The conference opened with an optional
afternoon boot camp for industry newcomers on Tuesday (January
27). There were four separate sessions, each featuring a panel of
industry experts who briefed attendees on domain business basics. I
arrived in Los Angeles just in time to reach the stage for the final
seminar of the day - The Art of Buying & Selling Domains -
where I joined Anthos Chrysanthou (Lease Domains, Inc.), Lance
Wolak (PIR, the .Org Registry), Monte Cahn (Moniker.com)
and Kathy Nielson (Sedo) in a discussion moderated by Oversee's
Camp panel on Buying & Selling Domains with (L to R)
Moderator Chris Sivertsen,
Anthos Chrysanthou, Lance Wolak, Ron Jackson, Monte
Cahn & Kathy Nielsen (Sedo).
We have too much ground to cover in this
article to go over a lot of the basic principles that were discussed, but there are many
resources with this information on the web including our own archives
and our sister site devoted solely to industry newcomers at NameNewbie.com.
I do however want to acknowledge all of the panelists who contributed
their time to the DOMAINfest Global Boot camp sessions, most of whom
operate their own websites that will also be very helpful to anyone
who is new to this fascinating business.
The first hour, devoted to Domain
Industry Trends, featured Andrew Allemann (DomainNameWire.com),
Adam Strong (DomainNameNews.com) and Michael
Gilmour (WhizzbangsBlog.com) with Oversee's Chris
Welton serving as moderator.
The subject switched to Domain
Monetization 101 & 201 for hour two with Howard Hoffman
(PPCIncome.com), Leonard Holmes (ParkQuick.com), Donny
Simonton (Parked.com), Randy Charach (Synergy Domains Inc.)
and Sam Tseng (DomainSponsor) sitting in and Oversee's Rob
Hoffman (left) and Leonard Holmes (center) listen as Donny
makes a point during the Domain Monetization session (photo
courtesy of Marvin Yan).
The Boot Camp line up was rounded out with a
session called Legal Issues to Consider as You Build Your Business.
Moderator Todd Greene (Oversee.net) welcomed William Delgado
(Willenken Wilson Loh & Lieb LLP), Paul Keating (Renova,
Ltd.), John Berryhill and Derek Newman (Newman &
Newman) to the stage for that discussion.
Regular registrants drifted into
town throughout the day and by the time Boot Camp ended a
sizeable crowd was on hand for a 7pm no or low reserve live
domain auction conducted by Moniker.com.
That event, meant as an appetizer
for the premium live auction that would follow Thursday, yielded
just over $128,000 in sales led by Eat.net ($15,000),
SpearGuns.com ($14,000) and SanFranciscoRestaurant.com
($7,500). Bikes.net and Consultations.com
added $7,000 each as 60% of the listed domains
were sold. Michael Berkens has a complete list of sales
from this auction posted on his popular blog at TheDomains.com.
after the auction, attendees headed for an opening night
cocktail party at the hotel's Twist Lounge where, in
the photo below, you see Don Orr of iVentures
(left) catching up with veteran domainer Larry Fischer.
above: Auctioneer Mark Buleziuk, with
Moniker CEO Monte Cahn at his side, calls the
reserve live domain auction Tuesday night (Jan. 27).
Magic Castle in Hollywood where Thought
Convergence treated guests to a private show.
By the time the cocktail party wound down you
might expect most people, especially those still on East Coast
time, to head for bed, but for many the night was just getting
started as they moved on to various private events around the
While one group when to a Los Angeles
Lakers basketball game, Thought Convergence (parent
company of TrafficZ, Aftermarket.com and
Domain Tools) treated another to a private performance at
Hollywood's famed Magic Castle - the mecca for
At the Castle, located just a block away from
the Renaissance Hotel, guests were treated to a truly
incredible perfomance by Derek
DelGaudio, a young magician so skilled that he was
called on to be the technical consultant on The Prestige,
a superb movie about rival magicians that starred Hugh
Jackman and Christopher Bale.
The Magic Castle does not allow
photos to be taken beyond the club's entry area, but they did allow us
to snap the photo of Thought
Convergence guests below, just before we headed into the Castle's inner
With a surprisingly large
crowd of 600 people on hand Wednesday morning (Jan. 28), the first
full day of business got underway with welcoming remarks and an
excellent State of the Industry address from Oversee.net
President Jeff Kupiektzky.
Kupietzky, Oversee.net President
speaking at DOMAINfest Global
Celeste, Oversee Senior VP
and GM, Domain Services.
