5 With… Rick Latona – Internet Entrepreneur

Rick LatonaRick Latona, a self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur, has been making waves in the Internet business since there was one. In the mid to late 90s he was an executive at Interland, Inc (now web.com) a hosting company which he helped take public. He owns an outsourcing company (Offshoring.com) with offices in The Philippines and India which employs nearly 2,000 people and was the first person to loan money on domains when he launched DigiPawn.com in 2003.
Rick is now one of the largest portfolio holders of “trophy” domains which is constantly changing due to deals he is making. His email announcements of “daily domains” has been averaging $200,000 a week in sales. Many of Rick’s domain transactions have made DNJournal’s weekly sales report, several coming in at the top of the list.

1.) EJS: You’ve acquired some fantastic domain names and you have a huge staff of programmers, designers, writers and developers at your disposal. Why not keep and develop your premium domain names instead of selling them?
RL: “I do. Well, sometimes I do. It’s all about capital really. I’m spending over one million dollars a month on names so for one thing it’s hard to keep doing that without selling a lot of them at the same time. I don’t have the high PPC income that most of the other big players have.
I also develop names then sell them. Some examples are SkiResorts.com and SanJuan.com which are both in the 2008 TRAFFIC auction in Vegas coming up soon. Often I put a simple 1-5 page site up like Trusts.com which is in the same auction. It’s search engine optimized and Trusts.com is currently number 1 on Google for the valuable keyword “trusts”. It’s officially ready for auction.
I buy developed sites and sometimes keep them and other times sell them. Take efs.com for example. That site has been live for 10 years and ranks really well in Google for many electronic filing service related key terms. It does about 35,000 dollars a year in revenue. It’s more than a LLL.com but nevertheless, it’s going in the same TRAFFIC auction.
I hope the bidders recognize the value!
I’m a firm believer in the time value of money. If I can sell something at a healthy profit and put that money into a bigger asset that would make a bigger profit, I’m better off than if I had kept that first asset.
I think, more than anything, one has to create a style in business that reflects their personality if they expect to exceed. I love to cut deals. I love to buy. I love to sell. That’s who I am.”
2.) EJS: As it gets more and more difficult to acquire premium domain names, can you share any of your techniques to acquiring the best domain names at reasonable prices?
RL: “Not without doing something to you and your readers which would cause me to go to jail.
Seriously, I work hard and I have a team that works even harder. We strategize constantly and in so doing have come up with techniques that work for us and are ever changing.”
3.) EJS: At what stage should a domain investor consider hiring staff from Offshoring.com, and what type of management experience does the investor need to have to get the most from his Offshoring.com staff?
RL: “If they are doing any development or maintenance at all they should consider hiring staff from Offshoring.com. As I mentioned above, I develop big sites, maintain sites that were already developed, throw together small sites for SEO purposes and all kinds of other things. It’s great to have the freedom and flexibility that inexpensive programmers, writers and designers can provide.
We only rent the staff to the client so the client is ultimately responsible for the day to day task assignment and basic management. That said, we have shift managers walking around making sure people are working and the client will have their contact information in case they need the shift manager to get involved. Also, for clients that have 10 or more employees with us, we give them a free full-time dedicated supervisor for their staff.
Incidentally, we are by far the largest outsourcing company that caters to the domain industry. Many of your readers are already valued customers of ours.”
4.) EJS: What accomplishment are you most proud of in the domain business?
RL: “I started registering names back in 1996 but suddenly stopped after only a few of them. My sister had told me it was unethical. The agony of that decision will live with me forever.
I never stopped watching and thinking about domains as I went on to do other things in the Internet world.
When Kevin Ham bought Spanish.com from me right before Rick Schwartz and Howard Neu through their first convention a few years ago in Delray Beach I watched what he did with the name. It was only then that I found out what parking was! I went to that convention and started to get more involved. I’ll never forget Kevin telling me that if I was going to stay in the business I should have kept Spanish.com. I think I’m proving him wrong.
I felt a sudden fire lit underneath me and started getting more and more aggressive as domains took a higher priority in my business life.
It was really only 2 years ago that domains took a top priority.
What I’m most proud of is that I now consider myself one of the best in this business and I feel like I’ve gotten here in a very short amount of time even though I’ve always been here. I know in my heart that I’ve only really been doing this for 2 years.”
5.) EJS: Other than domain names, what are your five favorite things?
RL: “I have Offshoring.com, my outsourcing company, Digipawn.com, my loan company, two projects under development which I can’t talk about and of course my family.”
*Photo credit: DNJournal

