eric Rice hired me
as the domain consultant for Bulkregister back in January
2005, and we worked together to design the best registrar domain
management system ever built. Eric might not say that because he's
too busy feeding his dogs and he's really shy, but I'll say it!
After Enom bought Bulkregister, I worked as a domain
consultant for Snapnames and took the executive producer
position for the Domain Roundtable Conference.
Before we tackle the show agenda, one obvious change this year is
the return to Seattle. Bellevue was a great setting last year but
downtown Seattle has obvious appeal as well. What was behind the
decision to move from the suburbs back into the city?
Ironically, our first event in 2005 was in the same hotel
we've come back to, the Sheraton Seattle. It was closed last
year for over $130 million in remodeling. The hotel
has been completely upgraded so it is really outstanding.
The conference floor is completely self-contained and all
events are within 50 feet of each other, with private
conference rooms available to our sponsors to hold their own
seminars or make deals without interruption in our private
"Sponsors Exclusive Conference Room".
Douglas: Another reason is that Seattle has killer
nightlife and we wanted to take advantage of
ballroom at the Seattle Sheraton
|that at this year's conference.
We've heard some people say that the conference being in the
middle of the August vacation period was bad, to which we
responded "You'll be where you want to be if you need
to be. If you can't see the unbelievable vacation
opportunities that the Pacific Northwest offers you, then
you haven't been to the Pacific Northwest!" That
fact seemed to work, so many of our attendees are booking
week long hotel stays in order to take advantage of the
Seattle area's beautiful scenery and exciting vacation
spots. Also, don't forget that some of the Big Domainers
come from Vancouver, BC, just a quick ride from
Let's talk about the show agenda now. First – I see the
multi-track schedule has been adjusted from four tracks last year to
no more than a couple of simultaneous tracks this year. It's a
matter of personal preference, but I like the change because there
were so many interesting seminars last year I hated to miss some of
them when it came down to making choices. Tell us your own reasons
for this adjustment.
It's true. Four tracks was too many, so we chose to slim it down a
little. Content is king and always will be, but it was hard to
attend all the good sessions.
Well Ron, I have to admit, at our first Domain Roundtable meeting to
find an exciting format for the event, I actually mentioned your
comments in your review
of the 2006 Domain Roundtable on DNJournal. (I did my
homework) You made a reasonable lament that there were so many great
sessions going on at the conference but you couldn't attend every
one of them, and it was disappointing to you. It was a great point
you made and we listened. So, this schedule is what we call the
"RJ Session Format". (heh) We decided that we would hold
only two competing Topic Sessions at a time, and each of the
sessions would be geared to a different crowd. We may still have
crossovers, but it won't be hard to decide where to get good domain
information that fits your needs.
Let's talk about agenda specifics. The full
agenda is posted at the Roundtable site, but
give us a little more background on some of the specific
sessions/events that you are especially excited about. Also
tell us a little about how you landed Frank
Schilling (head of Name Administration, Inc.
and one of the world's most successful domain investors) as
you keynote speaker – which I think was a nice coup for
the show and one that will be very rewarding for attendees.
Frank doesn't attend a lot of shows so it was nice that he
decided to attend ours. I don't think it was a
"coup," and I don't want him to be seen as a
commodity for our event. His presence is greatly appreciated
and respected and there is no question to the value his
voice will bring to our conference. We're very proud to have
Keynote Speaker for 2007 DRT
Don't forget that we have invited a lot of
expert speakers in many sectors of domain monetization techniques.
We have probably the best SEO speakers available to show
domainers tricks and concepts they are not aware of in building out
their domains. For example, what happens when you take a blacklisted
domain and try to develop it? That domain needs to be removed from
the blacklist before it can be developed. A lot of domainers don't
understand that there is an official Google Blacklist.
Domains can't just be developed if they have been parked for a
while. Attending the Domain Roundtable will give you access to
this information and the proper techniques to fix these problems,
and they'll be hearing it from the best of the best panelists in
every sector of domain and website monetization.
We're completely excited that Frank Schilling will be the Keynote
speaker at our event. For me, Frank's appearance at the Domain
Roundtable is huge, and I think all of us know this. I'd pay full
ticket price at the conference to hear him.
Regarding how we came up with the agenda of
topic sessions, Jay and I went over a list of over 60 possible
session ideas, and then we discussed the pros and cons of each of
them. Finally we decided on thirty (30) specific sessions. This
doesn't count the nine fabulous food functions. Or the four Planned
Parties. Also, time slots can be filled by going to the Douglas Room
if you're lucky enough to be invited by the sponsor holding that
room. Spending time talking with every person at every exhibit booth
is a very valuable suggestion also.
A major new event this year is Domain Roundtable's first live
auction. Tell us how the auction will work, what some of the
top names will be and what your hopes are for this inaugural live
sale at your show.
Westerdal: This auction will be incredible!