(Photo courtesy of Marvin Yan).
|Kupietzky started out by acknowledging that the
severe recession in the general economy would not leave the
domain industry unscathed - indeed his own company has already
been through two rounds of workforce reductions. "This
recession is like nothing that anyone here has ever lived
through before," Kupietzkysaid. Still, though he believes things
will get even worse before they get better, he remains very optimistic
about the future. "We are still nearly a billion
dollar industry and though growth will be extremely
challenging for all of us, I think those who survive this
recession will be much stronger when the economy mends,"
After his talk, Kupietzky introuduced Oversee Senior VP and
General Manager of Domain Services, Peter Celeste who
noted, "This is a time of change and change does bring
opportunity. Those of us who can adapt to change are going to
be the winners." That philosophy, and determination to
make the most of changing conditions, is the reason the word Change
is the keyword on the cover of the conference program.
Continuing with that theme, Celeste stayed on stage to
moderate a session titled Domaining 2.0 - What Does the
Next Evolutionary Phase of Our Industry Look Like? That
question was addressed by panelists Gregg McNair
(Strata Services Ltd.), Nico Zeifang (Ziefang.com), Michael
Berkens (Worldwide Media Inc.), Ofer Ronen (Sendori.com)
and Steve Hisey (Oversee.net).
Berkens expanded on the comments he made during this
session in an excellent wide-ranging post
on his blog after the show (one filled with an
excellent overview of landmark events in domain industry
history - events Berkens has personally lived through). He
wrote, "What can we say about the future? More quality domains will
drop - we are seeing that already. As better domains drop, at wholesale
prices, people will be less willing to spend their money at big
trade show auctions, unless and until those prices reflect the values that you can find at the daily drop auction houses."
|"With revenue down there is less money to spend on new acquisitions.
On the other hand end users need domains - now more than
ever. As the world economy melts down, people are losing their jobs by the hundreds of thousands.
There are no new job openings...so many of these people are turning to the
Berkens added, "The net continues to explode. Just look at public companies earnings from the last couple of weeks.
Google earnings better than expected. Yahoo earnings, better than expected.
Amazon, way better than expected. So the people who now find
themselves unemployed with no job prospects, limited capital to invest and not able to get a loan, are turning to the net."
"No they don’t have $100,000 to buy a great domain, but they have
$10,000 to buy a good one. End user sales are doing
well. Very well. You want to sell to end user, you have to first develop a sales strategy."
to right): Moderator Peter Celeste talks with Gregg
McNair, Nico Zeifang,
Michael Berkens, Ofer Ronen and Steve Hisey
about "Domaining 2.0".
up was the highly anticipated keynote talk with Apple Computer
Co-Founder Steve Wozniak. In a delightfully informal
conversation conducted by Oversee President Jeff Kupietzky,
Wozniak reminisced about how he and partner Steve Jobs
built one of the great business empires of all time from
humble beginnings in Jobs' garage.
had some excellent advice for young entrepreneurs on
how to start a business when you have very little
money. While many go in with the dream of attracting
venture capital, Woz advised against taking it unless
you really need it to grow. "Go as far as you
can on very limited resources," he said.
"That forces you to work on solutions and think
harder and harder on how to do something with less
almost always young people who think that way
and come up with the great innovations. So do
it on your own - sell your car or whatever it takes!
If your idea takes off you will own a lot more that is
you take money along the way from some company," Wozniak
a comment on the hard economic times the world is currently going through Wozniak pointed out that Apple
was started in a
Co-Founder Steve Wozniak
during his keynote talk Jan. 28
and the same has been true of many other great
companies. Such conditions are fertile ground for
innovation because "You have time to think about
things and come up with new ideas," Wozniak
A lunch break followed
Wozniak's talk and also left time for attendees to visit the
adjacent exhibit hall which also served as a popular area to
hang out and chat with friends throughout the show.
Comfortable seating was scattered throughout the hall with
fresh cappuccino and snacks also helping pull people in and
drive traffic to the sponsor's booths.
Mauriello of Moniker.com (far left) chats with
visitors to the company's booth.
Wednesday afternoon schedule featured two panel discussions.
One of the things I liked best about this show was a
new, less formal format for the educational sessions (also
employed very effectively for Steve Wozniak's keynote talk).
Instead of people standing at a podium or sitting behind
tables on a dais talking at attendees, the experts were
hooked up with wireless mikes and seated in comfortable chairs
across the stage where the moderator engaged them in free
felt more like you were sitting in a living room with a lot of
smart people listening to them speak openly about what was on
their minds. The added spontaneity added a real spark
to the proceedings and many people commented on this being a refreshing
change of pace from past shows.
addition, DOMAINfest organizers said more than half of
the speakers at this show were appearing for the first time.
