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Another three character .COM gets hit with a UDRP

Wed, 2018-02-21 04:08

I’ve been writing more and more about UDRPs lately, along with the abuse that I think we can all see happening right in front of us. In many cases I see a simple scenario where someone does’t want to spend the money to buy their exact match domain, so they use the UDRP process to get it for pennies on the dollar.

Five and six-figure domains are definite targets and three character .COMs seem to be getting their fair share of the attention. Yesterday shared details about a new UDRP against by a company that currently has their site on

The domain name was sold to the current owner by who does have a history of selling domain names for big bucks so it’s likely that the current owner paid a pretty penny for this domain.

According to the DomainTools Whois History tool, the domain name had been owned by as recently as May of 2017. Knowing a bit about and its domain portfolio as well as some of its publicly known sales, it must have sold for a substantial amount of money. Regardless of its provenance, is a valuable domain name. (Source –

Given that sold for $44,700 two weeks ago it’s safe to say that would likely sell for $50,000+ and could easily sell for six-figures given the wide price range that three character .COMs sell for.

In this case, the current owner of isn’t a domain investor, instead it’s an end-user that bought the domain from to use for a cryptocurrency site:

I wrote an article early this month asking the question – are six-figure domains a risky investment? I don’t know how much the current owner paid for but like I speculated above, it was probably north of $50,000 and sure, there are probably people out there that would pay six-figures for it.

This UDRP is another great example of the risk domain owners face (investor or not) when they buy high-value domain names. I’ve heard some startup founders say, “well I don’t have to worry since I’m not a domain squatter, this is my one and only domain for my business.”

It doesn’t matter – whether you’re buying the domain as an investment, or as the primary domain for your site, short, valuable domain names like this are prime UDRP targets. Given that UDRPs are still a fairly arbitrary process that often comes down to personal opinion more than legal right this makes domains like a bit scary to own, no matter what your plans are for it.

For me as a domain investor, most of the domains I buy are under $10,000 – heck most are under $5,000 and I sell domains in the $2,500 – $7,500 range on average. I have thought about one day buying a domain for $25,000 – $50,000 that could sell for six-figures, the opportunities are definitely out there.

But for now, I don’t think it’s worth the risk. I’d rather buy 20 domains for $5,000 each or 50 domains for $1,000 each. Less risk and I think in many ways the same or even better/faster ROI. I also think that’s why as an investor, I’d rather deploy capital in that range into things like the stock market and real estate that carry less risk.

I’m a big fan of diversification, and domains are still the primary place I invest my money, but I’ll be staying away from three character .COMs and other short, valuable domains that are a target for the current, broken, UDRP system.

What do you think? Am I being overly dramatic or is this a BIG deal that impacts every single domain investor out there? I want to hear from you – comment and let your voice be heard!

DNForum is coming back to life – meet the new owners

Tue, 2018-02-20 05:42

If you don’t know the history behind DNForum’s last year, well, I don’t have the energy to go through it all so let’s just say, the forum changed hands, then changed hands again, and then once more, which is where it is now.

I am excited to say that the new owners of are actually long-time members of the forum so are likely the best people to breathe new life into what was once one of the most active forums about domain nam investing.

While some of you might be reading about this change on my blog, I actually found out about this change myself while reading one of my favorite domain blogs – Here’s the full recap as was originally posted on and later on DomainState:

“My name is Oliver and I am one of the new owners of DNF. I wanted to reach out and let the community know about our short-term plans for DNF and who the team consists off. We are sorry for keeping you in suspense for these last couple of days but we wanted a chance to get the deal finalized before taking the stage. 

We are three owners;
Lars – Castion, whom will be handling business management and development. 
Johnn – Johnn, whom will be heading up the mod team and assisting with business development. 
Myself – Seek99, whom will help with the strategic vision and act as a business advisor. 

We know it is a monumental task to bring DNF back from the brink its teetering on (/fell off) but we believe that its possible by focusing on the core values that made DNF great. A lot of people invested their money, time and wisdom here and that deserves respect. We hope to return some of that invested energy back to our community members in the form of actual tangible benefits. 

Some of our short-term goals are; 
A return to the gold / platinum / exclusive membership classes and forums.
A roll back to some of the old forums categories like short domains.
A new design to help us turn a fresh page.
Bringing back the trader ratings.
Removing Adsense ads.
Killing the crypto forums. (Already done). 

We will not be taking the forums offline but will implement our updates piecemeal during the coming months. 

Overall, we want to move the focus away from creating short term profits and towards building a sustainable community that is laser focused on domain name investing and discussion. Our end goal is for DNF to rise from the ashes reinvigorated as the go to place for professionals in our industry. 

Some of our long-term development goals are; 
Implementing a tag-based marketplace system and search.
Bringing value and benefits back into the exclusive membership.
Making user-driven innovation a focal point for further development.

We are not kidding ourselves. It won’t be an easy task, but we are in it for the long run. In the end many small steps goes a long way. We hope that you will join us in this journey and help us achieve our goal. 

Finally we would like to the previous owners of DNF for their assistance in making this transaction easy and agreeable. We wish them all the best in their future endeavours.

For Sure stay turned for updates open to ideas what domainers want to see!”

(Source – DSAD)

So now for my two cents.

I like it. Who better to bring DNForum back to life than members who were previously active on the forum? It sounds like they are also very well aware of what most members would like to see happen – i.e. Gold, Platinum, and Exclusive membership classes, and end to annoying AdSense ads, and, well not that I’m a fan but heck it’s called DNForum so I’ll take it – killing the crypto forums.

