5 With...

5 With… Christine Jones, Candidate for Arizona Governor

11

CHRISTINE JONES HEADSHOT

Many people who invest in domain names are familiar with Christine Jones because of her role as General Counsel and Executive Vice  President at GoDaddy. Ms. Jones was one of the highest ranking (and most visible) employees at the company. When she left in  2012, I thought she was going to retire and live comfortably, having helped build GoDaddy into the world’s largest domain registrar and  one of the largest employers in the state of Arizona.

Instead of retiring, Ms. Jones decided to run for Governor of the State of Arizona. Shortly after hearing about her campaign, I asked if I could post an interview with her. I appreciate that Ms. Jones found the time to answer my five questions, and I hope you enjoy the interview. Although this website is not political in nature and I don’t live in Arizona (I do love Tucson though), I want to share this with you because of Ms. Jones’ background in the domain name business.

You can read more about Ms. Jones on her campaign website, ChristineJones.com, and you can also follow her on Twitter.

When GoDaddy was sold, you likely did well enough to never have to work again. Why did you choose to run for office when you could simply enjoy retirement?

Christine Jones:
When I first joined Go Daddy, the company only had a few dozen employees. For more than a decade, I helped grow the company to about 4,000 employees, serving more than 10 million small businesses and entrepreneurs all over the world and contributing hundreds of millions of dollars to the Arizona economy. Go Daddy is a true Arizona success story that can and should be replicated throughout the state. I know that Arizona can compete, that Arizona can lead, and that Arizona can be a model for economic growth; I see the possibilities. I want to use my unique experience to help seize the opportunities before us. But most importantly, Arizona has been good to me and this is my opportunity to give back to the people and the place that has afforded me so many wonderful opportunities.

How did your position at GoDaddy

5 With… Raymond Hackney

16

If you use Domaining.com or are an active member of NamePros, you definitely know Raymond Hackney. Even if you don’t use either of those websites, you most likely know him from the blog he founded, HybridDomainer.com.

Raymond Hackney is a writer, domain investor and consultant  based in Philadelphia. He founded the 3 character information website and price guide, 3Character.com. Ray is also Managing Editor of The Art of The Name,  and he is a Contributing writer at MorganLinton.com and TheDomains.com. In short, Ray knows more than most when it comes to the domain investment space.

I had the opportunity to interview Ray, and I hope you enjoy. Feel free to ask questions, and hopefully he will be able to answer.

5 With Alan Dunn, Senior VP at Domain Holdings

9

Alan Dunn is the Senior Vice President of Strategic Media for Domain Holdings, and he is someone I respect and admire.

One of the industries earliest domain name investors, Alan started focusing on development as far back as 1998. Over the last 14 years he has built and sold sites to companies like Quinstreet and ZipRealty, was one of the first 100 Google Certified Adwords Professionals, generated tens of thousands of leads across many of the key financial verticals, and he brokered/sold over $10m in domain names.

Recently, Alan joined Domain Holdings as Senior Vice President of Strategic Media and won the 2012 TRAFFIC Award for Developer of the Year. I appreciate that Alan took some time to answer a few questions for my blog.

ES: What is Strategic Media?

AD: A lot of people ask me this and it’s a fair question. Strategic Media is essentially a broad term incorporating strategy planning, optimizing and building brand value for different types of media assets. While a premium domain is no doubt often the greatest asset to formulate a business plan around, it really is just one element of the entire business. Companies today have social media assets, domain names, databases and more. In short, Strategic Media is not just about domain development but about helping clients maximize different forms of media assets to help add value to their brand.

ES: Why did you join Domain Holdings?

A combination of good timing and great people. I’ve known John, Jason and Chad for a while and the more you get to know these guys the more you realize their vision for the future is something you want to be part of. We are still a very young industry and anytime you have an opportunity to work with people you love (and can learn from) its very hard not to jump at that offer. Plus it gave me the ability to scale what I was doing before which was a primary goal of mine.

ES:  What kind of Website Development does Domain Holdings do?

We try and focus on premium assets from owners who understand the time and commitment needed to bring a vision to life. There is so much more than simply ranking a site or building a few pages to website development. Every asset is unique but with the right development you can add many multiple times value to a premium domain for a fraction of this extra value.

I compare premium development to home buying in many ways. When you buy a house for $500,000 you can either (a) opt to flip it for a profit or (b) invest some money on renovations and earn an even higher return. It’s the same with domains – except the money spent on renovations can often lead to a much higher return.

ES: Why did you shut down your Blog?

AD: The industry has seen a few blogs come and go. There was no single reason for mine to disappear except I didn’t find it productive for me anymore. I never sold advertising nor really spent much time on it over the last couple years anyway. Plus when you become a Dad you tend to value Thomas the Train more over taking about domain names in the little spare time you do have.

ES: Where do you see domains in 2 years?

