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Domain Industry Leaders from Around the World Turned Out for NamesCon Global's 10th Anniversary Event

By Ron Jackson

They say time flies when you're having fun but it is still hard to believe that ten years have passed since Richard Lau and Jothan Frakes launched NamesCon,  the industry's premier event for domain investors and service providers back in 2014. They set a high standard with their inaugural show in Las Vegas and did the same in 2015 and 2016 before selling the conference. 

It is a standard that the current owners, WHD GmbH, has maintained. WHD operates the world's biggest hosting conference, Cloudfest, held in Germany in March of every year, and they run a Cloudfest USA edition concurrently with 

NamesCon Global, sharing the same venue and dates and allowing those with a ticket to either show to attend any sessions they wish in the other. 

WHD GmbH CEO Christian Jaeger and Soeren von Varchmin, Chairman of the NamesCon Advisory Board, are keenly aware of NamesCon's legacy and wanted to make sure the landmark 10th anniversary edition of the event, held June 5-8, 2024 at the downtown Omni Hotel in Austin, Texas lived up to expectations. They accomplished that with an all-star agenda that brought several of the industry's biggest players back in person at a live event for the first time in years. 

WHD GmbH CEO Christian Jaeger (left) and Chairman of the NamesCon Advisory Board 
Soeren von Varchmin on stage at the 2024 NamesCon Global conference in Austin, Texas.

Above: When Soeren von Varchmin opened the show Wednesday morning (June 5) he called NamesCon Co-Founder Jothan Frakes up to the stage to talk about what was in store for attendees. Jothan played a key role in putting together an outstanding agenda for NamesCon Global 2024. We will be taking you through all of it this article.

I had the honor of interviewing three of the all-time great domain broker/consultants in separate sessions on opening day, including back-to-back interviews with Hilco Digital Assets Managing Director Andrew Miller and Evergreen.com Founder Jen Sale that kicked off the show and another with MediaOptions.com Founder Andrew Rosener in the afternoon. 

Above: In a session titled Andrew Miller's High Stakes Deals: how Does He Do It? we got into Andrew's business (and life) philosophy that has helped him close many of the biggest domain sales of all time, including Chat.com last year at $15.5 million and this year's biggest sale to date (by far) Gold.com at $8,515,000. For many other examples and Andrew's life history, see our April 2024 Cover Story about him. It includes more details about a topic Andrew discussed in our interview (one that surprised many) - how the legendary rock band The Grateful Dead influenced the way he approaches business and life.

Above: Immediately after the session with Andrew, I had the great pleasure of welcoming Evergreen.com Founder and the best ambassador Australia could ever hope to have, Jen Sale, to the stage. Jen has been in this business for more than 20 years and has handled domain sales totaling 9 figures during her illustrious career, yet many haven't heard as much about her as you would expect for someone with her incredible track record. That is by design. Though gregarious by nature Jen also values her privacy. This was her first time back to NamesCon in seven years so you can imagine how delighted everyone was to see her and hear what she has been up to. 

The popular Women of the Web group that meets every year at NamesCon (more on this year's meeting is coming up in this article) was founded in Jen's hotel room when she invited a few friends over to discuss the idea. She has also become a certified expert and frequent speaker on both digital wellness and general wellness and is a passionate travel bug who co-founded GoodJourneying.com. We talked about all of those things and now that we've lured her off of her beloved beach Down Under I am hoping we will be seeing and hearing a lot more from her going forward!

Above: The final morning session Wednesday was one of the best you will ever see on any stage - three of the best who have ever done it (or ever will do it), Andrew Miller, Andrew Rosener and Larry Fischer (GetYourDomain.com), left  to right, talked about Striking Gold with Domains: The Art of the Large Deal. This is something they all know inside out. Larry worked with Andrew Miller on the $15.5 million Chat.com deal as well as the Home.com sale that the duo talked about in one of the most memorable sessions at NamesCon last year. Andrew Rosener sold X.com to Elon Musk, Prime.com to Amazon and Zoom.com to Zoom, to name just a few of his marquee transactions. If you tried to total up the value of this trio's combined transactions your calculator would explode. No wonder many left this session thinking it was worth the price of a conference ticket for this one alone.

