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I think 2019 is going to be the year I start investing in numeric domain names

Sat, 2018-09-22 00:10

Numeric domain names have been on my mind quite a bit this year. I’ve written a number of articles about 5N .COMs selling for mid four-figures in expired domain auctions and overall I’ve been watching numeric .COMs more than usual. Well, more than usual is a pretty low bar since historically I haven’t paid any attention to numeric domain names.

So why am I starting to change my focus? One word – liquidity.

What has been attracting me to numeric domain names is the fact that based on the number of numbers (i.e. 4N, 5N, etc.) and the actually numbers in the domain, you can come up with a value that investors around the world will agree on.

My go-to primer for the fundamentals of numeric domain values is GGRG, aptly named – Numeric Domains 2.0 – the Definitive Guide. Here’s one of the early paragraphs in the guide that will probably make you want to read more:

“Where would you have been if you had invested $15,000 in a random 3 number .com like 479.com at 18 months ago? Well, as of today, you would be probably able to sell it for around $60,000. This is why you should study carefully this niche if you are looking to achieve disproportionately better returns on your portfolio. The following article aims to be a near complete resource on the topic. I spent several hours putting it together – hope you enjoy!” 

The challenge with brandables and even solid one and two-word .COMs is that if you need to sell them, today – you’re likely going to take a massive haircut on value. Suppose you buy a one-word .COM for $50,000 – and you know it could sell for $250k (this happens all the time BTW), but then, something happens in life and you need to sell it right away, you might have to let it go for $25k or lower, who knows. The problem is the domain only has a value in the six-figure range to an end-user, getting investors to agree on a price your happy with is likely going to be a challenge.

So as I look forward into my portfolio planning for 2019 (which I do in Q4 of each year) I see numeric domain playing a major part in my acquisition strategy. Of course, as usual, I’ll bring all of you along for the adventure, for now I have a lot more reading, watching, and learning to do.

What do you think? Are numeric domain a good bet for the future or am I going to regret this decision five years from now? I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

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Boing Boing wrote an article that gives some pretty mediocre advice about domains and branding

Fri, 2018-09-21 01:40

I was a bit surprised to find an article in Boing Boing, a pretty darn popular blog, telling people that .COM is saturated so they should brand with .TECH. The article seems to completely gloss over the fact that people can still buy .COM domains even if they’re taken, let’s be honest, tons of names sell every single day in the sub $1,000 range that are part of the “saturated” .COM market.

At the same time, the article misses the fact that there are a lot of other new gTLDs out there. I would say the better way to approach an article like this would be to at the very least say, if you feel like .COM isn’t an option, there are plenty of other choices out there, .TECH, .IO, .ME, .CO, and .XYZ have been popular with startups, app makers could benefit from .APP, subscription services with .CLUB.

To say that because you can’t get a .COM you should pick a .TECH just seems weird to me and this article read like a giant advertisement. Heck – they even through in a price promotion directly in the article:

“The web is vast, but real estate is limited even in this digital space. As such, there’s a major saturation of .com domains online, preventing new players from getting their first choice domain name and ultimately forcing them to rename products or rebrand entirely just to build their digital footprint. However, choosing a .tech domain name for your brand can help you sidestep much of the saturation. You can register and use a .tech domain name for 10 years through Radix, all for $54.99.” (Source – Boing Boing)

One point I should make as well here. I actually think .Tech is a perfectly fine domain for a tech startup, and I’m a reader of Boing Boing, they’re both a-okay in my book. That being said, this article really misses the mark IMO and doesn’t give readers very good branding advice if they’re thinking of going the non .COM route.

I can tell you that as a lawyer, I’d rather have Morgan.Lawyer than Morgan.Tech. If I’m starting a subscription box service for cat toys, I think CatToys.club makes a lot more sense than CatToys.Tech. If I’m starting a yoga studio in Berkeley, I’d rather have Berkeley.yoga than BerkeleyYoga.Tech.

Now if I’m starting a software company, and I want to call that company Bongo, and Bongo.com is taken (it is – duh) then sure, Bongo.Tech makes sense. My point is a simple one – Boing Boing fell off the wagon here and ended up writing an article that gives pretty bad branding advice. I think one of their readers summed it up in the comment section:

But maybe that’s just me and deerpig. What do you think? Comment and let your voice be heard!

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Wait…Morgan has another blog now? And it’s on a .XYZ domain?

Thu, 2018-09-20 05:18

Yes, that might just be the response you’re having right now. Today I announced a brand new blog where I’ll be sharing my journey as a startup founder and angel investor, and I launched it on Morgan.xyz.

So why a second blog?

