DomainFest

New DomainFest Venues Announced

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Earlier today, I posted an article reminding you to purchase your DomainFest conference pass(es) before the price increases on September 30. Conference organizers just sent out another press release announcing some new venues for this conference.

As I mentioned a couple of months ago, there will be no party at the Playboy Mansion this year. While it was a novelty the first couple of years, I think it may have worn off for some people who attended DomainFest for the last few years.

Here’s information about the venues for the 2012 DomainFest conference:

We’re headed to a world-class venue, House of Blues, in Hollywood for our famous DomainSponsor party. Guests will enjoy exclusive access to the entire club, including the VIP Foundation Room!
The Petersen Museum is reserved for our dinner networking party on Wednesday,
February 1st.The museum has one of the largest collections of race cars, classic cars, hot rods, motorcycles, and celebrity cars. Guest will enjoy gourmet food and guided tours of the museum, including special access to an exclusive “Super Cars” exhibit.

To open DomainFest, we’ll all meet at Monsoon, a beautiful Santa Monica restaurant that features Pan-Asian cuisine and Balinese décor.   It’s a great place to network, greet old friends and make new connections.”

DomainFest Early Bird Special Rate Ends This Week

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I know DomainFest is still a few months away, but the early bird special registration rate of $995 ends on Friday, September 30. The registration price will increase to $1,195 on October 1, and the standard price of $1,295 will go into effect on January 1, 2012.

The DomainFest conference will be held at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows in Santa Monica, California from January 31 – February 2, 2012. The conference generally sees over 500 registered attendees, and the entire hotel is reserved for conference attendees, but it generally sells out in advance.

The full agenda for the conference can be found on the DomainFest website.

2012 DomainFest: Good Bye Playboy Mansion

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domainfest globalI received a press release this morning announcing the dates of DomainFest 2012. The conference will once again be held at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows in Santa Monica, California from Tuesday, January 31 – Thursday, February 2, 2012. Registration for attendees opens in a few weeks on September 1, 2011, and the early bird discount rate is $995.

I looked over the agenda, and there is no more Playboy Mansion party scheduled. DomainFest held a party at the Playboy Mansion for the last three years. A number of conference attendees became sick upon the conclusion of the conference, and there were reports that alleged that the Playboy Mansion may have been the culprit. In any case, after considerable mainstream press reports from around the world, it’s no surprise that there won’t be another conference party there this year.

The full press release from Oversee is below, and you can visit the DomainFest website to see the agenda and get other important event details.

Do you think attendance will be up, down, or the same?

Press Release:

DOMAINSPONSOR ANNOUNCES 2012 DATE FOR DOMAINFEST GLOBAL CONFERENCE
The largest and most respected conference designed specifically for domain name investors and online publishers returns to Santa Monica

LOS ANGELES, California and FRANKFURT, Germany (August 11, 2011) — DomainSponsor ®, the domain name monetization unit of Oversee.net ® and organizer of the critically acclaimed DOMAINfest ® series of conferences, has announced it will host its annual DOMAINfest Global ® event from January 31 to February 2, 2012, at the luxurious Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica, Calif.

As in past years, the entire Fairmont Miramar Hotel has been reserved exclusively for DOMAINfest Global in order to provide attendees with an intimate, distraction-free environment that maximizes networking opportunities.

Speakers, Agenda and Evening Entertainment
Domain investors, publishers and online marketers attending DOMAINfest Global can once again expect an agenda filled with highly relevant learning and networking opportunities. Expert speakers and panelists will offer insights and tips that can immediately improve business performance and results. First-class evening dinner parties promise to provide unique, fun backdrops for the formation of long-lasting business partnerships and friendships.

Highlights from the February 2011 conference included a standing-room-only keynote address from legendary Go Daddy CEO Bob Parsons, plus an entertaining fireside chat with Ben Mezrich, author of The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook. More than 700 domain name investors, online marketing professionals, and service providers from 30 countries attended the conference.

