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The Lowdown



July 2007 Archive

Here's the The Lowdown from DNJournal.com! Updated daily to fill you in on the latest buzz going around the domain name industry!

Compiled by Ron Jackson (Editor/Publisher)

 

We will be moving to a new home and office this week so posting here in the Lowdown section will be suspended for the next 7 days as we move back and forth between the old and new locations (often without Internet access, so replies to emails will also be delayed). Consider this our summer vacation break - though it will be anything but a vacation! We should be settled in at the roomier new place (about 12 miles north of our current location in Tampa, Florida) by next weekend and expect to be back on our daily posting schedule by Monday (August 6). Thanks for your patience during this brief downtime. In case you were wondering, we have made arrangements to stay in one spot with web access Tuesday (July 31) so the weekly domain sales report will be posted as usual late that night.
Posted July 29, 2007

For the third time this week, NameMedia has announced a partnership arrangement with a major domain company in China that will expand the global market for names offered for sale through NameMedia AfternicDLS platform (see our July 24 item for information on the previous deals made with the top two registrars in China, HiChina and Xin Net). The latest partnership

adds China Springboard to the mix. China Springboard is a leading provider of online media services including domain name traffic monetization, resale and support services. They also manage the largest private domain portfolio in China. 

China Springboard CEO Alex Lee said "Together our companies will bring quality Internet real estate to Chinese businesses and domain investors.  With a Chinese domestic market size estimated at 20 million small and medium sized businesses, our agreement will provide Chinese customers with access to millions of domain names previously unavailable to the Chinese business community.”

NameMedia said it has now expanded its distribution network to more than sixty marketing partners, including eight of the world’s top ten registrars, making it the broadest distribution network in the world for secondary market domain names.  
Posted July 27, 2007 

Business.com is in the news again today. For many years the $7.5 million (cash and stock) sale of Business.com in 1999 ranked as the biggest domain sale in history. Over the years the buyers, Jake Winebaum and Sky Dayton, built a solid business on the domain name, one now

generating about $15 million a year. Telephone directory company R.H. Donnelly Corp. recognized the value of the enterprise they developed and purchased it today for $350-$360 million according to a report in the Wall Street

Journal. The WSJ noted "Traditional publishers are willing to pay top dollar for Web-based businesses, given their overall growth rate and the wider consumer shift to Internet habits." The shift has been so dramatic that Microsoft founder Bill Gates predicted that "yellow-page usage amongst people...say, below 50, will drop to near zero over the next five years." Still another prime example of why top quality generic domain names are worth their weight in gold.
Posted July 26, 2007

.TV fans will be interested in an online auction of .TV domains coming up August 6-10 at AuctionSite.tv. A group of .TV aficionados banded together to develop the concept and site so the video-centric extension could have its own dedicated space in the booming

secondary market. A different set of domains will be auctioned off during each of the five days the event will run (starting at 2pm U.S. Eastern time each day). The names scheduled to go on the block include Map.tv, HS.tv, Republican.tv and hundreds of others. You can see the complete auction list here
Posted July 26, 2007

The new .Asia registry today announced details on how domain names will be allocated when the TLD's Sunrise period starts October 9. The registry said it has formed a partnership with Pool.com that gives them responsibility for conducting auctions arising from the .Asia

Sunrise and Landrush processes.  In a press release issued in Hong Kong today, the registry said "Pool.com will provide technical and customer support along with a full featured auction platform for the efficient operation of a transparent mass domain online bidding process." By using an auction process and verification procedure overseen by Deloitte 

Touche Tohmatsu for domains desired by multiple parties, .Asia registry CEO Edmon Chung  said "we are confident that the Sunrise and Landrush proceedings will be conducted in the most efficient, fair, secure and stable manner."

The press release stated "As auction partner, Pool.com will provide a comprehensive auction platform where .Asia accredited registrars have full access to auction information to manage the process for end-to-end customer experience. To avoid rushes and ‘sniping’ at the end of auctions, Pool.com’s auction platform will allow for automatic extension of auction end time should activities arise near the closing of an auction.  This is consistent with .Asia’s approach of ensuring a stable and orderly launch of the registry. 

