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Welcome to the The Lowdown from 
DN Journal
- your source for notable news 
and information from all corners of the global domain name industry! 

The Lowdown is compiled by DN Journal 
Editor & Publisher Ron Jackson.


Bill Kara Adds 72 Million Users to His Addicting Games Empire With Acquisition of Mope.io 

Long time DNJournal readers are familiar with the remarkable story of how Bill Kara built a gaming empire at AddictingGames.com (it is a story we first told a decade ago in our March 2010 Cover Story). Bill first attracted our attention when someone paid $350,000 for CookingGames.com at the beginning of that year and people in the domain business couldn't understand how a domain like that could be worth so much money.

When we looked into it we found out that "someone" was Bill and that he knew a lot more about domains related to games than the rest of us did. From experience, Kara knew that specifically targeted .com domains could drive enormous traffic to the web and mobile based games he had been building for years. In fact, by the time he got around to picking up CookingGames.com, Bill had already spent over $4 million on similar gaming domains that proved to be excellent investments. 

Now Kara, a native Canadian who is now based in Santa Monica, California, is back in the news with another major acquisition, but this one with an interesting twist - instead of a .com he purchased a .io - Mope.io to be exact. Also, Bill bought an already developed game this time - 

Bill Kara
CEO, Addicting Games  

one that comes with a huge existing fan base of more than 72 million users! As big as that number is, Bill thinks his company can make it bigger by improving the top down multi-player animal survival game and optimizing its functionality.

The price he paid for Mope.io was not disclosed and could not have been charted in any case because this was the sale of a developed property rather than a domain only. Still, it is interesting to see Bill, who had been very much a .com guy, raiding an alternate TLD camp. Of course, .io has been rapidly gaining favor in recent years and one that comes with the kind of traffic mope.io does would be welcomed by anyone with open arms. Mope.io is not the first gaming hit built on the TLD either. Bill noted, “The trend towards .io domains in online gaming is very strong with smash hits like slither.io, mope.io, krunker.io and others serving millions of monthly players all using the IO extension."  It's not just .io either. Bill added, "The most popular online portal for IO Games itself is in fact built in .space, Iogames.space, of all things.”

Whatever the TLD may be, Bill continues to win in the game world. With 21 employees helping him release dozens of new games every month he expects AddictingGames.com to generate $5 million in revenue this year. Gaming traffic is higher than ever with so many people staying home and relying on their computer or mobile device for entertainment due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In a way, we are all playing a survival game in the real world right now, but as Bill's company has shown, many companies will not only survive but thrive in conditions that threaten many others.   

(Posted September 29, 2020) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
https://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2020/dailyposts/20200929.htm

*****

Short But Sweet Europe Track Added to a Tasty Menu That Gave NamesCon Online Global Appeal

In my last post I told you about the 18 business sessions that were held on the two-day South Asia Track of this month's inaugural NamesCon Online conference. When those sessions ran live Sept. 10-11 they occurred in what were the overnight hours in the U.S. so I didn't have a chance to review them until watching the session replays that NamesCon is making available to registrants through the end of this month. 

Time zone differences required me to handle the briefer Europe Track that ran on September 10 the same way and, now that I've seen those sessions, I can tell you about them today to wrap up our NamesCon Online coverage (in case you missed it, we reported on all of the sessions in the Keynote Hall, Breakout Hall and some additional special tracks in our daily coverage that was published while the show was underway).

  

The Europe Track featured three special sessions. There wasn't a need for more because the time difference between Europe and the USA isn't as pronounced as it is between the US and South Asia. As a result, many of the leading European experts played key roles in the Keynote and Breakout Hall sessions we covered while the show was running. One example was the State of the Industry: Aftermarket session (in the photo below) that GGRG.com's Giuseppe Graziano (top left) participated in from his home base in Lisbon, Portugal while I (top right) and moderator Christa Taylor joined the discussion from our homes in the U.S. 

Above and below: the dedicated Europe Track got underway with a panel discussion about The Future of WHOIS in the Light of GDPR – The Final EPDP Report. It featured Lars Steffen (Director, eco International), Thomas Rickert (Director Names & Numbers Forum, eco), Elena Plexida (Government and IGOs Engagement Senior Director, ICANN) and Catharin Bauer-Bulst (Head of the Cybercrime Unit, European Commission DG HOME).

In May 2018, against the backdrop of the GDPR, ICANN required domain name registrars to stop publishing registration data, which until then had generally been freely available. That led to an expedited policy development process ( EPDP) that produced a final report that examines what data is collected, for which purpose and on what legal grounds it can be handed over if requested by law enforcement, rights holders or others claiming a legitimate need for the information. Also, how those requests can be balanced with the concerns of domain registrars and registrants who want to minimize liability risks. Given how much ground this panel covered and the importance of the subject matter, this session would be a great one to put on your replay list while those are still available (September 30, 2020 will be the last day registrants can be access the NamesCon Online replays).

In the second session (above) the topic turned to Prevention, Attack and Defense in the World of Domains. This panel addressed how domain registrants can stay clear of trademark infringements but also defend their legitimate rights when faced with reverse hijacking attempts or other threats to the domain assets they hold.  The panel featured (in top row, left to right), Martin Kuchenthal (CEO, LEMARIT GmbH), Gretchen Olive (CSC Global) and Matt Bamonte (Donuts Inc), (in row 2, left to right) Stuart Fuller (CentralNIC Group), Matthieu Aubert (SafeBrands SAS), Caspar von Veltheim (mmx.co) and (in row 3) Thomas Rickert (eco).

Pursuing legal recourse to right a wrong is always possible but obviously comes with what can be a high economic cost, so panelists discussed other effective ways to protect yourself. A good start is to familiarize yourself the UDRP procedures that govern domain disputes as well as the newer Uniform Rapid Suspicion process (URS). 