Let’s be honest. While a lot of Domainers (myself included) are also investing in crypto, the freaking forum’s name is DNForum so having sections dedicated to crypto doesn’t really make very much sense so I’m actually glad to see this wiped away.

I also really like the idea of taking the focus away from short-term profits because that really doesn’t exist in any steady-state in the domain world. Focusing on creating sustainable businesses/income makes a lot more sense and really is the only path to realistically take anyone new to this industry down.

It sounds like Oliver and team have a good plan and I’d like to sit down and chat with them more as things progress…so I’ll have to figure out if they’re in SF anytime soon or if I’ll be wherever they happen to be sooner.

Either way, I think this is a huge step in the right direction and I applaud Oliver and friends in being open and honest in their plan for what’s ahead. Here’s to the next generation of DNForum – I’m looking forward to contributing…even though I suck as staying on top of forums, no really – I suck at it, but I’ll do my best!

What do you think? Is this a step in the right direction for DNForum? I want to hear from you – comment and let your voice be heard!

Looking back on past domain sales that are now active sites

Mon, 2018-02-19 03:16

I’ve always found it interesting to take a look at what happens to a domain name after you sell it. In some cases I’ve found domains that I’ve sold lay dormant for years after the sale, in other cases I’ve seen a site go up in a matter of days.

Tonight I was going through some past sales and I found the a bunch that had been developed including one that I just sold a couple weeks ago that’s now home to a new crypto startup. So I thought I’d share a few past domain sales and what’s on the domains now, enjoy! (sold Jan 2018) (Sold December 2017) (Sold in June of 2017)

It was particularly fun to see what the new owners of did with the domain. I had originally purchased this domain name when I went through Lean Startup Machine in NYC. At the time we were looking at using the domain to help startups find and vet engineering talent…pretty cool to see someone else bring a very similar idea to life on the name.

Feel free to share some of your favorite “now developed” past domain sales or comment on any of the ones I’ve listed above. Happy Sunday!

Bitcoin breaks $10k, Litecoin up 52% in the last week – what’s ahead for the rest of February?

Fri, 2018-02-16 06:04

The cryptocurrency correction that started in January and extended to February moved a lot of money out of the market, or so it seemed for a minute there as Bitcoin plunged below $7,000. A lot of day traders got decimated, individual investors were terrified, and the HOLD crew – well they were all yelling HODL!
Then last week came and Bitcoin crept back up breaking the $10,000 mark, a point many people could take months or more to reach. Both Litecoin and Ripple saw incredibly strong weekly growth at 52% and 46% respectively.

Here’s a look at the top ten cryptocurrencies as of publishing this post at 10:00PM PST on Thursday February 15th.

(Source –

If you take a look at the seven day price charts to the right of each cryptocurrency you’ll see pretty solid growth across-the-board. When this happens many people report on the specific good news that moved each cryptocurrency:

“After Ripple’s (XRP) announcement yesterday, Feb. 14, that they are partnering with the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority for a pilot program for cross-border payments, the price rose from its Feb. 14 intraday low of $1.02 to $1.15.” (Source – CoinTelegraph)

While I do think the Feb 14th announcement helped Ripple, the only reason it even made it up over a dollar is because Bitcoin recovered bringing all the altcoins it had taken with it, back up. Right now we’re living at a time where the price of Bitcoin has a massive impact on altcoins, so when Bitcoin is down, so is everyone else and the recoveries work in mysterious ways.

The question now is if we’ve established a new base and started a bull run, or if this is what investors call a dead cat bounce:

“A dead cat bounce is a temporary recovery from a prolonged decline or a bear market that is followed by the continuation of the downtrend. The name “dead cat bounce” is based on the notion that even a dead cat will bounce if it falls far enough and fast enough.” (Source – Investopedia)

There’s really no way to tell until we let the next few weeks play out. The cryptocurrency markets are incredibly volatile which means trying to predict them, even using fancy technical analysis, often doesn’t really apply. Still, the overall concept of a dead cat bounce is one that does likely apply overall – if we’re still in a bear market, which we could very well be, then quick jumps up could easily be followed by sharp drops back down.

At the same time, what has so many people fascinated by cryptocurrencies is the fact that Bitcoin could be $15,000, heck if could be $19,000 and that would be entirely possible. Of course the opposite could happen and Bitcoin could drop to $5,000 or less – that’s also entirely possible. As I’ve said many times before, I’m bullish on a number of cryptocurrencies (BTC, ETH, and LTC are my three favorites), but over a multi-year time period. In the short term I can see the market rising and falling, then rising again, and falling again.

What I think is going to be interesting to watch is how the rest of February goes. There’s a lot of people speculating this is the beginning of a bull run, that would be fun to watch, but like I said, the exact opposite could happen and I don’t think anyone should be surprised.

So I’ll ask you what you think since I’m stumped. What is the second half of February going to look like?

The company that took via UDRP is now getting sued for Reverse Domain Name Hijacking

Wed, 2018-02-14 01:40

Last week I wrote about what I think will go down as one of the worst UDRP decisions in history. In case you missed this one, here’s a quick recap. Well-known Domain Name Investor and publisher of the incredibly popular website lost via UDRP.

What made this so ridiculous (to me at least) is that one of the reasons stated in the UDRP proceedings was that the asking price of $500,000 for the three letter .COM was “way too much.” It just so happens that the same day this UDRP was announced, a three letter .COM, sold for $500,000 – how’s that for irony.

