As always, the best place to start
any story is at the beginning. Silver was born in Toronto
- the first member of his family born on Canadian soil. His
parents, Bert and Selma Silver, were Holocaust
survivors who met in Israel after World War II.
"When he was 16 my dad left Austria on his own
("Crystal Night")," Silver said. "My
grandfather had been taken away to a concentration camp but
my dad voided capture that night by hiding under his bed
when the Nazis entered his home. The next day he
began an escape that was completed when he made his way to
an illegal boat bound for Israel."
he arrived in Israel dad used his skills as a musician and
entertainer to build a new life," Silver said. "He
even played with some greats like Lena Horne and
entertained troops during the Israeli independence war. My
sister, Ruth (who is nine years older) was born in
Israel and my dad, knowing the horrors of war first hand,
decided to move his family to Canada.
Dad, Bert Silver (front and center) played saxophone,
and accordion in many bands and orchestras during his days
||After Rick was born in Toronto it soon
became apparent that he was a chip off the old block.
"My father's knack for being the life of the party
– the guy with the best best jokes, the first one to pick
up an instrument, certainly rubbed of on me," Silver
"When I was about 10 years old we
took a a trip to Disney World and I stumbled upon a Magic
Store that inspired me to learn more about magic. It
actually ended up turning into my first business; The
Magic Duo. Me and my neighbor Neal would perform magic shows
for kids parties on weekends."
"It was a great way to make
some extra money, but it also taught me about performing and
speaking in front of a crowd. I loved entertaining and found
a challenge in making our show great not just for the kids
but also for the adults who thought they were getting just a
run of the mill magic show," Silver said.
The Magic Duo - Rick Silver and his
Below: The young magician at work. “I started doing magic shows
for children at the
age of 10. Working and having fun as an entertainer is in my genes!,"
|Silver expanded his budding
entrepreneurial career in high school when he made breakfast
magically appear at local homes. "I got
together with another friend and created Bagel
Brunch Deliveries," Silver said. "We delivered brunch right to
your door on Sunday mornings - Bagels, Cream Cheese,
Egg Salad and more. It was the perfect High School
business because it ran only on the weekends."
height we serviced hundreds of families and
had three people on the road delivering. Our home
phone was the business line and our family kitchen
became a production line for packing and chopping 20
dozen eggs every Saturday," Silver said.
"It certainly taught me a great deal about
business and customer service. There were a couple
of times when we just couldn’t keep up. My dad
remembers getting a call from an customer hungrily
waiting for his delivery and demanding to
speak to the President of the company. My dad of
course had to admit that the President was out
delivering the bagels!," Silver laughed.
flyer for Silver's Bagel Brunch Deliveries
business that fed hundreds of families
throughout Toronto on weekends.
"Another problem was
that my partner in Bagel Brunch Deliveries had an
out of town girlfriend and that meant I was the one left chopping
the eggs and packaging the cream cheese lox while he
was out visiting his hot girlfriend," Silver
said. However in this case, Rick would end up having
the last laugh. "Years later that girl would
become my wife," Silver smiled.
In addition to magic and business,
Silver was fascinated by gadgets during his early years. His
dad had opened a jewellery store (in the U.S. we spell it
jewelry) on Yonge Street in Toronto and Rick loved to
go there and master the gadget watches that came in. His
time there would prove to be time well spent later in life.
"Working in my dad's store, learning about sales,
customer service and business in general certainly helped me
in my own business career," Silver agreed.
image of the brain
|"My interest in technology and
gadgets and the fact that my father had to cut short
his engineering studies during the war led me to
entering Electrical Engineering at the University
of Windsor in Ontario," Silver said.
"It was during my third year of Engineering,
and getting quite bored studying the flow of
electrons in transistors, that I discovered MRI
images. I was intrigued by this new technology that
allowed doctors to peer inside the body like
never before. I switched my major to life sciences
and today hold degrees in both Science and
"It was also during University that I re-met
the girl that would become my wife and the mother of
my children, Debbie. As I mentioned earlier,
she happened to be the former girlfriend of my bagel
|partner. Debbie was going
to attend law school and I was there to look after
her. We married following our studies and she became
a criminal prosecutor in the Toronto courts. We were
married in 1989 and traveled throughout Europe for
our honeymoon and for what would be the first of
many family travels and excursions around the
world," Silver said.
and Debbie Silver on their honeymoon (the first of many
great European adventures).
Silver used his unique combination of
business, biology and engineering training to start a career
in the Medical Imaging Industry. "I started working as
a marketing coordinator in 1990 at Picker International,
a major manufacturer of MRI scanners and other medical
devices. After various positions with the company in both
Canada and the United States I wound up running the
company's $80 Million Canadian division in
1999," Silver said. "Working for a large
multinational organization was a very valuable experience
and I was fortunate to have many great mentors that showed
me the ropes."
Picker International Silver (left) was in charge of
the company's trade shows. To attract
people to their booth he hired an actor to play Professor Wilhelm
Conrad Roentgen, the man
who discovered x-rays in 1895. People lined up to have their
picture taken with "Roentgen."