Registration Opens September 1
An early bird registration fee of $995, which includes all sessions, meals and official evening parties, will apply from September 1 through September 30. From October 1 through December 31 the standard discounted rate will be $1,195 per attendee. Beginning on January 1, the regular pre-conference rate of $1,295 will apply.

DOMAINfest has arranged for discounted hotel room rates at the Fairmont Miramar hotel. For reservation details, please visit: http://domainfest.com/hotel.

Sponsorship Opportunities Available
A record number of 37 sponsors and exhibitors successfully promoted their brands to the event’s high profile audience in February 2011. Information about 2012 sponsorship and exhibitor opportunities is available at http://domainfest.com/sponsorship-options. Inquiries can be sent to sales@domainfest.com.

New York Meet-Up
For the first time ever, DOMAINfest is hosting a New York meet-up event on August 23 from 7:00-10:00 p.m. US Eastern time at the Mad46 Rooftop Lounge, on the 19th floor of the Roosevelt Hotel at Madison Avenue and 46th Street. Attendees will enjoy speed networking, dinner and cocktails. Registration is $150 and is available online: http://www.domainfest.com/NewYork2011/register.

About DOMAINfest
Founded and hosted by DomainSponsor ®, the direct navigation traffic monetization division of Oversee.net, DOMAINfest ® is a conference series that brings domain industry and Internet professionals together to learn, network, and do business. Attendees include online advertising experts, domain publishers, domain monetization experts, SEO and SEM specialists, website developers, online marketers, ad or affiliate network suppliers, search advertising providers, venture capitalists, bankers and trademark/legal advisors. For more information, visit
http://www.domainfest.com.
About Oversee.net Oversee.net ® is a leader in Internet performance advertising. Its businesses are driven by a robust technology platform that processes over 40 million revenue events a month. With a portfolio of more than one million domain names, Oversee’s Domain Business is a top pay-per-click advertising network, delivering highly targeted ads to 300 million unique users worldwide per month. Vertical Markets, Oversee’s rapidly growing lead generation business, utilizes highly scalable SEO, SEM and CMS tools to attract customers to the company’s own travel, shopping, and financial services web sites, providing end users with the information they need to make smart purchase decisions. Headquartered in Los Angeles, Oversee has offices in Portland, Ore., Pompano Beach, Fla., New York City and Frankfurt, Germany.

I Don’t Like DomainFest NYC Format Change and Price

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The other day, Andrew posted an article about a change in format for Oversee’s DomainFest event in New York City. Instead of full day of networking like last year’s event, there will be a 3 hour meet up with dinner and drinks at a rooftop bar in midtown Manhattan. The cost is $150 to attend.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not digging the whole $150 for dinner and drinks with Oversee in NYC. I also don’t like the change in format since last year’s event in New York was very good, with a large attendance.

In my humble opinion, fewer people are going to show up for a three hour evening event than last year’s full day event, which had a pretty sizable attendance. If you want to come to the event from out of town, you pretty much have to spend a few hundred dollars for a hotel room because it’s unlikely you’ll hit the road after drinking for a few hours. IMO, this also means fewer people, and that means there’s less of a reason for me to attend.

I’ve hosted/organized several domain “meet ups” in New York City over the last three years, and I’ve never had to charge people to attend. Most of the events were cash bar, although a couple of them were dinner events where people ordered as they wished and paid for their own food/drinks. There were also two sponsors like Domain Capital and WhyPark for two of the events (they paid for appetizers and drinks at a couple events). The events had anywhere between 15 and 50 people in attendance. The largest event was held in a private room at a bar with a cash bar and no cover or sponsors.

For the most part, even some of the cooler lounges and restaurants will give you free space if you guarantee enough of an attendance and bar/food tab, especially if it’s not during the holiday season or Thursday – Saturday evenings. There are plenty of less cool/trendy places that would be very happy to host a cash bar event at no cost.

