This article is part of a series of interviews and discussions with representatives from NamesCon exhibitors and sponsors. NamesCon 2015 will be held January 11-14, 2015 at the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. Over 800 people are expected to attend this conference, making it the largest domain investment conference of the year.
Today’s NamesCon Spotlight discussions is with Paul Nicks, Senior Director, Aftermarket, at GoDaddy. You are welcome to post comments and questions for Paul in the comment section if you would like.
Can you tell us about your company and how long you have been there?
GoDaddy is the world’s largest technology provider dedicated to small businesses. We have approximately 57 million domain names under management.
I’ve been here more than seven years and couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. The ability to connect with domain investors and elicit real change in the industry by being part of GoDaddy is a huge benefit and not one I think could be replicated anywhere else.
This is your second time at NamesCon. Can you tell us about your first time and what you got out of it?
Last year was amazing since we were all on the precipice of a dramatic shift in the domain landscape. No-one knew exactly what was going to happen, but the enthusiasm (and skepticism) associated with being on the ground floor of the new TLDs was something we’ll most likely never get to experience again. NamesCon hit the timing perfectly and brought almost every major player, with no bias toward retail, wholesale or consumer, into one spot. It was valuable to be a part of that and a big reason why we’re back for 2015.
This will be your second time sponsoring at NamesCon. Can you tell us why you are sponsoring this year and what you hope to get out of NamesCon?
We sponsored last year too and are happy to do so again. Sponsorship for me is the best way to let all players in the industry know that we are not just passive participants but actively engaged in what happens. This year I hope to meet more new domain investors. There can be quite a bit of trepidation to entering the business because of how difficult and fragmented it can seem. My job is to make it dead-easy for someone to buy and sell domains. The more people I meet that are just getting into the business, the easier it is for me to identify to major points of friction for them.
What are your thoughts on the new TLDs?
I’m a big fan. Years down the road, I see all of us being able to look back in wonder at the opportunities afforded to us through this program and the missteps/pitfalls that we have hopefully all learned from.
NamesCon is all about business networking. Can you tell us a story about the success of a meeting at NamesCon last year?
Last year I hosted a dinner for a group of domain investors and the turnout was way beyond my expectations. Having the ability to meet people face-to-face that I’ve only ever conversed/argued with online puts everything into a new perspective. Just being able to physically connect with the end users who actually depend on my products and services to make a living is something I don’t take lightly and take great joy in.
Where do you see the domain industry going in the next year?
I see a ton of innovation coming out of the gTLD program and the new participants it brought. It seems everyone has a unique angle on how best to serve the end user, which is fantastic from a consumer perspective. All of a sudden, a fairly stagnant industry has been disrupted and it’s a race to see who can provide the most value to the customer. I see innovation everywhere and believe that it will only accelerate into next year as even more extensions get delegated.
Can you tell us about how your aftermarket platform helps deliver value to your customers?
We serve the full suite of investor needs, from the ridiculously low $8.29 .com registrations through our discount domain club, to a distributed sales channel in Afternic DLS that puts domains in 8 of the top 10 registrars’ domain availability checks. Behind the low prices and unparalleled distribution we have a small army of service representatives and sales folks whose mission is simply to do whatever it takes to help investors in the space succeed.
You are a leader in the domain aftermarket. What are your thoughts about where domain investing is going in the next year?
A significant part of investing is buying domains in the expiry markets which, today, are still only serving the traditional gTLDs and ccTLDS. Once we start to see some early registration new gTLDs drop into the expiry channel I expect to see a fair bit of investor activity. It’s often easier to take a known list of domains and compare them against each other on their relative merits rather than the more arduous task of pulling new registration ideas out of the ether; the expiring and dropping lists are soon going to be populated with single-word new gTLD domains alongside the usual multi-word .COM/.NET names giving investors the side-by-side view they haven’t yet enjoyed. Seeing the better keywords in a new TLD against longer strings in established TLDs will make for some intriguing decisions for investors. I’m looking forward to seeing the results.