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The Lowdown
February 2011 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.

Late Night King Jay Leno & Domain King Rick Schwartz Rub Elbows at Boca Raton Car Show 

As I told you Saturday Diana and I spent the weekend with industry friends visiting the 5th Annual Boca Raton Concours d'Elegance antique and exotic car show hosted by Jay Leno at Florida's Boca Raton Resort. The three day event that raised an estimated $1 million for local Boys and Girls Clubs kicked off with a DuPont Registry Hangar Party at Boca Aviation Friday night. It concluded Sunday (Feb. 27) with a spectacular car and motorcycle show held on the Resort's golf course in ideal 80-degree weather. 

Above: Fabulous cars from every era from pre-World War I to the current day drew a big crowd 
to the Boca Raton Resort Sunday for the city's 5th Annual Concours d'Elegance.  

Below (left to right): Diana Jackson, Howard Neu and Barbara Neu 
check out a row of new Lamborghinis

Tonight Show host Jay Leno - one of America's biggest car buffs - headlined the event (including a gala dinner Saturday night) and personally judged many of the entries. Jay mingled with the crowd throughout the day and I never saw him turn down a photo request from any of the hundreds of fans who asked for one.

Above: Jay Leno films an interview Sunday at the Boca Raton Resort
(Photo courtesy of Barbara Neu).

Below: Domain King Rick Schwartz (at right), who lives in Boca Raton, was among 
those I caught on camera with the King of Late Night TV.

Whatever you wanted to see - classic Corvettes or Thunderbirds, rare Ferraris, Lamborghinis or Aston Martins, American muscle cars, Duesenbergs, Chryslers and Cadillacs from the 20's and 30's or anything in between, it was on display at this amazing show. 

Above: This lovely lady let Barbara Neu take a shot of me with her and her classic 
Cadillac convertible (both the car and the lady were as beautiful and classy as they come).

Below: Howard Neu (who just re-launched his domain industry blog with 
an appropriate new name - Neu's News - at NeusNews.com naturally - 
drools over his dream car - a classic red Jaguar XKE.

Over the course of the weekend we enjoyed spending time with domain industry friends Howard and Barbara Neu, Ray Neu, Rick Schwartz, Chad Folkening and Bianka Krausch. Mike and Judi Berkens, who live nearby, had also planned to come out but regrettably had to cancel at the last minute and we certainly missed seeing them. 

While we were in town, I asked Howard and Barbara if they could give us a tour Saturday of the Ritz Carlton on Fort Lauderdale Beach where Howard and his partner Rick Schwartz will be staging their next T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference Oct. 16-19, 2011. Having been to almost all of the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. shows, I can tell you that I think this is going to be the best venue ever for the event. 

The Ft. Lauderdale Beach Ritz Carlton will host the next T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference in October.

The hotel has a remarkably unique cantilevered design modeled after a cruise ship. This allows the Atlantic Ocean to dominate the incredible view from every level of the hotel. See the shot of the pool I took below. Though it is several stories above the street, you see nothing but ocean and palm trees in one of the most stunning vistas I have seen anywhere. The Ritz is also right in the middle of all of the action downtown - making it an ultra convenient location for conference goers. I also visited the hotel's rooms, cabanas and conference facilities (all of which overlook the beach and ocean) and will put together a more detailed view of the venue and surrounding area for you at a later date.

The pool at the Ft. Lauderdale Beach Ritz Carlton

Speaking of conferences, the first Rocky Mountain Domain Conference was held in Denver Saturday (Feb. 26) and I am hearing good things about the inaugural event staged by Mike Law. Brian Diener had a nice recap, provided by Rick Waters, on his blog today.

Tomorrow evening (March 1), one of the industry's longest running shows, Domain Roundtable, gets underway at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas. The conference, staged by Thought Convergence,  runs through Thursday night and you can always count on TC to give their guests an unforgettable experience. 

(Posted Feb. 28, 2011) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2011/dailyposts/20110228.htm

Domainers Ogle Exotic and Classic Cars This Weekend at One of America's Biggest Car Shows

Diana and I are spending the weekend with some domain industry friends at the 5th Annual Boca Raton Concours d'Elegance on Florida's East Coast. This is one of America's biggest car shows (Jay Leno is serving as this year's host) and is a huge fund raiser for local Boys and Girls Clubs. In addition to the spectacular collection of exotic and classic cars - motorcycles, boats, helicopters and private jets are also on display. 

A scene from Friday night's opening event at the Boca Raton Concours d'Elegance
a Dupont Registry Hangar Party at Boca Aviation (Feb. 25, 2011)

At Friday night's opening event, a DuPont Registry Hangar Party at Boca Aviation, guests could go inside the private jets and get an up close and personal look at some of the world's rarest and most valuable cars while also enjoying an open bar and food samples served by local restaurants.

Above: A super rare Lamborghini (one of only 20 made) 
inspired by fighter jet aircraft, drew a steady stream of admirers.

Below: A collection Indy 500 race cars was also on display 
as part of a 100th Anniversary tribute to the great race. 

Above: Diana Jackson was among those admiring the Tesla electric roadsters on display.

Below: Inside the hangar, a wall to wall crowd enjoyed delectable food samples 
served by dozens of area restaurants. Tickets for the 3-hour event were just $50, 
making it one of the year's great entertainment bargains. 

Above: Domain industry faces in the crowd (left to right): Bianka Krausch
Ray Neu, Diana Jackson, Ron Jackson and Chad Folkening.

Below left: Howard Neu and Barbara Neu with son Ray
Below right: Ray standing by former Miami Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga's helicopter.

The Concours d'Elegance continues tonight (Feb. 26) with a gala dinner that Jay Leno will preside over. However, with tickets for that affair priced at $500 and $1,000 each it looks like we will be going out to a movie instead! We will be at the main event - Sunday's big classic car show at the Boca Raton Resort though. I'll have some photos from that for you on Monday.

In the photo at right, Bianka Krausch (ModelStore.com), back on her feet and glowing just weeks after giving birth to her and Chad Folkening's second son, modeled the show's official program and a Concours souvenir hat for us. 

I have one other photo to share with you this weekend. David Castello sent us the shot below from a luncheon held at the 3rd International Internet Marketing & Domaining conference that ended Friday (Feb. 25) in Punta del Este, Uruguay.  David and his brother Michael (seated 2nd and 3rd in the second row) of Castello Cities Internet Network were the keynote speakers for the event - South America's biggest domain conference. David and Michael were interviewed by Uruguayan TV at the event, part of their continuing mission to spread the domain gospel worldwide.

(Posted Feb. 26, 2011) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2011/dailyposts/20110226.htm

Domainers Set for 2nd Assault on Kilimanjaro + Aftermarket.com Releases Sampling of Domains in Roundtable Auction 

After conquering Africa's Mount Kilimanjaro last year in a  fundraising climb for The Water School, a team of domain industry pros is getting set to do it again March 23 through April 2

This Climb for Clean Water is a fundraising effort that was pioneered by domain industry leaders including Gregg McNair and Richard Lau. The first climb raised almost $200,000 for The Water School program that provides simple, safe, strategic and sustainable clean water solutions to the developing world. Every year, according to Save the Children, approximately 3.5 million people die from inadequate access to safe drinking water and poor hygiene – 1.5 million of these deaths are children. These alarming facts are what inspired the creation of Water School. 

The success of the 2010 climb led the 

Mount Kilimanjaro
Tanzania, Africa

organization to adopt the Climb for Clean Water as its single major annual fundraising event. You can support the effort in one of two ways - the most adventurous being to join the climb team yourself! The cost of the trip is $2,950 per climber. This includes: all airport transfers, 2 night stay at a 4-star hotel in Nairobi,  a Water School project visit (transportation and lunch), one-way airfare from Nairobi to Moshi Kilimanjaro National Park, fees, professional guides, porters and cooks, tents, all meals while on the mountain, 2 night stay at the Sal Salinero Hotel in Moshi (before and after climb) and more. 

