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Andrew Rosener's Amazing Ride From Historic New England to Domain Sales Nirvana

By Ron Jackson

MediaOptions Founder Andrew Rosener has blazed an amazing trail through the domain sales business,  especially when you consider that he is, by his own admission, a late comer to the game. Escrow.com has named him the #1 broker in the world (in terms of total $ volume transacted on the platform) for five years in a row.  MediaOptions makes high end sales every week but you rarely hear about them because the company doesn't report them (Andrew details the reasons for that in this article) but some still come to light when revealed by other parties involved in the transactions. In those cases Rosener will confirm if the reports are accurate and those have included NFT.com and Wise.com at $2 million each and Galaxy.com at $1,761,000, to name a few from recent years. 

As far as being late to the game, that is actually a point of pride for Rosener, so much so that he thinks it may be the single most important thing people know about him. Why? "Because it proves it is never too late to take advantage of the extraordinary opportunities in this business," Rosener said. Andrew added that his history is still something that people get wrong when his name comes up on Twitter. "I'm not one of the OG domainers," Rosener emphasized. "I'm not one of the pioneers like Rick Schwartz, Kevin Ham, Garry Chernoff or Scott Day. That was the mid-90s, not Frank Schilling who came next. Not from another generation that followed with people like Yoni  

Andrew Rosener (left) being honored by Escrow.com at the 2018 NamesCon Global conference in Las Vegas. The MediaOptions founder has been named the world's #1 broker (in total $ volume) on the Escrow.com platform the past five years in a row with the fifth award being announced at the NamesCon Global 2023 conference held in Austin, Texas in June. 

Belousov, Merlin Kaufman and Daniel Negari. I really was in a third or fourth wave of new domainers. I missed the entire parking thing and even though the market was booming I didn't take advantage of it because I didn't understand it."

Andrew Rosener (right) wih domain
 industry pioneer Frank Schilling.

"When I came in here was nothing left to hand register," Rosener continued. "The stuff that I had already in my portfolio really didn't have much value. I didn't have any domain in that portfolio that was worth more than maybe five grand or 10 grand. It took me working my way up from 2009 to 2012 before anybody would have said I mattered in any way or had any degree of success. I came in 10 to 12 years after the biggest players that we know today entered this space and I was still able to build a business that's as successful or more successful than many of them and I think that opportunity still exists today. In fact,  I think that there are more opportunities available today than there has ever been in the past."

Having said that, Rosener has a deep respect and appreciation for what the OGs accomplished in laying the groundwork for the industry we have today. "I've seen people say these guys got their domains 20, 30 years ago, and they paid nothing 

for them and there was no risk," Rosener said. " I think it's a shame when people discount foresight and discount how hard it is to hold on to these assets and not sell them. How hard it is emotionally, psychologically and sometimes even physically to think I could use that money right now, but I'm going to forego it and say no, because I know it's going to be worth more in the future. I think that's actually the hardest part about the business." 

Now that you have a general idea about what Rosener has done, the questions still to be answered are how he did it,  who he is and where he came from. In those decades before he began streaking across the domain aftermarket sky like a meteor, what path did he follow that led him to, of all places, the domain world? After hours of conversation with Andrew for this story, we were able to put together a more complete picture of one of the domain industry's biggest movers and shakers.

Family History

Normally when we tell someone's life story we start from the day they were born. In Andrew's case, the story starts before the United States was even born! "I am a native New Englander," Rosener began. "I'm from Rhode Island and a descendent of the Cole family that is as old as Rhode Island itself. The Coles and extensions of their family all are later generations of Roger Williams, who is the founder of Rhode Island from its beginning as Rhode Island Plantation ih 1636. I'm a 14th generation descendant directly from Roger Williams. The oldest residential building in the state of Rhode Island, built in 1731 (the year before George Washington was born), is the Cole Farm House, which is on the east side of Providence, near Brown University. The original Cole farm was the entire east side of Providence, so I guess I am as native a New Englander as it gets."

The historic Cole Farm House built in 1731
Photo courtesy of the Providence Preservation Society).