AD: On the surface it’s very easy to think owning domains is all about buying, selling and parking but it’s really not. Just as Google has changed loveable characters like Penguins and Pandas into serial killers one must plan and expect change in the domain industry. Many times owning these assets provide you with a very real opportunity for liquidity to upgrade your portfolio (sell 10 of your mediocre ones for a great one for example), invest in other areas outside of the domain channel and more. If anything, today is the time when you need to start looking at your portfolio as a business and not just a bunch of domains with collective value.

Elliot only gave me 5 questions so let me end this with a few quotes I have heard over the years.

“My kids have no interest in my names” …. Reason #1001 to price your names realistically.

“Always sell a domain when you get an offer for more than you think its worth”

“Never take the first offer, but don’t be a greedy fool and turn down a very good first offer”

 “We Are Family”

I steal this last one from Judi Berkens and her acceptance speech of a special award honoring Mike and Judi’s dog Bandit at the recent T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference. Judi has inspired so many of us over the years and this really hit home with me. The domain community is small, so small it really is like a big family. A family I am proud to be part of and one where new family members are always welcome. For people who are struggling with this industry or cannot find the right opportunities then learn to embrace the community. You may just be surprised how many people will help and how much your business will grow.

Alan can be reached at alan@domainholdings.com

5 With… Bhavin Turakhia Discussing His Company’s $30 Million gTLD Investment

5

Bhavin Turakhia is the CEO and Co-Founder of Directi, a technology conglomerate that owns and operates companies like Skenzo, LogicBoxes, ResellerClub, BigRock, and others. Working with his brother Divyank Turakhia, Directi is now reportedly worth “Worth $350 Million or Maybe More,” which is quite a remarkable feat.

Recently, Directi announced the formation of another company, Radix Registry, which has applied for 31 gTLD strings, including .bank, .loans, .insurance, .law, .shop, .music, and many others. It was also announced that “Directi has committed over $30 million” towards these new gTLDs, which is quite a big commitment.

I wanted to ask Bhavin some questions about Radix Registry and about the new gTLDs. I appreciate his willingness to answer. Feel free to ask your own follow up questions if you’d like.

ES: Most of the TLD strings you applied for will be contested. Do you think your company will partner with other companies on some, or would you prefer to spend more on auctions?

BT: At this time we are open to both possibilities. There is no doubt that for some of the hotly contested TLDs it will make more sense to partner, as opposed to running up the Auction value to excessive levels. That amount can be much better utilized if invested in post-delegation marketing. ICANN has said that it will encourage “voluntary agreement” between parties to resolve conflicting applications, and that auctions are only a method of “last resort”. We are also prepared for aggressive competition in cases where the partnership isn’t the best choice for us. The Directi group has more than adequate reserves to compete for all the strings we have applied for. We will evaluate the possibilities on a case by case basis and lean in the direction that makes most strategic sense.

ES: What is your company doing to prepare for the “digital archery” process?

BT: We have devoted some of our best resources to ensure that we are able to achieve the spots we’re looking for. I believe there is too much riding on this process since the third and fourth batch could see a lag-time of 2-4 years. Ideally ICANN should attempt to scale-up its evaluation resources and process all applications at the same time.

ES: How do you think new gTLDs will impact the domain investment space, including the aftermarket and monetization?

BT: Due to the massive increase in the supply of premium real-estate, we may see a short-term decline in domain name valuations. Since customers will have premium name options in a TLD which closely represents them, they will maybe less likely to pay large sums for a short .com name.

In the long-term there will only be a small number of nTLDs that will be interesting from an investment stand-point. We believe that overall the domain investment space will not be significantly impacted in the long term and will actually grow due to the additional options in the namespace.

ES: What are the key factors in getting consumers to adopt the new TLDs?

BT: I believe there are three stages to a successful newTLDs

1) Awareness: Customer should be able to ‘get it’ i.e. see clear value in registering their domain name in nTLDs. In some cases that value is obvious because the TLD itself has tremendous appeal. In other cases it is not. In those cases one needs to create awareness through marketing and garner customers’ interest.

2) Distribution: Registrars and channel partners will be spoilt for choice in the ngTLD era. For TLDs that do rely on Registrars, winning their favor and obtaining prime shelf-space will be key.

3) Adoption: No TLD is successful until it sees patterns of growing adoption from its user base. Record-breaking registration at launch is not an indication of adoption. Renewal rates, utilization of domain names for the primary website (not just a pointer to a .com) and the TLD becoming a destination for a variety of recognized web properties will ensure long-term growth, sustainability and hence success.

ES: What is your personal favorite gTLD application, and why do you think it will be commercially successful?

BT: Each of our TLDs have been chosen after a tremendous amount of research and analysis. I do not have a specific favored one and am equally excited about the potential of all of the strings

5 With… GK, Original Domain Investor

14

I’ve known GK for several years, and he has always been one to impart great advice when asked. Although I can’t reveal GK’s name because of other business interests, you can trust me when I say he is one of the “original” domain investors who is respected by all who know him.