Jessica Besseling will be among those 
climbing Mount Kilimanjaro next month

If you can't make the climb, the other way to help is to sponsor one of the climbers like Jessica Besseling, the Director of Business Development at Domain Development Corp (sponsorship links will go up soon at the climb's official website - WaterClimb.com, or you can donate at any time at the Water School website). Jessica had the winning entry in a contest held at this month's DOMAINfest Global conference in Santa Monica, California, that gave her a $5,000 Water Climb trip subsidy, plus a $5,000 donation made in her name to the Water School. 

Jessica fully intends to earn more money for the Water School by climbing the famous 19,340-foot mountain. She said, "This is the first time in my life that I truly feel that I can make a difference with my determination and efforts in the world. I hope that everybody that I know will donate at least a little bit, or a lot?, which would mean the world to me and give me more strength to actually reach the top for these

kids! I have never been so convinced and have never asked anybody for any donations, so I am hoping that we together can truly make a difference and raise a lot of money. Be assured that every penny that you donate is going directly to the Water School, as I know the people personally."

With the climb now less than four weeks away we will have more developments on this event for you in the days ahead as the start date draws closer.

One other note today - Aftermarket.com has released a sampling of domain names that will be up for bid in their live auction at the Domain Roundtable conference in the Bahamas one week from today. We also obtained the reserve ranges (in U.S. $) for the the selected domains. Those are:

 

Beverage.com        

Celibacy.com / Celibate.com                           

Ceremony.com                      

Coed.com                                              

CornealDisease.com                                    

Cuffs.com 

DressClothes.com                        

Energize.com      

Goliath.com                                           

Grams.com                                             

iSign.com                                             

OnlineBilling.com                                     

Viewed.com                           

50,001 - 100,000

10,001 - 25,000

50,001 – 100,000

25,001 - 50,000

No Reserve

5,001-10,000

5,001 – 10,000

5,001 – 10,000

10,001 - 25,000

5,001 - 10,000

1,000 - 2,500

10,001 - 25,000

2,501 – 5,000

Aftermarket.com's Carron Brown said the auction will have a final catalog of over 50 names with no or low reserves, with release of the full list coming soon. Auction pre-bidding begins Monday (February 28). If you do not already have one, you can open an Aftermarket.com account here.

(Posted Feb. 24, 2011) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2011/dailyposts/20110224.htm

Three Domain Conferences in Three Different Countries Will Run Over the Next 10 Days + Guinness Book of World Records Recognizes Sex.com Sale as Biggest Ever

There won't be as many domain conferences in 2011 as there have been in years past, but you wouldn't know it from the number of shows packed into the five weeks between February 1 and the first week of March. DOMAINfest Global got it started with their big show February 1-3, then the first .nxt conference, devoted to new gTLDs was held in San Francisco Feb. 8-10. The action then shifted across the Atlantic to Vienna, Austria where the 8th Domain Pulse conference was staged by Nic.at Feb. 17-18. 

Things get even busier starting tomorrow (Feb. 23) when the 3rd International Internet Marketing & Domaining Conference gets underway in Punta del Este, Uruguay. The Castello Brothers, Michael and David, will be the keynote speakers there. This event, South America's biggest domain conference, will run through Friday (Feb. 25).

The next day, Saturday, Feb. 26, the first Rocky Mountain

Michael Castello & David Castello
Castello Cities Internet Network, Inc.

 Domain Conference will be held in downtown Denver at the Russian American Chamber of Commerce Building on Pennsylvania Street. Show promoter Mike Law has lined up Name.com CEO and Founder Bill Mushkin and DomainHoldings.com CEO Jason Boshoff as keynote speakers for the event. Those who want to stay over for an extra day can enjoy a domainer's ski/snowboarding excursion to Copper Mountain resort.

Monday (Feb. 28) will be a travel day that a number of industry people will use to make their way to the Bahamas where one of the year's big events - the Domain Roundtable conference - will get underway one week from today (on Tuesday, March 1) at the Atlantis Resort. Roundtable took 2010 off to retool the event and they plan to make a big splash in their return to the conference fray next week. 

Featured speakers and workshop leaders will include Michael Berkens, Andries de Villiers, Gregg McNair, Braden Pollock, Robert Moore, Monte Cahn, Ammar Kubba, Craig Snyder and Morgan Linton. The show highlights will also include Aftermarket.com's Live Domain Auction Thursday, March 3 from 2:00-6:00pm (U.S. Eastern time).

One other note today - Sedo just announced that the November sale of Sex.com for $13 million (£8.2 million) has won recognition as a Guinness World Record™ for “most expensive internet address domain name.”  Sedo, who is celebrating the company's 10th anniversary this month, brokered the landmark sale - one of many high-profile, seven-figure premium domain transactions they have handled, including Vodka.com, Pizza.com and Russia.com.  The company said it  has brokered over £240 million worth of domain names over the years.

Kathy Nielsen, director of sales at Sedo, said "the sale of Sex.com was truly a team effort. We spent about two years with the domain, establishing the relationship, researching and finding the right buyer and managing the domain’s transfer. We’re honoured that Sedo was trusted with such a high-value and high-profile sale, and we’re ecstatic that it is now being recognized by Guinness World Records as a record-breaking deal.”

Kathy Nielsen
Sedo Director of Sales

(Posted Feb. 22, 2011) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2011/dailyposts/20110222.htm

New Developments at NameMedia, T.R.A.F.F.I.C., Boxcar.com and DomainTools.com Join Continuing Illness Investigation in the News 

After spending most of the past two weeks focused on the outbreak of illnesses that followed this month's DOMAINfest Global conference, we have some catching up to do on other recent industry developments. The illness story isn't over yet as public health officials are continuing to conduct lab tests to determine exactly what caused close to 200 conference attendees to fall ill. I understand they are using blood and urine specimens taken from patients to grow cultures that will help them identify the source of the illnesses (this is a slow process which is why we haven't gotten any definitive answers yet). While the medical professionals continue their work we will turn our attention back to business until they have some new information that we can pass along to you.

For starters we want to join in welcoming a key new members to the executive team at NameMedia. Mark Haseltine has joined the company as its Chief Technical Officer. Haseltine is an engineering innovator, with more than 20 years experience working on search, content, CRM and e-commerce solutions for Internet pioneers like Alta Vista to tech giants like Oracle. Most recently he served as Vice President of Engineering at Gerson Lehrman Group (GLG), a professional services firm that he helped to grow from start-up to an organization with operations in more than 20 countries. 

NameMedia CEO Kelly Conlin said, "Mark’s background—developing innovative e-commerce, content and search solutions that drive revenue—is ideally suited to NameMedia’s mission of building the world’s best trading platform for domains, allowing domain owners the opportunity to realize the full value of their ‘digital real estate’ by listing their name on the equivalent of the ‘MLS’ for domain names—NameMedia’s Domain Listing Service."

Mark Haseltine
Chief Technical Officer, NameMedia 

Haseltine said, “With more than 200 million registered domain names to date—and the prospect of many more domain name extensions—this is an ideal time to be building the industry’s pre-eminent trading platform. Just as the market for real estate or financial instruments have depended on trusted exchanges for their growth, the market for this essential asset of the Internet—domain names—will benefit from a global, networked platform.”

Haseltine will be responsible for technology leadership at NameMedia’s domain marketplace, Afternic.com, its SMB-focused sales site, BuyDomains.com, its domain name development platform, SmartName.com, and its network of niche websites. These sites service customers in more than 100 countries around the globe, supported by a partner network that includes the world’s top domain name resellers.

