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The Lowdown
March 2009 Archive
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Here's the The Lowdown from DN Journal,
updated daily
to fill you in on the latest buzz going around the domain name industry. 

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

Another one bites the dust. The Chicago Sun-Times has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy, just a few months after Chicago's other major daily newspaper, the Chicago Tribune, did the same. The Sun Times plans to keep publishing under bankruptcy protection but it looks like their

shareholders will be wiped out and more job cuts and enforced furloughs are expected. 

Just this morning our local paper, The Tampa Tribune, announced they were cutting 65 more jobs. This continuing devastation in traditional media (and how city .com website operators can benefit from the historic shift of media to the Internet) will be the theme of next month's GeoDomain Expo in San Diego (April 23-35 at the Catamaran Resort). We will be publishing a preview of that conference later this week.

Meanwhile, our preview of next month's T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Silicon Valley conference, featuring a wide ranging interview with show co-founder Rick Schwartz, went out to subscribers of our monthly newsletter last night. You can also read it online here. The show will be held at the Santa Clara Marriott April 27-30. Incidentally, the perfect domain name for that location, SantaClara.com, is to be auctioned off at the show by Moniker.com.

If you missed the DOMAINfest Global conference in Hollywood, California in January (or were there and would just like to re-live it), you can now view full-length videos of the seminars on the show's website. The video of the keynote fireside chat with Apple Computer Co-Founder Steve Wozniak is also on the site. As many of you know, Wozniak is currently competing on ABC-TV's Dancing With the 

Stars. A photo collage has also been added along with both video and written testimonials from those who were there. Below are direct links to all of the new content added at Domainfest.com:
http://www.domainfest.com/vids
http://www.domainfest.com/photos

http://www.domainfest.com/videotestimonials

http://www.domainfest.com/writtentestimonials

Some other notes to pass along to you today. The Domain Madness live auction being staged by DomainConsultant.com and Aftermarket.com gets underway today at 3:15pm U.S. Eastern Time (2:15 Central) at The Palms in Las Vegas. You can check out the auction catalog here. There will be a live video feed of the auction that you can access from this page (the video feed link is at the top of the right column).

Domain Madness will also be giving away a $1,000 prize to a contest entrant who picked the names that end up selling  (the contest is no longer open for entries).

DMPalms

Also don't forget that the Bido.com charity auction to benefit the Hacienda de los Milagros (House of Miracles) animal sanctuary will be held at 1pm U.S. Eastern time tomorrow. A portolio featuring dozens of donated animal related domain names will be auctioned off to help the Arizona sanctuary keep its doors open.
(Posted
March 31, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/03-31-09.htm

Our latest free monthly newsletter will be emailed to opt-in subscribers tonight. It will contain an in-depth interview with T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founder Rick Schwartz previewing next month's T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Silicon Valley conference that will be staged at the Santa Clara Marriott April 27-30. In the course of that interview I asked Schwartz a question not directly

related to the upcoming show, but one that many in the domain business are pondering given the current shaky state of the global economy. 

DNJournal: With scary headlines in the mainstream financial news every day, there is a natural human instinct to hunker down, zip up the wallet and wait out the storm. After the .com bust in 2000, we saw that going against that instinct paid off big for people like Frank Schilling and Kevin Ham who bought up assets others no longer

Rick Schwartz, Frank Schilling & Kevin Ham

wanted because they were confident that domains had a bright future despite that severe downturn. Do you think history will repeat itself in this downturn or are we dealing with something so different that it will change the equation with respect to domains?

Rick Schwartz: I think we may see a set of larger players coming but I doubt we will see what happened in 2000. The opportunities are there, but they will take different shapes and forms. We need to come to grips with the fact that the industry of truly professional domainers is very small. There will always be a way to make money with domains. New ways, old ways, different ways. What you saw with Frank and Kevin will happen again, but they won’t happen in the domain industry. They will be there at the next big thing. Their names may change, but they will show up and if we do it right, we too will find the next big wave. 

See it does not matter if opportunity comes in the form of domains or mashed potatoes. We all need to take our blinders off. The folks I have met on the Internet have roots from another industry. Another industry that was small and was very profitable. Many of us won’t be domainers forever. We will be there to see the next great things and a small segment of a small group will once again follow a similar path. So it won’t happen in domains. It will happen with what is to come. When you live your lives as we do, looking into the future, you see things before others. That never changes. So the next Frank or Kevin has the best chance to happen to one of us or even them again. Just not in domains. That cake is baked. The history has been written. That trail has been blazed. It is what is to come from here. 

In 2000, I stated that “From the ashes would rise the real Internet” That is a reality now. The Internet has shown it’s worth and staying power. It has slayed the enemy in the forms of other media. The Internet has been declared the winner.  But the net, too, is at an ebb tide. From this period will rise the next great race. That “Storm” has yet to take shape. But it is forming. The clouds are coming. New leaders are emerging. New products will change the way we live. That is what recessions produce. Innovation. We are all at the epicenter of what is coming. 
(Posted
March 30, 2009) To refer other
s to
the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/03-30-09.htm

As we reported earlier this month the theme for next month's GeoDomain Expo (April 23-25 in San Diego) will be "Freefall! (How to Monetize the Collapse of Traditional Media). The 

timeliness of that theme was brought into clear focus Thursday when the Newspaper Association of America (NAA) reported massive year over year revenue losses across the industry for the 4th quarter of 2008. The numbers were even worse than I could have imagined and as you know I have been following the train wreck in the newspaper business for a long time now.  

Erik Sass broke down the bad news from the NAA in a post in his Media Daily News column Thursday. Newspapers lost a stunning 20.6% of their print ad revenue in the last quarter. Perhaps even more ominous, their online revenues (the income stream many of them are looking to for salvation), fell 8.1% after several years of double digit increases. Sass said, "ultimately their online strategies proved brittle and shortsighted" indicating that the papers are being outmaneuvered by nimbler online companies that are more savvy about what it takes to succeed on the web. 

 

Sass said the confluence of two trends - a long-term shift in print ad dollars to the Internet and one of the worst economic downturns in American history - have created the perfect storm for newspapers. However he added that their decline began long before the current recession, with the first major cracks appearing in 2004 when their cash cow - classified advertising - starting teetering toward collapse. 

Sass wrote, "The first classified category to feel the effects of Internet competition was automotive, where ad revenues have fallen continuously since the second quarter of 2004. Online recruitment also went south before the recession, with continuous declines since the second quarter of 2006. Then the recession piled on, beginning with the housing market meltdown in 2006, which turned the last successful classified category from a gold mine into a rubble heap." 

