Conference Day 1 Summary
March 31, 2014)
Debra Domeyer and Dwayne Walker Kick Off Conference
DomainFest 2014 kicked off in the bright sunlight
of a California morning. Oversee.net’s
CEO Debra Domeyer welcomed guests with brief opening comments that
set the mood for the day. Lighthearted and funny,
Debra talked about breaking tradition and having
multiple simultaneous tracks on hot topics of the
day: gTLDs, monetization, and strategies for raising
capital. She then offered some reasons for
attendance. The crowd favorite was getting “free
booze” with meeting Lindsay Lohan a close second.
She then turned the program over to Dwayne Walker,
SVP of Oversee.net, who thanked .Club and Verisign
for their support. He then recognized all the
sponsors. In the history of DomainFest, this is the
largest outpouring of sponsor support that the
conference has enjoyed. He also gave kudos to the
team that put the show together, commenting on how a
great team is needed to coordinate all aspects of
the show. Dwayne shared a bit about his personal
history in the domain business and how important it
is to look beyond parking. He noted that we all need
diversification strategies that include building out
our personal brand.
to R): Oversee.net SVP Dwayne Walker, Keynote
Gary Vaynerchuk and Oversee.net CEO Debra
Knockout Keynoter Gary Vaynerchuk
For the first time, the primary keynoter, Gary
Vaynerchuk opened the show. He was a powerhouse and
the audience loved him. Gary was a very poor kid but
one with an entrepreneurial mind and a genius for
spotting trends. His personal stories delighted the audience
and the Twitterverse lit up. He talked about the DNA
of an entrepreneur and quickly related it to the
audience and the domain business. He is a firm
believer in leveraging diversification and building
out the domains you buy. Gary describes himself as
an “on-line commerce guy,” and he brought humor
and complete candor to this talk. His essence is all
about “selling stuff” and learning how to engage
and connect with customers. For those wanting to
start their own business, he was inspirational.
Born in Russia, he and his family came to the
United States dirt poor. He considers his parents
“heroes.”At 13, he started a baseball card
business and soon had $30,000 tucked under his bed.
The stories about his ability to make money had the
audience hanging onto every word. His entire speech
made being successful sound so easy yet he was quick
to tell us about the time and effort it took for
each endeavor, always having the long-term goal of
buying the New York Jets.
By the time he was 17, he had transformed his
father’s liquor business into a $60 million wine
business. He now has multiple companies, including
VaynerMedia, a new breed of agency that helps
Fortune 500 companies find their social voices and
build their digital brands through micro content and other story telling actions. He
also launched Vayner RSE, a $25 million seed fund
that will help invest in and launch the next
generation of world-changing technology companies.
Vaynerchuk delivering his Keynote speech at
Gary believes that we are living through the
single biggest shift in history other than the Industrial Revolution. He has enormous respect for our space and advocated that domain owners
start developing now to engage audiences and sell
product. Social media is where you should be
spending your time as the value of display and email
marketing is declining.
Gary believes that the velocity of change is
increasing and that we are grossly underestimating
the momentum of changes to come. Once it becomes a
behavior and the people sniff it out, things change.
Perhaps his best line of all was: “Don’t be
romantic about how you make your money!”
Networking and Sponsors
Starting with breakfast, DomainFest followed its tradition of encouraging
networking. Throughout the day and after each of the
breakout sessions, there was ample time for
attendees to do some casual networking. With
comfortable chairs set up within the sponsor exhibit
area and others outside in the sun, many attendees
were huddled in discussions and private meetings.
With more sponsors than ever before, breaks also
gave attendees the ability to visit with our
sponsors and learn about their new offerings.
Conversations were going on everywhere.
Change in Format: Alternative
Tracks on Hot Topics
This year, DomainFest held alternate tracks on hot topic areas. Speakers were excellent
provoking questions in all sessions. Covering two or
three tracks at the same time is a challenge.