As the new millenium approached Silver began
dabbling in domain names. "Having
been a very early user of the internet, I had given some
thought to domains early on," Silver said. "But
like many others I registered just a couple of names. I
bought names for concepts, businesses and sites that I
thought I might want to develop. I bought eJewellery.com
since I knew something about Jewellery from my father. I
also bought HomesAndCars.com realizing that searching
for those big ticket items was far easier online. One day I
received a call from a guy representing an insurance agent
that specialized in Homes and Cars. He offered $5,000
for the name. Turning $35 into $5,000 seemed
like a good thing but still I went about my job and my
"By this time we were
living in Cleveland where the company, now
re-branded Marconi Medical Systems,
was headquartered," Silver continued.
"Debbie had put here law career on hold to
allow me to accelerate my career path. We also had
our second child, Hailey, in Cleveland and
she is proud to hold both U.S. and Canadians
Everything was going well for
the Silver family, but as is so often the case, life
was about to throw him a curve ball. "In late
1999 there was a management shuffle at the company
and I realized that my time there was coming to an
end. In January of 2000 I was terminated,"
Silver said. "It’s never fun getting fired
and I didn’t know it at the time but had that not
happened I never would have discovered the
opportunity that lied ahead."
for a multinational corporation gave Silver a
chance to travel the world. Above he and Debbie
ready to speed their way through Japan on
train. Soon after Rick left the corporate world but
new domain career would put him back on a fast
"It was the
height of the Internet boom and Business.com
had just sold for $7.5 million. That piqued my
interest and when I started looking around I was
shocked to discover that many great .CA domain
names were not yet registered. The main reason was
that at the time, unless a business had a national
presence, it was required to register a provincial
level domain such as yourcompany.on.ca for
a business located in Ontario," Silver recalled.
chatting with others who had acquired .ca domains.
Canadian Jason Chapnik was among the first to
register premium generic .ca domains and when I asked
him what he was doing he directed me to www.tv.
Jason was the guy who founded the .TV Corporation.
Peter Maxymych had also acquired some great .ca
domains before I got in the game and Peter later sold
just a portion of his .ca portfolio to the Yellow
Pages Group of
for $2.5 million. That remains the largest
recorded transaction of .ca domains and a great
example of a major media company locking up premium
generic domain names," Silver noted.
Schilling (above) compared .CA
with Silver early in their domain
recall chatting with Frank Schilling
late in 2000 after we both had purchased many
domains at the time that .ca was deregulated.
We talked about the .ca vs .com space and
about our respective strategies. I remember
Frank saying “your kids will thank you”.
He knew then that while .ca was a good
investment, it would take years before ccTLDs
would chip away at the .com market,"
that people would start using the internet
over print directories to find local products
and services, I spent weeks researching and
purchasing English and French domains covering
the main headings for local search. During
that early stage I successfully acquired many
domains like Limos.ca, Plumbing.ca,
"Armed with a strong portfolio of generic
.ca domains, I gathered a talented team of designers,
developers and marketers to help build a powerful
local business advertising platform – n49
Interactive was born," Silver said.
graphic above shows just a sampling of the hundreds
of top tier .CA domains owned by n49
"One of our
first projects was devoted to a cause that hit home
for my family. We were shocked to discover that the
was planning on tearing down 200 playgrounds across
the city, including in my neighbourhood, with no plan
for replacement," Silver said. "We quickly
set up a website, www.TorontoPlaygrounds.com,
to generate awareness and raise money for the
construction of new playgrounds. The site played an
important role in raising millions of dollars
required to rebuild the playgrounds."
gained a lot of media attention, created community
awareness and helped to build support. This experience
was formative in the future strategy of n49 – a
platform designed for local communities, contributed
to by users and powered by great domains," Silver
TorontoPlaygrounds.com website drew a lot of media
attention to his cause.
The next year,
Silver's company really started hitting in all
cylinders. "In 2001 we launched GoPro.ca,
a Home Improvement resource, allowing Canadians to
quickly find qualified professionals in their area.
Leveraging domains like Roofing.ca, Kitchens.ca
and Renovations.ca the GoPro brand became a
recognized leader in the Home Improvement directory
advertising sector. During that time GoPro was a
staple at many industry conferences where we would
talk with local business owners and get to know their
customers," Silver said.
n49 team (with Rick Silver at
far right) lauches it’s first network,
GoPro.ca, at the Home Builder Expo in
"We followed up
with other directories focused on local Canadian
content including Celebrate.ca, our Wedding and
Event Planning Directory and CarCare.ca, an
automotive services network."
"Over this time
we really got to understand local advertising on the
internet," Silver said. "Small businesses
were challenged with transitioning their marketing
efforts to the internet and increasingly they would
turn to us for help in establishing and managing their
online strategy. We created a full service web
design and online marketing company. This allowed
our customers to have one point of contact for all of
their web requirements including development and
promotion. All the while our team grew in skill and
numbers as we worked on ever increasingly complex
projects. This allowed us to learn, have fun, test new
technologies and optimize our processes as we prepared
our largest undertaking ever," Silver said.