Despite that heritage from the maternal side of his family, Rosener hastens to add that he was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Over the generations the Cole land was split up and sold off. "Absolutely everything that that family had was lost in the last three generations and primarily in the last two before me," Andrew said. "The last relative with significant holdings sold off the remaining parcels of land in a fire sale. He sold off all of the antiques, all of the important memorabilia, everything. So we have very little of that heritage left, unfortunately."   

The paternal side or Rosener's family came from German roots with the owner of a company that made tools for clock maker, Benjamin Block, the first to migrate to the U.S. He settled in in New York City where he eventually became a stockbroker and a Board Member at the New York Stock Exchange. Block went on to own racehorses, including Morvich, a thoroughbred that won the 1922 Kentucky Derby dispute being a 50-1 long shot. 

Things took a turn for the worse in 1929 when the stock market crashed though. Rosener noted, "When the market collapsed Block was one of the very few NYSE board members that did not kill themselves. Lucky for me, or I wouldn't be here! But they did lose everything. Andrew's great grandfather married Block's daughter and they sired his grandfather Alfie who died when Andrew was just six months old. "Alfie, who worked for Kaiser Aluminum and had several patents under his name, fought in World War II and led troops that freed the prisoners at Dachau," Rosener noted. "All that knew him said he was the most gentle, sweet, well-mannered man. He would never speak about what he saw during the war and died of a massive heart attack at 60 years old."

Andrew Rosener (at left with his Dad) has scaled new heights in the domain industry but it looks like something he learned to do at at early age.

"I never got to know my grandfather on the other side but I did have very close relationships with both of my grandmothers who both settled in Rhode Island where my father was born and raised. My parents both went to the University of Rhode Island, where I later went, and they both studied various forms of horticulture and agriculture. My mom went on to become a florist. My father went on to work for Morse Shoe Company, then got into the logistics business, completely by accident, and spent almost his entire career between Morse, Hasbro and a Christmas tree company. He just retired two years ago. My mother left the flower business to get a degree in nursing but ended up in the healthcare field as a social worker, which followed the footsteps of her mother."

"I was born in Providence but when I was four or five we moved to Barrington where both of my parents had grown up. In Rhode Island, we have a saying - it's actually the university slogan - I'm Rhode

Island born, I'm Rhode Island bred, and when I die, I'll be Rhode Island dead. And it's quite true. Very few people actually ever make it out of Rhode Island. Nobody leaves. I don't know why, there's not a lot to offer, but people just don't leave. Barrington is a very upper-class town but we were a very middle to lower middle class family. All of our basic needs were met but everything is relative so, compared to others in Barrington I felt extraordinarily poor. I grew up feeling that I didn't have what all the other people around me had. I couldn't do what all the other kids were doing and I couldn't go on the vacations that all the other kids were going on. I don't wasn't to be overdramatic and say it was painful, but it was a very powerful emotion for me and it became probably the largest driving factor in everything else that I've done in my life."

Combining College with Commerce

"I did very well in school and I got accepted to the University of Pennsylvania on wait list and wanted to go there but wound up going University of Rhode Island because my parents said, look, we're going to give you your dad's car if you go to the URI. If you want to go to UPenn you can do that, but it's on you and  you're going to be in a whole bunch of debt. So I went to URI and in hindsight I think is fortunate that I did. if I had gone to UPenn, I can say beyond any doubt that I would have ended up as some Wall Street douche, a typical Wall Street banker, overworked, never satisfied, and a relatively boring life. And so I am extremely grateful to to my parents that they put that decision to me and that I chose what most people probably would have said would be the wrong decision. Because I didn't have the opportunities that are inherent to graduating from a school like UPenn, I was, I think, more creative, more thinking outside the box and willing to accept, let's say, non-standard options in my life."

Andrew with his a parents in Lisbon, Portugal where Andrew currently lives.

"My parents were very risk-averse and I wanted to do the opposite -  I was going to take risks, I was going to do whatever it was within my means to do to be successful, whatever that meant. I don't know that I had a very good definition of what that meant but at the time it was just make enough money that financial circumstances weren't going to dictate all of my life's decisions."