Good question, and I knew you’d ask so I’ll tell you! In under a month I’ll be celebrating the 11 year anniversary of MorganLinton.com, a blog that I write daily, and write about domain names. I love domain names and I don’t see that changing anytime soon, and yes – I’ll still be writing daily on MorganLinton.com.

At the same time, over the last six years my life has changed dramatically. I run a startup and I started investing in startups and I’ve been dying to talk more about it. That being said, I know that most of you aren’t super interested in hearing about why I don’t like convertible notes, or which VC firms I think are the best for seed stage startups.

So rather than having my current audience on MorganLinton.com wonder if I’m going to write about something they’re interested in or not, I want to keep this blog focused on domains, and focused on daily blog posts.

Morgan.xyz is not a daily blog, it’s a weekly blog that I’ll be writing on Sundays, and to accompany each post there will also be a podcast because I think it will be interesting to see if some people would rather listen than read.

So what makes Morgan.xyz different than all the other blogs about startups?

Well, most startup-related blogs seems to be written by experts and serial entrepreneurs. I am neither. This is the first startup I’ve ever run, I have no exits, and like most new founders, I’m learning every day. I want to write a raw and real blog about what I’m learning as a founder, things that aren’t working, things that stress me out, you know – things that 99% of other founders are going through if you look past all the annoying bullshit about “crushing it”

I want to put the whole idea of “crushing it” to rest, I think it’s bad for the startup world and sets unrealistic expectations. Running a startup is incredibly hard, has very few accolades associated with it, and doesn’t often involve crushing it, really ever. So let’s get real and talk about what it’s like when you raise a million dollars and you have the pressure of building a team, a product, and delivering results…it’s not quite a glamorous as it sounds.

That being said, like most founders, I am insanely passionate about what we are doing. I can honestly say we are building technology that is changing the world, and that’s why it’s all worth it. This doesn’t mean that I wake up each morning “doing what I love” or that I reap the benefits of “being my own boss” and I think it’s important for all of us who do start companies to be more transparent and real about the stress and mental anguish that comes with running a startup.

So why Morgan.xyz? Are you a big .XYZ investor or something?

Nope, not a big .XYZ investor, and don’t plan to be. I actually think that the vast majority of new gTLDs aren’t going to turn out to be good investments for Domainers. I do think that new gTLDs are great for development and I think .XYZ has done a great job of branding themselves in the startup space.

There are a ton of innovative startups that are branding on .XYZ and hey, a little company called Google also happened to put their parent company on abc.xyz, so there’s that.

Daniel and his team have done an amazing job building the .XYZ brand and I am proud to be on Morgan.xyz, it’s easy to remember, and no, I’m never going to get Morgan.com because it’s owned by JP Morgan Chase and they aren’t going to sell it to me.

So what’s changing on here?

Nothing, MorganLinton.com is going to be the same daily domain blog you know and love. But if you want to read more about startups and what it’s really like to run a startup beyond all the crushing it hype – then you can check out weekly blog posts on Morgan.xyz.

Now is where you come in, as you know I always like to hear from you – my readers. Comment and let your voice be heard!

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Rick Schwartz comes up with a fifteen point list detailing why .APP is a buy for domain investors

Tue, 2018-09-18 21:44

As many of you know by now, Rick hasn’t been a huge fan of the new gTLD program, he sees a lot of the new domain extensions as junk and has warned investors to stop flushing their money down the toilet buying them. At the same time, Rick is a fan of .APP, which certainly has me paying attention since if Rick’s going to endorse a new gTLD, it really has to do a lot to win him over.

Today, Rick shared a fifteen point list of why he’s so bullish on .APP, and here it is:

  1. 3 letters. They did not reinvent the wheel
  2. It refers to something specific
  3. The specific thing it refers to is a huge moneymaker
  4. There is actually need, want, desire and demand
  5. There is steady growth
  6. It is backed by Google
  7. Thought of by Google
  8. Godaddy is the #1 Registrar which indicates end user adoption.
  9. You can make your fortune with an App and many have.
  10. It’s the only GTLD that Rick Schwartz actually took a risk and invested 6 figures in
  11. It’s 1 of only 2 new GTLD extensions that Rick Schwartz would even consider investing in
  12. The renewal rate will likely be higher than most other if not all other GTLD’s
  13. There is a rhyme and a reason for end users to use, adopt and notice .App
  14. Until .Web comes to market, .App will remain a steady grower.
  15. Most other GTLD’s mean nothing, are nothing and will always be nothing but worthless. Bills not assets. Liabilities.

Out of these fifteen points I was particularly interested in #10 – Rick has put six-figures of his own money into this new extension. Seriously, Rick hates pretty much every new gTLD but he put over $100k into .APP, that says a lot to me. Oh and the fact that it’s backed by Google sure doesn’t hurt.