This particular UDRP decision really made me angry for two reasons:

  1. Every time a company wins a UDRP for a short, generic word like this, it becomes harder for investors to feel confident in investing and holding names like this as a real asset. In short, I think it’s bad decisions like these that threaten domain names as asset classes, and I wrote a post related to this yesterday about the risks of owning six-figure domain names.
  2. Francois is a really good guy who has done a ton for the domain industry. There’s no doubt in my mind that this is a $500,000 asset – and to watch a friend (okay we’ve never met but heck I’ve known Francois for 10 years!) lose a $500,000 asset is painful.

So I was very excited to read today on Domain Name Wire that Francois is fighting back and suing the company who in my mind stole a $500,000 asset from him.

Francois Carrillo, the owner of domain blog aggregator, has sued (pdf) Mexican bus company Autobuses dr Oriente ADO, S.A. de C.V. after a UDRP panel ordered his domain transferred. He is seeking the UDRP to be overturned and is asking for a penalty for reverse domain name hijacking. (Source –

I’m looking forward to seeing justice served here and hopefully this case will be used in the future as a warning to other thieves who are thinking about abusing the UDRP system to steal domain names like this. Still, it’s going to cost Francois a pretty penny to defend himself here, and in the end he could spend all this additional money and still lose the domain name.

Your average domain investor doesn’t have the funds to defend a bad UDRP decision which is why, like I said in my post yesterday, I think there are real risks that come with owning six-figure domain names. While I hope Francois wins this one and it goes on to become an example for future cases, I still think there is a big issue that we just can’t ignore as an industry – UDRP is a broken process, it’s 2018, let’s fix it.

Go get em’ Francois, let’s use this decision as a solid foundation to build on. Let’s get the ICA more involved, let’s get individual investors more involved, otherwise – let’s be honest, domains are going to be an increasingly scary “asset class” for your average investor to feel safe parking their hard earned money in.

Are six-figure domain names a risky investment?

Tue, 2018-02-13 06:08

Over the last few years I think it’s safe to say that the domain industry has seen some pretty terrible UDRP decisions. For any of my blog readers who don’t know what a UDRP is, here’s a quick primer:

UDRP is an acronym for Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy.

All ICANN-accredited registrars follow a uniform dispute resolution policy. Under that policy, disputes over entitlement to a domain-name registration are ordinarily resolved by court litigation between the parties claiming rights to the registration. Once the courts rule who is entitled to the registration, the registrar will implement that ruling. In disputes arising from registrations allegedly made abusively (such as “cybersquatting” and cyberpiracy”), the uniform policy provides an expedited administrative procedure to allow the dispute to be resolved without the cost and delays often encountered in court litigation. In these cases, you can invoke the administrative procedure by filing a complaint with one of the dispute-resolution service providers.

Three criteria must be met to prove a UDRP:
1. The first is that the domain name must be identical or confusingly similar to a trademark in which the complainant has right.
2. The second is that the registrant has no rights or legitimate interests in the domain name.
3. And then the third is that the registrant registered and used the domain name in bad faith.

Domain names are transferred ten days after a UDRP case has been decided, where a decision is made to transfer the domain name to the complainant. (Source –

While you might think that buying a domain name from a reputable company for a six-figure sum would mean that you own that domain name free and clear, unfortunately that’s not always the case. Abuse of the UDRP process has opened the door for companies and individuals to literally steal domain names through a legal process that can often come down to opinion over fact.

Over the last few years it’s been hard to ignore some of the absolutely terrible UDRP decisions. In many cases, six and seven figures domain names tend to get challenged more than most, making them in my mind, riskier to own unless you have a solid budget to spend defending them. While you might feel safe spending say $150,000 to buy a domain name through a reputable marketplace like Sedo or Go Daddy, and you know the name you’re buying is worth $500,000 – you could still lose your domain in a UDRP.

Now the silver lining here is that there is such a thing as Reverse Domain Name Hijacking (skip if you know that and are sick of me posting definitions):

Specifically, according to the UDRP Rules, RDNH is defined as follows: “Reverse Domain Name Hijacking means using the [UDRP] in bad faith to attempt to deprive a registered domain-name holder of a domain name.” The Rules also state: “If after considering the submissions the Panel finds that the complaint was brought in bad faith, for example in an attempt at Reverse Domain Name Hijacking or was brought primarily to harass the domain-name holder, the Panel shall declare in its decision that the complaint was brought in bad faith and constitutes an abuse of the administrative proceeding.” (Source –

That being said, getting into a legal battle with a big company isn’t cheap so this means that if you want to hold-onto your six-figure domain you’ll need to lay out quite a bit of cash. While the risk of investing in six and seven figure domain names decrease thanks to RDNH, it doesn’t eliminate the risk since it’s not safe to assume that you’ll be able to always win every RDNH.

For your average individual domain name investor I think this makes six-figure domain names one of the riskiest places to put their money, and sadly, makes domain names one of the riskiest individual assets with that kind of value. Here’s what I mean.

Suppose I put $100,000 in as a down payment on a house that costs, let’s say $300,000. While it’s not impossible for that house to decrease in price, maybe all the way to say $150,000 – it would be next to impossible for it to drop to $0. After ten years it also wouldn’t be surprising to anyone if you sold the house you originally paid $300,000 for, for $500,000 or more.

Now let’s look at the stock market. Suppose I put $100,000 into what I would call a safe stock, something like Amazon or Apple that I think we can all say isn’t going to drop to $0 in ten years. I think many people wouldn’t be surprised if that $100,000 was $300,000 or more and I think we’d all agree the risk is pretty darn low.

