Turn Commerce Business Model is Smart

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Turn Commerce is a company operated by Jeff and Andrew Reberry. The company operates several interconnected business units within the domain name ecosystem, including Huge Domains, DropCatch.com, and NameBright. The company’s corporate website also mentions NameBee and PremiumDomains.com as two additional business units. As an outside observer and customer, I think the Turn Commerce business model is smart.

Huge Domains is a business that owns a portfolio of hundreds of thousands of domain names. With GDPR in force, as well as privacy and other issues surrounding public Whois records, it is impossible to gauge how many domain names are owned by Huge Domains. The description on the company’s homepage cites 350,000 domain names. DomainIQ says the company has 962,600 registered domain names on its¬†hugedomainsdns.com nameservers. Whatever the case may be, the company has a lot of domain names under management.

The primary business model of Huge Domains seems to be selling domain names. When you visit a domain name owned by the company, you are forwarded to a page within HugeDomains.com attempting to sell that domain name. There doesn’t appear to be third party advertising. The company offers two ways to buy a domain name – either a straight out purchase or a monthly payment plan. Observationally, it appears that the asking prices are quite reasonable, with many that I observed being in the low to mid 4 figure range. They’re not inexpensive, but they are affordable.

Huge Domains accepts credit card payments for their domain names, making the sale or lease process speedy. It seems to be easy for a client to buy a domain name the company is selling, and an interested buyer can lock down a purchase right away. Huge Domains seems to be protected from fraud because domain names presumably can not be transferred out of the NameBright registrar the parent company controls, likely until the credit card dispute time period has passed. Offering a payment plan is also great because of the credit card option, and retaining control of the domain name until payment in full is made helps protect the company. Assuming many of their domain names are bought via payment plans, this must be a healthy and predictable revenue driver.

Turn Commerce’s other main business is DropCatch.com. The company has some of the best drop catching tools in the business, allowing them to capture a huge number of expired domain names. These domain names are either bought by users or the company can retain them for resale (via Huge Domains) if customers don’t backorder them. Observationally, the auction market seems to be quite healthy, and that is a great deal of revenue to their bottom line. I regularly see domain names sell for four and five figures, and there are many bought for the minimum price when there is just one backorder submitted prior to auction. It must be expensive to operate its drop catching tools, but it drives substantial revenue and allows Huge Domains to get more inventory at a very low acquisition cost.

DropCatch.com added private auctions last year, allowing domain investors to list domain names for sale. From my perspective, this hasn’t worked out all that well so far. I regularly look at DropCatch to find auctions, but I don’t recall bidding on a private auction, nor do I regularly see the auctions performing well. In a test I did last year when private auctions rolled out, my sales didn’t meet my expectations. It is good to see this expansion, but I think it needs some work, starting with the search functionality and way the private auctions are displayed.

NameBright is a low cost domain name registrar that offers utility comparable to other domain registrars. I have some domain names registered there after winning them in DropCatch.com auctions. Because of the low renewal cost and ease of use, there is not a whole lot of incentive to transfer them beyond the inability to have a Fast Transfer sale via Afternic/GoDaddy. Because of the company’s business model, the NameBright registrar is probably the foundation of the business, and it allows Turn Commerce to renew its domain names for minimal cost. It also allows the company to retain control over domain names to reduce fraud claims.

I am sure it takes a whole lot of money to operate the company’s business units. The drop catching registrars and tools are very expensive. Owning such a large portfolio of domain names is also expensive, especially considering that it doesn’t appear that the company is monetizing its domain names with pay per click advertising. From an outsider’s perspective, it appears that Turn Commerce operates a well rounded business with different revenue streams all contributing to the bottom line.

Because Turn Commerce is closely held, its financials are private. I would be very surprised if Turn Commerce was not one of the largest revenue generating domain industry companies. I think Turn Commerce has one of the smartest business models in the domain industry.

Note: I did not reach out to Jeff Reberry or Andrew Reberry to ask about any of my observations.

