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The Lowdown



February 2009 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  
(DN Journal Editor/Publisher)

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Bulletin - Toys.com was sold to ToysRUs for $5.1 million today in a bankruptcy court auction that sold off some IP assets previously owned by The Parent Company. ToysRUs edged out National A-1 who bid $5 million for the domain. Once payment has been completed and the name transferred, this will rank as the biggest sale reported thus far in 2009. 
(Posted Feb. 27, 2009)

Denver's 150-year-old daily newspaper, The Rocky Mountain News, is closing its doors today. Word is also out that the San Francisco Chronicle will also shut down if it can't find a 

buyer. I've been writing about the decimation of traditional media (and the rise of online media) for some time now and we are finally reaching the endgame where many outlets realize all of the cutbacks they have made are not enough to save the ship so they are throwing in the towel. 

The newspapers aren't the only ones on a sinking ship either. The storm is descending on radio, TV, direct mail, print yellow pages and magazines too. A new report from BIA and the Kelsey Group predicts that as a group, local advertising dollars spent in those traditional forms of media will decline another 20% over the next five years, from $141 billion in 2008 to $112 billion in 2013. 

I personally think the decline will be much more severe than that as the rise of the Internet accelerates and Kelsey admits that could be the case. "The share shift we expect could actually be more pronounced if the major traditional media are not able to integrate new interactive products into their bundle," said Neal Polachek, CEO of The Kelsey Group (that was recently acquired by BIA).

At the same time the traditional sector is plunging, the report predicts that local ad spending online will soar 129% in the same time frame from $14 billion to $32.1 billion. That is a compound annual growth rate of 18%. These numbers again confirm that domain owners are sitting in the right place at the right time

(Posted Feb. 27, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/02-27-09.htm

Afilias, the operator of the  .info registry, has released a detailed new report detailing the progress the extension has made since it was introduced eight years ago. .Info now has over 

five million registrations, making it the world's 4th largest global TLD (trailing only the original three; .com, .net and .org). Roland LaPlante, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Afilias, said “Building a new TLD is hard, long-term work and many elements need to be in place for it to be successful. This report 

reveals that over the past eight years, .Info has proven itself to be not just a globally intuitive path to information on the Net, but an enduring one as well.”

The report says that the top regions for .info registrations are North America with 56% of all .info registrations and Europe with 34%. The report also said that there are now 3.6 million active  websites on .info domains and that renewal rates are steadily rising as the extension gains traction and recognition. The report also gives examples or rising prices for aftermarket sales for .info domains, citing New York.info ($28,086 on 1st resale, $46,392 on 2nd resale and $70,000 on 3rd resale) among others.

The report also covers technological initiatives undertaken by the registry. In January 2008, .Info implemented an anti-phishing program, designed to curb phishing on .Info sites. Afilias actively patrols the .Info domain for potential phishing scams, and Afilias worked with its registrars and law enforcement to mitigate hundreds of phishing attacks. The extension now reportedly has one of the lowest rates of phishing abuse among all large TLDs.

If you read our September 2008 Cover Story on Directi Co-Founder (and Skenzo Founder) Divyank Turakhia, you know the 27-year-old entrepreneur likes a challenge and has done everything from airplane wing walking to mountain biking to roller blading. So it won't surprise you to know that Divyank and his brother (and fellow Directi Co-Founder) Bhavin, put together a company cricket team to compete in India's hotly contested Mumbai Corporate Cricket Championship tournament. It also shouldn't surprise you to learn that their Directi/Skenzo team scored an upset win in the finals over previously unbeaten Airtel to claim the championship! 

Directi took the title game by 10 runs and one of their stars, Ajit, walked away with the Man of the Match Award for outstanding play. Team captain Irshad accepted the championship trophy (seen in the photo at left) on behalf of Directi/Skenzo.

Divyank told us "We strive to be the best at absolutely everything that we do. It is definitely exciting to win the corporate cricket championship. 

At Directi/Skenzo, we have a great team of over 500 people that has the awesome ability to come together and achieve unbeatable results. Also, fun is built into our corporate DNA. It is no wonder that we are recognized as one of the Best Companies to Work For, and continue to be amongst the fastest growing companies in the country."

Members of Directi/Skenzo's Championship Cricket Team (Divyank and 
Bhavin Turakhia are, respectively, 5th and 6th from the left in the front row).

(Posted Feb. 26, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/02-26-09.htm

We're finally back home in the Sunshine State after visiting New Orleans for the Domainer Mardi Gras conference and Ohio for a family event over the past week (our comprehensive Domainer Mardi Gras review article will be published on Monday). In the course of getting caught 

up today, I came across an interesting article that  Rob Garner just published in his Search Insider column at MediaPost.com. It underscores how traffic levels for specific generic keywords can fluctuate wildly depending on world events. Since traffic is money, it is obviously good to know what keyword or terms are hot at a given time.

In breaking down new survey results from comScore, Garner detailed how the current crisis in the world economy is affecting search terms related to financial matters. For example, with consumers now focused on stretching their money as far as possible, the number of searches for the world "coupons" soared from 7.6 million in December 2007

 

to over 19 million in the same month of 2008 - a jump of 161%. "Unemployment" had an even bigger percentage gain, 206%, after rising from 2.6 million searches to 8.2 million. "Bankruptcy" shot up 156% from just over 1 million searches to 2.6 million. Garner gives many other examples. The new prominence for these kinds of terms will likely hold for the next year or two if not longer, which should add value to domain names related to these timely topics.

While I was flying home Tuesday, the domain industry acquisition we told you was coming was announced when Sedo revealed that they have acquired RevenueDirect.com, the parking service provider that had been owned by registrar Dotster.com. As part of the deal, which will significantly increase Sedo's North American PPC market share, Dotster and Sedo formed a strategic long-term partnership that will cross promote their businesses. 

