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The State of the Industry 2022: 22 Domain Pros Explain the 2021 Boom and Predict How This Year Will Play Out

By Ron Jackson

Welcome to DN Journal's 18th annual State of the Industry Cover Story! We have again called on leading experts from across the domain industry to get their take on the forces that fueled a boom year for domains in 2021 and their forecasts for 2022

While the year began with no sign of a slowdown in the domain business, there could be some road hazards ahead.  There is increasing competition from other digital assets like NFTs and cryptocurrency, borrowing money will cost more with interest rates rising to combat inflation and, after two years, the biggest wild

Image from Bigstock

card of all - the ongoing global pandemic - is still in play. There is a lot to keep up with and no better time to find out how people with some of the best track records in the business view what is ahead. 


To assemble our panel we called on successful domain investors, developers and brokers, as well corporate leaders from a variety of categories including registrar and registry operators, aftermarket sales platforms and conglomerates that offer all of those services and more. Many of our experts operate in more than one category. For those multi-tasking individuals, we put them in the group that looks most relevant them this year. To assure fresh voices are always in the mix, we aim to have about half of each year's panel comprised of members who were not featured the previous year, and were able to do that again this year.

Since we value the opinions of every expert equally, we rotate the order that each group appears in each year. Last year we led with the Domain Brokers, followed by Corporate Leaders, then Domain Investors & Developers. So this year, the Corporate Leaders and Domain Investors & Developers each rotate up a notch with the Domain Brokers moving into the anchor position. While you can read the article straight through, the links in the preceding sentence also give you the option of going directly to any group. You can also instantly go to any individual commentator just by clicking their photo in the collage below (with the exception of my photo at the end - my role was just to ask the questions, gather the answers and share them with you). Once you go to an expert you can also copy the URL from your browser bar if you want to share that person's comments with others.

Now, it is my pleasure to introduce the experts who have graciously taken time out of their busy schedules to share their insights with you. I'm confident you will find it very valuable in your own journey thourgh an industry where there is no such thing as too much information! 

Our 2022 Panel of Experts



(Left to right):

Row 1: Michael Robrock (Sedo), David Warmuz (Trellian/Above.com), Matt Overman (Donuts), Sandeep Ramchandani (Radix).

Row 2: Daniel Negari (.XYZ),  Zak Muscovitch (Internet Commerce Association & The Muscovitch Law Firm), David Castello (Castello Cities Internet Network), Michael Castello (Castello Cities Internet Network).    

Row 3: Larry Fischer (GetYourDomain.com & NFT.net), Nat Cohen (Telepathy), Braden Pollock (LegalBrandMarketing.com), Andrew Allemann (DomainNameWire.com).

Row 4: Chris Zuiker (MediaOptions.com), Kate Buckley (Buckley Media), Joe Uddeme (NameExperts.com),  Andrew Miller (ATM Holdings, Inc.).

Row 5: Ryan McKegney (DomainAgents.com), Jeff Gabriel (SAW.com), Amanda Waltz (SAW.com), George Hong (Guta.com).

Row 6:   Tessa Holcomb (DomainAdvisors.com), Mark Ghoriafi (MrPremium.com), Ron Jackson (Editor and Publisher of DNJournal.com's State of the Industry report - no link with this photo).

Domain Investors


...Now, let's get this party started!


Corporate Leaders

Michael Robrock

After a successful 20-year career in online marketing, Michael Robrock took on a major role at Sedo in August 2019 as their new Chief Operating Officer. Barely a year later, on Sept. 1, 2020, Robrock was picked to lead the company as the industry giant's new CEO and his first full year on the job showed how well the company chose. 

Michael Robrock
CEO, Sedo.com

Sedo had a very successful year in 2020, despite the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. As anticipated, Sedo gained further positive momentum in 2021. I can say with confidence that 2021 was an outstanding domain year for Sedo, as both the volume of domain sales and the total revenue increased significantly. This twofold achievement is based on several reasons:

The classic "face to face" business model failed to bounce back last year, against all expectations. Those who did not yet offer business services online seized the opportunity to make a move and acquire the necessary domain names. This increased demand was noticeable in the primary domain market, as well as in the secondary market.

In addition, many offline businesses initially invested in online advertising, such as social media platforms and search engine optimization, but had to move onto domain names. To be independent and sustainable in the long term, businesses saw the necessity to operate their own domain. That apparent epiphany emerged quickly, thus increasing the demand for domains among this target group as well. 

In line with the ongoing trend toward digitization, the domain parking business was also extraordinarily successful in 2021. Online advertising on parked domains is highly targeted and has achieved exceptional growth since the beginning of the pandemic. I anticipate that this trend will continue in 2022.

While the continued success of ccTLDs in 2021 was to be expected and thus not a big surprise, the rebranding of Facebook to Meta can be considered a highlight.

Domain rebranding involves the strategy of securing the most important domains before the rebranding is publicized. In addition, the process involves the negotiation and acquisition of other, "satellite" domains—this process usually takes place via the secondary market. The process is a clear, high level confirmation that buying domains is as easy, fast and solid as any other online purchase. Furthermore, this type of engagement encourages other brand operators in search of a rebranding to follow the same process, securing all important domains on both the primary and secondary markets.

Another highlight was the rebranding of the financial services company "Square" to "Block" at block.xyz, following the example of Google's parent company Alphabet at abc.xyz.

Image from Bigstock

Many of the popular trends that drove the domain market in 2021 will continue this year:

  • Domains related to Crypto & Blockchain, NFTs, VR, Artificial Intelligence—boosted by the impact of Metaverse.

  • Medtech and Fintech—especially medical cannabis due to countries loosening cannabis restrictions.

  • Domains related to climate change, environmental protection, sustainability and renewable energy, and Gaming.

I project that there will be an increase in new gTLD sales, and that ccTLD sales will continue to perform very strongly. With .io and .ai already rising in sales presence in the last two years, we can expect new ccTLDs gaining popularity via a niche market, such as .gg, and a good ride for new gTLDs such as .xyz.

Industry consolidation will continue to play a role in 2022, either in the form of mergers of large companies, or acquisitions of startups. Premium domains will increase in price, as demand continues to rise unabated.

Many mature startups would decide to invest increased capital on domains, primarily to establish presence on the optimal TLD, .com. Additionally, big brands and corporations will continue to optimize their domain strategy, striving for a shorter, easy to remember domain. The result will be a very noticeable increase in the sales numbers related to ultra premium domains.

Sedo cruised at high altitude in 2021 but that is nothing new for CEO Michael Robrock (2nd from right in seats on the right side of this cargo plane flying over Prague). Robrock took the flight with some fellow  attendees at the 2010 Domainfest Conference in the Czech capital. (Photo taken by Trellian Founder David Warmuz).

Investors eager to trade current digital investment topics such as cryptocurrencies or NFTs, will sooner or later get involved with domain names as tradeable digital assets.

As a result, more investors would establish an active presence in the domain industry as lateral entrants, fueling domain prices due to higher demand. Let's not forget that inflation also boosts domain prices, because domains are considered a safe investment haven with low risk, comparable to real estate and art.

The subject of cybersecurity will continue to grow in importance in 2022, as online businesses of every size deal with this topic, inevitably as part of their digital strategy; domains are an important part of this.

As a whole, the domain industry tends to react and correlate with current events and trends. New social media platforms such as Clubhouse emerge, influencer popularity on Instagram or YouTube increases, and blockchain technology products such as cryptocurrencies and NFTs arrive, all while the Covid-19 pandemic diminishes direct face to face business. But in the end, people go online to seek something out and end up with a domain!