Rosener began taking steps in that direction by joining a classmate to start up his first business while still at URI. "I went for a degree in management information systems (MIS), which was sort of a hybrid of a business education and a computer science education," Rosener said. "This is the mid-90s and someone had told me this new MIS degree led to the highest paying job available at the time, so I said, all right, that's what I'm going to do! And then I got that education. And in my senior year, my friend Parker and I started what was Phase II software, building custom, very basic database software for blue collar businesses. We built some successful software and made a little bit of money, good money for our age and peer group, but really, the biggest takeaway was that this was not what I want to do with my life. Funny enough, Parker now has his own company doing this, but at a much larger scale and he's become quite successful with it."

The Phone Call That Changed His Life

"So, I graduated with a degree in something that I never wanted to put to use and I didn't know what I was going to do," Rosener recalled. That's when he got a phone call that would change his life. " I got a call from this guy, Peter Moehrke, and he said, "Hey, kid, I called your university and I spoke to the dean.  I told him I'm looking for somebody with an entrepreneurial spirit that I can train to be a mini me, because I want to retire three years from now. And I want to train somebody that's green behind the ears to come in to run this business, not the way they think it should be run, but the way I want it to be run. I was told that you're the guy." Moehrke then asked Rosener, "So, how do you feel about selling seafood?"

"I basically told him to go pound sand!" Andrew laughed, but then he said, "Well, look, I'll give you $1,000 to come and hang out with me for a day and see what this is all about. We're not shoveling seafood. We're sitting in a nice little office in Newport, Rhode Island and we got a nice little business here, come and see."

Omega Seafood Founder Peter Moehrke
The mentor who made Andrew an offer 
he could have refused but fortunately didnt!

So Rosener took the bait, put on a suit and tie, found a briefcase to put his resume in and showed up at Moehrke's Omega Seafood office on the Newport waterfront, right across from the Trinity Church. Andrew described what happened next with relish. "I go into the office and the secretary points his door and says "go in". So, I open the door and there is Peter Moehrke. He's got his feet up on his desk. He's got this Native American stitched shirt on, he's got long hair and a ponytail and he's got this funny beard. He is also literally blowing out a bong hit! I just couldn't even believe my eyes! So he looks at me, sort of looks me up and down, and he says, "If you ever come in my office in a suit again, it'll be the last time you ever come in my office!" And I thought, all right! You know, I could get along with this guy because I'm not fond of pomp and circumstance. I proceeded to spend the day with him and I found out this guy was brilliant. He was a Stanford guy. He was very smart, but he was an old hippie and he was telling the truth - this was an interesting little business!"

Rosener took to sales like a fish takes to water.

"I decided, OK, I'm going to at least give this guy a shot and work for him for the summer. I did and was making maybe $35,000 with an unlimited upside from sales commissions. It was very much a sales job - and very much like my business today. It is only through  hindsight and the help of of a therapist that I have come to understand that I've literally modeled my business after that business because it was all I knew. I spent the next three or four months working with this guy and very quickly realized that I was actually quite good at it. I enjoyed the sales. I enjoyed calling people all over the United States and foreign countries and learning things and it was interesting to me," Rosener said.

"I've always had a thick skin and didn't mind being told no or being called names - it just didn't bother me. It was almost a game. So I very quickly grew that business from a sales standpoint, from about $8 million in revenue a year, 

where he was making roughly $1 million in your profit, to $35 million at the time I left eight years later when the company was making roughly $5 million in profit a year. Being in the seafood business was the single most important and impactful thing that I have done in my life hands down," Andrew declared.

While thinking about the impact Moehrke made on his life and business, Rosener's thoughts turned to another mentor from earlier in his life who played a huge role in molding him into the person he is today. "That was my wrestling coach in high school, Wayne Griffin, who's now in the Rhode Island Wrestling Hall of Fame. "He's just an absolutely incredible, salt of the earth human being that has had a tremendous impact on an innumerable number of kids. He pushed us to the absolute limits of our ability and made us want to challenge ourselves. He taught us that pain is temporary, pride is forever. That has stuck with me that, in those moments of real suffering, pain, challenging environments, it's really about your pride. Without that, I there's zero chance I am who I am today. Zero. It was that discipline and belief in oneself that he really created for me. Whether it's a teacher or a guidance counselor or a coach, I think that's probably true for many people who have found a high degree of success in their life."

