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The Lowdown



January 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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The 2009 DOMAINfest Global Conference in Hollywood, California closed last night with a spectacular party at the world famous Playboy Mansion that helped draw hundreds of people to

a fundraising charity auction to benefit Autism Speaks. While people representing several organizations attended the star-studded private event, the DOMAINfest contingent was by far the largest. Show organizer Oversee.net's DomainSponsor unit has long been famous for unforgettable conference parties and last night they delivered a one-of-a-kind experience that set an entirely new standard that will be difficult if not impossible to top.

The party was a fitting conclusion to a top notch conference that managed to attract 600 attendees despite extremely weak economic conditions.

David Castello (Castello Cities Internet Network) 
& wife Natalie in front of the Playboy Mansion 
during last night's DOMAINfest Global party.

Partygoers greet each other around the Grotto on 
the lush grounds of the Playboy Mansion last night.

Inside the giant DomainSponsor tent reserved for DOMAINfest Global attendees. 
The Autism Speaks auction of signed entertainment and sports memorabilia 
was conducted from the stage at the top of the photo,

Prior to the grand finale at the Playboy Mansion, the final day of the conference got underway with a pair of morning seminars including a highly anticipated session featuring Google's Hal Bailey and Matt Parry. Bailey emphatically denied that Google's recent move to offer direct parking services to the public meant they planned to distance themselves from their current PPC company partners. Bailey said those relationships are highly valued and, in a good sign for domain owners, stated "We support the domain channel, trust it and it is a good advertising vehicle."

Matt Parry (left) and Hal Bailey filled attendees 
in on Google's view of the domain channel.

After a lunch break it was time for Moniker's big live domain auction. Though the economy did not keep people from coming to the show, it clearly impacted how much they were willing to spend to add additional domains to their portfolios. Just over 30% (62 of 200) of the domains offered were sold for a total take of just $665,000. Two nights earlier 60% of the domains offered in a no or low reserve auction found buyers, underscoring the fact that low to mid-priced domains now dominate the aftermarket while high ticket names are left on the shelf (the same trend we are seeing in the general retail world).

Spotter Jeffrey Johnston tries to coax bids from reluctant buyers while Moniker 
CEO Monte Cahn looks on during Thursday's live auction at DOMAINfest Global.

The top sales in the auction were Wife.com ($100,000), RodeoDrive.com ($60,000), FreeWireless.com ($50,000) and ConsumerElectronics.com ($45,000). Michael Berkens has a complete list of the names sold on his blog. Incidentally Michael's wife Judi celebrated a birthday during this week's conference but looked younger and lovelier than ever. Birthday wishes also go out to Directi Co-Founder and Skenzo founder Divyank Turakhia who celebrated his 27th birthday at last night's Playboy Mansion party. 

Diana and I will be staying over in Los Angeles for a couple of days to visit friends, starting with a short trip up to Moor Park today to have lunch with Michael Castello and his wife Sheri. We will fly back to Tampa Sunday and are due in just minutes after the Super Bowl kicks off in our hometown that evening. 

We will spend most of next week putting together our comprehensive DOMAINfest Global conference review article that will be packed with new photos and show details that you won't want to miss. Oversee.net made a real statement with this conference - no matter what the economy throws at them, they are here to stay and expect to be stronger than ever when the inevitable rebound in the general economy finally occurs.

(Posted Jan. 30, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/01-30-09.htm

The DOMAINfest Global Conference continued in Hollywood, California Wednesday with Jeff Kupietzky, President of show organizer Oversee.net, kicking off Day 2 with an information-

Oversee President Jeff Kupietzky
speaking Wednesday at DOMAINfest

packed "state of the industry" address.  Kupietzy said the current economic environment is the worst he has ever seen and predicted it will get worse before it gets better, however he remains optimistic about the future, noting that "we have an unprecedented opportunity to capitalize on what is happening around us."  A bit later Kupietzky conducted a keynote interview with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak who himself noted that Apple was born during a recession. Innovation is often born of necessity. During hard times like these smart people find better ways to meet people's needs and operate in a more efficient manner. As history has shown, many great business successes germinated in this kind of environment.

Oversee Senior VP Peter Celeste followed Kupietzky to the podium for a brief talk and to serve as moderator of the day's first panel 

discussion which centered on what the next evolutionary phase of the domain industry will look like. We will have more details on all of the seminar sessions in our comprehensive conference review article that will be published at the end of next week.

The highly anticipated main event, Wozniak's keynote talk, got underway a little before noon. With Kupietzky conducting a delightfully informal interview on stage, Wozniak detailed how he and Steve Jobs created Apple and made it one of the great business success stories of all time.

One of the many fascinating tidbits that came out of the talk was Wozniak recalling his days as a dedicated Hewlett Packard employee. He said he pitched his idea for a small personal computer to HP five times and was turned down every time! It was, of course, a blessing in disguise as he and Jobs, forced to do it themselves, rolled out a world changing product that has made them iconic figures in business history.  

Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak 
during his keynote appearance Wednesday

After lunch a pair of panel discussions devoted to building out domain names provided invaluable tips and information for those ready to get serious about developing their domains. We will cover those in depth in our show review article next week. The business day closed with one of the many new twists Oversee introduced at this show - a structured networking session in the Exhibit Hall. In this format, industry experts from four different fields were dispatched to the four corners of the hall. They donned white lab coats to make it easy for attendees to spot them so they could get answers to their questions and feedback on their ideas.

Structured Networking session Wednesday afternoon

I'll be taking part in another round of structured networking that will tackle four more topics this afternoon from 5-6:30pm (local time). Our group, including Moniker's Monte Cahn and Victor Pitts and Anthos Chrysanthou (Lease Domains) will be answering questions about buying and selling domains.

As night fell it was time to have a party and Oversee, as they always do, threw a great one at Universal Studios. They arranged to have a whole section of the world famous attraction reserved for a DOMAINfest special event. Attendees were bussed to Universal where they received a red carpet welcome to the studio lot (see photo below).

DOMAINfest attendees stroll a red carpet entrance laid out for them at Universal Studios

Attendees were able to enjoy two of the park's most popular rides, The Mummy and Jurassic Park, as often as they wanted with zero wait time. The famous Universal Studios tram tour was also open throughout the night, as were game rooms, restaurants and open bars (all free of charge to DOMAINfest guests).

The conference closes with another jam-packed day and night ahead. The Thursday schedule begins at 9:30am (Pacific time) with the first of two morning panel discussions. The second of those at 11am will feature Google's Hal Bailey and Matt Parry. Questions about Google's recent decision to provide direct parking services are sure to come up in that session as domainers try to get a handle on the company's long term plans for that sector.

The afternoon will be devoted to Moniker's big live domain auction while the night will be dominated by the social highlight of the conference - a DOMAINfest party at the Playboy Mansion. I'll have all of the Thursday highlights for you in this column tomorrow morning.

(Posted Jan. 29, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/01-29-09.htm

The 2009 DOMAINfest Global Conference got underway Tuesday at the Renaissance Hotel in Hollywood, California. The event began with an afternoon "boot camp" for industry newcomers. That consisted of four sessions devoted to domain business fundamentals. I had an opportunity to participate  in the day's closing discussion on "The Art of Buying and Selling Domains." A photo from that session is below.

DOMAINfest  Global Boot Camp session on "The Art of Buying and Selling Domains"
(Left to Right) Moderator Chris Sivertsen (Oversee.net), Anthos Chrysanthou 
(Lease Domains)
, Lance Wolak (.Org Public Interest Registry), Ron Jackson 
(DN Journal)
, Monte Cahn (Moniker) and Kathy Nielson (Sedo).

Right after the boot camp sessions, Moniker.com staged a no/low reserve live domain auction that yield just over  $128,000 in total sales. That event was an appetizer for their main live auction coming up tomorrow afternoon starting at 1:30pm (U.S. Pacific time). The top seller's in last night's auction were Eat.net ($15,000), SpearGuns.com ($14,000) and SanFranciscoRestaurant.com ($7,500). Bikes.net and  Consultations.com added $7,000 each. Michael Berkens has a complete list of high bids of his blog. 60% of the listed domains were sold.

Right after the auction, attendees headed for an opening night cocktail party at the hotel's Twist Lounge.

Scene from last night's low/no reserve 
live auction
at DOMAINfest Global 

For many the night continued from there with private outings around Los Angeles. While one group headed to a Lakers game, Thought Convergence (parent company of TrafficZ, Aftermarket.com and DomainTools.com) treated another to a private show at L.A.'s famed Magic Castle - the mecca for professional magicians. We'll have more on that in our comprehensive conference review article that will be published late next week.

The Wednesday schedule is underway as I write this with an opening discussion titled "Domaining 2.0: What Does the Next Evolutionary Phase of the Industry Look Like" now in progress. I'll have highlights from today's events, including an evening outing to Universal Studios in this column Thursday morning.

(Posted Jan. 28, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/01-28-09.htm

It's show time! And that of course means we are on the road again. I will be traveling to Los Angeles Tuesday (Jan. 27), so there will be no Lowdown post that day while I make my way to

Hollywood for the big DOMAINfest Global Conference at the Renaissance Hotel. Oversee.net is staging the event and their team, led by company President Jeff Kupietzky, are pulling out all the stops to make this a great show. 

Things get underway with a "boot camp" for industry newcomers Tuesday and I will be arriving just in time to join a 5:30pm (Pacific time) panel that will discuss "The Art & Science of Buying and Selling Domains". I'll have the pleasure of joining  Monte Cahn (Moniker.com), Lance Wolak (PIR, the .org registry), Kathy Nielsen (Sedo.com) and Anthos Chrysanthou (Lease Domains Inc.) on the dais. Our session will be ably moderated by Oversee's Chris Sivertsen. That will be the last of four boot camp seminars with the first one kicking off at 1:30pm. You can get details on the entire show agenda here.

Jeff Kupietzky
Oversee President

The main event will be held Wednesday and Thursday with a farewell breakfast bringing down the curtain Friday morning. I'll have a daily show highlights post in this column starting Wednesday morning and, as always, we will publish the industry's most comprehensive conference review by the end of next week.

