I returned home from THE Domain Conference in Ft. Lauderdale, and I want to share some of my thoughts about it. I will preface this by saying that I arrived on Monday morning, the after the conference had officially started and two days after people began arriving. In addition, I did not attend any panels or keynotes, aside from Ron Jackson’s state of the industry report at lunch on Tuesday.
For the sake of this discussion, I will break this down into a few different categories to give a better idea of the event:
The conference was held at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 hotel in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The venue was perfect for this 200+/- person crowd (my estimate). There was an area for exhibitors outside of the two main conference ballrooms, and that communal area was large enough to hold conversations. There was also a restaurant / bar area in the lobby that allowed people to eat and drink as well as hold private meetings throughout the day.
The hotel rooms were decent – mine was clean and spacious. I understand the elevators weren’t great, but I had the good fortune of not getting stuck, which wasn’t the same for everyone. The $109 rate for a standard room was a very good price, although parking was a bit on the expensive side (I rented a car so I could visit some friends).
The pool area looked nice, but I didn’t spend any time there. I also believe there were tennis courts that I didn’t try. I did go for a run in the morning, and it was fairly close to the beach.
As I mentioned, I think there were somewhere around 200 people in attendance. As usual, there were quite a few sponsors and vendors in attendance. It was nice to see this industry support, and it’s great to be able to chat with company representatives, especially when I had a couple of important issues to discuss during the conference.
There were also a lot of domain investors in attendance. I was disappointed that quite a few “regulars” couldn’t attend for various reasons, but I didn’t find myself without anyone to chat during the conference. The vast majority of attendees seem to be based in the US, but there were quite a few people from outside of the US. Overall, I thought it was a good mix.
This certainly may not be indicative of the overall discussion but it felt like the major topics people were discussing were the Chinese domain market, best places to sell domain names (and what brokers to use), the new gTLD domain names, and development. Again, all of the discussions I had were either in private meetings or in a larger group setting (not panels), but these seemed to be the hot topics during the event.
My take on the state of the industry is that things have been fairly good and steady. Many people seem unsure of the Chinese market, but the growth of that market is exciting at the same time.
Interestingly, I met someone I had seen before at several conferences but had never had the chance to speak. As I was waiting for someone in the lobby before heading to the airport, we had a conversation about business. He mentioned a couple of large acquisitions he made as well as his development plans for one of those domain names. I mentioned that I own a nice domain name that is complementary to his domain name, and I think we reached a nice 5 figure deal for the domain name on the spot. Obviously the paperwork hasn’t been signed yet, but I would be surprised if the deal doesn’t go through.
Panels and Speakers
I did not attend them, but they appeared interesting. I did speak with a few people who are always candid with me, and they all said the panels were very good. Honestly, when I asked the first person what he thought, I would have bet a lot of money that he would have said they were the same as always or something else that wasn’t glowing.
With this being the inaugural THE Domain Conference event, I thought it was excellent. The Neu family seemed to have everything entirely in order, and I did not notice any issues. I would have liked to see more domain investors, but that is something that isn’t easy to control. I presume some people are waiting for NamesCon and others may be waiting to hear how the event went before deciding next year. I felt that the cost was fair, and it was a good value (full disclosure, I paid using a discount code, and the registration cost was around $500 or so).
It is always great to speak with other people who are active in the domain investment space. Getting different perspectives on the business helps my business, and that alone is worth the price of the event and time away from my family.