Sedo CEO Tim Schumacher said, "It’s tremendous for Sedo to become Dotster’s preferred domain monetization and sales partner, which will deliver huge advantages to existing RevenueDirect customers while increasing the value of its (Dotster's) sizeable domain name portfolio."

At last week's Domainer Mardi Gras conference, Sedo reps met privately with industry reporters to let us know a deal was coming, though they did not tell us the name of the company they were acquiring. At that time I mentioned to Sedo's Sam Nunez that it was a bold move to make given the uncertain state of the economy and the downturn in parking revenues industry wide over the past year. He said the economy was definitely taken into consideration but that Sedo remained bullish on the future prospects for the space and the company planned to seize opportunities that present themselves during this recession. Schumacher echoed those sentiments in the official press release, noting that the deal "illustrates that Sedo continues to expand, despite the global economic downturn, and is poised to become an even stronger competitor within the market.”

On other note today - Aftermarket.com has added ten new no reserve domain names to the Domainer Mardi Gras online auction that is continuing until 4pm (U.S. Central Time) on Friday. The additions include Music365.com, PhotoPapers.com and BathMirrors.com to name just a few. They join names like Mahogany.com, PHO.com and RentalVillas.com that were already in the catalog. You can get more details here.

In a very nice gesture, Aftermarket.com also announced that a portion of all sales will go to the New Orleans chapter of Habitat For Humanity

(Posted Feb. 25, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/02-25-09.htm

I'll be on the road today, making my way back home to Florida after stops in New Orleans for the Domainer Mardi Gras conference and central Ohio for a family event. It is currently 15 degrees outside, so I can't wait to get back to the Sunshine State where it is supposed to be 78 tomorrow. I normally put together our weekly domain sales report on Tuesdays for publication the following morning, but since I will be offline all day today, we will push the report back a day. It should be up by noon Thursday. 

News of a major domain industry acquisition may be released while I am traveling today. At last week's Domainer Mardi Gras conference in New Orleans one of the best known companies in our space let reporters know that they expected to announce the purchase of another domain company either today or Wednesday morning. This will be the second major acquisition of the New Year, following IAC's acquisition of Sendori. More consolidation in this industry is expected as 2009 continues to unfold. 

If the latest deal is announced while I am traveling, I will post my thoughts on it when I am back online in Florida Wednesday. In the meantime, the news headline site at Domaining.com is a good place to check periodically through the day for links to sites that will be releasing the news when it comes. 
(Posted Feb. 24, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/02-24-09.htm
 

The Domainer Mardi Gras conference closed Saturday in New Orleans, wrapping up a three-day run that treated attendees to a truly unique show experience. The event also showed that 

when it comes to welcoming visitors from around the world and making sure their guests have a great stay in the Big Easy, New Orleanians have come back bigger and better than ever since Hurricane Katrina devastated wide swaths of the city in 2005. If you haven't been back to New Orleans since then, now is the time. The historic city on the banks of the Mississippi River is one of the most picturesque places on earth and it is most definitely open for business again.

The Domainer Mardi Gras organizers from Modern Domainer Magazine and Parked.com are all natives of New Orleans and they showed their conference guests many of the things that make their city so special. One of those was a leisurely two-and-a-half-hour out-of this world brunch at the world famous Court of the Two Sisters restaurant Saturday morning in the French Quarter.

With a live jazz trio playing in their 

Jackson Square in New Orleans Saturday morning
after brunch at the Court of the Two Sisters 

midst, attendees, in the photo below, enjoyed the atmosphere, impeccable service and outstanding food served by a restaurant that opened in 1832.

Knowing that many attendees would stay out very late the night before taking advantage of Parked.com's Mardi Gras balcony party on Bourbon Street, conference organizers wisely scheduled the start of Saturday's business sessions at 12 noon. 

Seminars on Diversification and Domain Investing served as informative preludes to Aftermarket.com's live domain auction that got underway a little after 3pm. Though there were just 51 names in the carefully chosen catalog, the final sales tally came in at over $439,000. Voodoo.com accounted for a huge chunk of that total after going for $300,000. Suntanning.com added $22,500 and TextLinks.com kicked in $22,000 as two-thirds of the listed names found buyers, a healthy 67% sales conversion rate.

Scene from Aftermarket.com's live domain auction Saturday afternoon.

After the auction, the last order of business was a closing awards ceremony with a humorous theme, followed by a second night on Parked.com's Bourbon Street balcony. Diana and I had to leave midway through the auction to travel to central Ohio where family members gathered to celebrate my mother's 90th birthday on Sunday. 

I know everyone thinks their mother is special, but I think I can objectively say that mine is the most remarkable person I have ever known. I have never (and I mean that literally) heard her say a bad word about another person. She has an incredible sense of humor and infinite patience (something that served her well in the course or raising four boys who undoubtedly caused her a few headaches along the way). 

She is as close to being a saint as anyone I've ever met and God has rewarded her with a long and healthy life (she may have scored a few extra points with him by co-founding a local church in the early 1950s that is still going strong today). Though I've done nothing to deserve it, I've been rewarded even more by having had the good fortune to have her as my mother. There is nothing in this world I would trade that for.

Vangie Jackson 
on her 90th birthday Sunday


We will be heading back to Florida tomorrow evening. As you may have heard, news of a major domain industry acquisition is expected to be released tomorrow morning. During Domainer Mardi Gras, representatives of the acquiring company privately gave industry reporters a heads up that the deal was coming - though we will not told who they have acquired until tomorrow morning (they also told me there was a slight chance the announcement would be pushed back to Wednesday). I'll post the information in this column as soon after the company releases it as possible.