Tim Burns
Domainer Mardi Gras Keynote Speaker

There is more news from the show circuit  today. Modern Domainer Magazine has announced the keynote speaker for their first Domainer Mardi Gras Conference coming up February 19-21 at the Westin Canal Place in New Orleans. At 11am on Friday, Feb. 20, noted author, professor, entrepreneur, lawyer, certified public accountant, and member of the Louisiana House of Representatives, Tim Burns will provide the keynote address. Burns will provide his perspective on the economic and political forces that will impact the domain space in 2009 and field questions from the audience that will help attendees manage their risk in uncertain times.

This show will be held during Mardi Gras and attendees will get a great view of what's happening on Bourbon Street from a private balcony provided by Thought Convergence and Parked.com.

Looking a little further down the road, RickLatona.com has just opened a special page on the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. website to provide details on the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. ccTLDs Conference they are putting on June 1-4 in Amsterdam, Holland. This will be the first T.R.A.F.F.I.C. show ever held in Europe and the first show devoted entirely to ccTLDs (country code extensions like the Netherlands' .nl. Great Britain's .co.uk, Germany's .de and France's .fr - to name just a few). This conference will be held at the historic NH Grand Krasnapolsky Hotel across from the Royal Palace in Dam Square

It's true that there are a lot of domain conferences these days, but with the competition among promoters continually raising the bar like this, these shows are just too good to miss.

T.R.A.F.F.I.C. ccTLDS is coming up 
June 1-4 in Amsterdam

(Posted Jan. 26, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/01-26-09.htm

I'm sorry to have to report this evening that  Michael Collins has resigned his position as Executive Director of the Internet Commerce Association in order to work on transitioning a retail business he owns from brick and mortar to the Internet. In an email sent to ICA members tonight Collins wrote:

Dear ICA Member,

I have mixed feelings as I announce that I am leaving Internet Commerce Association as Executive Director to work on developing some of my own domain names. I am excited about my

project, a brick and mortar to Internet transition for an auto accessory business. However, I will miss the daily contact with domainers from all over the world and the opportunity to represent them at ICANN and other important venues. It is great that I was able to share with you the recent success in Kentucky Court of Appeals before leaving.

The entire world is going through economic turmoil now. Many of the ardent supporters of ICA feel that they cannot continue their previous level of support in these difficult times. I hope that all will carefully reconsider the value of having representation in Washington, with ICANN and in other venues around the world. ICA will need your help financially and it will need volunteers. I will continue to help ICA going forward as a volunteer. I hope that other  concerned members will also volunteer when ICA puts out a call for help.

Michael Collins

Thank you to all who have supported me and helped me in my role with ICA during the last 18months. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact current ICA President Jeremiah Johnston at jeremiah@sedo.com.

Best Regards,
Michael Collins

Michael is a good man and we certainly wish him the best of luck in his new venture and thank him for his service to the industry during his time with the ICA.

(Posted Jan. 22, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/01-22-09-2.htm

 

In the first major domain company acquisition of 2009 Sendori .com has been acquired by Ask Sponsored Listings (operators of Ask.com), a division of Barry Diller's IAC. Financial 

terms of the deal were not disclosed. Sendori, who we profiled in a recent article, developed a unique new advertising exchange that allowed major advertisers to purchase the direct navigation traffic generated by top tier generic domain names placed in their system by domain owners. Sendori gave owners of high quality domains a real alternative to parking and that strategy has paid off handsomely. 

In our article Sendori Co-Founder and CEO Ofer Ronen told us, "When we looked at the domain parking business we realized that visitors to domains would have a much better user experience if they were directed to the best websites in the world, instead of landing on a parking page." Ronen used Travelocity as an example of a site that someone searching for travel information could automatically be sent to when they type in a travel related domain name. "Domain owners, no matter how much they try, can never build up the kind of brand recognition that a Travelocity has," Ronen said.

"So we thought the traffic would do better if it flowed to them and that a market-based approach, where there was competitive bidding, would also help domain owners earn the most possible 

Sendori CEO & Co-Founder Ofer Ronen

money. The advertisers that can benefit the most from the traffic would be the ones who would bid the most," Ronen added.  The marketplace he envisioned went live on August 1, 2006 and now, just a little over two years later they become part of Diller's IAC internet empire where Sendori will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary. 

It looks like a perfect match because Ask will bring many new top tier advertisers to Sendori which will in turn allow them to pair more of their domain owner clients with 

the best possible direct advertiser matches. At the time of the acquistion Sendori said it was providing 130,000 advertisers 33 million page views per month from direct navigation traffic.

Sendori's Director of Business Development, Michael Feeley, told us the company will have a booth at next week's DOMAINfest Global conference in Hollywood, California, so domain owners attending the show can drop by the Sendori exhibit to learn more about the company's innovative platform.
(Posted Jan. 22, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/01-22-09.htm

In our current cover storyThe State of the Industry January 2009: 15 Leading Experts Break Down What Went Wrong in 2008 and Predict What Will Happen in 2009 - one recurring theme among our panel of experts is that 2009 would be another big year for

consolidation within the industry. Well, right on cue a major acquisition has just been completed. The news is embargoed until tomorrow morning (Jan. 22) but we will release it as soon as the embargo expires. For those not familiar with embargo protocol, it allows news sources to send information to reporters so they can prepare their articles and have them ready for release as soon as the embargo expires. When a journalist receives embargoed information they are obliged to honor the source's wishes - the material is to be considered the same as something told to you off the record until the time the embargo expires. 