The numbers in classified advertising are indeed stunning. In the fourth quarter of 2008 automotive dropped 39.2%; real estate fell 41.3%; and job recruitment plunged an alarming 51.8%

As traditional media outlets continue to crumble owners of .com city domains hope to position themselves as the preferred media platforms of the future. Ways to seize that opportunity will be the focus of the GeoDomain Expo next month and it promises to be a very interesting conversation. I'm looking forward to sitting in on it. 

(Posted March 27, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/03-27-09.htm

If you are a domainer you have undoubtedly been hearing a lot about Twitter.com lately. Domainers seem to have adopted the micro-blogging social networking platform en masse and

many domain bloggers frequently write about the service on their regular blogs (DomainTweeter.com and DotSauce.com are a couple of good examples of this). A lot of domainers you know are using the service (I am also on it @DNJournal). DotSauce even maintains a frequently updated list of domainers on Twitter, making it easier to find friends and informational sources that you want to follow.

For those who haven't opened a free Twitter account yet and are wondering what all of the fuss is about, I came  

across an incredibly detailed Twitter guide at WebDesignerDepot.com. It is titled The Ultimate Guide for Everything Twitter and it truly is that, covering everything from the basics (tweets, profiles, followers, etc.) to more detailed topics like using Twitter to build your business, expanding your network and how to give your followers value. 

It also mentions something domainers can readily identify with - the importance of grabbing your name now before someone else gets it, even if you don't intend to use the service until sometime in the future. Adam Strong at DomainNameNews.com made that exact point a few weeks back and seeing his post is what prompted to me to open accounts in both my company and personal names. Soon after I started "tweeting" myself and it isn't nearly as painful as it sounds!

There is also a large domainer's community on Facebook. Though the basic functions of that service are easy enough to use, I still find parts of their system to be inscrutable and have yet to come across a user guide to Facebook that is nearly as impressive as

Adam Strong

WebDesignerDepot's Twitter guide. If anyone knows of one drop me a note with  the URL and I will pass it along to others here. 
(Posted March 26, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/03-26-09.htm

In our current Cover Story about new mass domain development services I mentioned that two more companies, both with ties to well-known figures in the domain industry, were 

about to enter the competition. One of those, MiniSites.com, went public today.  The other will likely make its debut at the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Silicon Valley conference next month. MiniSites.com is a partnership between DN Media and Telepathy Inc.. Telepathy is run by veteran domainer Nat Cohen. DN Media co-founder Bogdan Nastea said, "We are thrilled to be partnered with Nat Cohen of Telepathy on this project. Nat has ten years of experience in the domain industry, and he brings an impressive track record of turning domain names into successful businesses."

MiniSites.com offers three levels of mini site development. The Micro, starting at $80, is a one-page site geared for lead generation and affiliate marketing. The Mini, starting at $170, is a five-page site with more content and The Big Mini, starting at $290, offers an advanced link building campaign and analysis of monetization options.

The company says that all packages include a dedicated project manager, unique content written by native English speakers, text logo 


Nat Cohen, Telepathy, Inc.

design, header design, link building campaign, flexible monetization options, targeted keyword research, search engine optimization, and free hosting.

Today is the last day to enter DomainConsultant.com's Domain Madness contest that is offering a $1,000 prize to the winner. Contestants try to estimate the final sales tally from an online domain auction will will start tomorrow and end March 31 at 2:15pm U.S. Central time. The person who comes closest gets the money. To take part you have to get you free entry in no later than 11:59pm U.S. Central time tonight.

We have a few other domain deadline dates you should be aware of. The latest GreatDomains.com premium online auction ends tomorrow (March 26) at 1pm U.S. Eastern Time. The names up for bid include 10.com, PVC.com and Trips.net to name just a few.

Friday (March 27) is the deadline to submit names for Moniker.com's live auction at the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Silicon Valley conference coming up April 27-30

Meanwhile the early bird registration deadline for next month's GeoDomain Expo in San Diego has been extended to Monday (March 30). If you sign up before the deadline you can register for $595. The price jumps to $695 Tuesday. 

By the way, I will be at both the GeoDomain Expo and T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Silicon Valley. I will have a special preview of both events in our next monthly newsletter that will be emailed to opt in subscribers before the end of the month. 

One other note today, the folks at Bido.com have announced a major change for their auction platform. In the past Bido accepted only .com domains, but now they have thrown the gates opens to all extensions. This move comes on the heels of a recent decision to allow sellers to set reserve prices on their domains for a small fee that is refunded if the domain sells. The site previously ran no reserve auctions only. 

Also, don't forget the big charity auction coming up at Bido Wednesday, April 1 at 1pm U.S. Eastern Time. A large portfolio of animal related domain names, currently numbering more than 4 dozen domains and still growing, will be sold with all proceeds going to Arizona's Hacienda de los Milagros (House of Miracles) animal shelter. You can read more about that cause in our Lowdown post Monday.
(Posted March 25, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/03-25-09.htm

The newest global domain extension .tel opened for public registration today. .Tel is an odd bird in that, unlike other extensions, you cannot host a website on it. Instead it is meant to 

allow you to present your contact information on the web via a page that is hosted at no additional charge by the central registry. You can see a sample .tel page here

Registration fees vary dramatically from one registrar to another. A couple of the lowest prices we have seen are being offered by Name.com and Dyandot.com. Name.com is offering one-year registrations for a limited time at $8.95, but additional years or renewals will be $14.95. Dynadot is offering .tel registrations at $10.99 per year for both new registrations and renewals. 

Several other bits of news to pass along today. T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founder and pioneering domainer Rick Schwartz will be the special guest on DomainSuccess.com's latest live webinar tonight from 9pm-10pm (U.S. Eastern time). You can register for the free event here

When Rick talks you can always expect some fireworks and on his blog today he said you shouldn't expect that to change tonight. Schwartz wrote, "I just may ruffle a few feathers. I don't have much value in giving politically correct answers. I always give folks a choice. I can tell you what you want to hear or I can tell you the truth as I see it. Some folks can't handle reality so I give them a choice. Tonight, no sugar coating."

Rick Schwartz

Congratulation go out today to another legendary domainer, Kevin Ham, and his wife Irene who are celebrating the birth of a healthy baby boy Monday. The proud parents named their new son (who weighed in at 8 pounds, 6 ounces), Gabriel

ICA Legal Counsel Phil Corwin

The Legal Counsel for the Internet Commerce Association, Phil Corwin, has posted two important new articles on the ICA website that address threatening issues for domain owners. The first one dissects a new report titled “ICANN At A Crossroads: A Proposal for Better Governance and Performance” that was just released by The Technology Policy Institute, a Washington-based “think tank." While the report's title is innocuous enough, Corwin points out that some of the proposals (including one that would have registries and registrars run ICANN) are not. 