Domain names provide independence, security, improved customer retention, traffic growth, and reduction of advertising costs. This will not change in 2022. What became noticeable for so many companies in 2020 will be more present and clear for everyone in 2022: Your domain is your home.

With this in mind, at Sedo we look forward to a great domain year full of new ideas, insights, and hopefully more personal encounters at various domain industry events!

David Warmuz
Founder & CEO, Trellian.com and Above.com

Trellian.com Founder David Warmuz celebrated the company's 24nd anniversary in 2021. David, who serves as CEO of both Trellian its popular domain monetization, aftermarket and brokerage platform, Above.com, launched Trellian with his late brother Ren and their remarkable journey was detailed in a November 2017 DNJournal Cover Story

David Warmuz
Founder & CEO
Trellian.com & Above.com

2020 was a catalyst for many changes that were further refined in 2021. As expected many workflow improvements implemented made 2021 our Strongest yet!

All of our divisions saw good increases in revenues, market share and more staff. Though hiring staff has become harder and the process taking longer without physical interviews, while working from home in constant lock-downs, we see the the need to be mindful of mental health issues that this extended isolation is creating.

On a sad note, we mourn the loss of a key member of our team who unexpectedly passed away from heart disease at the low age of 40. Rest in peace Matthew Clarke as you are missed by all.

My 2020 Bitcoin Prediction "2021 will see a number of bitcoin price corrections and multiple runs that I expect to surpass the current top price." was spot on. New top price of $69,000 was set and currently on a correction that is still above where I expected it to be. For 2022 I cannot confidently say that we will surpass the current top price but we sure will get close. Though I will be happy to get this prediction wrong!

Our professional Above Managed service to help manage domain portfolios was our focus in 2021 and generated exceptional returns for many new clients that transitioned. Greater demand for domain traffic saw constant increases in performance. Unfortunately the travel industry took longer to recover and is still not where it used to be, so we look forward to this vertical to resume its recovery in 2022.

Monetization and domain sales will continue to trend upward in 2022 and we have ready buyers of traffic domain portfolios on revenue multiple with substantial budgets, so if looking to sell please reach out.

A wish for 2022 is that there will be a few face to face events where we can once again catch up...

And yes we are still hiring! 

Matt Overman
Senior VP, Sales - Donuts Inc.

Matt Overman has been a leading domain industry executive for over 15 years now. He started an Demand Media, then became General Manager of NameJet before moving up to Senior VP positions at Rghtside and now Donuts (owner ond administrator of the world's largest portfolios of new gTLDS).

Matt Overman
Senior VP, Sales - Donuts Inc.

2021 was another crazy year for domains and digital identity assets. I'm sure other contributors more closely connected with the NFT boom will share their 2021 reflections in that area; but what I will say is that the growth of all things web3 - the metaverse, DeFi, NFTs and other blockchain based tech - was a major driver of domain registration growth this year.

Within the Donuts portfolio, ‘coin’, ‘tech’, ‘cryp’, ‘meta’ and ‘verse’ were all amongst the top 20 most commonly registered keywords. I expect that web3 and other emerging tech will continue as major themes in 2022, materializing in greater demand for TLDs already popular amongst tech / blockchain companies such as .ai, .co, .io, .finance and .xyz.

There continues to be disportionately high usage of nTLDs and ccTLDs amongst major crypto companies. Looking at the top 100 cryptocurrencies by market cap, 44 companies or projects use an nTLD or ccTLD for their primary website, including 11 that use a .network.

Another trend we saw at Donuts was stronger than anticipated renewal rates in 2021. This follows an increase in demand driven by Covid lockdowns in 2020, as well as a focus on improved quality of domain registration. This is one of a number of indicators that the pandemic-driven movement of businesses online will be lasting.


I expect the red hot aftermarket to continue in 2022. I also believe more and more startups and entrepreneurs will embrace ccTLDs and nTLDs due to the lack of availability and affordability of desirable .COM names. Morgan Linton wrote this year about the increase in funded companies using nTLDs for their websites. DomainsBot also published a study showing that consumers only find a two-word .COM 13% of the time and at the same time are actually conducting less domain searches! I believe both of these are indicative of the challenge in finding a good .COM and more openness to building businesses on descriptive domains.

Finally, online security will continue to grow in importance for domains and digital assets in general in 2022. I expect the investment in online security to increase dramatically this year to combat all types (theft, fraud etc.) and address all layers (application, network etc.). This will remain a priority area for Donuts, continuing security-based innovation within our products, services and systems to ensure better protection for our partners and for consumers.

Sandeep Ramchandani
CEO,  Radix (part of the Directi Group) 

In 2018 Sandeep Ramchandani completed a 15-year rise through the ranks to become CEO at Radix Registry, a position he continues to thrive in at a company that operates nine new gTLDs and one re-purposed ccTLD as part of industry giant Directi Group. Radix now has millions of domains under management.

Sandeep Ramchandani
CEO, Radix

After the unprecedented Covid driven spike that we experienced in 2020, 2021 was all about testing the sustainability of that growth.

Looking at things more closely from a Radix perspective, in 2020 we saw a sharp rise in new sales across most of our TLDs; in both the premium and standard categories. When it came to forecasting 2021, we had two big challenges:

i) Predicting new unit sales. Historically, we have been able to safely predict a reasonable growth rate over the previous year, but that wouldn’t have worked since 2020 was an outlier. It was near impossible to make a scientific forecast for how 2021 would play out given the oscillating macro economic environment which was tossing between the world getting back to normalcy vs new Covid waves forcing further lock-downs.

ii) Predicting renewals of spike sales in 2020. Past data clearly shows the correlation between sudden new unit spikes and lower renewals. That approach was also supported by the hypothesis that a large contributor of the growth was driven by distressed businesses trying to get online to stay alive, and that such businesses are likely to

experience higher churn. So, we did the reasonable thing and assumed that domains registered in 2020 would renew at slightly lower rates when compared to previous years.

As we look back at the past year, it's interesting to see how things turned out across these two critical metrics:

i) New Unit Sales. Our standard (non premium) sales were largely flat over 2020. While we’d love to have it grown over 2020, this wasn't a bad result given that in 2020 new sales were 50% higher than in 2019. To have sustained that level of new sales was considered a good result for us. Premium names saw a spectacular jump of 32% over 2020. Given that 2020 itself had seen a 52% rise over the previous year, this beat our most optimistic expectations.

ii) Renewal Trends of names registered in 2020. We were pleasantly surprised as we witnessed one of our best ever years for first time renewal rates. Standard names registered in 2020 renewed at 44% higher and renewal rates for premium names for the same period saw a 4% rise over the previous year.

Looking at 2022 and beyond, we see e-commerce as being the largest growth driver for our industry.

Image from Bigstock

As per an internal analysis, the total number of e-commerce websites globally jumped from 5 million by the start of 2020 to over 12 million by the end of the year. This segment has substantially outpaced the overall market. The percentage of websites which are now e-commerce enabled jumped from 5% at the start of 2020 to 11% by the end of the year and has risen further to 15.5% by the end of 2021.

Shopify, which is a good barometer for this segment, has seen its share price rise 300% in the two years between Jan 2020 and Dec 2021. Based on data from IBM’s US Retail Index, the pandemic has accelerated the shift away from physical stores to digital shopping by roughly five years.