I personally own three .APP domains and likely will buy more but I want to wait until the first round of drops happens since from my searching I’ve found that just about all the good ones are taken. Like most Domainers, I’m not the first to come up with a great domain, I just try to be the lucky guy who scoops up the name after someone else decides to let it go.

What do you think? Is .APP one of the only good new gTLD investments? I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

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How much will Excel.com sell for?

Tue, 2018-09-18 05:59

Today I randomly noticed a press release from Hilco Streambank announcing the listing of Excel.com for sale. My first thought was probably the same as yours – doesn’t Microsoft own that one? My second thought might have also been the same…doesn’t Microsoft have a Trademark on the word Excel?

Well it turns out that no, Microsoft does not own Excel.com, and you might have forgotten that excel is actually a word itself…not just a product name.

So yes, the new buyer can use this domain for just about anything they want…except for spreadsheet software or really anything related to Microsoft Excel. Excel.com was originally registered back in 1998 and has been used by a company offering VOIP services:

The minimum bid on domain is $500,000 and I’m still on the fence about whether this will lead to a frenzy of interested buyer, or scare everyone away. For me at least, I’d just be nervous shelling out six-figures for a domain that exactly matches one of the most well-recognized products in the world. That being said, I don’t have a company called Excel, and if I did, I’d be pretty darn excited to get my hands on Excel.com.

What do you think? Will bidding heat up and we’ll all watch Excel.com sell for big bucks…or are we going to see this domain listed at $250k a few years from now? I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

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Want to learn Ruby on Rails? Here’s a tutorial that’s actually fun

Sat, 2018-09-15 20:51

I was reading through the top news stories on Y Combinator’s Hacker news this morning and came across an interesting one. There’s a guy who wanted to learn Ruby on Rails, so he decided to build a clone of Medium.com using Ruby on Rails and React and documented the entire experience. The result is a pretty kick ass tutorial that can help anyone learn how to code in Ruby with an actual project rather than going through all the boring basics.

Now as many of you know, I’m a Python guy and I’d probably try to convince you to learn Python instead of Ruby if you were deciding between the two…that being said, I think this is such a fun way to learn Ruby that I felt it was only fair to share it even though Ruby would be my second choice.

If you want to see what it takes to get started, here’s the first video in the series:


Now if you don’t know anything about programming, here’s a quick primer that might help you decide if this particular tutorial will set you on the right path.

  • You’ll hear about two different types of coders, front-end and back-end – Ruby and Python on considered back-end, HTML, CSS and Javascript (usually in combination) are considered front-end
  • C, C++, C# and Java are also back-end languages but over the last few years most people have found that learning Ruby or Python presents an easier path to getting started with back-end programming because you don’t have to worry about memory management
  • Ruby was all the rage about five years ago, since then Python has grown in popularity beyond anyone’s expectations, now there’s talk about making Python the core language that is taught in coding courses

Like I said, I’m not here to convince you not to learn Ruby, but I can’t help but share my bias towards Python. That being said, this tutorial is so much fun that I might just make an exception. So if you’re sitting here on a Saturday thinking, “you know what, I’ve always wanted to learn to code!” Just click play above and get started.

If you’re a reader of mine who is also a developer, what’s your language of choice? I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

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.TK domain scam estimated to make over $20,000/month

Sat, 2018-09-15 02:27

.TK is quickly becoming a case study in what happens when you give domains away for free. The most prevalent scam now seems to be installing scripts that redirect users through a list of sites. Wherever the user lands, it’s a scam.

“Scammers are utilizing free .TK domains to redirect users from hacked sites to fake blogs created for the sole purpose of displaying advertisements or tech support scams.

This scheme works by attackers compromising web sites and installing scripts that redirect visitors through a series of sites. At the end of this redirect chain will either be a tech support scam stating that the computer is infected with the Zeus virus or a fake blog site that display popups ads that cannot be closed.” (Source – BleepingComputer.com)

While you or I might not fall for scams like these, people do every day, and with an estimated 72 sites in this specific scam, each making around $300/month – the scammers are racking up quite a bit of revenue.

“Based on their research, each site is earning an average of $300 per month. When you combine that with the 72 known active .TK domains, that would bring in over 21k.” (Source – BleepingComputer.com)

So next time you feel like you might have landed on a different site than you expected, take a look at the URL, if it ends in .TK, hit the back button. Have you ever encountered one of these .TK scams?

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I competed in my first eSports competition and came in last place

Fri, 2018-09-14 02:16

As many of you know, I’m a fan of eSports. I don’t play most of the games that I watch, but one that I have played for quite a while now is Supercell’s Clash Royale. In many ways I look at games like this as the evolution of chess. You have a fixed number of pieces (card in this case) and each piece (card) has its own set of abilities on the board.

