Featured in the  Wall Street Journal - Forbes -  Bloomberg - Investors Business Daily -  ABC News - BBC News -  CNN/Money - MSNBC - USA Today - New York Times 

The Sound of Success: How Record Breaking Domain Deal Maker Andrew Miller Keeps Hitting the Highest Notes

By Ron Jackson

In every form of human endeavor, when someone  reaches the pinnacle of success in their particular pursuit, people see their name in a different light. That person may not have a changed a bit while working their way to the top, but once they get there, their name morphs from near anonymity to being the definition of excellence in their field. You hear examples in random conversation every day. "That kid can throw the ball 80 yards downfield, but he's no Tom Brady!" Few knew who Bruce Springsteen was when he started out, playing in run down bars in New Jersey. Now the name alone defines greatness in music and especially live concerts that typically run 3 hours with The Boss.

Yes, icons like Brady and Springsteen play on bigger stages than ours, but the principle remains the same in every field. The domain business is by no means an insignificant one either, as this month's revelation of the $15.5 miillion price paid for a single domain, Chat.com, reminded us. Andrew Miller, the Managing Director at Hilco Digital Assets, brokered that sale with fellow domain industry pioneer Larry Fischer, and his name, like Larry's, is one of the few that virtually everyone in our space knows well (coincidentally, Andrew and Larry went to a Springsteen concert together earlier this month in Boston).

Andrew Miller

Andrew has been hitting home runs for over 25 years now. In fact, he was featured in a 2005 DNJournal.com Cover Story about the success he and his two partners at the time were having. Their sales included Beer.com at $7 million, InsuranceQuotes.com at $6.5 million, Diamond.com at $6 million, Shop.com at $3.5 million, CreditCards.com at $3.5 million and Telephone.com at $2 million in cash + equity! There were many more blockbusters completed under non disclosure agreements. All told, Miller has been involved in over $600 million worth of domain sales in his career.  

Like everyone else, I've been impressed by what Andrew has accomplished and as a journalist I was also interested in knowing what went into making it happen. At one point we all start out as kids with a blank slate just waiting to fill it in. Over the formative years that follow, a wide variety of people, events and influences play a role in how our story turns out. The end result always gets the most attention but if you want to see the full picture, you have to start at the beginning.

Miller grew up in a professional family in the Boston suburb of Wellesley, Massachusetts. His father, Alan, was a successful attorney with his own firm, so the family had all of the material things they needed. Even so, they would have gladly given those comforts away if it could have saved two of the tight knit family members from a medical tragedy that persisted across several decades and resulted in losing them far too soon.

Andrew's two younger brothers, Greg and Scott, were stricken with the rare illness Glycogen Storage Disease (GSD) before reaching kindergarten. They were among the first children ever diagnosed with the disease and were pioneers in developing treatments, resulting in global news coverage of their case and extensive studies at the Harvard Medical School. Greg died from cancer related to his GSD battle in 2002, not long after his 30th birthday. Scott passed six years later from the same fight. 

Front page story from The Boston Globe (December 24,1971)

Having lived through the biggest challenge of their collective lives, Andrew is proud of how resolutely his parents did everything in their power to make sure all of their kids had as normal a life as possible. "Growing up, despite years of stress of having such sick siblings, my parents did an amazing job, still paying tons of attention to me," Andrew recalled. "My dad never missed my games, drove me to school (private school 30 minutes away), often going out of his way to work, and they were always present for me too. I was involved in taking care of my brothers when I got into high school and looking after them in my college years. It taught me a lot about the importance of accountability, something that has played well into my business career. Losing a brother is hard but losing children is unspeakable and I admire how much perseverance my parents have had."

Above: Brothers Gregory Miller, Andrew Miller and Scott Miller on a good day in Wellesley.

Andrew noted, "My dad is 88 and still plays golf! We play once a week and I believe it has been an important bonding activity for both of us since my brothers passed. I will not miss a week, no matter how busy I am."