NamesCon Global runs on two tracks but on opening day, action on the Moniker Stage didn't begin until after the lunch break. When it opened, I went back and forth between the 2nd floor Keynote Hall and the Moniker Stage (adjacent to the Exhibit Hall on the first floor) for the rest of the conference to catch as many sessions as possible. To make events easier to follow, from this point on I will take you through the rest of the day on the Keynote Stage, then through everything that happened on the Moniker Stage. We will do the same for day two Thursday and day three Friday (Saturday was a closing Fun Day with a single event for all that we will close with).

Above: The lunch break is always a popular time for people to take a walk through the Exhibit Hall and catch up with their favorite service providers and see what is new from others. That's is where we also headed at the break on opening day.

Above: The GoDaddy booth attracted one of the most illustrious guests at the entire conference, Dr. Paul Mockepetris - famous for playing a key role in inventing the entire Domain Name System (Dr. Mockepetris was also interviewed onstage Friday, June 7). Dr. Mocektpetris is standing (with arms crossed) between Senior Director (Domains) Alan Shiflett and another famous Paul, GoDaddy Vice President (Domain Investors) Paul Nicks. Thanks to James Iles (standing between Alan and Dr. Mockepetris) for the photo. 

Above: A little further up the hall the Atom.com (formerly SquadHelp) and Sedo/InterNetX booths welcomed a steady flow of visitors throughout the show.

Above: Around a corner, appropriately enough, Nathan Parker and Liz Corona were holding down the fort for Above.com.

Below: After a stroll through the Exhibit Hall (the first of many during show week) it was time to head back up the stairs to the Keynote Hall for the start of the Wednesday afternoon sessions. 

If you thought Wednesday morning was busy with its three standout sessions, the pace actually accelerated in the afternoon with seven more sessions on the Keynote Stage alone! The first of those at 2pm (above) featured (left to right) moderator Todd Ryan (CEO at American Business Capital Corp. and ABC Productions), eCorp Leader Chad Folkening and MediaOptions CEO Andrew Rosener. They broke down the increasing popularity of .AI Domains and the prospects for Web 3 with features like fractionalizing and tokenizing while pondering the future of domains. 

Above: When it was time for the next session at 2:40pm, Andrew Rosener stayed on stage and welcomed me, rather than vice versa. I had the enviable job of sitting down with Drew for an in depth talk about his Climb to The Top. Andrew put in an astounding amount of work to start MediaOptions.com from scratch and turn it into the powerhouse it his today. He entered the domain world after a successful career in seafood brokerage and though he was new to it, he obsessively went about learning the ropes of an entirely different field and once again rose to the head of the class. A lot of people are good at learning new things but it takes an extraordinarily competitive fire to do what Andrew has now done multiple times.

During the talk, I recounted how we had spent three hours non-stop on the phone last year when I interviewed him for our May 2023 Cover Story - Andrew Rosener's Amazing Ride From Historic New England to Domain Sales Nirvana. The result was one of our most widely read stories to date, so I asked NamesCon to give us another three hours Wednesday but they weren't having it (go figure)! Still, we were content to hit on some of the many highlights from Andrew's amazing story in the 45 minutes we did have, enough time for the audience to learn a lot about what makes Drew tick and what it takes to reach heights few have been able to scale. If you missed our story, put it at the top of your reading lost, you won't regret it.

Above: After our session, I stepped outside to take advantage of NamesCon's afternoon coffee break. While doing that I walked over to a couple of Exhibit Hall booths that were on the second level next to the Keynote Hall rather than on the first floor where most were set up. That's when I learned that my long-time friend, attorney Stevan Lieberman (center) had started a new crypto-related venture at Nicky.me with Short Dot Founder & CEO Lars Jensen (left) and Thomas Fredericksen (right). I don't know the details yet but with these three involved, whatever the service entails it will be done well.