 

The final session on the Europe Track (above), addressed a topic that is foremost on just about everyone's mind these days - The Impact of the Corona Crisis on the Internet & Domain Name Industry. It featured, clockwise from top left), Tobias Sattler (CTO, united-domains AG), Christian Voss (CMO, Sedo), Thomas Rickert (eco - Association of the Internet Industry), Dr. Nejc Jakopin (Principal, Arthur D. Little) and Marco Hoffman (Head of Domain Services, InterNetX). 

Covid-19 has obviously head a massive negative impact on a wide variety of industries worldwide but as devastating as it has been some have managed to thrive with most of the winners having the luxury of operating primarily online rather than in the real world. The panelists talked about how various sectors or the domain industry have been impacted, negatively or positively, and how the future shapes up in a world that is vastly different than it was at the start of this year. In a related note, we took a deep dive into how Covid-19 has impacted the domain aftermarket in this DNJournal Cover Story).

With our coverage of the debut edition of NamesCon Online now done, we are, of course, looking forward to the day we will all be able to meet in person again. However, we are also relieved to have learned that as long as the current situation persists, NamesCon is fully capable of producing a great conference experience online. 

(Posted September 23, 2020) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
https://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2020/dailyposts/20200923.htm

*****

Photos & Highlights From the South Asia Track That Helped Make NamesCon Online a Worldwide Hit 

When the first NamesCon Online conference ran Sept 9-11, 2020, the show required everyone, from NamesCon organizers, to sponsors, registrants and those of us who cover industry events, to learn a new way to safely congregate in the middle of a global pandemic. 

With the show running 24/7 in different time zones around the world, it presented me with a conundrum - how could I share what happened in the dozens of business sessions without staying up around the

  

clock for three days? Fortunately, NamesCon Online provided a solution to the problem by making replays of every conference session available online to registrants through the end of this month. That allowed me to report the events that happened in our U.S. time zones at the end of each day, then spend last week watching the 18 sessions on the South Asia Track that ran live during what were the wee hours of the morning in the U.S. Sept. 10 and 11.  

I also caught up with three sessions on the Europe Track from Sept. 10 that I will be telling you about in my next Lowdown post. All told that was about 20 hours worth of excellent content to enjoy after the live show ended. I found all of to be well worth viewing as it brought me up to date on what is happening in other rapidly growing regions around the world. I can also now fill you in on who spoke on the busy track (that highlighted the booming domain industry in India), and the topics that region's leading experts covered. 

Since this was the first NamesCon event held entirely online, the first order of a business on the South Asia track was an introductory walk-through session on How to Get the Most Out of NamesCon Online on the Virtual Venue!  It featured, clockwise from top left above, Hitesh Wadhwa (Domainofy.com), Divya Shukla (Community Manager, Urban Skill) and Sibtain Zaheer. Hitesh, Divya and Sibtain would go on to serve as moderators or interviewers in the sessions that followed over the next two days.

The first business session (below) featured a Welcome Address from a guy many call the "Father of the Indian Domain Industry," Deepak Daftari. Deepak is well-known outside of India as well. Universally recognized as one of the most successful investor/developers in the business, Deepak has been a frequent speaker and attendee at major domain conferences in the U.S. and other industry hot spots around the world for more than a decade.

The first panel discussion focused on Growing Domain Aftermarket Industry in South Asia. When it got underway, the time in the U.S. was 1:35AM, so you can see why watching live wasn't the best option in for those of us on this side of the globe.  However, thanks to the replays, we were still able see and hear some great ideas and information provided by (clockwise from top left above) Manish Lunja(BrandPros.com), Aishwin Vikhona (Global Websoft), Riz Memon (Empire Names) and Jay Paudyal (DomainKhan.com), who also did double duty as a featured moderator throughout the show.

Next up, Vinesh Bhaskarla (Sculpt Digital), seen below, provided a Workshop on Finding Good Domains . Vinesh is known as a classic high volume domain flipper. He has sold many names within 2-3 days of acquiring them.  In addition to providing tips on finding and selling names quickly, he discussed his strategy for finding buyers for them.

The next session featured a Fireside Chat with Ashish Tulsian (CEO, POSist Technoligies Pvt Ltd), above. Jay Paudyal interviewed Ashish who is one of India’s top entrepreneurs and the man behind the creation of POSist– a leading online POS and Restaurant Management software product. He offered insight into what brands and businesses look for in a domain name, include how his own companies decide on the names and TLDs, including ccTLDs and new GTLDs, they believe will boost their businesses.

Below, the topic turned to Domain Names as Digit Assets in a panel discussion that featured, clockwise from top left below, technology guru, entrepreneur and angel Investo Abhishek Rungta (INT),  Arun Bansal (Founder of ServerGuy Inc. & Breeze.io) and Jay Paudyal. They delved into the kinds of words, terms and domains that generate enough value to merit being classified as true digital assets.

There are lots of different places to list domains for sale on the web and - in a special breakout session on Listing Domain Names - the panelists above discussed how the various options stack up against one another. This half-hour featured, clockwise from top left, Khan Mohammad Nakib, moderator Sibtain Zaheer and Arafatul Islam Akib. Khan and Arafatul are prominent domainers from Bangladesh who started domaining as their part-time career and went on to build one of their country's largest domaining communities, DAB.

The panel discussion that followed shared Inspiring Stories of Young Domainers - Domaining in Your Early Twenties. Industry veteran Deepak Daftari (at top left below) who has mentored many of the region's young people that have found success in domaining, moderated the session. The group of rapidly rising investors included, clockwise after Deepak, Jai Gupta, Aman Tibrewal (BrandSilk.com), Avjit Roy (ViableNames), and Mukesh Kumar (WebDudeIndia.com). They talked about the challenges they faced as domain "newbies" and the things they learned that helped them get established.

