Michael Berkens Shares Insight About Investing in New gTLDs

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Alvin Brown shared a full recap of his experience at the Ashville Domain Investor meetup organized by Rick Schwartz. It’s a nice summary of the event, and it will serve as an endorsement of the event should Rick decide to host again next year. Within his article, Alvin posted a video featuring a talk by Michael Berkens, who shared his thoughts, experiences, and insight regarding new gTLD domain names and investing in that asset class.

I am glad Alvin took the video, and I hope he doesn’t mind my sharing it below. I think it deserves to be highlighted on its own.

Michael Berkens was one of the first domain investors to sell his entire portfolio for tens of millions of dollars. GoDaddy bought Mike’s portfolio, and the sale was the result of many years of hard work, research, and financial risk. From my own recollection, pretty much the only domain names that were not acquired at the time were Mike’s new gTLD domain names, which he kept.

Since that time, I believe Mike has acquired many more new gTLD domain names in his portfolio. I couldn’t guess how large his portfolio is, but I imagine he has one of the best private portfolios of new gTLD domain names. In the video, Mike shared his experience with this class of domain names, and I think it is a must watch for anyone who is thinking about investing in them.

41 COMMENTS

  1. When you are super rich and lots of time, you can weather any storms down the road.

    Rich people needs something to do to kill time in their lives before they die.

  2. Great to see MB also, you have to understand he can afford to carry these premiums. The ones he bought that may not be marked premium he spent thousands to tens of thousands in EAP acquiring them.

    You do not get the same offer sell thru rates as .com.

  3. Glad it went well. We had planned to attend one of the events, but our rescue dog and best amigo of the family for 14 years got ill and eventually died, after brave attempts by vets at 3 different hospitals tried to save his life. I believe Mike and Rick have gone though the loss of pet(s), so they would understand the anguish and sadness.

  4. He didn’t seem to enthused about the new gtlds and to be honest he looked more disappointed then anything else. The truth is it’s hard to trust what anyone says in this industry. Make it look all doom and gloom so you can snatch names up on the cheap. Who knows how the market really is.

    • Mike doesn’t strike me as that kind of person.

      He never said anything bad about .coms when he was building his portfolio.

    • Todd, Elliot is right. Berkins wasn’t downplaying new gTLDs. They are a difficult investment. He gave a thumbs up to them in discussing how some are making money and getting traffic, plus he’s out there speaking about them and he hasn’t jumped ship yet – still renewing.

      I think his strategy was clear, get the over the dot two word phrases that make sense, register during EAP. Or at least those are the ones he talked about and is still interested in.

      Berkins had a piece of .nyc (through a relative because of nexus) and I think it hasn’t done well for him. .NYC domains are about $25/year to renew and so investors will take a hit without sales. To be honest a lot of the .nycs he had weren’t great and I think the lack of sales has made him sour on geo gTLDs – which is understandable.

      Although Berkins shared a little, we didn’t learn many specifics (yearly spend, number of new Gs registered, how many he’s dropped, or sold or sales prices, or even how much his buying has slowed or increased, or his sentiment to strings that will be released in future).

      He did speak about it feeling like the return of the early .com days – it kind of is exciting.

      Although I don’t love .miami I just picked up domains with the following keywords and that TLD (“pt” and “physicaltherapy”) for just $4.99 each. If that’s your business in Miami, then these are domains you should own. Especially a meaningful 2 letter .miami for $4.99 ! Limited downside risk.

    • I was surprised by that too. Also in Alvin’s article he described 3 out of the 6 topics/themes being about new gTLDs. Seems like folks wanted to talk about them or the impact is being felt.

      Definitely agree that primary portfolio should be .com but new gTLDs are a tough slog even as a secondary portfolio for investors.

      They just take more work (to research/source, buy and outbound sell) and they cost more, plus there’s more risk that they’ll never sell, plus they won’t sell at .com prices.

      Saying all that, for people who enjoy spending their time engaged in the work (I do!) and who can work hard for margins less that .com, there are good opportunities to buy for $50 and sell for $250-1000… A decent living can be made by repeating this – but it takes time, smarts in buying the right names and persistence and smarts in finding end users and selling.

      Definitely not for everyone.

