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Weekend Musings – a relaxing weekend in Stinson Beach and buying StinsonBeach.org

8 hours 28 min ago
(Photo from our morning walk on the beach)

My wife and I spent the weekend in Stinson Beach, the weather was beautiful and I’m feeling refreshed. If you’ve never heard of Stinson Beach, don’t worry – you’re not alone, and in many ways the locals would rather have it stay that way.

Stinson Beach is a tiny little oasis about an hour north of San Francisco. It has about 600 residents and isn’t actually even considered a town, instead it’s called a “census-designated place” in Marin county.

Being born and raised in the Bay Area I ended up coming to Stinson Beach quite a bit as a kid. One of my best friends in elementary school had a place in Stinson (okay his Dad did since ten year-olds don’t normally own vacation homes) and I have a lot of good memories of weekend beach adventures.

Like Bolinas and a number of other smaller beach communities, Stinson Beach really doesn’t want to be “on the map” in any major way and the residents have worked hard to keep it small and local. On a Saturday night in February you’ll find only one restaurant open, The Sand Dollar which is closing up at around 9:30PM.

That being said, this is what I love about Stinson Beach, it really hasn’t changed since I started coming here as a kid. There’s no major freeway to access the beach and there’s almost nowhere to stay once you’re in town which means at night it’s pretty much just locals and the few tourists that have decided to enjoy the peace and quiet of Stinson’s sleepy beach community.

I’ve always thought about having a vacation house in Stinson Beach some day, but since 2BR/2BA homes sell for $3.2M…I think I’m going to have to wait a bit.

What was interesting about this trip is that I was trying to find more information about things to do in Stinson Beach before the trip and couldn’t really find a good site that was up-to-date. The best I could find was a site that looks like it was built in 1996 with tiny hard-to-read text and pretty out of date information.

Then I thought, I wonder if StinsonBeach.com is available? Of course it wasn’t so I went to take a look at the .NET and .ORG…and, it turned out the .ORG was available to hand-register. Given that Stinson Beach only has about twenty different businesses in total, I thought it would be pretty easy to put up a little site about each with up-to-date information and a more modern mobile-friendly look-and-feel. Could be a fun weekend project and since I go to Stinson Beach a few times a year it will be easy to update over time. Andrew Rosner from MediaOptions did something similar before NamesCon Portugal and whipped up a really handy site on things to do in Lisbon that myself and a number of other attendees used.

This afternoon we relaxed on the beach and then headed home in the early afternoon. I’m headed to Los Angeles tomorrow for a conference so I wanted to make sure to get time to pack and get ready for the week ahead. For those who are curious about the conference it’s called PI Apparel and it’s the main conference focused on innovation in the apparel industry. Companies like Nike, Patagonia, Lands End and many more attend and I’m in back-to-back meetings all day every day.

On that note, I have to finish packing, have some dinner, and head to bed. So I’ll leave you with this photo that I took on the drive back. The California coast never ceases to amaze me with it’s beauty, and there’s nothing like spending a weekend in paradise to get me back in the zone for a busy week.

I hope you all had a great weekend, if you’ve been to Stinson Beach before feel free to share one of your favorite memories below.

Uniregistry sale price revealed, updates on .ORG, a startup rebrands from .COM to .IO and more – a week of domain investing news in one article

Sat, 2020-02-22 18:06

Hello, happy Saturday and welcome to the brand new 2020 edition of my weekly domain investing news update. I’ve decided to spice things up this year and rather than just sharing links to articles about what happened this week, I’m adding my own commentary and pulling in data from Twitter as well. Let’s dive right in.

Go Daddy’s acquisition of Uniregistry continues to be a top story, and this week data came out about what the likely sales price was. I first read about this on DomainInvesting.com which revealed the following:

I reached out to a representative from GoDaddy to ask if this figure includes the company’s recent acquisition of Over, a social content startup. This acquisition was reported by TechCrunch in late January and the Annual Report referred to two acquisitions from February. I was told that this figure includes the acquisition of Over, so the Uniregistry deal was for the $196.9 amount minus whatever Over cost to acquire.