These numbers present a huge opportunity for the entire web services industry. Since each e-commerce website represents a direct channel of revenue, its economic value and resultant investment in infrastructure, marketing and maintenance is substantially higher than a basic website. Case in point, Wix’s share of revenue from e-commerce websites has gone from 13% in 2016 to 37% in 2020, and Wix isn’t even positioned as an e-commerce specialist.

If the percentage of e-commerce sites stabilize at around 15-20%, this next wave of new sites will, in absolute dollar terms, represent a massive opportunity for registries, registrars, hosters, domainers and e-commerce service providers.

As the operator of the .Store TLD, we’re placing special emphasis in trying to position it as the de facto TLD for anyone who is looking to set up a website with a sales objective. There's a good reason for all companies in our industry to have a specific strategy to ride this wave.

Daniel Negari
Founder & CEO, .XYZ 

Back in 2011, Daniel Negari got the idea that since the alphabet ends with XYZ, why not end domain names the same way? When ICANN opened up new gTLD applications in 2012 he applied for .xyz, got it and went live with the extension in 2014, positioning the TLD as a short, memorable, affordable, global, and flexible choice for anyone's online presence. Over the past two years, .xyz has been on fire, especially in Web3 communities.

Daniel Negari
Founder & CEO, .XYZ

In 2021 the most significant trend, by far, was the widespread adoption and use of new gTLD domains. It is now commonplace to see new gTLD domains at the top of the weekly sales charts, demonstrating healthy aftermarket volume and increasing demand. New gTLD registrations are also up across our registrar partners as new internet users are presented with more available and affordable domain choices. I’m especially proud of the extraordinary growth of .xyz. In 2021 .xyz became the 13th most popular TLD in the world (source: https://domainnamestats.com ). In addition, .xyz is the 5th most popular Generic TLD (com/net/org/info/xyz) and the #1 new gTLD in the world. 

One unexpected trend in 2021 was the huge growth of NFTs and new technologies like Web3 gaining traction. We saw a number of crypto and web3 companies like Block.xyz, Matcha.xyz, and Dune.xyz rebrand to a next generation .xyz domain. We have been working closely with blockchain organizations (ex: Ethereum Name Service) for over 5 years so while it doesn't come as a surprise to see .xyz become the go-to domain ending, it was a surprise to see such large rebrands all at once!

I anticipate that 2022 will be an even bigger year for the domain industry. As a result of registrars offering more domain options and algorithmically showing the best suited option(s) in the search results, internet users will have an easier time finding a memorable and relevant domain to register. I predict that registrars will get even smarter and improve user experience, allowing domain registrants to easily set up websites and other relevant products more quickly. I also forecast a continued upward trend of new gTLD registrations, especially in the crypto and NFT space. Many more blockchain-powered companies and developers will be coming online and will want to use affordable and memorable domain extensions like .xyz. I am incredibly excited to see what new innovations and trends 2022 will bring and the team at XYZ looks forward to facilitating the growth and expansion of the internet.

Zak Muscovitch
General Counsel at Internet Commerce Association & Principal at The Muscovitch Law Firm

Veteran Toronto-based attorney Zak Muscovitch has long been acknowledged for his expertise in UDRP issues but he has also gained acclaim for the extraordinary work he has done as General Counsel for the Internet Commerce Association (the non-profit organization that protects to domain registrant rights). 2021 was a landmark year for both the ICA and Zak's private practice.

Zak Muscovitch
ICA General Counsel
Principal, Muscovitch Law Firm

From my perspective, 2021 was the year that Domain Name Investing finally reached its destiny of being a widely acknowledged and legitimate industry and reached new, unprecedented heights.

I witnessed this in both of my roles; as General Counsel to the Internet Commerce Association and as a private practice domain name lawyer. As General Counsel of the ICA, 2021 saw more UDRP panelist and more UDRP panelist decisions recognizing and respecting domain name investing as a legitimate industry worthy of protection against illegitimate attempts to scoop valuable domain names for free via the UDRP. This has been the culmination of years of extremely hard and talented work by domain name attorneys in our industry combined with unprecedented outreach by the ICA to stakeholders within the broader domain name field. 

One of the highlights for us was co-hosting along with the International Trademark Association, the first-ever “mock” UDRP hearing at Namescon. Not only did this attract some of the very best panelists and counsel to participate, but it demonstrated the complexities of the UDRP to a 

broader audience and showcased cooperation between domain name investors and trademark representatives. When it comes to cybersquatting, we can often be on the same page as cybersquatting not only harms trademark interests, but also domain name investing. 

Also, through weekly dialogues on the UDRP hosted by renown UDRP Panelist and author, Gerald Levine, we increased understanding and appreciation for the strengths and weaknesses of the UDRP by domain name investors and trademark representatives alike. Just a few short years ago, such dialogue, cooperation, and mutual understanding would have been nearly unthinkable. Furthermore, in 2021 we saw an unprecedented recognition of the domain name investment bar as a result of the CIIDRC’s appointment of me to be a UDRP Panelist. Although I represent both complainants and respondents in UDRPs, this is the first time that a UDRP lawyer who is associated with domain name investing as opposed to exclusively with trademark interests, has been accredited to hear UDRP cases. 

In my private practice, I saw unprecedented transactional activity. Extraordinarily high-value domain name transactions became the norm in 2021, which demonstrated to me that well funded companies are now, more than ever before, recognized the incredible value in generic and brandable domain names. Whereas prior to 2021, I would see transactions in the six and sometimes low 7 figures, in 2021 I saw transactions in the high 7 figures and even 8 figures. This shows how after 20+ years of domain name investing waiting for the market to mature, it has finally happened and will continue to happen as more and more companies realize that the value that they an get from the right domain name is a bargain. Moreover, with such high value transactions comes much more complex deals thereby demonstrating that the industry’s transactional acumen and capabilities has to increase accordingly along with the size and sophistication of the deals.

Zak Muscovitch speaking at the 2020 NamesCon Global conference in Austin, Texas.

With the maturation of the domain name investment business into a robust, recognized, and extraordinarily successful industry, comes the need for domain name investors to step up their game in every respect. This requires domain name investors to become more active in several respects in 2021. First, domain name investors must increase their support and protection of their industry to safeguard the tremendous gains they made in 2021. The Internet Commerce Association has been on the vanguard of this effort for over 15 years and I call upon every domain name investor who has benefited from the industry to join the ICA or to increase its contributions to that the ICA can expand its efforts on behalf of the community. 

Second, domain name investors need to increase their awareness and opposition to cybersquatting so that there is always a clear difference between the lawful and legitimate business of trading in domain names on the secondary market and cybersquatting. Third, domain name investors need to start thinking bigger about the value of their domain names in a maturing and unprecedented seller’s market and work towards increasing broad public recognition of the important role that domain name investors play in the domain name ecosystem. Domain name investors cannot afford to toil in obscurity any longer and must work together to maintain the gains that they have made and to further the goal of bringing distinction and success to the domain name investment industry. What a year 2021 was and 2022 should be even more tremendous!

Next up....

Domain Investors & Developers 

David Castello
COO, Castello Cities Internet Network (CCIN)
Co-Founder, CastelloBrothers.com

David Castello co-founded Castello Brothers LLC with his brother Michael in 1997 and well as Castello Cities Internet Network in 1999. As owners and developers of some of the best .com domains on the web over past 25 years they are true industry pioneers. 