Domain industry consolidation continues

While the explosion of blogs on the web has been a great thing, many bloggers are not aware of some professional protocols (or simply choose to ignore them) and at times in the past have violated a source's trust by releasing embargoed information before it expires. This is a sure way to permanently lose your sources and the trust of future sources who see that you do not honor off the record or embargoed information.

Everyone is gearing up for the DOMAINfest Global conference that gets underway in Hollywood, California Tuesday (Jan. 27) with a boot camp for industry new comers. The main even continues Wednesday through Friday (Jan. 28-30). Today show organizers released their final agenda for the big event that will include a keynote address by Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak on Wednesday plus big parties at Universal Studios Wednesday night and the 

Playboy Mansion Thursday night (Jan. 29). I will be speaking at the final boot camp session Tuesday afternoon and of course will be covering the event  throughout the week with daily posts here in the Lowdown and a major conference review article a few days after we return from the show.

New York City based singer-songwriter Lizzy Grant got a big break when she was featured in an exclusive Huffington Post interview today. How, you ask, is that domain news? Well, it so happens that Lizzy's dad is long time domain investor Rob Grant, who was the subject of our April 2008 Cover Story (and is also one of the 15 experts featured in our current State of the Industry Cover Story).

A lot of domainers also got to know Lizzy personally when she accompanied Rob to the 

Lizzy Grant

2008 T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East conference in Orlando last May. She has a new three-song EP out called Kill Kill and a  ton of talent so we are all rooting for her to make it big in the music business. You can find out more at, where else, LizzyGrant.com.

One other note just in - Kentucky's attempt to confiscate gambling related domains may not be over yet. Yesterday a state appeals court overturned a lower court's attempt to confiscate 141 domain names but we just heard a well-sourced rumor that the Commonwealth is going to appeal the reversal to the Kentucky Supreme Court

(Posted Jan. 21, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/01-21-09.htm

Breaking News - The Kentucky Court of Appeals has overturned a local judge's controversial order that 141 gambling related domain names be turned over to the state. The appeals court ruled that the lower court's contention that the domain names were "gambling devices" that are illegal under Kentucky law was not correct. However the ruling, while good news in the short term, still left many questions unanswered. Michael Berkens, who is an attorney as well as a veteran domain investor, has been on top of this story from the start and he has more details and commentary about today's decision on his blog (noted domain attorney and T.R.A.F.F.I.C. co-founder Howard Neu also posted remarks about the case in Michael's commentary section). You can also read the complete decision here.
(Posted Jan. 20, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/01-20-09.htm

Parked.com  introduced an interesting new account management system today. In the past each client of the popular PPC company had an account representative assigned to them. That rep was your single contact person at the company. In the new system an entire  

Account Management Team is assigned to each client. Each team assigned to the customer's account includes an account manager, a domain optimizer and a developer

In the team formation process Parked said some accounts were redistributed and those who were moved got an email today telling them who their new Account Team Leader is. For example is my case (Parked is one of three

 

PPC companies I use), Christian Burck, who has always done a great job, was my account rep. I got an email today telling me my account was moved to a new account management team headed by Monte White. I know Monte well so I'm sorry he drew the short straw! Despite that, I know he will deliver the same high level of service that Christian did.

Of course the "developer" title caught my eye right away, but White told me that refers to "a programmer that is assigned to a team to develop tools to streamline the account management process. It is an internal development position, rather than a site developer." With the across the board declines in PPC revenue over the past year (regardless of where you park), a lot of customers are getting restless and that is causing competition to heat up in the PPC space. I expect that this step by Parked will be just one of many new twists we will see in the parking sector this year. 

One other note today, in case you missed the home page intro, we have just published our annual State of the Industry Cover Story.  Unfortunately, after years of smooth sailing, many boats in the domain fleet ran into rough water in 2008. To make sense of what happened last year and get a forecast on where we are headed in 2009 we called on 15 of the most successful people in the domain industry for this 5th annual report. Our all-star panel of experts includes key company founders, CEOs, developers, investors and attorneys

Because of the importance of getting a handle on where the industry stands in these uncertain times we covered a lot of ground in this article, inviting our guest commentators to take all of the space they needed to make their points. We wound

up with a piece that is at least twice as long as our usual cover stories but I think the serious subject matter demands that kind of attention. 

Several readers told us the viewpoints were so compelling that they read the complete article straight through, but knowing that everyone's time is limited, we broke the story up into segments that make it easy to read one person's commentary, or a full page of commentary (there are four pages in the report) then come back to the piece to continue as your time allows. There are links at the bottom of each page that list which experts are on each page so you can go directly to the page that has the ones you haven't read yet. On the individual pages there are also bold headings with each expert's name so you can zero in their section on the page. With so many truly brilliant minds gathered in one place and such an uncertain year looming ahead, we think this is an invaluable report for those who want to be prepared to face and even thrive in whatever weather lied ahead. Especially since much of the advice transcends domains and applies to the general business world and even life at large.