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of DomainInvesting.com. Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the DomainInvesting.com Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn
  1. is all the income for efs.com coming from those google ads?

    btw elliot if your middle name begins with “f” I think I found your new blog site:)


    It doesn’t officially begin with F, but I have been called “Elliot F’n Silver” before πŸ™‚

  2. One of the ways Rick acquires some of his nice domains at great prices?
    Hint #1: How do regular pawn shops acquire THEIR inventory?
    Hint #2: Why do you think he calls it DigiPAWN?
    Very painful for the domain owners who can’t pay Rick’s loans back (anyone want to volunteer–even anonymously–the domain/s they’ve “lost”?)…yet perfectly legitimate…and smart.
    As one of–if not the first–in the market of such domain asset loans, he had the market virtually all to himself.
    And it’s not too late for others to replicate such an approach…though now you’ll be competing with companies like DomainCapital, as Rick has to do.
    Regular pawn shops done right make many of their owners rich…just as DigiPawn has helped do for Rick.
    Just one more way to make it big with domains.

  3. @ Steve – As “pawn” has been a hobby of mine since age 12 or so, and I did bid, but not win pawn.org last week just to continue this childhood passion, I would like to issue Rick a break.
    Everyone thinks the intention of “Pawn” is to get your TV, jewelry, i.e pawned item – in Rick’s case, domains. Yes, the domain can provide a greater ROI in the long-term due to the low “pawn” value but the real motive of pawn is finance. Here in SouthDakota that means 20%+ month-over-month interest. I do not know digipawn rates or the exact means it works, but I have a feeling its primary business focus is as a finance and capital company – not a “I want your domain for a steal” profiteer – though that may be the end result.
    But as with Steve a real life example would be AWESOME. I love these industries – pawn and domains.

  4. You have a good point there, Greg, and I debated on whether or not I should post a comment at all…
    …but just so there’s no misunderstanding, my intent was not to be negative about this part of Rick’s business, but to provide some additional insight on a great way to pick up nice domains at excellent prices (and/or–as you point out–earning a very high rate of return along the way) should borrowers be unable to meet the terms of their loans.
    Just as is the case w/traditional pawn, no one’s ever forced to accept a high-interest asset-based loan on their domain/s, from Rick or anyone else…really no different than a lender taking your house if you don’t keep up the payments.
    It was in fact prescient of him to start the company in the first place, and he’s certainly deserved and reaped the rewards of his first-mover insight and hard work.
    Is/was his intent to earn high ROIs, pick up domains on the cheap, or both? Only Rick can answer that, but it doesn’t even really matter why, as pawn are arms-length transactions (if you don’t like the terms, don’t take the money).
    It was a great idea that paid off big.
    And it’s not too late for others to do the same.
    My apologies to you, Rick and/or anyone else who may have found any of my comments to be offensive or derogatory; as that was not my intent.

  5. @ Steve…definitely not offended. I think I am jealous deep down or Rick’s business πŸ™‚ I would rather have domain collateral on the cheap than TVs and Jewelry and Tools. As mentioned though, no reason I or you or anyone could not try.
    I love discussing pawn in general. I still love shops. No offense ever taken. And you do make a valid point, I DO NOT have any ideas what Rick’s intentions were in starting – finance or default domain acquisition. Only he can answer that. I am glad you commented – valid post.

  6. @ Steve…saw this on an older blog interview of Rick. It appears you were dead on and cool that Rick mentioned it as well. Shows what I don’t know πŸ™‚
    PER RICK in interview at domaining blog 2005 I believe…
    “What should be interesting for you readers is that we started DigiPawn to acquire domains cheap, but no one defaults! It has really just turned into a bank account for us with high-interest returns. Not that we’re complaining. It was just not what we set out to do.”


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