What makes Clash Royale so interesting is that over time you gather more cards and with a max of 8 cards playable per game the different dynamics each person can create a relatively limitless. This means you’re constantly adapting to different decks and strategies and with a tower defense twist I think Clash Royale is going to dominate in mobile eSports.

That being said, I thought I was pretty good at Clash Royale, until I started playing more competitively, and then I learned that I was the worst player every time. I was good enough to qualify to play with the grown ups…but safe to say I still belong at the kids table. Still – that didn’t stop me from continuing to compete and somehow I ended up in the California State Finals for Clash Royale.

I played four games, and lost all four, seriously – I got schooled. Still, it was an honor to compete and fun to get a chance to play with the pros. None of my matches ended up getting streamed…but you can see where I say “hello Twitch” in the chat before the first match…and there’s my 1 second of eSports fame.


Watch Clash Nights Cali Regionals! from bbxh on www.twitch.tvIf you’ve ever wanted to try Clash Royale – here’s a quick read with everything you need to know to get started. The game costs nothing but if you play it long enough you’ll end up spending money, and that’s where Supercell is the grand master, yes – Supercell pretty much prints money. Play a Supercell game long enough and I can promise you that you’ll end up spending the most money you’ve ever spent on a game.

Supercell announced that it earned a profit of $810 million on revenues of $2.029 billion in 2017. That’s an enviable financial accomplishment for a company that didn’t release a game globally in 2017 — and has only released four games in its seven-year life. (Source – VentureBeat)

Now the game is getting even more attention as it has recently become the leading mobile eSport and now a game played by the top eSports teams in the world.

Following its 2016 launch, “Clash Royale” generated over $1 billion in revenue in less than a year and now has over 50 million daily active users, according to Newzoo. In March, some 25 million competed in a global in-game qualifier event that saw about 7,000 players move on to the next rounds. A much smaller handful was recruited for professional teams.

That includes Wingard, who was recruited by esports organization Cloud9 at the end of July, just in time for the Clash Royale League debut on Aug. 20. He’s now one competitor on the dozens of teams worldwide competing in virtual leagues. (Source – CNBC)

Most of my friends know by now – you won’t find me watching football on Sunday, but Clash Royale or Fornite…

Have you played Clash Royale or any other game that has become a popular eSports? If so did you compete and come in anywhere ahead of last place?

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With the new iPhoneXS and iPhone XR comes a slew of new domain scams

Thu, 2018-09-13 03:06

Whenever Apple introduces a new iPhone, scammers go on a domain registration spree in hopes of fooling consumer into pre-order the phone on their sites. While you or I might not fall for a scam like this since, well, we pay attention to domain names more than most – an amazing amount of people get scammed every year, and the domains are at the core of the scam.

“Malicious domains related to iPhones make it easy for consumers to fall afoul of a spoofed website,” says Tim Helming, director of product management at DomainTools. (Source – Forbes)

Some of the most common domains that are likely to be registered are things like <keyword>iPhoneXs.com or iPhoneXs<keyword>.com. and of course the same pattern but with the XR. It’s next-to-impossible for Apple to prevent this, even with defensive domain registrations that are just too many combinations.

Of course, Apple has a Trademark on iPhone and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a slew of UDRPs to follow. For now, tell your less tech-savvy friends and family not to buy their new iPhoneXR on www.iPhoneXR4Less.com.

Feel free to share any scammy iPhone sites you find in the comment section below.

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NameCheap crosses the 10M domains mark, becomes the second biggest retail registrar in the world

Tue, 2018-09-11 16:40

I have been a fan of NameCheap for a long time now. It is known as one of the best registrars for startups and their CEO, Richard Kirkendall is a really good guy who also happens to be one of my favorite photographers on Instagram.

The company recently announced that they now have over 10M domains under management which makes them the second biggest retail registrar in the world. I thought deserved some recognition since this is a pretty incredible milestone. Here’s what Richard had to say about the news:

“I’m truly humbled that we have reached this incredible milestone. In under two decades, we’ve managed to evolve from a startup into a global company with more than 10 million domains under management, millions of customers, and an expanding portfolio of products, including web hosting, EasyWP managed WordPress hosting, and other online services. Our customers are at the center of everything we do, and I’d like to say thank you to them – and stay tuned for more exciting news on the horizon!” (Source – Richard Kirkendall, Founder & CEO, NameCheap)

NameCheap started in the year 2000 which makes them 18 years old. They have been competing directly with major public companies like Go Daddy and continue to grow at a lightning fast pace despite staying private which is a feat of its own. If you’ve ever had the chance to chat with Richard at a conference you probably know he’s one of the brightest and most driven people in the industry so I’m not surprised to see the company continue to see the success that it has.