David Castello

In 2020 I wrote an article for CircleID where I predicted the pandemic would launch a domain name gold rush, particularly for generic dotCom, and that’s exactly what happened. DNJournal’s Top 100 Sales Chart for 2021 boasts fourteen seven-figure dotCom sales, not counting those with NDAs, and 89 out of the Top 100 were dotCom.

My logic was simple. The pandemic was shutting down brick-and-mortars and forcing them to survive online. Having a brick-and-mortar with an online presence is one thing, but surviving strictly online is a completely different animal, and they quickly learned the #1 rule of the internet marketing jungle:

The name matters.

The name matters not so much for the first time they find you, but for the second and third and fourth time when your name is so instantly memorable that the public doesn’t have to search for it - and nothing does that as effectively as a single-word generic dotCom domain name.

Those of us in this industry tend to forget that the domain name Aftermarket is less than thirty years old. Compared to other industries we’re still in our infancy

The pandemic proved that the right domain, the right brand, can mean success or failure to an online business. We discovered this ourselves when my brother Michael and I developed PalmSprings.com in 1995 and Nashville.com in 2003. 

And it still holds true today. Nashville.com does millions of dollars in concert ticket sales a year. No one has to do a search for Nashville.com once they’ve been there because it’s an instantly memorable name. The same rule applies to online giants such as Amazon.com, Cars.com and Hotels.com. 

Before 2021, most traditional brick-and-mortars believed the idea that a domain name could solely make or break a business was an urban myth created during the 1999 dotCom bubble. Now, because of the pandemic, they know better. 

I want to stress that we’re talking Endusers here, not domain investors. We’ve sold few of our undeveloped names to investors and they will play a diminishing role in 2022. 

2022 will be the Age of the Enduser.

Michael Castello
CEO, Castello Cities Internet Network (CCIN)
Co-Founder, CastelloBrothers.com

In addition to being a pioneering and highly successful and visionary domain investor (with sales including Whisky.com at $3.1 million), Michael Castello and his brother David have developed multiple successful websites (Michael and David were profiled in our December 2006 Cover Story). As a proven industry visionary we often turn to Michael for in-depth analysis of where this business is headed. The pandemic curtailed the time we had to connect for this year's State of the Industry story, but it didn't stop it, once again proving there is no keeping a good man down! 

Michael Castello
CEO, Castello Cities Internet Network
Co-Founder, CastelloBrothers.com

Just so happens that my family and I caught COVID in the lead up to this article, so I have not had much time to write what I wanted. While my comments may be much shorter, I am happy my brother David is back to contributing this year. 

I believe most of what I wrote in last year’s 2021 State of the Industry was on target. I hope you’ll read it again sometime.

What was of most importance to me in 2021 was Facebook moving its efforts into virtual reality with a Metaverse platform name change utilizing their Oculus headset.  I expect a headset interface race with big money coming into the space soon.

Domain names are the truest tangible of virtual value with other three decades of use. All the trillion-dollar companies are relying on them.

Looking more at the future, I do not see any real controls or legislation to curb these powerful companies that have carved out the entrepreneurial middle class. The real controls will be weighted on the rest of us.

See the vision: Register and build conceptualized domain names. I don’t see a problem with taking risks in NFTs and crypto for the next several years, but be aware that in risking too much

could bring down the whole house of cards. Trust and the perception of security are very important. We shouldn’t be too keen on sacrificing the bedrock which got us to this creative moment. We are near the 100-year mark from the great depression. As with the pandemic of 1920, we should take note that things do seem to repeat themselves. Stay well.

Larry Fischer
Founder, GetYourDomain.com & NFT.net 

Speaking of industry pioneers, Larry Fischer is another one who is always part of that conversation. Only a handful of people on the globe have enjoyed the kind of success as a domain investor, broker and now (with NFT.net) developer, that Larry has. Even though most of his high end sales are in that stratospheric level that is typically subject to NDAs, he has been able to release enough of them to be a constant presence on our annual top sales chart. In 2021 his credits included Marketing.com at $2.5 million and Near.com at $1.15 million.

Larry Fischer
GetYourDomain.com and NFT.net

As the world entered the 2nd year of the Pandemic, online usage has dramatically increased. With that, the demand for short 1-word domains has skyrocketed. In the past year, strategic category leading 1-word domain names such as Marketing.com, Need.com, Home.com, Meta.com, NFT.com and NFT.net have sold, some well into the 8 figures. The two groups of domains names that rose to levels unexpected, were domains in the Meta and NFT categories. The metaverse along with NFT’s are become the fastest growing areas in the evolution of the Internet. Be prepared as these two categories show no sign of slowing down.

I predict that 2022 will be one of the best years ever in aftermarket sales for domain names. In the short term, I see no stopping the increased need and rising prices for generic category domains in the .com, .net and .org space. I expect a lot of domain investors to expand beyond domains into the NFT explosion. During the last year, NFT’s have infiltrated the domain investor space. Several key domainers have become large investors of NFT’s. Some have created their own NFT projects. In addition, there will be further speculation in to blockchain domains. While the chance of success in the long term has its limits for these assets, there seems to be money to burn so anything goes.

Nat Cohen
Founder, Telepathy

When people talk about who might hold the world's most valuable domain portfolio, Nat Cohen's name almost certainly comes up. You may not hear his name as often as some, only because the humble investor keeps a low profile and, due to NDAs, doesn't release details of most of his sales, but the names speak for themselves. Nat has also been at the forefront on the fight to protect domain owner's rights through his service to and constant support of the Internet Commerce Association.

Nat Cohen
Founder, Telepathy

2021 was a strong year for Telepathy thanks to solid demand and to domain names moving closer to being properly valued in the marketplace.  It has been a long process for businesses to fully appreciate the lifetime value of the benefits they'll receive from a powerful domain name.  In 2021, the general attitude of businesses towards quality domain names took a big step from "nice to have" to "need to have", with valuations rising accordingly.   

I was surprised at the demand last year for repurposed ccTLDs like .io, .co, .gg, .ai, etc.  Those investors who got in early did extremely well.  Does acquiring domain names in these extensions still represent a good opportunity for investors, or will the action jump to new, currently undiscovered extensions?

The explosive growth in the number of companies focused on cryptocurrencies and NFTs brought new money and demand for domain names - while also seducing many prominent domain investors to shift their focus away from domain names :)

Another positive trend from 2021 was the acceleration of innovative offerings by aftermarket sales platforms, including Dan.com, SquadHelp

Efty, GoDaddy and others.  They are addressing a long-standing need in the industry to make it easier for buyers to discover relevant domain names and to reduce the friction in completing an aftermarket purchase.


2022 offers many exciting opportunities.  If we can shake off COVID and return to a sense of normalcy, we should be in a strong economic environment where we can consolidate the increases in domain name valuations that we saw during the pandemic.


This year offers the opportunity to ramp up our advocacy for an update to the outdated Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) so that domain investors are not subject to so many spurious complaints and don't have our assets put at risk of loss due to vague, subjective and obsolete criteria as to what constitutes a bad faith registration.  Domain investors can help the cause by being good citizens, staying away from well-known trademarks, and by voluntarily transferring any "squatty" registrations that were inadvertently registered.  With ICANN's review of the UDRP finally commencing likely later this year or early next year, we have a once in a generation opportunity to place the domain investing industry on a firmer footing by fixing the flaws in the UDRP.


The Internet Commerce Association (ICA) has quadrupled its membership over the past few years and has grown and strengthened our Board.  Our members are a tremendous resource and we aim to leverage this network by expanding on last year's first ICA-specific in-person meetup with a larger in-person event (if circumstances allow), offering a Discord channel for our members where we can share our knowledge, challenges and successes, and continuing our series of expert webinars and online events with leading members of the industry.


