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The Lowdown
December 2010 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.

Employee Misuse of Moniker WhoIs Privacy Data Victimizes a Customer But Something Good Should Come From the Breach

Earlier today both Rick Schwartz and Michael Berkens wrote about an unfortunate incident at Moniker.com in which a customer of the popular registrar was victimized by a Moniker employee who accessed confidential personal identification data for a WhoIs Privacy protected domain registered by the customer, then used it against that customer by sending the information to his employer. 

I was made privy to the details of this incident a few days ago when the customer (a longtime friend with a spotless reputation) told me what happened in an off the record conversation. No names have been released thus far because it has been his wish to give Moniker a chance to resolve the problem and make changes aimed at preventing  similar incidents in the future. 

Moniker's first public comment on the issue came today when Schwartz and Berkens received a brief statement from the company shortly after Schwartz published his post (the statement apparently did not go out to all media outlets as I never received it). According to their posts the statement from Mason Cole, the VP for Community & Industry Relations for Moniker parent Oversee.net said:

"Moniker has learned that one of its employees violated company policy by distributing customer data for a single domain name registration.  The employee has been placed on administrative leave while the company further reviews the matter."  

"Only one employee and one customer registration were involved.  However, unauthorized data access of any kind, no matter how large or small, is an issue taken very seriously by Moniker and by its parent company, Oversee.net, and is being addressed directly.”

While the customer understandably feels violated and angry about the information being sent to his employer, it is admirable that he is also focused on seeing changes made that will help prevent such incidents from harming any customer in the future. 

Upon hearing his account the biggest surprise to me was that this kind pf private information was so easily accessible to multiple registrar employees who have no need to see such sensitive data. I would have thought that only a very limited number of high level personnel could get to this information which can normally be released only through legal means such as a UDRP filing on law enforcement request. 

When you pay an extra fee for WhoIs Privacy you have a right to expect that the registrar is going

to take extra measures to insure that data stays private. For a quality registrar like Moniker that has built their brand on security, this has to be a major embarrassment. However it should also serve as a welcome wake up call to tighten security and limit the circle that has access to private information. That goes for every registrar that offers WhoIs Privacy services. 

The ironic thing about this incident, based on the parts of the account that I can share, is that the employee in question attempted to harm someone who actually had the employee's best interests at heart. The customer registered a number of domains that included an industry figure's name followed by the word "Sucks", including names of his own friends and relatives. He said it was his intention to keep those domains out of the hands of others who would use them to attack those people (a common defensive registration technique among corporations today). 

When the employee learned that someone registered their name followed by "Sucks", the employee then bypassed WhoIs Privacy protection to find out who it was. Had the employee stopped there no one would have been the wiser. However, suffering from an inexplicable lapse of judgment, the employee sent an email to the customer's boss to complain about the registrant. It is probably now safe to assume that the registrant will not be sending the name on to the employee as he originally intended.

(Posted Dec. 31, 2010) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Domain Roundtable Returns to the Conference Wars in a Spectacular New Setting + Our Latest Cover Story Profiles .CO's Dynamic Young CEO Juan Diego Calle 

Domain Roundtable 2011 is open for business. Thought Convergence (the parent company of TrafficZ, Aftermarket.com and DomainTools) will stage the event at the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas March 1-4, 2011. Registration just opened with an early bird price of $695 that is good through January 11. The price will start rising after that, finally hitting $995 for on-site registration during show week.

The organizers are providing an extra incentive for registering early. The first 100 that sign up will be treated to a free excursion on Tuesday, March 1. You can choose from among five options including an Atlantis Behind the Scenes Aquarium Tour, a Catamaran Snorkel & Sail Adventure, Cigar and Rum Tasting, Deep Sea Fishing or a Nassau Shopping Shuttle. 

The show's preliminary agenda has also been posted. Things will get underway with a Tuesday evening (March 1) Welcome Reception. The  Wednesday (March 2) 

schedule will include a keynote speaker that will be announced soon.  An Aftermarket.com Live Domain Auction will highlight the final afternoon (Thursday, March 3). That night the show closes with a big Bahamian Junkanoo Festival. Guests will then be departing throughout the day Friday, March 4. By the way, if you want to submit a domain for the March 3 live auction, the deadline for doing so is January 21.

This will be the first Domain Roundtable conference since June 2009 when the event was held in Washington, D.C.  The show was held annually from 2005-2009 but amidst an explosion of domain conferences around the world in 2010, the organizers decided to take a year off to decide where they wanted to position the conference in what has become a dramatically expanded market. They decided to take it upscale and the five-star Atlantis resort will certainly provide the spectacular setting they wanted for their return to the conference scene.

Juan Diego Calle
CEO, .CO Internet S.A.S.

One other note today. We have just published our latest Cover Story, a profile of the .CO Registry's dynamic young CEO Juan Diego Calle. .CO has made a big splash since the Colombian ccTLD was re-launched and made available for worldwide registration last summer. Just five months after .CO began accepting general public registrations, more than 600,000 .CO domains had already been registered.  While the .CO saga has now been widely told, there is a closely related and equally compelling story that you haven't heard yet - the story of the man behind .CO's re-birth. 

Calle was born into a highly entrepreneurial family in Bogota, Colombia where his father founded one of the country's biggest wine and beer distribution companies. Unfortunately, by the time Juan was 15 years old, the security situation in Colombia had deteriorated to such an extent that his parents feared for the safety of their three children. They decided to send Juan, his brother and his sister to the 

United States while they stayed behind to keep the family business going. This is the remarkable entrepreneurial  success story of how things have gone for Juan Calle since then. You can read all about it here: The Juan Diego Calle Story: How the .CO CEO is Turning a Seldom Used ccTLD Into a Booming Global Brand.

(Posted Dec. 30, 2010) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Sad News: Veteran T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Videographer Roy Crogan Passed Away Christmas Eve

If you have ever been to a T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference you have probably seen Ft. Lauderdale based videographer Roy Crogan manning a camera at the rear of the conference room. I was 

saddened to get a note from Danny Pryor today letting me know that Roy had passed away Christmas Eve at the age of 73. Pryor (VP of the Rodan Media Group) credits Roy for introducing him to T.R.A.F.F.I.C. co-founders Rick Schwartz and Howard Neu in 2006 and they in turn hired Pryor to do their web design work. Pryor said, "I will be forever grateful to Roy for the role he played in my life and career."