Elsewhere, it looks like the live domain auction business is in for some major changes - at least in the big sales staged at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conferences, starting with the next one October 16-19 at the Ritz Carlton on Florida's Fort Lauderdale Beach. In a post on his blog late last week, T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founder Rick Schwartz outlined a new auction plan that he and partner Howard Neu are currently refining. It would include an attempt to keep less attractive domains out of their auctions by charging a listing fee that could range from $500-$2,500 per name. depending on the value of the domain.

The plan has sparked a lively conversation in the comments section of the post, so if you plan to participate in future live auctions at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. it would be a good idea to look at their concept and let the organizers know (through your own comments) whether you agree or disagree with their plans for what would be a revolutionary new direction for live domain auctions. 

The online auction space is not standing still either. Mike Fiol's Boxcar.com has rolled out several significant changes over the past few weeks, including the introduction of live auction capability. If you haven't been there since we profiled Mike and the Boxcar platform in our December 2010 newsletter, you will also notice that auctions now run in real time and that the entire site has been given a redesign.

 

Speaking of revamped sites, industry institution DomainTools.com has rolled out a new and improved website. The company said, "The goal of the revamped site was to create a more user-friendly experience for all visitors while offering more customized, flexible membership and service options. We listened to feedback from our core user groups and analyzed usage patterns, breaking things down to create a membership system reflective of activities that provide the most value to members across the board. For those who kept suggesting a 

universal utility bar, it’s now ever present on the website. For those who wanted the ability to only buy Hosting History or some other service, now you can. For those that demand more insight into account usage, you can have it." 

(Posted Feb. 21, 2011) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2011/dailyposts/20110221.htm

Public Health Officials Offer Lab Test Help for Ill DOMAINfest Guests Who Live Outside Los Angeles County

Image: Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As I told you on Monday public health officials investigating the outbreak of illnesses that followed this month's DOMAINfest Global conference in Los Angeles asked all of those who fell ill (even if they have since recovered) to contact their doctors about having some specific lab tests done to determine what made them sick. They announced the tests would be free for Los Angeles County residents, however that left a major issue unsolved. Most attendees do not live in L.A. County and lab tests, especially for those without insurance are expensive. 

So I dropped a note to a CDC/L.A. County Public Health Department doctor who is on the investigation team and asked her if officials were going to be able to do anything to help those who could not afford the tests, so they would get a higher degree of participation. I have gotten a reply that includes direct contacts that should help those of you who who live outside L.A., County.

The doctor wrote: "For residents of California who do not live in L.A. County and do not have a primary care provider who can do the testing or do not have insurance, the contact is Charlotte Wheeler at California Department of Public Health. Email: charlotte.wheeler@cdph.ca.gov, or phone 510-620-3428."

"For people who live out of state or outside the U.S. and do not have a primary care provider who can do the testing or do not have insurance, contact Laurel Garrison at CDC Atlanta. Her email is: lee5@cdc.gov or you can call her at 404-639-3434.

(Posted Feb. 17, 2011) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2011/dailyposts/20110217.htm

Public Health Officials Still Waiting for Hundreds of DOMAINfest Global Attendees to Complete Survey on Illness Outbreak

Early this morning, the organizers of the DOMAINfest Global conference sent attendees of this month's conference in Los Angeles a letter updating them on what is known so far about the outbreak of illnesses reported by many guests soon after the show ended. Public health officials investigating the outbreak still have not identified the cause and I was surprised to see in the new letter that they have not gotten all of the co-operation they need from attendees in order to find the answers we are all waiting for. 

The letter said that only about half of the more than 700 people whom emails were sent to have completed the important online survey the Los Angeles County Public Health Department is using to collect crucial data needed to guide their efforts. If you were at the conference it is very important that you fill out this brief private survey even if you did not get sick! 

Image: Suat Eman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Here is the complete letter we received at 4:02am (U.S. Eastern time) Wednesday, Feb. 16:

Dear DOMAINfest Global Attendee:

We are encouraged to hear further reports that more people who have been sick with the mysterious illness are feeling better. For those of you still feeling ill, we sincerely wish you a speedy recovery. 
This communication will update you on the situation, and will ask you to assist health authorities if you haven’t already done so. 

Identification of the Illness  

Since the first reports of the illness, our attention has been focused on helping the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health identify the illness itself as well as its source.  While there has been a great deal of speculation, authorities have not yet determined the cause.  In fact, they released a statement earlier today saying that "not everyone with reported symptoms is likely to have the same illness because a number of respiratory infections with similar symptoms are circulating".  They are making few assumptions and need further assistance from some of you in order to complete their work.  

Health Department Survey  

If you have not yet taken the Public Health Department’s confidential survey (distributed by them on February 11 and again on February 12), please do so immediately.  Only about half of the 715 DOMAINfest attendees have completed the survey.  While this is helpful, more responses are needed to collect enough data.  The models and Mansion staff attending the Mansion fundraiser are also filling in their own separate survey.  

Please complete the following attendee survey EVEN IF YOU DID NOT BECOME ILL:  

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/HGN3T7N  

Free lab test for attendees in the Los Angeles area  

If you became ill and live in the Los Angeles area, the Public Health Department is offering free laboratory services to help diagnose the condition.  For details, please contact Dr. Rachel Civen at rciven@ph.lacounty.org.  Alternatively, your personal physician can collect samples and arrange with Dr. Civen for courier delivery to the appropriate lab.  Details on the free lab test are included in this letter from the Public Health Department.  

For individuals living outside the Los Angeles area, or overseas, you can contact the following person at the CDC in Atlanta for details on how to obtain the proper lab tests.  

Laurel Garrison
1-404-639-3424
Lee5@cdc.gov
 

If your doctor has already performed lab tests, please have them forwarded to the following Department of Public Health official.  All submissions are kept strictly confidential.  

Dr. Rachel Civen 
acdc2@ph.lacounty.gov
Via fax 1-213-482-4856
 

Please help with accurate information  

We extend our thanks to industry colleagues who have been keeping people informed and for encouraging sick attendees to seek medical attention.  
As the LA County Public Health Department investigation continues, we ask for everyone’s patience and to avoid the temptation to speculate or spread rumors, since unfounded information can needlessly slow down the inflow of accurate information necessary to correctly identify the cause of this illness.  

We hope that everyone will do their part in promptly providing detailed information and lab reports so that health authorities can help us uncover all the facts.    

Thanks again for your help.  

Sincerely,  

The DOMAINfest Team
www.domainfest.com

info@domainfest.com

The observation in the letter that " "not everyone with reported symptoms is likely to have the same illness because a number of respiratory infections with similar symptoms are circulating" is consistent with what we have seen in reports from people who fell ill. A few said that family members caught the illness from them. Bacterial infections, which we know many had or may still have, are not contagious, but flu viruses are and they are widespread at this time of year.

In a letter the Los Angeles County Health Department sent to attendees Monday (Feb. 14) they asked that all who fell ill have lab tests done to help identify what caused them to be sick (even if they have since recovered). As noted in the letter those tests are being offered at no charge to those in Los Angeles County, however the majority of the attendees do not live there (or anywhere close to Los Angeles). 

The tests could be a considerable expense for those who have to pay for them themselves so I sent a letter to a doctor on the investigation team that I have stayed in touch with to see if anything can be done for those outside Los Angeles County to offset the cost that may be preventing them from getting the tests done. The doctor said it is an issue they are aware of and are discussing with the CDC. I will update you on any developments there - in the meantime, if you have not filled out the survey, please do so now while you are thinking of it. 

Image: renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

(Posted Feb. 16, 2011) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2011/dailyposts/20110216.htm

Los Angeles County Public Health Department Tells Playboy Mansion Party Attendees Who Fell Ill to Contact Their Doctors ASAP

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has just sent a letter to DOMAINfest Global attendees regarding  the illness outbreak that occurred after this month's conference in Los Angeles (my reports on the outbreak are in a series of articles posted last week found at these links Feb. 8, Feb. 9, Feb. 10 and Feb. 11). 