Okay, now let’s get nice and boring and take the $100,000 and put it into a low load mutual fund. This time we’re likely not going to see the $100,000 turn into $300,000 or more, but you know it’s not going to $0 and you’d expect to get back more than $100,000 so still turn a profit.

These are three different well-known and widely accepted asset classes. Now let’s turn to domains names. If you put $100,000 into a domain name that we’d all agree is worth $500,000 and that past sales data shows could even sell for more…you could lost that domain in a UDRP and be left with nothing a month after you buy it. That’s a real risk.

So what’s my point here? Am I saying that nobody should buy domains that are worth over $100,000? No – that’s not what I’m saying. I think people should continue to buy high-value domains, but at the same time, I think we should be honest about the risks and the realities of the flaws that exist UDRPs and the real threat it poses to domain names as an asset class. Heck, people have been writing academic papers on this problem starting more than fifteen years ago.

If you have millions of dollars, $100,000 might be a fine amount of money to risk for the chance to turn it into $500,000 or more. You could wait five years, heck you can wait ten years or more for the right buyer to come around and boom – you just made a huge return. On the flip side your average non-millionaire domain investor probably cares a lot about that $100,000 and tying it up for 5 – 10 years, and putting it at risk of being hit with a UDRP is too big of a risk to take.

So here’s the question – can we create an environment where investors can put $100,000 or more into a single domain name and know that asset will be protected like it is with stocks, bonds, mutual funds and real estate? What can we do as an industry to improve the process and take the risk out of owning six and seven figure domain names?

Phew – this has been a long post but as you can tell it’s a topic I’m passionate about, and you should be too! Now it’s your turn, what do you think? Comment and let your voice be heard!

Binance – the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world is down

Fri, 2018-02-09 07:23

If you are currently involved in crypto, in just about any way, then you know that Binance – the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world is down, and has been for most of the day today. Rumors quickly spread that the global exchange was hacked but the company has re-assured everyone via Twitter that they were troubleshooting a server issue and have not been compromised in any way.

The problem all started when Binance decided to perform “system maintenance” yesterday and told users that performance could be impacted while it was taking place.

People seemed pretty happy with Binance for their transparency as, at the time, with roughly 2,000 people liking that particular tweet. Then things, uh, didn’t go quite according to plan…the CEO later tweeted out that Binance experience a “server issue” which was “causing some data to be out of sync” which is the last thing you want to hear from a company where you have a bunch of money invested.

This of course cause widespread panic and led many people to wonder…was there really a server issue or was Binance hacked? The media immediately started covering the story and word spread quickly through the cryptocurrency community.

There was quite an uprising on Reddit and across other cryptocurrency communities across the web with users complaining about the company deciding to do what many called “surprise maintenance” on the exchange.

While I was surprised this happened in some ways, I think it’s easy for everyone to forget that a year ago there was no Binance, heck, seven months ago the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange didn’t exist.

“Seven months ago Binance didn’t exist. Since then, its 1.4 million-transactions-per-second capability have attracted 6 million users, making it the world’s largest crypto-exchange.” (Source – Forbes, Feb 7th 2018)

For anyone who thinks “crypto is over” or “the golden years of crypto have passed” let me be the first to remind you that these are still the early days, big time. Imagine the stock market when Charles Schwab had been around for seven months…for those keeping score that would be October of 1971.

I just went to check on the status of Binance and, well, it’s still down.

I’m off to bed but I’ll be interested to see how this pans out in the morning. This is a great reminder for crypto investors that they shouldn’t keep their money in exchanges. I’m a big fan of the Trezor and the Nano S and have both devices myself, while I use Binance to trade, I don’t keep too much on the exchange so most of it is tucked away for safe keeping because, like any early adopter should know, this kind of stuff can and will happen…in the early days.

Learning from my readers – BIN landing pages seem to be the way to go

Tue, 2018-02-06 16:39


Last week I wrote a post asking my readers if they are still parking their domains or instead using “make offer” landing pages. In my book these have been the two options I’ve moved between myself, starting with parked pages and moving to where I am now with all “make offer” landing pages.

This post started a good discussion in my comment thread that included some pretty solid words of wisdom from Logan Flatt, who in case you missed the memo, had a pretty kick-ass 2017 when it comes to domain sales. Here’s what Logan shared about the landing pages he puts on his domain names:

I’ve spent the past year testing BIN landing pages and it’s been far more lucrative than PPC pages or “Make Offer” pages.

Over the years, “Make Offer” pages only seemed to invite the $100 tire kickers with a sense of unjustified entitlement or nice people from around the world who cannot read the page because they do not speak English and fill out the form thinking they are engaging with the business that formerly used the domain name for a now-defunct website. I grew tired of wasting my limited time on these inquiries and decided to start testing BIN landing pages. A made more money in one year using BIN landing pages than all other years combined.

My current 90-day test: BIN landing pages with a “Make Offer” option with a high minimum offer set at 67% of BIN. So far, so good — one negotiated sale based on the “Make Offer” option, one BIN sale that ignored the “Make Offer” option, and one “Make Offer” sale where, amazingly, the buyer offered higher than the BIN price because he wanted to make payments over time and felt the higher price would compensate me for not taking the full BIN price in cash immediately (he’s currently making payments).

