Internet Companies

TLDH Files First 20 gTLD Applications

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The window for submitting gTLD applications to ICANN opened last night, and there’s already considerable action taking place. I just received a press release from publicly traded Top Level Domain Holdings, and the company has announced its intent to immediately file their first 20 applications to manage new TLDs.

According to the company’s news release, “Top Level Domain Holdings will shortly be purchasing its first batch of twenty application slots for new gTLDs on behalf of itself and clients of Minds + Machines. This first tranche will include slots for client applications for geographic-based gTLDs and generic words. The Company expects to submit multiple batches for application slots during the application window.”

In addition to this news, the company also announced that its subsidiary, Minds & Machines was just selected as the registry services provider for Dot Kiwi, a New Zealand company that has publically stated it will apply for the “.kiwi” gTLD.

The next few days and weeks promise to be filled with considerable news about gTLD applications, and it will be exciting to watch as our business evolves.

Press release is posted below:

Domain Hole Featured on Shoemoney.com

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I still don’t like the name of the company, but I have to give props to DomainHole.com for some smart marketing that I saw a few days ago.

Jeremy Shoemaker runs a popular blog at Shoemoney.com. I am sure many of you who read this from within the domain industry have heard of Shoemaker and Shoemoney.com, but for those who haven’t, it’s a great site that discusses ways to make money online.

Every Friday, Shoemaker has a promotion called “Free Shirt Friday,” where he wears a t-shirt from a company and briefly discusses what the company does. For no cost (aside from the t-shirt), Shoemaker will blog about different companies each week. It seems like a very good way for companies to get information about themselves to an Internet savvy audience.

This past Friday, Domain Hole was the featured  Free Shirt Friday  company, and Shoemaker wrote a post about what the company does. I’ve never seen a domain investment company featured on Free Shirt Friday (granted, I don’t visit all that often), and it was a smart marketing move. There’s very little cost involved, and it’s a great chance to introduce the company.

If you have a company that you’d like Internet marketers to know about, you might think about sending Shoemaker a company t-shirt. It would be interesting to know how long ago Domain Hole submitted its shirt.

Why Seamless Acquisition of MenuPages is Exciting to Me

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It was announced yesterday that Seamless, the company that recently changed its name from Seamless Web, acquired MenuPages.com from New York Magazine. This news is exciting to me and I want to share why I think it’s exciting.

If you aren’t aware already, MenuPages is a helpful website that lists menus from restaurants in large cities and tourist hubs around the US and the world. The website started out as a resource for people to find menus from restaurants across New York City, and it grew pretty quickly. I’ve used Menu Pages for several years and probably use it more than any local, non-news website.

The reason I find this news exciting is that it shows that hard work and dedication to an online brand can lead to a big payday. If you create something useful to visitors and have them coming back to your site on a regular basis, there will always be someone that wants to pay a premium price for those eyeballs.

I don’t think MenuPages had a great revenue model, aside from Adsense monetization (if they did I missed it). The company probably didn’t make a ton of money. However, they had a huge audience of people that were ready to order dinner or lunch and visited frequently. That’s where Seamless comes in to the picture. Menu Pages didn’t offer the connectivity for people to order food, but Seamless does. I think Seamless will be able to better monetize the traffic than New York Magazine and the founders.

I’ve been asked about selling DogWalker.com a number of times, but I haven’t even considered selling. I don’t need the liquidity, and I do want the  recurring  revenue stream. However, if a large company that was in the industry would pay a premium because they could monetize it more than I could, then I would certainly consider selling. I would bet that within a few years, I will sell my portfolio of pet websites to a company that can better monetize the traffic. I don’t know who the buyer will be or when, but I bet it will happen.

If you are building a business, the current revenue is not necessarily the most important thing. Building something that people find useful should be the key, and the money will come in later if you’ve done that.

As a domain investor speaking to other domain investors though, I must urge you to have a look at Nat’s post from yesterday. It was well written and is something you need to consider.

SeamlessWeb Becomes Seamless

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My wife received an email from Seamless Web today announcing that the company has undergone a small but important name change. Instead of SeamlessWeb, the name the company has used since 1999, the company is now known as Seamless, and it is using Seamless.com for its website.

According to Whois records, it appears that Seamless.com was acquired around October of 2010. The domain name had previously been privately registered, but on October 7, the registrant became Ryan Scott. According to a profile on LinkedIn, Ryan Scott is the Vice President of Marketing at Seamless.com.