As I’ve said many times, building a great company takes a lot more than a great idea, it takes great founders. Great founders are particularly good at hiring amazing people and I think it’s safe to say that NameCheap wouldn’t be where it is today if it wasn’t for Richard and the amazing team that he’s built.

Congratulations to the whole team at NameCheap, this is a major milestone, and something tells me we’ll be celebrating more milestones before we know it!

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Chinese Crypto exchanges are changing domains like crazy to avoid the ban

Tue, 2018-09-11 03:17

While you might think that cryptocurrency trading is a thing of the past in China after the ban, the reality is that dozens of exchanges have found a way to continue to operate. Sure, China banned all the exchanges both foreign and domestic, but they can only enforce a ban on exchange sites they know about.

Enter domain names.

“Despite multiple attempts by Beijing to shut down all local exchange platforms since September 2017, cryptocurrency trading had continued to prosper, with many Chinese exchanges attempting to skirt the ban by reincarnating themselves under different domain names.” (Source – South China Morning Post)

Since you can register a domain for $10 or less, exchanges are doing just that and jumping from domain to domain. So when the government finds out about an exchange and bans that domain, they just buy another name and move the exchange. In the end, it could turn into a never-ending game of cat and mouse where, right now, it looks like the mouse is winning.

Rewind 100 years ago and a government could stomp out just about any business, what they were doing was physical and could actually be shut down, in-person. Today, with businesses able to change location for less than $10 simply by registering a new domain name, enforcing things like crypto trading bans really is impossible. Couple this with the fact that the cryptocurrency itself is decentralized and I think we’ll find that over time, governments will have to focus on regulations because bans, as we can see, can be sidestepped for less than the cost of two lattes of coffee at Starbucks.

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Three 5N .COMs are in the top ten Go Daddy expiring auctions this week

Mon, 2018-09-10 04:50

I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but I can’t stop noticing the trend – 5N .COMs are seeing really active bidding and four-figure prices in the aftermarket. Looking at the expired domain auctions ahead this week at Go Daddy three of the ten highest priced auctions are 5N .COMs.

Here’s a look at the complete top ten list:

The top 5N .COM right now is 82348.com which is currently sitting at $2,050 with more than two days left to go so I wouldn’t be surprised to see this sell for north of $3,000. Given that it’s investors that are buying these names you just have to think they have somewhere that they can resell them for more.

The magic question is – where, or to who?

IMHO it seems like buying a bunch of 5N .COMs for thousands of dollars would leave an investor sitting on a bunch of names that would be pretty darn hard to sell for any profit at all. Still, 5N .COMs are dropping every week which means that domain owners out there don’t even want to pay the $10 to renew them, yet investors are willing to pay thousands of dollars for the exact same domains.

Yes, the domain industry is a crazy place and as I’ve said many times before, numeric domains aren’t my thing…but lately I’ve been thinking maybe I should do more research and start buying more numeric .COMs.

What do you think? Are there people out there that are able to flip these 5N .COMs for a nice profit? I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

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Here’s the final design for my 11-year blogging anniversary shirt

Fri, 2018-09-07 14:23

I would like to thank everyone for all the great feedback and help designing my 11-year blogging anniversary shirt. This really was a team effort and I look forward to sending out shirts to everyone who helped in the effort.

When I started blogging I honestly never thought I’d still be blogging 11-years later. My life has changed dramatically over the last 11-years, from getting married, to starting a software company, to moving from Boston to Los Angeles, then to Austin, and now to San Francisco.

Blogging is a daily ritual that I can’t imagine living without. While I used to look at blogging as writing, I have learned over the years that it’s a lot more than that. It really is about you, my reader, and trying to write things you enjoy and getting the chance to have a dialog together.

If you’re a regular reader and commenter, you can expect me to reach out and send a shirt your way. The same goes for everyone who shared their feedback throughout the process. So without further ado, here’s the final design for the shirt!

I had a fair amount of people who thought it would be cool to put the number 11 on the back of the shirt but I decided just to keep it simple. At the end of the day I thought people could then randomly start asking you why the back of your shirt has the number 11 on it when they should be saying, “hey what’s a Domainer?”

Whether you shared feedback or not, if you like the design, read my blog, and do want to make sure you get one – please feel free to comment below and share your size in American Apparel T-Shirts if you can.

As always, thanks for reading and now it’s your turn – comment and let your voice be heard!