Soon after I get back to our home office, I will start work on our comprehensive Domainer Mardi Gras review article with a wealth of photos and show information you haven't seen yet. Look for that on our home page next Monday (March 2).
(Posted
Feb. 23, 2009) To refer other
s to
the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/02-23-09.htm

After opening Thursday evening with a pair of social events,  the Domainer Mardi Gras conference in New Orleans got down to business Friday with a morning keynote address from 

Domainer Mardi Gras keynote speaker Tim Burns 
delivering his address Friday in New Orleans

Louisiana State Representative Tim Burns, followed by a pair of luncheon speakers and a trio of afternoon seminars.

Burns, who has authored three books, including one titled Entrepreneurship.com, delivered an interesting talk on how the current global economic crisis developed and the role that entrepreneurs, like domain investor/developers, will play in helping get business moving again.

In the lunch break that followed DomainNameWire.com's Andrew Allemann released some results from his annual survey of domain owners and I spoke about current industry and aftermarket trends.

The three afternoon seminars covered Risk Management, Domain Tax Issues and Lessons in Offshoring. I'll have more details on all of the Friday sessions and addresses in a comprehensive conference review article that we expect to publish on March 2. 

As informative as the seminars were, the light attendance at those sessions compared to the crowds that turned out for the social events made it clear that the #1 attraction at this show was the chance to party with old and new domain industry friends during the world famous Mardi Gras celebration. The "distractions" in New Orleans during Mardi Gras are even more pronounced than they are in popular conference cities like Las Vegas and Orlando where local attractions lure people away from the hotel meeting rooms.

While that can be a challenge for show promoters, registrants get great value from getting to know their business partners better in the relaxed, entertaining environment that cities like this provide. Parked.com certainly provided a perfect environment for that by sponsoring a Bourbon Street balcony party that ran until 3am this morning (long past the time Diana and I were back at the hotel and sound asleep!).

Late afternoon view of the Parked.com balcony on 
Bourbon Street where attendees would get a birds 
eye view of Mardi Gras revelers below when the sun
went down and the street was packed wall to wall. 

In the photo below you can see the view from the balcony a few hours after dark when Mardi Gras revelers packed every square inch of the street below. At the far left you see Thought Convergence exec Jay Westerdal among the Parked guests tossing strands of beads to the throng below.

 

The Domainer Mardi Gras conference closes today. A brunch at the Court of Two Sisters will take up the entire morning then business gets underway at Noon with the first of two seminars. Aftermarket.com's live domain auction will follow at 2:45pm local time, then a closing awards ceremony brings the curtain down at 4:15pm. Many will stay in town for a second night on the Parked.com balcony, but Diana and I have to catch a flight to Ohio for my mother's 90th birthday celebration this weekend. I'll have closing day conference highlights in this space for you on Monday.
(Posted Feb. 21, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/02-21-09.htm

The Domainer Mardi Gras conference made its debut last night at the stylish Westin Canal Place Hotel on the southwestern edge of the French Quarter in New Orleans. The opening evening was devoted entirely to social events starting with a 5pm cocktail hour at the Westin.

Scene from the Domainer Mardi Gras welcoming cocktail party in New Orleans Thursday.

Attendees were warned to dress down for the cocktail hour because immediately after buses would be taking them to a traditional New Orleans crawfish boil - a unique dining experience that invariably leads to having your clothing spattered with juices from the local delicacy. 

With the help of Crawfish.com, 600 pounds of crawfish was served at last night's boil.

Soiled shirts are inevitable because eating crawfish requires that you twist the head off of the hapless crustacean (while their beady eyes are staring at you) in order to get to the juices and meat inside. Fortunately, for the squeamish among us, fried chicken was also available in an adjacent room (I prefer not having my food look at me when I am trying to eat it!)

The crawfish boil was a blast though - one of the many unique local traditions that make New Orleans one of the world's most fascinating cities. Of course another is the world famous Mardi Gras celebration that is in full swing here. Attendees got to see their first parades last night by walking just a block over from the crawfish boil to one of the key parade routes along St. Charles Avenue.

Mardi Gras celebrants (including many domainers) beg for beads 
during a parade on St. Charles Avenue last night.

The massive crowds in town for Mardi Gras contributed to a lot of late arrivals for the conference. Attendance was lighter than usual at the cocktail party but by the time the crawfish boil was in full swing the crowd had quadrupled. All hands should be on deck for the first full day of business today.

The highlight of the morning session will be the 11am keynote address from Louisiana State Representative Tim Burns who will talk about economic and political forces that will impact the domain space in 2009. After a luncheon (where Andrew Allemann and I will be speaking) there will be three afternoon seminars followed by a Bourbon Street Balcony Party scheduled to run from 5pm until 3am Saturday morning. In New Orleans they start their parties early and end them late!

This conference, being presented by Modern Domainer Magazine, is probably devoting  more time to social events than any that have gone before it. There is a lot of wisdom in that approach. Experienced show goers know that the best long term business relationships are cemented during the social events where people get to know each other personally. The friendships that develop often end up transcending business and that is the best "return on investment" you'll ever get.

I will have photos and highlights from today's events for you in this column tomorrow morning. Now it's time to get the the new day underway.

Looking down from our 24th floor room at the 
Westin Canal Place, a riverboat steams 
toward its dock on the Mississippi River.

(Posted Feb. 20, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/02-20-09.htm

As I write this Thursday morning I'm about to leave for the Tampa airport to catch a short flight over the Gulf of Mexico to New Orleans where the first Domainer Mardi Gras conference

Mardi Gras crowd in New Orleans

will open today at 5pm (U.S. Central time). Things get underway with a cocktail hour at the Westin Canal Place Hotel, then attendees will board buses for a ride to a traditional New Orleans crawfish boil this evening. Two full days of seminars, networking and Mardi Gras parties will follow tomorrow and on the closing day, Saturday, which will also include a live domain auction.