Roy and another popular videographer for his company, Kay Johnson, were fixtures at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. for years. Howard Neu told me he first met Roy

Roy Crogan behind his video camera at
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Silicon Valley 2009

and Kay when the Neu family needed to put together a high school basketball video that would showcase their son Ray's skills for college recruiters (Ray would go on to play college ball at Florida Atlantic). 

(Left to right): Ray Neu, Roy Crogan and Kay Johnson
(photos courtesy of Barbara Neu)

They found Kay Johnson and were so impressed with how nice and accommodating she was that they decided to to hire her and Roy to document T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conferences. "Roy did such a great job that we made him our permanent videographer and "historian" for T.R.A.F.F.I.C.," Neu said. 

Neu's partner Rick Schwartz added, "Roy was just a mild mannered Videographer and Photographer that was top notch in everything he did. He will be dearly missed and I really hope we all learn that every moment we have is a precious moment. Life is short and I think we are seeing that more and more.

Roy Crogan is survived by wife Margaret and son Scott as well as a granddaughter. Our condolences to the family and Roy's many friends.

(Posted Dec. 28, 2010) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

The Frager Fracture: Freak Accident Confines Blogger to Bed But His Fingers Are Still Flying

Marketing maven Owen Frager has always known how to get attention. His provocative headlines  draw a steady flow of readers to his blog - The Frager Factor - so last Tuesday 

(Dec. 21) when I read a note he posted on Facebook saying that he was in the emergency room after getting run over by a pack of stampeding dogs, I didn't know what to think! Was this some kind of off-the-wall metaphor meant to attract more eyeballs or had Owen actually been mowed down by a band of marauding mutts? Unfortunately, it turned out to be the latter - Frager's fracture was no  figment of his immeasurable imagination.  

While taking one of his customary walks through a nearby dog park Frager said he stopped to check email on his phone. While his back was turned and his attention diverted to his messages, a pack of more than a dozen dogs running full speed ahead plowed into Frager from behind and sent him airborne. When he crash landed the concrete cracked a bone in his foot, sending him to the hospital where he wound up being fitted with a cast, a walker and an order to avoid driving for the next six weeks.  

Owen Frager

There could be some more bad news ahead. Doctors are determining whether or not it will take surgery to repair the damage. Frager expects to get a final verdict on that Wednesday. In the meantime he is laid up at home in bed but not completely incapacitated. In fact with a little more time of his hands than he would like, he is churning out articles at a furious pace. 

Frager is currently midway through a 20-part series called Domaining's Most Fascinating People. Each part is a profile of a domain investor or developer who has been especially proficient at combining their domain assets with masterful marketing. The latest installment published Sunday featured Bobbleheads.com owner Warren Royal. Scroll down to the bottom of that story and you will find hot links to the other profiles from the series that are now online (including Barbara Dillman Neu, Teen Domainer, Ryan Colby, Patrick Ruddell, Mike Sullivan & Fusible, Jeff Gabriel, Rob Grant and Rob Monster). You will also find a list of the ten people who will be profiled in the second half of the series. I'm sure that those who are enjoying his current prodigious output are thankful that Frager's foot absorbed the brunt of his unfortunate fall, leaving his fingers intact to soldier on.

Morgan Linton

There is another blog series - this one a two-parter published by Morgan Linton over the Christmas weekend - that I really enjoyed reading. It started Christmas Eve when Linton wrote about 22 Domainers That Changed My Life. After giving that topic some further thought, Linton followed up with a second part Sunday that featured 8 more capsule tributes to people who have helped him along the way. 

Like Morgan I have always been impressed by how helpful so many industry veterans are to new people who enter the business with a positive attitude and a sincere desire to learn. You won't find anyone with more positive energy than Morgan, so I am not surprised that he has been welcomed with open arms by so many others. In turn, he just as generously has passed along what he has learned to others who read his blog or watch the highly informative video interviews he has produced. 

After watching people come and go in this business for the past eight years, it is the ones who have qualities like Morgan's (and dozens of people he commented on) that have consistently risen to the top. Learning by example is a tried and true route to success and in his new articles Morgan has put the spotlight on a number of people that I think we could all do well to emulate. 

(Posted Dec. 27, 2010) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Christmas Eve - A Very Special Night at Our House 

When I was a kid our family always opened their Christmas presents on Christmas Eve. I was really surprised when I grew up and found out that most people did it on Christmas morning! I'm not sure why my parents chose to always have us open presents on Christmas Eve, but I 

suspect it was because - with four boys in the house who couldn't wait to tear open the packages - we would have had them up by the crack of dawn if they did it on Christmas Day. My dad worked the night shift so that idea would have been a non-starter with him!

When Diana and I started our own family I agreed to follow the traditional Christmas Day gift opening routine that she was used to - with one concession. We let our daughter Brittany open one package of her choice on Christmas Eve then the rest the following morning. Brittany has always liked that tradition, as well as another we started when she was a child - going to a midnight Christmas Eve candle lighting service at our church. We'll be leaving for that event in a couple of hours.

Spending Christmas Eve at that service 

Our daughter Brittany gets
 into the Christmas spirit.

helps us remember what this special holiday is really about and that is important to each of us. I also really like that we are still doing it together after all of these years. Brittany is now 24 and in her second year of medical school, but she is home on Christmas break and will be with us as she always has been.  

Tomorrow the crowd at our house will grow six-fold with 19 friends and relatives here to celebrate Christmas - a time when the old adage - the more the merrier - really rings true for us.  It will culminate a wonderful weekend and I am hopeful that whatever your faith may be you and your family are enjoying an especially memorable and meaningful holiday season as well. 

