Howard Lefkowitz is something of an icon in Las Vegas. As the former CEO of Vegas.com, Lefkowitz has tremendous experience building and managing a great brand, and he has a massive rolodex of contacts in Las Vegas and in the travel industry.
While attending NamesCon, I had the opportunity to have dinner with Lefkowitz, and we chatted about his new company, One Degree World. To me, one of the most interesting aspects of this travel technology company is that it is in the process of launching quite a few websites on new gTLD domain names, such as Vegas.Ninja and Paris.Buzz. During the conference, it was also announce that One Degree World agreed to buy Vegas.Club for $100,000.
Following NamesCon, I was in touch with Lefkowitz and asked him several questions about his new company. Lefkowitz answered my questions, which I have shared below.
My opinion is that the new gTLD domain names need businesses to use them to spread awareness and spur growth. Lefkowitz is in a position to become something of an evangelist for the new domain name extensions, and I will be following along to see how his company grows.
When did you become aware of the new domain name extensions and when did you know that you wanted to use them for your business?
I became aware of the new domain extensions many years ago when I was CEO at Vegas.com and we wanted the .vegas domain. I knew that there was to be power and certain value to the new TLD’s. But it wasn’t until last year as these TLD’s became available to folks like me that I became re-engaged in using them for my venture.
What are the differences you face in building a company on multiple new gTLD domain names vs. one brand in Vegas.com?
While I believe wholly that history repeats itself, I am also certain that new technology and new thinking creates unexpected results. Our multi-brand approach has components of both. TIME Inc. has how many brands? Proctor and Gamble? Coke? Google? It just appears odd when you look at this from the front end of the change, but it will be obvious after the change. We see the multi-brand approach as a tremendous advantage in this world of continued disintermediation.
Are you worried about consumer confusion with regards to the new extensions and domain names operated by your company?
The is some lifting to do on this topic, but outside of the U.S. and folks under 40 are not stuck in dotcom notions.
How will you educate consumers to know that Vegas.Ninja means “http://Vegas.Ninja” as opposed to something like Booking.Yeah?
We will use exactly that http://Vegas.ninja and www.paris.BUZZ. We will exploit many types of media and harp on that message. Hoping to also see the domain industry put a shoulder to the effort. Today, change is easier and faster than it was even five years ago let alone, prior to that. People are now used to change in these areas; they expect it, they even crave it. My daughter doesn’t even know that consumers used to get their TV and movie listings in the newspaper.
Vegas.Club was announced at NamesCon. Was this your most expensive new gTLD acquisition and what are your plans?
As far as pricing, we won’t disclose specifics, but we are very happy with our portfolio of .Club, .ninja, .vegas, .buzz, and even .com domains.
We intend to make Vegas.club the preeminent membership club for Vegas with sliver, gold, and platinum levels based on purchase price and products available to those various levels. These will vary widely.
What other extensions do you have an interest in operating on?
What motivates you and drives you to be successful?
I am motivated by building process and the gratification of winning for me, my team, partners, vendors and others. It makes me happy to see and be with happy people. It’s all about people and experiences and memories and the ethos of success.
I don’t understand what they are trying to achieve with all these GTLD DOT’s that Vegas.com does not already corner. If you go to expedia, vegas.com etc.. everyone has the same price, they are not doing anything better with a dot in the middle other than spending a lot of money on billboards, and marketing.
I believe they will have to spend $5 in marketing for every $1 they bring it, simply not worth it.
I like his multi-brand analogy. Yes, new extensions can be used effectively in marketing. Consumers just need to be educated of the new extensions. However, I don’t think consumers should go back to typing “http” or “www” because they are difficult to remember and they are no longer needed in the address bar anyway. Still, I do no see anything on the horizon to replace .com as corporate anchor.
As we are getting further into the roll out of the new extensions I am recognizing the potential of some of these new gtld’s. I’m sure if Howard was purchasing names based on the investment potential of the name instead of the development potential, his name portfolio may look quite different. The inherent value in the new gtld’s is going to be realized in their development.
When you asked Mr.Lefkowitz about the purchase he said
“As far as pricing, we won’t disclose specifics, but we are very happy with our portfolio of .Club, .ninja, .vegas, .buzz, and even .com domains.”
I always find it funny that the only ones that say these .Club domains sold for $100,000 is the .Club registry but when you ask the buyer they don’t disclose the specifics.
I remember Bill McClure (Coffee.Club) saying this
“a part of the original deal with .Club was their commitment to spend a million dollars or three in promoting me and a few other clubs. As Men of their word, double it. It is only beginning.”
Personally I think these names sold for very little. The registry has more to gain from having a great businessman behind the domain than from creating a large sale. This is why the registry said that they will spend millions on marketing a brand that isn’t even theirs because the bottom line is it benefits the registry. The $100,000 price tag was just to gain free press even though these names never sold anywhere near that price.
Of course this is just my opinion added with a sprinkle of logic. 🙂
In order to enable an uninformed public to know it’s a website to visit, the maximum that should be included beyond SLD.TLD should be the “www., as in http://www.Vegas.ninja or http://www.Vegas.club. And that’s only because many or most people would currently tend to not have a clue what you are trying to get them to do or know about if you just publish “Vegas.ninja” or even “Vegas.club” now, as compared to “Vegas.com, net or org.” The “http://” however, should be avoided. In time perhaps people will be aware enough to just publish it the same was as one would a .com.
Elliot, your blog software just added the “http://” to my examples automatically! 🙂
So, notwithstanding Elliot’s mischievous blog software, that would be:
“www . Vegas.ninja” and
“www . Vegas.club”
as the maximum one should use. 🙂