I think the key is to test different approaches for at least 90 to 180 days and sticking to the test for the full test period without deviating from the strategy for that period (commitment and discipline!). Assess the sales made during the period, formulate new hypotheses about what new strategies to test that might increase portfolio cash flow, and start another test to confirm or reject the new hypotheses. Repeat again and again until you lock in a winning strategy based on portfolio cash flow and a minimum ROI for the portfolio. (Read Logan’s comment on my original post)

I’m not sure why BIN landing pages never crossed my mind, but it hadn’t, and based on Logan’s feedback I think I’ll be giving them a shot. I don’t do any outbound on my domain names so everything I sell is inbound.

I like Logan’s approach of testing for 90 to 180 days, sticking to the test, and then staying with the strategy that works the best. At Bold Metrics we live by the mantra “build, measure, learn” and I think applying this approach to domain investing as well is a smart approach.

So here’s what I plan on testing:

  • Half of my domains using landing pages with BIN prices
  • Half of my domains using Efty landing pages with BIN prices
  • Total testing time – 90 days

As usual I’ll share results with all of you along the way and then determine hopefully one of two things at the end of this experiment.

  1. Does adding BIN prices increase my sales velocity?
  2. Between and Efty, who performs the best in this scenario?

Of course, if after 90 days the results are inconclusive I’ll likely continue to run the test unless for some reason I notice negative results (i.e. nothing selling) in which case I’ll augment either my sales prices or start to split test BIN landing pages vs. my normal “make offer” landing pages.

The complexities with running a test like this is that no two domains are truly created equal so it’s going to be hard to adjust for the fact that I might end up with better names on one of the platforms. The other complexity is that the sales velocity is also dependent on what BIN price I use so I’ll be doing my best to put competitive prices on as many names as possible during the testing period. If I sell a handful of names for a bit less than expected, I’m okay with that as long as I’m still booking a solid profit.

Now is where you come in – what else do you think I can do to help create the best conditions for a test like this? I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard! is lost in a UDRP due to its $500,000 price tag the same day sells for $500,000

Tue, 2018-02-06 05:18

Suffice it to say that today was a crazy day all around. The stock market plunged marking its largest losses since 2011, the crypto market continued to crash as Bitcoin plunged to the low $6,000’s and, a generic 3L .COM was lost in one of the most unfair UDRP decisions I’ve ever heard.

What makes this UDRP decision so ridiculous is the reasoning behind the panel’s decision which comes at an amazing time given that the sale of was announced for $500,000 today. I first read about the UDRP on Domain Name Wire, and here’s the logic the panel used in their decision:

“Among the judgments the panel made is that $500,000 was too much to ask for the domain name because Carillo purchased it for $27,500. Not only is the purchase price incorrect (Carrillo also transferred the domain to the seller as part of the deal), but panels shouldn’t generally get involved with determining what a fair price is for a domain.

One of the more forehead-slapping claims by the complainant, a Mexican bus company called Ado that uses, relates to this price. It claims that the $500,000 asking price is “outrageous when compared to the other domain names offered for sale or rent on the “” website”, according to the decision. It gives five examples:

Domain Name 500,000 USD 45,000 USD 50,000 USD 20,000 USD 80,000 USD”

(Source –

Meanwhile, today Frank Tillmanns announced the sale of the 3L .COM, for $500,000 on popular domain name marketplace

So let me get this straight…Francois lost in a UDRP because the panel felt that asking for $500,000 was “outrageous” and today a 3L .COM sells for $500,000? Pardon my french but this WIPO decision is complete bullshit.

I hope the people on the WIPO panel for read this article and realize how stupid their decision was. Also I hope Francois can take the criminals who stole his domain to court and get his domain and some well-deserved damages back for the insane reverse domain hijacking stunt they managed to pull.

It’s still crazy to me that in 2018 decisions like this still manage to get through the UDRP process, but it also shows that the domain name world is still the wild west and people can, sometimes, steal six-figure domain names through a legal process.

What can we do to help Francois and what can we all to together to help ridiculous decisions like this from happening in the future? I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

Breaking: China issues full ban on crypto

Mon, 2018-02-05 05:15

Well it’s safe to say that the next 24-hours are going to be incredibly rough for the crypto world as China just announced a complete ban on cryptocurrency trading. The news was reported less than an hour ago in the South China Morning Post.

“China is to block all websites related to cryptocurrency trading and initial coin offerings (ICOs) – including foreign platforms – in a bid to finally quash the market completely.” (Source – South China Morning Post)

What this means for the already battered crypto markets one can only guess but with Bitcoin struggling to stay above $8,000 I think it’s safe to say we’re going to see it get quite a bit lower this week. This is also one of those times where everyone trying to do technical analysis is going to have a pretty hard time since technical analysis was really meant for markets that follow some set of rules.

Imagine trying to apply technical analysis to a stock if suddenly the US stopped allowing people to buy stocks…it just wouldn’t work. This is why I definitely think that reading articles about where Bitcoin’s “critical supports” are or about which Fibonacci line makes sense now really is just a bunch of BS.

The reality is, this news is going to scare the crap out of investors/speculators and the market is going to likely tank. As someone that’s in this for the long haul I expect a lot more bad news like this to come over the years, along with a lot of good news and adoption by large platforms like Fidelity and eTrade…but I’m getting ahead of myself, that probably won’t happen for a while.

Now you might have thought that China already banned crypto but that wasn’t quite the case, although they did make a major move in that direction way back in September.