(Posted Dec. 24, 2010) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Chef Patrick Tells Us About His $175,000 Purchase of ScienceFiction.com and What Is In Store for the Generic Gem

Patrick Ruddell, better known to many in the domain business by his blogging nom de plume, Chef Patrick, or by the role he added last April as a domain broker for Moniker.com or as the guy who promoted the first domain conference on a cruise ship, October's DN Cruise, has added still another claim to fame. Today Patrick revealed that he and a small group of partners had 

acquired ScienceFiction.com for $175,000 and that they have already completed a soft launch of their website on the category defining domain name.   

Ruddell acquired the name from DomainCapital.com, a well-known finance company that had taken control of the property when the previous owner failed to keep up with the payments on it. DomainCapital will continue to hold title to the domain until Ruddell's group completes their escrow payments for the generic gem. 

Patrick Ruddell
Founder & CEO, ScienceFiction.com

Ruddell and his team is determined to recoup their investment, and then some, by making ScienceFiction.com the world's premier website in a pop culture category that is famous for its wildly fanatical followers. Patrick told me, "Our plans are simple - to create kick ass unique content and provide a lot of it every day. As of right now we have three writers and plans to add more. Luckily, because of my time constraints, one of my partners, Dirk Van Tilborg, is our Editor in Chief. He has a degree in journalism and English and has been writing for over 20 years. Plus Dirk's a big sci-fi geek so that always helps!"

This page at ScienceFiction.com has more details on the various partners and staff members who are running the new website. 

Ruddell is confident in the project's future because he understands full well how many doors are opened by owning a domain that 

defines an entire category like this. "ScienceFiction.com has given me instant credibility in the sci-fi community," Ruddell said. "I have been able to call several executives in the business and get right through."

Some say they favor the term "SciFi" over "Science Fiction" but Ruddell is not one of them. "Science Fiction is preferred over "Sci-Fi" in other countries. It is Americans that tend to abbreviate names. With "Science Fiction" I get more searches globally and locally sci-fi and science fiction receive the same amount," Ruddell said.

While ScienceFiction.com already has a nice, clean look, Ruddell said you haven't seen anything yet. "We have plans to do more with graphic design and layout. For now though it was important to get the new site out, start building content and start interacting with our audience. They will tell us what they want!." Ruddell said.

Ruddell has always been known for his promotional skills and he immediately applied those to the new site. "We are giving away an XBOX 360 and a Kinect with a game. We are giving away one for every 1,000 Facebook "likes" we receive via Facebook.com/ScienceFiction."

It is remarkable to see what a great domain can do for someone. Ruddell, a former real estate investor, is a relative newcomer to this space, having jumped head first into the domain industry 

in 2008 when the real estate market collapsed. Now here he is, less than two years later, at the helm of ScienceFiction.com. To put that into perspective, the entity that has to settle for the second best gTLD version of the 
exact term - ScienceFiction.net - is book selling giant Barnes & Noble. When you can leap frog that kind of competition in the domain hierarchy through a single purchase (albeit it an expensive one) it boggles the mind.

Barnes & Noble has the second best gTLD
using the exact term "Science Fiction"

It is also waking up a lot of people in mainstream business who are coming to realize how a great domain name could put them on the map overnight. That why you've got to love this business and the potential it has as the web continues to take over the world.

(Posted Dec. 23, 2010) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

With DOMAINfest Global 2011 Just Six Weeks Away Show Organizers Release a Major Update on the Big Event

With the 2011 DOMAINfest Global conference just six weeks away, show organizers have released an update on what is in store for the big event at the Fairmount Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica, California Feb. 1-3, 2011. Over 600 domain professionals from approximately 30 countries are expected to attend DOMAINfest.  Details on the agenda and a preliminary list of expert speakers highlighted today's announcement. 

Here is a bullet list of some of the key attractions for the upcoming show:  

•     A keynote presentation by Bob Parsons, visionary Founder & CEO of Go Daddy. An acknowledged marketing genius, he will discuss “Luck & Perspective” where he will share his story to inspire others to improve their businesses and their lives.

Fairmount Miramar Hotel

The site for DOMAINfest Global 2011

•    A fireside chat with Ben Mezrich, author of “The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook.” His discussion is even more topical now that Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg has been named Time Magazine’s 2010 Person of the Year.

•    The annual PITCHfest contest that gives Internet entrepreneurs a chance to get discovered.

•     Two live domain name auctions, offering simultaneous online real-time bidding, hosted by Moniker.com and SnapNames.com

•    Panel discussions and interactive workshops with leading experts.

•     Evening networking parties that will carry on the DOMAINfest tradition of providing unique, fun entertainment. 

DOMAINfest also released more information on some of show's panel sessions and the featured panelists:

Acquiring and Monetizing Traffic Using Local, Mobile, Social and Video – Expert panelists will discuss the latest advertiser and publisher trends and techniques in acquiring and monetizing local, mobile, social and video traffic. Featured panelists will include:

  • Massimo Burgio - an expert on international search/social media marketing.

  • Richard Jalichandra - President and CEO of Technorati Media, the largest blog and social media ad network. 

  • Bruce Crair - President and Chief Operating Officer of Local.com.

  • Branden Claisse - Vice President, Business Development, Mojiva, Inc., a mobile advertising firm that runs the Mojiva mobile ad network and mOcean Mobile ad platform.

Opportunities in ccTLDs, IDNs and gTLDs - This session will help both new and advanced domain investors learn how to weigh the opportunities versus risks related to ccTLD, IDN and gTLD domains. Paneilist will include:

Oversee.net CEO & President Jeff 
 welcoming DOMAINfest 
attendees to the 2011 show.

  • Ken Hansen - Senior Director, Business Development for Neustar Inc. (operator of the .US and .BIZ registries).

  • Dr.Jörg Schweiger - a full-time member of the Executive Board and CTO of DENIC eG, the central registry for .de domains. 

  • Daniel Dryzek - Chief Executive Officer and Founder of ddfund.eu, a domain development fund. He is co-organizer of MeetDomainers, a successful event that has been held in Poland & the UK.

  • Daniel Eisenhut - International Business Development Director at InterNetX.  