Looking forward to seeing many of you in person this year!

Braden Pollock
Founder, LegalBrandMarketing.com

Multi-talented Los Angeleno Braden Pollock, one of the industry most widely-known domain investor/developers, is primarily an Angel Investor who has invested in some two dozen technology start-ups. He has also purchased more than a dozen small companies that have been rolled up into existing companies that he owns and operates.  

Braden Pollock

The domain aftermarket continued to provide robust sales and increased pricing throughout 2021. I've had more inquiries and sales in 2021 than any other year in the past, particularly towards year-end. COVID started this trend mid-2020 and I don't see the market cooling off any time soon. The DNJournal 2021 Top 100 Sales Chart is the highest it's been in many years. It now takes 6-figures to get in the top 100. And let's not forget that most sales, particularly at the high end, are not public. 

The last few years my focus has been on the high end of the market and recently I've noticed end-users increasing their budgets. Thankfully, many buyers are starting to understand the value of premium domains. With so many domain investors also investing in NFTs this past year (myself included), this has created some buying opportunities between investors.  

This last year has seen many new blockchain, crypto, NFT, metaverse and other Web3 companies spring up, using alternative TLD's like .io, .co, .gg, .so, .fi and especially .xyz. This demand has, of course, driven up the price in a few of these extensions. Several years ago, Google's parent company rebranded using Alphabet.xyz. Recently Square rebranded using Block.xyz.

This organic adoption of .xyz by these high profile companies is a boon for the extension and has further fueled it's usage. 

In 2022 crypto and NFT's will continue to be a part of the investment strategy for many domain investors. This will continue to create buying opportunities for those investors not quite as interested in that area of the market. That said, the overall retail domain sales volume will continue to increase along with sale prices.

Last year I anticipated fractional ownership opportunities which have yet to materialize. I suspect that's still coming. I also anticipated more marketplaces rolling out payment plans. BrandBucket did, indeed, launch financing and I suspect GoDaddy will launch this feature in 2022. 

I predict that alt-TLD's will become better known by the general public as Web3 companies continue to adopt them. As such, we may see start-ups leaning towards alt-TLD's to obtain a premium SLD as opposed to choosing a long SLD on the .com. On the other hand, well-funded companies will increase their domain budget to buy the best possible domain they can afford. As I've always said, domains are budget-driven. I don't see that changing. 

I’ve never been more bullish on the domain market.

Andrew Allemann
Founder, Domain Name Wire 

Andrew Allemann, who founded Domain Name Wire in 2005, is one my colleagues in the domain media corps and, like all of us who write about domains, he is also a veteran domain investor with countless acquisitions and sales to his credit. He knows this industry inside out and can always be counted on for an educated and honest opinion on anything related to domains.

Andrew Allemann

Much happened in 2021 but there are some definite themes. For many domain investors, I think 2021 will be the year we look back to as the point when non-com domains started to sell for high prices in the aftermarket. That's not to say .com isn't still king, it's just that there's proof you can make money investing in new TLDs and other extensions. Exhibit A is Swetha Yenugula, a successful .xyz investor. Coming into 2021 she was already profitable with .xyz, and then it simply exploded during 2021. You can thank emerging trends for some of this. Second level domains including eth or meta have sold in many different extensions. 

Of course, 2021 was also a year of incredible aftermarket domain sales. Comparing the DNJournal chart for 2021 vs. 2020 is breathtaking. All types of assets are selling for a lot more than they used to, but domains are uniquely positioned to take advantage of both asset price appreciation and the move to digital during the pandemic.

When making short term predictions, most people take recent history and project it forward. So it's natural to make predictions about strong domain aftermarket sales, interest in metaverse, blockchain, and NFTs.

I think we'll be talking about these throughout 2022, but a bigger question is if some of the froth in asset markets dissipates. The answer is yes; the harder question is when. I long ago stopped predicting things like stock markets and inflation. But something has to give at some point. I think domains will be relatively safe when this happens because they are a useful asset. The first sign of some of the air being let out might come in the domainer aftermarket. The prices some people are paying for expired domains cannot be sustainable in the long run without a major upshift in resale values or sell-through rates. A reduction in these prices would be a good thing and a healthy sign for the market, not a sign of impending doom.

Next up....

Domain Brokers 

Chris Zuiker
Head of Sales and Marketing, Media Options 

Media Options, founded by Andrew Rosener, has won repeatedly been honored as the top selling independent brokerage in the domain industry. In 2021 they rang up nearly $100 million in sales. Andrew told me "That is unparalleled by any other company in the industry in history on a per employee basis!" A key cog in the Media Options machine is Head of Marketing & Sales Chris Zuiker, who we are happy to have representing MO in this years report. 

Chris Zuiker
COO, MediaOptions.com

Last year (2021) was an amazing year for the understanding of the value of domain names to branding, marketing and scaling. Media Options works with all tiers of the business community, including start-up incubators (self funded, first few rounds, and fully funded), legacy brands, and the Fortune 500 companies.  The most significant trend we experienced was the shift in the global view of domain names from being a "nice to have" to a "need to have".  This was being driven by the VC/PE investors looking to protect their investment and scale their businesses.  

This trend was coupled with the major shift of every company going either fully online or a larger part of their revenue moving online.  What this meant is that our acquisition business doubled from the previous year.  Domain names are being viewed as an asset, not a liability.  This is profound because it raises the floor price for premium domain names.  In my opinion, this is the best thing to happen to our industry because it is a sustainable factor for future growth versus previous bubbles.  This paradigm shift brings the sales prices closer to the true value of domain names.  

Another smaller trend was the focus of brands and companies on country-code domains and new gTLDs.  Some good examples were the rebrands of Spiral.xyz and Block.xyz.  While the raw version of the (.com) will always be king, it does open up the market for new domain extensions.  This was a small shift but one for investors to consider for the future.

We also experienced a rapid escalation in specific trending verticals.  The most obvious were the NFT and Metaverse trends.  As with many trends, I would advise to make sure to capture this one while it is hot.

From a business perspective, 2021 was the best year in our company’s history.  In 2020 we had the start of the paradigm shift, but 2021 was the acceleration of the trends and signals we have been picking up on and pondering for the last decade.  This past year will be seen as the hardening where digital real estate solidified it’s absorption of the "brick and mortar" market.

2022 is going to be another great year for domain names.  I see this being heavily weighted in the first two quarters.  There is still a lot of money looking for a home, but also storm clouds on the horizon. However, we do not believe that from an economic, social or even political standpoint we will see much “relief” from the Covid blanket.  There is still too much uncertainty around lockdowns, supply chains, and the global economy.  This is why we believe the first half of the year will be stronger than the back half.

Two of the sharpest people in the domain brokerage business, Media Options Founder Andrew Rosener (left) and Head of Sales and Marketing Chris Zuiker at NamesCon Global (2019) in Las Vegas.

2021 saw a slew of high tech IPO’s that will likely continue into early 2022. The biggest winner there is the venture capital market. Despite what anyone may say, the biggest driver of the domain name market, or better domain name prices, is venture capital. As venture capital goes, so do domain names. There is a flood of liquidity in the VC market and more to come. They have a mandate to reinvest that capital and that means more and bigger funding rounds for startups.  From what I can tell, $1 million is the new $100,000 and $1 Billion is the new $1 Million. That means more domain name sales and likely materially higher values as more demand chases less supply of premium domains.