Sayonara Seafood! How Domains Reeled Rosener In

Armored with a determined mindset and the razor shop sales chops he developed in the seafood industry, Rosener was well prepared for the next chapter of his business life. With the wide range of directions he could have gone in, how, exactly, did domain names rise to the top of his deck of career options?

"That goes back to when I was in college," Rosener said. "I was there just as the consumer internet was emerging, so we were learning about it. I remember taking a very basic class in HTML and thinking you can put up a website and somebody, on the other side of the world can see what you've posted! I just thought, Wow!,  that is a powerful concept. A professor said something about how it starts with a domain name, you register a domain name, then you then build the website, get a hosting account, post it live, and Voila! But it all started with a domain name," Rosener said.

"I'm pretty hyperactive, so every time I have an idea, which is several hundred times a day, I would go get a domain name for that! It was incredible new technology and I wanted to learn how to utilize it. I'm not insinuating that I knew the domains themselves were going to be valuable and, frankly, the ones that I was registering at that time were not valuable, but I got the concept, so I started registering domains every time I had an idea."

"After college, while working for Omega Seafood and in the seafood import/export business, I had visited Mallorca, Spain with my now wife. While there I learned about Iberico ham - a very special ham that at the time was the most expensive meat in the world. I tried it and thought, wow, this is the best tasting thing I've ever had. Why don't we have this in America? I'm going to start importing this! So I registered these domain names thinking that I'm going to do this as a side business, only to learn that the ham was banned by the FDA. You were not allowed to import this stuff into the U.S.!," Rosener recalled ruefully.

"So, I basically forgot about it. Then, a couple of years later, that I'm driving to my office listening to NPR radio and I heard that President Bush was about to get the first pot of Iberico ham ever imported into the United States. And I thought, damn! So I looked into it and found the importer in Virginia and called him up. We  had a great conversation and I mentioned that I loved the ham so much I had registered domain

The insanely expensive Iberico ham that convinced 
Rosener domains could be very valuable assets.

names devoted to them and would really like to have some of the ham to eat. He laughed me off saying, forget about it kid, the next 11 containers are all sold. You know, there's a one year waiting list and, by the way, these were like $7,000 to $15,000 a leg! Still, the domain names I mentioned intrigued him and he said "how much do you want"? That was the first time that it ever crossed my mind that these domains had value and that they could be resold."

"I didn't know what to ask for a domain name but I know what I want - one of those hams! So I that's what I asked for and he says done!  That's was too easy, so I quickly added "plus $5,000" and he immediately says done again! Not only that, he ended up sending me all this great wine, the holder for the ham and the kit of carving knives - the whole caboodle! So now I knew undersold those domain names, but it opened up my eyes that, if this guy in this small niche market wants these domains, domains are going to be really valuable in every market on earth. That's when I decided it's time to back up the truck and start filling it up with these things."

"Now, I was still working full-time for the seafood business and after work, spending maybe an hour or two a day trying to think of new domains to register - but I was too late for that. Even so, I wasted a lot of money hand registering a bunch of domain names, eventually accumulating over 1,000 of them. So, one weekend while I was driving to a friend's farm in upstate New York, I get a phone call from GoDaddy. It is Tess Diaz who was an executive accounts manager at the time. She called to tell me she was part of this division created to serve large portfolio holders and it was her job to contact customers who had more than 1,000 domains and find our who they are, what they are doing with their domains and if there was any way she could help them. So me being the curious guy that I am, I just started asking a million questions, keeping her on the phone for four or five hours - a great way to spend the time on my way to the farm!" 