Here’s a brief snippet of each.
The New gTLD Land-Grab discussion was moderated by Dan Schindler, Co-Founder
& EVP of Donuts. He was joined by Steve Banfield,
SVP & GM, Registrar Services for Rightside and
Ray King, CEO, Top Level Design LLC. They gave
straightforward opinions on the
gTLD landscape, and both the opportunities and
challenges that lie ahead. Various opinions were
exchanged on what gTLDs would be the winners.
King (left) and Steve Banfield talk about
the New gTLD Land Grab
Registry Strategies – Picking a Winning Horse in
the gTLD Race was moderated by Karen Bernstein, Principal, Bernstein IP. The panelists included Colin
Campbell, CEO, .CLUB Domains LLC; Daniel
Negari, CEO .XYZ and .College; and Daniel
Schindler, Co-Founder & EVP,
to R): Daniel Schindler, Daniel Negari &
Colin Campbell share registry strategies.
last session on the gTLDs track was Rising Stars
– Who’s Hot, Who’s Not and Who Has a Shot! Moderator,
Dam, Co-founder, MyTLD, and panelists, that included Aaron Grego,
CEO, Punto 2012;
Mohammad Salihie, Business Development
Manager, 101domain.com; and Bret Fausett, Esq. General Counsel, Uniregistry,
discussed and debated which gTLDs are the clear
winners in the market and which are the ones to
watch and why.
Rising Stars panel featured (L to R) Aaron
Salihie, Bret Fausett and moderator Tina
The second track focused on domains. Michael Cyger, Publisher,
DomainSherpa.com lead a lively session on How
to Build a Diversified Domain Business Beyond
Parking. Luke Webster, Founder,
TheShaveNetwork.com, Bill Karamouzis, CEO, TeachMe,
David Fairley, Founder & President,
Websiteproperties.com and Jon Yau, Owner,
StockPhoto.com shared experiences and success
stories on growing the business beyond parking.
Experts offered tips on making money and using
strong content and social media to get to the next
level by engaging customers.
Beyond Parking discussion featured (L to R)
moderator Michael Cyger,
Luke Webster, Bill Karamouzis,
David Fairley and Jon Yau.
Valuations LIVE! featured a lively discussion with industry experts who appraised domains that were submitted by the conference attendees. Valuations
varied and the audience voted on values. The
moderator was Page
Howe, Owner, JoeDomains.com &
DomainOutlet.com while the panelists included Amanda Waltz, Director of Sales
& Acquisitions, Igloo.com; Dave Evanson, Senior Sales and
Brokerage Consultant, Sedo.com; and Ammar Kubba, CEO, Thought
view of the audience at the Domain Valuations
The third session in this track was Alternative
Monetization, which was moderated by
Director of Sales & Business Development,
Oversee.net. The panelists included Mateusz
Director of Business Development Zeropark; Michael Onghai, CEO of Looksmart;
and Jean Touboul, President and CEO of enContext. The
discussion focused on using TrafficMatch.com and
affiliate offers to increase domain monetization.
Discussions on Startups were a new feature of DomainFest and judging by
the attendance at the Where
are the Best Startup Opportunities panel, attendees were
very interested in the topic. Moderator Mike Jones, CEO, Science led the discussion with experts Dave
Carter, Co-founder and
Strategic Advisor at Amplify.LA, Amir
Banifatemi, Managing Partner, K5, William Hsu,
Co-founder & partner, Mucker Capital. Panelists
talked about alternatives for raising money in
today’s tech driven economy.
With no shortage of angel investors,
entrepreneurs need to understand the importance of a
strong strategic plan for a new business.
Mike Jones conducted this discussion of Where
the Best Startuo Opportunities Are.