I'll have highlights of the prior day's activities in this column Friday and Saturday mornings. Closing day highlights will be posted Monday morning (would  

have done that Sunday, but that day I will be in central Ohio to join other family members from around the country for a 90th birthday celebration for my mother who is still going strong). As always, we will follow with a detailed conference review article a few days after I return to our home base in Florida next week. We will have hundreds of photos and show notes to sift through in producing that piece which we expect to publish on Monday, March 2.

Diana and I are looking forward to seeing all of you who will be in New Orleans for the show and to passing along photos and highlights of what promises to be a memorable event to those who couldn't make the trip.
(Posted Feb. 19, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/02-19-09.htm

Verisign has released their latest quarterly Domain Name Industry Brief, covering the 4th quarter of 2008. These reports always contain a treasure trove of information about domain

registration trends. The new brief reports that total domain registrations across all extensions jumped 16% in 2008 over the previous year to a total of 177 million. Country code registrations rose even faster, soaring 22% from 2007 to a total of 71.1 million

On the downside, and no surprise given the nosedive that the general economy took in 4Q-2008, the growth rate slowed considerably in the final quarter of 2008. The number of total 4Q registrations was down 12% from the previous quarter.

 

The continuing rise of ccTLDs has been one of the major registration trends over the past 12 months (a trend that we also see in our tracking of the domain aftermarket where the country codes have come on strong in recent months). The three biggest ccTLDs in terms of total registrations, in order, are .cn (China), .de (Germany) and .uk (Great Britain)

China had the fastest growth among that trio, up 51% in 2008 over the previous year. The more mature German .de extension grew 7% and .uk rose 13%. Even though there are more than 240 country code extensions, the big three (.cn, .de and .uk) accounted for 47%  of all ccTLD registrations. As the year closed the fastest growing ccTLD was Russia's .ru, up 11% in 4Q-2008 from the previous quarter. China's .cn was next with an 8% quarter over quarter growth rate. The new domain brief also has an interesting section on the evolution of IDNs that those interested in that promising category will want to pay special attention to.

Australian domainer Michael Gilmour, who writes WhizzbangsBlog.com, has forwarded $2,950.79, donated by individuals and company representatives from across the domain community, to a relief fund to help victims of the wildfires that have devastated his home state of Victoria. Michael's local church set up a fund that was designed to speed 100% of donations to those who have had their lives upended by the fires that have been reported around the globe - many lost everything they owned.  

Michael put out a request for help from the domain community and I was one of the parties he asked to monitor his PayPal account to verify that every donation sent to him was forwarded to the Bayside Church relief fund. It was encouraging (but given what I know about people in our business - not surprising) to see dozens of domainers pitch in to help those affected by the disaster. 

One other note today - Rob Grant, who was featured in our April 2008 Cover Story, will be the special guest on DomainSuccess.com's latest episode of their Gratitude series tonight. The free live webinar will run from 8pm - 9pm (U.S. Eastern time). Rob is one of the most experience players in the industry and will have a wealth of information to share.

(Posted Feb. 18, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/02-18-09.htm

As I write this the next event on the domain conference schedule, Domainer Mardi Gras in New Orleans, is less than 48 hours away. The event, which we previewed in our current

monthly newsletter, gets underway with a welcoming cocktail party at 5pm (US Central time) Thursday. I will be there to cover the event for you and will also be speaking at the Friday luncheon. 

Today Aftermarket.com released the catalog for the live domain auction they will be staging at the show Saturday afternoon (it is scheduled to get underway at 2:45pm local time in the Big Easy). Though in-house bidding doesn't start until then, you can start placing bids online now. 

Aftermarket.com is taking a different tack with 

 

this sale - limiting the list to approximately 50 carefully selected domains. The roster includes Jobless.com, Favorites.com, VirtualServer.com, Mahogany.com, MovieBuff.com and RentalVillas.com to name just a few. As we told you Friday, Aftermarket.com is also introducing six-month 0% financing at this event for domains priced at $5,000 or higher. There are more details on the sale here

Of course, one of the biggest draws for this show will be the fact that it is running in the middle of the world famous Mardi Gras celebration. Show sponsors and organizers have reserved a private balcony on Bourbon Street for show goers to enjoy the nightly parades and spectacle associated with Mardi Gras. 

(Posted Feb. 17, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/02-17-09.htm

New information from Webvisible and Nielsen shows that there is still a great opportunity for domain owners to profit from an enormous untapped pool of small business end users. MediaPost's Jack Loechner broke down the research results in an article titled

Small Business Not Keeping Up With Online Presence that was published Friday. In a nutshell, the research showed that even though small business owners prefer the Internet, by far, over any other medium when they personally search for information on local companies - only 44% of those same business owners have a website of their own! What's more, they spend less than 10% of their ad budgets online even though that is where they go themselves for business information!

In other words they are utterly clueless about how to get online and market their businesses to the countless potential customers who, like the business owners themselves, turn to the Internet first. That is a huge disconnect and sooner or later, in order to survive, they are going to have to stake out an online presence for themselves.  

The survey found that among business owners and consumers the most popular ways to find information about local providers of products and services were as follows (respondents checked off every source that they used):

  • 82% use search engines

  • 57% use Yellow Pages directories.

  • 53% use local newspapers

  • 49% use Internet Yellow Pages

  • 49% use TV

  • 38% use direct mail

  • 32% White Pages directories

Of those surveyed, 50% said search engines were the first place they looked when seeking a local business, while less than half that number, only 24%, chose the Yellow Pages directories. What's more all of the traditional sources are losing market share year after year as the web takes over. Webvisible found that online search and e-mail newsletters are the only forms of  media that are growing among consumers who wish to locate local products or services.

