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2010 DOMAINfest Global Preview: Oversee President Jeff Kupietzky Provides an Inside Look at What DFG Has in Store For You This Year

By Ron Jackson 

The annual DOMAINfest Global conference returns to Los Angeles this month and all indications are that attendees will be enjoying another world class show when the event runs January 26-28. While the conference's high standards will remain the same - its location will change for the first time since DOMAINfest Global debuted with a crowd pleasing maiden voyage at the Renaissance Hotel in Hollywood in 2007.

After three years in that location, DOMAINfest Global is moving across town to LA's picturesque and popular beachfront community, Santa Monica. The host hotel is also a head turner - the five star Fairmont Miramar Hotel that has been a local landmark for more than a century now.

To get the inside scoop on what is in store for DOMAINfest Global 2010 registrants we hooked up with Jeff Kupietzky, the President and CEO of Oversee.net - the company that organizes the popular conference. Our special interview with Jeff begins below: 

DN Journal: Let’s start by talking about the new location for DOMAINfest Global. After three highly successful shows in Hollywood, why was the change made and what can people can expect from the new venue overlooking the Pacific Ocean – the Fairmont Miramar?

The oceanfront Fairmont Miramar Hotel
in Santa Monica, CA where the DOMAINfest 
Global 2010
conference will held Jan. 26-28

Jeff Kupietzky:  The new location is simply beautiful.  The Fairmont is a world-class hotel and is just across the street from the Santa Monica beach. Our ability to reserve the entire hotel for the event gave us the opportunity to offer our guests a very personal touch that has not been offered by conferences in the past.

We had a good three years at the Renaissance in Hollywood, but the new venue reflects the changes and new direction that DFG 2010 is taking in terms of its agenda and approach to a conference. Our goal is to improve every year, and DFG 2010 will be a landmark conference for our industry.  

DN Journal: Along with the new setting come some interesting new agenda highlights – including Pitchfest and Launchfest. You have an all-star line up of judges in place for each of those events that are designed to create new business opportunities for registrants who are selected to present. What kind of response are you getting for each of those contests?

Jeff Kupietzky
President & CEO, Oversee.net

Jeff Kupietzky:  We’ve had a lot of early interest.  People are submitting for Pitchfest and are applauding the idea that there’s room for innovation in domain name monetization and want to show our judges and audience cutting edge solutions.  

Launchfest is really an experiment in collaboration where we take our premium inventory and offer discounted lease costs to allow entrepreneurs to realize their vision for successful online businesses.  We’re excited to hear the ideas folks have and to partner with the winner to create a brand new site. There’s a link to official rules available at www.domainfest.com 

DN Journal: We will also see something new on the evening social schedule with a night at the Getty Center that is a real departure from the norm. On the flip side, from the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” file, you have a return trip to the Playboy Mansion on tap the next night that will undoubedtly be a big crowd pleaser just as it was last year. Tell us about the brainstorming that went into the selection of those two big events?

Jeff Kupietzky:  The social calendar this year is a mix of art and pop culture. The return to the Playboy Mansion was an easy choice for us—we just listened to last year’s attendees. Everyone loved that party. Not many people get the opportunity to visit the Mansion so it set a new benchmark for us. Partnering with Jenny McCarthy’s foundation and hosting an event there just made sense for us and most importantly, our guests. 

To your question about creating the social calendar, we wanted to mix it up a little bit by doing something that just wasn’t another cocktail party. The Getty Center was perfect; apart from its award-winning architectural design it is one of the most dramatic and breathtaking sites in Los Angeles . The views alone provided the incentive. This venue provides a classic setting to network and enjoy unique fun activities such as the mystery art quest and sketching contest. It was a great way to encourage people to get to know each other.  

DN Journal: Conference registrants have made it loud and clear that the main reason they go to shows is to take advantage of the networking opportunities. The evening events obviously provide two great ones, but tell us about what are you doing on the daytime schedule to make sure people have plenty of time to meet new contacts and reinforce existing relationships?

Jeff Kupietzky:  From the feedback we received last year, we realized that holding the networking sessions at the end of the day was not the best use of the time. Although well-attended, some folks thought the time of day was too difficult 

Scene from the Getty Center
in Los Angeles

This year, we moved the sessions to the beginning of the day when everyone is fresh and alert. Our guests continually tell us how important networking is to their activities so we wanted to make sure they’re scheduled properly on the agenda. The networking opportunities will allow attendees a chance to interact with some of the industry’s top minds in a relaxed, open setting.  

DN Journal:  Of course, the keynote speaker is always a “main event”. You set the bar pretty high with Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak last year. Why do you think this year’s speaker, Tony Hsieh, will have a big impact on the domain owners in attendance?