(Posted Jan. 19, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/01-19-09.htm

I've begun hearing some of the names of those who were let go in the 18% workforce reduction that Oversee.net announced yesterday. There are some very sharp people in that

group and despite a tough environment for job seekers I'm sure many of them will find new positions soon. Given their talents it also occurred to me what great partners a lot of these folks would be for people looking to team up with experienced, knowledgeable professionals to launch a new business or project. Knowing some of them personally, I know they are fully capable of running their own businesses. 

The biggest roadblock is that most of those who have been temporarily displaced need current income to support themselves and their families. A typical successful startup will usually take a year or two to start generating enough revenue to fully support the founders. For those forming new companies who have access to start up

capital (or existing companies that have key holes to fill and funds available to fill them), one silver lining to the current downturn is that some highly qualified people are becoming available for the first time in years. There is a good chance that the ideal person to complete or complement your team is looking for the opportunity you have to offer right now.

Michael Gilmour
ParkLogic.com, WhizzbangsBlo
g.com

Incidentally, though the need to match staff expenses with existing economic conditions obviously played a key role in Oversee's decision (as it did when they implemented a 10% reduction last summer) it was not the sole reason. 

As Michael Gilmour pointed out in his blog today, Oversee, after buying SnapNames and Moniker last year, was bound to make some staff reductions to eliminate overlapping duties across their various divisions, old and new. In a consolidating industry, as ours is, that goes with the territory. 

By the way, Michael will be one of 15 leading industry experts that will be featured in our annual State of the Industry Cover Story that will be published this weekend. It is a piece you 

will want to read to see what some of the most successful people in our field believe is coming in 2009. 
(Posted
Jan. 16, 2009) To refer others to
the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/01-16-09.htm

Oversee.net, the parent company of three of the best-known brands in the domain industry,  DomainSponsor, Moniker and SnapNames, announced this afternoon that they are laying off 18% of their workforce, including some at the management level. The cuts come on the heels of a previous 10% workforce reduction last August.

Oversee's VP of Communications, Mason Cole, sent us the news in an email today writing "Oversee is reorganizing its businesses because it expects a very difficult economic environment in 2009. As part of 

the reorganization, we have had an 18% reduction in force, including some managers.  Oversee will focus over the next year in the areas where it has a leadership position. Going forward, areas of focus include Domain name monetization, Domain name aftermarket, Registrar and Travel. Accordingly, we’ve discontinued activity or investment in areas that aren’t as promising (mortgage, for example).  The reduction is a result of the refocusing on key areas."

Oversee also stages the DOMAINfest Global conference in Hollywood, California where the 2009 event will be held later this month (January 27-30). Several other industry companies have also been tightening their belts to ride out the current recession that is impacting businesses around the world.

(Posted Jan. 15, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/01-15-09.htm

GoDaddy's TDNAM.com aftermarket auction site has undergone a name change. The domain sales platform is now called GoDaddy Auctions. Those who type in the old address, TDNAM.com, or the new name, GoDaddyAuctions.com, will be redirected to a redesigned site operating from a subdomain at Auctions.GoDaddy.com. The move makes a lot of sense. Everyone knows the GoDaddy name, but TDNAM draws blank stares when you mention the name to anyone outside the industry. 

In another GoDaddy note, company founder and CEO Bob Parsons is the subject of a very interesting interview in the new issue of Inc. Magazine. The interview, conducted by Liz Welch, focuses on how Parsons spends his average workday. Unlike many entrepreneurs, Parsons is not a workaholic. He loves spending time away from the office hunting or riding motorcycles. 

Still one of Parsons' closing comments in the article revealed a characteristic you will see in just about every successful entrepreneur you will ever meet - he loves what he does. Parsons told Welch, "The hardest time of day for me is at the end of the day, because I hate to see it end. I hate to shut down. And it's hard to shut down, too -- in part, because I am always thinking of ways to improve the business. If you're not getting better, you're getting worse." 

Bob Parsons
GoDaddy Founder & CEO

Elsewhere, registrar Encirca.com is running one of the best .US sales I've seen in a long time. Between now and February 28, they are charging just $3.99 for new .US registrations (I pay double that at my current registrar).  Speaking of .US, the American ccTLD got a nice plug in the current issue of TV Guide magazine (dated January 12-18). In the Hot List Web Edition on page 4 actress Sarah Jane Morris (Brothers & Sisters) said her two favorite websites are CityFarm.us and IdealBite.com. I had not heard of CityFarm.us, a site Morris likes "for Martha Stewart-type projects and organic gardening." She also recommended IdealBite.com for eco-tips.
(Posted
Jan. 14, 2009) To refer others to
the post above only you can use this URL:
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We have several things to touch on today. First, with Yahoo naming a new CEO this afternoon, 60-year-old former Autodesk CEO Carol Bartz, domainers are waiting to see how the move might affect the PPC business. With former Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang sent to the sidelines,

many observers think that the company will finally agree to sell its search business to Microsoft. Many of the top PPC providers in the domain industry use Yahoo's ad feed but the company has been a distant second to Google in search. The hope is that by combining forces perhaps Yahoo and Microsoft can give Google stronger competition and assure domain owners that they won't be left at the mercy of a single dominant upstream provider. We should see some signals from Ms. Bartz on that count soon.