“Auctions are the best way to smoothly introduce new top-level domains because they give the bidders open access, properly value the web address and give the registry the resources to continually invest in technology and services,” said Richard Schreier, President of Pool.com.  “By choosing this path, DotAsia has set new rules for the many new domains that will follow.”
Posted July 25, 2007  

NameMedia announced a new partnership today that promises to open up the burgeoning Chinese market for domain sellers worldwide. The Waltham, Massachusetts based company that operates BuyDomains.com, Afternic.com and three domain monetization services, 

announced a strategic marketing partnership with HiChina, one of China's two largest registrars and web hosting services providers. HiChina provides domain and online services to China’s rapidly growing small to mid-sized business (SMB) community as well as multinational corporations such as China Telecom, DaimlerChrysler and Toyota

HiChina will provide its business-focused client base with access to more than 2,000,000 domain names via  NameMedia’s AfternicDLS sales platform, powered through the company’s Afternic.com sales channel. Under the terms of the agreement HiChina will list AfternicDLS domain names on its two leading brands, Domains.cn and Net.cn.  

Peter Lamson, senior vice president and general manager of NameMedia’s domain name marketplace, said the deal "enables our members to participate in a market estimated at 20 million businesses.” AfternicDLS provides domain sellers with the ability to sell domains through a global distribution network, driving higher sales volume and achieving maximum pricing for its members. The company said it has now expanded its distribution network to more than 50 marketing partners, making it the broadest distribution network in the world for secondary market domain names.  

Editor's Note: Shortly after the announcement above, NameMedia announced a similar partnership with another giant Chinese registrar, Xin Net. Xin Net is one of the largest registrars in the world with over 1,000,000 names under management.
Posted July 24, 2007

Everybody is talking about domain names! On the Fox News Channel today, anchor Jane Skinner talked with reporter Terry Keenan about the current boom in the domain name market. The cable outlet estimates sales are running at over $2 billion a year.  You can check out the two-and-a-half minute video clip from Fox here.
Posted July 23, 2007

More and more domain owners are getting into the development game. Those with great generic keyword domains get a head start through direct navigation, but those who are not blessed with high traffic names can still play the game with good Search Engine Optimization.

The SEO Director at Agency.com's Chicago office, Jonathan Ashton, just wrote an article for MediaPost called Ten Tips for Choosing the Right SEO Partner (free subscription needed to read). 

Ashton's top tip is to "Read Google's and Yahoo's Quality Guidelines. Although there is no official rule book, it is important to take a few minutes with the Quality Guidelines from Google and Yahoo. By understanding the positive and negative things the engines look for, you can better understand what your prospective SEO partner is trying to sell you."

His #2 tip is also well worth heeding: Don't respond to unsolicited emails from SEOs. Ashton wrote, "A recommendation straight from Google - "Reserve the same skepticism for unsolicited email about search engines as you do for 'burn fat at night' diet pills or requests to help transfer funds from deposed dictators! Inevitably you will be on the wrong path before you start."
Posted July 21, 2007

The Domain Roundtable conference, coming up August 12-15 in Seattle, has scored a major coup by landing Frank Schilling as their keynote speaker. Frank, who runs Name 

Administration, Inc., is one of the most successful domain investors of all time and his depth of knowledge and understanding of the industry is unparalleled. If you don't already know that, check out his Seven Mile blog to see what I mean. 

Schilling will take the podium on Monday (August 13) and plans to conduct a question and answer session after his talk. I have no doubt that his session alone will make the trip to Seattle worthwhile. He has always been a source of encouragement for new people entering the space and is doing everything in his power to help move this industry forward. As just one of many examples, Schilling was one of the founders of the Internet Commerce Association, putting up $50,000 of his own money to help get the non-profit trade group off the ground. 