The Latest/Greatest SEO and SEM Tips – Three highly respected panelists will offer the latest tips and case studies for maximizing the results from SEO and SEM efforts. The speakers will include:

  • Bruce Clay - President of Bruce Clay, Inc.  Since 1996, he has been a recognized leader in the Internet business consulting arena.

  • Danny Sullivan - Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land, a leading publication that covers search marketing and search engine news.  

  • Andy Atkins-Krueger - CEO of WebCertain Group, an international web marketing agency which brings together native speakers from countries around the world to provide a centralized hub for clients.  

Internet Vital Signs Presentation - Eli Goodman, Search Evangelist for comScore, will share statistical insights on user, keyword and advertising category trends gathered from comScore's Media Metrix suite of products.  

A new feature added to this year’s agenda involves interactive workshops that offer concrete, tactical advice that can be taken home and applied immediately to improve the monetization and value of Internet real estate properties. Attendees are encouraged to bring questions. Workshops and panelists will include:

Domain Monetization Basics from Parking to CPL to CPA - While this session is targeted to beginners and intermediates, advanced domain investors may also learn from the expert panelists. Monetization options will be discussed, including parking, affiliate, lead generation, and content/development models. Panelists will include:

  • Frank Schilling - one of the world’s most respected domainers. He is the Founder and Managing Director of Name Administration, a Caribbean-based company that owns hundreds of thousands of high-quality, generic .com domains.

  • Joerg Schnermann - General Manager, DomainSponsor Europe. He previously was Chief Operating Officer of KeywordDomains.com.

  • Howard Hoffman - founder and President of PPC Income, Inc., the first site to provide evaluations of the major pay-per-click domain parking services for domain owners.

Top Ten Steps to Building a Winning Website – This workshop offers advice on a handful of critical steps related to landing page design, optimizing content, meta tags, on-site offers and forms, user-generated content, and leveraging social media. Featured panelists will include: 

Frank Schilling
will be a featured 
speaker at DOMAINfest Global 2011

  • Jay Berkowitz - CEO of domain monetization company RevenueEvolution.com, Founder/CEO of TenGoldenRules.com, a strategic online marketing consulting business.

Tips and Strategies for Buying and Selling Domains - For buyers, expert panelists will offer advice on where to buy, how to do keyword research, and what factors to consider when deciding on a fair purchase price. For sellers, the panelists will talk about pricing strategies, distribution options, and the escrow and transfer process. Panelists will include:

  • Kathy Nielson - Director of Sales for Sedo who is responsible for overall sales for Sedo in the North American market including all product lines. 

  • Michael H. Berkens - founder and CEO of Worldwide Media, Inc., a domain asset investment company holding a world-class portfolio of over 75,000 premium domain names. 

  • Larry Fischer - a domain expert who specializes in top-level generic domains.  He has participated in some of the largest domain purchases to date, including Home.com, Autoparts.com, Stocks.com, Gadgets.com, and Nursing.com. 

As you can see, DOMAINfest Global is going to have a lot to offer. If you haven't been to DOMAINfest Global before and would like to read more about what the conference entails, you might enjoy our review of the 2010 DOMAINfest Global conference held last January. 

A discounted registration rate of $1,195 for DOMAINfest Global 2011 is available until December 31, 2010. To register, visit http://www.domainfest.com/DOMAINFESTGlobal2011/register.   

(Posted Dec. 21, 2010) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Instant Transfer Partners Enom & Moniker Go Live at the AfternicDLS + Rob Grant Gives Gift Baskets a Recession Worthy Twist 

In October the AfternicDLS announced that registrars Enom and Moniker would be joining the popular aftermarket sales platform as "instant transfer" premium partners by the end of the year. That happened today when Enom and Moniker went live on the AfternicDLS. They join Network Solutions, Register.com, Name.com and several others in a select group of registrars that can now instantly deliver fixed price domains (held by any of the 

participating registrars) that are listed for sale at the Premium Promotion level on the AfternicDLS. 

With many buyers wanting to conclude sales on the spot, instant transfer has proven to be a feature that is giving sales a substantial boost. Names listed at the Premium Promotion level are listed for sale on over two dozen partner sites (including GoDaddy Auctions), greatly increasing exposure for those listings. 

Rob Grant's Recession Gift Basket

Elsewhere today, you might recall that last Christmas (scroll to bottom of the page at that link) Rob Grant got a lot of press with his timely Recession Wreaths website. The tongue in cheek site offered wreaths decorated with cut up credit cards and pink slips!

Well, this Christmas Grant is at it again with a new faux ecommerce platform at RecessionGiftBaskets.com! Once again proving himself to be in step with the times, Rob has come up with a frugal line of Gift Baskets featuring what the site trumpets as  "the very bottom of the food pyramid."

Grant, who was a successful Madison Avenue ad 

executive before moving on to the greener pastures of the domain business, has certainly created some compelling copy to reel in potential customers. RecessionGiftBaskets.com proclaims "our newest site has all the thoughtful wisdom and holiday spirit that comes with a financial collapse and high unemployment!"

But wait, it gets better: "Nothing says Happy Holidays like a colorful assortment of Spam, spray cheese, beef jerky, peanut butter & a loaf of (expired date) white bread...and perhaps a bottle of Ripple or Thunderbird wine (ask for our premium gift basket) to wash it all down with. And for those of you with no kitchens (or homes for that matter), these gift baskets also include one set of plastic knives and a paper cup & napkin. Just ask for our special 'Foreclosure Edition' Gift Basket (you don't need an address to have these delivered)!"

Rob's gallows humor seems to be striking a chord with recession weary consumers. They do say that  laughter is the best medicine (and it is a heck of lot cheaper than anti-depressant drugs)!

(Posted Dec. 17, 2010) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Elliot Silver and Jessica Bookstaff Doppelt Expand Their Networks of Well Developed Domain Names  

As I have often expressed I've always thought that it was very smart to develop one or more of your domain names on topics you are passionate about. If you do it well, the potential rewards can dwarf any other form of monetization. Two friends who have been going down that path for several years now, Elliot Silver and Jessica Bookstaff Doppelt, just added new developed sites to their growing networks.

