One of the most energetic people I’ve met in the domain business, Jeremy Padawer balances his full time job as a Vice President of Entertainment Brand Marketing at the third largest toy company in the United States with his online domain investment business.
Jeremy is serious about his businesses, but he has an excellent way of balancing this with his wit and sense of humor. Frequently, when I have a conversation with him or read a domain forum post written by him, I can’t help but laugh with him. This is a “5 With…” interview that is unlike any I’ve done before. As promised, here is a complete and unedited email chain with Mr. Padawer!
Greetings!! I’d love to interview you for my blog now if you are still willing. There are 8 questions below, and I ask my participants to answer any 5 of them (or all 8 if they want). If you could provide a brief bio and a picture (if possible/desired) it would be great. You will be the next interview I post I hope.
Here are my questions:
How does your full time job impact your domain investments?
“I am the Vice President of Entertainment Brand Marketing at the 3rd largest toy company in the US. The toy brands that I manage include World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), Pokemon (Pokemon USA), Neopets (Viacom), Dragonball & Spongebob Squarepants (Viacom).
My job includes:
– Licensing acquisition and new business development
– Sales to mass and secondary account management, analysis, and account management
– Divisional P&L responsibility (Product Margin and Operating Profitability Goals)
– CPG Marketing: Product, Pricing, Packaging & Promotions (Marketing/Advertising)
I’m constantly chasing the next trend, the next innovative item, the next big brand.
Regarding the impact on my style of domaining: I steer clear of any TM concerns as I deeply relate to brand holders. I chase trends. I’m not afraid to make a decision which will result in a moderate loss if it means I went for a home run.
My life is relatively non-stop. It’s almost 3AM in Europe. I am here for the week negotiating with a potential toy partner. I jump on an airplane in the morning to head back to Santa Monica, my home base. The following week I go into the Malibu office on Monday and then jump on another out of country (2-day) trip Tuesday/Wednesday.
And, yet, what am I doing right now? Emailing Elliot J Silver, my domainer colleague.
There is time to sleep and this isn’t the time. Maybe tomorrow.”
What was the best piece of business advice someone ever gave you, and how do you use it in your business?
“The best advice I’ve ever received was from my Evidence Professor in Law School. He told me to not practice law. I ultimately took him up on that. Thank goodness.
I started domaining in 1996. I was 23 and convinced that generic domain names had a significant future. I was living in a $300 relatively run-down apartment building in Knoxville, Tennessee, living on student loans, eating mostly turkey sandwiches. I still hate Karl Budding turkey. 🙂 After finishing undergraduate school at the University of Texas, I jumped directly into a legal education. I bought my first domain names (schmuck.com, uninsured.com, arrange.com, spaniel.com – all now sold) with student loans. I believe the cost was $100/domain at the time.
To make a long story short, I finished law school and went on to also complete an MBA program at Vanderbilt… My destiny was to have $200,000 debt. Because of the domaining world, and my sincere professor’s reminder, I paid for the JD/MBA, a few cars, and a nice down payment on a beach condo in Santa Monica with domain names.
By 2000, I sold all 50-60 generic domains in my moderate portfolio. I joined the circus… er, the toy industry. Same thing… Good decision.
Bad decision = selling all 50-60 generic names.
Good decision = clearing my head entirely and learning how to work, and then thrive and lead, in major organizations.
Bad decision = not jumping back into domaining in 2004, after my head was clear.
Good decision = starting over in September, 2006.
And, that is my clever and cloudy transition to the next question.
BTW – My stream of consciousness writing and probable misspellings are due to the ever advancing clock. It’s now 3:12AM. The car picks me up at 7:00AM. Sweeeeet. Plus, I suck at spelling.”
You are in an elevator at DomainFest and a fellow domain investor asks you why he should invest in the .mobi extension. You have about 30 seconds before you reach the lobby. What is the most compelling reason to invest in the extension?
“For kicks, let’s call the fellow domain investor “Bucko.” Just pulling that out of nowhere.
Bucko might ask, “Hey, Jeremy Padawer, why the heck did you spend a tonnage of cash on mobi domain names during the initial landrush phase? You have 30 seconds to answer me and not one second more!”
I’d reply, “Bucko, that’s not nice. Because you were rude, I will duct tape you to the wall and speak to you about mobi domain names for at least 5 minutes.”
I’d then duct tape Bucko to the wall of the elevator and tell him the following.
I am an opportunist.
I love trends.
I have an understanding of the domain name market. I have insight as to the needs of a brand manager. I travel enough to understand that .com is King, but that there are many princes… including country code domain names outside of the US as well as our friends .net, .org.
Bottom line… Com is King. Com is King. Com is King.
A domain name extension positioned in a niche area stands a chance.
If you believe that promotional marketing people are so clear on the power of .com names, you are fooling yourself. You live in a world of domainers and domaining. A world where not even the biggest, baddest Madison Avenue players are still having a hard time figuring out what to buy and what to avoid.
The timing is perfect. The domain name extension has been launched prior to the explosive growth of mobile content.
I’d then to go on to concede that mobi solves absolutely NO TECHNOLOGY ISSUES, and that mobi may never be adopted.
I’m just throwing my money on my gut. I smell something here. I believe the world has adopted many successful extensions… that this .mobi extension is well positioned to promotional marketers who may or may not understand the power of .com domain names… that the timing is great… and that there will be a massive explosion, an echo boom of investment into mobile.
So, will .mobi succeed – enjoy consumer adoption? Maybe.
Will .mobi replace .com? No
Will .mobi become a nice alternative (much like .org or a cctld)? My gut says yes.
I’d then say one more thing to my friend duct taped to the wall.
I could be wrong.
I could be absolutely wrong.
I’ve found the last 15 months enjoyable. The traffic is increasing. I’ve sold names and despite my 6-figure investment, I’m sitting on 94% inventory at a financial breakeven.
I hope I’m wrong 10 more times, if being wrong pays this well.
Regarding the duct tape. I’d remove it without harming anyone.
And, Bucko, I love ya man.”
When you buy a domain name for investment purposes, what are the most important aspects of that name that are of interest to you?
“Over the last 6 months, I’ve built up a nice portfolio of geo names (memphis.org, scottsdale.org, rye.com, abilene.org, tempe.org, and others…) I’m not necessarily interested in whether a domain name will achieve a 10X ROI. I still hold out that there is room for branding. Although, this year I am achieving about a 7X ROI against my investment all-in.
I am a big believer of self-branding. I picked up www.jeremy.com three years ago after chasing the previous owner for 7 years. Best investment ever. Nobody forgets my personal email.”
When developing .mobi domain names, what are the most important things people need to include to make them relevant?
“I have no idea, Elliot. It’s 3:49AM. Are you nuts asking me a question like this in the middle of the night?”
You are in the final round of Wheel of Fortune. The category is “Thing” and Pat Sajak gives you the letters RSTLNE, and you ask for the letters DMP and O. As the clock ticks down, you holler out “Domain Names,” winning the $100,000 grand prize! Do you spend the cash on a hot new car, or do you buy a domain name? Which car or which domain name would you choose?
“Hmmm… If I had to choose between a car and a domain name, I’d probably find a good name. Cars are depreciation monsters. No thought on a particular name or extension. If I could do anything with the money, I’d just dump it into an investment account and forget about it.”
What has been the biggest surprise/development in the domain industry over the last couple of years?
“Maybe the rebirth of .tv. I’ve been very impressed with the repackaging of that brand.”
What personal accomplishment are you most proud of in the domain business?
“I’m proud of jumping in early… and, then… jumping in late – having some success both times.”