Fabulous.com has posted videos of the seminars from November's T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Down Under conference online. You will find the links to each video on this page. This is a very nice gift for the domain community. The only disappointment is that tight scheduling on the final business day (November 20) kept a final session about ICANN's planned new global TLDs from being recorded. The cameras had to be taken to an adjacent room and set up for a live auction that followed the gTLD session. 


Page Howe speaking at 
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Down Under

Page Howe, Jothan Frakes and Edmon Chung spoke about the proposed new TLDs and at the time I mentioned here that I hoped that anyone considering applying for a new TLD would be able to see Howe's presentation. He went through the ICANN application meat grinder himself with .kids in 2000 and had an eye-opening cautionary tale to tell at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Down Under. Fab's Business Development Director Mike Robertson, always willing to go above and beyond the call of duty, told me they hope to get the Powerpoint presentations from Howe, Frakes and Chung and post those online.

In another conference note, organizers of this month's DOMAINfest Global conference in Hollywood, California (January 27-30), say that registrations are currently running ahead of last year's show when 700 people turned out. That is an encouraging sign for this industry at a time when the general economy is slumping.

Conferences are always great sources of information. It is also encouraging to see more companies offering free webinars to give domain owners advice on getting the most out of their assets. NameMedia's BuyDomains division has one coming up Thursday, January 29. This one will cover "How to Leverage Google Analytics to Support Your Small Business Goals". You can register here if you would like to sit in on the session.

Finally, a press release popped up on the web today claiming that the domain name Answers.travel had been sold for $3.3 million. Considering that the .travel extension has been a flop and that we have never received a single verified sale report of a .travel domain at ANY price, I would view this release as an exercise in creative writing (to put it kindly). Michael Berkens wrote about it on his blog today and the comment section there is filled with information that illustrates why you can't believe everything you read (especially in press releases). 

(Posted Jan. 13, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
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As online distribution of news replaces traditional print platforms, the old system of gatekeepers deciding who could report the news and what news consumers would be allowed to see or hear is being washed away once and for all. When I graduated from broadcasting 

school I had to find a radio or TV station willing to hire me, otherwise there was no way I was ever going to be seen or heard. 

Many of my classmates from those days never found a job in journalism, leaving them no choice but to make a living in some field other than the one they had dreamed of working in. If the Internet had existed then, they could have bypassed the newspaper, radio and TV station managers and put their talents on display worldwide (and unfiltered) via the web.

I came across a great example of this in a Minneapolis Star-Tribune article published Sunday about a local student newspaper that put their publication online to prevent school officials from censoring what they wrote. The district school superintendent actually shut down the Fairbault High School newspaper last month because the student editors refused to let him see an article before publication about the investigation into a middle-school teacher. 

Jason Wallestad, the owner of School Newspapers Online (a company that creates websites for student publications) heard about the situation and stepped in to help the students move their paper, The Echo, online, using the domain TruthWithEcho.com. Wallestad said, "Our goal is to help student journalism as much as we can. We wanted to make sure they had a chance to keep publishing." 

Echo editor Christen Hildebrandt said the publication will continue to cover school news and events, but won't have any association with the district or use any of its resources. Because the website isn't funded by the district, administrators have no control over content. The district 

superintendent, Bob Stepaniak, admitted he had been over-ruled by the web. "Any group of students could put together a website like that. That's the way life is in this electronic age," Stepaniak said.

And so another gatekeeper learns that today everyone has a key to the lock. All you need is a domain name and a hosting account (each of which can be had for under $10) and you have an uncensored media platform capable of reaching every corner of the globe. I'm still amazed 

by that and certainly the role that domain names play in making that possible are one of the primary reasons I was attracted to this business in the first place. 

I look at every domain name I own as a potential global media outlet. I recall that the owners of the first radio station I worked at as a teenager paid half a million dollars for the tiny AM station in central Ohio that covered a radius of no more than 15 miles. Contrast that to paying $8 for a domain name (and about the same for hosting) for a "transmitter" that reaches the entire planet. That has to be the greatest bargain in the history of human communications.

(Posted Jan. 12, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
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While traveling with my daughter for another medical school visit (she will graduate from Penn in May, then move on to med school next fall) I had a chance to catch up on some reading the past couple of days. Much of that involved following story links that readers like John in Chicago sent me.

Markus Frind
Founder, PlentyOfFish.com
(Photo courtesy of BCBusiness)

I found a new article in Inc. Magazine to be especially interesting because it illustrates the unlimited opportunities that the Internet and a good website idea offers motivated entrepreneurs. The piece by Max Chafkin titled And the Money Comes Rolling In tells the amazing story of PlentyOfFish.com founder Markus Frind who takes in a reported $10 million a year from his wildly popular dating site, while often working less than one hour a day. Even more amazing, he essentially runs the entire operation by himself.

