After debuting with three consecutive top notch
annual shows at the Renaissance Hotel in Hollywood,
California - each one better than the last - Los Angeles
took the risk of tampering with success and moved their
popular DOMAINfest Global conference across town for
the 2010 edition that ran January 26-28 in Santa
I've always believed in the old adage, "if it
ain't broke, don't fix it," but soon after arriving
at the new venue - the oceanfront Fairmont
Miramar Hotel that has been revered by
discriminating travelers for more than a century, I
understood that the show's organizers were putting their
faith in a different time tested axiom, "never rest
on your laurels."
That philosophy and a willingness to spend the time and
money it takes to continually one up themselves resulted
in a record breaking crowd turning out in Santa Monica where
DOMAINfest Global cemented its reputation as a can't miss
Everything about the show looked like a million
bucks - and for good reason - that is the approximate budget
Oversee allots to staging this event. The precision with which every
session and social event ran also made it clear that their show
staff had used every one of the 365 days since last
year's highly acclaimed event to work on making the 2010
show even better.
Fairmont Miramar Hotel
Santa Monica, California
from the outdoor luncheon at
DOMAINfest Global on a perfect Southern
California day - Thursday (Jan. 28)
|One concern I had about moving to the beach for
a January event was that the weather can be very unpredictable at
that time of year and an untimely storm system (such as the one that
in 2008) could have erased the appeal of the oceanfront
setting. Indeed, it was raining on opening day Tuesday, Jan. 26,
however the cozy layout at the Fairmount allowed everyone to move
from one place to another completely undercover - including
in and out of a large tent that was attached to the complex to house
an exhibit hall and break area.
When the weather broke for the remainder of the
conference any reservations I had about the new location disappeared
along with the rain as the advantages of the Santa Monica setting became clear. In
addition to being steps from a now sunny beach there were glorious
under a spectacular fig tree whose branches
shelter almost the entire courtyard at the historic hotel.
Oversee took over the entire hotel for
DOMAINfest (and, when the Fairmont quickly sold out, had to use two
| hotels to handle the overflow crowd, estimated at
people) so everyone you bumped into, except hotel staff, was
a domainer or someone interested in doing business with people in
the domain industry. That made for a great atmosphere that
brought domain owners together with many new accomplished
businessmen and women who came to learn more about what domain
assets could do for them.
CEO & President Jeff
Kupietzky welcoming DOMAINfest Global attendees
Tuesday (Jan. 26).
|Drawing outside interest and investment
to the domain space was exactly what Oversee was shooting for with
this conference. In fact their theme for the event was Domain
Names: Overlooked. Underutilized. Essential to Online Marketing
Oversee CEO and President Jeff Kupietzky expanded
on that theme saying, "As an industry with a vested interest in
domain names, it's up to use to reach our and build real recognition
for the value of Internet Real Estate and the critical role
it plays in marketing and advertising. Domain names should not be
overlooked and underutilized. If we can demonstrate their value in
our own usage of them, and communicate their value by reaching out
beyond our industry borders, I'm confident that all of us will see
many new opportunities come our way in the years ahead."
The show got underway Tuesday morning (Jan.
26) with the first of two Pitchfest sessions (a second
one would be held on Thursday). Pitchfest is a contest in which four
companies presented at each session, describing new approaches they
have developed to improve domain monetization.
At the Tuesday session Verisign, Elephant
Traffic, AdMarketplace and Tempesta Media made
presentations. A panel of four judges that included Frank
Administration), Adam Rioux (Octane360), Eric Liaw (Crossover Ventures)
and Ron Sheridan (RSS.com) selected AdMarketplace as the
winner of round one which earned a trophy for Adam Epstein
who made the case for AdMarketplace.
to right in the photo above): Adam Epstein of AdMarketplace
who won Tuesday's
Pitchfest session, moderater Peter Celeste, judges Frank
Schilling (Name Administration),
Adam Rioux (Octane360), Eric Liaw (Crossover Ventures)
and Ron Sheridan (RSS.com).