In the second article, Corwin shines a light on some new WIPO proposals that could substantially increase the risk of reverse domain hijackings by over reaching trademark interests. 

You can get additional insight into the 

important points Corwin has raised with these articles in an analysis (and reader commentary section) that Michael Berkens posted on his blog Sunday.

Finally, on the heels of last week's announcement by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that they had become the first major American daily newspaper to discontinue their print edition to become an online-only publication, comes word that the Ann Arbor News is going down the same path. The 174-year-old Michigan newspaper said it would issue its final print edition in July then publish via the Internet only. At least their company has a huge ace in the hole. They own AnnArbor.com, an asset that will assure them of a steady stream of visitors seeking news and information about the area they serve. 
(Posted March 24, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/03-24-09.htm

I have always been proud of this industry and appreciative to be in a business that attracts so many good-hearted people. The vast majority, despite sometimes mind boggling success, have remained extraordinarily well grounded. Perhaps that is because so many came into domaining from humble backgrounds before hitting it big. Those people haven't forgotten where they came from and they always seem to be ready to ride to the rescue when they hear about bad situations where their help could save the day.

I was reminded of that again over the weekend when I heard about a group of domainers who have banded together to try to save an animal rescue facility in Arizona. With hard economic times in the general economy, charitable donations have started drying up and many such facilities have been forced to shut down. 

Veteran domainer Donna Mahony (who was featured in our February 2005 Cover Story), lives near (and has frequently visited) Arizona's Hacienda de los Milagros (House of Miracles). She was the first to sound the alarm when she learned that the rescue facility for burros, horses, llamas and other animals had only enough money left to feed the animals for four more days.

Late Friday night she issued a plea on Facebook asking her friends in the domain business if they could send a few dollars via PayPal to buy hay for the animals. Within minutes, Sahar Sarid, one of the

 

Donna Mahony

co-founders of Bido.com, replied, asking for more information so he could do something to help. By Saturday morning, Sahar had decided to hold Bido's first charity domain auction to raise money for the Hacienda de los Milagros. Sahar wrote more about the auction on his blog Saturday.

Donors, including Bido's own Jarred Cohen, immediately started contributing animal related domain names for the sale that will be held online at 1PM (U.S. Eastern Time) on Wednesday, April 1 at Bido.com. The entire portfolio of donated domains will be auctioned off at that time. As of this writing more than three dozen domains had already been given, including AnimalRescue.us

Donna wrote a great letter about how she first learned about the Hacienda de los Milagros and why she went looking for help when she found out how desperate the situation had gotten there. 

She wrote, "Some people go to church, do yoga or whatever... I go to the sanctuary. It's a spiritual place for me. So here I am, folks, begging, simply for the love of a sanctuary. I am asking for your help in saving a very special place. Both in the Bible and history books, burros have done their share for man, let's try to do a little something for them."

Donna went on to talk about the selfless founder of the House of 

Hacienda de los Milagros Founder Wynne Zaugg
sharing some love with one of his beloved burros.

Miracles, Wynne Zaugg, who walked away from the corporate world at 49 to care for animals every one else had given up on. Recalling her first visit to the Hacienda Donna wrote that every 

animal had a name and Wynne knew them all. "He would call out the name and that burro would approach. Now these are not pets he had since babies. These are wild burros, collected - not too gently - off their own land and sent to slaughter... unless somebody or someplace will take them. But in Wynne's presence, they are like the family dog. The mutual love, affection, and respect between Wynne and these animals envelops you in its warmth."

With over 100 animals at the rescue facility the bill for hay alone runs $500 a day and the money is dwindling fast. If you can find it in your heart to help there are four ways you can do so. Send Donna a donation for hay via PayPal (to donna@donnamahony.com), send a donation directly to the House of Miracles, or if you have an animal related domain you can donate to the auction, drop Bido's Jarred Cohen a note about that. His 

email is jarred@bido.com. Last but not least, you can log on at Bido.com April 1 and place your bid on what may end up being the largest portfolio of animal related domain names every offered at one time. The House of Miracles needs one of their own right now - let's see if we can make it happen!

(Posted March 23, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/03-23-09.htm

I got some very welcome news this morning. As I reported last week there have been some issues between the co-owners at Associated Cities/Geos that for a time looked like they might derail next month's GeoDomain Expo in San Diego. Though the dispute only recently broke into

public view, the core issues have been a source of contention for well over a year now. Those centered on how the organization should be structured and what its future mission should be. 

On Monday evening acting AC board chairman Dan Pulcrano announced that the GeoDomain Expo would go on. At the same time, a fellow co-owner of the group, Skip Hoagland, said he would not stand in the way of that decision. Hoagland and some other AC members felt that with time growing short before the Expo dates,  it mighht be best to postpone the show until the organizational dispute was resolved, allowing the board to devote its full attention to the conference.

This morning Pulcrano told us the owners and board have come to an agreement which should put all of these issues to rest and allow AC to continue the impressive growth of both their association and their signature conference. Pulcrano said, "On Thursday, the Board of Managers and all owners of Associated Geos, LLC voted unanimously to:

  • Officially green-light the 2009 GeoDomain Expo in San Diego. Although this was a foregone conclusion and previously announced, the legal vote affirms that the entire leadership group is now fully and officially committed to the event's success.
     

  • Create three trade associations of GeoDomain owners: Associated Cities, Associated States and Associated Countries. Each group of .com domain operators will elect its own leadership and manage its own activities

  • In addition, the Board voted to appoint Executive Director Patrick Carleton to fill a vacant Board seat.

I am personally delighted to hear this news because I believe that Associated Cities/Geos and the GeoDomain Expo are invaluable assets to the domain community at large (not just geodomain owners). With their total dedication to building domains into thriving businesses they serve as an example for all domain owners whose long term goal is to build out the best of their own domains. The GeoDomain Expo provides direction on how to get that done.

While the leadership dispute drew some negative attention to the organization, I don't think it really surprised anyone who has spent time trying to get a group to go in one direction. When you consider this particular group is composed of highly successful entrepreneurs who are used to managing enterprises on their own (and have track records that show their methods have worked) it is not surprising that with their different management styles they found it difficult to reach consensus. 

However in the end wisdom prevailed. AC co-founder Josh Metnick of Chicago.com (the person who originally conceived of the Associated Cities idea) told me a few days ago, when the board turmoil has reached a crescendo, that even though the situation was very painful for him he was sure that  the concept for AC and the GeoDomain Expo was bigger than him or any other person in the organization's leadership.  He was confident that in the long run  those concepts of working together to cross promote each other businesses and grow the geo space and the industry at large would continue to flourish. I told him I had no doubt he was right and couldn't be happier that the leadership is again working together to make that happen. 
(Posted March 20, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/03-20-09.htm

The past couple of days I've talked about improving sales in the domain aftermarket this month. Maybe it is just the coming of spring, nature's time for rebirth after a long winter (not that we feel the winters much down here in Florida!),  but I feel the buzz of activity in almost every corner of the industry this month (would someone please wake PPC up!). 