The old adage, "like father, like son" could have been written about Alan and Andrew. Mirroring the devotion he received from his father, Andrew now makes his own kids, son Bret and daughter Brooke, his top priority. He told us, "My kids are everything to me (although they are no longer kids!) and growing up, I coached both of them in two sports, and never missed any event or marquee moment, a luxury and one of the pros of being a domain investor, entrepreneur and working for oneself. I cherish every day, every event, every phone call, even as they are now college age and graduating. My son had some health challenges for about a year in high school - nothing like my brothers but still unsettling, and like my parents, my wife and I were ALL in until he was fine, which thankfully he is now."

Andrew and his favorite golf partner, father Alan, 
in the gallery during a round of the U.S. Open.

Above: A shot from the February 2, 2015 Super Bowl game in Phoenix where the Miller family's beloved New England Patriots beat the Seattle Seahawks 28-24. The victory was sealed by a last second goal line interception by Malcolm Butler that prevented Seattle from scoring a winning touchdown. This shot was taken immediately after that historic play. Left to right are Andrew's son Bret, father Alan and Andrew.

Miller obviously has his priorities in order, making it all the more remarkable that he has had time to engineer so many historic domain transactions. Andrew learned to manage the clock well early on while juggling school work, helping care for his brothers and planting the seeds of what would become an extraordinary entrepreneurial career. The latter started when he began making some money of his own by running carnivals and pony rides and selling stamps and baseball cards. However, the thing that would propel him into the business world's stratosphere was intense but invaluable training he received when we went to Wall Street after graduating from Cornell University.

"I was accepted into Drexel Burnham and Michael Milken’s training program, an 18-month real world wake up call, right after college. It was an exciting time on Wall Street, and a different time. Some of what you see in the movies like Wall Street was reality. It was hardcore and from that, I

Andrew Miller speaking at the 2005 
TRAFFIC conference in Delray Beach, Florida.

learned discipline, important sales skills, and how to network. It was an incredible learning experience in my 20’s and to start a career, and it provided the structure and foundation that I have been applying ever since," Andrew said.

"I maintained many relationships, from becoming a speaker on the Internet and domains at Milken Global Conference, arguably the most prestigious business gathering in the U.S., to supporting the Prostate Cancer Foundation, by traveling to multiple baseball stadiums with Mike Milken and the late Los Angeles Dodgers Manager Tommy Lasorda, on Mike’s plane, for his PCF Home Run Challenge. Ironically, I also helped Milken acquire the PCF.org domain name for the foundation! Some of my closest friends remain from those investment industry days; Mike "Zappy" Zapolin, who was my original partner when I ventured into domain names (we were co- Keynote speakers at Rick Schwartz’s second ever T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference in 2005), to my buddy David Lazowski, whose company Fairway, acquired Home.com from me in 2022. Ironically, I am now overseeing the sale of the WallStreet.com domain name asset as well!"

Armed with that training, Miller embarked on an entrepreneurial career that would lead him to domains and that request to speak at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. " My first kick at the start up can after I left Wall Street was a cutting-edge television production and live event company and that was a blast. We produced programs in partnership with major brands, NFL Teams, the PGA, Diana Ross, Itzhak Perlman, the Grateful Dead, and even put on the first ever major cybercast of a concert, the Allman Brothers Band from the Beacon Theatre in NYC, with AOL and Microsoft as partners. Wild times. It is also where I first discovered the Internet and domain names." 

"With respect to domain names, there were 3 Eureka! moments," Miller continued. "The first was Beer.com, our first domain name, which we acquired and flipped for millions of dollars four months after buying it, followed quickly by Diamond.com and the same result. The second was one week after we acquired CreditCards.com, and one of our team members came to me to say we had made $12,000 in commissions in the first week from type in traffic and affiliate banners. This led to building successful financial lead gen companies with both CreditCards.com and a few years later, InsuranceQuotes.com. The third, most recent and most important in many ways, was in 2021 when I had my 2nd ever, eight- figure domain name sale, as an advisor, and of course the resulting benefits from that result. I remember saying to my wife,” this may never happen again”, and then four weeks later, I had another, followed by three more from 2022 to here in 2024."