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3 tools I’m using to keep my domain portfolio more organized

Thu, 2018-09-06 14:23

I’m always looking for ways to be more organized, and often I find that new/innovative software is where I find the most opportunities for improvement. I went from taking paper notes to using the Notes app on the iPhone to using Evernote. Boom – now my notes are a lot more organized and I have a system for keeping them that way.

The same thing happened to me with project management/planning. I went from outlining on a whiteboard, to organizing things in Excel to Trello. Boom – Trello has honestly changed my life and completely streamlined the way we manage projects together as a team.

So when it comes to organizing my domain portfolio, I’m always looking for technology that can make life easier. As usual, it’s software that has been able to reduce the number of manual tasks I have to do and helped me continue to get more organized around my portfolio and all the data associated with it.

  1. Uniregistry – most people don’t know that you can actually use Uniregistry to manage your domain names across registrars. There’s no cost to do this and it has completely automated the process of keeping track of renewal dates. Previously I used Excel which meant I had to do it manually, now Uniregistry does it for me.
  2. Efty – when it comes to keeping track of inbound offers, Efty also replaced my excel spreadsheets by keeping track of all this data for me. I also used to keep track of my inbounds in Excel, then moved to Salesforce…but in both cases I had to manually copy and paste the contents of offer emails, record email addresses, phone numbers, etc.
  3. Trello – this year I started using Trello to manage domain deals, auctions, etc. Yes – this does mean manually entering things, but I use Trello to manage things at a high level and let solutions like the two I mentioned above manage the lower-level details. Here’s an example, if I get a good offer on a domain and start negotiating, I might add that to a Trello list tracking active deals. Another example is if I find out about an upcoming auction that I think I have domains that could be a good fit for, I can create a card with a name that matches the auction name and then store the names I’d like to list in it. Trello means no more notes, instead I have lists divided into categories which makes it very easy to find things and keep everything organized.

Of course there are plenty of other ways to keep your domain portfolio more organized but I hope these three either spark some inspiration or at least get your gears turning! Now it’s your turn, feel free to share what tools work for you or comment on any of the ones I shared above.

I want to hear from you – comment and let your voice be heard!

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Here’s a pretty slick solution for preventing credit card fraud

Wed, 2018-09-05 14:23

I’ve known the team over at Intelium for years now, and if you’ve been reading my blog for a while you’ve probably heard me talk about one of their products quite a bit – EstiBot. Well I recently found-out about a new solution that Intelium initially started using internally, and, after seeing it work for themselves, decided to roll out as its own product.

I am a big fan of software that is born out of internal use because this honestly is where some of the best software is born. Think about it – if you find yourself running into a problem over and over again, and you have a development team that can built custom software, why not solve the problem yourself if the current solutions on the market aren’t getting the job done?

That’s exactly what Intelium has done with VerifySpot and I think they’ve come up with a pretty slick solution for preventing credit card fraud.

So what’s so special about it?

VerifySpot uses the realtime GPS location of the customer to make sure the person using the card is who they actually say they are.

“After checkout, the customer is instructed to download the VerifySpot app and confirm possession of their card. The app asks the user to take a picture of the front and back of their credit card which is uploaded to the VerifySpot servers along with the user’s realtime GPS location.”

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had different credit card numbers stolen and used more times than I can count. I can also tell you that in most cases the person didn’t have a physical version of my card and they weren’t in the same location as me.

Right now Intelium is actually giving VerifySpot away for free and I couldn’t find any fancy upsells on their site so it looks like they really are just letting people use a solution they built for themselves, saw working, and made it publicly available. That’s pretty darn cool IMO, which is why I’m writing a post about it.

Congrats to Intelium and team, as someone who also runs a software company I commend them on taking something they used internally and letting the rest of the world use it.

Have you ever had your credit card number stolen and used by someone else? If so do you think a solution like this would have prevented it from happening? I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

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What’s your go-to search criteria for finding investment-grade expired domain names?

Tue, 2018-09-04 18:11

I was talking to a friend the other day who has been buying expired domain names a lot longer than me. Before I knew it we were sharing the specific criteria and filters that we used when looking for expired domains, we both had a ton of different one – but each of us had one go-to.

What was funny about our criteria is that we had a pretty big range across our top ten search criteria, but our go-to’s (i.e. the one we used the most) was almost exactly the same. This made me think, I wonder how many other people use similar criteria to find investment-grade expired domains.

At the same time I thought…I haven’t changed my criteria in a while, and neither had my friend, maybe we were getting old and stuck in our ways. So I thought, why not share my go-to filter/criteria for finding expired domains and then open it up to the community to share theirs.

Now I know what you’re thinking. “Wait! Morgan – aren’t you giving away a secret? And why would I share mine with you in that case!”