Organizers are gearing up for a new string of conferences with four major ones slated over a period of less than 60 days between April 23 and June 17. Too many for such a short 

time span? The obvious answer would be yes, but a closer look at each's shows focus, audience mix and location (everywhere from America's West Coast to Washington D.C. to Europe) tells me no. Promoters have wisely responded to a more crowded show calendar by taking steps to freshen formats and clearly differentiate themselves from each other.

First up will be the GeoDomain Expo at San Diego's Catamaran Resort April 23-25. I had canceled plans to go after an internal dispute at 

Postcard from San Diego inviting people to 
the 2009 GeoDomain Expo coming up April 23-25

Associated Cities (the show sponsor) left the status of the event in doubt. But it is a definite go now and whenever this conference is on I intend to be there, so I have rebooked my flights.

As a show focused entirely on domain development (geodomains in particular), this show has truly unique high value content that is worthwhile to anyone interested in building out their domains. More importantly, the experts you will meet at this show have a proven track record of success and they bend over backwards to help others follow in their footsteps. 

The GeoDomain Expo will end on Saturday (April 25th) and the next day I will take a short flight up  the coast to Santa Clara, California where T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Silicon Valley will start on Monday, April 27 (it 

runs through the 30th at the Santa Clara Marriott). After attending the landmark show at the same location in January 2006 I am very much looking forward to this edition of T.R.A.F.F.I.C.  Promoters Rick Schwartz and Howard Neu have never failed to deliver the goods and that's why they keep topping surveys that ask domainers to pick their favorite show. 

No one makes the case for attending T.R.A.F.F.I.C. better than Schwartz and though he 

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

has an obvious vested interest I know from being at 13 of the 14 past T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conferences that what he says is backed up by the show's track record.

After a break in May (actually I also have to fly that month to my daughter's college graduation in Philadelphia) thinks kick back in gear on the other side of the Atlantic June 1-4 when RickLatona.com takes a bold risk by staging a show devoted entirely to ccTLDs (under the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. banner) in Amsterdam. Actually it is looking like less of a risk with each passing month as ccTLD aftermarket sales seem to get hotter and hotter.

Two weeks after the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. ccTLDs show its back to the States for the next Domain Roundtable conference, one that will be held in a city that I think will provide a fabulous backdrop for this event, Washington, D.C. Registrations for the show just opened today and they are offering a very attractive early bird price of $795 through the end of this month. 

On top of all of the show activity, the industry is bustling with some innovative auctions including one, Domain Madness, that is tied into a cool contest with a $1,000 prize. The money goes to the person who comes closest to guessing the final sales results of the auction  that ends March 31. Super smart promotional gimmick from the guys at DomainConsultant.com not to mention a nice tie-in to March madness in college basketball. 

Sedo's latest premium auction at GreatDomains.com also got underway today and it runs until 1pm (U.S. Eastern time) on April 2. They have another outstanding line up of domains including such gems as 10.com, PVC.com and MonteCarlo.net

Yes, today's mainstream business news is enough to send people into a state of depression, but clearly the movers and shakers in this business have no time for self pity. They are too busy coming up with new ideas and seizing the unique opportunities we are blessed to have in this industry.
(Posted March 19, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/03-19-09.htm

My post yesterday about seeing a surprising upturn in my domain sales business drew more visitors than any other Lowdown post this year. Given the current situation in the general economy it is understandable that people are hungry for some good financial news. Though

the domain industry has taken some body blows (especially in PPC revenue declines) I still see more good news here than in just about any other sector in the economy. The new weekly sales report I just published (actually covering two weeks since I was on vacation last week) had the best industry-wide sales results I've seen this year. 

We're even seeing action at the high end of the market again, an area that I expected would be dead until the economy gets back on track. Just minutes before I started writing this, Rick Schwartz announced that he had a deal in the works to sell Candy.com for $3 million (plus a percentage of future sales) to an American candy manufacturer. As everyone has already heard, Toys.com just sold for $5.1 million and word came today that Auction.com has been sold for $1.7 million

Rick Schwartz

I don't mind telling you that when then President Bush announced last September that the financial world might end the next day if taxpayers didn't turn over the keys to the U.S. Treasury, I was a frightened about what might lay ahead. There is still no telling how that is all going to play out but now that six months have gone by and my business is actually going better than ever, the fear factor is starting to fade. I am feeling confident that domains (other than ones that are being sold solely on the value of PPC revenue) are going to hold their value relatively well in this downturn.  As more and more existing businesses and individual entrepreneurs come to the realization that their future prospects are going to require a strong online presence, good domains names look like great assets to be holding at this volatile point in time.
(Posted March 18, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/03-18-09.htm

Like everyone else I was shocked when then President Bush announced last September that the nation's financial system might completely collapse without an immediate government bailout of various Wall Street firms and tottering banks. That was six months ago and though things are still extremely dicey, a funny thing happened on the way to the poorhouse. My domain sales business has been setting one monthly record after another and this month will almost certainly be the best ever with 11 decent sales (most in the low four-figure range) on the books barely halfway through the month. 

Today I exchanged notes with Pete Lamson, the Senior VP and General Manager of NameMedia's Domain Marketplace (including both the AfternicDLS and BuyDomains) and he told me they have also seen a noticeable uptick in sales since the middle of February. Lamson opined that some of the millions of people who have lost their jobs are taking the entrepreneurial route and buying domains to start businesses of their own (one of the few options people have with job prospects so weak in this recession). 

I told Pete I also believed the same force was at work and some of my buyers have confirmed that was their reason for purchasing a domain. Like NameMedia, my focus is almost entirely on the small to medium sized business (SMB) end user market, a segment of the domain aftermarket  that has held up better than any 

Peter Lamson, Senior VP and GM
of NameMedia's
Domain Marketplace

other. These newly minted entrepreneurs typically start out as a small enterprise with limited capital to work with so they naturally gravitate to the low to middle end of the domain market. 

This situation, fueled by a bad economy, has produced one wave that has broken in my favor after years of waiting. When I entered the business in 2002 I picked up a lot of good keyword domains and 3-letter acronyms in alternate extensions, primarily .us, .biz and .info. Over the next few years that portion of the portfolio eked out a profit but nothing compared to the returns owners of respectable .com domains were enjoying. 