In another breakout session that ran concurrently with the Young Domainers discussion, Vipin Khetarpal (Founder/CEO, Datameter Technologies Pvt Ltd), talked with moderator Hitesh Wadhwa about Best Practices of Email Outreach. Vipin has over 20 years of experience in domain services, brand building, web hosting and email solutions and is a solution consultant to many companies in India.  Vipin currently heads Datameter Technologies, which provide managed cloud hosting, Email servers and helps in solving complex problems relating to web and email services.

As they headed down the home stretch on the first day of the South Asia track, Abhishek Talwar (Founder of Delvelogic), at left below, got together with Jay Paudyal (Founder of Urban Skill) for a Domaining Rap. In addition to talking about domains, Abhishek and Jay sang about them in a cool rap that combined both English and Hindi languages! 

Newcomers to the domain world often have no idea where to start, so industry veteran Arvind Reddy (100DollarDomains.com), above,  was featured in session that addressed that - How to Begin Your Domaining Journey. Arvind provided advice on everything from market research to finding good names, selecting a niche and choosing the right business structure for your online presence. Divya Shukla, the coordinator & curator of a popular Webinar course on domaining at Urban Skill, and a relative newcomer to the space herself, joined Arvind for this informative talk.

At the same time, a special breakout session conducted in the Hindi language covered the same ground - How to Start a Domain Name Business. It was presented by Hitesh Wadwha and Praneet Thakur, founder of an SEO Agency named ShoutRank where he also shares valuable information on his blog. Praneet also co-founded a popular expired domain analysis tool called CheckDuck. These two sessions for newcomers closed a busy opening day on the South Asia track, with seven more sessions left to go on closing day (September 11).

Things on the NamesCon Online South Asia Track got started Friday, September 11 with a Welcome session hosted by Urban Skill Founder Jay Paudyal. It was followed by the panel discussion above on the Art of Buying Five-Figure Premium Domains. It featured, clockwise from top left, Arun Bansal (ServerGuy.com) Hiren Patel (QualityNames.com), Manish Lunja (BrandPros.com) and Aishwin Vikhona (Global Websoft). All of these gentlemen have posted high dollar sales, just one example being Hiren's recent $180,000 sale of ElectricCar.com.

At the same time a breakout session (shown below) dug into Domain Name Disputes and Digital Rights. It featured legal experts Rodney Ryder (Founding Partner, Scriboard), at left and attorney Ankur Raheja (Cylaw Solutions) at right, with moderator Sibtain Zaheer in the row below them. Anyone entering the domain industry needs to understand the respective rights of domain owners and trademark holders to avoid potentially expensive legal issues. Rodney and Ankur are both world renowned experts in the domain and IP field.

Another pair of sessions that rain concurrently covered How to Sell Domain Names, with one presented in English and the other in Hindi. In the English session, Paul Singh (Platform.in), inset above, delivered an excellent presentation on the subject, covering all of the bases including issues unique to India's rapidly growing market.

The Hindi language session on the same topic, below, featured (clockwise from top left) moderator Divya Shukla (Urban Skill), Rohit Goyal (Domain Mojito) and Hitesh Wadwha (Domainofy.com)

When DNJournal.com started 17 years ago there were very few women in the domain business but things have improved dramatically for the better on that front in both mature markets like the U.S. and growing markets like those in South Asia. Experiences and opportunities for Women in Domaining was discussed in the session above by Anita Walker (SmartWebby.com), at left, and Divya Shukla (Urban Skill).

In the next session the topic turned to Best Practices for LinkedIn Outreach. That was covered by Hitesh Wadwha, at left, and Riz Memon (Empire Names). Hitesh and Riz have found that, among all the social media options, LinkedIn can be especially effective in connecting with potential customers. They offered tips on how to craft outreach messages that can trigger domain sale conversations.

After two days of non-stop action on the South Asia Track at NamesCon Online, it was time to bring down the curtain with one final panel discussion. For this one, a topic that never goes out of style was chosen - Domain Appraisal: What's My Domain Worth? It featured four of the show's most active and experienced experts, clockwise from top left, Arvind Reddy, Paul Singh, moderator Jay Paudyal and Deepak Daftari. The audience was able to get into the act too by submitting names of their own for appraisal. 

After this popular session, Jay Paudyal delivered the closing remarks and thanked all who attended the South Asia Track sessions - a true conference within a conference that played a huge role in making the first ever NamesCon Online a home run. As for us, we have one more NamesCon Online base to touch - the Europe track - that I will detail in my next post.

(Posted Sept. 21, 2020) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
https://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2020/dailyposts/20200921.htm

*****

Radix Racks Up Nearly $1 Million in 1H-2020 Premium Domain Sales and Rolls Out New Name Spinner Namify

During last week's first ever NamesCon.Online conference, several domain industry companies reported outstanding sales results despite the Covid-19 pandemic. Perhaps, I should say "because of" instead of "despite" the pandemic,  because Covid-19 has driven millions of grounded people online this year, including many business owners looking to establish or strengthen their web presence. 