At the Thursday Pitchfest session the
presenting companies were RootOrange.com, Skinected.com,
RapidDomainBuilder.com and DevRich.com. A new
panel of judges that included David Liu (Jefferies), Douglas
McPherson (New Ventures Group), attorney/entrepreneur Richard
Morganstern and the returning Ron Sheridan (RSS.com)
picked the winning presentation. That honor went to Chad
Folkening (eCorp) for his new RapidDomainBuilder.com
Folkening presenting his case for RapidDomainBuilder.com
as the best new domain
monetization platform. The judges agreed - he won their vote in
Thursday's Pitchest Contest.
The judges weren't the only ones who got to
pick Pitchfest winners though. On Thursday, the audience was
allowed to vote for their favorite solution from among the
eight companies that presented over two days and their choice wasn't
the same as the judges. RootOrange.com
wound up winning the attendees' vote with RapidDomainBuilder.com
close behind. That allowed RootOrange.com Co-Founders Frank
Langston and Camilo Acosta to collect the People's
Choice Award for Best New Domain Monetization Platform.
Co-Founders Camilo Acosta (left) & Frank Langston
beat out seven other companies to win the People's Choice Award for
Best New Domain Monetization platform.
Returning to Tuesday's opening day agenda,
Oversee CEO and President Jeff Kupietzky kicked off the
afternoon session with opening remarks and a very interesting State
of the Industry presentation. Kupietzky gave the audience a
perfect example of why they should be paying attention to Internet
real estate when he noted that decades ago his grandfather had
passed up a once in a lifetime opportunity to buy real estate on Wilshire Boulevard
(undeveloped and inexpensive then but now one of the priciest
thoroughfares in Los Angeles). Kupietzky said a similar
opportunity exists on the Internet today and he thinks 2010 will be
the year that awareness of that opportunity will finally get through
to the general public.
Next up was a panel discussion about the
unlimited number of new gTLDs that ICANN plans to
begin rolling out later this year. Though the exact timing has not
yet been set all of the panelists agree that the new TLDs are
coming and talked about how they might fit into or affect
current domain investment strategies. The session, featuring Kurt
Pritz (ICANN), Ken Hansen (Neustar) and Jon Nevett
(Domain Dimensions, LLC) was moderated by Mason Cole (Oversee.net).
gTLD panelists (left to right): Kurt Pritz (ICANN), Ken
Hansen (Neustar) and Jon Nevett (Domain Dimensions, LLC).
Pritz said from ICANN's standpoint the
initiative is all about creating competition and choice, especially
at the registry level. Hansen said that thus far in the
domain community he has seen little interest in operating new gTLD
registries. He said he thinks there is an opportunity there and he
hopes to see more people exploring it. Nevett said there will be
some success stories among new registries, but as with all
businesses, some failures as well.
The first day of business closed with Moniker's
No and Low Reserve Live Domain Auction - an event that set a
new sales record ($150,950) for this opening day short list
"appetizer" auction. The No/Low Reserve auction helped set
the stage for the main auction event that would be held on Thursday.
The top sellers in the No/Low Reserve event were FamilyCounselor.com
and Love.info at $12,000 apiece, Pucks.com at $11,000
and Taskmaster.com at $10,000.
from Moniker's No and Low Reserve Domain Auction Tuesday
With the day's business out of the way it was
time to party and the .CO
Registry made that possible by hosting a colorful
cocktail party and dinner at the Fairmont Miramar, complete with a
Samba dance troupe and an irresistible beat that brought everyone to
This event was originally planned as a beach
party but the Tuesday rainfall forced it indoors. Even so, people
had such a good time it was clear the move inside did nothing to
a responsible journalist it was necessary for me to conduct
interviews after the Samba troupe performed to see what they thought
about the upcoming .CO sunrise scheduled to begin April 26.
(It is a tough job but someone one has to do it!)
As the party began closing down around 11pm,
many in the crowd drifted across the street to the Huntley Hotel
where Demand Media held a late night party in an upper floor
lounge. That one was still growing strong when I headed back to the
Fairmont a little after midnight to sort through the day's notes and
put together a post for our daily Lowdown