Now that the conference schedule is so crowded, mixing things up is
something all show promoters have to strive for to keep
frequent conference attendees from becoming bored with seeing
the same format and people repeatedly. DOMAINfest took a
couple of major steps in the right direction to achieve
moderating at the
DOMAINfest Global Conference
last week in Hollywood, California
first Wednesday afternoon session focused on Building
Out Domains. Moderator Ron Sheridan had the
challenge of engaging a huge contingent of seven
experts in the discussion, but the long time Director
of Business Development for Oversee's DomainSponsor
unit handled the task with aplomb.
end up being one of Sheridan's last official duties
for Oversee as he left the company the day after this
conference ended (though he plans to continue serving
Oversee as a consultant). Before his exit, Sheridan
presided over the Playboy Mansion party Thursday
night, an unforgettable event that he spent two years
bringing to fruition.
panel discussion on domain development Sheridan
welcomed the Castello Brothers (Michael
and David from Castello Cities Internet
Network, Inc.), Elliot Silver (Silver Internet
Ventures LLC), Larry Fischer (DirectNavigation.com),
Ari Goldberger (ESQWire.com), Rick Waters (Webcast
1) and Pinky Brand (dotMobi).
discuss Domain Build-Out in this session
featuring (left to right): Moderator
Ron Sheridan, Michael Castello, David
Castello, Elliot Silver, Larry Fischer,
Ari Goldberger, Rick Waters and Pinky
revenue having taken a spectacular dive over the past
year, domain owners are more interested in development
than ever before. The problem, at least until someone
comes up with a solution, is that domain development
is very labor and time intensive - making it a
viable option for only a handful of domains in any
given portfolio (and many domainers own thousands of
with his partner Ari Goldberger, owns some very high
quality domains, said "development is one of the
hardest challenges I have ever faced." Silver,
who often writes on his
blog about the work he has poured into
developing Burbank.com, Lowell.com, TropicalBirds.com
and others concurred with that.
The Castello Brothers, who
have had great success with their sites at PalmSprings.com,
Nashville.com, Acapulco.com and
others, said they had experienced smoother
sailing with their domains but were still
entering into co-development agreements
with Rob Monster and other experienced
developers to build out more of their prime
also favors partnerships, especially for
providing content, and suggested that an
existing media company could be the best
partner because they already have content
producers and marketing skills. He suggested
approaching some of the print-based media
companies that are quickly sliding into
oblivion and may
Castello makes a point
as brother David listens in.
|be looking for a
lifeline. Goldberger said he was currently working
with a local community newspaper to develop
his CherryHill.com site.
Domain Build-Out was also the subject of
the next session but the second panel focused
on the technical aspects of development in a
discussion titled Nuts and Bolts.
Oversee's Ryan Berryman moderated a
distinguished group that included Danny
Sullivan (Search Engine Land), Lee
Gietntke (Orange Soda), Mike "Zappy"
Zapolin (Internet Real Estate Group LLC), Jamie
MacMillan (LinkShare), Bruce Clay
(Bruce Clay, Inc.) and Alex Gardner (Casale
Nuts and Bolts panelists (L to R):
Moderator Ryan Berryman, Danny
Lee Gientke, Mike "Zappy"
Zapolin, Jamie Macmillan, Bruce
Clay and Alex Gardner
the last business event of the day, DOMAINfest
Global brought a new wrinkle to Structured
Networking in the exhibit hall. In this
format groups of experts on different topics
were dispatched to the four corners of the
hall. To make them easy to spot, each expert
wore a long white lab coat. This allowed
attendees to get questions on the subjects
they most cared about answered face to face by
some of the most experienced people in each
corner had Zappy Zapolin, Rick
Waters and Lou Doctor (Arbor
Advisors) answering build-out questions about
Market Research, Competitive Positioning and
Branding. In another corner search engine
expert Danny Sullivan was among a group
of experts tackling SEO/SEM issues.
far left Danny Sullivan fields
questions about SEO and SEM.
#3 drew a crowd interested in hearing what
Jamie MacMillan, Alex Gardner and Reed
Shelly (Oversee.net) had to say about
Build-out Monetization Models.
last but not least, in corner #4 popular
bloggers Michael Berkens (TheDomains.com),
Michael Gilmour (WhizzbangsBlog.com), Andrew
Allemann (DomainNameWire.com) and Frank
Michlick (DomainNameNews.com) held court.
minutes after the networking sessions ended it
was time to head for buses that would take
attendees to the night's big social event -
free run of the world famous Universal
Studios theme park. Oversee arranged to
have an entire section of the park reserved
for DOMAINfest Global attendees, including the
restaurants (where the food was free) open
bars, popular attractions (with no wait!)
including The Revenge of the Mummy
roller coaster and Jurassic Park, plus
trams ran all night to take guests on
Universal's popular backlot tour.
the Universal Studios backlot tour tram
(DomainVermarkter Forum) shoots me while I am
plot their strategy for taking over Universal
facing the Revenge of the Mummy,
gets a a glass of wine to steady his nerves.
UP ON PAGE
- Previously unseen
photos from a spectacular closing night party at
the Playboy Mansion!
- Google execs tell
us what they really think about the domain
- Sales dip in the
live domain auction.
- What do you do
for two extra days in L.A. when the Super Bowl
leaves you stranded?
night at the Playboy Mansion
Coming Up on Page
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