 The letter says:

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is contacting persons who attended social gatherings at the Playboy Mansion during the first week of February 2011 to investigate a cluster of respiratory illness. If you attended an event during this time period and have had respiratory symptoms we encourage you to contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible.

If you do not have a medical provider please call the Acute Communicable Disease Control program at (213) 240-7941 during normal business hours and (213) 974-1234 after business hours.  We can assist you with testing and treatment for your illness.  

Image: Sura Nualpradid / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Attached is a letter with recommended tests for your provider to consider.

If you are not a Los Angeles County resident we still encourage you to see a medical provider and obtain testing.  We would appreciate if you could share your results with us.  Results can be emailed to ACDC2@ph.lacounty.gov or faxed to 213-482-4856.

The attachment with the letter includes a list of recommended lab tests for health care providers to consider doing with patients who they have/or had two or more of the following sympoms: fever/chills, cough, shortness of breath and/or muscle aches since the conference ended. A .pdf file containing the complete attached letter is here

A new Los Angeles Times story released tonight says the L.A. County Public Health Department has identified 170 people who fell ill at the event. 

Government health officials continue to digest information they have collected in a survey of conference attendees (show organizer Oversee.net provided officials with the contact lists they needed to do this). No other official findings have been released thus far. 

One point of special interest has been whether or not any of the models who were recruited to serve as hostesses at the conference's closing event (the party at the Playboy Mansion) had fallen ill. This is of interest because the mansion party was the only event of conference week that most of the models attended. I have been contacted by one of those models who said she did fall ill however that alone does not prove she contracted her infection at the party (the new official letter specifically citing the mansion event of course makes this a strong possibility).  I forwarded her information to a CDC/LA County Health Department doctor that I have stayed in touch with since they started investigating the outbreak Friday.

(Posted Feb. 14, 2011) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2011/dailyposts/20110214.htm

CDC & L.A. County Dept. of Public Health Now Investigating Illness That Felled Dozens of Domainers - N.Y. Post Looking Into It Too - Known Sick List Nearing 100 

I was hoping this story would be over by now and that everyone who fell ill shortly after returning from last week's DOMAINest Global conference would have recovered and gotten back to work. The good news is, a lot of people have gotten much better today (including my wife Diana) after getting antibiotics from their doctors. The bad news is that others are still having a very rough time. The sickest victim we are currently aware of - and the only one diagnosed with full blown pneumonia - Markus Schnermann - left a note on Nico Zeifang's

Post-Conference Sick List at Facebook today saying, "I still struggle with my pneumonia, waves of fever and very painful coughing. Besides I lost 15 pounds this week. I learned about Legionellosis today and told my doc - I will see a result of tests on Monday but she changed my medication already to cover this bacteria as well."

Our post Thursday about lab tests at a Swedish hospital confirming that a conference attendee had contracted 

Image: renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

legionellosis caught the attention of the New York Post who began looking into the story today. This evening I also had a long talk with a Center for Disease Control doctor based in Los Angeles who has also started an investigation in conjunction with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. They want to identify  the attendees, determine how many fell ill and make sure they have received necessary treatment and are recovering. If you were a DOMAINfest, expect to receive a survey questionnaire from the CDC soon - fill it out and return it to them as quickly as possible so they can get a handle on the current situation.

As of today I have compiled a list of 93 individuals who reported falling ill with respiratory problems, high fever and other acute flu-like symptoms soon after the show. Those people notified me directly or left their names on the sick list Nico started on his Facebook page, or in the comments section of a Sunday post at DomainShane.com (where Shane Cultra, one of those who fell ill,  published the first public post I saw about the problem).

We have only heard from people within the domain business who know about our publications or Facebook pages. Many other sectors were represented at DOMAINfest who likely are not even aware of this conversation or that so many others are sick, so I suspect the number that fell ill is at least twice the number we know about. Elliot Silver (who was also sick) told me he was especially worried about the many young women who were bused to the Playboy Mansion to serve as hostesses for the closing night party Thursday, Feb 3. If the infection occurred 

there as some suspect - how many of those volunteers fell ill and how many of them know they might have a bacterial infection rather than flu? Fortunately the CDC/LA Dept. of Health will try to find them and check on their status.

In another development, some who fell ill and were given antibiotics were called back to their doctors today for blood tests, in light of the report of a Legionellosis diagnosis. So far I haven't heard of any test results back from U.S. doctors but we should hear of some soon. 

Some said they initially had a hard time getting their doctors to take the possibility of Legionellosis seriously. With government health officials now involved, I'm hopeful that will no longer be an issue for patients - if you talk to your doctor, let them know the circumstances.

Adam Strong

Thursday evening I got a note from Adam Strong of DomainNameNews.com (also one of those who fell ill), reinforcing this point and asking me to advise people to not let their doctors brush this off as a common cold or flu. Adam had just seen his doctor and said, "I've had pneumonia and I can remember the feeling in my lungs. The first day I was sick I thought I had it already. I described the situation to the doctor and she had chest x-rays done. I'd suggest if your doc isn't doing this that you get it done. Mine came back with signs of an infection . . . first stages of pneumonia and I feel pretty good today. They're running a urine test to see if it's indeed legionellosis and they put me on a double dose of the azithromycin for 10 days).  They don't need to know it's Legionnaires to know that I've got the start of a lung infection and that's something you don't want. Everyone should be going in and demanding the treatment that fits this."

Here is an update just in. Oversee.net unit DomainSponsor, who staged the DOMAINfest Global conference, has released an official statement from Mason Cole, the company's VP of Communications about this outbreak. That statement is printed in its entirety below:

DomainSponsor, the organizer of the DOMAINfest Global conference, and its parent company, Oversee.net, have been made aware that several people in attendance at DOMAINfest and various evening events during the week became ill during the conference or after it concluded.  

There has been significant speculation about this situation, but as of now, not many actual facts are known.  Only medical authorities are qualified to identify this illness and investigate its ultimate source, so toward the improvement and protection of everyone’s health, it’s important not to speculate or make unfounded assumptions.  Of course, should you have a concern about your health, please seek the advice of a doctor.  

The health and safety of DOMAINfest attendees is our first priority, and thankfully, most attendees and staff did not become ill, and those that did appear now to be feeling better.  Even so, in order to accurately identify the health concern and prevent its further possible communication, we have consulted with Los Angeles County health authorities and at their request have provided them a comprehensive list of places we know gatherings were held (either organized by DOMAINfest or by others) during each day and night.  We also have notified our vendors and service providers of the situation, and have encouraged them to cooperate with authorities and take any steps they believe necessary.  

Medical authorities have further requested, and Oversee has provided, a list of all attendees and their e-mail addresses.  You may already have received a link to a survey asking for more information.  It is important that ALL attendees complete the survey, whether you were ill or not.  This will help authorities narrow down the range of possible causes and sources.  Only health authorities will have access to this data—neither Oversee nor any other party will be able to see it, so please do your part to help.  

Oversee will continue to work with health authorities, though at this stage, work is best left in their hands.  If there’s more we’re in a position to share about the situation, we will do so.  

DOMAINfest was a great event—our best ever with more than 700 attendees—and it’s regrettable that this has cast a shadow over an otherwise good week.  We’re very encouraged that most everyone is in improving health (including those on our staff), and look forward to seeing many of you in Barcelona in June.

In closing today, I  want to thank everyone who has shared their experiences in this situation. The quick spread of information has helped a lot of others get treatment they might not otherwise have sought out. It certainly has proven how useful social media can be in a case like this. Less that 3-4 years ago many of those who fell ill might not have realized the true nature of their illness or that many others had fallen ill at the same time. We again wish a speedy and complete recovery to everyone who has been ill his week.