Tess Diaz (right) schooled Andrew (center) on the ins and outs of the domain business when she worked for GoDaddy. Andrew later hired her to work on DomainSherpa. At left is Andrew's right hand man for the past decade, MediaOptions

"So I'm just asking away and Tess is telling me all these stories and introducing me to all of the characters who I now know, and some that I call friends, that made up the domain industry at that point and it just blew my mind! I didn't even know that there was a domain industry. I didn't know that there was an aftermarket. I didn't know that there were auctions. I didn't know there was expiries. I didn't know that there was forums. I didn't know that there were blogs. I didn't know any of this!  And so she sent me links to DNJournal.com, DNForum.com and Andrew Allemann's blog (DomainNameWire.com) along with other resources I should check out, including, of course, GoDaddy Expired Auctions."

"That is when I went down the rabbit hole of, wow, look at this gold mine of expired domains! I probably bought another couple thousand domains. It was really only at that point and through working with Tess,  who was very patient  helpful with me, that I began to understand what actually made a domain valuable.  I realized I'd probably thrown $300,000 in the toilet and it was basically time to start all over again but with new standards and new tools. The thing is,  I don't regret that at all. You know, it was an education and I call it tuition to domain college, We've all paid it, but maybe not as much!," Rosener smiled.

"Still, I had essentially run out of money. I knew domain were a good business opportunity, but it was very cash intensive and I needed a way to create sufficient cash flow to support my comeback. So,  in 2007 I started brokering domain names kind of informally. Then in 2008, I quit my job at Omega Seafood and went full time into domain brokering. My wife, Anna, and I moved to Panama at the end of 2008 and spent 10 years there, had two children, and then, five years ago, moved to Portugal."

Andrew and Anna Rosener at their 2005 wedding.

Rosener added, "Most who read this will remember that at the end of 2008 the world seemed to be going to hell in a handbasket. Friends and relatives were losing jobs and you couldn't turn on the news without shedding a tear. It was just a mess and as an inherent optimist I had had enough. I got rid of my television and I've never owned one since. I stopped watching the news because I don't want this pessimism around me. Of course, everyone still thought I was insane for quitting my job in this environment. I was 28 years old and I was making $300,000- $400,000 a year at Omega, which in my peer group, was a lot of money, so, my parents were in tears. How could you possibly give up such a job and go and do something you have no idea if it's going to work?"

"Number one, the crisis made the downside risk seem less to me. Number two, I had gotten married in and my wife had given me a time limit on how long she wanted to live in America. Anna is German but she said I'm willing to do four years in the US and then it's time to go. Plus, it was an asymmetric opportunity and I think that if there is an underlying theme in my life that has led to my success in everything I've done, it can be attributed to the absolute certainty that I will take any asymmetric risk presented to me that has an asymmetric upside versus the downside. If I see a tremendous opportunity and my downside is to some degree limited, I will take that chance every single time purely on the probabilistic math."

"To be fair, there was also a change internally at my company. My mentor and to this day, very close friend, Peter Moehrke, had a son who had just graduated from college. He had come into the business and he was clearly not falling in the footsteps of his father. It also became apparent to me that Peter's ambition would ultimately be that his son would take over this business and that flew in the the face of my ambition, which was that I was going to take over this business or at least become a partner in it. So that was quite a big factor in shifting my perspective from building a lifetime career in that business. There was a fork in the road that became clear to me, probably a year before leaving, so that also helped to lubricate the decision making."

Making Waves With MediaOptions 

You know the old saying - when one door closes, another one opens - well, walking through the door that led to Rosener's creation of MediaOptions has proven many times over that he made the right decision. So, what skill set and strategy enabled him to take the company to the heights it now enjoys?

"It's a great question and it's something that I often reflect on to this day and have for many years, Andrew said. "First and foremost is I enjoy sales and I'm good at sales. Many people, probably most people, get uncomfortable with sales. They don't like being told no, they get offended when people get mad at them or say mean things to them. I just don't get offended very easily by almost anything. Sales is really all I know. It's all I've ever done. It really doesn't matter what the business is. It is about understanding how to read people, how to understand what motivates people and what demotivates people and an ability to meet people where they are as opposed to trying to get them to meet you where you are."

Andrew Rosener gave us a high level view
 of what it took to build MediaOptions into 
a domain brokerage powerhouse.

