Conferences & Tradeshows

Domain Roundtable – LIVE!!

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Looks like there is a live feed to catch all the action at Domain Roundtable. I hope this feed is live during the auction tomorrow as well!

Click Here for Live Feed

Domain Roundtable Auction Preview

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Jay Westerdahl and the Domaintools staff has released the preliminary list of 450 domain names scheduled for the Domain Roundtable auction on August 15th, in Seattle, Washington. Judging by the massive amount of comments on the various blog threads written by Jay, I would imagine that they received close to 100,000 domain name submissions from which to choose 450. As I posted in the comments section of the Pick The Winning Domains thread started by Jay, I was baffled at the comments from people who submitted their names. Just based on the sheer amount of comments (and presumably emails, too), Jay and his staff certainly had their hands full.

What were people thinking by submitting hundreds of domain names, when the auction was going to only include 450? If a person can’t pick out their top 10-20 names (maximum), they probably should be investing their money elsewhere. Needless to say, the preliminary list has been released, and here are some of my thoughts:

Great Names – Low Reserves!
Event.com – $165,000
DailyFeeds.com – $3,000
Rehabilitate.com – $25,000
RealityTelevision.com – $1,000
Growers.com – $25,000
(All of my names, but don’t have a need to over-sell them)

Great Names – Reserves Way Too High!
Sucker.com – $70,000 (Cool name, but not for $70k)
Technique.com – $149,000
Magicians.com – $200,000 (Unless David Blaine attends, no magician is paying $200k for this)
Baked.com – $75,000 (If the response to this on Ebay is an indication, it’s priced way too high)
Sculpting.com – $120,000 – (Good name, but I don’t see any artists shelling out big $$ for this one)
Autobiography.com – $179,000 – (Maybe the plural would be of interest to a book seller, but I can’t see the singular going for this price)
LoveStories.com – $100,000 (No side or top advertisers on Google for quoted phrase, Ovt with extension of only 149, and a $100k sales tag? Pass.)

Head Scratchers at Any Price?!
Rejuvinate.com/Rejuvinates.com – (How can you have a TYPO in a live auction?)
AquariumFishes.com – (Since when was “fishes” an acceptable term)
Concho.com – (Names needing a definition as a note shouldn’t be included)
GamesFlix.com – (Less than 50 results on all of Google for this term)
ComplaintsDept.com – (Maybe ComplaintsDepartment.com would be ok…)
CareerAdvise.com – (CareerAdvice.com would be good – CareerAdvise.com, not so much)
SkiSeattle.com – (Since when do people ski in Seattle?)
PizzaHats.com – (What is this?)
HummerRentals.com – (Isn’t selling a TM proof of bad faith?)
DomainsName.com – (This is a case where an extra letter kills all value)
SexualOrgasm.com – (Is there another kind of orgasm with which I am unfamiliar?)
BibleDude.com – (Ummm… no)
20Percent.com – (What’s special about 20%?)
ChinaDaddy.com – (Unless I am missing something, this isn’t good)
SevenSmiles.com – (Hmmm seems like a typo of SevenMile.com – not good)
FullClock.com – (What’s a full clock?)

I don’t see as many huge names as I have seen at TRAFFIC, but most of those seem to end without a sale. There are many decent names at reasonable prices, so I expect to see a good amount of names sell. Making it through 450 names in a live auction is very optimistic though.

While I wish Jay the best success with this auction, I am somewhat concerned that he will not be able to fulfill all sales. Without an agreement signed by the sellers, there is little that will force them to sell should the prices be less than they want, or should they sell elsewhere. I hope this issue is addressed between the time the list is finalized and the day of the auction.

Domain Roundtable Live Auction

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http://blog.domaintools.com/2007/07/domain-roundtable-auction-process/

Looks like another player has entered the live domain name auction arena, and I think this should be good for the domain investment business. Of course I like the lower commission, free bidding without mandatory attendance, and other features that will make this a smooth auction. It seems like an auction with 450 names will take quite some time though. Also of interest is that they will only permit 20 names to have reserve prices of $100k or higher. I am looking forward to watching this live online and possibly participating!

DNJournal TRAFFIC NY Recap

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http://www.dnjournal.com/cover/2007/july.htm

Kudos to Ron Jackson for another great TRAFFIC recap. If you couldn’t make it to the show in New York, this is probably the next best thing. I’m glad I had the chance to meet and speak with Ron and look forward to reading more of his articles.