DomainFest NYC is being held on a Tuesday evening in the summer, and if Oversee thinks over 50 people will show up, I would imagine they could assure the restaurant/bar that the tab would reach an agreed upon number, and I would hope the company could cover anything under that as a marketing or customer relationship event. Maybe it won’t be sit down dinner style, but I’ve always found it hard to talk to a large group while having a sit down dinner, and it’s also tough to balance a drink, a full plate, and manage a conversation.

I get that Oversee probably doesn’t want to have an open event that’s free because everyone and their mom will show up looking for freebies. I also get that Oversee doesn’t want to have to ask people to pay for their dinner at the end of a meal.  However, I am personally opposed to paying $150 to hang out with a NYC crowd. I’d rather organize a private dinner with 15 people in the area at a great restaurant, and I guarantee the cost with drinks would be less than $150 per person.

With all respect to my friends at Oversee who I enjoy hanging out with, it seems like the company wants us to pay them to travel to NYC to hang out and build customer relationships, and that doesn’t seem right to me.

DomainFest Europe Price Increase on 5/1

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domainfest globalI’m torn. I’ve wanted to travel to Barcelona for a while now, but I just can’t commit to DomainFest Europe in Barcelona, which will take place from June 7-9, 2011 at Pullman Skipper Hotel. The current registration rate is $695 through April 30, and then it increase to $795 on May 1.

The excursions look like a lot of fun: backstage tour at FC Barcelona, a  Gaudi Walking Tour, tapas cooking/eating, wine tasting, and more. I am sure the panels will be interesting as well – you can check out the agenda which has been posted. There will also be a good opportunity to meet with people who don’t regularly travel to US conferences. Oversee is expecting 250 attendees.

For me, it’s a bit cost prohibitive for a three day trip (would make a vacation out of it but my wife is working), and it’s a long haul to Barcelona. The cost of the flight is over $1,000, and that’s not even direct. I may end up traveling to the conference, but I won’t make a final decision until I know what’s on my plate in a few weeks.

As of now, TRAFFIC is the only conference I have firm plans to attend this year (October) and I will likely attend the one day DomainFest event in New York City.

Anyway, if you have plans to attend the conference but haven’t purchased your pass yet, now’s the time to do it before the price goes up in a few days.

Guest Post: Litigation Fall Out From Playboy Mansion Illness at DOMAINfest 2011

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This is a guest post written by attorney Enrico Schaefer of Traverse Legal. Schaefer is an experienced IP lawyer whose firm handles cases in a variety of practice areas, including litigation. I have been told that a complaint in the matter below may be filed today or tomorrow.  For more information, contact Mark Clark.

—-

What started out as a simple post on German domainer Nico Zeifang’s Facebook page two days after the Playboy Mansion Party at DOMAINfest turned into something much bigger. Under the title “Domainerflu count: Who else caught the disease at DFG?” the post generated over 200 comments. Within hours, it was clear that at dozens of Playboy Mansion party attendees were sick, with the same upper respiratory symptoms. Within days, the number of reported illness had climbed to over 150 Playboy Mansion party attendees (no doubt more by now), with many moving into pneumonia.

Ironically, it was the nationalized Health Care providers in Switzerland who did early testing, with one Swiss party attendee reporting positive for Legionellosis with multiple levels of testing. Ron Jackson, whose wife Diana became pretty sick as well, started tracking the illness and reported the matter to the CDC who then involved the L.A. County Board of Health for a coordinated investigation including detailed questionnaires and requests for those who could afford it (or who were in LA and could get the test performed for free) to go through a battery of tests.

As of today, the L.A. Department of Health has confirmed the presence of the Legionella bacteria at the Playboy Mansion, although it has not issued its final findings.