I have to admit I am stunned by the survey results. When I was in the retail music business I had a website up in 1997 and it played a crucial role in making that brick and mortar business profitable. I can hardly fathom that 12 years later more than half of similar small businesses still don't have a website - even though that is how the vast majority of their potential customers now look for products and services. What could these business owners possibly be thinking?!

Having said that, my own sales results 

indicate that more and more small businesses are finally starting to see the light. Despite the meltdown in the general economy I have made more domain sales to small business end users over the past 12 months than ever before and thus far in 2009 there has been no sign that demand at the low to medium end of the market occupied by small business end users is drying up. If anything the current severe recession should force the 56% of them that still have no online presence, to get moving before it is too late
(Posted Feb. 16, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/02-16-09.htm

Bido.com is set to make a comeback next week. The one-name-a-day auction platform debuted early last year but went dark after some technical snafus interrupted auctions in

progress. In an email the company sent out today they said "We will be making a splash again on February 16th when we load all the upcoming auctions into the system, with the first auction being on February 19th."

The letter told potential sellers, "If you have a premium domain (or several) that you would like to auction with us, please submit them here. The best time to setup your auction with us is

 

now, prior to our relaunch. The earlier your domain is chosen for auction, the quicker we can complete the contract, escrow, and listing process with you... if they are chosen for auction, we will be in touch with you." 

While Bido is ramping back up, another player in the auction game, Aftermarket.com, is getting ready for their live auction a week from tomorrow (Saturday, Feb. 21) at the Domainer Mardi Gras conference in New Orleans. Aftermarket.com just gave people interested in bidding in that event a major incentive by announcing a six-month 0% interest payment plan for domains purchased for $5,000 or more. 

The financing terms require a 30% down payment at the conclusion of the auction with the balance paid off in five equal monthly payments. Payments are non-refundable and if the buyer fails to make all payments, those that have been made will go to to seller. Aftermarket.com will hold the domain until the last payment is made then transfer it to the buyer, however during the finance period the DNS will be pointed to the nameservers selected by the buyer so they can immediately begin monetizing the domain. Sellers have the option of excluding their domain from the financing program but given how much it could increase the potential pool of buyers most are expected to utilize the option.

Incidently, Aftermarket.com plans to release their final auction catalog for the Domainer Mardi Gras sale on Monday (Feb. 16).

One other note before we head into the weekend, giant registrar eNom.com and CentralNic.com have announced a new partnership arrangement meant to grow the use of CentralNic domain extensions and enhance CentralNic's reseller channel. 

CentralNic owns some of the world's best geocentric 2-letter .com domains (US.com, UK.com and EU.com to name just a few). They have leveraged those by making sub-domain registrations available to the public, names like Cars.us.com for instance. 

In order to increase CentralNic domain registrations and generate greater awareness among their resellers, eNom is offering their resellers the lowest wholesale prices ever for CentralNic domains and making one-year registrations available for the first time (replacing the previous two-year default).
(Posted Feb. 13, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/02-13-09.htm

Though Yahoo spurned Microsoft's offer to buy the company last year (and subsequent overtures to buy just Yahoo's search business) it is starting to look like Microsoft intends to get Yahoo's search expertise one employee at a time if necessary. Bloomberg reported Wednesday that Microsoft has hired away hired Yahoo executive Larry Heck, who headed Yahoo’s efforts to make Internet-search results more relevant. 

Heck is at least the third key search executive that Microsoft has hired away from Yahoo over the last 90 days. In November Yahoo VP Sean Suchter jumped to Microsoft and in an even bigger coup a month later, Microsoft stole Qi Lu away to become the president of its entire online 

services group. Microsoft exec Mike McCue told Bloomberg that Lu’s contacts and reputation are helping Microsoft’s recruitment efforts, both among his former Yahoo co-workers and throughout the industry.

Bloomberg's Dina Bass wrote that Microsoft is investing in search technology to close the gap with Google, which has seven times more Internet-search traffic, so the company will have more opportunities to sell online advertising.  Microsoft is currently a distant third in the space, trailing Yahoo as well as Google.

Stock analyst Matt Rosoff told Bloomberg it is no surprise to see Yahoo talent defecting to Microsoft's Redmond, Washington campus. Rosoff said,  “If you’re working in search right now and you see Microsoft’s budget and compare that with what’s gone on at Yahoo the last few years, it may make sense to move. They (Yahoo execs) want to go where the money is.”  Though Microsoft recently announced that it will cut as many as 5,000 jobs over the next 18 months, the company is still hiring people for its search division.

(Posted Feb. 12, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/02-12-09.htm

I'm sure you have all heard about the devastating wildfires that are destroying lives and property across Victoria state in Australia. Victoria is home to many well-known domainers,

including Michael Gilmour, who was the subject of our November 2008 Cover Story. Michael is one of the most considerate and compassionate people I know, in or out of this business, and he is trying to do something to try to help his countrymen whose lives have been shattered by the wildfires. 

On his popular WhizzbangsBlog today, Michael appealed to his readers to donate whatever they could to a fund that his church has started to help those who have lost everything. A second post updating the situation Down Under is here

Michael wrote "my church is raising funds, food, accommodation and other necessities of life for those that have lost everything. This is obviously an urgent request for help. If you wish to assist then you can PayPal me the funds and I will ensure that they are passed on. No amount is too small or too large, all will be 

Michael Gilmour 

gratefully received. I will also provide one of the ministers in the church access to my PayPal to ensure that all money has been transferred" 

I received a note from Michael a few minutes ago asking if he could also give me the log in info for his PayPal account so I could verify to the domain community that all funds are being forwarded directly to the relief fund. Michael's word is as good as gold to me but I agreed knowing that his concern is that contributors know that every dime is going to the victims. If you are able to contribute, the PayPal account is mgilmour at simcastmedia.com.au.

One of the many wildfires 
ravaging parts of Australia.