(Posted Feb. 11, 2011) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
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New Report Confirms Suspicions - Hospital Lab Test on Sick Domainer Finds Legionellosis Bacterial Infection

After dozens of domainers fell ill with acute flu-like symptoms at the same time soon after returning home from last week's DOMAINfest Global conference in Los Angeles, the circumstances led us to believe that the outbreak was a waterborne bacterial infection rather than influenza (see out first posts about this Tuesday and Wednesday.). In a major development today we learned that the first known hospital lab tests done on one of those who fell ill confirmed a Legionellosis bacterial infection.

Yesterday I noted that those going to their doctors were being given antibiotics because a bacterial infection was suspected due to so many people apparently being infected in the same place at the same time. However, U.S. doctors typically do not order expensive lab tests unless someone has pneumonia or an equally serious illness. That is not the case in other countries with advanced health care though.

Four DOMAINfest Global attendees from Sweden fell ill when they returned home over the weekend. Last night, one of the four, Johannes Eriksson, added their names to a long Facebook sick list started by Nico Zeifang, another attendee who fell ill (that list is now up to 65 names - 10 more since yesterday - and I know of a couple of dozen others not on the list). Today Johannes posted an update. One of the four spent the day undergoing tests at a local hospital. With people returning this sick from overseas the Swedish doctors wanted to know exactly what they were dealing with, so they ran a full battery of tests and Johannes said all three test - blood, urine and lung X-ray confirmed Legionellosis.

Image: Sura Nualpradid / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Now this part is especially important - there are two distinct forms of Legionellosis. One is indeed the infamous Legionnaires' disease - the more severe form of the infection that produces pneumonia and in a small percentage of cases can be fatal, particularly in older people. The other is Pontiac Fever which is caused by the same bacterium but produces a milder respiratory illness without pneumonia that resembles acute influenza. The latter appears to be what has kept many show attendees bedridden through much of this week. 

Johannes said his friend had used the term "Legionnaires Disease" as well as legionellosis when telling him about the bacterial infection diagnosis in a phone call, but since the doctors allowed him to go home, I think it is safe to assume that his legionellosis was the milder Pontiac Fever strain - otherwise he would still be in the hospital.

Image: Carlos Porto / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

All of this confirms what we have been saying - if you are not getting better you need to see a doctor and get antibiotics to kill this bacteria - over the counter flu remedies will have no impact. Fortunately, the Pontiac Fever bacteria is supposed to die out on its own within five days but some are reporting relapses after they thought they were getting better. Better to get the antibiotics and be safe than sorry when dealing with bacteria.

My wife Diana believes that too so yesterday she scheduled a doctor's appointment after having a bit of a relapse Tuesday night. Her regular doctor is off on Wednesdays so a fill-in physician was there when she arrived. Diana told her what she thought she had and that she believed she had been infected at a conference at the same time as dozens of other people. When Diana mentioned Pontiac Fever she thought she saw a quizzical look in the doctor's eye (like, what does a discontinued automobile brand have to do with you being 

sick)! Doctors are worried about overuse of antibiotics creating super bugs so this one, apparently not sure how much Diana really needed them, said I will prescribe them for you but I don't want you to actually take them for now. Diana agreed but in between the short time she left the office and got home from the pharmacy, the fill-in physician seemed to have boned up on what the Pontiac Fever/Legionnaires virus was - and how dangerous it is to people over 50. Just as Diana was pulling into the driveway the doctor called and said, "Take the pills!!"  That is the only even mildly humorous moment I have seen throughout this whole incident. Like that doctor, if you have this, you need to take it seriously.

I had hoped to hear a lot of reports by this evening that people are getting better and I have gotten a few (glad to hear it Kellie Peterson!) but others say they are still battling it. If that is the case, don't keep trying to battle it on your own. See your doctor tomorrow before they disappear for the weekend!

(Posted Feb. 10, 2011) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
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The Sick List Grows Longer As More Domainers Struggle With Mysterious Illness 

Yesterday we told you about dozens of domainers being bedridden after falling ill upon return from last week's DOMAINfest Global conference in California. When I wrote that 24 hours ago I personally knew of about 50 attendees who were all suffering from the same symptoms after all become sick with flu-like symptoms at roughly the same time (starting last Sunday). Today the sick list grew by another 50%. At this point, more of my friends have fallen ill than have remained healthy.

Yesterday there were almost three dozen people on the sick list that Nico Zeifang (one of those who fell ill) started on his Facebook page (you need to be one of Nico's Facebook friends to see this page). Tonight that number is up to 55 on Nico's list. I knew of a dozen others who were not listed there and that number is now up to about 20 more. Since only a handful of his people have access to posting on Nico's page I am certain the number of people ill is easily in triple digits, especially since we are hearing only from domainers, not people from the many other sectors represented at the show. 

Anecdotally, some people who have been hard hit reported feeling better today (David Castello among them) while others reported no change and some even felt worse. Many, including my wife Diana, who also fell ill (I did not), also went to their doctors (very important to do if you are not getting better at this stage). In every case I have heard about the doctors prescribed antibiotics which are used to fit bacterial infections rather than the flu virus. 

Image: Michal Marcol / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

At first most assumed that was a huge flu outbreak but when it became apparent that just about everyone had fallen ill with the same symptoms at the same time (indicating they were exposed to the infection at the same place) a bacterial infection (likely water borne) became the lead suspect. Especially since people who had gotten flu shots still fell ill and only began recovering after getting antibiotics.

Since one likely bacterial candidate - legionella pneumophila - produces the same symptoms as the flu it is impossible to tell what people have without running lab tests and in just about every case, doctors are not going to order those expensive tests unless the patient is seriously ill, with pneumonia for example (so far only one victim has reported having pneumonia).  Instead they will do what they are doing now - prescribe antibiotics if they suspect a bacterial infection is at work, as many doctors have concluded after hearing that so many fell ill in the same place at the same time.

We should be getting a much better picture of where this is headed in the next 24-48 hours. If it is legionella, there are two strains of that bacteria to be aware of. The milder one, known as Pontiac fever, usually runs its course in 2-5 days and will normally die out on its own. So, those who fell ill Sunday, should be at the end of the gauntlet by the end of the day tomorrow (the

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image: Sura Nualpradid / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

same is true if they are battling influenza). The much more dangerous strain creates a form of pneumonia, the infamous Legionnaire's Disease (this Center for Disease Control (CDC) link describes both strains of this bacteria) that requires treatment. We are not seeing any widespread reports of pneumonia like illnesses, so it seems very unlikely we have to worry about that one (still, Legionnaire's is more common than many realize - between 8,000 and 18,000 people are hospitalized with it each year in the U.S.).

For those who asked if anyone has contacted the CDC about this incident, yes - they have been contacted through their website which advised that, due to a high volume of reports being filed, it takes them several days to follow up on each one. 

In addition to the issue of a bacterial infection, remember that it is also quite possible that some of those reporting in sick have a bad case of garden variety influenza that happened to hit them at he same time as others fell ill from something else - we are in the middle of flu season after all. I received a couple of reports today from people saying their spouse's had caught the illness from them. If you have normal flu that certainly could have happened, but if you have a bacterial infection, that is NOT contagious so no one else is going to get it from you. It is normally contracted by inhaling infected airborne water vapor or mist (which is why many suspect the fog machine in operation at the Playboy Mansion party last Thursday night, though it should be noted, there is no proof of that). 

Whatever the cause, the most important thing right now is for everyone to take the best possible care of themselves (including seeing the doctor if your condition is not improving). I'm hopeful that by this time tomorrow night, reports are flooding in from people who feel like they have turned the corner and are well on their way back to being completely healthy again

(Posted Feb. 9, 2011) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
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The Disabled List from DOMAINFest Global Continues to Grow as Dozens Battle Nasty Bug

With approximately 700 people on hand last week's DOMAINfest Global conference in Santa Monica, California drew what is believed to be the show circuit's biggest crowd ever. While it was another great event for the DOMAINfest series, having that many people from around the world in such close proximity to one another over several days has one downside - the possibility that a viral infection could sweep through the crowd. Unfortunately that appears to be what happened with more people being affected than I've ever seen before. 