I always thought the alt extensions had good potential because I felt they would  eventually start paying off as the diminishing pool of .com options forced SMB buyers to consider other extensions. I had gotten pretty tired of waiting for that day to come but in 2008 the alt TLDs really began picking up steam for me and the momentum is increasing here in 2009. 

This month I have sold names like Bulldozers.us, CheapInsurance.us and CreditCardDeals.info to small businesses, as well as a trio of 3-letter domains (a .us, a .biz and a .info) and a pair of domains to the State of Washington's Department of Transportation (GoodToGo.us and GoodToGo.info - names they have started redirecting to their existing .gov site that promotes Washington's electronic toll collection system). 

Part of a local Ford dealer's four-page 
newspaper spread  this morning - note 
their .biz web address at the bottom.

Most importantly, though it is a long way from being commonplace, I am seeing more alt extensions being advertised which helps build public recognition. This morning a large local Ford dealership had a four-page spread in the local community newspaper that prominently promoted the name HeritageFord.biz (another Ford dealer in California has HeritageFord.us). In many cases (including these two), the alt extension domain is used as a redirect to an existing .com site with a clunkier address, but the fact that the public is beginning to see more alt extensions in every day advertising should help them immensely as time goes on.

Now, make no mistake - .com is still king and all of the alt TLDs put together (excluding major country code domains) are still a minor force in the marketplace, but it has become enough of a force to make me happy I placed those bets several years ago. 

My experience over the past year is just one person's observation so it has to be considered anecdotal and not statistical evidence of any kind of major shift happening. Depending on the kind of keywords and phrases you hold in alt extensions, your results may be much better or much worse than mine. However, six months after it looked like the financial world was ending, what I am seeing leaves me feeling much better about the ability of domain names to continue providing a solid financial foundation in what are exceptionally scary times in the financial world at large.

One other note today, the folks at Bido.com rolled out a new option for domain sellers today. In the past they would only accept domains with no reserve for their auction platform. That severely limited the quality of domains submitted to them so they have adapted with a new program. If you want to list a name with a reserve you specify you can 

now do so, but a small cost will be involved if the domain does not sell. A name selected for auction will pay a listing fee of 3% of the Reserve Price, but you only pay if the name fails to sell. If it does sell Bido will take the 3% fee off the 8% commission they charge for selling a domain. I think it is a smart move that should lead to more exciting offerings on the Bido platform.
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The question marks surrounding  next month's GeoDomain Expo in San Diego have finally been erased. The event will go on as scheduled April 23-25 at the Catamaran Resort & Spa.

Dan Pulcrano, the acting chairman of Associated Cities (the organization that stages the annual conference) sent us a statement this evening that said, "The 2009 Geodomain Expo is going full steam ahead. AC has an iron-clad contract with the hotel, a theme, confirmed attendees and sponsors. SanDiego.com emailed us today to say they were fully on board."

Pulcrano added "Interest is especially high now thanks to the publicity windfall of the DNJournal coverage, and the collapse of several daily newspapers. Nothing could be more timely and important than focusing on the future of local media at this critical moment in history. Reports of the Geodomain Expo's demise — and suggestions that this had anything to do with the economy — were obviously greatly exaggerated." 

As Dan mentioned, we have had the unsavory task of reporting on a rift on the Associated 

Dan Pulcrano
Acting Chairman, Associated Cities

Cities board that had temporarily left the status of the show up in the air. Though this is not the kind of publicity you normally want to have, it did draw a lot of attention to AC and the Expo. As George M. Cohan famously said " I don't care what you say about me, as long as you say something about me, and as long as you spell my name right!"  If you missed that coverage it can be reviewed in posts in this column from Thursday, Saturday and Sunday

If you want the Cliff's Notes version, a board member, Skip Hoagland, (who just resigned from that position) contended a vote had been taken to cancel the show. Hoagland, who still has a minority ownership interest in Associated Cities, continues to have some issues with how organization decisions are being made but he told us he will not try to stop the show.

That should eliminate any doubts among those who have been waiting for the smoke to clear before making a decision on whether or not to book a trip to San Diego. Though the turmoil at AC has been a distraction I have no doubt that the organization will stage another top notch show, just as they did in Chicago last year and in San Francisco the year before that.

In fact, they have already started rolling out the agenda and we are happy to be the first to give you a peak at that. The show's theme will be Freefall! (How to Monetize the Collapse of Traditional Media), certainly a timely topic given today's headlines. Traditional media is on its way to being overtaken by online outlets and the .com city domain sites operated by Associated Cities members are especially well positioned to take advantage of this sea change. 

According to the agenda preview we saw, industry leaders will tell you how to:

  • Price and buy quality geodomains

  • Develop Destination portals

  • Promote through social media tools

  • Build business directories

  • Write compelling copy

  • SEO for search term placements

  • Monetize through affiliate programs

  • Optimize for commerce conversion

  • Sell flat-fee advertising

  • Execute linking programs

  • Build and leverage community relationships

  • Think strategically

We noted in our coverage of the problems at Associated Cities that six board members had resigned (with a seventh, Hoagland, stepping down today). Does that mean there will be fewer experts than in the past for you to meet and learn from? No. In fact, many of those who left the board remain committed AC members and they will be actively involved in the show. Their reasons for stepping down from the board in many cases centered on a desire to get out of the crossfire being exchanged in a heated debate over how the group should be structured and what its future mission should be. 

With its focus on domain development and a roster of experts with a record of proven success building out some of the world's best geodomains, the Expo offers specialized content and networking opportunities that give them a unique place in the conference world. If you go, past experience tells me your time and money will be well spent

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Tomorrow will be a landmark day in media history and a very important one for the domain industry too. The 146-year-old Seattle Post-Intelligencer will publish its final print edition 

 

Tuesday then become the first major daily paper in the U.S. to operate online only. This event could also have a major impact on domain values, especially geodomains. 

Even though every one knew this day was coming (and that more daily papers will follow the Post-Intelligencer online) the actual reality of it happening is bound to wake up a lot of people in the mainstream business world. If they have been waiting for hard evidence that the web is replacing traditional media, here it is - not at some point in the future - it is happening now

In many major markets the local city .com geodomain website (for example Seattle.com) competes for advertisers with the local paper. As David Castello of PalmSprings.com pointed out to me today, the newspapers, in moving online, lose one of the the last significant selling points they had with advertisers - the fact that the paper was something tangible that people could hold in their hands. Now that they are bring forced to give that up, it will be easier for the online city brands to take advertising market share away from the papers that are going all digital too.
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Further Update to the item below:  I have learned that six board members have resigned at Associated Cities (three more than noted in the original item below). A seventh has stated he is leaving his position but he will be replaced by an associate. It is my understanding that will leave four members on the board and that the remaining members are all in favor of  proceeding with the 2009 GeoDomain Expo next month in San Diego. A board vote is scheduled for Monday (but may be delayed until later in the week) and it now appears that an official announcement will follow the vote confirming that the show will go on. Of course, circumstances could change yet again.

