Daily Poll: Is The Domain Investment Business Shady?

I regularly read about people complaining that the business of domain investing is a bit shady / sketchy or something along those lines. There are a multitude of things people comment about involving all sorts of things that may not be on the up and up. Sometimes the issues I read about are fairly harmless or unfamiliarity with how something works, but there definitely have been issues that were rightfully highlighted and discussed.

If I were involved in other investment verticals (crypto, stocks, forex, startups…etc), I would imagine there are also people who would say the same thing about those other businesses. Some industries are more regulated than others, but there is probably some level of shadiness in every type of investment.

I am curious to know how readers of this blog feel about the domain investment business. Do you think the business is shady? Vote in the poll below:

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of DomainInvesting.com. Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the DomainInvesting.com Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn


  1. Just out of curiosity, the “yes very” camp: what formulates this opinion? No judgment. Just want to know how those that do invest can alleviate any stigma you see. Thanks.

  2. Should be an option to pick ‘not at all’. People who think this are mostly jealous and/or anti capitalist thinking that names should just be available for whenever they might come along to use them.

  3. I don’t thing domain investing business is any more a shady business than real estate, auto repair, house contractors, lawyers, or journalism. In each of these professions there can be some shady characters but as a business it is not inherently a shady business. The same is with domain investing. As with all business people need to do their own due diligence and education before they invest their money. In domain investing there are many different opinions and strategies. There is not one best way to invest in domains as with the stock market. I have turned a $50 investment into a $10,000 sale within a two year timeframe twice now. This might appear to be shady to some people but it is knowing end user value and holding out for it. Both names I purchased from a GoDaddy expired auction.

    • “domain investing business is any more a shady business than real estate, auto repair, house contractors, lawyers, or journalism.”

      The problem is that the comparisons above are the most shady businesses on earth! Just need to add casino operators & car salesmen.

  4. Domainers are “bottom feeders” like catfish which eat other people’s waste … someone who looks at catfish says this is one ugly fish. Except catfish are plentiful and eat quite well.

    Auto Repair shops are either shady or good. Hard to find good ones. Different industry and needs.

    What do you call someone who takes advantage of others stupidity, forgetfulness or just plain don’t know. That is what domainers are.

    • It’s no different than investors in raw land who buy at tax foreclosure sales because the owners failed to pay their property taxes to a local government or municipality for whatever reason. There is a legitimate process available for the public to participate in tax foreclosure auctions. It’s the same with domain names.

  5. I think the best answer would be “it depends”.
    Investing in domain names like anything else will attract all types of people. While many will “behave” there will always be a minority who act unethically and taint everyone else.
    Of course you could say the same about real estate investment or pretty much anything else.

  6. The definitive answer: 😉

    People are shady everywhere, because generally speaking people are scum and gravitate towards evil, with some exceptions of course, but unfortunately in the domain industry there appears to be virtually no sound regulation or consumer protections at all really.

    This is something I have noticed and not liked for a while now. The Internet was being called a “wild west” years ago, and that does not appear to have changed much if at all even.

    Case in point:

    I was always confident sports betting would be legalized and the long overdue correction of the status quo about it in this country would come. Seeing a potentially highly valuable sports betting related domain abandoned and going through the auction process at [insert famous domain auction service name here], I could almost tell I was the only one who cared and noticed back then. (I was going to say the name, but perhaps another time. What I will say now is that this was not Go Daddy or SnapNames.)

    Seeing what appeared to be a great opportunity, I made damn sure the whole auction process was recorded *both before and after* with more screen images than you can shake a stick at, and not surprisingly I won the auction with no competition then. There were NO other bids, not last minute, not last second, not ever, recorded as plain as day and well beyond completion. But lo and behold, they later claimed there was a competing bid after all, so now I had to go into an auction instead. Yeah, right…

    You see, it was also no surprise that people saw the light once a domain like this particular one got won with no competition. Anyone seeing that domain would realize that if sports betting were reformed, it would be quite a catch. Ergo, it was also not a surprise either that this type of thing would occur after the fact.

    By the way, I learned about the value of making such diligent documentation from my time with Uncle Sam. Think about it. And that was already before screen capture and digital recording.

    Needless to say, despite such a rather unpleasant turn of events to put it mildly, I was most definitely ready to fight tooth and nail about it, all the way, which I began the process of doing. Long story short, this “turn of events” was then soon corrected and I received the domain just as I had really won it with no other bids to begin with.

    Also needless to say, you can be damn sure there is no shortage of interest in this domain now these years later and the price requests have been rolling in.

  7. “Also needless to say, you can be damn sure there is no shortage of interest in this domain now these years later and the price requests have been rolling in.”


    Well done to you Sir.

  8. Elliot,

    For this years Dana Farber challenge, will you wear a Go-Pro camera, stream the entire bike ride live from your helmet?

  9. Yes there are shady people in every industry. But not sure Ive seen an industry like this celebrate people without doing any due dilligence. So many “experts” and “leaders” have ended up being nothing but charlatans and accused criminals. Even public domain company appears to have knowingly harbored some of these bad apples instead of exposing.

    If the “leaders”, “domain media”, and “experts” only celebrate but do not critically analyze and objectively report than this industry will never mature to its potential. Perhaps this is why the domain industry has such a bad name in the greater business world. Ive interacted with legal departments in billion dollar industries, and unfortunately can’t defend domain industry that can’t be honest with itself.

    There are some very good people in the domain industry, just overshadowed by the fact they often choose to remain silent instead of putting their foot down.

  10. I think the business itself is not shady. It’s just a capitalistic business, just like commerce or real estate. You’re in business to make a profit.

    It’s certain people in the business who are shady, but that’s true for every industry.

  11. The industry has cleaned up considerably, thanks in part to coverage of bad behavior provided by news sites and blogs such as this one.

    Domaining is a small industry where if you gain a bad reputation, people won’t want to work with you. This serves to isolate the bad apples fairly quickly.

    Structural reforms have also helped, e.g., the elimination of front running. IMO the worst players in the industry right now are the RDNH types, for whom ostracization means nothing. We need a system to financially penalize reverse domain name hijackers.

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