Radix, a leading operator of new gTLD registries, was among those who who reported extraordinary results. In breaking down how the first six months of this year went for Radix, Karn Jajoo, their Head of Premium Portfolio, noted, "There has been consistent growth in Radix’s premium revenue - both from new registrations and renewals. Premium registrations in the first half of 2020 were 97% higher than in the first half of 2019 and 41% higher than in the second half 2019."  Radix's full 1H-2020 report (.pdf file) shows the company raking in over $971,000 for new premium domain registrations with their top three revenue producing TLDs being .tech, .online and .store

Jajoo said, "While premium registrations and revenue have grown consecutively for five 

Karn Jajoo
Radix Head of Premium Portfolio

quarters since Q2-2019, the global pandemic has led to an unprecedented demand in eCommerce and an accelerated need for web presence as businesses of all kinds continue to move online. This led to a surge in adoption of premium domains in meaningful extensions that are particularly suited for the new normal. For example, premium .store registrations in Q2 2020 were up by 5.5x compared to the same Quarter in 2019."

In another new development at Radix, the company just launched an innovative new name spinning tool called Namify (at Namify.tech) that helps registrants find a memorable domain and matching identifiers for their enterprise. The press release announcing the new service noted, "The name-spinner is aimed at solopreneurs, 

small business owners and startups looking for affordable brand building solutions that include brand name, domain name, social media handles as well as a brand logo. Namify’s algorithm ensures the word pairings are contextual, grammatically correct and logical, adding "It is built on machine learning techniques that improvises on the brand name suggestions overtime based on user behavior." 

Radix CEO Sandeep Ramchandani said, “Radix is focused on engaging and empowering businesses and ideas to build a meaningful presence on the Internet. The first step towards building a successful online brand is getting the name right. We want to help our users with that crucial first step.”

Regarding the inclusion of social media handles with the domain name, Radix pointed to a recent study by Sprout Social, that found 77% of consumers say they are more likely to buy from a brand they follow on social media over one they do not; making it crucial to choose a social handle that is available across multiple platforms; a feature that Namify has integrated into its offering. 

This is Radix’s first ever foray into the brand name-spinner space. Namify is equipped to suggest intuitive brand names and corresponding domain names on all of Radix’s 10 domain extensions that include .tech, .store, .online, .site, .store, .fun, .space, .website, .host, and 

Radix CEO Sandeep Ramchandani

.uno. Namify also suggests availability of social media handles along with offering hundreds of logo options to choose from as a free addon at the end of the domain name purchase. 

(Posted Sept. 14, 2020) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
https://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2020/dailyposts/20200914.htm

*****

Friday's Closing Day Photos & Highlights From a Fabulous First Edition of NamesCon Online

The first ever NamesCon.Online conference came to a close Friday (Sept. 11, 2020) with another full day of well-received sessions featuring dozens of domain experts from around the world (if you missed our coverage of the first two show days, you can check out day 1 here and day 2 here).

 Judging from everything I saw and hard at the inaugural event, it earned high praise from its more than 1,000 registrants, 80+ speakers and show sponsors. The easy to use platform, professional production values and fresh, compelling content made it hard to believe this was NamesCon's first try at producing a virtual show. 

  

While it's true that NamesCon has staged seven annual global conferences in the real world, and numerous regional events, translating the show experience to the web and running it around the clock to accommodate the various regions around the globe presented an entirely new challenge. Still, President & CEO Soeren von Varchim, Head of NamesCon Helga Neumer, CRO Timo Kargus and the entire NamesCon team (numbering over a dozen more talented players) hit a home run in their first time at bat. I expected it to be be good, but they made it great.

The first two Keynote Hall sessions of the day Friday focused on domain monetization. Above, ParkLogic.com Founder Michael Gilmour kicked things off with an interesting data-rich presentation detailing The State of the Industry: Monetization.

Below, Michael returned for a timely panel discussion on How to Maximize Your Parking Revenue During the Crisis. That session featured, clockwise from top left, Moderator Bill Sweetman, Michael Gilmour, Above.com CEO David Warmuz and Bodis.com Founder Matt Wegryzn. The encouraging upshot from these sessions was that the monetization business, like most other corners of the industry, is booming as the pandemic has pushed millions of consumers and companies to go online so they can safely get things done.

Speaking of business, the legalization of both both medicinal and recreational use marijuana in so many jurisdictions has created a booming new industry based on cannabis. Above, Soeren von Varchmin (left) interviewed MediaOptions.com CEO Andrew Rosener about that development in The 4:20 Session. Andrew has accumulated one of the world's best .com cannabis related portfolios over the past decade. Early on he was convinced legalization was coming and he put his money on that happening before everyone else got on the bandwagon. It's a bet that now has him positioned to collect extraordinary rewards.

In the next session the topic turned to Blockchain Domains: The State of Play. An expert panel featuring, clockwise from top left, Moderator Christa Taylor (CMO, MMX), Brad Kam (Unstoppable Domains), Mike Carson (Park.io), Toby Hall (CEO, MMX) and Tieshun Roquerre (NameBase) discussed the future of naming—and domaining—on an internet forever changed by blockchain and peer-to-peer.

Next up, Andrew Allemann (DomainNameWire.com) interviewed author Kieren McCarthy (at left), who literally wrote the book on the unbelievable battle for Sex.com (a domain that sold for $13 million,  currently the 2nd highest price ever publicly reported for a domain name). Their session, Someone’s Getting Screwed: The War for SEX.COM, was fascinating as Kieren recounted details of a story that, had it been fiction, people would have dismissed as too crazy to be believable. But it all happened - and even though I thought I knew most of this story, I realized I didn't, so I am getting the book - Sex.com: One Domain, Two Men, Twelve Years and the Brutal Battle for the Jewel in the Internet's Crown. Great presentation Kieren and Andrew!