Jeff Kupietzky: Tony Hsieh shares a lot of similarities with Steve Wozniak. He offers a unique way of looking at the world and he can provide a different perspective that illustrates why he’s been so successful.  As a young entrepreneur he’s had two enormous successes already, selling one business to Microsoft before investing in and becoming CEO of Zappos.com. He defied conventional wisdom and took a chance on the shoe industry when no one thought there was real money to be made. Tony understands the value of unconventional wisdom and risk taking.  

Building on his past experiences, Tony will be able to offer a fascinating retailing perspective as applied to the Internet. He can really connect with domainers because of his true understanding of how the Internet works, how to drive traffic, and how to leverage brands through domains. And, we’ll be able to hear first-hand why Zappos bought Clothes.com for close to $5 million.  

Tony Hsieh
Keynote Speaker for
DOMAINfest Global 2010

DN Journal: As always, you will also have a number of carefully crafted seminars and sessions during the week. What do you see as some of the likely highlights there?

Jeff Kupietzky: The theme of the DOMAINfest Global 2010 conference is Domain Names:  Overlooked. Underutilized. Essential to Online Marketing Success.  As you said, the highlights are the richness of the content and expertise of the speakers, which then offers an unprecedented opportunity to learn.  This year’s speakers come from a variety of online marketing and business segments outside of the domain industry, creating opportunities for a rich exchange of ideas before, during, and after each session.   

Turning Killer Domain Names into Killer Websites,” which features executives from sites such as credit.com and scentiments.com, will be a panel discussion that focuses on examples of developed websites that lead their niches in attracting end-users and generating revenue. Speakers on the panel “Domain Names: How Prime Internet Real Estate Builds SEO and SEM Success” will discuss how content, social networking, SEO and SEM all play a role in driving traffic and increasing revenue to internet real estate properties. There will also be an insightful discussion on new gTLDs.  

Jeff Kupietzky speaking at the first
DOMAINfest Global conference in 2007.

DN Journal: DOMAINfest has never had a problem attracting a big crowd. However, the conference schedule gets more and more crowded every year. This year T.R.A.F.F.I.C. will end up running close by in Las Vegas just days before DOMAINfest. Some have speculated that this will split the potential registrant pool for both shows, while others think having the two events back to back on the West Coast will make it more likely that many (especially those from the East Coast) will be able to take in both shows because they can do it on a single trip. Based on your early registrations what is your take on what, if any effect, the close proximity of two shows will have on your event?

Jeff Kupietzky: We are pacing ahead of last year’s record attendance. I think the close proximity of the shows does offer participants a geographical means of attending more than one event. If anything, it may increase registration and provide an incentive for more people to travel if they can attend two shows.  Of course, if people can only attend one show in 2010, we believe DFG will provide the best return on the investment.  And it’s not just those of you on 

the East coast that this will benefit — DOMAINFest Global gets many international attendees, many of whom may now consider adding TRAFFIC to their agenda as well.   

DN Journal: DOMAINfest has been a once-a-year event and with each previous show it has been obvious from the size and quality of the production that the conference staff has utilized just about every day available to them in the preceding 12 months. Tell us a little about what it takes in terms of manpower, time and money to achieve what you have been able to achieve with this event each year?

Jeff Kupietzky: The brainstorming and planning for the 2010 show started literally the day after the 2009 show ended. It truly is a colossal undertaking with a whole team that dedicates an enormous amount of time to creating, implementing, and managing the event. We put over $1 million into the event to make sure that it offers participants and attendees something special, memorable, and innovative.  

We’re committed to the domain industry and believe that it makes excellent business sense to invest not only in this conference but also in new technologies that make domains more valuable in marketing and advertising.

A scene from one of the panel discussions at DOMAINfest Global 2009 

The team takes all the conference feedback as a starting point to see what has worked and what hasn’t. Then they put these learnings to work, devising ways to make the conference even better than the previous one. Each year, we try to raise the bar on what we offer. Our industry has tremendous potential and we continue to support its growth and expansion.  

DN Journal: In closing, 2009 was a rough year for the general economy and most sectors of the domain industry. There have been some signs recently that the sun may be starting to peek through the clouds again. As you prepare for your 2010 conference, do you sense anything different in the atmosphere this year as opposed to 12 months ago? Anything that leads you to believe that DOMAINfest Global 2010 could be a catalyst in a broad based industry rebound in 2010?

Jeff Kupietzky:  The conference can certainly be a catalyst in helping stimulate new ideas and innovative practices. We believe we can create new growth opportunities as the industry continues to evolve.  

The broad-based understanding of how to leverage domain names as a marketing strategy is increasing as more people realize that they need domain names to create online businesses. Overall, there are signs that economic conditions are improving, and the value of Internet real estate will improve and become increasingly important to marketers and advertisers.  In our industry, I sense that people are ready for the recession to be over and want to engage in significant conversations that will help move their businesses forward – those conversations will take place at DOMAINfest Global this January.


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