Eh, that’s overly paranoid IMO. I don’t think we need to keep things like this a secret, honestly here are enough expired domains out there and I’d rather share and learn together than live in a vacuum. So here we go – this is the criteria I filter by when looking at expired domains.

TLD: .COM only

Dashes/Numbers included: No

Domain Age: 5 years or older

Max length: 10 characters

Max bids: 10

Ending in: Less than two days

Here’s a screenshot of these selected on Go Daddy Auctions for anyone that wants to know how to set this up themselves.

Okay, now is where I’d be very interested to hear from you. What’s your go-to search criteria for expired domains? Comment and let your voice be heard!

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When it comes to Labor Day, exact-match domains are duds

Mon, 2018-09-03 17:34

There are some domain names that might sound good when you first think of them, but as you go deeper, they turn out to be a dud. In my opinion, LaborDay.com, .net, .org, .co – really the word “Labor Day” in any extension is a great example of domain that might sound good at first, but in the end don’t have much value for development or resale.

Once again, this is just my opinion, but I also have some data to back it up. First, when you search for “labor day” on Google, there isn’t a single domain with the word “labor day” in it in the first two pages. I didn’t go to page three or beyond because, who really goes that far?

So what’s happening with exact-match “Labor Day” domains? Here’s a quick look across some of the top extensions:

LaborDay.com – doesn’t resolve

LaborDay.net – parked w/for sale banner

LaborDay.org – parked w/for sale banner

LaborDay.co – Undeveloped “for sale” landing page (priced at $4,995)

LaborDay.io – Undeveloped “for sale” landing page (priced at $3,995)

LaborDay.me – available to register (yes, you can buy this right now if you want to)

According to NameBio, the only recorded sale of an exact-match labor day domain is LaborDay.net which sold for $1,500 on Sedo back in 2010.

The reality is, there’s really no great development or business ideas centered around Labor Day (that I can think of). Holidays like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, Hanukkah, etc. have a lot more potential and thus, a lot more activity in the exact-match domain space.

Still, think about it. If you were in a live auction and heard that LaborDay.com was available for no reserve, would you bid? It’s all too easy to say, “well that’s a really well known holiday, someone is going to want to buy the domain from me!” But I don’t think that’s the case. This is a great example of a two-word .COM that represents something really well known but has little-to-no resale or development value.

Of course, that’s just my opinion. What do you think? I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

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3 Ways Startups Screw Up Domain Deals

Sat, 2018-09-01 18:22

As a startup founder who invests in domain names (rather than the stock market or real estate like most people), I’ve been able to see the domain industry from two sides, and I can tell you the perspectives from each are very different. Domain Investors buy a domain for the lowest price possible, and sell it for the highest price possible. Well, that’s not just Domainers, let’s be honest, investing in general is about buying low and selling high.

Startup founders, on the other hand are always looking for ways to get a deal because, well, cash is limited and in a startup every dollar really does count.

So what happens when these two worlds collide? It can get interesting. In general, most of my friends (i.e. startup ppl) consider people who own a bunch of domains squatters. Every time I hear that word I cringe, and I correct people probably once a week and let them know that just like people buy physical real estate, people also buy digital real estate.

At the end of the day, there’s really no way to change public perception, startups are going to see Domainers as squatters, no matter how much it bugs me. This means that when a startup wants to buy a domain name, in many cases, they’re starting from a negative place. Rather than thinking, “hey this person has a valuable asset that could make a huge impact on my business,” instead they think “hey this jerk is sitting on a domain that should be mine!”

The end result. Many startup founders reach out to domain investors and offend them in the first email which usually results in, no deal at all, or a higher price. In either case, this negative attitude ends up screwing up the deal and making it harder for a startup to buy the domain they want.

This week I was talking to a founder who was interested in buying a domain name. They have a low six-figure budget (i.e. $150k – $250k) and had a specific name in mind that I think probably will cost them more than that. In the conversation I started going through ways that they could screw up the deal and they said, “wow – thanks for letting me know, I was actually planning on doing all of those things! You should write a blog post about that.” So this is that post.

Below are three ways that I’ve seen startups blow a domain deal:

  1. Emailing the domain owner and saying “I see you’re not using this domain” – this is like going up to someone that owns a $2M house that doesn’t currently have a tenant and saying, “I see you’re not using this house.” Domain names are digital real estate, millions of dollars in domain names are sold every week (just take a look at DNJournal). This is probably the #1 mistake I see founders make and it is guaranteed to start your negotiations out on the wrong foot.
  2. Pretend to be a college student doing a project – Domain Investors get emails all the time from people claiming to be “college students” with a low budget. Stop pretending, everyone knows this is a lie so don’t try it, you’re just starting the negotiations off with deception. Plus, would a home owner rent to a college student for less just because they have a lower budget? Wouldn’t that be great, I would have lived in a mansion during college rather than a dorm room if they would just cut me a break!
  3. Threatening legal action – it still amazes me how many times this happens. I’ll hear from a founder when it’s already too late. They decided to email the domain owner of the name they want, demanding the name and threatening legal action. If someone is legitimately squatting on your trademark, go get em’ – but in most cases these accusations are baseless. This will guarantee that the domain will be priced higher, for you and you alone.