Lastly, .COM will accelerate fastest but as prices increase rapidly, lease options and lease-to-own models will become the norm as opposed to the outlier, and large portfolio owners will begin treating their names more like venture capital than assets to be sold. At the fringe, those who are not savvy enough to take advantage of these cashflow-advantaged lease models for premium .com domains will likely adopt lesser domain extensions.

Kate Buckley 
Founder & Principal, Buckley Media

Seeing domain name sales brokered by Kate Buckley at the top of DNJournal.com charts has become a common occurrence over the years as Kate continues to ring up sales of six and seven figure sales with astonishing regularity (her 2021 sale of eBike.com at $1,089,000 is a recent example).  Kate also has a fascinating life story, one that we detailed in a 2018 DN Journal Cover Story. Here is Kate's take on 2021 as well as the new year ahead. 

Kate Buckley
Founder & Principal
Buckley Media

For 2021, I predicted increased global adoption of Cryptocurrencies, along with increased acceptance for non-tangible assets, including domain names. That happened in spades. The explosion of the NFT space may have diverted some funds away from the wholesale aftermarket as many domain investors moved to NFTs, however it had no discernible effect on the retail aftermarket with sales continuing to reach new heights due to scarcity of and demand for consumer-facing premium .coms.   

Legacy businesses upgraded their digital brand and well-funded startups sought out the best virtual real estate possible, so we saw demand for premium .COM domain names continuing to drive the premium domain aftermarket. From private sales to public, 2021 expanded the momentum of the 2020 premium domain aftermarket. On both the buy and sale sides, we closed out one of our most successful years to-date.

For 2022, I envision further global adoption of and use cases for bluechip cryptocurrencies, as well as continued investment in NFTs and the metaverse (with tremendous VC money flooding the space), driving up domain prices for relevant sectors. We’re also seeing huge demand for premium domains in FinTech, AI, IoT, MedTech and EdTech. Voice search is also increasingly relevant, driving demand for premium domain names that easily pass the radio test.

Inflation remains a very real concern which also increases demand for hard assets such as domain names, real estate, gold and BTC as a hedge. The longterm economic forecast is uncertain and interest rates are rising, but premium .COM domains have proven their worth through economic turbulence before and, particularly given the need for businesses to operate on the best virtual real estate possible in this new normal, I see no reason for them not to weather any storm on the horizon.  

To that end, it’s worth noting that we’re receiving domain acquisition (buy side) requests like never before — a veritable flood of them in the last week alone. On the sell side, while I still spend a lot of time educating end users, I’ve never before seen both startups and legacy companies so quickly grasping the need to operate on the best premium .COM money can buy…and going for it!

Joe Uddeme
Domain Expert & Principal, NameExperts.com 

Joe Uddeme entered the domain business as the Director of Business Development at Domain Holdings. After five successful years there he opened his own shop at NameExperts.com in 2015 and since then has racked up over $80 million in sales. In 2021 Joe posted the biggest non .com sale of year, moving Poker.net for $750,000.

Joe Uddeme
Domain Expert & Principal

Historically speaking, domain names has always had two components. The investor, and the End-user. In 2021, there was a huge influx of dollars and investments going into cryptocurrency, and more so, into NFTs. Many domain investors began trading in NFTs and digital art. This has greatly increased the amount of money that has been re-purposed from domain name investments, to additional NFTs. This escalated considerably in the 2nd and 3rd quarters of 2021. It continues to be a dominant factor for domain investors. Domain investors continued to look for deals and names that would ultimately, increase in value.

The End-user is unaffected by the alternative investments in NFTs. Domain end-users continued to acquire their brands defensive domain names, or shortened their existing brand. There has been a steady increase in the new acquisition requests for alternatives to .com. The most popular, cost-effective alternatives have shown considerable increase in .co, .io, and .ai. Additionally, brands are continually taking their long-tail .com and shortening to something that’s easy to remember and spell. .COM continued to outpace all other TLDs with the average price increasing considerably across the board for all single word, generic .com domains, as well as a nice uptick for two-word (commerce-driven) .coms. 

2021 proved to be an incredible year—even with the challenges of the Pandemic, as well as investors looking for other avenues to grow their assets. The explosion of NFTs has limited the amount of investor money that typically flows into the liquid domain name market. This proved to be the single largest impact on the liquidity of domain names—in general. 

There’s no reason to expect a downturn in investors turning to alternative investments. NFTS and Crypto will continue to eat into the investor market. End-user acquisitions should continue in earnest with new acquisition starts currently pointing up. Brands will continue acquiring domains that fill an immediate need; either from a defensive strategy, or emerging startups. Both single word, and two-word .coms will continue to dominate the landscape. Alternative TLDS such as .io, .co, and .ai will continue to gain popularity with users looking for a reasonable, cost-effective alternative to the .com. Additionally, expect to see a steady increase in .xyz and alternative extensions related to crypto, but not currently controlled on the DNS registry system. .ETH, .Crypto, .NFT and .Wallet hold relevance with the sales-pitch of no renewal fees ever.

Now more than ever, a qualified domain name expert, or broker should always be used to help navigate the intricate World of the Aftermarket. 2022 should continue to see growth in acquisitions. The biggest challenge facing the domain name industry at-large, is with the Whois system, and the redacted contact data due to privacy concerns and GDPR.

Strong sales should continue with Brands racing to strengthen their online presence in the wake of the ongoing Pandemic. We look forward to helping clients acquire, and divest their premium domain name, digital real estate. 

Andrew Miller
Founder & President, ATM Holdings, Inc.

When you talk about longevity in the domain world a lot of people have been around long enough now to be called veterans but there aren't too many real pioneers - people who who were successfully plying the trade in the 1990s - over 20 years ago now! Andrew Miller is one of the pioneers and he has the track record to prove it. 

Andrew Miller
Founder & President
ATM Holdings, Inc.

I have been deeply involved in all aspects of domain name assets since 1997, as a Founder/CEO, investor, and advisor on many of the most significant buy and sell side deals, and 2021 was a landmark year in the history of both domains and emerging digital assets. While many domain industry experts will make an argument, valid in many ways, that 2021 was a marquee year for secondary TLD's, all those other than .com, I see it as the year that the premium, generic .com domains reached the next level of acceptance and value as an asset class. There have been flashes of this at other times over the years, especially in the late 1990's, but in 2021, premium .com acquisitions were closing at the pace of several a week, and the buyers were end users that were already market leaders or emerging ones.

It was almost automatic that a company that closed a major funding round, a Series A or D, would inevitably announce the acquisition of their exact match category .com domain name shortly thereafter. While other companies decided to "spend down" to buy an .io or .xyz, many of the .com deals were companies then upgrading to .com when they had the capital and opportunity to do so. I have said this many times before, and will continue to. The more a company spends 

marketing dollars and clout on a non .com, the more traffic, revenue, and customers they will send to the .com. Best case it's lost or delayed business, and worst case it feeds a competitor.


If you spend one week absorbing media; prime time television, billboards as you drive on the highway, print, radio, you will see almost exclusively .com, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars of advertising further cementing the .com as part of the brand. Without naming the company I recently helped a very large, fast growing company using .io, acquire their .com, and in the process, discovered over 50 confidential emails sent by the acquirer's senior management to other inside management using the .com email even though it was not their domain. Why? The .com is embedded in the landscape and mindshare. 


