That would obviously be not just a full, but an
over-flowing plate for anyone to handle but Kupietzky has proven to be up to
the task. It is no coincidence that Oversee's growth spurt and its ability to
weather more than one ferocious storm over the past four years has corresponded
with the time Kupietzky has been on board.
With an extensive business background already under
his belt, as well as an Ivy League pedigree (Summa Cum Laude graduate of
Columbia University) and a Harvard MBA (with high distinction),
Kupietzky joined Oversee as an Executive Vice President (responsible for
DomainSponsor.com) in 2006. Just two years later, in November
2008, he was elevated to his present position as CEO, President and
member of the Board of Directors.
Kupetzky (left) talking with AOL Senior VP
David Mason at 2010 DOMAINfest New York
Kupietzky's rapid ascent has caught the attention of
mainstream media and he is now frequently called on as an industry spokesman -
recent examples being a live
interview he gave CNBC-TV in July, a CNN Money video
report that featured him during the DOMAINfest
New York conference in August and a Smart Business
Story in June.
So where exactly did this young domain industry
dynamo come from? How did he guide Oversee to its current position of
prominence and what does he have in store for the many clients and customers
of the company's various divisions going forward? Those are questions we set
out to answer in this month's Cover Story.
Jeff kicked off our interview by dispelling a common
misconception about him. "Despite many people’s assumptions, I am not
a New Yorker but was born in Los Angeles
in 1970 to two parents who were recent transplants from the East Coast,"
Kupieztsky said. "I’m the middle of three boys and remain close to my
brothers. I used to say I’d never be back in L.A. and I am now living less
| yards from where I grew up!" he laughed.
Angelinos, I’m not currently seeing a therapist and therefore have little I
can blame my parents for. In truth, it was a great childhood and I
believe L.A. remains an ideal place to raise a family."
Kupietzky and his wife Carolyn are now raising five kids of their
own. (L to R): Meira,
Eliezer, standing with his hands on brother Ezra's shoulders, Betzalel
"I went to parochial schools as a youngster and
enjoyed some very close relationships with friends and family that I maintain
today," Kupietzky said. "I did spend a lot of time on the East Coast as I went to camp in
each summer which allowed me to create close bonds with other communities.
the time I got to college, I had a great group of friends from around the
"As a kid, I thought I was pretty good in school
and sports until I faced some real competition. My claim to fame before being
cut from the team was guarding Mitchell Butler who would go on to a pro NBA
career. Facing some early losses helped keep my own accomplishments well
in check," Kupietzky said. If Jeff's athletic career had panned out we
might have been seeing him featured on ESPN (undoubtedly dubbed
something like Special K by Chris Berman) instead of on CNBC
business shows - but business seemed to be the path Kupietzky was destined to
take from the get go.
Jeff Kupietzky at Oversee's
Los Angeles headquarters
"In my community everyone expected your career
to be either a doctor or lawyer (once you did not want to be a rabbi),"
Kupietzky said. "I wanted to do something a bit different but really had
no idea what that would be. I liked the professional aspect of those
careers but really enjoyed solving problems, especially business ones. I
remain fascinated by business challenges in any industry and especially enjoy
learning about business history – finding parallels for today’s world from
Kupietzky's plans for a business career started coming into
focus soon after he arrived at Columbia College. "When I was a freshman I
took a great economics class from Sunil Gulati (today the head of U.S.
Soccer)," Kupietzky recalled. "He got me excited about the whole field and then made
an introduction for me to Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) which led to a
semester of work in
"I consider that relationship and subsequent experience to be a critical
opportunity for me. It helped me feel confident that I could operate
in any situation no matter how foreign and achieve great results,"
fortunate to begin my career at McKinsey & Co. where I was a young
analyst working with banking and software clients. I then had a year selling
watches for Movado Watch Group which included launching the Coach
Watch line and developing a sales automation system for them."
McKinsey had offered to pay Kupietzky's way through
business school if he would return to work for them, but he decided to take a
bit of risk and go off in a new direction. "After two years at business
school, I joined Siebel Systems," Kupietzky said. "My first
project was to launch a business for Sales.com. We had just purchased it
for $175,000 and there was not a clear idea what to do with it. We
pitched a concept for a workgroup sales platform to USVP
and Sequoia (venture capital companies) and got it funded easily. Unfortunately, our parent company
did not want to compete with itself so we ceded this idea to another company
launched after ours called SalesForce.com."