Frank Schilling
Keynote Speaker for
Domain Roundtable Aug. 13

Great choice by the Roundtable organizers and one that is bound to create a lot of buzz for the upcoming event. We are currently putting together a preview article on the conference that we expect to have published on our home page within the next week.
Posted July 20, 2007

Sedo.com just announced that they have completed the largest .info sale on record. The popular aftermarket sales venue reported that the $116,000 sale of Travel.info was     

completed there. The buyer is not yet known because a privacy service is being employed for the WhoIs record. In a press release announcing the sale Sedo said "This comes at a time when .com sales are reaching record sales prices and is great news for domain investors. As the secondary domain market

begins seeing higher sales values for domains with alternate extensions to the .com, better returns on investment can be expected for all top-level domains (TLDs), including Sponsored 

TLDs, such as .mobi and even Country Code TLDs such as .co.uk and .us.  Other recent notable .info sales include newspaper.info for €13,550 (roughly $18,500), booking.info for $11,500 and names.info for €8,100 (about $10,500)."
Posted July 19, 2007

The folks who run AvivaDirectory.com have published a number of excellent articles on various Internet topics. Their newest effort will be of special interest to domain investors. 

10 U.S. Laws Every Domainer Should Know covers a lot of important ground in easily understood language so don't be scared off by the legal subject matter. The topics covered in the article include Domain Sniffing, Trademark Issues, the best Legal 

Entity for domainers to use, Piercing the Corporate Veil, Donating Domain Names and domain tax issues (Deducting vs. Depreciating Your Domains), to name just a few. Nice job, Aviva!

The meltdown in print media (as advertisers continue to migrate online) has started to hit close to home. According to an article in the New York Times, high tech business magazine

Business 2.0 may stop publishing after the September issue due to a 38% drop in ad revenue this year. I would hate to see that because the magazine, through articles by Paul Sloan, has pioneered mainstream media coverage of the domain industry. The magazine is owned by Time Inc. and it still may get a reprieve. There have also been efforts by the current editorial team to buy the title from Time. I'm hopeful the publication will survive but its current state of affairs has become commonplace as advertisers move more of their budgets online.

Newspapers are in even worse shape. A new article in Business Week even suggests that it is time for some major dailies, like the San Francisco Chronicle, to consider shutting down their presses. Writer Jon Fine said "This could be the worst year for newspapers since the 

Great Depression. The double-digit revenue declines long forecast by doomsters have arrived." Fine noted that the Chronicle has been losing over $1 million a week. Fine quoted a senior newspaper executive as saying "If you told me 24 months ago that revenues would be declining as much as they are today, I'd say you were smoking dope." It doesn't looked like the papers will be getting a reprieve either. Fined noted print newspapers require maintaining a costly status quo—paper, presses, trucks, and mail rooms that will only get more expensive. He suggested that the papers will have to spend enough to create networks of local websites and a giant local portal online in order to survive. 
Posted July 18, 2007

When Sedo bought GreatDomains last month, they announced that they planned to reinvigorate the pioneering aftermarket venue by staging a monthly premium domain name auction at the GreatDomains.com site. The first of those seven-day auction events

gets underway at 2PM (U.S. Eastern time) Thursday (July 19). 60 top-notch domains, including Debit.com, CIS.com, Subscription.com and MedicalRecord.com will be put on the block. 

The Director of Sedo’s North American brokerage team, Christian Kalled, said “The GreatDomains 

platform benefits from an enormous amount of goodwill having been the first-to-market. Coupling this powerful legacy with Sedo’s innovative technology and global reach will greatly enhance value for both buyers and sellers alike.”
Posted July 17, 2007

I'll be flying back home from a short vacation tonight (see item below) but while my wife and daughter aren't looking I had to get online and post this link to a new Associated Press article on two of the nicest and most respected guys in our industry, Ari Goldberger and Larry 

Fischer. The piece by Adam Goldman is titled New Gold Rush: Internet Domains Snagging Huge Amounts of Money

In the article Goldman wrote "Over the years, Goldberger and Fischer have sharpened their formula for acquiring domain names and developing the sites, relying on research, savvy and plenty of instinct. "You either know it or don't by hearing the name," Fischer says.
They look for names that hit the "sweet spot" - short words that describe a high-value product or services related to it. Words that allow them to own a category such as bald.com and cardiology.com." 