Educating & Selling to End Users

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The goal of the Domain Distribution Network created and managed by Fabulous is to encourage end-users to purchase higher value domain names than they ordinarily would have considered. When a potential domain buyer searches for an unregistered domain name (at Godaddy for example), a list of Premium Domains appears, giving the searcher an opportunity to buy a better domain name than what they intended to find with their search. According to the DDN site:

There are approximately 6 million domains available for resale in the general market. Initially the DDN feed will offer over 500,000 of the highest quality domains available for resale. The average resale price of these domains is over 100 times the price of a new registration, and registrars typically average over $150 net revenue per domain sale.

Although this is a great opportunity to upsell an interested and presumably educated buyer, I think much more can be done to inform and educate end users about, and encourage end users to purchase generic domain names.

I think it would be in the best interest of the domain investment community and a company like Fabulous, BuyDomains.com, or an otherwise motivated company to sponsor workshops or seminars focused on teaching end users about domain names at industry specific tradeshows. I frequently see advertising agencies and consultants sponsoring lunch seminars at tradeshows to show how their particular company can help maximize advertising dollars. I believe if a company like Fabulous sent Dan Warner to teach a group of entrepreneurial business people how a generic domain name can help their business, it would be beneficial to the company and to the domain business at large. Let’s take the New York International Gift Fair as an example. If there was a Domain Distribution Network sponsored luncheon showing the advantages of owning a name like CheapPresents.com over SallysBirthdayPresents.com, the end users would “get it.”. Heck, this luncheon/seminar could be followed with a sale of targeted, well-priced domain names that could offset the cost of sponsorship and attendance. I bet there would be a residual impact as well when attendees return home after the conference to see what other names they can find using the DDN.

Small business owners are accustomed to dealing face-to-face with account representatives from the companies with whom they do business. Much of their business is done with a handshake in person at a tradeshow – especially when opening a new account with a supplier. For the most part, this is impossible to do on the Internet. To many small businesses, learning how to successfully operate with the help of the Internet is a daunting challenge. Why not meet with these business owners in person, make them feel comfortable and win their business? All of this can be accomplished by attending industry specific tradeshows.

A second idea I have to sell domain names to small business end users is to advertise industry specific domain names in industry specific publications. Kevin of BigTicketDomains.com did this on a broader scale in the Wall Street Journal. While this was a good idea and a nice starting point, I believe more success could be had if we target specific publications. If a group of domain owners with names in a specific industry got together and paid for a quarter page listing in that industry’s trade publication, I believe the results could be much different. I have been compiling a list of publications in various industries. I would be willing to share this with any interested parties – just drop me a line.

Ultimately, the more domain names that are developed into brands and websites, the better for the entire domain investment business. A few months ago, I noticed a Hermes store was opening on Wall Street across from the New York Stock Exchange. A few weeks later, I noticed a Tiffany’s was opening down the block, and two weeks ago I saw a Thomas Pink shop was opening very close as well. These were all preceded by the development of upscale condominiums in the Financial District. The point is that the more small businesses that develop generic domain names, the more others will want to emulate them and do the same. This will certainly increase the value of our premium generic domain names.

Small business owners are much more likely to develop domain names if they understand more about how a domain name works. I believe if we educate them, they will be much more inclined to buy our names. The platform has been created – now we must reach out and let the end users know where and why they need to be looking.

Silent Auction Thoughts

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After viewing the Moniker silent auction results, I found quite a few surprises:

In my opinion, there were a few good deals to be had. I believe the following domain purchase was an absolute steal for the price at which it sold:
Illustrate.com

I was surprised nobody picked up the following names, as I thought the reserve prices were more than fair:
Finances.com – $500,000
Whiskey.com – $470,600
Handhelds.com – $58,830

Another surprise to me was how much stock in numerics seems to have dropped. There were many NNN.com numeric names that seemed to have reasonable reserves ($5,890) but didn’t sell – 634.com , 547.com, 481.com, 643.com, 493.com, 342.com, 441.com…etc. There were also a few NN.com names that had higher reserves but didn’t sell. It isn’t very often that pure numeric .com names come onto the market, and I was surprised a speculator didn’t grab them.

I was also somewhat surprised that more .mobi names didn’t sell. I am not a big believer in this extension, but after reading how vigorously this extension has been defended by its supporters, I am surprised there wasn’t more action on them. Quite a few people have been posting that they made xxx% profit so far and still have quite a few .mobi names in their portfolios. If these people felt strongly about the extension, I would have thought they would be willing to reinvest and buy some of the names. One would think that reinvesting in a few of these names could have led to a round of “aftershocks” that followed when Rick Schwartz paid $200,000 for Flowers.mobi.

I believe many of these names will move now that the auctions have ended. Domain investors know the owners are interested in selling, owners know the domain investors at TRAFFIC thought their prices were too high, and I bet some compromises will be made to close some deals once.

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