Officially, the ban on big cryptocurrency exchanges and ICOs implemented in September 2017 has been effective in mitigating potential financial and social risks. According to the report, the amount of cryptocurrency trading in RMB made up 90% of the total volume of global transactions but the number is now down to 1%. Unofficially, however, many Chinese citizens have been trading through platforms outside of China by using online circumvention tools. Currently, Japan and Hong Kong are the most popular places to trade cryptocurrency for Chinese citizens. (Source – TechNode)

As I’ve said many times in past articles but never hurts to say again, I’m a long-term speculator in crypto so the positions I have now I’m holding for the next five years, I think any short-term trading moves is truly high stakes gambling. That being said I do sometimes buy more on the dips but this is one of those dips that I won’t be buying into right away.  Once the carnage is over I think there will be a great buying opportunity, but for now, it’s limbo time which means it’s time to see how low can it go.

I honestly wouldn’t be surprised to see Bitcoin at $5k or lower, but five years from now I wouldn’t be surprised to see it north of $50k. What do you think? Comment and let your voice be heard!

How can the most sophisticated search algorithms in the world make such a simple mistake?

Sat, 2018-02-03 19:16

So I’m always amazed at times when Google returns a result that makes very little sense when it comes to relevancy. No, I’m not going to stop using them, I don’t think any of us would, but I am surprised sometimes when they return a result in the top position that really doesn’t deserve to be there. Honestly, there’s a simple heuristic that should be a part of the algorithm that it feels like doesn’t quite get applied in some cases.

Here’s an example I ran into today. I was searching for “best malware protection mac” and Google provided what they called a “Featured Snippet” at the very top, which means Google has selected this page as what they think is the best answer to your question. In this case, here’s the featured snippet:

So you’d think, okay well this must be the most relevant article right? Well you’d be completely wrong because the article they link to is from five years ago…

Given how sophisticated Google’s algorithm is, why would they possibly think that the most relevant result for someone searching for malware protection software would be from last year? It seems like this article should be buried on page 30 given that software like this changes a lot over even a single year.

What do you think is happening here? Is this an edge-case where Google’s algorithms aren’t doing the right thing or are these fancy algorithms not quite as sophisticated as we’d think?

Do you park your domains or use a make offer landing page?

Sat, 2018-02-03 02:08

Since it’s the beginning of the year I thought now would be a good time to circle-up with all of you to see what you’re putting on your undeveloped domain names. Rewind 10+ years ago and I think most people would say that they parked their domains, today I think that has changed quite a bit.

I never really made much money parking because I’ve only had a handful of names that get decent type-in traffic and even when I did it wasn’t anything to write home about. That being said I still used parking pages for a long time, I just made sure they had a strip at the top that made it clear the domain name was for sale.

Today I only use Make Offer landing pages because I’ve found they generate more inbound offers than a parking page with a make offer callout on it, and since I don’t make money parking I want to put the focus on inbound offers. My two favorite services for “make offer” landing pages are Domain Names Sales and Efty.

So now I’ll turn the question for you. Do you park your domains or use a Make Offer landing page? Comment and let your voice be heard!

Is Bitcoin going to drop below $8,000? And if it does, do you care?

Fri, 2018-02-02 05:43

The cryptocurrency market is a rollercoaster, if you’re a day trader, which is why I’m really glad I’m not a day trader. I’ve already made two rules for myself when it comes to crypto:

  1. Only put a small sliver of my investment dollars into crypto. If I loose 100% of my money, it is a-okay.
  2. HODL until 2023 (i.e. five years from now)

Now to the current state of Bitcoin and the crypto market which has dropped like a rock over the last week. While it would be fun to say that you can use traditional technical analysis to explain what’s happening, or refer to your favorite Wall Street genius the reality is that crypto is incredibly volatile and even single news stories can move the market massively in one direction or another.

This week what scared the crap out of everyone (and for good reason) is that Bitcoin’s incredible price rise over the past few months could have been caused by a cryptocurrency exchange called Bitfinex buying a bunch of Bitcoin with…drumroll please, Tether.

In December 2017, Bitcoin reached a historic high of almost $20,000 (£14,000), before slumping to its current value of roughly $9,800 (£6,876). This catastrophic plunge may have been driven by the actions of a Bitcoin exchange called Bitfinex, it has now been suggested. This exchange stands accused of using a cryptocurrency called Tether to buy vast amounts of Bitcoin, which inflated its price. (Source –

If this is true it means that Bitcoin’s price was massively manipulated and honestly, there’s nowhere to go but down. How low could it go? Who knows but I wouldn’t be surprised if it continues to drop like a rock.

As many of you know, I’ve never been ridiculously bullish on Bitcoin, Ethereum is my largest crypto holding and I’m also a fan of other altcoins like Litecoin, Cardano and Stellar. Of course, in the current market if Bitcoin is down, everything is down, and I think it could take a while for everything to sort itself out if it turns out that the rumors here are true.

So here’s the question, if Bitcoin drops below $8,000 – heck if it drops to $1,000, do you care? Since it’s such a small part of my crypto portfolio I’m not that emotionally attached to it…but if Ethereum dropped to $200 I’d be pretty bummed. That being said, given a five year time horizon I still see this as the very early days of crypto so I’m interested to see what the years ahead will bring.

What do you think? Comment and let your voice be heard!

Reflections on NamesCon 2018

Thu, 2018-02-01 02:15

I just got back from Vegas, and yes, I’m tired, but I’ve learned that the best time to write a reflections post is right when you get back and you’re still in the moment. If I waited until Saturday, sure I wouldn’t be totally exhausted, but everything wouldn’t be quite as fresh in my mind.

