I received a press release from NamesCon and domain name consulting firm RightOfTheDot, LLC announcing that there will be a live domain auction at the NamesCon conference. From my perspective, the most interesting aspect of this news is that it means Monte Cahn, founder of Moniker and its popular domain auctions, is back in the business of domain conference domain name auctions.
Bucking the tradition of a domain conference hosting a live domain name auction, NamesCon did not have an auction during its inaugural event in January. Yesterday, conference organizer Richard Lau cited the experience of Monte Cahn and Mike Berkens with domain auctions in announcing the news. According to Lau, “We were initially reluctant to offer a domain auction, but the 15 years of domain auction experience, strength, reputation, and relationships that ROTD presented convinced us that their auction will contribute to the distinct and diverse activities and sessions that NamesCon is known and respected for.”
While at Moniker, Monte played host to some of the most exceptional domain auction results, including the TRAFFIC auction that famously sold $12.4 million worth of domain names. Since that auction in 2007, the domain space has changed quite a bit. Subsequent auctions produced much more modest results, and I think conference organizers have been less focused on the domain auctions, which were once considered the most anticipated aspect of conferences.
I think Monte and his team became known for hosting exciting domain name auctions. In addition to the buzz generated with large sales, there seemed to be more excitement in the room. I can recall many times when Monte was standing on the stage whooping up the crowd. I presume he will bring this back and hire auctioneers who will liven up the auction floor.
This is not the first domain auction Monte will have presided over since his Moniker days. During the Summer, ROTD oversaw the successful .Global auction in London that saw 35 .Global domain names sell for $63,780. This will be the first domain conference auction for Monte though.
I reached out to Monte to ask a few questions to learn about the upcoming auction and his expectations for it. He was kind enough to respond, and his answers are below.
How will this auction be different from recent auctions that haven’t done so well?
Monte: Well first off, since I am involved in bringing live auctions back to the domain industry, I feel we will be doing the right end user, corporate, new and existing investor marketing to ensure better results than what others have attempted since I stopped doing live auctions in 2009. In addition we will have a great premium domain list from many of the hottest and most popular new TLD registries along with some of the best .com inventory available. the Chinese / Asian market is also very hot so we will have some premium .Asia and new TLDs in the IDN for Chinese Online and Chinese Website in the auction.
We will be helping to promote the new domain extensions since this will be the primary investment for the next generation of domain investors. January 13th 2015 at NamesCon is also a day filled with new TLD sessions and education at the conference so having the auction right after the sessions end will be a great opportunity for new and existing investors to get their hands on the best new and first time available domain inventory on the web.
We will be making new markets and setting first time values that will raise the tide water for all domain owners, wether in .com or other existing or new extensions. Its like turing back the clock to 2005 / 2006 again and building a strong foundation for the future like I did with .coms and other extensions back then.
Some other key differences are that this conference will have more attendees than any domain industry focused events from the past. We are estimating 1000+ people attending this event so the auction event should be packed and exciting
What are you taking from your Moniker experience to make this big?
Monte: When I started the online and live auctions for the industry back in the mid to late 90s, the idea was always around turning domain commodities into virtual assets. The “old Moniker” was built on that premise and that this was the differentiator that made it and the industry successful at the time. We developed products and services around acquiring, managing, monetizing, selling, virtual real-estate, while at the same time providing the highest in security. As a result, Moniker was more than a registrar, it was a domain asset management company focused on making our customers profitable with their domain assets. Unfortunately, that successful idea was not carried forward by the two previous buyers / owners of the the company.
Michael Berkens and I carried this same philosophy forward when we started RightOfTheDot for the new TLDs / extensions as well as existing ones. We continue to sell / broker millions of dollars in premium domains in all extensions, not only .com and we are very bullish on many of the new domain extensions coming out that will serve then next generations of internet users. We are working with several registries in establishing premium domain strategies that will ensure higher values, more registrations and renewals / retention rates, and better value for their end user customers and the industry as a whole.
This is why we feel bringing back live and live online domain auctions to the industry is a good idea. Besides the live auction at NamesCon, we have been asked by several registries to hold themed auction events and industry and category specific trade shows, verticals, conferences, professional and investor gatherings, etc. We also think the time is right to do this to not only build awareness and education on new TLDs, we believe it will help all domain extensions and their owners through the increased opportunities as well as the chaos and perceived confusion that is upon all of us.
Can you share a few examples of names that will be included?
Monte: We are just now gathering partners and premium domains for the auction. Several new and existing registries are interested or wanting to participate so we expect to have names from Radix, Rightside, .Club, .Global, .NYC, .Vegas .Kiwi, TLDRegistry, TLDDesign, .Asia, .Tickets, WhatBox, .Jobs, .Green, and others.
There will also be several premium .com domains, many of which from our corporate partners that have never been offered before in the auction so the variety will suit a global new and existing investor and end user audience.
Are you accepting submissions – and where?
Monte: Yes we are accepting premium domains for consideration now through the middle of November. Submissions should be sent to info@RightOfTheDot.com
How many names will be up for auction?
Monte: We are targeting an auction with 100 lots. We will have premium names priced from no and low reserve up to very premium domains priced to attract very strategic end users and investors from around the world. We are looking to include more domain names like I used to in the extended auction in which in the past generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional sale.
Anything else to help make this a bit different?
Monte: Every registry that is submitting names will also be required to put out their own press release and promote the names they are offering for the auction. That means we will have 10+ companies promoting the auction, doing social networking, PR, sponsoring the event and NamesCon, all working together for a successful event.
I believe this is the first time so many will be doing this together and working together to promote the industry. If you remember, I always did my best to promote cooperation among competitors. This is coopetition at its finest and something I have worked so hard to accomplish for so many years!