Andrew Miller getting ready to rock in his first entrepreneurial enterprise with MarkeTVison

"26 years later and Eureka! is still happening with this unparalleled asset class," Miller marveled. "Back when I was a Senior at Cornell, I was trying to figure out what the heck I wanted to do for a job after college, and I met with a close family friend, who is a multi-time New York Times best-selling author and known as the “stockbroker to the stars”. He said to me, “the reason I love this business and you will too, is that every single day when you come into work, it is a different day. On any given day, something monumental may happen, good or bad. The markets and stocks are never the same day to day”.  That is why I applied to the Wall Street training program, and it still resonates with me at the highest level. Every day with domain names is a new and different day. I have woken up to emails with seven figure offers for a domain that I owned or was advising on for years. That one morning, which can be any morning, was different and every hour and day in domains that possibility exists, and it is awesome!" Andrew declared.

Unlike most of his contemporaries in those early days who focused on the easy money that domain monetization was providing, Miller was laser focused on acquiring and developing maximum value from these assets. He has worked tirelessly ever since, sharing his vision with corporate leaders and convincing them to make sizeable investments in domains. We had to ask how he won over so many that had not previously understood their value?  

"You are asking for the secret sauce!," Andrew laughed. "First, I have been posting something on LinkedIn every Sunday for 107 straight weeks now, called Random Thoughts, and it is read by over 5,000 people a week. In that, I try to share war stories and real-life case studies and pointers on the most valuable domain transactions.  I am going to try to answer this question from a macro perspective. It is my strong belief that every one word .com domain name, most likely has 1, if lucky 2, and if a perfect storm, 3 

people or companies that will acquire it in each window of time, which I define as day 1 to 4 years. Why? A company needs to know exactly why they want the domain and what they will do with it (regardless of whether that plan later succeeds or not); the timing needs to align so that is the right time for THEM, regardless of the right time for the domain owner who is selling the domain; and they need to care enough or believe in its value enough to pay the asking price or enter into a zone of a potential agreement, which is something I also refer to often."

"I would say that my many war stories either involve decision makers who did not understand the strategic importance of owning a domain but to be fair, sometimes it is not black and white and other times it is and it’s the ones where it is that fall into the “leaders who don’t get it” category," Miller noted. "I spend so much time trying to inform, and even educate investors, Boards, and management when it is one of those scenarios. As far as those that I have “won over”, I never would attribute that to just me but to them equally. Some leaders get it from day one and those deals become negotiations more than sales efforts. Others come around and when they do it is exhilarating. Sometimes, a buyer will come around because the concept of owning a domain made sense, but the timing was not right for countless reasons. I would say that many of my most successful deals fall into one of those two categories. My most rewarding “turn around” was with Home.com, a story I shared on both the Namescon stage in 2023 and on my Random Thoughts Podcast Episode 1, both times with David Lazowski, who was instrumental in Fairway’s acquisition of the Home.com asset.

Above: Andrew Miller (Hilco Digital Assets), at left, and Larry Fischer (GetYourDomain.com), sharing the never before told story of their 2021 sale of Home.com with an SRO audience at the 2023 NamesCon Global conference in Austin, Texas.

A lot of water has gone under the bridge since we first introduced DNJournal readers to Andrew in 2005, so we asked him to reflect on the nearly two decades that have passed since then. Andrew began by noting, "I have been a serial entrepreneur for many of those years, with both wins and losses. The wins were fantastic and successes big, and the ones that did not work out are always hard. Startups are hard and most fail. That is just the facts. I have learned that from both my own career as a founder and as an investor, where even the most promising, well-funded, top VC backed ventures can go the wrong way. I would not trade those years and the wins and the tougher times for anything though. One constant has been domain names. I have been very fortunate to have mostly success with regards to name investments and overseeing and advising on acquisitions and sales. I continue to believe that domain names represent one of the best performing standalone asset classes and am privileged to have built a 26-year track record as an expert and leader in this category."