(Source – DomainInvesting.com)

This news led to domain investors across the world speculating on how good of a deal this was for Frank, i.e. did he sell to cheap? Shane shared his thoughts on Twitter and Andrew Rosner shared his thought as well in the following tweet:

As for my thoughts about the Uniregistry sale. I think Frank has done an amazing job, made a ton of money, and will continue to do incredible things. It’s impossible for me to see anything but good things when someone who was a leader in our industry makes over $100M. Well done Frank, and for those saying he should have got more, try it yourself then! I think he did just fine.

Next up is easily the most controversial domain name news story of the year, Ethos Capital’s acquisition of the .ORG extension. This story has seen coverage in major publications like the New York Times and this week the less-than-loved PE firm made an announcement that could be considered a positive move by some:

Ethos Capital tries to save the .org deal. Ethos is “voluntarily” proposing to add an amendment to PIR’s .ORG Registry Agreement with ICANN in the form of a PIC. Upon completion of the acquisition, the PIC will become a legally binding amendment to the current Registry Agreement:

“Fees charged to registrars for initial or renewal registration of a .ORG domain name will not increase by more than 10% per year on average for eight years from the start of the current Registry Agreement, under a precise formula that does not permit front-loading of those price increases. Through this commitment, .ORG will become one of the only TLDs to have a price restriction and it will remain one of the most affordable domains in the world.”

(Source – OnlineDomain)

While I think most people are still not going to be very happy with this deal, it does feel like PIR and Ethos are trying to do what they can to quell concern over the deal.

This week also marked the next release of the Liquid Domain Report from GGRG.com. I’ve known Giuseppe (founder of GGRG) for years, he’s an awesome guy and I think it’s very cool that he releases this report and shares all this data with the industry, for free.

DNJournal covered the report and shared a nice overview of the findings:

The latest report begins with a brief overview page that, for Q4-2019, shows the total dollar volume for publicly reported liquid domain sales jumped to nearly $7.3 million, a rise of over 30% from the previous quarter. However that news is tempered by seeing total liquid domain sales dip 13.3% at Escrow.com to about $12.2 million (individual domain sales information is not released by Escrow.com but they do their cumulative sales total for these domains).

(Source – DNJournal)

In conference news, ICANN 67, which was originally scheduled to take place in Cancun, Mexico has been converted to a virtual conference given concerns around potential risk and spread of the Coronavirus. I think most people are happy with this decision, here’s the scoop from ICANN:

“This is a decision that the ICANN Board has been considering since the outbreak was first announced and it is one that we haven’t taken lightly,” said Maarten Botterman, ICANN Board Chair. “We know that changing this meeting to remote participation-only will have an impact on and cause disruption to our community; however, this decision is about people. Protecting the health and safety of the ICANNcommunity is our top priority.”

(Source – ICANN)

This week NameCheap announced their 2019 revenue numbers which came in at $149M up almost 19% over 2018. I’ve always been impressed with NameCheap and it’s founder Richard Kirkendall is without a doubt one of the nicest people in the domain industry as well as one of the most successful.

What I think doesn’t get talked about enough is the kind of culture NameCheap has built within the company. Ask anyone who works there and they’ll tell you it’s an incredible place to work, and a great work environment attracts great people, and well, as you can see, great people are helping the company soar to new heights. Huge congrats to the whole NameCheap team, what a year!

And last but not least, this tweet from Josh Reason caught my eye yesterday and it doesn’t look like I’m alone as it has 60 likes already. A startup that raised their Series A last year is moving from a two-word .COM to a one-word .IO.

Okay, now that’s it from me – we’re off to Stinson Beach for a relaxing weekend on the beach to enjoy some of this awesome summer weather we’re getting in the Bay Area. I hope you all have a great weekend, thanks for reading!

Some people really don’t like domain investors, and one of those people recently shared some choice words on my blog

Thu, 2020-02-20 18:21

I wrote a post a couple days ago about what it’s like being a full time domain name investor. Just to be clear, I have never been a full time or even part time domain investor. I’ve actually only had two jobs over the last twenty years – I have worked for a startup (Sonos) and now run a startup (Bold Metrics). I probably see myself staying in the startup world for the foreseeable future, I just love building things and being around the creative energy of other founders.

That being said, I’ve put more money into domain names than I have into the stock market or real estate and I know a number of people who invest in domain names full time. I think one of the biggest challenges domain investors have is the negative stigma that surrounds domain investing.

