DomainTools

First Live Domain Auction of 2008

After a week’s postponement, today marks the day of the first live domain auction of 2008. DomainTools will be holding their live auction, with the hammer scheduled to come down beginning at 2pm EST. There will not be a video feed for this live auction, as there will be no bidders in attendance.
I am not a bidder in the auction, nor did I submit any names, but I will be a spectator this afternoon. DomainTools is known for their innovative technology, and they’ve made a few improvements from their last auction, including a count-down timer for each lot. This will allow bidders to see how much time remains in each auction, although they are advising bidders not to wait until the last minute in case of computer errors.
It will be interesting to see how this auction plays out. I don’t see any premium one word generic names in this auction (at any reserve level), and those have typically been used to generate publicity in other auctions. Invention.com sold for $500,000 at the last DomainTools live auction. There are many low to mid quality names at reserves between $1,000 – $5,000, which may generate some interest, but I think its going to be difficult for this auction to break 6 figures.

Whois Lookups for Live Auction Domains

One issue that is sometimes cited for low live domain auction sales is the lack of publicity. I have an idea that may help Jay Westerdal’s DomainTools live auction and perhaps other auction houses who are hosting domain auctions in the near future.
If Jay would add a link to Whois lookups for domain names that are up for auction, he could inform the searcher that the name will be for sale. This simple tactic would allow domain investors and non-domain professionals to see that the name they just looked-up could be acquired in an upcoming auction. For example, if someone looks up Whois.sc/WireRack.com using Domaintools’ service, they would be able to see that the name is not only for sale, but coming up for auction soon. With Domaintools’ interface, they could sign up and place a bid prior to the auction without much hassle.
I don’t know the technicalities involved with doing this, but it doesn’t seem like something that is difficult. With all of the mergers, acquisitions, partnerships…etc in the domain business, I would think this could be done for other auctions using other Whois look up services. It’s a simple idea, but it could be impactful.
***UPDATE BY ELLIOT***
Just received an email from Jay:
I would like to do that, and it will be done in 2008 at some point. However that feature is not done yet.

Argument to Remove Registrant Search Tool

In a blog post on November 11th, Jay Westerdal asks his blog readers for their opinions on whether DomainTools’ controversial Registrant Search tool should be taken down. Although I think it is a cool tool, I believe I have a strong case for why it should be taken down, and my case is supported by evidence provided by Jay in this morning’s blog post, “Chameleon typo squatters.”

In Jay’s newest post, he discusses how some people attempt to mask their identity by registering domain names using other companies’ registration information, with the only difference being the admin contact email address. Jay cites the example of the domain name GoogleWishes.com, which appears to be owned by Google, but uses a different contact email address.

With the  Registrant Search tool, this domain name would presumably be listed in Google’s list of domain names, when someone performs a Registrant Search using “Google” as a query. Because the email address differs from the actual email address used by Google in their domain registrations, this domain name does not appear to be owned by Google. However, GoogleWishes.com would appear in the list along with other Google properties such as  Google.com,  GoogleMaps.com,  GoogleVideo.com, and many more.

I know you can whittle down your results by entering more information (such as the usual admin contact email), but if a person ordered the results based on what appears in the Whois.sc/Google.com listing – (Registrant Search: “Google Inc.” owns about 8,211 other domains), this name would probably appear.

Although the domain name GoogleWishes.com would probably not hurt the image of Google, a devious person could severely impact a competitor’s or opponent’s image by registering pornographic or trademark infringing domain names in someone else’s name. Unless a careful examination is made of each name in the list, the Registrant Search tool could be damaging to the victim of a “chameleon typo squatter.”

Good Reason to Use the Registrant Search Tool

There have been some complaints within the domain community about the new Registrant Search Tool introduced by DomainTools.    Some people are afraid that information in the database could be used against them, and at this juncture, there isn’t an opt-out method.

There is one way in which the domain community can be helped by this tool: tracking a domain thief.    I recently read about a specific domain name that may be stolen.    By plugging the PO Box # and City from the Whois information, I can trace it to several other domain registrations.    Not only would this allow someone to contact the former owners of those names to possibly discover other thefts, it could also potentially allow someone to track the thief down based on names he already sold.

The expense is still too great for me to volunteer to do this, but if it were to be less expensive, it might be worth an effort.

Another Tool from DomainTools

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DomainTools Announces the Public Launch of Registrant Search

Jay Westerdahl’s DomainTools team has just added another useful tool to its portfolio. Registrant Search allows users to do a reverse domain search to see what domains a person or company owns. It can also be used for other reverse searches, such as a geographic search to see how many domain names are registered in a particular town (28,412 in Nashua, NH for example).

Until today, this tool has been in use by DomainTools staff for 8 years, available only upon special request. Although I don’t really have much use for the tool, it is interesting to see what other domain names companies or individuals own. The only downside to this tool is the expense, but Jay said that the price may come down depending on the amount of use.

Congrats to Jay the DomainTools staff for their continued outstanding work.

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