Chafkin wrote, "It's a 21st-century fairy tale: A young man starts a website in his spare time. This person is unknown and undistinguished. He hasn't gone to MIT, Stanford, or any other four-year college for that matter, yet he is deceptively brilliant. He has been bouncing, aimlessly, from job to job, but he is secretly ambitious.  

He builds his company by himself and from his apartment. In most stories, this is where the hard work begins - the long hours, sleepless nights, and near-death business experiences. But this one is way more mellow. Frind takes it easy, working no more than 20 hours a week during the busiest times and usually no more than 10. Five years later, he is running one of the largest websites on the planet and paying himself more than $5 million a year."

If you are looking for some inspiration at a time when the overall economy is plunging, Chafkin's article about the Vancouver, Canada based entrepreneur should do the trick.

Speaking of entrepreneurs - Terence Chan - a long time domainer who was one of the first people I met online when I discovered domain forums in 2002 - has just put a unique portfolio of top notch .com media domains on the market. The group includes MediaDirectory.com, MediaForum.com, MediaBlog.com, MediaCalendar.com, MediaClassifieds.com, MediaReview.com, MediaJournal.com, MediaForecast.com, MediaAlerts.com and MediaResources.com. Chan has set up a cutting edge website at MediaCompanies.com to showcase the collection. It takes private domain marketing to a new level so if you are looking for ideas on how to display your names in their best light, you will want to check out what he has done there.
(Posted Jan. 10, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
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Editor's Note: I will be traveling Thursday and Friday (Jan. 8 & 9), escorting my daughter on a medical school tour, so there will be no Lowdown posts on those days. I will post a new item here when I return Saturday.

Having grown up in an era dominated by traditional media  I am intrigued by what journalism will look like when the newspapers are gone and reporting completes its inevitable move to the Internet. I personally made the move six years ago this month when DN Journal went online and I'm surprised by how many outlets still have not embraced the obvious advantages of publishing on the web. Today most traditional media outlets, especially newspapers, are hanging off the side of a cliff by their fingernails, dying by a thousand daily cuts.

The new issue of The Atlantic Magazine has the best article I've read to date about the passing away of old media and what the new media world is going to look like. The piece, titled End Times, by Michael Hirschorn, details the near death predicament the New York Times finds itself in and in an enlightening passage at the end of the article, predicts what journalism will morph into in the very near future.  

Regarding the Times, Hirschorn noted, "With more than $1 billion in debt already on the books, only $46 million in cash reserves as of October, and no clear way to tap into the capital markets (the company’s debt was recently reduced to junk status), the paper’s future doesn’t look good... Regardless of what happens over the next few months, The Times is destined for significant and

traumatic change. At some point soon — sooner than most of us think — the print edition, and with it The Times as we know it, will no longer exist." Hirschorn said the end could come this year, even as early as May when The Times has $400 million in debt coming due. 

So what will the reporting profession look like when the "newspaper of record" is gone (along with dozens of others also facing the guillotine)? Hirschorn wrote, "...journalistic outlets will discover that the Web allows (okay, forces) them to concentrate on developing expertise in a narrower set of issues and interests, while helping journalists from other places and publications find new audiences."

"In this scenario, NYTmes.com would begin to resemble a bigger, better, and less partisan version of the Huffington Post, which, until  

someone smarter or more deep-pocketed comes along, is the prototype for the future of journalism: a healthy dose of aggregation, a wide range of contributors, and a growing offering of original reporting. This combination has allowed the HuffPo to digest the news that matters most to its readers at minimal cost, while it focuses resources in the highest-impact areas. What the HuffPo does not have, at least not yet, is a roster of contributors who can set agendas, conduct in-depth investigations, or break high-level news. But the post-print Times still would."

I found Hirschorn's closing comments to be especially compelling as I see things playing out in the same way he does, particularly his vision of the top writers emerging stronger than ever in the web based media world. 

Hirschorn opined, "The best journalists will survive, and eventually thrive. Some will be snapped up by an expanding HuffPo (which is raising millions while its print competitors tank) and by the inevitable competitors that will spring up to imitate its business model, or even by smaller outlets, like Talking Points Memo, which have found that keeping their overhead low allows them to profit from high-quality journalism. And some will succeed as independent operators. Figures like Thomas Friedman, Paul Krugman and Andrew Ross  

Sorkin (the editor of the DealBook business blog, which has been a cash cow for The Times) would be worth a great deal on the open market. For them and others, the bracing experience of becoming “brands of one” could prove intoxicating, and perhaps more profitable than fighting as part of a union for an extra percentage-point raise in their next contract."

"Ultimately, the death of The New York Times — or at least its print edition — would be a sentimental moment, and a severe blow to American journalism. But a disaster? In the long run, maybe not," Hirschorn concluded.