Goldberger (left) and Fischer at the 
2006 T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East Conference in Florida

(Those are two of several domain names they bought at last month's Moniker/T.R.A.F.F.I.C. auction in New York). I've never thought of Larry this way - but check out the article to see why Ari compares him to a rhinoceros!
Posted July 16, 2007

I am currently in Ohio for a short vacation visiting family members in the small town where I grew up. These family visits are the only time I take a take a break from business, so there will probably be no Lowdown posts until I return to our Florida offices Tuesday. Hard as I try to stay away from the domain business for a few days annually, it is hard to do as all true domain fans know. I do sometimes slip away and post an item on these trips, but my wife and daughter are keeping a close eye on me this week so don't plan on hearing from me again until July 17! :-) 
Posted July 12, 2007

Though hundreds of impressive domain sales are made every week, the conventional wisdom is that only 1-2% of an average domain portfolio is likely to be sold in any given year. Though the situation is slowly but steadily improving, domains are not a very liquid investment. 

Michael Gilmour, a well-known Australian domain investor who spoke at last month's T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference in New York, addressed this issue in an interesting July 10 article at his Whizzbang's Blog titled "Why Are Domains So Hard to Sell?" In particular, Gilmour discusses why it is so hard to convince major corporations of the value in strong generic domain names (a principal topic of conversation when T.R.A.F.F.I.C. took the domain business to Madison Avenue's doorstep). 

In one passage Gilmour noted that it is not in the advertising agencies' best interest to make their clients aware of what a great domain can do for them. Gilmour wrote, "Think about it. An advertising exec says to their client, "I've just found a great brandable domain name with a source of highly targeted customers that will continue to grow into the 

Michael Gilmour
Whizzbang's Blog

future." The exec then abruptly reconsiders their position as suddenly they see that getting a commission on all of those traditional advertising placements has the potential to dry up. The conversation is abruptly shut down. The problem with domains is that they are are too good and they don't provide a continual consumption of advertising revenue that advertising agencies live off."
Posted July 11, 2007

Moniker.com took their live auction road show to Miami last night where 194 domains were put up for bid at the Affiliate Summit conference at the Hotel Intercontinental. Moniker 

deserves credit for attempting to broaden the base for the live auction format but the results, as could be expected, were not as strong as those produced at domain conferences where attendees have a solid understanding of the value of the assets they are bidding on. When the smoke cleared, 22% of the domains had been sold for a total of $241,000

BadBoys.com ($45,000) and PrescriptionMedication.com ($40,000) were the top sales and three others also reached the five figure range. The remaining sales ranged from $8,000 all the way down to $200. You can see the complete list of final bids here. A silent auction being held in conjunction with the event will continue through Tuesday, July 17. 
Posted July 10, 2007

The T.R.A.F.F.I.C. domain conference and its parent organization, the World Association of Domain Name Developers, has announced the creation of a new Executive Director of 

Operations position and have filled the post with John Epp. Mr. Epp brings 25 years of business management experience to the position and has had a wide range of success in multiple industries throughout his career. His corporate background includes National and Regional Customer Support Mangement positions for both Siemens Ag and IBM. He has also been a successful real estate investor and a successful Internet entrepreneur. 

Mr. Epp will work with T.R.A.F.F.I.C co-founders Rick Schwartz and Howard Neu to define mission critical and strategic planning goals for the growth and success of WADND and the T.R.A.F.F.I.C conference. Schwartz said “I have known John for 10 years and he brings a set of unique talents to help launch T.R.A.F.F.I.C. into the next phase. His credentials make him qualified to introduce T.R.A.F.F.I.C. and the Domain Industry to other vertical markets and make it a more corporate friendly show." 