If it does happen, I'm sure it will be a relief to everyone to have this resolved so the focus can return to the very attractive prospects for geodomains. AC will have a short time to pull this show together, but they were able to stage an exceptional show on short notice last year in Chicago. Despite the recent issues we have reported on, I have no reason to doubt that they can do it again as long as the talented leaders still on board are all rowing in the same direction again. 

Here is an update on the situation surrounding the 2009 GeoDomain Expo that may or may not take place April 23-25 in San Diego. As we reported yesterday, a member of the 

Associated Cities board of directors, Josh Metnick, issued a statement saying the show would go on (Associated Cities stages the annual GeoDomain Expo). That came after another board member told us on Thursday that the board had voted to cancel the conference (a report that was confirmed to me by others in leadership positions at AC). 

Metnick said yesterday that an "official" announcement would be released today, however that may not happen. One of the board members who voted to cancel the show said that Metnick did not have the authority to reverse the board's decision (a decision Metnick contends was never made by the board in the first place). The board member with the opposing view has called on the attorney for the group to advise the organization on who has the authority to act under the LLC's operating agreement. 

In a further complication, three members of the board have now resigned, including the chairperson, Jessica Bookstaff. Dan Pulcrano informed us that he has stepped in as acting chairman until a new chair is elected and that only he and AC's Executive Director Patrick Carleton have the authority to speak for or bind the organization. Like Metnick, Pulcrano said the show will go forward, noting that a block of rooms has been contracted for and that those rooms can only be cancelled by an AC officer. 

Given the current situation, I would think that all of the parties involved would wait to hear from the group's attorney (probably on Monday) before issuing an "official" statement on the status of the show, but we'll see. At this stage anything could happen.
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I just returned this weekend from a very nice spring vacation in one of America's most history rich and picturesque cities, Charleston, South Carolina. My daughter Brittany was home on her college spring break and wanted to visit her older sister Jill whose family lives in Charleston, so we piled in the car and made the 8-hour drive from Tampa

The first thing I noticed when we reached the Palmetto State was a new domain name on South Carolina license plates - one that makes you immediately wonder "what were they thinking!" State officials decided to use the second (or third) tier domain Travel2SC.com to fill the important role of promoting the state's tourism website. Travel2SC.com actually redirects to DiscoverSouthCarolina.com, a name that is too unwieldy to fit on a license plate. While Travel2SC fits, that is about all it has going for it.

Jumbling together a word with a number and an abbreviation for two other words is not a memorable combination for such an important function. The name also fails the basic radio test - when people hear "Travel to SC" they have to wonder if the speaker meant the word "to" or the number "2". Most states also use "Visit" (a la Pennsylvania's VisitPA.com plates) rather than the clunky phrase "Travel to" (or is that "2"!) Note to state tourism departments - hire someone with a clue before picking your domain name!

Fortunately South Carolina has a lot going for it despite the license plates! We spent a gorgeous afternoon Wednesday at Charleston's City Market, a historic structure that, unfortunately, housed the largest slave market in North America 250 years ago.

In the foreground Jill, Brittany and Diana check out jewelry at Charleston's City Market

When lunch time rolled around we headed across the street to another unique Charleston attraction - the Mad River Bar & Grille - a quaint restaurant built inside an old church building (with all of the stained glass windows still there to give the cafe a divine glow). Jill especially appreciates the place because she is skilled at putting together her own stained glass art pieces.

The next afternoon was the highlight of the trip for me, a visit to the Boone Hall Plantation, a gorgeous Southern plantation founded in 1681 that makes you feel like you have walked into a scene from Gone With the Wind.

Sisters Jill and Brittany at the Mad River Bar & Grille

Boone Hall Plantation - Charleston, South Carolina

In fact many movies and TV shows have been filmed at Boone Hall Plantation, including The Notebook, North and South, and Queen (the sequel to Roots). If you saw the Civil War miniseries North and South you may remember the scene of Patrick Swayze galloping his horse down the stunning Avenue of Oaks that leads to the plantation house (see photo below).

Boone Hall Plantation's Avenue of Oaks, lined with 300-year-old live oak trees.

Boone Hall Plantation is still a working plantation today producing an endless bounty of fruits and vegetables. The plantation also has polo fields and Brittany, in the photo below, made a quick friend of this polo pony by offering him at handful of clover.

If you are ever in Charleston this is a place you will want to visit. They have a website too, located just where you would expect - at BooneHallPlantation.com.
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On Thursday I reported that a reliable source told me that the 2009 GeoDomain Expo scheduled to be held next month in San Diego was going to be cancelled. I confirmed that 

report with several other members of the hierarchy at Associated Cities, the organization that stages the annual show (including several AC board members). Tonight I received a message from board member Josh Metnick of Chicago.com who was one of the founders of

Associated Cities. Josh said that contrary to what I was told the show will go on as scheduled April 23-25 at San  Diego's  Catamaran Resort & Spa and that an official announcement confirming that would be released by Associated Cities tomorrow (Sunday).  

Josh Metnick (Chicago.com)

Metnick said the multiple reports I received that the show would be called off resulted from "internal politics" that have since been resolved. However as of this writing, that does not appear to be the case. One of my original sources, who is also in a position of power at AC, disputed that, saying the board had voted against holding the event. According to this source the board will meet again to try to resolve the issue once and for all. 

Given the conflicting information I have been given about the event while an apparent power struggle within the organization plays itself out, I have cancelled my own reservations for San Diego and will look forward to a 2010 show when I am hopeful the current issues will have been resolved.

I have many friends within the AC and geodomain community and it is painful to see personal conflicts drawing attention away from one of the most important sectors in the domain industry. I am hopeful those can be resolved and that the GeoDomain Expo will continue to build on its well deserved reputation as one of the most beneficial conferences for attendees on the domain show calendar.

When AC finally releases an official statement about the status of the San Diego show (which I assume will require the support of a majority of voting board members) I will post it here, as well as any other developments in this story. 
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According to a reliable source, the 2009 GeoDomain Expo that was scheduled to run next month in San Diego will be cancelled. The event had been slated to run April 23-25 at San 

Diego's  Catamaran Resort & Spa, right before the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Silicon Valley show that will be held April 27-30 in Santa Clara, California. There has been no official statement yet from Associated Cities, the organization that stages the annual event, but one should be forthcoming soon. 

I have heard that current economic conditions contributed to the decision and that the conference may be rescheduled at a later date. 