For those wondering if this is the best way to channel donations to the relief effort, I can only say this from my personal experience. Diana and I do most of our charitable giving through our church because we can see the money put to work first hand and we know that "administrative overhead" is not draining money intended for those who need it. We chose the church we attend because it has an activist orientation, feeding the hungry and helping people in distress at every level - local, state, national and global (including relief work in places as far away as Africa, Cambodia and Cuba). 

I know Michael feels the same way and that is why he is working through his local church in Australia where he knows exactly what is going in and that the funds will reach the people they are intended to help.

I had the great pleasure of visiting Australia for the first time last November for the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Down Under conference

in Queensland. The Aussies are wonderful people, friendly and full of life and it breaks my heart to see huge swathes of their beautiful country being devastated in the way that it is now. Most of us order lists of expiring domains at drop catchers each day at around $60 a pop. If you could take one name off your list and send that money to this relief effort I know it will make life a little more bearable for fire victims that need help today. 

(Posted Feb. 11, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/02-11-09.htm

From DOMAINfest Global to Dancing With the Stars! That is the improbable leap that Apple Computer Co-Founder Steve Wozniak is about to make. Fresh off his appearance as the  

keynote speaker at the DOMAINfest Global Conference in Hollywood, California January 28th, it has been announced that Wozniak, a self-professed "geek", will be one of the 13 contestants when ABC-TV's next season of their popular Dancing With The Stars ball room dancing competition debuts March 9th.

The 59-year-old Wozniak will be paired with a professional dancer to compete against 12 other couples for the show's gaudy mirror ball trophy. Wozniak, who reminds you of a big teddy bear, might seem like an unlikely competitor on the dance floor but the man has a personality and sense of adventure that may help him beat the odds and slip through at least the early rounds. If Cloris Leachman could do it, Woz certainly can. 

Wozniak also already has some TV experience under his belt. He was a regular on Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List because he was dating the comedian. I've enjoyed the previous seasons of Dancing With the Stars but knowing there will be an Internet guy to root for this time will make the new season special.  

Was Apple Co-founder Steve Wozniak telegraphing some of his dance moves 
in this appearance at the DOMAINfest 
Global
Conference January 28th? 

Skip Hoagland
Founder, Domain New Media LLC

Geo domain giant Skip Hoagland will be the live guest on Domain Success's latest installment of its Gratitude online interview series tomorrow night (Feb. 11) at 8pm U.S. Eastern time. Hoagland, who was featured in our July 2008 Cover Story, owns and operates geo gems like Atlanta.com, MyrtleBeach.com and BuenosAires.com as well as generic jewels like Fishing.com

During the one-hour show Hoagland will detail how he has solved a problem that has vexed so many large portfolio owners - how do you successfully develop a large number of domain names at once? As Hoagland told us, the key is joining forces with the right partners. For his geo properties Hoagland told us his favorite prospects are " the people with the local city or tourist magazines. They're easier to talk to (than the local newspaper or TV stations) and 

already have an office and sales people, so we go in and offer them from 30% to 50% of the gross revenues to sell ads on our city site as well as provide some local content for us." I guarantee you Skip will give you some things to think about so be sure to check out the program.

(Posted Feb. 10, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/02-10-09.htm

Sedo.com will conduct their 1st ever No Reserve Online Domain Auction starting at 1pm February 26 and ending at the same time on March 5. No reserve sometimes produces a low quality catalog, but this event, specializing in .com, .net and .uk domains, will include solid names like Deposits.com, Wait.net and Ran.co.uk.

Sedo COO and General Counsel Jeremiah Johnston said, “Our No Reserves auction presents an excellent opportunity to acquire a highly valuable, mainstream domain at an affordable price, as buyers are not restricted to a pre-determined value set by the seller. In these tough economic times, this is a rare chance to obtain the ideal descriptive domain that can drive much more traffic to your online business and significantly increase profits.”

The auction will also give sellers a chance to liquidate their unused domains and with Sedo's marketing muscle behind the event, the names entered will get above average exposure. Sedo is still accepting

 

domains for this auction event.  For more information on seller criteria for the No Reserve Auction, domain owners can contact Sedo Broker Matthew Rosebrook at Matt.Rosebrook@sedo.com. Qualifying sellers can also apply directly through their Sedo account.  

Scene from the DOMAINfest Global closing 
night party at the Playboy Mansion Jan. 29

In case you missed the link on the home page, DN Journal's definitive review of the 2009 DOMAINfest Global Conference in Hollywood, California was published last night. The event ran Jan. 27-30 at the Renaissance Hotel (the same hotel currently being seen on the world's most popular TV show, American Idol. The singers who made Idol's Hollywood week finals stayed at the Renaissance which is adjacent to the Kodak Theater where the competition is staged).

Our DOMAINfest Global review is packed with previously unreleased photos (many from the 

spectacular Playboy Mansion Party that served as the event’s grand finale) plus loads of inside conference info. You can get all of the details here: Triumph in Tinseltown: DOMAINfest Global 2009 Raises the Conference Bar.

One other note today, veteran domainer Theo Develegas has opened a new domain news aggregation site at DNGator.com. There are already several good news aggregation sites out there, including Francois Carrillo's very popular Domaining.com, so Develegas took a minimalist approach with DNGator. Sgt. Joe Friday from Dragnet would have loved it because the quick-loading site offers just the facts ma'am.

(Posted Feb. 9, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/02-09-09.htm

I've often said that domain owners should think of themselves as being in the media business.  Undeveloped domains are usually used (via PPC) as media platforms to display advertising. Those who develop domains usually produce content and distribute it with advertisers again paying most or all of the freight. For those reasons it is a good idea to pay attention to what is happening in the media world at large as those development affect your bottom line (and also alert you to potential new opportunities).