Above: After getting re-caffeinated, it was back into the Keynote Hall to catch this session on Innovation Beyond Boundaries: Your Unique Digital Footprint that featured, left to right, Brian Lonergan (VP of Product Strategy, Identity Digital), Vaughn Liley (General Manager, Nova Registry), Steve Webb (Co-Founder, Impervious), Francesco Cetraro (Global Head of Strategic Alliances, Freename AG) and Sandy Carter (COO, Unstoppable Domains). The panelists explored Web3 domains, groundbreaking digital identity products and the upcoming TLDs that are gaining traction.

They were followed by Lever.io Co-Founder Art Malkov (below) and Domain Name Wire's Andrew Allemann for a session titled Real Numbers, Real Insights. Andrew and Art (whose company is a a marketplace for companies and influencers in the Web3 space) shared illuminating sales data from experienced domain investors that gave the audience some benchmarks to compare the performance of their own portfolios against, including sell through rates, average sale prices and more.

Above & Below: Next up at 4:35pm the audience listened intently to a panel discussion titled Don't @ Me: The Evolution of Online Identities in a Multi-Platform Era. The experts on stage included, left to right above, Rachel Sterling (CMO, Identity Digital), Jacqueline Daly (VP of Marketing, Dynadot), Carla Bourque (CEO, Rebrandly), Andrew Merriam (COO, Porkbun) and moderator Soeren von Varchmin. The program synopsis noted, "In todayís multi-platform era, individuals, businesses, and creators constantly adapt how they show up online. Social media volatility, fragmented discourse, and uncertain access to audiences inspires innovation from makers in the digital sphere. This panel examines new opportunities and how these shifts are shaping the future of our industry."

Above: At 5:05pm Marc McCutcheon (Business Head at Moniker and Head of Retail for Team Internet) told the audience about the rebirth of one of the most popular registries from the early days of the domain investment industry. In his Moniker Returns: Building Legacies in the Domain Industry talk Marc shared some untold chapters of Monikerís journey and provided a glimpse into its future and how his team plan to build upon its legacy.

Above: The curtain on the opening day agenda in the Keynote Hall was brought down with a 5:25pm closing session on A Day in the Life of a Full-Time Domain Professional that featured, left to right, Braden Pollock (Legal Brand Marketing), Louis Pickthall (Co-Founder & VPO, BrandForce.com) and Dennis Tinerino (DomainSmoke.com). This session detailed what it takes for your hustle to pay off on a daily basis. Braden, Louis and Dennis shared their different perspectives and techniques on staying nimble and profitableófrom investment strategies and generating business to daily productivity techniques.

Now, let's reset the clock and take you over to the opening day activity on the Moniker Stage. Sessions there didn't begin until after the lunch break. A pair of partner keynotes from Opeyemi Awoyemi (President, OlaCV Inc. - operator of the .cv TLD) and Jesse Friedman (Head of WP Cloud at Automattic) kicked things off. Unfortunately, I was not able to catch those because I was onstage in the Keynote Hall interviewing Andrew Rosener when they were speaking. 

Above and below: When I arrived at the Moniker Stage, this session on how to Master the gTLD Aftermarket was winding down. It had a great lineup of speakers that included, left to right, Ajene Watson (Managing Director, Dot Hip Hop, LLC), Rolf Larsen (Chairman, Nameblock), Claus Barche (Head of Sale, InterNetX), Shayan Rostam (Founder, Internet Naming Co., D3 Global) and Frank Michlick (Chief Domain Nerd, WHC.ca). The gTLD aftermarket is a jungle of competing platforms, valuation methodologies, and points of view so it was very helpful to have these experts provide some guidance through the thicket, including whatís influencing the value of the name you want to buy or sell, which version to focus on, the best marketplace in which to search for it, and who you can get to help you conduct the transaction to your advantage. They also covered the selling of entire gTLDs!