"I think that the next most important factor was I have always had a really strong curiosity and interest in the concept of value and price versus value. How do you establish value? Why is something worth what it's worth? Is it just just because people agree on it or are there inherent factors?  That was something glaring to me about domain names. I would speak to all these people, even the really smart ones, and it seemed like the pricing of their domains was totally arbitrary. It was like, I would like to have another beach house and that's going to cost me a million bucks, so the price for this domain is a million bucks. My wife wants a pink Cadillac, and that's going to cost me 60 grand. So this domain is 60 grand! I know it seems so silly, but I'm telling you this firsthand, this isn't made up!," Rosener said with exasperation. 

"That is how people were pricing domains so I wanted to better understand.  What were the actual inherent factors that were driving the value of domains? I spent a lot of time studying DNJournal's sales report and every single domain in it. I would go and analyze who bought it, try to understand why did they buy it, why did it sell for what it sold for, and what I very quickly understood was the names were selling for totally arbitrary prices. There were very few domains that were selling for an objective value. It  was really the buyer setting the price, not the seller. So, I really wanted to figure out a framework because if I'm going to proactively sell domain names, then I need to have a framework to to justify that value, otherwise I might as well be selling vacuum cleaners. When even the people in the industry don't know how to justify the value of a domain, how can I expect the business leaders who are making purchase decisions to understand what the value is? I needed to be able to translate that value into something that they understand. A way to break down what a domain name is, why they exist and what's the purpose of it at a at a fundamental level."

Image from Bigstock

"So. I explain that It is a way to remove friction between a visitor or a consumer and the destination that has what they're looking for on the internet. And the advantage or disadvantage of a given domain name is its ease of use, which is how short is the domain and how easy is it to spell. And its memorability, which is its ability to be remembered if you see it, to pass it on through word-of-mouth marketing, which is the most powerful kind there is. If we take that the fundamental reason for domains to exist is to get somebody in the easiest way possible from point A to point B, then what makes a particular domain best suited for that purpose? That was sort of the breakthrough. I was like, okay, the easiest way to get somebody from, say, " I want to buy a bicycle online" to " here's the bicycle for you to purchase" is probably bike.com, bikes.com, bicycle.com, bicycles.com in that order. So what made bike.com more valuable than bicycles.com? Why was this the best domain for that given purpose?" That's when I discovered Google Search Volume and I started applying a lot of what I had learned."

"It really all came down to basically the same way that anybody in the private equity business, venture capital business or M&A business values a company. It's what's the total addressable market? How much of that market can you realistically and probabilistically expect to capture and why, and what will it cost you to capture that portion of the market? That translates into domain names through what's the total adjustable market, how many people are searching for a given keyword phrase or acronym every month, how many people are searching for that in YouTube, how many people are using that keyword acronym phrase in a hashtag on social media. How many trademarks have been registered that are used in commerce. Then, use in culture is the social media aspect and it's how many social media handles and some of the less commercial things that you can search for.  Then what the cost per click is, what is it going to cost you to capture that market share?"

"You can then extrapolate that out using general business best practices, which is, what's the standard business multiple that an M&A guy is going to look at from private equity? He's going to pay 3 to 5 years. So using some of these really basic general business principles, but taking their domain name proxy was what ultimately allowed me to start formulating a really data-driven objective approach to valuation. I think that my early understanding of domain value and my absolute belief that domains are worth that objective value produces a value baseline that you can have an extraordinarily high degree of confidence in. Because I can justify it, I can tell any company on any domain name how this domain name is going to decrease their cost of customer acquisition or visitor acquisition or whatever it is their objective is. We can demonstrate that beyond any doubt," Rosener said, concluding "I think that was the biggest thing that set me apart while everybody else was still sort of licking their finger and putting their finger up in the wind to see which way the wind is blowing." 

Rosener's rise has also been fueled by an extraordinary work ethic. Rosener recalled, "The first 10 years of Media Options, a slow day was 14 hours and most days were 16 to 18 hours - and that was six days a week at least and it  didn't matter where I was, didn't matter what time of the day, I never shut my phone off. I picked up every call, I responded to every email. It was just relentless."  Now that he has children, Rosener allows that his schedule has been adjusted to create some priceless family time. Which brings us to Andrew's secret weapon - his wife Anna.