I’ll start my reflections with last night since that’s the most top of mind, and it’s also where this picture comes from. Last night the ICA held a really awesome event at the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay. First things first, if you don’t know what the ICA is, you should – they are the people working tirelessly to make sure that we can all buy and sell domain names for years to come. I’ve been a member for years and last night was a good reminder why – the people behind the ICA are truly some of the best-of-the-best, period.

Everyone who attended the dinner last night was allowed access to the Foundation Room at the top of Mandalay Bay which as you can see from the photo above offers without a doubt one of (if not the) best views of the strip. I packed into an Uber (that took 30 minutes to get to us – long story) with Braden, James, and Mike – you can see James trying to help the Uber driver find us in the picture below…

Okay, so enough about last night, let’s get into some reflections, in no particular order, but I’ll use bullet points because I feel like if I start to write in paragraph form this could turn into a small novel.

  • I said this in my previous post but I can’t emphasize it enough, Domainers have the crypto bug. Sure some of you reading this think crypto is stupid, crazy, even riskier than Vegas gambling. By the end of my time at NamesCon I think it’s fair to say I spoke to close to 100 people and crypto came up in almost every conversation. I also found out that WAY more Domainers than I could have imagined have made a small fortune in crypto – why couldn’t they have told me when they started investing!
  • We have a truly incredibly community. I go to NamesCon every year (since it started) to connect with people. Every year I have a blast catching up people I’ve known for years and I’m always surprised at how instantly connected I feel to people I just met. Let’s be honest, we’re all crazy passionate about domain names, but most of our friends and family just can’t relate to it, everyone at the conference can and it’s so much fun just to be around so many likeminded people.
  • Waternight was a huge success. Hats off to the entire Water School team for a great night filled with great food and an absolutely hilarious comedian magician. I really liked the format this year and it was also pretty entertaining to watch Richard get called on stage to put a cup of water on his head (see pict below)

  • .COM is still king and that doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon. Everyone I spoke to about their portfolios said that they’re still continuing to invest in .COM, while it does seem like more people than ever are dabbling in new gTLDs I didn’t talk to anyone that is shifting their focus away from .COM.
  • Development is a hot topic and getting hotter. It’s now secret that parking has declined massively over the years but it’s clear that Domainers are becoming increasingly interested in development. There were some great sessions at NamesCon about development and monetization and I think we’ll continue to see investors that made money parking making even more money but with developed sites.
  • The Tropicana made some nice improvements since last year. Robert Irvine’s Public House is a great spot and definitely added another destination for Domainers to hang out and enjoy a drink either at the bar or on the back patio.
  • Every year I go to Vegas I can feel that I’m getting older, and I’m not alone. This year I could tell that we’re all getting older, last night by the time we left Mandalay Bay and headed for Hakkasan I was definitely struggling. At the same time it’s probably good news for Red Bull as Domainers moved from beer to Red Bull Vodka’s to stay awake.
  • Last but not least is the opportunity for something magical to happen. No I’m not talking about the magician at Waternight, I’m talking about real magic that happens when you’re having a random conversation with someone and find a business opportunity. I had two instances of magic that are going to likely mean good things in the future and it wasn’t something I was planning it all, it just happened organically. Serendipity is an incredibly thing.

Did you go to NamesCon? I’d love to hear your reflections, feel free to share in the comment section below. Didn’t got to NamesCon? I’d also love to hear from you. Either way, comment and let your voice be heard!

3 trends that are hard to miss at NamesCon this year

Tue, 2018-01-30 01:39

Well it’s official, NamesCon 2018 is here and the first day is just wrapping up. I got here on Saturday night so enjoyed a day at the conference yesterday and had a blast giving a talk about what startups need to know about raising a seed round in the afternoon. I also sat down with the NamePros team for a little interview which is always fun, here’s me with Edward yesterday:

I went to two events last night (before I got too hungry and went to go get sushi with Braden – an annual tradition of ours), the first was held by .CLUB in their sweet suite at the Tropicana celebrating their announcement of, a new marketplace for brandable new gTLD domains. After that I went over to the opening cocktail party (hosted by .GLOBAL) which was also a lot of fun, and had a pretty kick-ass band.

So, after a day at NamesCon and probably 30+ conversations (yes you end up talking to a lot of people at conferences!) I’ve noticed three pretty clear trends that are hard to miss. Here they are:

  1. Crypto – love it or hate it that isn’t stopping people from talking about it. I think it’s safe to say that crypto came up in almost every single conversation I had. On one side I heard people talking about how stupid it is and how they hope it doesn’t make people less interested in buying domains. On the other side I heard people talking about how much they love it and how they think that people making money in crypto are actually going to put more money into domains as they want to put their profits into something more reliable. This is a huge topic for Domainers as they know that whether they believe in it or not, it’s making an impact one way or another, and common, it’s pretty fun to talk about isn’t it?
  2. Weed – and not I don’t mean just talking about weed and weed domains, everyone smells like weed this year. Now that pot is legal in Nevada it’s clear that Domainers have decided to add it into the mix. I also talked to quite a few people who have been doing well with marijuana-related domains so it’s clear this is another trend to keep an eye on and like crypto, it’s probably only going to grow.
  3. New gTLDs – there’s a lot of buzz around new gTLDs again this year at NamesCon. I think everyone now agrees they are here to stay and I had a number of conversations with people about which ones they believe in the most. I don’t currently invest in new gTLDs (I dabbled a bit a while ago but haven’t bought any in quite a while) but I was inspired to hear stories of people who had actually been seeing some pretty solid results. My takeaway is – only the most premium names are what most people are investing in, buying a bunch of new gTLDs hoping one will be your ticket to retirement probably isn’t going to work, duh.

