DomainFest

Legionella Not Yet Confirmed as The Source of The Illness

11

Despite a couple of mainstream media articles written today that appear to indicate legionella (the bacteria that causes Legionnaires Disease and Pontiac Fever) as the cause of the illness that may have impacted DomainFest attendees, there has been no confirmation from the Health Department or the CDC.

I know Shane received his test results, and they indicated that he was infected with Pontiac Fever. However, the health department still has not made any determination about what the cause of this illness was, nor how people may have become infected.

I was very sick for a few days after returning from DomainFest, and I was even mentioned in an Associated Press article that was distributed widely. The running joke was that the AP said I “succumbed” to the illness, and a number of comments were made on various sites (like the Boston Globe) asking how I was quoted if I had died.

Anyway, I had some bloodwork done a little over a week ago, and I need to go back in a couple of weeks for more blood work to see if I have antibodies built up, which may indicate what caused me to become sick.

Here’s today’s press release from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health:

As reported previously, on February 11, the Department of Public Health was notified of a suspected respiratory infection outbreak among attendees of the DOMAINfest Global Conference held in Santa Monica on February 1-3, 2011. To date, approximately 200 individuals associated with this conference have reported illness with symptoms mostly consisting of fever, chills, general discomfort (malaise) and some cough.

In the course of its ongoing investigation, Public Health has identified Legionella bacteria in a sample taken from a water source at the Playboy Mansion, where a social event connected with the conference occurred. This does not however confirm Legionella as the source of the illness, as Legionella bacteria are commonly found in moist or wet environments. “We are still considering several possible causes of illness,” said Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, MPH, Director of Public Health and Health Officer.

Public Health is continuing to work with surrounding county health departments, the California Department of Public Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to investigate this suspected outbreak.

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Please help me raise funds for the  Ronald McDonald House

Oversee Responds to Illness Outbreak

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I wanted to pass along an update I just received from Mason Cole, spokesman for Oversee.net. I am very glad to hear that the company and local health officials are investigating the matter.  They plan to email this update to all attendees tomorrow.

Here’s the update provided by the company this evening:

DomainSponsor, the organizer of the DOMAINfest Global conference, and its parent company, Oversee.net, have been made aware that several people in attendance at DOMAINfest and various evening events during the week became ill during the conference or after it concluded.

There has been significant speculation about this situation, but as of now, not many actual facts are known.   Only medical authorities are qualified to identify this illness and investigate its ultimate source, so toward the improvement and protection of everyone’s health, it’s important not to speculate or make unfounded assumptions.   Of course, should you have a concern about your health, please seek the advice of a doctor.

The health and safety of DOMAINfest attendees is our first priority, and thankfully, most attendees and staff did not become ill, and those that did appear now to be feeling better.   Even so, in order to accurately identify the health concern and prevent its further possible communication, we have consulted with Los Angeles County health authorities and at their request have provided them a comprehensive list of places we know gatherings were held (either organized by DOMAINfest or by others) during each day and night.   We also have notified our vendors and service providers of the situation, and have encouraged them to cooperate with authorities and take any steps they believe necessary.

Medical authorities have further requested, and Oversee has provided, a list of all attendees and their e-mail addresses.   You may already have received a link to a survey asking for more information.   It is important that ALL attendees complete the survey, whether you were ill or not.   This will help authorities narrow down the range of possible causes and sources.   Only health authorities will have access to this data—neither Oversee nor any other party will be able to see it, so please do your part to help.

Oversee will continue to work with health authorities, though at this stage, work is best left in their hands.   If there’s more we’re in a position to share about the situation, we will do so.

DOMAINfest was a great event—our best ever with more than 700 attendees—and it’s regrettable that this has cast a shadow over an otherwise good week.   We’re very encouraged that most everyone is in improving health (including those on our staff), and look forward to seeing many of you in Barcelona in June.

DFG Illness Update

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I know there are a lot of people like myself who became really sick after getting home from DomainFest. I had a fever from Saturday night until yesterday when it finally broke.  I still have a cough, but my doctor prescribed a z-pack for what he diagnosed as bronchitis.

Ron has been great with his updates on this situation, but unfortunately nobody can comment on DN Journal. I’ve seen a number of comments on Nico Zeifang’as Facebook wall, but if you aren’t a FB friend of his, you can’t comment their either… LOL.

Anyway, feel free to comment here if you’d like. I know a number of people have doctor’s appointments scheduled for today, so any additional info might be helpful to those that need it. I would recommend making an appointment to see your doctor though, just in case, especially with the weekend approaching.

I am up at Stowe, Vermont for my company annual meeting, but am not skiing yet to make sure I first get rid of whatever infection I have. I think I am on the tail end of this thing since the fever and chills are gone, but I will keep you posted.