"In early 2008
we launched n49.ca,
now a leading local search engine and advertising
platform for small and medium sized businesses in
Canada. The website integrates hundreds of domains like Dining.ca,
Salons.ca, Spa.ca, Painters.ca, Autoglass.ca
and more into an open directory that allows members to
rate and review businesses, edit information and share
their experiences in a safe and fun atmosphere,"
The n49 team launches
n49.ca at Search Engine Strategies.
Shirts labeled membername.n49.ca were the hit of the show.
"With over 500,000
unique visitors monthly from across
n49 is a leading driver of traffic and leads for our
advertisers who can purchase enhanced positioning in
the category and city of choice. Our listings also
offer our clients a powerful link from the individual
domain name that represents the category and can
increase their own website ranking in search engines.
We have certainly found that leveraging a good
domain provides a differentiator compared with
other online directories in local and often gives us
instant credibility in a particular market,"
businesses navigate and manage their online
reputations in a world flooded by social media
has become one of n49’s strongest
capabilities," Silver added. "Businesses who
realize the power of reviews and social networking are
able to take advantage of this new opportunity. N49
has expanded it’s product offering to include mobile
websites and online video commercials."
realizing that most companies still do not yet have a
website at all, our new platform allows any
business to create a free website in addition
to their listing, even if they don’t own a domain
name. Incorporating the generic .ca network into this
strategy allows for the creation of sites like azevedo.kitchens.ca
and executivetouch.painters.ca, providing a
quick and easy online presence," Silver said.
n49 platform and API distributes content to
their own sites and to independent publishers.
"We are now
using platform and API to distribute local business
listings and consumer reviews not only to our own
network but to other publishers across the web. In
addition to this, we are now inviting other .ca domain
holders with generic domains that fit into our local
search model to join our network. The more generic
URLs that resolve to great content that fit a
particular category the better. This benefits users,
advertisers and domainers across
," Silver said.
With so much on his plate, you would think that
adding moderating duties for the T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
conference would be too much for Silver to take on -
but he knew it would be something he would love doing
and that has proven to be the case.
first attending a T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference in Las
Vegas in 2007 at the height of the
industry," Silver said. "Marchex and Internet
REIT were active and Demand Media had
|just been founded. The conference
was then, and continues to be, an invaluable
venue to meet, network and
learn from the best in the industry," Silver
Two years later he
would personally become an integral part of the
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. team. "I gave a presentation on
ccTLD domain development at T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
Amsterdam in June of 2009," Silver
recalled. "I attended along with my wife
Debbie in part as a celebration of our 20th wedding
anniversary. Our honeymoon had actually started
so we were pretty excited when the location and dates
for that show were announced. I think Rick Latona
liked the style of my presentation and respected my
knowledge of the industry as well as what I had done
with my portfolio. So Latona just called me one day
and asked if I would moderate the show! It was a great
honor and of course I agreed. I think the fact that my
name was also “Rick” helped seal the deal!."
& Debbie Silver celebrating their
20th wedding anniversary June 4,
during the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Amsterdam conference.
"I love playing
a role in putting together the conference panels and
making the sessions engaging, entertaining and
informative," Silver said.
moderating a session at the 2010 T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
|"Of course, I
was really excited about the T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
show (held in June 2010), as the
promotion of .ca has meant a lot to me. CIRA
and many other companies and domainers from across
were there but the greatest thrill for me was the
fireside chat with John Demco the godfather
of .ca. It was John who established the .ca ccTLD
while working at the University of British Columbia.
John ran the registry on a volunteer basis right up
till the end of 2000 and it was great to hear his
stories of the evolution of .ca," Silver said.
I asked Silver, who
is a huge proponent of development, about the current
industry trend toward mass development solutions.
"It’s clear that the development and
monetization of domain names and web properties in
general is a rapidly changing game," Silver said.
"The good news is that parking solutions are
becoming more advanced, more targeted and tools for
performance measurement are getting better. The real
game changer though is all the tools, feeds,
widgets and APIs that make development of web
properties easier than ever. Even full online
ecommerce stores can be set up in just a few clicks! I
think more and more we will see many domainers turn
Silver is also a big
believer is working together to promote the industry
and solve problems that affect domain investors.
"In 2009 I helped found the Domain
Owner’s Association of Canada (DOAC)
along with a number of leading Canadian
domainers," Silver said. "The association
aims to promote the registration of .ca domain names
as well as enhance their value. We recently met with
CIRA in order to discuss the promotion and expansion
of the .ca extension both domestically and
In closing, Silver said there were some special people he wanted to
thank for making his successful journey possible. "I
am very fortunate to have a great team at
n49," Silver said. "They do all the
magic. Hiring great people and building a strong
team has been and will continue to be the key
to our success. I am very fortunate to work in a
vibrant and dynamic industry that sees new innovation
n49 team with their mascot "Milli"
sitting front and center on Rick Silver's lap.
of all I am lucky to have a wonderful family with two
great kids and also lucky to have my parents there
with us to share in the joys of life," Silver
Silver Family: Rick, father Bert,
mother Selma, son Corey, daughter Hailey