"Anna was absolutely my 50-50 partner in building this business. She is the yin to my yang in the sense that I have a really high propensity for risk taking and she has a very low propensity for risk taking. She is okay to take risks, but it has to be very calculated and understood. She preserved me from self-destructing. That's really what I would say is the most important thing. 

Andrew and Anna became made an unbeatable team.

She played a very active role in the business, particularly in that first two iterations of the business, the first decade. It was really the grounding that she gave me. That kept me from self-destructing. And there were several instances where I could have easily self-destructed, but she gave me that grounding and support needed to keep it going." 

Rosnener Buys and Reboots DomainSherpa 

With all of the balls Rosener has in the air, it is easy to forget that MediaOptions has not been his only enterprise. He has also tried his hand at domain development and that is a story with valuable lessons of its own, so we will save that for separate article down the line. He has also been very active in the cryptocurrency/NFT space and again, that merits a separate post of its own. However, Rosener's best known extra-curricular activity, DomainSherpa.com, is so intertwined with him and his passion for the domain industry that it has to be ipart of his personal story. 

As most know, Michael Cyger founded the video interview site in 2011. Andrew Rosener bought the site from Michael in 2017. Andrew recalls how the acquisition came about. "When Michael contacted me and told me that he was going to retire from DomainSherpa and was going to

sell it, I had a lot of mixed feelings," Rosener said. "I had been the most frequent guest on the show and I'd spent an incredible amount of time doing those interviews with Michael.  I didn't feel comfortable with anybody else owning that content. Frankly I didn't really want to run the thing but felt I needed to buy it because I don't want somebody else having it. Once I owned it, everything worked out though. There was a lot of positive community feedback expressing a desire to see DomainSherpa keep running, so we tried to figure out a model that would work for us and we tried to follow Michael's format the best we could."

"I don't think we did a great job of doing that, to be honest, but I think we carried the torch to the extent we could. Then when Jonathan Tenenbaum came aboard Media Options, he was the perfect host and he loves it. He made it fun again and really entertaining, sometimes too entertaining!," Andrew laughed. "It also got me reinvigorated and excited about it. So, with the help of a few key sponsors like Dan.com and Network Solutions, and probably some I'm missing that'll get mad at me, we were able to say, all right, we can turn this into something that will be self sufficient. To be absolutely clear, this is not something that makes money though. Even with

Jonathan Tenenbaum
The personable and popular host of DomainSherpa.com 

our sponsors, I'm sure if I dug into the numbers, we're probably still underwriting it. But it is something that I think is really, really important. And it's really important to me. I didn't know it at the time but I think It's going to end up being the most important thing I did in the domain space. I say that because I think that it represents, along with DNJournal, along with DNAcademy, along with DomainNameWire and very few other publications or educational sources, it's probably the broadest knowledge base about the domain industry that exists on this planet."

"We have this nascent industry of not more than a few hundred real full-time active successful people in this industry that can say I've built a career here, this is what I do with my life. I think we've covered most of those people. They've had a voice on DomainSherpa. They've told their story on DomainSherpa. They've talked about their tips and tricks. They've talked about their approach to the domain market, how they make money in domains.. I think that knowledge base is what allows new people to come into the industry and not have to take the lumps. I think that if we're going to grow as an industry, which is my ambition, you have to grow the pie. The way I'm going to become extremely successful in this business, beyond anything I've done yet, is by growing the pie." 

Andrew added, "I think that domain names in my lifetime, in the next 20 years, hopefully sooner, will be recognized as the commercial real estate of the digital economy. In the last 150 years we were in a physical economy that was governed by proximity, real estate and that idiom of location, location, location, meant everything. And in a world where nothing is proximate and everything is accessible, your domain name is that proximity. So I think domain names are that commercial real estate 2.0. It's not just an analogy. I think it's fundamentally a truth. I think that you will in the future see internet real estate investment trusts, you'll see large funds owning portfolios of domain names that generate income through leases, lending, and all different sorts of stuff that these types of entities do in the commercial real estate market. And that's my hope is to help us get there and then benefit from that level of adoption and the price appreciation that will come with that. That's my hope. And I think DomainSherpa is the way that I can express that and do my part in achieving it."