For ATM Holdings, 2021 was highlighted by three of the largest dollar domain transactions I have overseen, in all cases movers and shakers that were leveraging the domain asset to get to their next level. The most unexpected trend for me is easy, and is likely shared by many of my domain peers. I have been studying the coming of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT's) for a while, so I am positioned to be an early adapter and expert in the same way as I have been with domains. However, I could not have ever imagined how the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT I acquired could have such a material impact on my business, my already strong network, my life, and as a stand alone investment, and I believe it is the "Amazon of NFT's, still so very early". I covered this in my stories for Decrypt.


Image from Bigstock

I am  excited for 2022, but I also envision there will be some corrections in the public markets, as well as digital assets. With that said, and reiterating the theme above, the bluest of blue chips will hold their value better than 99 percent of assets in domains and NFT's. Yes, this means premium .com domains will be strengthened while secondary domains will stumble, and in some cases cease to exist, and Bored Ape Yacht Club will flourish, while a large portion of the NFT projects that came to market without much substance will be wiped out in the same way Internet companies were in the bubble burst of 2000. 

We are entering the most exciting time in technology since the dawn of ecommerce. We can call it web 3.0, or the Metaverse, but those are fancy names for a fundamental shift in the way companies and people transact, engage, and go about their daily lives. Convergence of the Internet and Television is finally here, NFTs will replace tickets, clubs, and memberships, crypto currencies will start to replace fiat in mainstream applications, and even space travel and virtual reality is closer (but still a ways away).  New age consumer goods companies such as Thrasio (full disclosure I am an investor) will become the "web 3.0 Procter and Gamble", and technology will develop faster than it ever has, applied across all categories of life, including healthcare, entertainment, and shopping. Premium .com domain names will be the address and anchor to it all, the address by which you go from metaverse place A to metaverse place B, and any talk of that becoming obsolete, as it has been so many times for so many years, will continue to be simply noise. 

Ryan McKegney 
CEO, DomainAgents.com

DomainAgents.com has been making waves ever since the company was founded by Ryan's brother, Phil McKegney and Adam Strong in 2012. DomainAgents consistently ranks among the top ten brokerages in the world, based on total sales volume on the Escrow.com platform.

Ryan McKegney
CEO, DomainAgents.com

In 2021 the industry as a whole continued to see the impact of the mass move of business online. At DomainAgents, we saw the average domain sale price up 25%. It was easily the best year in our history and the momentum seems like it will continue into 2022.

Domains are the vanguard of the adoption of digital assets.  While NFTs and the metaverse still have to prove themselves, domains have proven value and a 30 year track record of utility and appreciation. Much of what we see of web3 in 2022 will likely be more foundational than revolutionary.  Hopefully by the end of the year we will have a better idea of whether domain based DAOs and alt roots will be viable.

Much like the past two years, we could see a high degree of volatility in the world and the economy as a whole. Covid doesn't seem to be done with us yet and inflation is on everyone's mind. This instability perhaps makes domains more attractive though. While other digital assets may be more 'exciting', domains may prove to be a safe haven for companies and investors. Whatever happens, DomainAgents will help buyers and sellers navigate what comes next.

Jeff Gabriel & Amanda Waltz
Co-Founders, SAW.com

Jeff Gabriel is a world-renowned expert in domain brokerage and building sales teams and has had a role in over $400 million worth of domain sales. In 2019, Jeff and Amanda Waltz co-founded Saw.com, a top tier boutique brokerage that specializes in acquiring, selling, and appraising domains. Previously, Jeff was the Vice President of Sales at Uniregistry where he and his team quadrupled sales dollar volume. Prior to that Jeff was the President and Co-Founder of Igloo.com and was also a Domain Broker at Sedo. Amanda is a dedicated, self-motivated business development professional with over 20 years of internet sales experience. Amanda is known for her outstanding skills in business development and communication, as well as her organizational, conceptualization, and time management skills. In a reflection of their full partnership, Jeff & Amanda collaborated on their submission to our State of the the Industry report.


Jeff Gabriel and Amanda Waltz
Co-Founders, SAW.com

After another year like no other, it would be difficult to reject the increasing transition many companies were forced to continue to bring businesses entirely online due to in-person restrictions around the pandemic. We believe this is just one of the key drivers in the sustained growth of Domain Aftermarket. 2021 exceeded our expectations and will be remembered as a year we capitalized on many of the emerging industries “living” on the blockchain. 

The funding for companies in both Crypto and NFT space led us to achieve success for many clients who sought an exact killer match .com domain to bring their brand to life. Additionally, one of the higher areas of growth for our team has been helping upgrade to their exact match .com, which has lead us to such sales as (to name just a few): Ai.com, Candy.com, Virtual.com, Alloy.com and Experience.com.

Today’s consumers are drawn to authenticity and trust in branding, especially online. Brands are seeking the most direct path to engaging with their consumer and prospective customer base. Companies should make this easy for their brand loyalists as well as their prospective customers. We saw this in both 2020 and 2021, and expect this to continue into 2022. Of course, with the prediction of this pandemic becoming endemic in April of 2022 we expect people to reestablish their new normal. We expect high growth areas for travel, consumer goods, and also live and interactive experiences.  

Companies in the previously mentioned sectors will need to continue to drive both traffic and brand awareness to help fuel their growth and stand out from their competition. 

These sectors will be poised to experience new brand creation and will need their online identity to reflect this. Some will continue to put massive budgets into creating this identity by purchasing their exact match.com, as the data shows us with .com continuing to be the most popular and valuable with 158 million .com domain names currently registered.

Or if the .com is truly unattainable for them choose one of the extensions we have seen growing in popularity and dollar volume such as .ai, .vip, .law, .io, .co, .tv and even .gg. In four of those extensions, we have completed sales that the sale prices were higher than the highest reported sales.    

George Hong 
Founder & CEO, Guta.com

George Hong, a native of China who spent years living in the U.S and maintains offices in both countries, is intimately familiar with key buyers and investors on both sides of the Pacific. When Chinese buyers became a major force in the domain aftermarket several years ago, George's brokerage company, Guta.com,  experienced tremendous growth that has catapulted the firm into the top tier of brokerage services.

George Hong
Founder & CEO

In 2021, end-user domain name sales continued the boom of 2020. According to DN Journal's 2021 Top 100 Domain Sales chart, End-users acquired a significant percentage of domain names. Eight out of the top ten domain names, such as Hippo.com, Floor.com, and Exodus.com, are actively used by end-users from various industries, including the crypto industry. 2021 was a blockbuster year for the crypto space, led by buzzwords like Metaverse, NFTs, GameFi, Scaling solutions, and more.

Crypto companies have spent significant amounts of money buying domain names and marketing campaigns to promote their brands. Take Crypto.com, a cryptocurrency platform, as an example. Crypto.com has been on a spending spree across the global sports landscape over the past year. Crypto.com reportedly signed a $700 million deal to rename Staples Center, the downtown Los Angeles home of the NBA's Lakers and Clippers, to Crypto.com Arena. This kind of high-visibility sponsorship deal helps educate the mass about the value and importance of domain names.

Many domain investors have switched or diversified their investments into the crypto space. Some found that trading NFTs and cryptocurrencies give them a better investment return in a shorter timeframe.

In 2021, Guta helped corporate clients and brand service companies acquire more domain names than we did in any prior year. Evolvement and Innovations in the crypto areas, such as NFT, DAO, and Web3, will continue to drive the demand for relevant domain names and provide new investment opportunities. By following the trends closely, domain investors can identify new keywords before they become hot and register or buy corresponding domain names at relatively low prices.