  5. I’m done with them myself. Been dropping them like flies. Including ones I like and thought I might keep “forever.” Have very few left now. This is all I care about now:

    .com
    .us
    .net and .org for ones where I’m the .com end user and the .com is important enough to protect that way
    some .org’s alone for end use, but the latest developments with .org have changed my view on that
    other ccTLDs (picked up over 20 of the .uk’s in the recent release)

    I have even dropped ones some people would think you wouldn’t drop.

    That said, if I came across a new gTLD domain that I though was out of this world to use as an end user, available to reg, not ridiculously high reg fee, I **might** still consider it, though seems all but impossible really.

  6. I hear you John. I’m curious what your drops are – can you share any?
    Some people make it look easy but so much work goes into doing it right .com or otherwise.

    Berkens said in the video he hasn’t had many inquiries for his domains – well it turns out his make offer pages don’t work. Visit obama.care or online.dating and click the link at the top that says “Click here to inquire”.

    The links don’t work! They forward to an error page e.g. http://the.domains/domain/online.dating
    I’ll email Michael, fixing that will most likely help.

    • Hi Matt, I can’t do that because there is a possibility I’ll want to reacquire a few later and it would also “out” me since I comment in the blogs anonymously. However, as far as reacquiring goes it seems some of my drops are so “good” they wind up being made “premium” by their respective registry after I drop them, lol.

      I got some inquiries for one – all aggressive and repeated grotesque lowballing, culminating in extreme insult. Never saw someone so eager and practically desperate to get one but so stubborn about only being willing to engage in lowballing. Also got an inquiry for one I dropped where the guy begged me to try to reacquire it by making up a story he wanted me to use so that he could get it from me. That was one where it was made “premium.”

      I see have a .nyc. I have history in NYC myself, and I really wish I still had nexus. Honestly I like .nyc so much, including regardless of what MB said in the video (I’m an end user first, domainer second) that I would *definitely* get some .nyc’s if I could.

    • I’ll be honest with you though, while I do like .nyc, I don’t find the one in your link desirable, though I haven’t looked at your site if one’s there. Sorry. That would not be the kind of .nyc I would like or want.

      • If you’re talking about Developed.nyc that’s a website with content. The name may not stand out to a domainer as anything specialty, but it gets the point across when I do outbound sales and include a link to a specific article, sales chart, gallery of .NYC usage or just the business listings map. Also the site does ok in Google.

        I have some other great NYC domains with specific keywords: kids, free, students…

        • I’m saying I don’t like it as an end user first, not as a domainer. But if you have great single word .nyc’s then that sounds great. Wish I could have gotten in on that.

          • It kinda describes the site’s content/goal. To publish info about developed .nyc websites. But I know how the word may be a bit awkward. I actually felt like that later on when I discovered undeveloped.com (naming coincidence, but it grew on me). I think that undeveloped.com was a better name for what the site did compared with their new name dan.com (which seems too premium and obviously a first name)

          • Not hard to guess that without looking, which I still haven’t. Been doing this for almost 20 years now. See me comment long enough and you should be able to discern I’m going to be frank with you, and not with ill motives either. It’s not the worst domain you could choose, but would have been better to keep looking for something which can really grab and appeal. Even a snappy two worder might have been better for your purpose with that one. Most people outside the insider’s club are not even going to know what you mean with a name like that until they look.

      • Hi John, appreciate your thoughts but I’ve developed many sites too and have been around the block. As an end user in this case, I don’t think that domains necessarily have to explain what the site does.

        For a lot of people if they like the domain that’s all that matters! So much of naming is subjective but I do appreciate your interest and thoughts.

    • PS, for the record I never regged or bought a lot of them and don’t want anyone to think I did. Only a modest amount these past years.

  7. Not sure why you would expect to get a high number of inquiries – gTLDs are designed for a subset of end users who don’t care about .com. Hard working and careful domain investors may be able to carve out a decent return.

    Saying that Snoopy, did you read my post above? His inquiry pages don’t work at the time of me posting this. Hopefully he’ll fix it but obviously that’s going to result in zero inquiries!

    • His site is down, highly unlikely it has been down for 5 years!

      Stop the excuses, new tlds are terrible place to invest.

      • Excuses? LOL. I know you’ve heard this from me before, many times, but as Michael said, new gTLDs probably aren’t for investors, but I believe that end users and start ups will continue to use them as an option and that .com holders need to be careful.