On its website, the company discusses why it made this smart change:

“When SeamlessWeb was founded in 1999, the dot-com bubble was nearing its peak and the word “web” was on the tip of everyone’s tongues. No wonder we thought it was such a good addition to our name! And with the iPhone and  mobile apps many years away, we kind of had a point. The web ruled the day and we made ordering food online a seamless process. Simple enough, right?

Well, times change and technology does too. The days of people accessing the Internet from one computer in one location are long since gone as a plethora of devices from the iPad to smartphones to even televisions have completely changed the way that people interact with the Internet. One thing that hasn’t changed? Consumers always want a seamless and consistent experience, allowing them to enjoy a great service no matter how they access it.

That brings us to where we are today. We make  online and mobile food delivery and pickup ordering fun and easy for everyone, everywhere. And the future of ordering is beyond the web, which is something we’ve already seen with our mobile apps (now 14% of all orders and growing fast!) and will continue to see in the coming weeks, months, and years. Recognizing that, we’ve decided to embrace these exciting times and take a cue from how you, our highly valued members, often refer to us: we’re dropping the “web” from our name.  Seamless is now the present and the future of food ordering.”

I personally think it is a smart move to re-brand and it was good foresight to acquire the domain name. I am sure there’s an interesting story behind how they were able to buy it, since it had a private registration dating back to 2005. I searched but could not find a sales price disclosed anywhere.

Are Demand Media Insiders Holding?

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DMDLet me start off by saying that when it comes to the stock market, I let professionals handle my accounts. I dabbled in day trading a few years ago, and it didn’t end very well at all.  That being said, I am noticing something interesting with Demand Media (ticker symbol: DMD) stock over the last week and want your take on it.

I believe that the 6 month lock up period for insiders ended a week ago, meaning that company employees and others with special stock rights couldn’t sell until 6 months after the company had been trading publicly. According to the DMD S-1 filing, company employees and insiders hold millions of shares of stock.

Although it’s not usually smart to sell a stock when it’s down, I would bet there are a lot of employees who have considerable amounts of net worth tied up in DMD stock. Many are and were likely counting on selling the stock to pay for various expenses. After all, they worked at a growing company to accumulate this stock, and selling it would allow them to be compensated.

The lock up period is now over, but I haven’t seen much of a change in the volume of shares traded over the last few days. If insiders were selling their millions of shares of stock, one would expect the volume to go way up. Although the price has fallen, there seems to be some stability at the $10 mark.

From my outsider’s perspective, it would seem to indicate that company shareholders think that DMD at around $10 is undervalued and they aren’t willing to sell at this price. Maybe they realize that putting many shares for sale with lower demand would end up lowering the price even more than the last few months, but from my perspective, perhaps insiders think the company is undervalued. What do you think?

I don’t know enough about the company or its valuation to give an expert stock opinion, but it’s been interesting to watch. To my knowledge, I do not own any shares of DMD and have not discussed this with anyone working for the company, although I do business with Enom and NameJet.

Can You Block a Competitor’s Links From Appearing on Facebook?

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A while back, I set up a Facebook page for my blog. At the moment, there are 177 “followers” of Elliot’s Blog on Facebook, all of whom opted in to be a “follower.” Although I do have a bit of dialog on the Facebook wall, I prefer to discuss articles on my blog since the readership is far greater and it would be more information for others to read.

I often post links to articles from my blog on this Facebook page’s wall to let people know that a new post has gone up. I don’t post links to my articles on my personal Facebook page because I can assure you that none of my friends care about what I am posting on my business blog. Therefore, the only people who should see these links are those who have opted in to my Facebook page or perhaps others if someone else posted a link on their own wall.

Yesterday afternoon, I tried to post a link to a new article and received an error message when I tried: “This message contains blocked content that has previously been flagged as abusive or spammy.  Let us know if you think this is an error.”

I assume this means someone reported a link to my blog as spam. I don’t believe a “competitor” actually reported the link, but having this happen leads me to believe a competitor could easily do this to another company (or ask someone unrelated to do it) and have the other company’s links blocked. This can be problematic for a company that is spending a considerable amount of money sending users to its Facebook page.

It shouldn’t be too difficult for a company to prove to Facebook that its links aren’t “abusive or spammy,” but if a company is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a well-timed marketing campaign, losing the ability to post links for a few hours or possibly days can be damaging.

I reported this issue to Facebook, and hopefully someone will look into it to see that my posting links to articles on my blog directly on my blog’s opt-in Facebook wall is not spammy nor is it abusive.

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