Elliot, as almost all of you know, writes the popular Elliots Blog, where he often details the steps involved in developing his domains. Elliot is a dog lover so he has wisely made dogs one the categories he targets for development. After success with DogWalker.com he just acquired DogGroomers.com and already has an attractive site up and running.

In his press release about the new site Elliot said, "It is no secret that we lavish our dogs with love and attention. We buy them holiday gifts, spoil them with gourmet treats, organize play dates, take trips to the dog park, and pamper them with medicated baths, massages, and designer toys. As a direct result, the pet care industry has experienced growth while most sectors of the economy have continued to stagnate. In 2010 alone, the American Pet Products Association estimates that we will spend a total of $47.7 billion on our pets, $3.45 billion of which will be on pet services, including boarding and grooming."

You have a perfect scenario right there. Elliot has developed a domain on a topic he is passionate about and, equally important, one that has real commercial possibilities because it targets a major market filled with advertisers who want to promote their products and services. 

"When I had the chance to purchase DogGroomers.com a couple of months ago, I jumped at the opportunity," Elliot said. "DogWalker.com now gets around 7,000 visits a month, has over 300 dog walkers and dog walking services listed, and a great deal of information for dog owners and people interested in becoming dog walkers. Likewise, I know that DogGroomers.com will be able to help dog owners find local dog groomers as it allows owners to find a groomer or grooming service by city, neighborhood, or zip code. Once a local dog groomer is located, a searcher can can contact the groomer directly from the site. All indications are that the pet products and services industry will continue to flourish in the years to come, and DogGroomers.com is in the perfect position to be a valuable resource for millions of Americans and their canine companions."

Bandit, the always well-groomed Yorkie 
owned by Michael and Judi Berkens
with two new friends he made at the 
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Miami
conference in October.
(Photo courtesy of Barbara Neu)

Elliot also has developed geodomains like Burbank.com and Lowell.com. One of his compatriots in that category is Jessica Boosktaff Doppelt who has successful sites at PigeonForge.com, Durango.com and TheVirginIslands.com. Jessica just added Sausalito.com to her portfolio of vacation destinations.

Jessica purchased Sausalito.com from Fred Mercaldo of Scottsdale.com and Red Apple Domains of Scottsdale, Arizona.  Fred said, “Our CitiesPlanet project of developing 65 City.com brands has taken all of my time and attention, not allowing me to properly focus on one of my favorite cities in the country, Sausalito, California.  Since Jessica has been both a friend and business associate of mine for years, knowing that it is now under her control and ownership makes me happy.  Her expertise in developing these boutique destination geo portals is proven, and Sausalito.com fits into her network perfectly."

Jessica added, "I’m thrilled to bring Sausalito.com our expertise in promoting this unique and popular vacation destination online. Our success with PigeonForge.com, Durango.com and TheVirginIslands.com shows 

Jessica Bookstaff Doppelt

an overwhelming and resounding interest in Geo Domains as superior online resources for vacation planning as well as a valuable domain asset.  Sausalito.com has the name recognition that is a natural choice for information about Sausalito, CA and the surrounding San Francisco Bay area.”  

Jessica, who has been active in the Internet industry since 1998, said she plans to add the features that are most popular with other destination domains. The focus will be on providing original and updated content to bring new visitors to the site and keep them coming back for more.  “Blogs, social media, eNewsletters and local events are the most popular features in addition to the directory of local businesses that help visitors plan their vacation," Jessica said.  

Barbara Neu

One other note today. You may have noticed Barbara Neu's name where we credited her as the photographer on the picture of Bandit earlier in this article. Barbara, who is married to T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founder Howard Neu, is a terrific photographer as well as the ultimate hostess at every T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference. I have been privileged to feature a number of her photos over the years. On Wednesday she got the kind of recognition she richly deserves when Owen Frager published a post about her on his Frager Factor blog.

The truth in what Owen had to say about Barbara is readily apparent to anyone who has ever met her or had a chance to see her work. She has a phenomenal photographic "eye" and a unique ability to capture people's personalities in her snapshots. She is a real artist and better yet, one of the nicest, most genuine people I have ever met. I was certainly delighted to see Owen's tribute to her and what she means to T.R.A.F.F.I.C. and the industry at large. 

(Posted Dec. 16, 2010) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Five Years in State Prison Awaits Convicted Domain Thief Daniel Goncalves - Who Wants to Be Next?

The best news I have heard this week has to be word that a convicted domain thief is going to jail  for his crime. 26-year-old Daniel Goncalves will not be doing his time in some minimum security lock up either. After pleading guilty in a plea bargain arrangement  the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice will recommend that Goncalves spend five years in state prison and also pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in restitution. Union County Superior Court Judge Stuart L. Peim scheduled a sentencing hearing for May 6, 2011. Had he not pled out, Goncalves might have earned 15 years in the slammer. 

As we told you in August 2009, Goncalves picked the wrong people to steal from when he hijacked P2P.com and 

two other domains from industry pioneer Marc Ostrofsky and his partners Albert and Lesli Angel. Albert Angel happens to be a noted attorney and former U.S. Justice Department prosecutor. Oops! 

Albert Angel

These were not the kind of people to let anyone get away with stealing their property. The Angels tracked the thief for over a year and packaged an enormous amount of data to help prosecutors crack the case. Still, despite Albert's law enforcement background and Lesli's single-minded devotion to gathering proof for the authorities, seeing justice served did not come easily. "There were times I felt that people who have their hubcaps stolen have more remedies than victims of Internet domain theft!," Mrs. Angel said. "But I was determined to bring this thief to justice, and I am gratified by the outcome today. Other victims of cybercrime should be on alert that such theft will not be tolerated in a world where business is now conducted online.” 

After Goncalves hacked into the victim's GoDaddy account to steal the domains, he sold P2P.com to an  unsuspecting buyer on Ebay for over 

$111,000. He probably thought he was home free after that - instead he will go to jail and become a footnote in Internet history - the first person known to have been convicted for a domain name theft. I'm hopeful he will not be the last.