Andrew added, "After doing this on my own for so many years, I joined forces with Hilco Global in 2022 to build a digital assets advisory and investment business together, with a primary focus on the most valuable premium domain names. It was the first time in a few years that I both built a team and was part of a very senior one, and it reminded me how much enjoyment and more success comes from collaboration 

with smart people. Hilco is a powerhouse across many asset classes and the combination of my network and skill set with the Hilco team, relationships, and capital is phenomenal. The partnership with Hilco is almost two years old and has been a fantastic decision. We have already built a strong company within Hilco and have major momentum."

"On the life front, just as many startups fail, I have come to see many marriages do as well. Marriage is hard work just like building a business and I feel lucky to have an amazing life partner. My kids are grown up and with that, life and responsibilities evolve, and all the hard work in business is rewarding but there is nothing more important to me than the responsibility of being a parent. On a lighter note, when you last wrote about me, my Patriots had only won 3 Super Bowls, and since then, I have had the luxury of experiencing many more, with 3 more wins, and watching one of the greatest sports dynasties of all time unfold up close and in person!"  

Image from Bigstock

After reminiscing about the past 20 years, we asked Andrew to switch gears and give us his take on what is happening in the domain business now.  As of this writing, AI is all the rage, so much so that it has made an obscure ccTLD, .ai, a hot commodity. We wanted to know what he thought the artificial intelligence boom means for domains, as well as in the broader context of a company’s operations and building of their brand. His predictions from 20 years have held up well, so we asked him to peer into the crystal ball once again.

"There has been a lot of buzz on .AI domain names recently and for the past several months, I have emails from 

many asking my opinion on .ai domains," Andrew noted. " In full disclosure, I have been one of the most outspoken experts that devalue non .com TLDs going back 25 years. At least I am consistent. I have friends making good money on .ai right now, and I have end user clients who have made large, longer-term investments in a handful. My thoughts are in line with what they have always been; that any TLD that is not .com (or .org) surfaces due to something happening in the broader environment around it. I have seen it with so many and often sarcastically refer to them as the "TLD du jour". Historically, I have been much more right than wrong. There is no doubt that AI will have a transformative impact on business and life, one maybe only rivaled by the Internet itself and the Iphone. That undoubtedly will lead to a bubble in AI investments, as everyone rushes to get in and VC's follow others, as they have the most FOMO of all."

"There WILL be .AI success stories, whether they are from start ups or established companies. With that said, one benefit of having been involved with domains and the Internet since the 1990's is I have seen it all. If you want to invest in AI domains, do so, hey I may too selectively, but do not lose sight of the likelihood that they are not necessarily tied to the importance of AI as a platform and they too, like 100% of those TLDs before them, will be grossly devalued in time and likely sooner than later. In the words of Bob Dylan, "don't say I didn't warn you when your train gets lost," Andrew smiled.

"As far as the future of domains, and specifically one word category defining or exact match domain names, I continue to believe that they are a better investment than any other asset 

Image from Bigstock

class, and especially when that investor is a successful company that can leverage the asset into its business. Over the years, there have been many alleged " ends" to domain names, or to .com dominance and they all have been proven wrong. The most valuable .com domains have stood the test of time, and the extension has become embedded into culture and society in a way that would take a very long time and something that I do not see yet, including AI, to overtake it. With that said, it is important to always be three steps ahead in case anything changes but I do not see that in the near future or in my remaining window of times in this business," Miller said.  

