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August 27, 2012

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SedoPro Partners Forum Treats Domain Owners to Three Days in Paradise
(Page 2)
After two days of rest and relaxation, the focus turned to business for the final day at the SedoPro Partners Forum Tuesday (June 19) at the Mohonk Resort. Sedo's Chief Strategy Officer Matt Bentley kicked things off after breakfast with a discussion of what the domain business might look like five years from now in 2012. Such speculation is actually a key component of Bentley's job which includes keeping an eye out for market changes and developing scenarios that could create new opportunities for his company or adversely affect their current fortunes.

Bentley predicted that those who are highly successful five years from now won't be the same people who are highly successful today. If you look back five years, he noted that most of the people who were the largest portfolio owners in 2002 are no longer on the scene. The only thing that you can predict with certainty is that things will change. 

With that in mind, Bentley warned attendees that it is easy to get complacent when things are going as well as they have in recent years. You need to stay abreast of what is happening in the market at it is a good idea to hedge some of your bets.

Matt Bentley
Sedo Chief Strategy Officer

After Bentley's talk everyone headed for Mohonk's Conference Center where three consecutive 45-minute seminar sessions were scheduled, with a menu of three seminars to choose from in each session. Even then Sedo chose to keep the subject matter focused on general industry issues rather than Sedo-specific topics. Only two of the seminars related directly to the company's products. Bentley conducted one of those in Session One with a discussion about SedoPro Optimization and how to use the program's tools, including keyword selection to get the most out of your domains.

Antonio Marzo, Sedo Director of
Spanish & Latin American Markets

At the same time, COO/General Counsel Jeremiah Johnston led a seminar on legal issues on one room while Sedo's Director of Spanish and Latin American Markets, Antonio Marzo was in another conducting an International Investment Workshop. I settled into that seminar to hear Marzo talk about opportunities in non-English speaking markets. 

Marzo noted the especially high growth rates in the Latin American countries. Mexico's .mx grew 644% last year and Brazil (.br) is also rocketing - it is now Sedo's 4th largest market. Marzo also talked about the opportunities in Asia and with IDN's. Everyone knows China is an emerging powerhouse, but due to the slow growth of ecommerce there Marzo thinks China's .cn is a play that may take a little longer to develop than some people expect.

After Session One ended there was a 15-minute break before it was time to make your seminar choice for Session Two.

Bentley and Johnston stayed on duty with Bentley conducting a seminar titled Traffic 101 that covered tools for identifying the type of traffic a domain is receiving and the best performing keywords and commercial categories, among other things. At the same time, Johnston oversaw a discussion about the effects of international law on the domain industry. I decided to take a look behind door number 3 where Sedo's Portfolio Sales Manager Jay Finnan and Director of Customer Relations Martin Osusky talked about portfolio valuation and marketing, giving tips on selling portfolios and preparing for transfer.

Martin Osusky
Sedo Director of Customer Relations

Jay Finnan
Sedo Portfolio Sales Manager

In the final Session, Bentley, Osusky and Sedo President Ulrich Essman gave a talk on Sedo's product pipeline, previewing company plans and also getting feedback from attendees on what they would like to see in the SedoPro program. At the same time, Director of North American Brokerage Chrstian Kalled was scheduled to talk about "revenue beyond parking" (the argument for a sales based strategy), but Kalled was unexpectedly called back to Boston headquarters to handle a major domain deal that was in the works. Fortunately, broker Matt Rosebrook was there and filled in admirably. 

Sedo broker Matt Rosebrook

Sedo President Ulrich Essman

Sedo CEO Tim Schumacher conducting the Forum's final seminar

I opted for the third seminar, "Ripe Domain Investment Opportunities Within the Next Five Years" conduced by Sedo CEO Tim Schumacher. Noting that 70% of Internet users do not speak English, Schumacher views IDNs as a good opportunity. Using stock market

terminology, he also rated major ccTLDs including .us as "buys" along with .info, .mobi and long tail .coms (.com domains that define narrow but very targeted commercial segments). Schumacher said he has downgraded .eu from buy to hold, and also rates .com and .net as holds as recent price increases may temporarily dampen the upside on those old standbys. Schumacher's sell category includes .biz, .cc, .ws and .tv

While the market remain extremely strong today, Schumacher cautioned that markets are cyclical and that a contraction is inevitable sooner or later. He also sees some major changes ahead in the aftermarket, expecting the pool of decent expiring names to be dead within five years. By then he expects the secondary market (buyers purchasing directly from domain owners) will be the most dominant sales segment by far. 


Sedo CEO Tim Schumacher

After the seminars, the curtain was officially brought down on the 2007 SedoPro Partners Forum with a closing lunch during which the Internet Commerce Association's new Executive Director Michael Collins made his first official on-the-job appearance. Collins brings over five years of direct navigation and domain name experience to the ICA. He is well-known in the community as the co-founder and former VP of Marketing for Afternic.

Michael was introduced to the domain industry when his brother and partner, Roger Collins told him about the .us land rush. Together they started NameBuySell.com as a part-time venture. The business became a serious endeavor after getting an opportunity to acquire the famous Afternic brand. The Collins brothers aggressively grew Afternic from startup to over $1.6 million in revenues in less than three years. Afternic had developed into a market leader in the domain sales business when the company was sold to NameMedia in November 2006.

With the ICA, Michael is responsible for leading the organization’s development and plans to focus on recruiting new members. He said “We need a larger base from which to draw our support and our ideas. This association will only succeed by listening to its constituency. Then we can be a voice for the industry.”

ICA Executive Director Michael Collins

After Michael's talk it was time to reluctantly reboard the buses and leave this little piece of heaven on earth behind. However we left with sincere appreciation to the entire Sedo team and to the Mohonk Mountain Resort for an especially memorable event that will be talked about for years to come.

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