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.