The Los Angeles Department of Health remains circumspect about exact location of the bacteria at the Mansion and is waiting for other positive test results for Legionella bacteria in the samples taken from attendees before issuing a final report. Those of us who went through the testing are being requested to get more tests for comparison in the coming weeks. However, there is little doubt that “it is more probable than not” that the vast majority of Playboy Mansion attendees got sick from a bacterial strain of Legionella as a result of exposure at the Playboy Mansion. The common symptoms, consistency of symptoms with Legionella, timing, prior diagnosis of Legionella in at least one sick attendee and the curious revelation of finding Legionella bacteria at the Playboy Mansion well before the investigation was concluded make this pretty obvious.

I was put in an unusual situation as a result of the illness. I got very sick on Sunday after returning from DOMAINfest, with days of being in bed, long periods were I could barely speak because my voice was just about shut down, fever, wicked pain in my lower back, exhaustion, cough and related problems. My wife, who also became sick but not as severely, was leaving on vacation shortly after I became ill leaving me at home with three young boys trying to get my energy, voice and health back. For the last two years, I had been planning a backcountry hut trip in Colorado at high altitude. It can be a dangerous trip in good health. I had to cancel given the problems with my lungs and breathing. I struggled at home and at work for weeks. I continued to hear about people who were stuck in L.A. because they were too sick to travel, and others whose infection turned to pneumonia.

I asked one of the attorneys in my office to start doing an independent investigation, reviewing expert data on Legionaires, its causes and prevention. How would a place like the Playboy Mansion end up exposing guests to Legionella bacteria? It turns out that the issue really comes down to cleanliness. A little chlorine goes a long way. All of the information suggests that the Playboy Mansion failed to keep their facility clean.

I decided to retain my law firm to represent my wife and I in investigating the matter and, if appropriate, filing a lawsuit against responsible parties. There is information about obtaining legal representation and the anticipated lawsuit to be filed here. I had gone from being a lawyer to a client and this is why I made the decision to hire an attorney to protect my interest.

I see a lot of things as an attorney. A portion of my career was devoted to representing injured people in mass accidents, including class action asbestos cases. Our firm recently handled the largest number of victims from the Crown Princess Cruise ship accident in the Los Angeles, California complex litigation court. “Personal responsibility” is a common theme in tort cases these days. But typically people are referring to the ‘responsibility’ of the person who was hurt.

I know based on my experience that most people who are negligent are quick to point at the victim, without taking any ‘personal responsibility’ for their own actions. Our justice system helps hold people accountable. The “Playboy Plague” was not an accident or act of God. By all appearances, it was an easily preventable exposure at a location, which is paid significant sums to host such events. The effects were much more than a minor inconvenience for me and many fared much worse than me.

So what good can come from all this? I would hope that the Playboy Mansion would clean up its act as appropriate and take the measures necessary to make sure its guests are safe in the future. But the real effect is more likely the other large-scale event locations who see what happened here and find information which causes them to upgrade their efforts to provide a clean environment for their guests. It often turns out that publicity about these types of occurrences can have as much prophylactic effect as courtroom litigation. The Internet is a wonderful thing. It helps people make smarter decisions about many things, including safety. The Internet makes accountability permanent.

There are several other attendees who became ill who have contacted my law firm, and are seeking representation as well. I expect more will join in as more information is publicized about the event. In many cases, the damages for Plaintiffs won’t be unduly large, or have impacted them in a significant manner. Nevertheless, victims will have a shot at ‘fair compensation’ for having the very unpleasant experience of contracting this illness and the knowledge that others may not have to go through the same experience.

And there are questions that still need answers? Has this happened at the Playboy Mansion before? Are there instances where people got sick there but there was no Ron Jackson to step in, coordinate information and contact the CDC?

This has been unfortunate for DOMAINfest which put on the best domain conference ever, and DomainSponsor who shelled out a lot of money to sponsor the party at the Playboy Mansion. Both brands were impacted by the incident, although probably not within the community of people who know them well. Regardless, they deserved better for their A+ effort. Seems like the folks at Playboy may owe them more than an apology before the dust has settled on this one.

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