John Epp
Executive Director of Operations 
for WADND and T.R.A.F.F.I.C.

Neu added, “We believe that John Epp is perfect for the positionof steering this vibrant and exciting industry forward. His expertise and acumen concerning both the domain channel and the 

T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founders 
Rick Schwartz (left) and Howard Neu

needs of the corporate world will turn the volume of buzz up a notch and serve us well.”

Epp said, “I’m excited about joining the Team at WADND. Rick and I have a long history of working together on numerous successful projects and I look forward to making the company and specifically T.R.A.F.F.I.C., a growing and valuable entity to the Domain community. The opportunities for the future of the industry are incredible and I look forward to our continuing to form and grow strategic alliances that will add to the growth and success of the industry as a whole.”
Posted July 9, 2007

Total registrations in Great Britain's popular .co.uk country code have now cracked the 6 million mark. Nominet, who oversees the .uk registry, said the ccTLD is enjoying a very 

healthy annual growth rate of 17.5%. You can see details of .uk's growth spurt in a series of charts published on the Nominet site. .UK is now the 4th biggest extension in the world, trailing only .com, Germany's .de and .net according to the latest figures from Denic.de who continually tracks rankings for the world's ten biggest extensions. 

While .com is the global standard, some strong ccTLDs like .uk are the preferred choice in local markets. Nominet said that a

recent survey of 2,324 Internet users, carried out by YouGov demonstrated that British users were six times more likely to choose a .uk rather than a .com address when looking for information via an Internet search engine.
Posted July 9, 2007

Fresh off more than $12 million in domain sales in live and silent auctions at the New York T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference last month, Moniker.com will hold their next live auction tomorrow 

evening (July 9) at 6:30pm as part of the Affiliate Summit at the Hotel Intercontinental in Miami. You can see the official auction order for the 194 names that will go under the hammer here. On the same page you will find a link to a form to sign up for absentee or telephone bidding if you cannot be at the conference in Miami. If money is an issue, you will even find a 

link with information on how to obtain financing for domain purchases through DomainCapital.com. There will also be an online silent auction in conjunction with the Affiliate Summit event that will from from July 9-17.
Posted July 8, 2007

An eagle-eyed member at USForum.us (Prophet) picked up on a U.S. Government posting this week soliciting bids to run the .US country code registry (a job currently handled by Neustar). The call for potential candidates to run the American ccTLD was put out by the

National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) at the Department of Commerce. The announcement was accompanied by a lengthy .pdf file for vendors that describes the application process. The first 28 pages is material that applies to all potential government vendors. 

If you want to cut to the chase (highly recommended), another forum member (Fundraiser) noted that the description of the specific .US project begins on page 29 of the .pdf file. Background and history of the TLD starts on page 35 and the scope of services requested for the .US project begins on page 37.
Posted July 7, 2007

When Apple rolled out their hot new iPhone last week a lot of people were wondering if the device might kill the new .mobi extension. .Mobi requires site developers to use very spare design in a scaled down format aimed for tiny 

cell phone screens. The iPhone technology allows users to view all websites as they already are by tapping the screen to enlarge the areas you want to read. So is the iPhone keeping the .mobi

folks up at night? Well, according to a lengthy post on the official .mobi blog yesterday, writer James Pearce says absolutely not. Of course, you would expect the registry to put the best possible face on the situation, but before you dismiss the .mobi view as wishful thinking, read what Pearce has to say and make up your own mind.

.Mobi made a fast break out of the gate last fall, partly because of some very sharp marketing work. The iPhone's ability to make most current websites readable on small screens is just the first of several challenges .mobi will face en route to achieving the widespread recognition the registry seeks. The race isn't over yet and it will be an interesting one to watch unfold.