This week many of the world's top media and advertising executives gathered in New York for the AlwaysOn OnMedia conference. KMPG surveyed 200 of those industry leaders to see what they thought were the most disruptive forces in media today. Joe Walsh broke down the results in his Online Media Daily column today. 49% of the respondents cited the downturn in ad spending, followed closely, at 40%, by the rise of smartphones that have essentially become pocket computers. Rounding out the top three at 38% was the thinning of "old media" through bankruptcies and closures (38%).

Participants could make multiple choices from among six trends that also included Internet penetration opening 

 

Mobile phones that double as 
pocket computers are changing
 the global media landscape

up global markets (cited by 25%); the failure of social networks to monetize as expected (18%); and smartphones' potential for location-targeted content, advertising and marketing (17%). KPMG partner Brian Hughes said "everyone is beginning to realize the power of handheld phones to become portable PCs in the future, so I think views are tempered by the economic climate, but not by the opportunity."  Hughes added that 87% of those surveyed say media companies will shift more content to mobile devices in the next two years. 

Walsh wrote that, "Despite the emergence of newer options, search is still considered to be easily the most effective form of online advertising. Nearly half of those surveyed identified search as the most efficient format, followed by interactive (21%), online partnerships (11%), email advertising (6%) and banner advertising (5%).

Scene from the live auction at 
DOMAINfest Global in Hollywood, CA Jan. 29

One other note before we head into the weekend. The DOMAINfest Global silent online domain auction run by Moniker.com and SnapNames closed Thursday with over $480,000 in sales. Added to the $128,000 in sales from their no/low reserve live auction at the show and the $665,000 take from the main live auction at the conference, their total came in at just over $1.27 million

They had certainly hoped to do better but that is still a sizeable chunk of money spent on domain names considering how bad things are in the financial markets. Also on the plus side, no bailout money was used to make the purchases!

Speaking of DOMAINfest Global, we are currently working on our comprehensive conference review article and we expect to have it completed and posted this weekend. You will find an introduction and link to the article on our home page once it has been published (those who have signed up for our free email update/newsletter service will  get an email notice when the article is up). Incidently, a new newsletter will also go out shortly with the main item being a special preview of the Domainer Mardi Gras conference coming up later this month in New Orleans.
(Posted
Feb. 6, 2009) To refer other
s to
the post above only you can use this URL:
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Aside from Sedo's new $1.76 million sale of Fly.com, high end domain sales have been few and far between in recent months. That could change soon if creditors OK the high bids placed in a bankruptcy auction held in Wilmington, Delaware yesterday. Domain assets of The

Parent Company, who operated eToys.com and several other online retail operations before going broke in December, were put on the block. Ben Padnos of DONE! Ventures, LLC (who I had the pleasure of meeting last week at DOMAINfest Global in Hollywood, California) was among the bidders and he dropped me a note about the event today. 

Ben's company wound up winning a three-name lot including Birthdays.com, Pinata.com and eParties.com for $200,000. That was one of the five highest sales of the day in what Padnos called "a wild 16-hour event."

 

The highest ticket was $2.15 million for a lot that included eToys.com, ePregnancy.com and BabyUniverse.com among others assets including trademarks and customer lists. The single best buy may have been Toys.com, picked up by Faculty Lounge for $1.25 million. In another good buy, Domain Equity claimed Hobbies.com and iToys.com for $102,000, however none of the bidders owns anything yet. They have to wait to see if The Parent Company's creditors sign off on the sales. In the current economic environment I would have to think the bidder's chances are pretty good because there are not a lot of other options out there.

In another indication that a security breach we told you about yesterday (involving the email addresses and passwords of some NameDrive customers) could be a real threat came today when Sedo sent an advisory email to their customers. 

Sedo wrote "We have been informed that due to a security problem at one of our competitors a list of their customer data including plaintext passwords is currently circulating on the web including relevant hacker forums. Our Security and Compliance Team has found several of our own customers matching the publicly available list. Due to the seriousness of this matter combined with the 

possibility that you might be using the same login data/password at more than one parking company, we strongly suggest you to change your password at Sedo."

That advice would go for your passwords at other websites if you were using your NameDrive password at other sites as well. With so many bad actors on the Internet stage it is a good idea to get into the habit of using a different log in ID and password at each of the various sites you frequent, so if someone gets hold of one combination they won't be able to use it to access your accounts at other sites (or your email accounts which are expecially important to safeguard).

(Posted Feb. 5, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/02-05-09.htm

Sedo has just released a detailed study of the 2008 domain aftermarket. As one of the world's largest aftermarket sales platforms Sedo has unique insight into what buyers were looking for over the past year. Though domain sales dropped precipitously over the closing months of 2008 Sedo said its final sales total of $77.4 million represented an 8% rise over 2007.

As you would expect, the vast majority of Sedo's gTLD sales, 76% of them, were .com domains. .Net was a distant second with 9% followed by .info at 7%, .org at 5% and .biz at 3%. I find it interesting that the newer .info represented a larger percentage of sales than the long established .org extension.

 

In the ccTLD category, an aftermarket sector that Sedo completely dominates, Germany's popular .de extension was a runaway winner, accounting for 61% of the company's country code sales (part of that is undoubtedly due to Sedo being based in Germany, but they also have a strong aftermarket brand in local markets around the globe). Great Britain's .co.uk and the European Union's .eu followed, each with 13% of Sedo's ccTLD sales. Fans of America's under-appreciated .us country code will be heartened by the report's notation that Sedo's .us sales jumped 12% in the number of names sold and more importantly, a robust 40% in dollar volume in 2008. There is much more interesting data in the free report. You can read it in its entirety here

Several domain news sites received an email today from a community member who discovered a  list of domain owner's email addresses and passwords (believed to have been taken from parking service provider NameDrive.com). NameDrive issued a statement saying "We were alerted of a possible security breach affecting less than 1% of our accounts. Although we have no indication that any unauthorized access was gained, we have reacted forcefully to ensure absolute security for your account. If you have any concerns, please feel free to contact us at info@namedrive.com"

If you are a NameDrive customer, the biggest concern would be 

that hackers will try to use the email/password combos they obtained to gain entrance to your accounts at other domain companies (or your email accounts). So, if you use the same password at multiple sites that you use at NameDrive it would be a good idea to change that password on all accounts right away. Of course, frequently changing passwords is a bit of security housekeeping that we should all do on a regular basis, but most of us don't think about it until unfortunate incidents like this occur. 

