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February 01, 2013

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Sedo CEO Tobias Flaitz Looks Back at His 1st Year on the Job and Ahead to What 2013 Has in Store

Exactly one year ago today Tobias Flaitz became the CEO at domain industry powerhouse Sedo.com, taking the reigns from company Co-Founder Tim Schumacher who, after more than 10 years at the helm, decided it was time to let someone else run the show. I caught up with Tobias to get his thoughts on the direction of Sedo and the industry in general over the past year, as well as where he saw things going in 2013.


Sedo.com CEO Tobias Flaitz 

"For both the industry as a whole and for Sedo, 2012 was a year of change" Flaitz said, "While parking was a challenge for everyone in the domain world, the needs of buyers and sellers have also changed, which has resulted in both groups asking for better usability and smarter tools for domain trading."

"At Sedo, we spent last year talking with our international customers and attending events so we could determine what changes were most important to our clients, and we have successfully implemented those changes. We also worked proactively to develop innovative solutions and channels to make buying, selling and parking more efficient and more successful for Sedo’s customers. Our vision is to make buying and selling domain names as simple as any other kind of online transaction, and we have been determined to pursue this vision and make it a reality," Flaitz said.

"To bring new buyers to Sedo’s platform and offer them a simpler, more intuitive search and purchase experience, we improved many aspects of our interface and relaunched our German language homepage. This was a direct result of buyers making it clear that they want to be able to research and purchase a name on their own, at any time." 

"Our buyers – both investors and individual users – also told us that they simply want to know what’s available, when, and for how much, without wasting time on negotiations," Flaitz said. "Sellers have heard this message too, and have increasingly turned to Buy Now pricing. This was reflected in the number of Buy Now sales during 2012: accounting for 41% of all transactions at Sedo, Buy Now was the most popular sales channel. We expect this trend to continue at Sedo and across the industry throughout 2013."

"Hand-in-hand with this was the need for sellers to have better, more reliable pricing tools, so that they could list domains for sale with prices that encouraged buyers to make an immediate purchase. This need came to the forefront in 2012, and with scientific pricing tools developed by our dedicated pricing expert Thies Lindenthal, we provided sellers with the most accurate pricing tools and features ever," Flaitz said.

"The most exciting and toughest challenge in 2012 was parking. Using alternative monetization methods was something that the domain community and our customers asked for, and so we added great new parking partners as well as leading second-tier providers to ensure that all traffic is monetized and that our customers get the best parking earnings possible."  

"An ongoing goal for Sedo was to bring more buyers and sellers together worldwide, increasing sales and spreading the word about the value of premium names. 2012 saw expansion of the SedoMLS network to include both more international partners as well as industry leaders like Go Daddy. This put more of our customers’ domains in front of more buyers across the globe," Flaitz added. 

Internet business image from Bigstock

Looking ahead to the new year, Flaitz agreed with many other industry leaders had to say in our current State of Industry Cover Story about what would have the biggest impact on the domain business in 2013. "2013 will be the year of the gTLD, marking a critical point in our industry’s history," Flaitz said. "New gTLDs offer a great deal of new opportunities for everyone connected to the domain industry. It is important that we as an industry show consumers that the new gTLDs have the potential to change forever how consumers and companies interact online."

"Sedo’s goal in 2013 is to partner with registries and applicants to support the launch of the new gTLD program. This will be tied closely to our goal to grow the SedoMLS network so we can provide end users with access to premium new gTLD domains as well," Flaitz said. "As with our other products, Sedo’s new gTLD services are designed as an integrated solution, providing registries and applicants a seamless experience for the launch and promotion of their new extensions. We’re helping find innovative ways to maximize reach and help grow the value of these new extensions, starting from our unique approach in developing customized, premium reserve lists, to our historically strong track record of launch and premium auctions, and our award-winning brokerage."

Global business image from Bigstock

"Flaitz added,"We also tie marketing into every aspect of what we do for our clients: bringing new ideas on marketing new gTLDs, as well as providing them to end users through the largest global domain distribution network will be key to the industry in 2013." 

"While gTLDs are a main focus in 2013, ccTLDs will remain successful on the marketplace. Part of the reason these have been successful is because the industry has gone international – companies everywhere learned that they need to speak the language of buyers and sellers in

order to succeed. It is important for our sellers to know that median prices and average prices of ccTLDs will likely continue to increase," Flaitz said.

"Looking at other areas of the industry, we are sure that our strong partnerships with Google and new second tier providers will ensure that earnings will remain stable as we move into the New Year. Our parallel bidding system, which was implemented several weeks ago, delivers the best results for our parking clients, and we are continuing to work on additional improvements in the parking sector to deliver innovative and outstanding traffic monetization options in 2013."

"Finally, Sedo is refocusing on our core strengths: providing superior, innovative domain solutions for our partners, buyers, parkers, and sellers, all in one location. With some new management and strong leadership, we will continue to focus on new strategies and ideas to help all of our clients to succeed this year," Flaitz concluded. 

Flaitz was introduced in his new role as Sedo CEO at last year's Domainfest Global conference in Santa Monica, California. He will be back in the Golden State (where, by the way, he earned one of his two MBA degrees at the University of California in Berkeley) next week for this year's conference - now known as Webfest Global. If you'll be at the show, meeting the personable Sedo CEO should definitely be on your to do list. 

(Posted February 1, 2013)

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