One other note today. Sedo is hosting a free webinar tomorrow (Wednesday, December 15, 2010)  called  "Domain Names: Strategic Insights for SEO." The event will get underway at 2pm U.S. Eastern Time. The topics to be covered include:

  • How domains can improve your search engine rankings

  • Integrating domains into your online marketing strategy

  • Domain acquisition strategies

  • Key domain value indicators

  • Success stories

If you would like to sit in on the webinar, you can register here:

(Posted Dec. 14, 2010) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

While I Was Away Visiting the Frozen North ICANN Kept New gTLDs in Cold Storage

I spent the four days since my last post on Thursday visiting my mother and two brothers in the small central Ohio town where I grew up. I have now lived in Florida far longer than I did in Ohio and one thing I was reminded of on  this trip was that Mid-December is not a good time for someone used to sub-tropical weather to be in the Midwest! 

You have probably read about (or if you live there, experienced) the massive snowstorms that have swept across the region the past few days. I was lucky to get out 

The central Ohio house where I grew up. My parents bought 
it over 60 years ago in exchange for $500 and a used car!

Sunday just ahead of the worst weather. When we were boarding the plane, the snow was already blowing in so hard it was going sideways. We had to sit on the tarmac for half an hour while they de-iced the wings, but once we were airborne it was smooth sailing back to the Sunshine State (which incidentally isn't so sunny right now either - we are expecting sub-freezing temperatures tonight in the Tampa Bay area.)

Getting to see some snow and experience cold weather again does make it feel more like the Christmas season though, as did getting to spend time with family in the house I grew up in. The place is over 100 years old now. My parents moved in over 60 years ago when they traded a used car and $500 for the house (if today's home values keep falling the way  they are maybe we will see those prices again)! They tell me it wasn't much more than a cabin back then though. My dad added the second story, the garage and all of the left side of the house past the front door - doing all of the work himself.  He could build anything. They say a lot of genetic traits skip a generation which may explain why I am more likely to hit my thumb than a nail if get anywhere near a hammer. Thank goodness I can operate a keyboard without hurting myself (of course the night is still young)!

Page Howe - when it comes to new 
  - he has been there, done that 
(and never wants to do it again).

Which brings us back to the reason you are here - domains! The big news while I was away came out of the ICANN meeting in Colombia. Actually it was a lack of news, as ICANN, under fire from several quarters, again decided to delay making a final decision on when they will begin introducing the unlimited number of new gTLDs they want to crank out. 

While I personally see no need for any new gTLDs at this time, I am starting to feel a little sorry for the people that have invested their money in businesses that hope to provide services to operators of new gTLD registries. I am not the least bit surprised to see the interminable delays that they are how sweating through though.

I'll never forget a talk that Page Howe have at the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Down Under conference in Australia in 2008. Page headed a group that tried to get a .kids TLD a decade ago. He told a  harrowing tale of pouring money into an endeavor that swallowed money like a sinkhole 

while the ICANN process inched along at a snail's pace and in the end wound up bearing no fruit for him as the organization never acted on his application. Howe said he would never again be involved in any business that depended on ICANN's approval. By now, others must be starting to understand why.

(Posted Dec. 13, 2010) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

DOMAINfest Global 2011 Announces a Fantasy Domaining Contest & Big Changes to the Show's PITCHfest Contest

There are some interesting new developments with the 2011 DOMAINfest Global conference coming up February 1-3 in Santa Monica, California. The show organizer, Oversee's DomainSponsor.com, has announced a new Fantasy Domaining Contest with some attractive prizes, as well as some key changes to the PITCHfest Contest that debuted at the last show in January 2010.

The Fantasy Domaining Contest is similar to Fantasy Football in terms of its format and rules. Contestants “draft” their initial roster from a master list of 1,000 domains, then put some in play, make substitutions when desired and trade domains with other contestants. Each contestant will draft a portfolio of 35 domains from the master list. The goal is to draft or trade for domains that are believed to have produced the most PPC revenue last year between December 1, 2009 and January 15, 2010.  There is no cost to sign up (only one entry per person is allowed) and the rewards for winning are substantial.

The winner will receive a free trip to DOMAINfest Global 2011 that includes a travel stipend of $1,000, plus four nights at the hotel and free admission to DFG 2011. The winner will also receive a "Fantasy Domaining Champion" trophy on stage at DFG 2011, and the bragging rights that go with the title. 

The second place finisher will receive a free DFG 2011 ticket and third place is worth 50% off a DFG 2011 ticket. 

The contest will end on January 15, 2011 and winners will be notified on January 17, 2011. For details and a full explanation of how to play, including Official Contest Rules, and to sign-up, visit http://www.domainfest.com/fantasy. The contest is open only to residents of the United States.

Now about those changes for this year’s PITCHfest contest, an event  designed to expose attendees to new, innovative, online business, service or technology ideas. First, presentations will no longer be limited to business models designed to improve revenue on parked domains. Second, instead of allowing judges to ask contestants a range of questions after each five-minute presentation, the judges will remain silent and the next contestant will be immediately ushered onto the stage. This will ensure that the quality and clarity of the five minutes on stage is maximized, exposing the audience to as many innovative ideas as possible.  

Scene from the PITCHfest Contest at the 2010 DOMAINfest Global conference last January.

The judges will rate each presentation in four dimensions:  Creativity, Viability, Originality and Revenue Potential. Their combined score will determine the winner.  The winner will receive a DOMAINfest Global 2010 PITCHfest Innovator Trophy and be featured in a press release. The audience will also be allowed to vote for the People's Choice winner, using a real-time text message voting system. The People’s Choice winner will receive a People’s Choice trophy and be featured in a press release. 

Peter Celeste, Senior Vice President and General Manager of DomainSponsor, said "“PITCHfest was a big hit last year and revealed some very smart ideas. This year we’re extending the boundaries of the contest to allow any new, innovative online business, service or technology ideas to be presented. Attendees at DOMAINfest are Internet entrepreneurs who are always on the lookout for new people to partner with or invest in, so it makes sense to expand on what can be ‘pitched.’” 