With the final day of NamesCon Online winding down, the next to last session covered a topic that never gets old - What's my Domain Worth? To tell you everything you ever wanted to know about valuing domains, the panel brought together, clockwise from top left, Moderator Braden Pollock (LegalBrandMarketing.com), Josh Reason (DNWE.com), Kate Buckley (Buckley Media), Alan Shiflett (GoDaddy) and Andrew Rosener (MediaOptions.com). The experts, with many millions of dollars in sales between them. discussed how they use their experience, intuition, and the latest diagnostic tools to settle on an individual domain's approximate value. This is one of the many sessions you may want to replay (a function NamesCon Online is making available for all show sessions through the end of September.

The final Keynote Hall session of NamesCon Online could be seen as a prime example of saving the best for last. Moderator Bill Sweetman interviewed Telepathy Founder Nat Cohen (at right above) who holds a domain portfolio that is universally recognized as one of the best in the world (if not the best). When you hold valuable assets, there are always people who covet them and Nat has been no exception. Over the years, unscrupulous parties have attempted to use (or I should say abuse) the UDRP process to take very valuable domains from Telepathy, without paying for them. Nat, one of the nicest and most humble guys you will meet in any industry, has spent a lot of money fighting for what is rightfully his (and almost always winning), but several years ago he tired of the endless battles and became one of the industry's most vigorous defenders of domain owner rights (his service on the board of the Internet Commerce Association is one way Nat is taking the fight to would be reverse domain hijackers). In this session, Bill did a great job getting the back story on The Reluctant Activist in A Fireside Chat With Nat Cohen.  Put this one on your replay list too! 

At the same time all of those great sessions were going on the Keynote Hall, seven more live sessions were unfolding in the Breakout Hall. I will be using the replay system to see most of those over the next few days, but I was able to pop into a couple of them as they unfolded live today. In the opening session above Kevin Kopas (Co- Founder, ShortDot) talked with attorney Stevan Lieberman (top right)about Trademarking a Dot and What That Means for Domainers.

In a later panel discussion (below), the topic was Bulk Domain Search for Investors, Developers, Resellers, and End Users. It featured, clockwise from top left) Bennett Collen (GoDaddy), Todd Han (Founder, Dynadot), Morgan Linton (Bold Metrics) and Alvin Brown (KickstartCommerce.com). 

Earlier in the day, Alvin had a timely solo presentation on Guarding Your Domain Portfolio Against Economic Downturn. In other Breakout Hall sessions (all of which can be replayed until the end of September), Jason Sheppard (Eagle Nebula Media) covered Buying and Selling on Aftermarkets, Drew Walsh told his audience how to Develop a Lead Business On The RIGHT Domain, Bill Hartzer (Hartzer Consulting) had The Latest SEO and Domain Name Research, and Alan August (Domain Banana) delivered a talk titled United We Brand to let people know about Branders Union, an association of brandable domain name investors who collaborate and advocate for their collective interests in the domain industry.

...and that's not all! Things were just as busy on the South Asia Track, but for those of us in the U.S., those sessions ran overnight as NamesCon Online continued to rock around the clock! That's why I love the ability to replay sessions I couldn't get to live. Some of the world's most active domain investors are in India and other parts of the region that represents one of fastest growing domain communities on earth. So, I am looking forward to  taking in what the experts from South Asia had to say so I can put together a report devoted to that track that will be published one day next week here in the DNJournal Lowdown section).

As you all know, NamesCon is not all business - there is always time for some fun too...and that is how the conference officially closed today. After the last business sessions there was a BYO.Vodka Bar Jukebox Radio Party (the screen shot above is just a graphic, so no need to try playing it - no matter how much vodka you drank, it won't work)! This event essentially turned the NamesCon site into a private radio station programmed by attendees. With a chat window open adjacent to the Play button, you could enter YouTube links to your favorite songs and they would be added to the play list. While listening to the music people could share their thoughts on how the show went in the chat. A lot of people also headed over to the Networking Lounge to chat face to face via their webcams. Though the show is now over, NamesCon is leaving the Networking Lounge open Saturday (Sept. 12), so you may want to pop in and see who's there!

Above: Just before the Jukebox Party got underway, NamesCon CRO Timo Kargus (top right) joined Moderators Bill Sweetman and Christa Taylor to thank everyone for coming to NamesCon Online.

There was another great moderator that I saw for the first time this week, Peter Schwinge. I didn't catch a screenshot of Peter but I know many shared my appreciation for his skills - he is as smooth as any personality you will see on national TV networks. Also deserving credit for how good NamesCon Online looked on your screens are the people behind the scenes at StreamYard and ProductionPool, as well as the final platform their work was displayed on, Hubilo.

I usually close these final day conference wrap ups with a thank you to the show organizers and their team, but I did that at the top this time because what they did with NamesCon Online deserves top billing. In a time when we can't get together face to face, NamesCon put together a fabulous online alternative to fill the gap for all of us. How they did this for a $59 registration fee (and free to those who have never been to a NamesCon event before) is beyond me, but I sure am glad they did it and it was a wonderful gift to the domain community. 

They may have done their job too well though! There are already people calling for NamesCon Online to be an annual event. I am certainly looking forward to seeing everyone in person again, but the way this industry is growing, in the midst of one of the century's most challenging times, it looks like there would be plenty of room for both - just saying. After all, who doesn't want to have their cake and eat it too?!

(Posted Sept. 11, 2020) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
https://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2020/dailyposts/20200911.htm

*****

NamesCon.Online Doubled Down on Day 2 With the Conference Expanding to Six Separate Tracks

After a busy opening day Wednesday (Sept. 9, 2020) the first NamesCon.Online conference got even busier Thursday when three more tracks added to the three that ran Wednesday - each with its own special programming. With a South Asia Track, a Europe Track and a FLATsite Workshop plus the original three (Keynote Hall, Breakout Hall and America's Track), NamesCon Online essentially became a 24-hour conference Thursday as sessions tailored for the different regions and their time zones kept activity going around the clock.