GK and his partner purchased their first domain in late 1997 and have been mostly buying and sometimes selling names ever since.   He has seen the domain channel’s growth pretty much from its infancy.   He has been around several of the earliest of domain gatherings, including attending the very first TRAFFIC show, the first DomainFest show and the legendary gathering known as the Deanfest in 2002.

GK was the very first domain owner to ever win the bid and purchase a name at an official live domain auction at TRAFFIC Del Rey Beach, FL in 2005.   He has been on a speaker’s panel at two TRAFFIC shows and lists his favorite domaining moment as attendance in 2008 at TRAFFIC Down Under in Australia.

ES: How have your domain investment and monetization strategies changed over the last 5 years?

5 With… Patrick Ruddell, ScienceFiction.com

9

Similar to what I’ve been doing on DogWalker.com, Patrick Ruddell has been building a brand on the category defining domain name, ScienceFiction.com. I read about the remarkable growth of the website on Domain Name Wire, and I was  very interested to learn that Braden Pollock was getting involved with the site.

According to Patrick, “Braden and I had some great discussions while aboard DNCruise 2 last September which continued on land. After some negotiations and buying out my previous partners, Braden came into ScienceFiction.com, LLC as an equal partner in November.”

I think this growth story is a testament to how someone with a category defining domain name and a solid development and business plan can create a business. For Patrick, the revenue is not yet there, but with the growing audience, it certainly will be there very soon.

I reached out to Patrick to ask him some business related questions, and his responses are below.

ES: How have you been growing the site and what are you doing to drive traffic and awareness?

PR: Quality content and a lot of it. I can’t say any of our traffic success has been from SEO because we haven’t done much. What we have done is work on putting out quality content in bulk. With a team of roughly 15 writers we publish 7-13 articles per day. Beyond content, social media has been an excellent source of traffic for us. Also having 15 writers with their own social media outlets and being active in places like Twitter, Facebook and StumbleUpon is a bonus.

ES: Are you active in the Science Fiction community offline and on other sites? Do you think it’s important to be active in the community?

PR: Unfortunately I have not had the time, just yet, to be an active member in the community offline, only through social media and email. I do think this is important and something we plan to change in 2012.

ES: How are you monetizing the site and how is it working out?

PR: So far we have only done a single Google Adsense ad which brings in less than $1,000 per month. We did this more of a test to see what that specific location would generate on a monthly basis. With this in mind we can set a base price for that ad space. With the site now one year old, and certain traffic goals met, we plan on turning our attention to ad sales. We just hired our first in-office employee which starts next week. One of her primary responsibilities will be reaching out to potential advertisers with our marketing opportunities.

I’ll share this story, which gives me a lot to look forward to. Only a few months after our launch, a cable channel reached out to us for advertising. Their budget, to my surprise, was $25,000 for a theme-takeover of 10 days. Unfortunately at the time our site was only getting roughly 45,000 per month, not what they were looking for. We closed December with 439,000 visits and over 1.2 million pageviews, certainly closer to what they were looking for. Focus for us to date has been getting eyes to the website.

ES: We all make errors along the way. Have you made any missteps that you’ve learned from that others may benefit from learning? How did you correct them?

PR: Where do I start, there have been many. If dealing with partners, know their strengths and weaknesses. Without going into specifics this alone was the biggest stress on ScienceFiction.com until Braden joined the business. Know your product. Before diving into the business I wasn’t what you would call a sci-fi geek. That has changed as I now own hundreds of comic books and watch A LOT of sci-fi tv shows and movies. I’m still working on earning my sci-fi geek badge, getting closer every day.

ES: What advice would you give to people looking to build a brand as you did?

PR: I’m not just saying this as a domainer, start with a premium domain name. Operating under ScienceFiction.com has given us credibility from day one. The science fiction community itself may not be aware of domain name values, but they know with our address that we are serious about what we do.

And a second piece of advice, call it a bonus, hire multiple writers. Do whatever you can to get included in Google’s news feed. This has been the single biggest boost to our site’s traffic.

Thanks for the interview Elliot. Let me give a quick shout-out to my amazing team. They have done a killer job writing and getting the word out. Their love and knowledge for science fiction and website has helped us grow tremendously.

Recent Posts

Curve Raises $55m More – Using Curve.app

Yesterday evening, TechCrunch reported that a company called Curve had raised $55 million in a Series B funding round. The latest funding round was...

CBD.com: “It’s not for sale”

The Boston Globe published an article about Christian Book Distributors, a company that branded itself as CBD before CBD became a household name for...

Bloom.com Sold via Media Options

Abdu Tarabichi emailed a few industry colleagues this morning to let us know he suspected that the Bloom.com domain name may have recently sold....

MMX Releases AdultBlock and AdultBlock+

Earlier this morning, domain registry operator MMX announced its AdultBlock and AdultBlock+ services are now on the market. These two services were created "for...

ASU Lets SunDevils.com Expire (Updated)

It looks like Arizona State University Athletics Department let the SunDevils.com domain name expire. Arizona State University (ASU) athletics teams are known as the...