Above: Next up on the Moniker Stage another standout panel talked about When UDRPs Go Wrong: Lessons from the Internet Commerce Association on Terrible, Horrible , No Good UDRPs (the actual session title and one that fit like a glove)! It featured, left to right, Jeffrey Neuman (Founder & CEO, JJN Solutions, LLC), Nat Cohen (Director, Internet Commerce Association), Jason Schaeffer (Counsel, ESQwire.com P.C.) and moderator Todd Ryan (CEO, American Business Capital Corp. and ABC Productions). They dissected the most bewildering UDRP decisions from the past year, navigating  through the bizarre rationale (or lack thereof) that led to some notoriously bad rulings and their ripple effects on the domain industry. 

Above & Below: Next up the topic was Domain Development: Advice from the Pros featuring, left to right on stage at top left, Matt Holmes (CEO, Handshaking.com), Simon McCalla (CEO Online, Team Internet Group), Luke Burgess (Director or Product, Dynadot), who is also seen in the photo below, and moderator Robert Jacobi (Director, Global Alliance, BotGuard). They shared proven strategies for navigating domain development across various industries, and how to avoid common mistakes when launching online businesses. The audience took home valuable information on the building, launching, managing, and scaling of successful websites.

 

Above & Below: Wrapping up on the opening day agenda on the Moniker Stage was this 4:45pm session titled Outbound in Where It Goes. From prospect to client, the experts detailed how to pinpoint interested buyers, build and nurture relationships, and successfully close deals. Everyone on stage has been there and done that over and over again. They included Dave Evanson (Senior Broker, Sedo), Daniel Koleshchuk (Domain Advisor, Hilco Digital Assets), Kirstin DiCecca (COO, Hilco Streambank) Brooke Hernandez (Senior Domain Broker, Saw.com, also shown in photo below) and moderator Jonathan "JT" Tenenbaum (COO/GC at MediaOptions.com).

Below: With the first day of business done, everyone from both stages (as well as from the Cloudfest USA conference that ran side by side with NamesCon Global) could head to the opening night reception held in the Omni Hotel's spacious atrium that also served as the Exhibit Hall during the day.

Above: Among the first  people we bumped into at the reception were, left to right, Peter Schwinge (CEO, Nyback Media and an indispensable member of the NamesCon/Cloudfest production team), Dennis Tinerino (Founder, DomainSmoke.com and NamesCon moderator) and Mark Ghorafi (AKA Mr. Premium, Sedo Premium Domain Broker).

Below (left to right): Todd Ryan, Maxam Magnata (President, DomainGems,com) and Abigail Harris (VP, DomainGems.com) unwinding after a busy first day at NamesCon Global. 

Above: The opening night reception is always a great place to catch up with friends you haven't seen since the last NamesCon and make new ones along the way.

Below: In this case, we did both, catching up with a friend of more than 20 years, Page Howe, and meeting his daughter Julie who not only shares Page's exuberant, outgoing personality but also his love of domains! There aren't many second generation domainers like Julie, but if the young people coming into the business are like her the industry's future couldn't be brighter.

One last thing before we move on to Day 2 Thursday (June 6) at NamesCon Global. While Wednesday was the official opening day, long time NamesCon attendees know things actually get started the night before with an invitational pre-conference party hosted by Sedo and InterNetX that has become a tradition in its own right.

Above: This year's Sedo/InterNetX party was held at Pete's Dueling Pianos Bar in Austin, just a few blocks from the show hotel. 

Below: Sedo CMO Christian Voss and Senior Broker Dave Evanson were among the familiar faces welcoming guests as they arrived Tuesday night.

Above: InterNetX Head of Sales Claus Barche will do whatever it takes to rise above the crowd - even if it means standing on a piano! 

Above & Below: For me, the best part of going to NamesCon is the opportunity to catch up with old friends. After 20 years Ammar Kubba (at left with me above and at far left below where he is seen greeting JT Tenenbaum and Andrew Rosener) still automatically makes me smile with an infectiously upbeat personality that brightens every room he is in. 

With that it is time to move forward to NamesCon Global Day 2, Thursday, June 6, 2024
CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE!
 

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