I am posting this note from Charleston, South Carolina where I am wrapping up what has been a very pleasant spring vacation trip with my wife and daughter (visiting her older sister and their family). We will be driving back home to Florida Friday. This weekend I'll post some photos and highlights from the trip, along with an observation on the ill advised domain name that South Carolina chose for the state site that is promoted on their licenses plates. 
(Posted March 12, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
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Editor's Note: I will be on vacation through Friday of this week, so no Lowdown posts are scheduled again until I return Saturday. If I find a wifi connection and a hiding place I may try to slip away to get one in somewhere along the way, but my wife and daughter are keeping a close eye on me, so I'm not counting on that! I will try to post a few tweets from the road to @DNJournal followers at Twitter via my cellphone (assuming they don't confiscate that too!).
(Posted March 10, 2009)

Our next domain sales chart will feature some real blockbusters. The public Whois record indicates that Toys.com was transferred to its new owner, Toys R Us, over the weekend. Unless you have been living in a cave, you know that Toys R Us bought rights to the domain 

with a $5.1 million bid in a bankruptcy court auction a couple of weeks back. We do not consider sales complete until the names have been paid for and transferred to their new owners and now that that has apparently happened, this landmark sale is eligible for our list. 

In a another big deal,  Sedo.com reports that they have sold Top.com for €357,700 ($451,889 at today's exchange rate) Unless something else breaks between now and our next sales report, that will be the 3rd highest sale of the year, trailing only Toys.com and Fly.com ($1,760,000)

Speaking of our next weekly sales report, that will be published Wednesday, March 18. There will not be a report this week because I will be away on vacation (heading out early tomorrow morning). I will bring you completely up to date with all sales since our last report March 4 by producing a double length report on the 18th.

Another note related to Sedo. Our latest monthly newsletter was emailed to opt in subscribers Sunday. It featured three industry executives, including Sedo VP Sam Nunez, Parked.com President Donny Simonton and Neustar Senior Director Ivor Sequeira talking about domain investing in 2009 and beyond. Their comments were made during a seminar at last month's Domainer Mardi Gras conference in New Orleans.

This morning Sam told me that the format for that session had been switched to a Q & A discussion at the last minute. As a result he did not show a Powerpoint presentation that he had produced for the seminar. We have uploaded a copy to our site so that anyone interested can check it out here

Sedo VP Sam Nunez

Elsewhere, country code fans now have their own domain forum. Rick Latona has just opened the new meeting place and as you would expect he built it on the perfect domain name for this purpose - ccTLDs.com. We just registered (User ID: DNJournal) to become member #7 of a forum that we expect will quickly build a large and enthusiastic user base. 

The major ccTLDs have gotten hot over the past year so Latona's timing couldn't be better. He also plans to put country codes squarely in the spotlight June 1-4 when RickLatona.com will host  a T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference in Amsterdam devoted entirely to ccTLDs. 

BuyDomains.com has scheduled another free webinar for March 19th from 2-2:30pm (U.S. Eastern time) that will be devoted to "Using Google Analytics to Help Your Email Marketing Campaigns Succeed." You can register here for that special event.

Finally, since I will be on the road vacationing with my wife and daughter through Friday, I may not be publishing another Lowdown item until I return Saturday (unless I find a wifi connection and quiet corner somewhere to hide in!). However, there is a good chance I'll post a few tweets via Twitter.com from my cell phone between now and then. For anyone who would like to follow DN Journal on Twitter, our ID is DNJournal.

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I hadn't heard from pioneering domainer Marc Ostrofsky for awhile so it was good to get a note from him last night even though the message contained both good and bad news. It was good to hear that he and his wife Beverle are doing well (their first anniversary will be coming up in June) and that they enjoyed a private dinner with comedian/actor Robin Williams a few days ago when he came to their hometown of Houston on a concert tour (see photo below - if you don't know which one is Marc and which one is Robin you definitely need to get out more!. Easy to pick out Beverle - she is the good looking one).

Marc said he and Williams became friends several years ago when he introduced Robin to Microsoft founder Bill Gates at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.  After Williams' show in Houston he joined the Ostrofskys for dinner at the Four Seasons Hotel where this photo was taken. 

Williams' tour moved on to Florida but as you probably heard in the news yesterday, he had to cancel the rest of his shows to undergo emergency heart surgery after experiencing shortness of breath. He will need an aortic valve replacement (the same operation former first lady Barbara Bush recently underwent).

The bad news in Marc's note was that his mother, Shirley Welcher Ostrofsky, passed away last Saturday (Feb. 28th) at the age of 78. Funeral services were held Wednesday in Houston. We want to extend our condolences to Marc, Beverle and their family. In lieu of flowers, the family said donations may be sent to: The American Diabetes Association (P.O. Box 11454, Alexandria, VA 22312) or the City of Hope (1055 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90017.
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The $5.1 million sale of Toys.com to Toy 'R' Us in a bankruptcy court auction last Friday continues to draw mainstream media attention to domain names. Yesterday it was The BBC

today it was ABC News. I spoke about the sale at length with ABC reporter Ki Mae Heussner for the report she published today (and was also interviewed for the BBC's report yesterday).

Both reporters were surprised to see a single domain name sell for this much money given the state of the

general economy. The fact that domains can still hold that kind of value in the worst of times has, I think, been a real eye opener for the reporters and will be for their readers as well. As I have written before, the outside world is bound to pay more attention to the inherent value in high quality domain names when they see them outperforming almost every other class of assets in this kind of downturn.

Ms. Heussner took the time to convey part of what I told her about the reason why owning a generic domain like "toys.com" is so valuable on the web, explaining that search traffic generated by such a name gives the owner a constant flow of traffic akin to having a storefront in Times Square. She did not go into the direct navigation origin of the traffic (entering the term, plus .com in the browser bar) but few mainstream outlets would want to do that, knowing that anything but the most simple explanation would go over their reader's heads. The most important thing is that business owners get the bottom line message that good generic domain names can bring customers to their door and the sale of Toys.com is certainly helping get that message out to the man on the street.

The ABC News piece also lists the top ten domain sales we have reported since we started tracking the aftermarket six years ago. While these ultra high end sales are obviously not representative of the average domain sale - they make headlines and let people know that good domains have real value. 

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A new BBC News story about the recent $5.1 million auction sale of Toys.com and the domain aftermarket in general, quotes Sedo business development manager Nora Nanayakkara as saying sales prices for .co.uk domains (Great Britain's country code) had been halved by 

the current economic downturn. However the article also quotes Nora as saying small to medium sized business end users are buying more domains than ever. "Sales have tripled as businesses see the value in having a presence online," she said, according to this report.