Kupietzky continued on a bit of a journeyman career
before finding a perfect match at Oversee.net. "Prior to Oversee, no
position lasted more than two years, but in truth, each role has helped expose
me to another business model, culture and group of great colleagues,"
"My next gig after Siebel was at a start-up in
that really pioneered cloud computing, but was ahead of its time. I ran
product for Loudcloud which became Opsware. Once my wife and I
started having kids, we decided to move back to L.A. to be close to family and
I joined Digital Insight, which was helping small banks and credit
unions compete in the online space," Kupietzky said.
While back home in Los Angeles, Kupietzky met the founders
of Oversee.net, Lawrence
Ng and Fred Hsu, and was intrigued by all they had
accomplished. "I had just committed to work at an Idealab
company, X1, but as soon as that ran its course, I joined Oversee and
have been there ever since," Kupietzky said.
"Lawrence and Fred started the company after they
worked together at an Internet startup. In the early days, cutting-edge
optimization technology and knowing what tools and tactics domainers needed
to be successful were the hallmark of the company. At its core, Oversee
understood the growing significance of Internet advertising and the importance
of controlling quality traffic."
"The company grew quickly. Since it was a leader in
domain services, we wanted Oversee to fill the leadership position in all
areas of the domain
Ng and Fred Hsu
| name services marketplace. So it was a natural
next step to acquire SnapNames (in 2007) and Moniker (in Jan.
2008) - both were solid, well-respected providers and not only enhanced the
services we could provide to the domainer community, but extended our reach
further. We knew domain names were soon to be seen as the asset class
they were, so by integrating those two companies, we had all the tools for
customers of any kind," Kupietzky explained.
Kupietzky speaking to a crowd of 700
attendees at the 2010 DOMAINfest Global
conference in Santa Monica, California
"DOMAINfest, our industry event, was developed completely in house and has
exceeded our expectations in terms of brand prominence. We thought there needed
to be a setting that all parties interested in the domain industry, regardless
of expertise, company affiliation, or background, could come together to learn,
network and be entertained," Kupietzky said.
"Domains touch every
aspect of business on the Internet so we get professionals from many
disciplines joining us and becoming involved. Each conference seems to
extend the frontiers of our industry. Our European show in
(coming up October 5-7, 2010) has such a broad group of
participating—many of whom have never taken part in a
domain industry show. And, of course, DOMAINfest
Global 2011 should be a knockout. Four regional shows are
also in the planning stages for 2011."
While Kupietzky is happy with Oversee's
standing today, he and the company have had to
overcome some major challenges.
They have had to keep the ship afloat through
the worst recession since the
while simultaneously dealing with a huge
threat to a key division's reputation. That
came when a SnapNames Vice President, Nelson
Brady, was caught shill bidding in company
auctions (Brady was fired and is currently
being sued by Oversee. SnapNames customers
were given refunds for the amount they had
overbid due to Brady's actions).
Another roadblock came when SnapNames lost
their exclusive contract to auction off
expiring Network Solutions domains
after NetSol decided to move into that
business themselves, teaming up with eNom
to launch NameJet.com. Still another
setback happened when Moniker lost its
position as the sole auction services provider
for the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conferences (a
situation now largely offset by the success of
Oversee's DOMAINfest conferences where Moniker
and sister company SnapNames operate the
with any of those situations would have been challenging
enough, but getting hit with all them sat once would
be enough to make anyone throw up their hands and
wonder "What else could go wrong!?”
Panic is not in Kupietzky's repertoire though and the
even keel he has maintained in the face of so much
adversity has served the company well.