The second session in the Startups track was How
Startups Can Buy Domain Names Like a Pro. Moderated
by Brad Wilkinson, Director of Product
Management and Analytics, Oversee.net, this panel
discussed how to successfully negotiate, make
offers, and purchase domain names for your
startup.The panelists included Dwayne
Walker, Senior VP DomainSponsor; Morgan
Linton, Founder, Linton Investments; and Tessa Holcomb, Co-Founder & CEO, Igloo.com.
to R) Tessa Holcomb, Morgan Linton
& Dwayne Walker
provide advice on How Startups Can Buy Domain
Names Like a Pro.
The third session in the Startups track was How
to Raise Capital for Your Domain, Mobile or Startup
audience learned how to raise capital from
the Domain Community, Angel Investors, Crowdsourcing,
Venture Capital (VCs) and Private Equity. There was
a variety of opinions put forth by the experts. The
moderator was Raj
Beri, VP & GM, Online Travel for Oversee
while the panelists included David
Siemer, Managing Partner, Siemer Ventures; Bill
Chui, Co-founder of BPO Solutions; Buck
Jordan, Managing Partner, Canyon Creek
Capital; and Alon Goren, Co-Founder and CEO, Invested.In.
right) moderated the session devoted to How to
Raise Capital for Your Domain, Mobile or Startup
The first day also featured a
general session about the .Sexy Rollout Success
Story. Uniregistry’s General Counsel Bret Fausett, Amanda
Fessenden, Director of Industry Relations, and Ian
Deveau, Marketing Associate told the unique story of
all started in 2005 when Bret got a call from Frank
Schilling who wanted to go big with gTlDs. Over the
next few years, there was a lot of policy work up
until 2011 when ICANN voted to launch new TLDs.
Uniregistry gained the first mover advantage in
being the only applicant in 2012. By summer 2013,
the sales channel was built and the marketing was
crafted around being fun and edgy without any
X-rated meaning. Marketing is the key and this
message rang true for all the experts who talked
to R) Bret Fausett, Amanda Fassenden
and Ian Deveau share the .Sexy Rollout
Now it was time to
network and party and this DomainFest was no
exception. It all started with a cocktail party
which was quickly followed by a great party
sponsored by .Club. Held in the Annex across
from the Dolby Theatre, guests were great by
paparazzi and none other than a Joan Rivers
impersonator who gave her personal
opinion and greeting to all who entered. It
was uproarious. Then the real fun began with the
party ending in the “wee” hours.
A crowd of paparazzi gather around "Joan
Rivers" and Dwayne Walker
when he arrived on the red carpet at the Monday
night .CLUB Party.
The crowd enjoying the party scene Monday night
(March 31) at DomainFest 2014.
Conference Day 2 Summary
(Tuesday, April 1, 2014)
was sunny once again amidst the threat of rain. The
day started out with the CMO
of .CLUB, Jeffrey Sass delivering
his keynote address, Follow
the Money. He stated that brands are the key to gTLD success. Jeff believes that for the consumer to understand top level domains, they must call them something that the consumer will understand to
speed adoption. A domain name used to be called a
web address, but now a domain name is about branding
and is an integral part of who you are.
Marketing is the call to action.
started out in entertainment business and was a bit
of a geek, especially with video games. He was
excited by the convergence of digital and
traditional entertainment. Then he met Colin
Campbell who is the CEO of .CLUB.
ended sunrise on March 29. Applicants included
sports, retailers, colleges who can now create
meaningful domain names. For example, there is
domain name can also be created that is semantically
correct, such as golf.club. With the new domain
names, there is balance on both sides of the dot.
CMO Jeffrey Sass delivering his Tuesday keynote
address Follow the Money.
brand can rethink their brand strategy. A brand can
also have brand.app that points directly to their
apps, such as brand.club for a loyalty program. It
is very important because mobile matters. When you
take that phone out, you are purpose driven. It must
be easy and convenient. There is a specific domain
that gets a person to where they want to go. These
domain names can be used to make it easier for
customers to find things.
clear message to the audience was: We are here to
monetize domain names. So focus on brands and brand
domain investors, you become our sales force. It is
about having the ability to buy the names that
marketers go after. The Land Rush has begun.
gTLD and Domain tracks continued on the second day.