Okay well I missed the whole day time portion of the conference today because I’ve been sitting in my room working but it’s almost 6:00 and it’s time to get ready for WaterNight! If you’re at the conference and aren’t going to WaterNight, change you plans and come, it’s definitely going to be a night to remember and every dollar goes to an incredible charity, hard to beat that.

Hope to see you there!

Next stop Vegas!

Sun, 2018-01-28 00:57

I am currently on my flight heading from San Francisco to Vegas for NamesCon. Tomorrow I will be giving a short talk sharing tips for startup founders that are interested in raising their first venture round. NamesCon brings together some of the smartest people in the Internet world, from domain names to crypto to branding and funding, it’s all happening under one roof starting tomorrow.

NamePros, one of the top domain name forums has been doing some great sit down interviews for the last few years and I was honored to be included in the mix last year. On that note, I just got an email from them with my finished video (which I haven’t even watched myself) so I thought I’d share it with all of you.

Tonight I’m going to be joining my cousin for some adventures in Vegas, it’s a tradition we did for years but haven’t done in probably eight year so I’m really looking forward to it. So for anyone coming in early I won’t see you tonight but I’ll be at the show starting tomorrow afternoon.

This year I’m really impressed with the new NamesCon app – it has a Facebook-like timeline feature just for people who are going to the conference and it’s been a lot of fun watching everyone share their adventures to Vegas. I’ve been sharing a few “blast from the past” photos on the app but I also wanted to them with all of you so here’s a few for those of you that aren’t able to make it out this year.

Okay, enough blogging, I need to finish my presentation slides, yikes!

Some of the largest t-shirt brands in the world are likely paying attention to the NamesCon auction this year

Fri, 2018-01-26 15:35

As the largest Domain Name conference in the world, it’s no surprise that NamesCon also hosts one of the most exclusive domain name auctions in the world. While the auction has great domains every year, I think 2018 is going to break all kinds of records given the caliber of the domains in the auction.

One group of domains caught my eye, and I’m guessing that a number of the largest t-shirt brands in the world are also watching. There are a group of category-defining names that, if owned by one company would pretty much instantly make them the go-to t-shirt brand on the Internet. Here’s the domains I’m talking about:

It’s pretty amazing to see, and while it’s not guaranteed that one company would buy all of these together, if they did they would own the t-shirt market online. You can see the full list of domains that will be featured in the NamesCon live auction this Tuesday on NameJet.

Estibot does a lot more than domain appraisals – here’s three of my favorite features

Thu, 2018-01-25 17:36

To kick off 2018 Estibot debuted a brand new look and feel. As a long-time Estibot user I was excited to see the refreshed UX, it’s incredibly clean and the mobile experience is a major step forward. It’s clear that the team over at Estibot really went above-and-beyond with this update, but it’s what they have under the hood that has always impressed me the most.

I was talking with a new domain investor the other day who was asking me about what tools they should use. Estibot is always at the top of my list, but when I did a deep dive into what you can do with Estibot they were blown away, I think the exact response was, “I thought Estibot was just for domain name appraisals?”

Yes, Estibot is the defacto standard when it comes to algorithmic domain appraisals, but under the hood there’s a lot more things that they do and I’m always surprised when people don’t know about the other services that they offer. So I thought now was as good a time as any to share three things that you probably didn’t know you could do with Estibot.

1. Generate a list of potential end-user buyers for your domains

I made this feature #1 for a reason – it is one of my favorite things about Estibot and it’s a huge time saver. All you have to do is enter a domain name that you’re interested in finding potential buyers for and Estibot will put together a solid list of potential buyers (including contact information).

Below is a high-level look at what is offered with the Estibot Leader Generator & End User Finder:

  • Instantly checks 300+ million domain names and analyzes them for usage
  • Instantly finds developed sites that could benefit from your domain
  • Instantly finds advertisers already spending money on keywords related to your domain
  • Instantly finds offline business that match your domain name and can benefit from an online presence
  • Gets web site details, whois contact information and business information
  • Contact potential buyers with a click of a button, using templated or custom offer letters

2. Domain Sales History

While Estibot can help find end user buyers, they can also help you research domain names that you’re looking to buy yourself. Whenever I’m interested in buying a domain from someone else the first thing I do is try to find out how much the current owner paid for the name. Enter Estibot’s Domain Sales History feature:

You can also use the Domain Sales History tool to do a more broad search by keyword which could be used when buying or selling a domain to quickly generate a list of similar domains and their sales prices. I often use this on the sales side when I’m trying to explain my pricing to a potential buyer. It’s one thing to say you want $7,500 for a domain, it’s another to show five other names that have sold between $5k – $10k.

3. Appraised Drop List

Last but certainly not least is Estibot’s Appraised Drop List feature. This does exactly what it says, providing domain investors with appraisals on expiring domain names. I’ve found this is a great tool to instantly curate a list of expiring domains that might be worth looking at.

Estibot now also provides raw PendingDelete lists from Verisign which publishes every morning at 4:00AM. One thing I really appreciate about this feature is that if you do find a domain you want to buy, you know exactly what a prospective is going to see if they get it appraised on Estibot.

Of course there are more than three additional features that Estibot offers, but these are my personal favorites. Just remember, you can do a lot more with Estibot than appraise domains, so if you’re an existing customer, or someone that’s been thinking about joining any one of these features could easily pay for itself.

Do you have a favorite feature that I didn’t mention? Want to talk more about any of the features above? Comment and let your voice be heard!

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