Kupietzky (with wife Carolyn in the photo
above) steered Oversee
through some treacherous straits over the past
couple of years).
been an interesting year or two, sure." Kupietzy
allowed. "There’s not much I can discuss about
the Brady scandal since it’s still a legal matter,
but I’ll say the company did everything possible to
treat customers how we ourselves would expect to be
treated if we were in their shoes. The customer
response was very positive and I’m proud of the way
our team handled the situation."
yes, this continues to be a challenging time,"
Kupeitzky continued, "but the evidence in the
industry corroborates what we’ve been saying for
some time now—that domain names are valuable assets
with tremendous long-term potential. They have
outperformed all kinds of other assets on a relative
basis for some time and that’s a trend we expect to
continue. Oversee is in a very strong financial
position and I expect it to stay that way. So I would
say the sky is brighter, but it never really
got all that dim, either. We’ve navigated the past
couple of years by handling business fundamentals the
way they deserve to be handled, putting ourselves in
the strongest position possible in the industry,
having a very strong team and focusing on what I call A-plus
execution," Kupietzky said.
Kupietzky debunking 5 Myths
Domain Industry at DOMAINfest New
another major issue that Kupietzky is still
dealing with today. Domain owners are unhappy
with the cuts they have seen in their PPC
revenues - some have even pronounced parking dead.
That would obviously be a very bad thing for
one of Oversee's key units - the
DomainSponsor.com domain monetization service
that Kupeizky was brought in to run when he
first joined Oversee.
some are ready to schedule funeral services
for parking, Kupietzky insists there is still plenty
of life left in PPC and that it is already
making a recovery. When he spoke at the
conference in August he discussed "industry
myths" and said the idea that parking is
dead is one of them.
"Parking is dead” makes a
great headline, but it’s just not true."
Kupietzky said. "What is true is that the
|matured and feels
closer to other online businesses exiting
hyper-growth phases. The good news is I
believe the overall market is still quite
large, stable and profitable. Advertisers
continue to bid for the traffic at a growing
rate (We’ve seen a 15% rise in RPC
this year)," Kupietzky said.
"The reason for some of the declines
in the past years has to do with how those
ad dollars are being divided among all the
players in the value chain based on their
respective positioning," Kupietzky said.
"There is no longer sufficient
competition among the upstream search
networks so more of the profits are
captured there than are flowing to us. Our
segment remains quite competitive which
maintains share of payouts. In terms of
the future, I do expect competition to
increase among the search networks which will
be positive for all publishers."
the upstream providers (Google and Yahoo)
paying less to those who provide the traffic - domain
owners - the owners have begun looking for better
alternatives. A number of companies – most of them
newer than the existing parking companies - have
emerged with mass development solutions that
they say is the next evolutionary step beyond parking
– one that will provide better returns.
if Oversee has any plans to hedge its own bet
on parking with alternative monetization
solutions Kupietzky said, "First, Oversee
has always maintained non-PPC
monetization solutions which I would
characterize as critical to maintaining
leadership in monetization. It’s not a hedge
for parking but a natural extension.
Like physical real estate, the “highest and
best use” won’t be a parking lot for all
properties. Eventually, land gets built out
for its best use," Kupietzky added.
domains, I do expect lots of innovation
to create additional monetization options for
those properties where it makes sense. We are
supporters of developing names and continue to
test it. Whether the “mass
development” approach will emerge as the
best model or selecting individual sites that
can have significant revenues from dedicated
development remains to be seen."
aftermarket domain sales (something we have
done in weekly
reports for the past seven years)
an interesting phenomenon we've seen recently
is the decoupling of PPC earnings and
the sale price of domain names. Good keywords
Kupietzky on the cover
of the June 2010 issue of L.A.'s
Smart Business Magazine.
|selling for solid
prices whether they produce a high revenue
stream or not. The brand potential of the
domain seems to outweigh all other
considerations for many active buyers.
think that is because there are more end users in the
market who plan to build on the power of the right
domain name," Kupeitzky said. "Marketing and
advertising professionals today are incorporating
domain names into their strategies. Individuals
starting businesses are thinking much in the same way.
Acquire the right domain name as a first and necessary
Kupietzky (left) interviews Zappos.com
Founder Tony Hsieh in the keynote
at DOMAINfest Global 2010 in Los
a sense that’s why we changed the mission
of DOMAINfest three years ago," Kupietzky
noted. "Instead of being insular and
focusing DOMAINfest’s programming only
around the traditional interests of domain
industry professionals, Oversee.net realized
that the continued growth, evolution, and
success of the domain industry depended on
bringing new knowledge, new
technology, new talent, and new
investment into the domain industry."