About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of DomainInvesting.com. Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the DomainInvesting.com Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn

9 COMMENTS

  1. they have closer to 3,500,000 domains

    Smart, but when someone gets to big if affects everyone.

    They have their automated bot bidding on godaddy, they were snipping all the closeouts with the backorders, I am guessing godaddy phased out the backorder loophole because they had sold them tens of thousands of backorders and they needed to burn thru them.

    Dropcatch had guys who had special arrangements where they had to pay every other month, so they could bid endlessly, there is still one Korean bidder who likes to come in at the end and bump bids a bit etc..

    I don’t trust any exchange in this industry, they all profit from naive domainers.

  2. If they open up their hugedomains platform to resellers with financig option they will eat everyone for lunch, these guys know what they are doing, i also predict they will buy domaining.com one day

  3. Why is this newsworthy at this point? All the websites mentioned have been the same for years, they are not making any headlines, and the model is the same for I don’t know how long…. Maybe even a decade.

    Funny thing, I found this post on NameBee. I go there once per week to check out the scoop.

    • This is a blog, not CNN or Fox News breaking news. I regularly write about non-newsworthy things. Pretty much everything under the “advice” tag wouldn’t be considered newsworthy.

  4. Thanks Elliot – perhaps Goran doesn’t realise not everyone is an experienced domainer like him and there a lot of new domainers that really appreciate this kind of intel.

    I for one have been pretty successful at picking up some great domains using Dropcatch.com when other drop catch services have failed. I have also bought some good domains at Huge Domains using their payment plan. The prices are decent as you say and not priced unaffordably. However, what I would like to know is if anyone has ever managed to negotiate a better price with Huge Domains than what they quote on their domain landing pages?? Considering most of the domains in their inventory (if not all) are bought for standard reg fees, their ROI even with all of their OPEX costs must be really high. However, they must need to generate cash like any other business (certainly at times when cashflow is tight). ?? Therefore, has anyone been successful in doing better deals with them?

  5. Well, well. This answered my questions. The business model is smart, perhaps, but it might have a cruel hand as well. Let me explore that thought for your enlightenment.

    I originated StepfamilySystems.com in 2005 knowing I was unwell and needed to create an income I could manage from home.

    A most unfortunate series of family challenges presented hardship. Along with my health presenting big issues, in 2012 my husband lost his job during high-unemployment for a second time since our 2008 foreclosure, leading to an out of state move in 2013 to search for work leaving in our college-age adult children behind.

    During this period, our daughter-in-law’s cancer took a bad turn. My mind was full and my website manager and I suffered miscommunication; StepfamilySystems.com was dropped, but not before a Chicago based nonprofit had inserted its information onto my growing platform giving the appearance of an endorsement. (Whew! Did you follow all of that?)

    I was battling many hurdles and trying to maintain focus and put wings on my dreams of serving a niche population through a nonprofit that I could run from a home office. When I lost the high-hit domain name, it sucked 23 years of commitment into the drain of loss as well. It was my baby, and it was gone; I grieved. I picked myself up and aimed for StepfamilySystems.org. But in 2016, the same year I finally won nonprofit status, I was sicker than ever and lost my first kidney.

    Full recovery has evaded me, yet I am still determined to leave a legacy. Combine the high-price of getting my original .com URL back with my last kidney’s decline — stage 3 CKD complicated by autoimmune disease that has now harmed my bones and liver as well — and I recently surrendered the .org, too. I was unable to meet the requirements to maintain nonprofit status because I could not hire the necessary staff making paying 5k for a domain – especially as one battles a condition like mine underinsured because the ACA eliminated my affordable plan – out of reach.

    The inflated cost of the domain I originated, along with the inability to purchase my own name as a domain locked up by another holder for purchase, I have had to start all over again with a different business model rolling out between summer and fall. I could say the URL gluttony of the model they developed is harmful and, again, there are scounderls in the world of nonprofits, too. But what good would focusing on the negative do?

    These are all hard-won, lessons no one likes but they have tested my resolve, purpose, and I am coming back because I am still alive and persevering.

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