We've received such a great response to our format it's
almost overwhelming. It seems a lot of domainers have heard
about it and are checking out our submission system. Our
detailed rules to participate will be posted shortly on the
Domain Roundtable website,
so I won't go into it too deeply here. In a nutshell,
domainers will be able to bid online and offline. We are
using innovative technology to enable the Auction process to
be held with the least amount of confusion possible. We are
pushing results to people's browsers and making sure this
LDA will raise the bar for all domain auctions. This is a second
generation auction platform built on new technology and
it will make all previous domain auctions pale in
comparison. We are also providing a lot of stats on the
domains and doing a lot of legwork to make sure that we are
offering buyers the best domains for fair prices.
We think our LDA will be exciting to participate in and and its
results will be very interesting to watch. At the same time, it will
set realistic standards for current domain values based on bidding
interest. However, since domain buying tends to be incestuous, we
don't want to intimate that our domain sales results at the LDA says
this is where domain values are "stuck". As I've said
before, the end user (business community) will eventually define the
true value of our domains by creating a competitive demand. The key
to raising domain values is right in front of our eyes: Show the
business community what value domain names can bring their
companies. Educate the marketing departments of Fortune 1000
companies. Get in depth articles on domain values written in every
main business magazine. Get the Wall Street Journal to open
up their eyes (and make sure they're not green with envy).
Everyone has a chance to buy or sell domains in
this auction, and they will find out very quickly where they stand
when they submit them. But no worries if your domain doesn't make it
into the auction. We will have future shows.
Aside from agenda specifics, one thing that virtually everyone
agrees on is the key to a great show is the opportunity to network.
It looks you have built those opportunities into your schedule
throughout the week. Tell us about that and you philosophy with
respect to networking.
Networking is the most important part of an event. I hate attending
a show that has thousands of people and there are so many people
that it is hard to remember if you've met the person before. I
attended a Web 2.0 expo in San Francisco and it was
too confusing to take advantage of all the networking opportunities.
We wanted to avoid that so we hired nTag to help us with name
badges AND making networking a breeze. These wireless badges
will allow people to network in a new, productive way that sets the
standard for future domain conferences.
get to know each other at last year's Domain Roundtable
I discovered nTAGS
while doing a simple badge-printing search. We saw the incredible
benefits and agreed that if we didn't bring the nTAG devices on
board, we would be cheating our attendees. Granted, the cost to
implement these nTAG devices is astronomical, but the RESULTS
will be remembered by every attendee and sponsor for our next event.
You can see a demo on our website homepage,
but to sum it up:
Sponsors don't have to ask attendees to
fill out forms anymore.
You'll be notified immediately if someone
with your same interests is within three feet of you.
You can transfer your contact information
with anyone you want by clicking a button on the name badge.
Their information will be stored for you - automatically!
That's just part of the benefits. You can
participate in live surveys and see the results immediately, you can
get messages from sponsors or the Domain Roundtable staff on what's
changed or what's new, and every attendee will have their own
secure webpage to review and manage the contact information they
collected throughout the conference experience. The same goes with
the sponsors. No more business card exchanges (although that's
always fun), no more forms to fill out (not fun), no more wondering
who is interested in the same topics you're interested in and how to
meet them, and now your participation at the conference is logged as
a "collective group", as opposed to being by yourself
wondering what's next. Just imagine meeting 100 people at the Domain
Roundtable who can make a difference in your business, and instead
of typing in their business card data, you just download the data
from your webpage into a text file. Networking will be a key
productive event at the Domain Roundtable.
As the domain industry has grown, the number of conferences has
grown along with it. There is T.R.A.F.F.I.C., Domain Roundtable,
DOMAINfest, Domain Focus and specific company events from firms like
Sedo. So far, all of the shows seem to be doing well as people just
can't get enough of this business. However, inevitably the
conference game, like all areas of the industry, is getting more
competitive which adds pressure to deliver something unique to
attract show goers who now have several options. How have you
approached that challenge and what do you feel are some of the
things that give Domain Roundtable its own unique character?
We really support all the domain conferences and wish them
great success. Their success is the domain industry's
success as a whole. However, as for the differences between
the other domain conferences and ours, the Domain Roundtable
is not run by a Parking Service, so it is a neutral place to
meet and listen to the advantages of other Parking Services.
We also are open for anyone to attend. There is no
"banning" of anyone at our conference (unless they
are psychotic). A conference that bans certain people in
this industry for personal reasons or having positions that
are opposite to the conference producers is not good for
networking with smart new people or even long time domainers
that no longer fit the producers' ideals but who may have
significant contributions to give to the domain community.
I agree with Jay. I think EVERY domain industry conference should be
able to be attended by all domainers, no matter what their speed. No
particular conference will give you more benefits on its own than
all the conferences can collectively. That said, one of the reasons
I decided to be the executive producer for the Domain Roundtable is
because I wanted to bring the domain industry together and get all
our minds moving like a symbiotic uni-brain. Literally hundreds of
domain investors every month are getting into the game we're all in.