That created one problem I never ran into in  covering real world conferences over the years. With those held in one place, bedtime was roughly the same for everyone (though staying up half the night - or more - was certainly not a rare occurrence)! With NamesCon.online being a virtual event with no geographical boundaries, I was sound asleep in Florida while many sessions were going strong on the South Asia and Europe tracks. This being a new thing for all of us, I am having to figure out a new plan too!

Fortunately, NamesCon Online will be making replays of every session available to all registrants  through the end of September. That will allow me to watch the complete South Asia and Europe Tracks after the show and do separate posts on each of them next week so the experts from those important and rapidly growing regions get the attention they deserve. In the mean time, I'll continue to run down what is happening in the tracks that are running during normal hours in the U.S. time zones this week. 

The first Keynote Hall session Thursday (Sept. 10, 2020) featured NamesCon Co-Founder Richard Lau (bottom row above) and Desktop.com Founder Rolf Larsen (top right) detailing Why Using a Domain Name as a Brand Has Never Been A Better Idea with Moderator Christa Taylor completing the power trio. Richard developed Logo.com to help entrepreneurs brand their companies on a shoestring budget while Rolf, former CEO of .GLOBAL, acquired Desktop.com to brand his new venture that will be a tool for organizing and managing web based resources. With a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case (involving Booking.com) determining that generic-word domain names can be trademarked, Richard and Rolf detailed why that has made domains more valuable than ever and how savvy entrepreneurs can develop category defining names into thriving businesses.

I don't have a screenshot from the day's send Keynote Hall session because I was busy participating in it! The founder of the GGRG.com brokerage, Giuseppe Graziano (at right) joined me for an in depth look at the current State of the Domain Industry: Aftermarket. We talked about the top sales this year and the latest trends we've seen in the aftermarket. Overall the news has been very good for domain investors and service providers, with many in the latter group reporting double digit increases in year over year revenue in the most recent quarter. With Covid-19 shutting down so much traditional activity in the brick and mortar world, businesses quickly discovered that it is critically important for them to  create or strengthen their online presence. That has driven good results for all categories including .coms, ccTLDs and non .com gTLDs - all of which we talked about. If you missed the session live, we hope you'll catch the replay!

Above: An ocean separated Giuseppe and I during our NamesCon Online session today but thanks to the miracle of modern technology that was no problem. While Giuseppe spoke from Lisbon, Portugal, my side of the stage originated from this corner of my home office in Tampa, Florida.

The Thursday business day continued with a panel discussion titled Chart Your Own Path to Success with nTLDs that featured, clockwise from the top right, moderator Christa Taylor (Minds + Machines), Morgan Linton (Bold Metrics), Matt Overman (Donuts) and Jason Sheppard (Eagle Nebula Media). As the program noted, "There’s an old saying in domaining: “The best time to buy a domain name was many years ago. The next best time is today.” Besides the main highways to success in domaining, there are also many side-roads. These experts detailed innovative uses of new TLDs and how investors and developers can turn their insights into action.

In the final Keynote Hall business session of the day attorney and ICA Legal Counsel Zak Muscovitch (top left) interviewed David Bernstein, Lead IP Counsel to Booking.com and a renowned UDRP Panelist. They covered what the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Booking.com means for trademarks, generic .com domain names, and the UDRP. To see how these legal experts answered questions about how the Booking.com case affected the law, whether there will be more UDRPs, if it is easier to trademark a generic.com and what rights a Booking.com trademark provides, be sure to catch the replay of this session if you missed the live session today.

With the Keynote Hall sessions done, attention turned to NamesCon Online's live domain auction. During the event, six domain experts provided live commentary throughout in an entertaining Domain Auction Red Zone session. The group included, clockwise from top left, Tess Diaz (DomainSherpa), Shane Cultra (Uncomfortable.com), Andrew Rosener (MediaOptions), Kate Buckley (Buckley Media), Ammar Kubba (afterTHOUGHT) and Braden Pollock (LegalBrandMarketing.com). As of this writing (shortly after the auction concluded), official results from the sale have not been posted yet. Those should be available tomorrow. In the meantime, these talented ladies and gentlemen made the sale a world of fun to watch!

Even after the auction ended, Michael Cyger (DNAcademy.com) was still hard at work over on the America's Track, conducting a premium session on Domain Investing 201 (the follow up to 101 Wednesday) with this presentation focused on Turning Your Hobby Into a Business. Michael is a masterful instructor and it's no surprise he has turned DNAcademy into the go-to resource for a high quality crash course in domain investing.

One final note today - another cool aspect of NamesCon.Online is the Networking Lounge. Multiple virtual tables like the one above are set up and allow registrants to take a seat anywhere they want for private conversations or group talks. Speakers often come in to answer questions after their sessions. Each participant has their camera and microphone turned on, so you can have a lively real time discussion with fellow attendees any time you want.

Hard to believe but Day 3 Friday is already upon us. I'll have a wrap up on the closing day sessions and activity for you in my next post. By the way, it is still not too late to register (just $59) and get access to replays of all of the conference sessions until the end of September. 

(Posted Sept. 10, 2020) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
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Day 1 at NamesCon.Online Delivered Excellent Content on a Versatile Trouble Free Platform

The first ever NamesCon.Online conference got off on the right foot today, delivering 15 different business sessions on three separate tracks, featuring dozens of domain industry experts from around the world. That's a lot of moving parts for a live online conference to keep synchronized but NamesCon pulled it off. I watched throughout the day and never saw a serious problem with audio, video or delays in the program. Every session started on time with almost all featuring a snappy half-hour format that left no time for boredom to creep in, especially with the array of top notch speakers assembled for the event. 