(Posted Jan. 7, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
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For the 4th consecutive year Directi/Skenzo has been named one of Asia's Top 500 Fastest Growing Tech Companies by Deloitte & ToucheDeloitte said Directi/Skenzo achieved a phenomenal average revenue growth rate of 141.97% annually over the past three years to

Directi co-founders Divyank Turakhia 
and Bhavin Turakhia (right)

retain its place on Asia's elite Fast 500 list. Directi/Skenzo is a leading, multi-national, internet products and media company that builds innovative, mass-market, products and services used by millions of users worldwide. The company was founded by the Turakhia brothers (Bhavin and Divyank) in 1998 and has grown since then to encompass a $300 million+ group of businesses. Domain owners will be especially familiar with their Skenzo parking service and their LogicBoxes registrar solutions platform.

Divyank Turakhia, co-founder of Directi and CEO of Skenzo (who was featured in our September 2008 Cover Story), said “It is an absolute honor and I feel very proud to receive this award for being recognized as a top growth company for the fourth time in a row. We have been on

this List every year since 2005. This award clearly represents our strength and our commitment to becoming a global leader in every business that we operate. We have higher budgets than ever before for continued growth in 2009. We will be focusing on both organic and inorganic growth this year.”

Bhavin Turakhia, co-founder and CEO of Directi added, “We have done it again. And what’s more, we are just warming up. We have always been an idea enterprise and hence, even while other companies are fighting for stability, we continue to recruit the most talented people and invest heavily into research, development and creating processes that will allow us to continue recording exponential growth. It goes without saying, we couldn't do this without the support of our dedicated team of talented individuals.”  

(Posted Jan. 6, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
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With the growing interest in domain development we have often talked about the importance of producing unique content to attract visitors to your new site. The value of 

content has not been lost on advertisers either - they too are devoting increasing resources to creating their own content as a way to connect with customers. 

While traditional ad platforms are expected to shrink by double digits in 2009, the amount of money marketers will spend on creating content will see strong growth despite the recession.  Gavin O'Malley wrote about this in an article an Online Media Daily last week, noting "56% of marketing and publishing decision-makers plan to increase their content marketing spending next year, Junta42 (an online marketing resource and vendor-matching 

 

tool) found after surveying its community of corporate marketers and publishing/agency professionals. What's more, a full 31% expressed their intention to increase spending on content significantly."

Joe Pulizzi, the founder of Junta42 and co-author of the book Get Content. Get Customers, told O'Malley, "These findings are an acceleration of what we've been seeing for the past few years." The marketers said that social media will be at the top of their investment list this year. O'Malley wrote, "In terms of most important products/tactics, social media resonated with 68% of subscribers, followed by e-newsletters/email (60%), blogs (56%), case studies (55%), online video (51%), white papers (46%) and microsites (43%).

These are people who make their living by attracting an audience. Their example is a good one to follow if you are about to start promoting a newly developed site and hope to attract visitors and keep them coming back.

(Posted Jan. 5, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
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In the face of all of the dire predictions for 2009 we're going to kick off 2009 with some good news. The success of many domain and website owners is based on online ad spending. By all accounts, ad budgets in general will be slashed in 2009, with one exception. You guessed it - online. BusinessWeek Magazine's Jeffrey Rayport explained what is going on in a new article this week titled Why Online Ads Are Weathering the Recession.

 

Rayport wrote, "Barclays Capital lowered its projections for U.S. ad spending to a negative 10% next year...Every one of the traditional media platforms is getting hit, with newspapers taking the brunt of the pressure, with a drop of 17%, followed by TV (minus 15.5%), magazines (minus 15%), and radio (minus 13%). The only bright spot this time is online advertising, which, despite a series of downward revisions, is still expected to grow between 6% and 10% next year over 2008 levels."

Any sector that can grow at that rate in the face of the biggest financial storm in decades has something going for it. Certainly, one could easily get depressed with the steady stream of bad news we see each

day, but you can rest assured that the future belongs to the sector you operate in - the Internet.  

Rayport closed his must read piece by predicting that this recession will forever change the way Madison Avenue does business. Rayport wrote, "Why would advertisers budget on faith when they could invest in measurable returns? Why would brands lavish dollars on mass media when they could target only those consumers who matter most? Why would marketers continue to allocate less than 10% of their budgets to interactive (in measured media), when consumers are spending more than 35% of their time with interactive platforms even today? It's not that online advertising will supplant traditional media. It won't. But a new and different ad equilibrium will emerge from the coming economic recovery—and it will represent a radical shift from anything we've known before."  

Keep in mind that those comments come from someone employed by a traditional media outlet, but obviously not someone who has his head buried in the sand. 
(Posted
Jan. 2, 2009) To refer others to
the post above only you can use this URL:
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Today our hope and prayer that each of you will have your best year ever in 2009. When I came across the quote below it immediately made me think of our friends and colleagues in the

domain business. In two sentences the genius who wrote it captures the spirit and good fortune that we have been blessed with:

"I feel that you are justified in looking into the future with true assurance, because you have a mode of living in which we find the joy of life and the joy of work harmoniously combined. Added to this is the spirit of ambition which pervades your very being, and seems to make the day's work like a happy child at play."  
- Albert Einstein

(Posted Jan. 1, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
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