I was also quoted extensively in this article and I suspect that the reference to .co.uk prices being cut in half was a misunderstanding by the reporter of median and average sales prices. I was misquoted myself as saying the average price of the domain sales reported to us was virtually unchanged from the same quarter a year ago,

when I actually said (in writing) that the median price reported was essentially unchanged. The median is the price at which half of all sales are higher and half are lower. The median tends to provide a more accurate picture because it throws out outlliers at the high and low ends of the market. By contrast, the average price can by heavily impacted by a few blockbuster sales. 

I told the reporter that there have been fewer sales at the high end of the market in this recession but that small to medium sized businesses were as active as ever (the same thing Nora reported seeing). I have not seen any huge plunge in the .co.uk prices that Sedo sends us, so while fewer high end sales may have driven the .co.uk average price down considerably, I would bet the median price, as with other extensions, is holding up just fine for the popular .co.uk TLD. 

While sales at the high end have been slower, they have certainly not disappeared. In addition to the Toys.com sale, a report out today says Vancouver, Canada based Live Current has sold two unidentified domains at a total price of $1.65 million (last month they announced the sale of another unnamed domain, believed to have been Malaysia.com, for $400,000). Live Current

Chairman and CEO Geoff Hampson said, “We believe the recent sales of three of Live Current’s non-core domain names for a total of over US $2 million is a testament to the inherent value of our domain name assets, especially in this challenging economic climate."

Finally today, veteran domainer Michael Berkens, who writes an excellent blog at TheDomains.com, will be the special guest on DomainSuccess.com's live web broadcast tonight at 8pm (U.S. Eastern time). Michael is one of the most knowledgeable people in the industry, but aside from those who follow his blog, a lot of people, especially newcomers to this business, don't realize the depth of his knowledge and the degree of success he has attained. I think that is because the soft spoken Floridian has never been one to toot his own horn. 

Having been active in the business since 1997, Berkens has gained a lot of experience along the way (along with 75,000 domains, many of them prime generics).  I have no doubt that anyone who listens in tonight will pick up more than a few bits of information that will help them boost their own business as well.

Michael Berkens

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Associated Cities has opened registration for the 2009 GeoDomain Expo coming up April 23-25 at the Catamaran Resort & Spa in San Diego, California. An early bird registration 

fee of $595 will be in effect through March 15, a savings of $400 off what it will cost to register at the show. Dollar for dollar this event offers one of the best deals in the domain conference space.

The GeoDomain Expo is an especially worthwhile event for anyone interested in developing their domain names. The key speakers have long 

track records of development success, including the Castello Brothers, Dan Pulcrano, Josh Metnick (Chicago.com), Sean Miller (NewYorkCity.com), Jessica Bookstaff (PigeonForge.com) and many others. If you would like to get a taste of what the show is like, check out our reviews of the 2008 GeoDomain Expo in Chicago and the 2007 Expo in San Francisco. 

Several other bits of news to pass along today. The Internet Commerce Association just posted its latest newsletter so everyone not on their mailing list can read it on the web. The newsletter includes Legislative and ICANN updates from ICA President Jeremiah Johnston. ICA Legal Counsel Phil Corwin is currently in Mexico City representing professional domain owner's interests at the ICANN meeting underway there.

Those of you who enter our site through this daily Lowdown section may have missed the introduction on our home page to the new Domainer Mardi Gras conference review article that we published last night. 

Though I filed daily posts from the Feb. 19-21 show in New Orleans in our Lowdown section, those highlights just skimmed the surface of what went on during the show. In this comprehensive review article, we give you a closer look at the event through the many photos and details I didn't have a chance to share with you in those daily briefings. 

Sedo's first ever no reserve online domain auction will be ending Thursday (March 5) at 1pm (U.S. Eastern time) so now is the time to review the catalog and get your bids in if you see anything you like. While this sale is winding down, Sedo is gearing up for a premium .me domain auction in partnership with the .me registry (.me is Montenegro's country code but anyone can own .me domains). Sedo will put 35 one-word .me domains on the block, including Bet.me, Pay.me and Order.me to name just a few. The auction will start at 1pm March 26th, with the auction ending at the same time on April 2nd. You can check out the complete auction catalog here.

The AfternicDLS has some thing cooking too. In an email that Pete Lamson, the Senior VP & General Manager of the NameMedia Marketplace, sent to AfternicDLS members today, the 

company announced it would be rolling out two new initiatives this spring. One will be the introduction of a "Premium Promotion" service that will give domain sellers a marketing option with greater reach than ever before. Details are to be released later.

The company also said new Quality and Integrity Standards would be introduced with the goal of creating a better user experience for buyers and sellers alike. Lamson said, "All names listed for sale will be vetted for ownership confirmation, U.S. trademark compliance and vice content."

"Our compliance checks are underway (completion will take some time, as we have millions of names to review).  Members whose portfolios raise questions will be contacted over the course of the next three months. It is our hope that AfternicDLS’ leadership position on important issues such as 

Pete Lamson
 
Senior VP and General Manager 
NameMedia Marketplace

fraudulent/erroneous listing, U.S. trademark violations and vice name listings will benefit our entire industry," Lamson said.

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ICANN President and CEO Dr. Paul Twomey today announced that he will be leaving ICANN at the end of 2009. The announcement came on the opening day of the current ICANN meeting in Mexico City today. 

Twomey said "Last year, I told the Board that I did not want to renew my contract as President and CEO for another 3 year term. While I am deeply and personally committed to ICANN and its success, I think this is the right time for me to move on to another leadership position in the private or international sectors." Twomey was named CEO and President in 2003, after serving for four years as the Chairman of ICANN's Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC)

"Paul Twomey has made an extraordinary contribution to ICANN" said Peter Dengate Thrush, Chairman of the Board. "He was involved in its set up, helped establish the role of governments in his term as founding chair of the GAC, and then was its longest serving CEO. He guided the organization through the World Summit on the Information Society in 2005 and has been one of the strongest and most persuasive advocates for the multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance" 

Dr. Paul Twomey
ICANN President and CEO

Dengate Thrush said the board was delighted to be able to retain Twomey's unique skills until the end of the year. "This is a momentous year for ICANN, and it is good that we will be able to continue with business as usual." 

Vint Cerf, known as the Father of the Internet and an eight-year Chairman of the ICANN Board said "I can think of no other person who has had more influence on the course of ICANN's evolution than Paul. We owe him a great debt for long and faithful service and I owe him personal thanks for his counsel during my time on the Board. The Board will be challenged to find a worthy and capable successor."

(Posted March 2, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/03-02-09.htm

Bulletin - ICANN President and CEO Dr. Paul Twomey Announces He Will Step Down at the End of the Year - http://www.icann.org/en/announcements/announcement-02mar09-en.htm
(Posted March 2, 2009)


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