This industry is still small but it's growing bigger every month.
You can't advance progress by denying someone's voice, or by taking
a polarizing marketing stance of an exclusive club "atmos-fear"
of domainers who all agree with your ideas.
Who can stand up and say "I know everyone
and how valuable their contributions will be to this industry"?
None of us can. Opposite ideas and Devil's Advocates create the
force of symbiosis. So my belief is that we all need to work
together. Even if we disagree, we yell, we get into flame wars
(which I personally always avoid *ahem*), working as a unit will
help the domain industry reach its goals a lot faster. This is how I
personally think the domain industry will reach its success and this
is how I picture the Domain Roundtable. Bring on the noise!
Jay, this will be your third straight show in your home area. You
have mentioned taking it on the road in the past. Is this something
you are still thinking about, or with all of the attractions the
Pacific Northwest has to offer are you leaning toward keeping it
close to home?
I would love to move it from Seattle. Las Vegas, San
Francisco and New York are areas that we continue to
explore. I am sure we will hold our event in those cities over time.
Right now we are staying in Seattle until the time is right to move.
Editor's Note: Just before we published
this article, Stephen Douglas brought us some fresh conference news.
Douglas and TrafficZ
CEO Ammar Kubba (right)
We just signed with TrafficZ
as a major sponsor of the DRT and they will be
sponsoring our first night's party at a Seattle nightclub
This is important because it's the first domain industry
party that is held as a charitable event. Grassroots.org is
the recipient and managing the party, and CEO Ammar Kubba
of TrafficZ is graciously sponsoring the event with
assistance from the Domain Roundtable staff. I will be
coordinating the party along with Angela Siefer from
Grassroots.org (Editor's Note: Grassroots.org was
profiled in an April 2006 DN
We are looking to set up an online contribution system for
domainers worldwide to participate in giving to
Grassroots.org and having some fun even if they're not
present at the party. Guests will arrive at the nightclub
|Schilling's keynote dinner
appearance. Six to twelve beautiful models will be presented
in bikinis for a body painting contest. There will be at
least three men in speedos to keep the women in the audience
happy and provide comic relief. Each model will be
"bid" on by the domainer crowd to have the chance
to paint her/his body with body paint. The three top bidders
will submit their bid payments to Grassroots.org staff as
their charitable contribution to be able to paint the model.
Once all the top bidders for each model have been selected
the painting begins!
Then the rest of the crowd fills out their
"bid cards" with the model's number to guess which model
will win the contest, based on the actual artwork painted on the
model. They give their "bid cards" to the Grassroots
staff. Each card has a "player bid" amount, and players
agree if their model does NOT win the contest, that bid amount can
be doubled and charged to them. So if an audience member bids $10 on
a model to win, and their model does not win, they will pay $20 to
Grassroots.org. If the bidder's model WINS, they still pay the
original $10 player bid amount, but they get photos taken with the
winning model, and receive a novelty prize that Grassroots will be
giving to the people who picked the right model to win.
The audience gets to pick who they think has the best body painting,
with their "player bids" guaranteeing Grassroots.org will
collect a contribution. We are going to set a goal of $10,000
to be raised at the charity for Grassroots.org. I think we'll
I am sure there are some areas that my questions did not address, so
let's close by inviting you to make comments or points you
would like to make about Domain Roundtable 2007.
Jay Westerdal and
We would like to thank you, Ron, for giving us a chance to
talk about our event. We would also like to thank all the
sponsors and domain industry experts who have come on board
to make the Domain Roundtable Conference 2007 possible.
Everyone has been fantastic to work with, and we're excited
to meet everyone and help them achieve their goals. There is
no doubt in our minds that all our attendees will further
their progress in moving towards success with their
projects, and we're dedicated to making sure everyone gets
to network, learn, eat, and party their way to a wonderful
and beneficial experience they'll never forget.
Finally, we would like to give
credit to the people behind the scenes who have been and
will be vital in the success of this conference: Ray
Bero, Kristin Tetuan, Charissa McCuen, Hans
Larson, Eric Rice, Sevan Derderian, Lorenzo
Green, Jothan Frakes and many more. For all the
DN Journal readers, we'd like to offer a special $200
discount price off the regular $995 price. Just
use the Promo Code we've listed here, "dnj25".
There's only 25 available, so move fast!
DN Journal: Gentlemen,
thank you for your time and I'm certainly looking forward to seeing
you in Seattle and covering this event for our readers. For those
who have been thinking about going but remain undecided, I would
encourage you to invest in your future by attending every
major conference you can. Conference coverage has always been a central
element of our publication because we firmly believe that
getting out and meeting (and learning from) industry leaders and
fellow domain investors face to face will have a more positive
effect on your search for success than anything else you can
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