Experienced domain investors have an advantage in investing the new crypto opportunities directly.

Take NFT investment as an example. Each NFT is unique, just like domain names. There are many similarities between investing in domain names and NFTs. It is not a coincidence that some domain industry professionals have done pretty well trading NFTs, especially PFP (Profile Picture) NFTs.

Tessa Holcomb
Co-Founder & CEO, DomainAdvisors.com 

Tessa Holcomb was already one of the world’s leading domain brokers when she launched Domain Advisors in 2010. After seeing a need for more of a personal approach to domains, she decided to break away from the large domain sales platforms in order to offer her clients a more boutique service and provide customized strategies for every client. Tessa was profiled in a 2015 DNJournal Cover Story.

Tessa Holcomb
Co-Founder & CEO

If the last few years has taught us anything, it’s not only how important it is to be able to conduct day to daily activities online, but how crucial it is to set ourselves apart from our competition. More companies than ever are realizing that owning the best domain possible in your industry not only helps you build instant credibility but makes it easier for your clients to find you and, most importantly, for potential clients to choose you.

As much of a rollercoaster as 2020 was, 2021 took things to a new level. While the number of seven-figure domain sales in 2021 blew away previous years, the potential for many more was, and still is, on the table. Budgets are greatly increasing but nowhere nearly as fast as expectations. As alternative investments elicit higher returns, and interest rates remain low, motivation to sell higher end domain names decreases. Offers are coming in higher and more frequently than ever for strong brandables and across very specific, competitive verticals including finance, healthcare, online gambling and, of course, the crypto and blockchain verticals. The competition and lack of motivation to sell has been pushing up prices and I only see this continuing.

Cash + equity plays are on the rise and will continue to be attractive to both buyers and sellers. Cash alone doesn’t have the potential to produce the returns that smart equity trades do and more and more sellers are prioritizing deals including at least some equity in a promising business. As a broker, it’s like a puzzle matching the best buyer willing to part with valuable equity, to a domain owner who happens to have a name they want and sees potential in their business model. Along those lines, while it had previously been taboo to introduce the buyer and seller prior to coming to an agreement on price; it is now becoming more commonplace, and even constructive, but only when equity is at play.

What interest rates do in 2022 will have an impact on the domain market. Cash has been cheap, making spending decisions that much easier for both companies and individuals. As interest rates creep up, spending will slow, and prices could come down. Either way, I’m confident about another strong sales year and hope to celebrate our successes together, in-person, before year’s end. Here’s to health, happiness and prosperity in 2022!

Mark Ghoriafi
Founder, MrPremium.com 

After learning the domain ropes while working at some of the best known new gTLD registries in the industry, Mark Ghoriafi, the founder of MrPremium.com,  has emerged as one of the most successful young brokers in the business and has made especially big waves selling the increasingly popular .io TLD.

Mark Ghoriafi, Founder

Another day, another dime, another dollar, another year in domaining paradise. I am Mark Ghoriafi, the Founder of MrPremium.com, a record-breaking domains brokerage, headquartered in the sun, sand, and sea of South Florida, although 2021 proved to be a sunshine filled year for the entire domains industry in what may be the most successful year of publicly reported sales ever!

I entered into the glorious world of domaining on the gTLD side of outbound domain sales, working in Managerial and Director roles at the .CLUB domains registry, the .GLOBAL registry, and with Afilias overseeing 20+ domain extensions. In each role I successfully advanced the selling of premium domains, achieving millions of dollars in gTLD sales, and set new industry and registry records for .Bet .Bio .Black .Club .Global .Mobi and .Poker.

During my time at Afilias, I was introduced to .io domains (Afilias were the backend operator for the .io extension), and it was as if I locked eyes with a beautiful lady across the room, knowing the horizons ahead together would be one of harmonizing happiness, and sure enough, I was right.

My brokerage firm; MrPremium.com, is now a global-leader for the .io extension with near $1 Million in .io names sold the past year (multiple millions in total domain sales), helping create new paths and contributing to advancing directions for the .io market. .io has been on a steady rise the past few years, but the entire market saw a surge of sales in 2021, substantially superseding any previous year. To give more clarity, looking at the reported Top 100 .io domain sales, we can see:

8 are from 2017
9 are from 2018
9 are from 2019
13 are from 2020
48 are from 2021
(Source: Namebio)

This means that nearly half of the all-time top 100 .io sales come from last year alone.

Pre-2021, seeing a mid-five-figure .io name sale turned heads and made headlines, which during that time included the new #1 io sale of Bank.io for $80,000, achieved by MrPremium.com in the final weeks of 2020. Now, let’s fast-forward to one short year later, and seeing a mid-five-figure .io sale has become somewhat unsurprising and fairly standard. In fact, the industry saw its first ever documented six-figure .io sale in March 2021 (Metaverse.io for $175,000), and four more six-figure sales throughout the year, including Mint.io for $230,000, which still claims the top sales spot, although I am aware of a few .io sales that have already exceeded this amount in the private market.

As a result of this this rapidly advancing .io market, a challenge that I and the MrPremium.com brokerage have faced throughout 2021 is harnessing seller price expectation of their .io names. Of the seven-figures of .io domains we have sold, most have been one-word, singular, brandable and generic names, but just because a domain meets these points, does not mean it’s the next name to sell at record-breaking price.

We all can get emotionally attached to the names we invest in, and many people may even think they really do have the best names in the world, but educating yourself with the external 

Christmas 2021- Mark Ghoriafi is based in South Florida 
but he originally hails from England. Here he is on his way 
back across the Atlantic to see family over the holidays. 

market, as well as average selling prices, and the types of names that are selling at those prices, is of great importance. Plus, having an internal think about what you paid for the name and what your happy ROI would be, in conjunction with my aforementioned points, will create a more realistic selling expectation for today’s market. Just because a larger notable sale is achieved, does not mean you now have to price your names near or above that price point, which I keep seeing happen in the aftermarket, and of course this will end up slowing down the overall sales cycle.

I believe that with the introduction and exponential rise of the Metaverse, NFTs, Cryptocurrency, and in general Tech startups, combined with the mainstream acceptance and adoption of the .io extension within these markets, I only see .io getting stronger, with horizons of bigger sales in 2022, maybe even seeing the first seven-figure .io sale by the end of the year?!

Finally, it may come as a surprise that I will now highlight .VC as an extension I feel has been having some nice under-the-radar success in 2021, including numerous fruitful private sales by MrPremium.com. The top five highest ever reported .VC sales all now come from 2021, with Defi.vc achieving top spot ($33,433), followed by Climate.vc ($21,038), Scout.vc ($18,020), Pitch.vc ($15,000) and Product.vc ($10,000). I do not necessarily think it will be “the next .io” anytime soon, but I believe it will provide some notable sales in 2022, starting to become part of more conversations, and is worth keeping an eye out for.

MrPremium.com is proud to be part of this beautiful domains community, and is always excited to be on the frontline of .io and gTLD sales, (us also representing a selection of available one-word, category-defining .COMs), and I look forward to reading fellow industry friends and colleagues perspectives about the .COM market in 2021, and their predictions of 2022 in this State of the Industry cover story.


Once again, a big thank you to every domain industry leader who contributed to this year's State of the Industry report. Your willingness to share what you have learned from your years of experience has made ours a stronger industry, blessed with camaraderie and countless opportunities that are open to all who wish to pursue them, no matter who you are or where your are located around the globe.



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