If you invest in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, real estate or startups, people normally think that’s pretty darn cool. If you invest in domain names, a lot of people have some choice words to say about what you do. One of my blog readers chimed in on my post about full time domain investors and said the following:

It’s tough to hear things like this, but it also highlights one of the big challenges that I think full time domain name investors face. They have one of the few professions where people might hate them after they tell them what they do. Outside of being the person who repo’s someone’s cars there really aren’t that many professions out there where you know that some people will think of you as scum.

I know so many incredible people who are full time domain investors, they are amazing parents, partners, and people who give more to charity than just about anyone I know. They’ve had to deal with some pretty harsh criticism over the years for the career path they’ve taken, it’s tough.

That being said, I think anyone who does decide to go full time in the domain investing world should know that there are a lot of people like Rob out there and it’s pretty much impossible to get them to change their mind.

Do you think this stigma will go away over time or will domain investors always have to deal with angry people like Rob who think of them as “garbage middlemen” – I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

If I sold #Domainer shirts and donated the profits to charity, would you buy one?

Thu, 2020-02-20 05:29

A couple of years ago I made a shirt based on input I got from my blog readers, you can see it above. It’s a simple shirt that says #Domainer on the front and has morganlinton.com on the back.

I think the shirt ended up costing around $23 per shirt for me to make and I gave it away to blog readers who shared their opinions on the design and asked if I would give them one. Note – if you didn’t receive one and think you should have, shoot me an email, I’m not perfect so if I missed someone I want to make sure you get yours.

In the end I spent over $1,000 making shirts and shipping them all over the world. It was well worth it since I feel incredibly grateful to all the people who read my blog and wanted to find a way to give back.

Which brings me to the topic of this post.

At NamesCon this year a number of people asked me if there was any way for them to get a #Domainer shirt. Since I’m not really a shirt-maker or apparel company myself there wasn’t much I could do for them…but I did ask them – if I ever sold them on my site would you buy one? 100% of people said yes and the price that everyone seemed to triangulate on as their maximum was $35…which is a lot for a t-shirt IMO.

I left NamesCon thinking, well – I don’t think I’ll do that since it’s a pain in the butt for me to actually manually ship t-shirts around the world. Then I thought, well what if I took 100% of the profits and donated it to charity, then it would be worth it since we all know, every dollar counts when it comes to giving.

I currently give to multiple charities but as I get older I’ve found myself looking for more ways to give back, and maybe this is a way we can do it together. So I thought I’d ask, if I sold this #Domainer shirt and 100% of the profits went to charity would you buy it, and if so, what would you pay?

What’s it like to be a full time domain name investor?

Wed, 2020-02-19 04:43

I’ve been investing in domain names for almost thirteen years now, but it’s never been full time, or even part time for me. Instead, like most investors, it’s just been an investment strategy. Just like most people who own stocks don’t consider themselves “part time” stock market investors, I’ve never considered myself a part time domain investor. Instead, the time I would put into investing in things like the stock market or real estate, goes into domain names.

That being said, over the years I’ve had the chance to connect with full time domain name investors, some of whom I’m happy to call close friends now. I’m always fascinated to hear more about what their daily life is like. While no two people are the same, there are a few things I’ve learned about what it’s like for full time investors, here’s some high-level observations.

  1. Full time Domain Investors work a lot – some people think full time domain investors just get to sit on the beach and sell domains. Not true. Just about every full time domain investor I know works 10+ hours a day. It’s a lot of work and the most successful people I know work even longer hours than any bankers I know.
  2. Full time Domain Investors do have location independence – this is a nice perk. As a domain investor you can really live anywhere in the world, and you can travel around the world without seeing any major impact on your business. That’s pretty awesome IMO.
  3. Full time Domain Investors have to deal negative stigma – most people have jobs that other people generally understand and think good things about. The full timers I know have told me it can be tough to first explain to people what the heck they do, and then convince people that they aren’t cybersquatters. It’s a profession that doesn’t even sound real and carries with it a negative stigma…but hopefully that will change more over time.
  4. It can be isolating – probably the #1 thing I hear from full time Domain Investors is that they can end up feeling isolated. Domain Investors often work alone as a one-woman or one-man show. Usually friends and family aren’t going to understand the first thing about domains so there really isn’t anyone to talk to about what you’re doing. You also aren’t going into an office or working with other people on a daily basis and that can be isolating. Luckily, the domain investing community is a strong one and a lot of investors talk on the phone, in forums, and hang out in person every chance they get, with other investors.
  5. They aren’t all millionaires – there’s this concept that all Domain Investors are millionaires. That’s also just not true. I know some full time domain investors that make $50k/year, I know others that make $500k/year, and yes – I do know others who make $1M+ per year. Like most career paths, there are different scales, but don’t assume that everyone’s driving Ferrari’s and living in mansions.