Now I want to hear from you – if I were to make a top ten list, what else should I add to it? Comment and let your voice be heard!

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.WEDDING is becoming the go-to domain extension for wedding websites

Fri, 2018-08-31 01:56

Remember when going to a wedding meant sending paper invitations back-and-forth and checking off things like dinner preference and the name of your guest? Now most weddings have a dedicated wedding website to collect RSVPs and to serve as a central location for all the wedding details.

I’ve been to enough weddings recently to know that wedding domains are getting wacky when people try to stick to .COM. In a lot of cases, wedding domains end up becoming insanely long and hard to remember.

Enter .WEDDING.

This is one of the few new gTLDs out there that really makes a lot of sense to me. It is incredibly clear what you’re going to find on a website ending with the extension, something related to a wedding, duh.

And now, thanks to a new partnership with one of the top wedding websites in the world – The Knot, .WEDDING is quickly becoming the go-to domain extension for wedding websites. When a couple signs-up for The Knot they go through the process of setting up a custom website for their wedding…initially it starts with something less personal like this:

See that big “Personalize Your Domain” button? When you click it, a new window pops up that allows you to register a new domain name specifically for your wedding website directly through The Knot. You’ll also notice that the default domain choice is .WEDDING:

This partnership definitely feels like it would drive some pretty nice growth for the .WEDDING TLD so I decided to take a look at registration growth so far this year. As I expected, .WEDDING has seen really solid growth this year up from about 18,000 at the beginning of the year to over 25,000 at the end of July, and with a retail price of $19.99 (same as .COM on The Knot) it seems to be driving some pretty nice revenue growth as well.

I can see moves like this driving habit changes. Let’s be honest, your average person doesn’t know much about new gTLDs so in many cases, it takes smart strategic partnerships like these to raise awareness. Given that The Knot is one of the top wedding websites out there, this is the ideal partnership for .WEDDING to really grow awareness and use.

As more and more people move away from paper invitations to personalized wedding websites, more people will become aware of .WEDDING, and not just the people getting married, but their guests as well. Now if only this was around when we got married! What I think is also important to remember is that the .WEDDING website can easily move to a destination for people to look at photos and videos from the wedding for years to come.

Rather than sending DVD’s or links to Dropbox folders full of photos, a .WEDDING website is the perfect place to commemorate your wedding, and it’s pretty easy for friends and family to find. Come to think of it…we should do that – now to find out who bought Linton.wedding?

Another interesting use case for .WEDDING is companies in the Wedding services space. From wedding planners and apparel companies, to catering and photographers, it’s no secret that weddings involve a lot of different companies, each specializing in something different. There are a ton of companies in the wedding space that are already branding on .WEDDING, one example that caught my eye was a wedding planning company called Wishtree Weddings, branding on, not surprisingly, Wishtree.wedding.

Have you come across a .WEDDING domain yet yourself, or used one for your own wedding? If so feel free to share it in the comment section below!

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Article warns businesses that letting old domain names expire can be dangerous

Thu, 2018-08-30 02:03

I stumbled on an interesting article this week warning businesses of the risks associated with letting domain names expire. It’s a side of buying expired domains that most domain investors will never think of – the fact that expired domains might not have traffic coming to them…but they could have emails. The article gives a good example concerning domains from law firms that expire after the firm takes part in a merger:

To test just how bad the problem is, Szathmari re-registered old domain names for several law firms that had merged, set up an email server, and without hacking anything, he says he received a steady stream of confidential information, including bank correspondence, invoices from other law firms, sensitive legal documents from clients, and updates from LinkedIn. (Szathmari is working to return the affected domain names to their original owners.) (Source – CSOOnline)

Well, not too surprisingly it turns out that some of these expired domains are used for fraud since the new owner could essentially gain access to a huge amount of sensitive data.

This got me thinking about some expired auctions where I’m scratching my head wondering why someone would want a name so badly…I wonder if there’s an entirely different market of expire domain buyers – fraudster and scammers that aren’t looking to resell the name, but are instead looking to use the domain to gain access to email.

What do you think? Are scammers increasing our costs when it comes to buying expired domains or is this an edge case that probably doesn’t come up too often? I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

 

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