 

Image: 
Jeroen van Oostrom / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The show ended Friday (Feb. 4) and the first reports of people falling ill started popping up on blogs and Facebook posts by Sunday morning. By today close to three dozen people had added their names to a DOMAINfest attendee's sick list posted on Facebook by Nico Zeifang, one of those who contracted the bug that has sidelined so many this week. I know of at least a dozen more who fell ill, some of whom have been very sick for three days now and these are just reports from within the domain community. DOMAINfest also draws sizeable groups from other areas including venture capitalists, affiliate networks, the SEO world, etc. If we heard from them too odds are the virus's victims list would be in triple digits. 

While my wife Diana was one of those who fell ill (along with many of our closest friends), I was one of the lucky ones who was not affected. I did have some coughing and chest symptoms Sunday but nothing reached my head (Diana says nothing ever does!) and my minor issues all quickly went away. Diana is gradually getting better after a very rough day Sunday.

However, some others, including some tough guys that are extremely difficult to bring down, including David Castello and Markus Schnermann, are still looking for the light at the end of the  tunnel. Markus posted on Facebook today that his flu has developed into pneumonia and David told me this is the sickest he has ever been. David suggested that if any of you who have fallen ill have weakened immune systems, you should see a doctor right away. Shortness of breath or lung congestion would also be red flags as they could point to pneumonia. 

No one can say say for sure what the source of the infection was but a lot of interesting theories are being bandied about. One prominent domainer who developed pneumonia after last year's DOMAINfest Global party at the Playboy Mansion, and who is sick again after attending last week's event there, has one possible culprit in mind. He thinks a fog machine that was blowing moist air into the huge party tent all night could have been distributing viral hitchhikers as well. The fog was so thick that most of the photos I shot inside were obscured by a cloudy haze, but whether or not that cloud cover had anything to do with the outbreak is anybody's guess. It is true, however, that a nasty bacterial infection that creates flu like symptoms - legionella pneumophila - is often spread by water vapor/mist.

A fog shroud hangs over the dance floor at the Playboy Mansion 
Thursday night (Feb. 3) in the grand finale of the DOMAINfest Global conference.

In most cases I have heard about involving couples, both individuals fell ill. I can only think of one reason why Diana may have caught it while I did not. I rarely get sick so over the years it became apparent to me that when I fell ill it was almost always immediately after coming home from a trip. In planes, hotels and in meet and greet sessions, you touch so many surfaces and people that the odds against you go up astronomically. Knowing that - and that we are in the middle of flu season - I made a special effort on this trip to frequently wash my hands with soap and water or use a hand sanitizer. I also tried to avoid touching my hands to my face, but that is a tough one as we all do it frequently without thinking about it. If you make those things a habit though, it at least gives you a better chance to stay healthy.

I am no germaphobe though and nothing is going to stop me from shaking everyone's hand that I meet, hugging my friends or going to conferences like DOMAINfest. Those are the kind of things that make life worth living. As bad as it feels to be sick, I haven't heard anyone say they wouldn't do DOMAINfest again next week. None of us wants to live in a bubble - we get enough of solitude in all of the endless solo hours we spend in front of our computers! So, all we can do is take some simple precautions and hope those tilt the odds in our favor when so many of us get together in one place. After what happened this year, I will probably be getting a flu shot next winter too!  For those who are currently under the weather we wish you all a very speedy recovery.

Update: I received two more notes since posting the info above that underscore how important it is for your to see a doctor if you are not getting better. Both notes point to the possibility that this could be a bacterial infection rather than viral as many assume - and that opens up a different set of issues. 

First, a well-known domainer who fell ill wrote, " I was as sick as ever till yesterday so my meet and greet immunity failed despite having a flu shot! Further my condition responded to strong antibiotics suggesting to me, the layman doctor, that it is bacterial in nature.

Second, my daughter, who is a 2nd year medical school student, wrote, "If there is a suspected water source as the culprit - like you mentioned the fog machine - and people are getting pneumonia you have to worry about getting a bacterial infection. If people aren't getting better they definitely need to see their doctors. So many people getting sick in one place, sounds like a case for the CDC." 

So, if you are ill, do not take this lightly. We want to see everyone back at 100% as soon as possible.

(Posted Feb. 8, 2011) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
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DOMAINfest Global is Over But the Next Event On the Show Circuit Opens Tomorrow + Happy 10th Anniversary Sedo!

We're back from another great DOMAINfest Global conference. I posted daily photos and highlights from the show in this column and will have more about it in a major article that will be published within the next 7 days. A number of people who were at DOMAINfest in Los Angeles proceeded directly to San Francisco where the first .NXT Conference will be held tomorrow through Thursday (Feb. 8-10) at the downtown Hyatt Regency

The show will be all about the new gTLDs that ICANN plans to eventually roll out (the expected launch date has been pushed back time after time, so I won't hazard a guess as to when they might appear). Even so, those who are interested in operating or investing in new gTLDs have been mapping out their plans since 2008, so the conference is expected to be well attended.  

The San Francisco Internet Society called on Kieren McCarthy, a former Public Participation manager from ICANN, to serve as Conference Manager for the event. 

 

Kieren is being assisted by Jothan Frakes, a well-known industry veteran who is about 1 degree of separation from most anyone in any role in the domain business. Jothan was also a driving force in the founding of both the Domain Roundtable and DOMAINfest conferences.

Jothan Frakes

Jothan was at DOMAINfest Global last week where I asked him to fill me on details for the .NXT event. "In just a few months, anyone will be able to apply for whatever new Internet extension they wish," Frakes said. "Registries and Registrars, which used to be separate, can now be a single entity. These changes to the way domain names can be registered and sold, the opportunities for new dot-coms are breathtaking."

"The conference will start with a bang - led off with the CEO of ICANN, Rod Beckstrom, in the very first keynote, followed by panel after panel of specific subject experts who can answer tough questions about new TLDs and the whole process," Frakes said.

"Attendees will also hear from Juan Calle, the CEO of the company that has just launched the immensely successful .CO top level domain.  

And that is only the start.  The roster of speakers and subject matter is very impressive, reading like a whos-who of executives and companies. No less than 17 thought-leading CEOs covering every aspect of the industry from those that run Internet extensions to those that sell domains to the public."

"Attendees can expect to meet and hear from executives and senior managers from GoDaddy, Afilias, VeriSign, Network Solutions, Tucows, Oversee, Neustar and other important companies," Frakes noted. "There will be applicants at the conference who are applying for TLDs for their brands, communities, and generic categories. There will be leaders from the domaining world, and a big crowd of internet pioneers. AND they've just added Gary Kremen of Sex.com and Match.com fame to the roster of amazing speakers."

You have to admit, the show's organizers have put together a very impressive line up for a debut conference. San Francisco will also be the site of the next ICANN meeting (March 13-18) when the topic of new gTLDs is again expected to occupy center stage. 

One other note today - we want to wish Sedo and all of their team members a very happy 10th Anniversary. Sedo had a humble beginning with three college students launching the business from their basement (we wrote about the company's beginnings in a 2004 Cover Story). Since then they have blossomed into a wildly successful company with more than a million members around the globe and more than 17 million domains listed for sale in more than 20 languages!

Several Sedo customers, including me, shared their experiences with the company in comments posted on a special anniversary page at Sedo. We wish them as much success in the next decade as they have enjoyed over their past ten years as an industry leader. 