The gTLD track started with
Untapped Opportunities for Promoting gTLDs. This
session covered how to use new business models to
generate revenue. It was moderated by Andrew
Allemann, Editor of DomainNameWire.com
with panelists Melisa
Marketing Strategist for Punto
2012, and Bob Mountain, Chief Revenue Officer for
to R) Bob Mountain, Melisa Dafni and
moderator Andrew Allemann
Opportunities for Promoting gTLDs
The second session was Self Regulation within the DNS Industry. The
moderator was Raymond King, CEO of Top Level Design LLC.
Panelists include Akram Atallah, President of the
Global Domains Division for ICANN, and Reg Levy,
Vice President of Compliance and Policy for Minds
The DNS Seal of Approval outlines the best
practices within the DNS community. It is a marking
system for registries and registrars and creates a
voluntary code of conduct.
Akram Atallah, President of the Global
Domains Division for ICANN presented an
Update on gTLD Rollouts.
The Domain track began with Aftermarket Q & A
Showdown. Moderated by Adam Dicker, CEO, Digital Intelligence, it featured Joe Styler, Director of Aftermarket Sales and Support
for GoDaddy, Brad
Lemire, Vice President of Business
North America for Sedo., Daniel Adamson, Sales
Director, DomainNameSales.com and Brian Kleiner,
Sales Executive, Afternic. Experts discussed the healthy state of the aftermarket and trends affecting the cost of domains with the price of
dot coms remaining steady. There is also more awareness by the end users who realize the
value of a good name. More
gTLDs have been brought onto platforms. Sales of
these now boost the domain business. There is much more marketing
around the domain space now as was clearly
demonstrated during DomainFest.
Dicker (far left) moderates the Aftermarket
second session was Premium
Domain Brokerage Life Cycle moderated by Braden Pollock, Founder of Legal Brand Marketing.
Panelists included Andrew Rosener, CEO of Media
Options; Larry Fischer of GetYourDomain.com and
Co-Founder of Smartname.com; and Alan Hack,
President of Names Plus Marketing. First and
foremost, when dealing with a broker, it is important to build trust. Panelists shared recent examples
of major deals including chat.com which was one of the largest domain sales in the last few years. Experts
on the panels then talked about challenges they
faced giving real examples and how they succeeded in
specific transactions. They also added that timing
and good partnerships are everything.
to R) Braden Pollock, Andrew Rosener, Larry
Fischer and Alan Hack broke down
Domain Broker age Life Cycle
for the DomainFest audience.
The last session in this track was Alternatives
to Monetizing Your Mobile Traffic. This seminar
provided information on how to make more money
knowing more about traffic.
The moderator was Vincent Meyer, Vice
President of Business and Publisher Development for
Admarketplace. Panelists included Melissa Lai, Mobile Business Development Manager for Pulse Mobile;
Michael Ritter, Senior Vice President of Business
& Corporate Development for SGN; and Mateusz
Drela, Director of Business Development for ZeroPark. This discussion first focused on gaming and Candy Crush. Then there was a lively discussion with audience participation on
mobile. The conversion process on the mobile web is
different and often difficult to quantify. It
that in the next five years, 50 per cent of traffic
will be mobile.
of the audience at the Tuesday (April 1) business
sessions at DomainFest 2014.
The general session featured
Daniel Negari of .XYZ and .College
. He registered his first domain name in
1999 at 12 and is now
28 years old. He chose .XYZ and has been marketing it very
aggressively. It is meant for every website
Daniel expects one billion domains will
be registered over the next five years. He chose .XYZ
because it doesn’t have a specific meaning. Daniel
has a pro-active marketing approach, focusing on the
next generation of Internet users. He believes they
will receive one million registrants in the first
year from guerrilla marketing and TV commercials.