Domain Sales: Publicize or Privatize? 

Now let's circle back to something I mentioned in the first paragraph of this article - a topic that Andrew wanted to address. "A lot of people get really upset because we don't disclose our domain sales," Rosener noted. "The reason is I don't believe that these sales are mine to publicize. I think that I am a facilitator of a transaction. And that transaction is between a buyer and a seller and it's their right, not mine. Also, I think that the confidentiality that we are known for is one of the most attractive things that drives some of the really important VIP clients that we have to us. I do see the value in publicized sales, of course. As I said to you, I probably wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for analyzing DNJournal's domain sales reports. But, that being said, confidentiality, 

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at least to our business, is absolutely essential. I do wish, to some extent, I could publicize the sales because I think that it would really change people's perspective on domains. We are selling domains in the seven figures basically on a weekly basis, maybe bi-weekly in some cases, but there's rarely a month in which we don't have one or two seven figure sales and we're selling several eight figure domain names per year. Domains are great domains are incredibly valuable. And they're not going to go down in value, in my opinion, anytime soon."

"So I think it's important for the domain industry to recognize that we are sitting on incredibly powerful and valuable assets and that we shouldn't be underselling ourselves and that we shouldn't be getting overly excited about a lot of the sales that get published. I see this in the people that hire us to go acquire a domain for them when they say, look, this, guy was excited about a $100,000 sale, he'll take 100 grand, right? Even if these guys were willing to pay a million. Anybody that needs to sell, I don't discourage that at all. But if you don't need to sell, I would encourage you to really think deeply about what your domains are worth, both to you and to the perfect end user, and then take a long-term time horizon as opposed to a short term time horizon and just feel confident." 

Misconceptions & Wise Words

I'm going close with a final question I had that stemmed from an offhand comment Andrew made when I first started talking with him about doing this story. He mentioned that it might clear up some misconceptions people had about him. Having known him since he entered the business, I wasn't sure what he thought those might be, so no better time to find out than now!

"Just a couple of points that I think I observe," Andrew began. "One of them is quite simple - I think a lot of people think I'm, for lack of a better word, an asshole.  I think that the people that are really close to me and talk to me regularly would understand that I am jaded. I guess, highly jaded because. whether it was in the seafood business or in this business, I spend all day, every day talking to a lot of people, being told basically to go pound sand in every imaginable way that anybody has ever said it. I've learned a lot about people and that has, unfortunately, caused me to be very jaded and to maybe expect the worst from people and hope for the best. The lesson that I've learned from all of it is that I have a very low tolerance for BS. I don't know what else to say, so I'm very straight to the point and I'm very direct. I think that gets misconstrued as me being an asshole."

"Sometimes the advice I give is callous, sometimes it's cold and direct and I might just fire off an email to somebody that sends me a list of domains and I say, this is crap. There's nothing here of value, try again. Go watch DomainSherpa. I mean that constructively. It is the kind of feedback that I got that helped me to build my business - immediate, tough feedback that allowed me to build the thick skin that is absolutely required if you want to have any degree of success in almost anything. It seems to me that everybody kind of portrays me as being a real tough guy asshole and I don't think that's who I am."

"In any case, I think people should really focus on learning, hard work, and trying to emulate what others are doing - people that they relate to. Not everybody's going to relate to me. I don't consider anybody competition because there are more domains to be sold than there will ever be domain brokers or hours in the day for all of the domain brokers to sell them. Yes, I'm an extraordinarily competitive person, but this is a big market and it's only going to get bigger. There's not enough tools or enough people to fulfill the opportunity that the domain industry has over the coming decade. So, don't waste too much time on forums. Don't waste too much time on Twitter. Don't worry about what other people say. Just ignore it. Ignore the noise. Focus on what has value. Focus on the people who have proven track records, who have demonstrated success - and above all - don't believe that the opportunities are gone or that the only ones having great success in this business started 20, 30 years ago.  That's not true at all and I think that we have yet to see the biggest successes in this industry - we probably don't even know their names yet!



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