 Posted July 5, 2007

New PIR CEO Alexa A.S. Raad

Alexa A.S. Raad will become CEO of the Public Interest Registry (PIR), operators of the .org registry, effective Monday (July 9). Ms. Raad comes to PIR from the dotMobi Registry where she was the Chief Marketing Officer handling areas that included marketing and public relations, product development and rollout and policy. In our opinion the marketing of dotMobi since its debut last fall has been masterful and will undoubtedly serve as a model for other new TLD launches. PIR board chair Susan Estrada said, "We believe Alexa's passion, along with her unique business savvy, will make it possible for PIR to increase the registry business and ensure continued funding of the Internet Society. We are thrilled to welcome Alexa to our staff and look forward to her leadership."

Ms. Raad has Masters Degrees in both Business Administration and Information Systems from George Washington University and speaks Farsi, German, French, and Italian - skills that will serve her well as CEO of the popular .org global TLD that is used primarily by non-profit organizations. 
Posted July 4, 2007

T.R.A.F.F.I.C. co-founder Rick Schwartz posted a very important article on his blog yesterday that everyone in this business should take time to read. For too long jealous parties, both corporate and individual, have gone unchallenged with their constant denigration of generic domain owners as "cybersquatters". A squatter is someone who occupies land 

they do not own. Owners of generic domains paid for, and pay annually, for the rights to every domain they hold. Yet, the people who missed the boat on domain investment are now trying to find ways to steal the properties they did not have the foresight to register in the first place. Schwartz dubs them "CYBERBULLIES" and that term is far more accurate than cybersquatter. 

Schwartz said of the cyberbullies "They just want what you have and since they lost on the BUSINESS playing field they have to resort to other tactics to get what you own. So they resort to name calling. They circulate petitions against parking domain names. They lobby trying to change the laws to take what you own. And make no mistake, they are 

Rick Schwartz

motivated by jealousy and greed. Motivated with a deep desire to discredit anyone and everyone but always focusing on the biggest opportunity they have had and it passed them right by. They can't get over it. So they will make petitions, try and pass laws, file frivolous lawsuits and WIPO actions and call everyone a cybersquatter."

A cyberbully plies his trade

"Maybe they should articulate how they missed the single biggest opportunity in their lifetime, their father's lifetime and their father's before them? How do they answer that? They put on their shoes and THEN they put on their socks and now they want to own the assets we took the RISK to have? NO WAY!" Schwartz said. 

For those who complain about domain owners who have not yet developed their sites (how this is anyone else's business still escapes me), Schwartz explained the winning strategy he employed when he started out. "I saw a unique opportunity in time that would NEVER pass again. I decided that securing the LAND for the development in the future TRUMPED developing one website. Looking back, that 

was one hell of a great decision on my part and a HUGE mistake for many of them. Now all they can do is label everyone with GREAT undeveloped domains as “cybersquatters! The truth of the matter is they FAILED MISERABLY and their sour grapes are being exposed! That is the evolution of the CYBERBULLY and why they should be exposed." 

This is just a sampling of the points Schwartz made in his piece. Do yourself a favor and read the whole thing. Link to the article on your websites and when someone mis-uses the term "cybersquatter" send them the link to his article. It is time to end the slander and educate those who don't know any better.
Posted July 3, 2007

Domain Roundtable will be holding a live domain auction during their August 13-15 conference in Seattle. On his DomainTools.com blog today, Jay Westerdal announced some interesting new twists to the live auction format popularized by Moniker.com. The commission fee will be just 10%, paid by the seller (the buyer will pay only the amount of their bid). Any

buyer or seller involved in $50,000 worth of sales will have their conference registration fee refunded. Only 20 domains in the entire auction will be allowed to have a reserve price of $100,000 or more and the auction will be limited to .com domains with very few exceptions. 

Moniker has proven that the live auction format is a very viable and powerful one. It's looks like the live channel is ready to make a run at the traditional secondary market formats, but those are also undergoing changes for the better with the rollout of the Domain Distribution Network at Fabulous.com and Domain Listing Service by Name Media). 

With all of these changes afoot we are planning an August Cover Story on the current state and future of the domain aftermarket. The good news is that all of these changes are resulting in more sales for domain owners.
Posted July 2, 2007

 


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