SEO/SEM experts, online brand managers,
ad agencies, venture capitalists, intellectual
property attorneys, website development
experts, affiliate networks, and other online
marketing-related professionals come together
for a united purpose," Kupietzky said.
"The common denominator is a passion for
finding the best way to generate
maximum revenue from any given domain name."
business has seen some remarkable ups and
downs over the past decade. There was the late
90’s boom, followed by the so-called .com
bust, then another boom starting near the end
|2003 that ran
almost five years before the most recent
downturn. While history is always instructive,
the question in everyone's minds is
"where do we go from here?"
industry is positioned to grow again in different ways,"
Kupietzky said. "As we grow this time, it’s
essential to bring transparency to our industry.
We can’t operate in the dark—we are Internet
professionals with clearly defined goals. We want
businesses and individuals to be aware of the value of
domain names. That will only happen if each of us
steps up and helps to redefine the industry. In my
view, the next few years will be unrivaled in
terms of potential. It’s not just about
domaining—it’s about every aspect of doing
business on the Internet."
also going to be critical to continue to bring broader
business voices into the industry. Lots of
regulators, from ICANN to the U.S. Congress
to the European Union and other governments,
are taking hard looks at the industry. Having strong
voices advocating for a wide range of domain name
usage is going to be important," Kupietzky said.
with his forecast for the domain industry at
large, we asked Kupietzky about the future
prospects for growing Oversee and its various
business units – DomainSponsor, Moniker,
SnapNames and DOMAINfest.
me talk about DOMAINfest first,"
Kupietzky said. "This year we launched a
huge initiative, bringing DF to
New York City
and expanding it abroad with our upcoming two
day conference in Prague.
drew a modest audience of about 130—we were
expecting about 100 for that first regional."
really blew it out of the park with
over 200 people attending. Many attendees
from DOMAINfest New York - August 2010
interested in learning what domain names could
do to enhance their business and how they
should get started. Being in
also gave us the opportunity to be at the
center of the media world. CNN did a nice
piece and a number of positive articles from
mainstream press spoke to why “owning a
brandable domain name on the Internet is extraordinarily
valuable for business.”
"We continue to
expand our footprint outside the
with our European office in
Frankfurt, Germany. Many clients
have been pleased with how our optimization technology
has worked compared to alternatives. Having the
insights from the
market has really helped us in penetrating new areas,"
also continue to be opportunistically looking for
great businesses we can add to our family. We recently
as an example to add to our travel assets. This
service is like Open Table for airport parking
lots and has offered us additional opportunities to
market to our travel visitors on Lowfares.com,"
Kupietzky (left) with Rob McClinton,
Sr. Director of Client Services &
at the company's December 2008 Holiday Party.
may not currently think of Oversee as a domain
development company, going forward you can
expect to see more and more construction on
the company's vast portfolio of Internet real
estate. "As you know,
Oversee.net owns one of the largest domain
portfolios in the world—some one million
names," Kupetzky noted. "Because
we see the potential of owning this Internet
real estate, a major initiative for us is development.
Our Emerging Businesses Group is
completely focused on build outs. You can
think of them as a business incubator."
know about LowFares.com which has become one
of the top ten travel sites on the
Internet. It now has more than one million
subscribers. And we are soon going
to launch another site in the travel arena. In
|re-launched our Degrees.com
site. And in the lifestyle area, there is the
three word domain, WeightLossPlans.net,
which is now up and running."
Kupietzky credited Oversee's staff for putting
the company in position to benefit from the vast
opportunities still out there on the Internet.
"Oversee.net is fortunate to have a great
group of employees all committed to increasing the
value of Internet Real Estate," Kupietzky said.
"No matter which unit they work in, they pride
themselves on their ability to execute, how they
collaborate and innovate to achieve excellent results.
Each one brings a passion to their work and
it’s a privilege to lead them each and every
Oversee employees congregate in the company
Oversee team members square off at the foosball
President & CEO Jeff Kupietzky makes
himself a target at the Beach Day Sponge
Throw - a highlight of the company's 2008 Summer Party
at Will Rogers Beach in Santa Monica.