I hope you have an easy recovery… BTW, to those who didn’t get it, you are VERY lucky.  I can usually work through everything, but this just about knocked me on my ass for a few days.

Oversee Update with CEO Jeff Kupietsky

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One of my favorite sessions organized by Oversee.net during DomainFest was a breakfast for bloggers and domain news sites with CEO, Jeff Kupietsky. It was a good opportunity to learn about the company’s plans for the upcoming year.

My biggest takeaway from the meeting with Jeff is that Oversee is working to drive the maturation of the domain industry, and that will help bring new investment and growth into the domain space.  Jeff noted that there has been much more  collaboration among big companies (like Bob Parsons speaking at DomainFest), and this is essential for the domain industry to mature.

In addition to its collaboration efforts, Oversee is looking to build and grow additional revenue streams. Similar to individual domain investors who are building businesses on domain names, Oversee has been building infrastructure on some of its key domain assets. The company currently operates in 3 verticals: travel, shopping, and finance.

One way domain investors will benefit from this is that Oversee has been gaining insight into consumer behavior. This should not only help the company with its own projects, but it can also be used on the company’s domain monetization platform.  Domain Sponsor recently launched its Precision Targeting Engine, which should help increase a domain owner’s revenue by being able to predict consumer behavior and push the right offer at the right time.

In addition, the company’s biggest parking customer is itself, and it’s able to leverage its own domain assets to get insight into traffic and visitor habits/patterns. The company owns over 1 million domain names, and 99.9% of them are parked with Domain Sponsor.

Jeff mentioned that in 2010, Oversee had a net gain of  50 employees. Out of this group, between 10-15 people were added to this infrastructure group. He reiterated that he and the company are “very bullish on this” area of growth.

When economic conditions are poor, companies are forced to develop alternative ways to generate revenue, especially when outside investors need to see growth. Oversee is no different, and the company is working on ways to grow its bottom line. The good news for domain investors is that we should be able to profit from the company’s learnings, too.

DomainFest Trend: Business Development

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With parking revenue down across the board in the last couple of years, many people have taken steps to create different revenue streams with their domain names. While at DomainFest, I learned about a number of new ventures started by domain industry veterans, and I was impressed to see this.

These new businesses cover everything from product sales, services, and data management, and I want to share a few of the new ventures I learned about with you.

Tom Breen is someone I’ve met at a number of conferences but had limited business conversations with him. Like me, Tom is a big Red Sox (and Boston sports) fan, so we’ve had many sports conversations but I never really knew what he did.

During one of the parties, we were talking business, and I learned that he recently started a very successful local deals site called The Local Deal.  Focusing on the area around where he lives, Tom has built quite a big advertiser base and has made a dent in the local market. The company is looking to expand, which is good news and an important step with competition heating up from national companies like Groupon.

Jodi Chamberlain is probably best known by many for her work at Offshoring.com and for Latonas.com during the TRAFFIC conference planning process. She has a gregarious personality, and it’s likely she’s smiled at, waved at, or hugged you at once conference or another.

Via Facebook and at DomainFest, I learned Jodi and a friend have started a boutique soap company called The Cute Side. The company produces its own line of soaps that are sold online and in some brick and mortar stores. The company just recently launched, and with Jodi’s passion, I would bet it’s going to be very successful.

A friend of mine insisted that I have a meeting with Luc Lezon from Estibot, and I was very glad I did. Although I have been critical about Estibot’s domain appraisal tool, I think it has many helpful attributes (like CPC rates, monthly searches, page rank…etc.), and I listed the site among my 10 favorite domain tools.

Luc and a business partner have started a new domain management tool, and it has a great tool I intend to test (and test often). The tool will allow people to find domain sales leads for the domain names they want to sell.  The tool even says why it selected the particular contacts (paying for ads, name is part of the domain name for sale, name is similar…etc).  There are many more aspects to this tool, but this is what I look forward to testing most.

There are a number of other people who have moved away from domain parking in the past year to start their own online business. It is going to be fun to watch these people grow their companies over the next few years.

DomainFest Recaps

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I just returned from another excellent DomainFest conference, and I have a few things I want to share with those of you who couldn’t attend and maybe some of you who were there but maybe didn’t notice some of these things.

I was pretty busy during the conference, and I didn’t get much of an opportunity to write any recap posts.  Over the next few days, I am going to post a few things that I learned or noticed while in LA, and hopefully it will be able to benefit you in some way.

DomainFest was very well attended (in the ballpark of 700 attendees), and it was the first conference I attended where I went to more than just a couple of the panels.

The next few weeks are going to be particularly busy for me and I am sure for others.

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