  

The show began promptly at 11am U.S. Eastern Daylight Time Wednesday (September 9, 2020) with a Welcome Session conducted by NamesCon President and CEO Soeren von Varchmin (in top left corner above) and some members from his crack team of moderators. They included (clockwise after Soeren above) featured moderators Bill Sweetman (Name Ninja) and Christa Taylor (MMX), Jay Paudyal (Domahkhan.com), Michael Cyger (DNAcademy) and (in the photo at right) Braden Pollock (LegalBrandMarketing).  

After they set the stage for the show's agenda, there was a brief session that told viewers how to navigate the site and take advantage of special areas like the Networking Lounge, Exhibitors/Partners Area, the Social Wall and even a spot for ongoing Contests.

With so much going on I decided to watch the Keynote Hall sessions live today. A great thing about this online format is that all of the sessions on every track are being recorded and will be available for replay until the end of September. That is a great value add for the already low $59 registration fee that insures you won't have to miss a single session if you don't want to. It will allow me to go back and watch all of the Breakout Hall and America's Track sessions I didn't get to see today (I will tell you what those covered below).

NamesCon.Online's first panel discussion (above) provided a great overview of The State of the Domain Industry. It featured, clockwise from the top left, moderator Bill Sweetman, Paul Nicks (GoDaddy), Matt Wegrzyn (Bodis) and Karn Jajoo (Radix). While many industries have been decimated by the current Covid-19 pandemic, the opposite has happened to the domain industry. Most corners of this business have been thriving as homebound individuals and the businesses that serve them have been forced to turn to the Internet to meet a wide variety of needs that brick and mortar can no longer deliver in this new age of social distancing. Paul, Matt and Karn all reported double (and even triple) digit increases in business, customers and traffic to their companies this year.

The next session delved into Ethics and Best Practices in Domain Brokerage, a fresh topic that provided a lot of insight into issues domain buyers and sellers need to be aware of when they get involved in transactions that can run into six and seven figures. You need to know who you are dealing with and that you have protected yourself legally. This panel featured, clockwise from top left, veteran broker Tessa Holcomb who also masterfully served as moderator, Bill Sweetman (Name Ninja), attorney Zak Muscovitch (Muscovitch.com), Clara Wade (Escrow.com), Dan Adamson (GoDaddy).

The next panel provided the deepest dive I've seen on How to Value SEO Domains. A lot of domain investors haven't paid attention to the relationship between and SEO metrics and domain values and I have to admit I had no idea of the complexity involved in mastering this field. The amount of  data (and ability to correctly interpret that data) and research required sent me away from this session with a much deeper respect for the people who excel at it. They included, clockwise from moderator Braden Pollock (at top left) are Jason Hennessey (Hennessey Digital), Kalin Karakehayov (Edoms.com) and  Sean Markey (SEM).

NamesCon Online continued to roll out fresh topics when four of the industry's most successful domain investors sat down, not to talk about their successes, but their regrets about The One That Got Away! Panelists, clockwise form top left, Braden Pollock (Legal Brand Marketing), Amma Kubba (afterTHOUGHT), Adam Strong (Stronger Inc.) and Andrew Miller (ATM Holdings, Inc.) have all made blockbuster sales  but their stories also revealed gems that slipped through their fingers.  One interesting fact that came out was that Andrew was the first domainer to own Beer.com and Ammar was the last domainer who had his hands on it. (Ammar does still have his hands on his share of beer, just not Beer.com)! Andrew was also one of the early owners of Sex.com. Bsed on the comments this session generated, the audience really loved hearing their stories.

Also having a great story to tell was Shane Cultra (Uncomfortable.com), at right above with interviewer Bill Sweetman. Shane was able to speak from experience about Domaining as a Side Business and Supporting a More Remote Lifestyle. Shane's primary business is a large and very successful plant nursery that has been in his family for five generations! He got into domaining on a part time basis a decade ago and kept plowing profits from his sales into better domains and higher profits. It is amazing how he has balanced his family business, domain business and passion for running so successfully - and to top it off, he is one of nicest guys in this business. If you missed the live session today you will want to be sure to watch the replay.

I wrapped up the day by watching super domain broker Kate Buckley (Buckley Media) talk about an entirely different topic in the closing session in the Breakout Hall. We all know how good domains create great brands but do you know what it takes to take your own identity from good to great? Kate told everyone how it can be done in a spellbinding talk titled Brand Yourself: How to Create a Compelling Narrative Around Your Personal Brand. This is another session that will be available to replay until the end of September and should not be missed.

I will also be pulling up the earlier sessions in the Breakout Hall that featured Dynadot's Todd Han (Dynadot Aftermarket & Auction Updates), FLATsite COO Michiel Grotenhuis (The Secret to Static WordPress Sites: Faster, More Secure and Inexpensive), Warbi Inc's Robert Jacobi (Expanding the Domain Market), DNAdvisor's Jason Eisler (Outbound Strategies 101: Everything You Need to Know to Sell Your Domain Names Proactively) and Radix's Karn Jajoo (New TLDs and the New Normal). I'm also looking forward to taking in the premium Domain Investing sessions that DNAcademy mastermind Michael Cyger presented in the America's Track room.

Another very busy day is coming up Thursday (September 10) when three new tracks will be added to the three that ran today! There will be a Europe Track, a Southeast Asia Track and a FLATsite Workshop. It will again all get started at 11am U.S. Eastern Time. I'll be taking a turn in the Keynote Hall at 11:30am when Giuseppe Graziano (GGRG.com) joins me to talk about The State of the Domain Aftermarket. If you can make it, we would love to see you (virtually) in the audience!