        Snoopy, first you think you’re smarter than the guys at zoom.com and now you think you’re smarter than Berkens. Really?

        You didn’t reply over at ML’s blog with your credentials as to why you think you’re smarter than the folks who have actually built something or made significant $:
        https://morganlinton.com/can-a-domain-extension-be-good-for-a-company-without-being-good-for-domainers-too-i-say-yes/

        So what now? Be negative, deflect, and dump on something because you don’t know how to take advantage of an opportunity? Or you’re scared any marginal .come you own will lose value because of new gTLDs (spoiler: they will).

        Don’t you ever get bored of bashing gTLDs? Why not sit back and watch them die? Your opinion is on record!

        For things that you believe don’t have a chance of surviving, you spend a significant amount of time trying to squash them. Wonder why?

        Side note, I opened up a toy my kid received as a gift today and it said spycode.toys on the front of the packaging. More and more end users are choosing them and that IS ok.

        Domainers don’t have to make money on every domain purchase and it’s morally questionable to conflate investor opportunity with end user value with the goal of harming the program.

        • Matt, as I have said before, it is pointless talking to you, you are in a bad state of denial, good luck with your ntlds.

          • So I guess you went for option #2, deflect.

            Snoopy, I think you should join dnacademy.com – I honestly think it would help you. Not only will it show you the need for careful research, planning and maybe how less negativity give you an edge but DN Academy can help you with valuation.

            I think you sold Trillions.com, GasStation.com and Rivalry.com way too cheaply at 10k. I’ve sold a few $20 .NYC domains close to that price.

            BTW, I wouldn’t razz you about this so much, but you have mounted a campaign against new gTLDs with a hidden agenda. It’s very dishonest and when pressed you go silent, run and hide only to pop up somewhere else with your anti- new gTLD campaign.

            Either you’ve been badly hurt by investing in .mobi or some other junk and now you can’t let anyone else fall for it (somewhat honorable – is it this?) or you have a financial motivation for new Gs failing. Which is it?? Be honest?

            My position, I invest in .NYCs, have transparently written about any success/risk. I also have a portfolio of .come. I do not recommend domain investors start buying new Gs because I think they will lose $ and I think that that the benefit of new Gs is as an option to a subset of end users and startups who don’t care about .com, to get a perfect fit domain.

            If a company wants to use spycode.toys on their packaging let them. They were happy with it. Why you gotta hate on it so much?

            What’s your motivation for your campaign of hate towards all new Gs?

  8. I do not understand that Rick Schwartz meets in 1st Annual Asheville Domain Investor, he has investors who invest in Club, .Shop, Xyz so everyone knows about Rick and Frank Shilling having public clashes for gTLDs that have been very strong.

    Rick being totally against gTLDs in his post https://www.ricksblog.com/ there are many of his writings that say many words not too pretty of gTLDs.

    Rick, who is a Domain Investor with 6500 domains (.com), I am really sorry that the Domain Investors gathered in Asheville are nothing special in reference to the gTLDs with us the middle and lower class of the Domain Investor market.

  9. People type in obama.care ? That’s hard to believe. Maybe other domainers, but I can’t see why the general public would type that in when all they know are the common extensions.

  10. The value of .com is type in generic SLD plus TLD .com which takes you to an exact match resolving to a website, like music.com or a brand Oreo.com which generates natural traffic. But the New gTLD’s has it backwards where the generic is the TLD and the brand is the SLD and instead of just one .com (or three gTLD .com .net .org) you have a multitude of TLD like .shop or .store and what is the business brand – so too many options, too many guesses or even remembering a brand URL when you hear it on radio, see it on a billboard, etc because now you have to remember the brand and the TLD. and before the new gTLD’s there was still a risk of Dot Com Syndrome as seen in this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21IsEJkRU5o

  11. It’s always nice to hear from Mike. He’s done extremely well with his .com investments, and in other extensions.
    And let’s keep in mind he owns thedomains.com and he allows open conversations on the blog, per the value or lack of value of the Gs.
    Class act all the way.

    Also I commend Alvin on an excellent job of covering the event — photos and videos and reportage while spending time in Asheville and the surrounding area with his wife.

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