Individuals interested in entering the PITCHfest competition can find contest rules and an online submission form at http://www.domainfest.com/PITCHfest. The deadline for entry is January 14th, 2011. On January 21st, up to ten finalists will be selected and notified to start preparing their five-minute presentations. The competition is open only to residents of the United States.

By the way, a discounted registratin rate of $1,195 for DOMAINfest Global 2011 is currently available. That offer will expire December 31, 2010. To register, visit http://www.domainfest.com/register.  

(Posted Dec. 9, 2010) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

.Info Report Says Extension Gaining Ground + .CO to Get Boost in GoDaddy Super Bowl Commercial + Warren Royal's Bobbleheads.com Gets Big Plug on TV

Afilias, the operator of the .INFO registry, has released their 2010 .INFO Annual Report .INFO was the first generic, unrestricted gTLD to be launched since .com and in the nine years since its debut in 2001, the number of registered .INFO domains has grown to nearly 

6.8 million, making it the 4th largest gTLD on the Internet and the 7th largest extension overall. 

In 2010, the number of registered .INFO domains jumped nearly 30% from the previous year.  North America remained the top market for .INFO domains accounting for 58% of registrations. Europe was next at 27%, followed by the Asia Pacific region with 12%.

Roland LaPlante, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Afilias, said, ".INFO now represents 44% of the registration market for new TLDs and is more than double the size of any other new TLD ever launched. .INFO’s success provides many lessons applicable to the launches of new TLDs to come. Afilias has been able to use our experiences with .INFO as a foundation for supporting the successful approval, launch and growth of more new TLDs than any other registry services provider.”

The .CO Registry also has something to celebrate today. They hosted a party last night in Cartegena, Colombia where the 39th international ICANN meeting is being held this week. At that party, a video message from GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons to .CO CEO Juan Calle was screened and in that message Parsons hinted that .CO would be featured in one of GoDaddy's popular Super Bowl commercials in February.  Parsons said an official announcement was coming next week (Dec. 13th) but blogger Michael Berkens, who was at the party, reported shortly after it ended that it was clear what Parsons was saying. Last year's TV audience for the Super Bowl was over 95 million people so you can see why this news is creating a lot of excitement in the .CO camp. 

Warren Royal, the founder of Bobbleheads.com, who was featured in our December 2008 Cover Story) also have some TV exposure to celebrate. Warren got a big plug from the CBS-TV affiliate in Atlanta when the hosts of their Morning Show invited him to appear on the air. They raved about his company's custom-made bobblehead dolls as the perfect Christmas gift idea. The three co-hosts were especially thrilled when Warren presented them with new bobbleheads of themselves.

Warren Royal (right) of Bobbleheads.com during his 
guest appearance on the CBS Atlanta Morning Show

Warren's story is one of the best examples you will ever find of the value and power of a generic .com domain. He bought Bobbleheads.com for just $30,000 and has since developed a thriving business on the domain - a business that was given an immeasurable boost by being built on the name that defines the entire product category.  

Initially Warren sold dolls made by other companies, then he expanded in producing custom made dolls of his own (he has even released two bobbleheads dolls depicting domain industry figures - Rick Schwartz and Ron Jackson, each of which he retails for $19.95). During his TV appearance Royal said he could produce a custom made doll of anyone for as little as $89. The customer just sends in a photo or two of the person they want made into a doll and Bobbleheads.com takes it from there. Thanks to his TV appearance you can bet his Christmas business just got a big boost. 

Warren was featured on two different segments during the show. You can see a video clip of his first segment here. The second segment, which the reporter closed by showing the Ron Jackson bobblehead doll (thankfully without sticking any pins in it!), can be seen here.

(Posted Dec. 7, 2010) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

DomainAdvertising.com Issues Study Showing Impressive Results for Their Graphics Rich Parking Platform + ICANN Meeting Opens With New gTLD Plans Under Fire

DomainAdvertising.com is a new kid on the domain parking block, having just joined the PPC fray at the start of this year. However, the new platform, a division of Mumbai, India based powerhouse Directi, launched with immediate credibility by bringing former Fabulous.com COO Dan Warner on board as their CEO.

Warner's presence and DomainAdvertising's new approach to parking (with attention grabbing graphics rich landing pages focused on photos rather than text) peaked the interest of many domain investors who have grown tired of seeing their parking revenue plunge over the past couple of years. 

I have been hearing positive feedback from many who have tried the platform and now have some hard numbers put forth by Warner in a new case study he assembled with the testing help of ParkLogic.com, a monetization company headed by Michael Gilmour, whose model involves moving domains between a number of different PPC providers to match each name with the provider that generates the most revenue for that particular domain.

Dan Warner
CEO, DomainAdvertising.com

At Fabulous Warner was known for publishing detailed white papers on a variety of industry topics, so he made a point of noting that the case study covering DomainAdvertising results is not an academic paper. In this case he called the format a general dialog with supporting numbers, all of which are bundled into a tidy10-page Powerpoint presentation

Warner also noted, "The study specifically restricts traffic to English speaking countries, excludes domains that are banned by upstream providers, and only includes domains in categories with our design system implemented."  With that in mind, the numbers he cites are quite impressive. Some of the highlights include:

       67% of domains performed better on the Domain Advertising system (compared to their previous provider's system) under test conditions.

       On aggregate there was a 50% increase in revenue for the domains tested

       A very consistent result was achieved across all traffic volume ranges  

       There was a 164% increase in revenue for the  67% of domains which were “won” by  Domain Advertising ("won" meaning the domain performed better on the DA platform than it had with its previous provider).

       $96 RPM aggregate revenue was achieved on the 67% of domains won by Domain Advertising (English Speaking Countries)

Warner said, "A lot of domain owners said parking is dead.  When I came back into the industry a year ago I would have agreed.  Now I would say that parking wasn’t dead it just needed a push to get out of the rut it was in. The DomainAdvertising designs are fantastic - the revenue is better." Still Warner allowed, "Domain Advertising won’t be the solution for every domain.  Properly managed around two thirds of the time we will be the best provider, but every domain needs to be managed on a case by case basis.”