The thing about .XYZ is that it is really sticky and
can never be forgotten.
Daniel Negari delivering his Keynote Tuesday
Daniel also talked about .college
extension, recalling that some of his best domain
acquisitions are PhD.com, Degrees.com and
CommunityCollege.com. These top tier education
domains helped him understand the need for an online
presence by educational organizations.
With the sessions completed for the
day, there was much anticipation for the Stone
Stone Temple Pilots Private DomainFest Concert
concert was held at OHM
Nightclub where the DomainFest “gang” had
partied hard before. We were greeted by Daniel
Negari’s Purple People dancing and handing out
purple “lights.’ What
a night! The Stone Temple Pilots delivered big time.
They are an iconic alternative rock band with a bit
of heavy metal. The addition of Chester Bennington
lifted this already edgy music. This was a
once-in-a- lifetime experience. The audience loved
every minute of it. STP made it personal,
acknowledging attendees and our industry. Mostly it
was great fun and everyone partied on when the show
Stone Temple Pilots rock the house in private
DomainFest 2014 guests Tuesday night (April
(L to R) Sam Tseng, Howard Hoffman, Joe
Higgins and Henry Hsu get into STP
Conference Day 3 Summary (Wednesday,
April 2, 2014)
3 started with a keynote
from Dan Schindler, Co-Founder of Donuts, and
Rich Merdinger, Vice President of Domains for
GoDaddy. The space has seen tremendous change over
the past twenty years.
Yet, new extensions introduced at that time,
such as .co. and .biz, did not generate the kind of
excitement or acceptance that the new gTLDs are
are also called vtld because they define vertical
spaces and are more likely to succeed. Pricing is
higher and investor must be savvy for the dollars
spent. Take advantage of pre-registrations. Don’t
compete with yourself by going to multiple
registrars. Registrars have premiere services so let
them help you.
Schindler (left) and Rich Merdinger on
stage Wednesday morning (April 3).
do reserve some names. In the case of Donuts, the
company wants the names out there and people using
their TLDs. They may hold some back to boost the
value of a brand. An example is car.insurance. If an
organization like Geico were to advertise
car.insurance, it would be worth more than just the
domain. The benefit to all is that it elevates all
gTLDs. When brand holders start their marketing
campaigns, it will educate people about these new
has targeted marketing plans such as going to
specific conferences and launching affinity
programs. GoDaddy wants to get the right domain to
the right person. Both keynoters advocated that a
new organization is needed to help in marketing and
the technical piece.
gTLD track started off with The Next Generation
Registrars and Registry Services. This
seminar provided insights into the engines behind
gTLDs. Panelists included Rich Merdinger, Vice
President of Domains for GoDaddy, and Ben Crawford,
Chief Executive Officer for CentralNic PLC. The
experts addressed questions such as, “Why would
you support a dot club over a dot com?” The group
debated when .college or. xyz will overtake .com.
There is a movement toward standardization as is
currently being tried by GoDaddy. Go in and
buy a pre-registration. It’s a great time to get
in early on these tlds and make smart investments.
session centered on The
Next Generation Registrars and Registry Services
second session was Risks and Limitations.
panelists shared their thoughts on brand, trademark,
and legal issues involved in owning gTLDs. The
moderator was William A. Delgado, Partner, Willenken
Wilson Loh & Delgado LLP. Panelists included
Karen Bernstein, Principal of Bernstein IP; Kelly
Hardy, North American Business Development for .ME;
and Don Moody, J.D. and M.S., New gTLD disputes .In
the land of litigation and risks, there are many
issues to consider so be sure to have the right
partnerships and funding in place. If anything looks
amiss, be proactive and fix it. Always make sure
your domains are used in the right way
last gTLD session was How Long Until This Pays Off? This
seminar discusses building long-term value around
gTLDs and when to buy, hold, resell and flip. The
moderator was Victor Pitts, Director of Domain
Services for Above.com. Panelists included Alan
Dunn, Senior Vice President of Acquisitions and
Divestments for Domain Holdings, and Pinky Brand,
Vice President of Strategy and Partner Relations for
TLD Registry Ltd. The experts discussed the
advantages to developing the new names quickly. No
one can accurately predict their success. The best
advice was to look at these gTLDs the same way you
would make an investment in the stock market. Pick
the ones that are right for you—those you know
something about, and that you are passionate about.