(Posted Feb. 7, 2011) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
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Photos  & Highlights from DOMAINfest Global's Grand Finale at the Playboy Mansion

Another great DOMAINfest Global conference closed last night with a gala party/charity fundraiser at the world famous Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles. When I was writing my last post from the show yesterday, the final business event - Moniker's Premium Live Domain Auction - was just getting underway. The sale wound up producing a nice six-figure sale - Won.com at $115,000 -  and dozens on others in the three to five figure range including LoanQuotes.com at $75,000, Love.me at $32,000, BridgeLoan.com at $27,500 and Damages.com at $26,000.

Above: Scene from Moniker's Premium Live Domain Auction Thursday afternoon 
(Feb. 3, 2011) at the DOMAINfest Global conference in Santa Monica, California.

Below: Auctioneer Wayne Wheat, the best domain auctioneer in the business, directs the sale.

Shortly after the auction ended, DOMAINfest Global guests boarded a fleet of buses that took them to the world famous Playboy Mansion for the show's grand finale - a gala party that doubled as a fund-raising event for Jenny McCarthy's Generation Rescue Autism Foundation

Hundreds of donated silent auction items were scattered across the 
Playboy Mansion's spacious grounds. Above you see a few of them in the 
foreground with guests in the pool and grotto area in the background.

No visit to the Playboy Mansion would be complete without Bunnies and they were 
there in abundance. Above guests Mary Danna & Kevin Daste (2nd and 3rd from left) 
are welcomed by two lovely rabbit-eared ladies representing the iconic brand.

It was a chilly night at the Holmby Hills mansion, but a giant party tent on the estate's
east lawn served as a warm central gathering area of the hundreds of guests on hand.

Faces in the crowd included one of the world's top domain attorneys, 
Dr. John Berryhill, seen above with fellow guest Diana Jackson.

Oversee.net's DOMAINfest Global team, led by President and CEO Jeff Kupietzky, did another fabulous job with the 2011 event. If you missed our daily coverage from eariler in the week, you can find those posts here:

Day 1 Photos and Highlights

Day 2 Photos & Highlights

Day 3 Photos & Highlights

We will also be producing a more detailed show review article in the next week or so after returning to our home base in Florida. Ths year's review will have a special twist that I think will be of special interest to everyone in the industry.

(Posted Feb. 4, 2011) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
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Day 3 Photos & Highlights From the DOMAINfest Global Conference in Santa Monica, California 

The curtain will come down on the 2011 DOMAINfest Global conference in Santa Monica, California tonight.  Yesterday I posted just before heading out for Day 2's closing event - a Golden Age of Hollywood party that was held last night at the Mondrian Hotel's Skybar in West Hollywood. The popular rooftop nightspot features a swimming pool that was put to good use by the Aqualillies. The troupe of professional synchronized swimmers delighted guests with a performance that brought back memories of the 40's and 50's era moves that starred swimmer Esther Williams.  

The Aqualillies performing at last night's DOMAINfest Global 
Golden Age of Hollywood Party
at the Mondrian Hotel's Skybar in West Hollywood.

Perhaps the surprise of the night was that only one domainer got pushed into the pool! The party was still going strong when my wife Diana and I left at 11:30pm (2:30am back home in Florida - which is way past our normal bedtime). We had a great time hanging out with friends and meeting new ones who had traveled from countries around the world for DOMAINfest. 

Dr. Chris Hartnett and his wife Dr. Linda Hartnett at the Golden Age of Hollywood Party
Chris is a conference veteran but this was Linda's first trip to a domain event.

The final day of DOMAINfest Global got underway at 9:30 this morning (Thursday, Feb. 3) with an excellent session offering Tips and Strategies for Buying and Selling Domain Names

Moderator Lisa Box, Senior Director of Sales at Oversee.net, (at far left in the picture below) had an all-star panel to call on. The featured experts were (left to right after Lisa) Michael Berkens (MostWantedDomains.com), Larry Fischer (DirectNavigation.com), Tessa Holcomb (PPX.com), Jason Miner (Name Media) and Kathy Nielsen (Sedo). 

Conference organizer Oversee.net followed with another major coup - a Fireside Chat with Ben Mezrich, the author or the book that the smash movie The Social Network was based on (The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal).

Mezrich has written 11 books including another (Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas For Millions) that was also turned into a hit movie . That best seller (63 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller list) was the basis for the film 21 starring Kevin Spacey

Oversee.net President Jeff Kupietzky conducting a fascinating Fireside Chat 
with author Ben Mezrich (right) this morning (Thursday, Feb. 3, 2011)

Ben is obviously already a star in the publishing world, but - this being the time of year for predictions - I predict he will become one of the few authors who will ascend to the kind of superstar status that makes them household names. In addition to being an excellent writer who finds amazing stories to tell, the 40-year-old Harvard graduate has a remarkably magnetic personality. He is funny, down to earth and gifted with that elusive special quality that makes audiences instantly like him. 

With the popularity of the The Social Network as a catalyst, Ben should start popping up on all of the popular talk shows from Leno to Letterman to Oprah. Once the rest of America sees him that is all it will take to seal the deal - and we can all say we saw him first at DOMAINfest. 

Mezrich shared many anecdotes with the audience - one of the most interesting being that buying a domain name led him to his biggest success. Mezrich wanted BenMezrich.com which was held by a fan who liked his books. He was able to buy the name for $750 and the site he set up soon started attracting 

Author Ben Mezrich

ideas for stories from his visitors. One told Mezrich he had a friend who was a co-founder of Facebook. That turned out to be Eduardo Saverin, who was suing his estranged partner Mark Zuckerburg for pushing him out of the company. The site visitor put Mezrich in touch with Saverin and that started the wheels turning in bringing the previously untold blockbuster story to life. Considering the millions of dollars the movie and book have made from that one website lead, Mezrich's $750 domain purchase would qualify as one of the best domain investments of all time.

After a lunch break, the show's final seminar - The Latest/Greatest SEO and SEM Tips - drew a sizeable crowd back to the ballroom. Moderator Ryan Berryman of Oversee.net conducted the session.

In the photo below you see (left to right) Mr. Berryman and his panel of experts; Andy Atkins-Krueger (WebCertain.com), Bruce Clay, Scott Dotterer and Danny Sullivan (Search Engine Land). 

As I write this, the final business event of DOMAINfest Global 2011 - Moniker's Premium Live Domain Auction - is just getting underway. I'll have the auction results for you in my final post from Santa Monica tomorrow, along with photos and highlights from the big social event tonight that officially closes the show - a gala party at the Playboy Mansion that will benefit Jenny McCarthy's Generation Rescue Autism Foundation

(Posted Feb. 3, 2011) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
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Day 2 Photos & Highlights  From the DOMAINfest Global Conference in Santa Monica, California

The DOMAINfest Global Conference continued with day 2 (Wednesday, Feb. 2) of the fifth annual event being held at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica, California. In my last post yesterday, the opening day was winding down with Moniker's Low and No Reserve Live Domain Auction still underway. The event wound up generating 37 sales led by Camera.net at $35,000.  Prices dropped off quickly after that with AJY.com the next highest sale at $4,000. The event was a warm-up for Moniker's Premium Live Auction coming up tomorrow (Thursday, Feb. 3) at 4:30 pm Pacific time. 

Day one ended Tuesday night with a Polynesian Paradise theme party held in the gardens and pool area at the Fairmont Miramar.

Scene from Tuesday's night's Polynesian Paradise Party at DOMAINfest Global.

After the official conference party (sponsored by the .CO Registry) closed at 9pm, many attendees moved on to a pair of private parties nearby, one held at the Huntley Hotel by Demand Media and the other on the rooftop of an oceanfront condo a block away hosted by Washington VC founder Michael Mann who is spending the winter there. I stopped by both and very much enjoyed the company of the other guests and the gracious hospitality extended by the hosts.