This reminds me of a promising new security service I saw rolled out at DOMAINfest Global last week by registrar Name.com. Their NameSafe Verisign Identity Protection credential system incorporates a device that generates a unique six digit security code required to access your registrar account. Each time you sign in to your account, you enter your username and password as usual. Then you enter a second unique security code generated on the fly by your NameSafe VIP credential (a new code is generated each time you log in). The NameSafe VIP credential provides a 

stronger layer of protection because only you possess the credential that generates the unique code that confirms your identity. The $19.95 annual cost buys a lot of peace of mind so I wouldn't be surprised to see this system adopted by other registrars and sites that house especially valuable information. 

(Posted Feb. 4, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/02-04-09.htm

Don't look now but another new TLD land rush is underway. This one, kicked off this morning by the .tel registry, is unlikely to resonate with many domain investors though. You cannot build a website on a .tel domain, nor place ads on one to monetize it. Also, with land rush registration prices ranging from $295-$375 (depending on the registrar) per domain for the required minimum registration period of three years you would also be hard pressed to resell one for a profit.

This is clearly not a domainer's extension - and that's all right of course. The purpose of .tel domains are to serve as entries in what is envisioned to be an Internet directory of contact information for companies and individuals. The registry will host all domains (so no additional hosting cost is involved in owning a .tel) and since all .tel pages follow the same template the time and expense involved in developing a site are eliminated. You can list any kind of contact information you might desire, as well as keywords that will help surfers locate your 

 

contact info on the web. You can see a live example of a .tel domain at Justin.tel, which is owned by the registry's Communications Director, Justin Hayward, whom I met at DOMAINfest Global last week in Hollywood, California.

Costs for .tel domains will drop dramatically when the land rush ends and the standard registration period begins March 24 (to approximately $30 for a three-year registration). We will get a better indication then of how many people have an interest in using it. I can see some logic in the .tel idea but the extension has some enormous hurdles to overcome. Unless the registry spends big money on marketing (something previous new TLD registries has show no inclination to do) how is the general public to know that .tel is the place to look for contact info (or that it even exists)? 

Relying on search engines alone will not get it done, as the lack of recognition for other new extensions that have been on the market (with little impact) for as long as seven years has already shown. The key, as with other TLDs, will be getting massive numbers of people to use the extension so that the TLD (and its purpose) becomes familiar to the general public. That is way easier said than done - especially when they are so many other places already available to post contact information including existing websites and free social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, etc.). I would personally like to see .tel succeed as it would be nice if contact info could be consistently found on a single platform, but the history of new TLDs leaves me skeptical about that happening.

Last month we told you about a free webinar that BuyDomains was presenting January 29th to teach small businesses how they can benefit from using Google Anlaytics. More than 400 companies and individuals registered for that webinar and others wanted to take part but couldn't because of scheduling conflicts.

To accommodate those who missed the Jan. 29 session, BuyDomains has scheduled a second live webinar for February 10th at 2pm (U.S. Eastern time). Again there will be no charge to sit in - all you need to do is sign up, which you can do through this link.

(Posted Feb. 3, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/02-03-09.htm

I just got back from the DOMAINfest Global Conference in Hollywood, California (after staying over a couple of extra days to visit friends in the Los Angeles area). Every domain 

blogger who was at the show is raving about the job Oversee.net did in delivering an unforgettable experience for the 600 attendees. After sifting through hundreds of photos, hours or audio files and copious notes we will be publishing our comprehensive wire to wire conference review article by the end of this week. 

 

Ron Sheridan moderating a panel 
at the DOMAINfest Global Conference 
last week in Hollywood, California

The Thursday night party at the Playboy Mansion created an especially big buzz and DomainSponsor's Ron Sheridan - the consummate Director of Business Development - was the key figure in making that event happen. So, it came as a surprise when Ron told me during the party that he would be leaving his full-time post at Oversee.net (DomainSponsor's parent) the next day. No formal announcement was made because he will continue to consult for the company while taking a much deserved break.

At DomainSponsor, Sheridan played a pivotal role in the development of our young industry. He supported every enterprise that he felt would help the domain business and individual domain owners flourish and, as a result, he generated a ton of good will for his company along the way. When he is ready to go back to work full time his reputation should insure that he will have plenty of options to choose from (he also personally owns some great domain names and may decide to devote his time to developing one or more of those).

Though Sheridan has been the public face of DomainSponsor, he has always been a team player, quick to credit others in the company whenever DomainSponsor won kudos. I know he would have preferred that his passing of the baton be kept under the radar, but I can't let this moment pass without giving him a big public Thank You for everything he has done to push domain names onto center stage. From that position they will continue to play a lead role in the Internet-dominated new world that is emerging before our eyes. 

With DOMAINfest Global 2009 now history, attention turns to the next event on the conference schedule, the first Domainer Mardi Gras Conference coming up the 19th-21st of this month in New Orleans. I'm not even unpacking from the L.A. trip so I will be ready to make the short hop across the Gulf of Mexico from our base in Tampa to the Big Easy

There is still time to register for the event but if 

you want a room at the host hotel, the Westin Canal Place you need to act now. This is the last day that rooms are guaranteed at the $209 group rate.
(Posted Feb. 2, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/02-02-09.htm


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