You've probably all heard the old adage - "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." So, we also wanted to know Miller loves to do as a break from the business world. "I love sports, and I love to take chances," Miller said. "I have been an avid bettor since I was 18 and now, it is legal and accessible in our back pocket all day every day. I have had some success playing daily fantasy sports on DraftKings, having won several high dollar tournaments over the years. It is a passion that I do not see becoming less interesting to me, at least until I win the elusive “Millionaire Maker” contest, which is $1 million to first place. I do it relatively responsibly. However, I see the amount of betting being done by college students and society in general, and I am certain that this will lead to a serious set of issues and challenges down the road. It took decades to make sports betting legal in more than half the states, but I believe there will be a strong push to revisit these laws, and amend them, or in some cases even retract them, as these issues become more prevalent. I am certain there will be change but my guess is sports betting is here to stay."

Another Miller passion is kind of a combination of work and play as it involves some strenuous exercise. That is Soulcycle. "I am closing in on my 750th ride," Andrew said. "I began riding at Soul in 2016 when it was apparent that I needed to find a workout that I loved, to take the place of Squash, which I had played competitively for so long. I had torn my calf twice and slipped my L5/S1 disc and it was time. Soul immediately became a place to sweat like crazy for 45 minutes or more, get lost in amazing music, no phone, and the best instructors and people in the world. It always sounded corny to me before but the community and friends in that room on bikes that go nowhere is about as special as it gets. No matter what you are clearing your mind from, no matter if its good times or hard times, which in a room of 56 people, everyone is experiencing something, it is a place to get my shit together!"

Last but far from least, there is that obsession Andrew has with The Grateful Dead. If you went back and read our 2005 Cover Story you saw that the first two words in the headline, referring to him and his then partners, were "Dead Heads." Turns out some things never change, "Oh for sure!" Andrew declared.  "I am a 103+ Grateful Dead show guy and as many deadheads do, guide a lot of my business and life philosophy based off of the lyrics and spirit of the music. In March 2023, I oversaw the epic sale of Chat.com, one of the most important domain transactions ever considering the timing and significance of AI/ChatGPT. The buyer, Dharmesh Shah, is the Co-Founder of Hubspot. The other Co-Founder of Hubspot, Brian Halligan, whom I have known since Hubspot was started at his apartment, was so influenced by the Grateful Dead that he wrote this awesome book - Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead: What Every Business Can Learn from the Most Iconic Band in History, to which he credits so much of the Hubspot way."

"I too, credit so much of my approach to life to the “Grateful Dead way”.  Some Dead quotes that are especially relevant to me are "All good things in all good time" - a Jerry Garcia line from the JGB Bands' Run for the Roses album with

Andrew Miller and his son Bret at a 
2023 Dead and Company show.

lyrics that I believe are so important to investing in, advising on domains and really any business. It levels the impatience in me and reminds me how important patience is. Also, "If you get confused listen to the music play" and "Once in awhile you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right" are both lyrics that are essential to my day to day philosophy." 


Andrew's devotion to his favorite band reminds me of my favorite quote about the power of music - one that comes from what may seem like an unlikely source - Oliver Sacks, a Professor of Neurology at the NYU School of Medicine (and a best selling author). Sacks said, “Music can lift us out of depression or move us to tears – it is a remedy, a tonic, orange juice for the ear. But for many of my neurological patients, music is even more – it can provide access, even when no medication can, to movement, to speech, to life. For them, music is not a luxury, but a necessity.” If Oliver ever needs an especially persuasive case study to prove his point, Andrew Miller is his man!





Follow us on 
Like us on 
Subscribe to our 
RSS Feed

 SITE LINKS: Home Page | Domain Sales Report | YTD Sales Charts | The Lowdown
 News Headlines | Get Email Alerts | Site Archives | Classified Ads | About Us | Email Us

No photos, text or content of any kind may be copied from this site without expressed written consent ©Copyright 2024 DNJournal.com - An Internet Edge, Inc. company.