Day 2 of DOMAINfest Global opened at 9:30am today with a terrific presentation from Jay Berkowitz (TenGoldenRules.com) who detailed his Ten Steps to Building a Winning Website. Jay, who also operates the InternetMarketingClub.com networking site, is a leading author and podcaster who really knows his stuff. He also has a special ability to present valuable information is a concise, easily digestible manner that has helped thousands of people jump start their online endeavours.

Jay Berokowitz (TenGoldenRules.com) giving attendees his Top Ten Steps to 
Building a Winning Website
Wednesday morning at DOMAINfest Global.

The second morning session was a panel discussion about Acquiring and Monetizing Traffic Using Local, Mobile, Social and Video. Moderator Scott Morrow, Oversee.net's new Senior VP/GM, Vertical Markets Division, directed a very informative session featuring experts Andy Atkins-Kruger (WebCertain.com), David White (Technorati Media) and Branden Claisse (Mojiva Inc.) 

(L to R): Andy Atkins-Kruger (WebCertain.com), David White (Technorati Media), Branden 
Claisse
(Mojiva Inc.) and moderator Scott Morrow (Oversee.net) provide advice on Aquiring and Monetization Traffic Using Local, Mobile, Social and Video Wednesday morning (Feb. 2).

After a courtyard luncheon, once again held outdoors on a glorious Southern California day, guests returned to the hotel's Starlight Ballroom for DOMAINfest Global's Pitchfest Contest. The event gave eight finalists a chance to pitch their new online business ideas to a distinguished panel of venture capital executives who served as judges (they were John Morris, Scott Jarus, Andries de Villiers and Jeff Cohn). The audience also got to pick a winner of their own and, as was the case last year, the judges and the audience had different opinions.

The judges named local deal site Smartvark.com as their winner, allowing the company's presenter, Stefan Wrobel, to take home the coveted prize and gain some attention that could lead to a sizeable investment in his company.  

The Judges picked Stefan Wrobel of Smartvark.com (L) as winner of the DOMAINfest Global Pitchfest Contest. He received the award from Oversee.net Sr. VP Peter Celeste.

In instant balloting conducted by cellphone text messaging, the audience came to another decision, naming ePayments.com their winner, earning presenter David Clements a return trip to the podium to pick up his crystal trophy from Peter Celeste.

The audience came to a different decision and voted David Clements (left)
of ePayments.com winner of the Pitchfest People's Choice Award

The day's final business session featured a panel discussion of Opportunities in ccTLDs, IDNs and gTLDs

Oversee.net VP Mason Cole (at far left in the photo below), served as moderator for this discussion. He had six experts on hand for this wide ranging discussion including (left to right after Mr. Cole), Ken Hansen (Neustar), Joerg Schweiger (DENIC), Daniel Eisnhut (InternetX), Andrew Snow (Globabel Holdings), Adrian Kinderis (AusRegistry International) and Daniel Dryzek (ddfund.eu).

One of the conference's majr social events is on tap this evening. At 7pm local time (10pm U.S. Eastern) we will be taken in a fleet of buses to a Golden Era of Hollywood party that will be held at the Mondrian Hotel's famous rooftop Skybar in West Hollywood. I'll have more on that for you in tomorrow's Lowdown post.

Thursday will be the final day of DOMAINfest Global with one major highlight being a Fireside Chat with Ben Mezrich, author of the best selling book that was turned into the hit movie The Social Network. The curtain will come down on the show tomorrow night with a party at the Playboy Mansion that will double as a fundraiser for Jenny McCarthy's Generation Rescue Autism Foundation

(Posted Feb. 2, 2011) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
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Day 1 Photos and Highlights from the 2011 DOMAINfest Global Conference in Santa Monica + Monte Cahn and Michael Berkens Found New Company

The 2011 DOMAINfest Global conference got underway today at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica, California. The show's organizers, Oversee.net, said a record number of registrants - close to 700 people from around the world - are on hand for the fifth annual event (along with more than three dozen sponsors - also a record).

Part of the opening day crowd at the 2011 DOMAINfest Global conference listening 
to welcoming comments from Senior VP & Domain Sponsor GM Peter Celeste

In welcoming comments to attendees Oversee Sr. VP Peter Celeste, who is also the General Manager of DomainSponsor, announced a new monetization initiative at DomainSponsor that will have the company selling traffic to some of its client's parked domains directly to advertisers. If they are successful in lining up enough advertisers that should produce a significant revenue boost as Google would not being taking out a cut of those earnings.

The day's first seminar covered Domain Monetization Basics From Parking to CPL to CPA and featured panelists Jeff Bartlett (ConsumerTrack, Inc.), Howard Hoffman (PPCIncome.com), Jamie MacMillan (LinkShare) and Joerg Schnermann (DomainSponsor Europe) in a session moderated by legendary domain investor Frank Schilling (NAMedia.com).

Frank Schilling moderating today's panel discusson of current Domain Monetization options.

The morning session closed with an interesting fact-filled presentation from comScore's Eli Goodman covering Internet Vital Signs. After a lovely outfoor luncheon served in beautiful weather under the stately fig tree that graces the Fairmont's courtyard, attendees returned to the ballroom to see Oversee President and CEO Jeff Kupietzky's excellent presentation featuring his view of The State of the Industry: 2011 and Beyond.

Oversee President and CEO Jeff Kupietzky delivering his 
State of the Industry: 2011 and Beyond address today at DOMAINfest Global

I will have an in depth report on Jeff's 2011 predictions in our comprehensive conference review article that will ge published by the end of next week. For now suffice it to say that he is very optimistic about how this year will play out for the domain industry and provided plenty of information and datapoints to back up his beliefs.

The day's main event - a keynote address from GoDaddy CEO and Founder Bob Parsons titled Luck & Perspective was a huge hit. The ballroom was completely packed with a standing room only crowd eager to hear the colorful leader of the world's largest registrar.

GoDaddy CEO & Founder Bob Parsons speaking to a 
standing room only crowd at DOMAINfest Global this afternoon.

Parsons certainly did not disappoint as he ran through his entire life's story with often funny but always insightful and often inspiring anecdotes about how persistence - a refusal to ever give up - led to the phenomenal business successes the decorated ex-Marine has enjoyed. He expects GoDaddy to reach $1 billion in sales this year for the first time.  

Parsons, an acknowledged marketing genius, comes across as just a regular guy - a man's man that you would love hanging out with - and his self-deprecating down to earth demeanor quickly won the crowd over. He said his number one rule in life is to do something you love to do - that is the real key to happiness. He closed his talk with a favorite saying that he credited to his son - "There is always a reason to smile. Find it because we are not here for a long time, we are here for a good time!" Parsons was given a standing ovation when his talked ended. I'll have more details on his address in our upcoming conference review article.

As I write this the business day is closing with Moniker's Low & No Reserve Domain Auction. It will be followed by a poolside Polynesian Paradise Party this evening at the Fairmont. I'll have more on those events for you tomorrow when I'll also bring you some photos and highlights from Day 2 of the event that runs through Thursday.

One other major note today, for those who have been wondering what Moniker.com Founder Monte Cahn would be doing next (after leaving the company at the end of 2010), we now have the answer. Today Cahn and Michael Berkens announced they have formed a new consulting company called Right Of The Dot, LLC that will provide guidance to businesses and investors interested in the new gTLDs that ICANN plans to introduce in the near future.

Cahn said, "“The domain industry is preparing for a new era of rapid change and a complete shift in how investors and businesses think about domains and online presence. Enormous opportunity lies ahead for registries, registrars, entrepreneurs, investors and corporations. But the question is, how will you navigate the ever-expanding opportunities? Knowing how to make the most of your time and assets is invaluable, and that's where RIGHT OF THE DOT comes in.”

Monte Cahn, RightOfTheDot.com

(Posted Feb. 1, 2011) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
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