There is a different attitude and excitement about
the new gTLDs. There are being supported by
smart people, smart marketing, and a new mindset of
to R) Steve Kaziyev, Pinky Brand, Alan
Dunn and moderator Victor Pitts
discuss how long it will be until the New gTLDs
compelling monetization session on
Strategies to Enhance Domain Value was led by
Zappy Zapolin of
Panelists were Adam Dicker, CEO of Digital
Intelligence; Chad Folkening, President of Contrib;
and Michael Castello, President/CEO of Castello
Cities Internet Network. These experts shared their
thoughts on buying and selling websites as well as
the differences between online businesses and
selling domains. Michael discussed the sale of
Whiskey.com reinforcing the idea that as content
builds so does value. Adam noted that you can build
a great business from your domains rather than just
parking them. Chad encouraged attendees to test
sites and build relationships. All agreed that it
was important to prioritize how to spend your time.
It all starts with buying the right domain and then
it is about adding links, content, and service.
SEO panel was led by Mike Mothner, Founder &
CEO of Wpromote. Panelists were Jason Hennessey,
Co-Founder, EverSpark Interactive; Mike Floyd,
Managing Partner, Highly Relevant; and Rick Egan,
VP, The Search Agency. The experts agreed that
search has changed dramatically. Now, there is a
more holistic approach focused on good content. Give
users information that helps make decisions. Know
your audience and then create the video, image,
audience and voice of your brand.
SEO Panel gave advice of coping with the rapid pace
of change in Search.
specific tips offered are:
a broader number of keywords.
engineering the competition.
becomes a natural extension of your content.
Google+ to your website
last domain session was How to Best Optimize Your
Traffic. The panelists recommended the best
keyword and lander combinations based on traffic as
well as illustrated how to optimize and monetize
based on international, mobile platforms, and
vertical industries. The discussion was led by
Michael Gilmour, Founder, ParkLogic. Panelists were
Brad Wilkinson, Director of Product Management and
Analytics for Oversee.net and David Warmuz,
to R) Michael Gilmour, Brad Wilkinson
and David Warmuz
offer tips on How to Best Optimize Traffic.
concluding general session at DomainFest was .Bar
Rollout Success Story, featuring Aaron Grego,
CEO of Punto 2012, and Melissa Dafini, Marketing
Strategist for Punto 2012. Aaron discussed the
team’s deep background in the restaurant business
in Latin American.
They chose dot rest and dot bar because both
are global terms and are easy to pronounce. They
also talked about the key role registrars play in
the process and the importance of partnerships.
Dafini (left) and Aaron Grego detail the .Bar
reiterated the fact that users (consumers) do not
understand what is happening with the new
extensions. It’s essential to know how to educate
the client base and their plans call for direct
outreach. In May, the National Restaurant
Association (NRA) will have an event to introduce
restaurateurs and suppliers to this opportunity.
In the restaurant business, more hand holding
may be necessary so they have started a VIP founders
program to ease them into program.
program ended with a networking cocktail party and
an evening at SkyBar at the Mondrian Hotel
hosted by DomainSponsor.
networking cocktail party at SkyBar.
the end, this DomainFest conference proved, once
again, the strength of our industry and the
expertise and professionalism of our attendees.
us for the future more effectively than
getting together face to face to exchange ideas and
debate the merits of the many opportunities we have.
It proved that we are on the edge of a completely
new dimension in our business.