(Posted Sept. 9, 2020) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
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NamesCon Online Ready for Launch Wednesday With LIVE Sessions on Impressive New Platform

Thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, the next edition of NamesCon will be the event's first ever virtual conference. While speakers, sponsors and attendees will not be seeing each other in person, I think participants are going to be impressed by the all live presentation NamesCon Online has in store for them during the show's three-day run from Wednesday through Friday (Sept. 9-11, 2020). 

I got a peak behind the curtain today when I signed into a rehearsal session for speakers, designed to familiarize us with the platform so we will know what to expect when we hit the virtual stage later this week (in my case, that will be at 11:30am Thursday (U.S. Eastern Daylight Time) when Giuseppe Graziano (GGRG.com) and I will get together for an in-depth discussion about The State of the Domain Aftermarket). I was immediately struck by how easy it was to enter the Backstage area where the technical hosts make sure any camera or microphone issues are fixed before your session goes live. 

I've often had technical problems on other platforms but things could not have gone smoother on the StreamYard foundation NamesCon is using. You simply select your camera and microphone from a drop down list of the equipment attached to your computer, see a confirmation both are working, and you're good to go. You then wait a few minutes in this virtual green room until it is time for you move onto the live stage. There are no pre-produced videos for this show which - like walking a high wire with no net - requires a great deal of confidence in your platform. Things could go awry, but if they do the experienced tech team says they are ready to handle anything that happens.

During my rehearsal we had people from all corners of the world on together and everyone looked and sounded great in high def video and crisp sound. No choppy video, static-muddled sound, etc. In their ads for the conference NamesCon states - This is No Webinar, This is No Zoom Meeting, this is NamesCon Online! ....and now I see what they mean - there is a very noticeable difference and it is a good one. NamesCon President & CEO Soeren von Varchmin and his team obviously decided that upholding the NamesCon brand made it imperative for them to go big, so no one logs in, finds disappointment, and decides to go home (of course, they are already home, so I probably could have used a better metaphor, but you know what I mean)!

This is the view I will have from my "front row seat" at NamesCon Online this week - and also the view from the "virtual stage" I will be on for a session with Giuseppe Graziano Thursday morning.

The end result is a show agenda jammed with over 50 top notch speakers, content covering every aspect of the domain business in every major region of the world  and, of course, a live domain auction. It all starts with the Welcome Session Wednesday morning at 11am (US Eastern Daylight Time) where Soeren von Varchmin will be joined by moderators Braden Pollock, Bill Sweetman, Christa Taylor, Michael Cyger and Jay Paudyal who will tell you how to make the most of your time at NamesCon Online.

Certainly, we will all miss seeing each other face to face, but I expect this to be the very best replication of the show experience possible with today's technology. Plus, there is a silver lining to this virtual cloud. A registration fee of just $59 (and free if you are a first time NamesCon attendee)! That should make taking a NamesCon seat in the comfort of your own home or office this week a no-brainer. Hope to see you there! 

(Posted Sept. 7, 2020) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
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Verisign Report Reveals Global Domain Registrations Have Passed the 370 Million Mark - Over 15 Million Added in Past Year

Verisign (the administrator of the .com and .net TLDs) has released their latest quarterly Domain Name Industry Brief (.pdf file) covering the 2nd quarter of 2020. The report said total domain name registrations across all top-level domains (not just those Verisign operates) rose to 370.1 million at the end of 2Q-2020. That is a rise of approximately 15.3 million domain registrations (or 4.3%) from the same point one year earlier.

The quarter ended with approximately 148.7 million .coms registered -  a jump of 6.2 million year over year. That mirrored the 4.3% growth rate of the overall market. However, the .net TLD, has been stuck in neutral, ending 2Q-2020 with approximately 13.4 million registrations, a slight decline from the 13.6 million that were active at the same time last year.

  

The ccTLDs ended 2Q-2020 with 160.0 million country code domains registered worldwide, a 1.4 million rise from a a year ago, a modest growth rate of just under 1%.

The new gTLDs closed the most recent quarter with 31.6 million registrations, 8.6 million more names than at the same point a year ago. That represents a very healthy 37% jump year over year, however the news is not all good. The new gTLDs actually lost about 600,00 domains since the end of the previous quarter (1Q-2020). Next quarter it will be interesting to see if that turns out to be an anomaly or the start of a major slowdown.

That and much more valuable information in the full report that you can read here

(Posted Sept. 4, 2020) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
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Sedo Names New CEO - Michael Robrock Promoted to Top Spot  One Year After Coming On Board as COO 

Domain aftermarket giant Sedo appointed a new Chief Executive Officer today when COO Michael Robrock was elevated to the post following Matthias Conrad's decision to step down from the position for personal reasons. Conrad had been on the job since January 2019. Robrock joined Sedo as COO and a member of the Management Board just 13 months ago. During that time he has directed all of Sedo's  customer-facing departments including Sales and Operations. Going forward, Robrock and fellow board members Barbara Stolz and Hakan Ali will oversee the popular marketplace that attracts domains buyers and sellers from all over the world.

Robrock's ascension to CEO continues the upward trajectory the University of Munich graduate has been on throughout his 20-year business career. Over that time, that included CEO stints at both MixCon ag and Trendgroup GmBH, Michael developed a well-deserved reputation as a domain business, monetization and affiliate marketing expert. 

New Sedo CEO Michael Robrock   

Sedo Managing Director Hakan Ali said, "I would like to thank Matthias Conrad for his contribution to our company and wish him well for his professional and personal future. A new chapter is now starting for Sedo. In his position as CEO, Michael Robrock will set new impulses and add extensive experience to the domain industry. We will continue to steer the positive development of Sedo GmbH in the future together."

(Posted Sept. 1, 2020) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
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*****


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