Warner attributes a lot of the the system's success to human optimization applied to the domains accepted into their system. That approach has created one challenge for the company.  “We have been inundated with domain portfolios hoping to trial our system," Warner said. "We are managing those requests as priorities dictate while ensuring that the outcomes for each client are met successfully.  What we don’t want to do is take on so many requests that clients become dissatisfied with the speed that we can optimize their domains. Our level of optimization takes real work – it isn’t just a computer churning out results”

Warner is quick to credit ParkLogic for helping DA move the ball down the field. “ParkLogic did the hard yards with us," Warner said. "Through early development bugs, reporting glitches, and design flaws – they stuck with us to achieve the outcomes we have today.  For the work they have done with us they deserve a great deal of credit.”  

“What I liked about testing with ParkLogic is their innovative attitude," Warner added. "They worked with us to squeeze out more revenue from every domain. When we weren’t the best provider they gave us feedback to improve and made sure the clients still made the most revenue possible while we optimized.  The result was an extraordinary outcome for two thirds of the domains tested."

One other note to day. ICANN's 39th international meeting got underway Sunday in Cartagena, Colombia where it will continue through Friday (Dec. 10). One of the most interesting things that will come out of this meeting will be how ICANN decides to proceed with their plan to roll out an unlimited number of new gTLDs.  They are being whipsawed between competing interests with some adamantly opposed to the plan and others in favor of it. 

As Michael Berkens reported last week, one especially powerful voice - the U.S. Department of Commerce (the government entity that allows ICANN to function under a current agreement between the two bodies) has come out against going forward with a new gTLD rollout at this time. Will ICANN ignore the government and risk the consequences, or further delay what seems to have become a never ending process that no one seems to be happy with?

(Posted Dec. 6, 2010) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Founder Monte Cahn Parts Company With Moniker.com - Will Leave the Oversee.net Unit December 31

Domain industry pioneer Monte Cahn, the man who founded  Moniker.com and stayed on to lead the popular registrar after it was sold to Oversee.net in 2007, is leaving the company effective December 31, 2010 when his current contract ends. 

In a prepared statement Oversee CEO and President Jeff Kupietzky said, “Oversee appreciates all of Monte’s contributions to the company and to the industry. We respect his readiness to part ways and look forward to working with him in new capacities.” Cahn was instrumental in the successful integration of the retail registrar function into Oversee’s other operating divisions, and continued his prominent role as an industry leader and facilitator of domain name sales through private and live domain name auction events.  

Cahn said, "I want to express my sincere gratitude to all those that have worked with me at Moniker, SnapNames and Oversee and

Monte Cahn
Moniker.com Founder

helped build an industry-leading brand and company. I know that their successes as individuals and as a company will continue for years to come. I also want to express my thanks to our loyal customers and business partners who believed in and contributed to the domain name industry.  It has been a real pleasure serving the industry for the past 15 years."

When I entered the domain business Monte was already an established industry leader which is why he was the subject of one of our earliest Cover Stories back in 2003 (The Full Monte: Why an Industry Pioneer's One Stop Shop Kept Expanding Long After the Bubble Burst). Monte was instrumental in the creation of live domain auctions and many other innovations over the years. Just last month his remarkable body of work was recognized when domain owners and investors voted him into T.R.A.F.F.I.C.'s Domain Hall of Fame

Cahn, who is currently on his way to Colombia for next week's ICANN meeting, did not comment on his future plans but I have heard through the grapevine that he may be joining a new domain business venture. I hope that is the case as I believe his talents are a major asset to this industry.

(Posted Dec. 3, 2010) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

GoDaddy Founder Bob Parsons to Deliver Keynote at DOMAINfest Global + MO.com Interviews Ron Jackson

GoDaddy.com Founder Bob Parsons will deliver the keynote presentation at the DOMAINfest Global conference coming up Feb. 1-3, 2011 at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica, California. Parsons, who was the subject of one of our earliest Cover Stories in September 2004, has built GoDaddy into the world's largest web hosting provider as well as the biggest domain name registrar. 

Go Daddy currently registers, renews or transfers more than one domain name every second of every day, manages more than 44 million domain names, runs one of the world's largest domain name aftermarkets, serves more than 8.5 million customers worldwide and employs more than 2,800 people. His is a remarkable success story, made even more remarkable by the fact that this is the second time he has built an extremely successful company. He sold his previous venture, Parsons Technology, to Intuit for $64 million and as impressive as that number is, it just a fraction of GoDaddy's present worth.

Bob Parsons
Go Daddy Founder & CEO

Landing Parsons, who is considered to be a marketing genius, is a very nice coup for DOMAINfest Global. Oversee.net CEO and President Jeff Kupietzky, whose company stages the annual conferece, was understandably excited about getting him. "We are thrilled to have Bob Parsons at this year’s event," Kupietzky said. “Our attendees are domain investors and internet entrepreneurs who rely on DOMAINfest to provide them access to visionary leaders and internet marketing innovators. As a leader and innovator, Bob is uniquely positioned to not only speak to them about the domain business, but also about the challenges they face as entrepreneurs. He’s a perfect fit for our audience. So we’re sure his stories and perspective will inspire and motivate everyone attending.”

One other note today. I recently had the honor of being interviewed by MO.com, Brian Null's superb site about upcoming companies and the entrepreneurs who are building them. MO.com published that interview today. 

Mike Sullivan conducted the interview for MO.com and did the excellent job people have come to expect from the work he publishes on his own site, Sully's Blog

We covered a lot of ground in this interview, including how I found my way into the domain business, why I started DN Journal, how the industry has changed in recent years and whether or not there are still opportunities for newcomers in this business. If you would like to check it out, the full interview is here

As it happens, MO.com founder Brian Null was the subject on one of our most popular cover stories, a piece published five years ago called Going for Broke: Why Brian Null’s Family Bet the Farm On His Golf Domains. Back then I certainly had no idea that Brian would one day be turning the tables on me, but it was certainly a pleasure. I also appreciated the exposure to the mainstream business world that Brian gave both myself and the domain industry through this interview.

(Posted Dec. 2, 2010) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

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