Some of my best friends are full time domain investors, they’re awesome people and they enjoy a lot of benefits that most people with a normal day job don’t have. That being said, like most things in life, there are pros and cons. If you’ve ever thought about going full time I’d recommend going to a conference and connecting up with a few people who have done it to do a deeper dive.

These are my observations but I’m sure other people have additional insights. Feel free to comment on any of the points I shared or share some of your own. Either way I’d like to hear from you – comment and let your voice be heard!

How affiliate marketing helped this blogger make over $100,000/month

Tue, 2020-02-18 01:21

As someone who has been writing a daily blog for twelve years now I’ve always been interested in how other bloggers do what they do. In particular, I’ve always been fascinated by people who can turn their blog into a full time income source, and in some cases, a seven-figure one.

One of the most successful bloggers out there that has done a stellar job turning her blog into a jaw-dropping $100,000+ per month income stream is Michelle from MakingSenseofCents.com.

How does she do it?

Well, this would turn into an epically long post if I tried to go through her entire journey from $0 to $1M+ per year so I’ll just share a few insights that might inspire other bloggers. First, like the title of my post says, a majority of Michelle’s income comes from affiliate marketing, here’s the breakdown:

What I think is particularly interesting about this chart is what a small little piece of the pie display advertising has become. As we all remember from the early days of the web, banner ads were all the rage, now – it’s pretty clear they certainly aren’t something many bloggers depend on.

For those of you who aren’t super familiar with affiliate marketing, the idea is – you promote a product or service and get a cut if someone signs up. Here’s an example from Michelle’s blog, it all starts with an informative blog post like this one:

(view the post)

Now this is actually an interesting and informative blog post. As you can see, it has had 356 shares, and I’d imagine it’s seen tens of thousands of reads. Anyone can read the article and benefit from the content…the magic of affiliate marketing is that within the content are links to services like Acorns, that can earn Michelle money if someone clicks on the link and signs up. Here’s an example from the post above:

See that link there that says “Acorns automatically invests for you” – click on that and you’ll end up at the Acorns website, sign-up for Acorns and Michelle makes money. Acorns runs their affiliate program through an affiliate marketing company called IgniteOPM – here’s the details.

As you can see, if someone opens and funds an account, the referrer gets $5. If you read through Michelle’s blog you’ll find links like this all over the place and this is where 62% of her income comes from.

What I think has really made Michelle’s blog such a success is that it’s well written and interesting. While she might make money when someone clicks a link, that often happens at the same time that someone is reading an article and getting good information from it.

Congrats to Michelle on building one heck of an amazing blog and with it a lifestyle that most people dream of. If you want to learn more about how to start a blog yourself – well Michelle’s got that covered too, just click here to learn more.

Note: No affiliate links in this article and Michelle is not a sponsor of my blog, I just think what she’s doing is damn cool and thought other people would too!

Weekend Musings – video blog of my typical Sunday

Sun, 2020-02-16 22:26

Hello, happy Sunday, and welcome to my weekend musings. Last weekend I shot some video of what a typical Sunday is like for me when I’m home in San Francisco. While I travel 4-5 months out of the year which makes many weekends completely different, when I’m home I really enjoy my Sunday routine.

Sunday is the one day a week where I actually have time to sit down and focus on domain investing, and it’s also a great day to get more time at the gym, study Japanese and just slow things down.

So today I sat down and edited the video together, note – I’m still new at making videos like this and I’m a totally newbie when it comes to video editing so don’t expect anything spectacular. That being said, I did go on Fiverr and got someone to whip me up an intro and outro which I think makes a difference, I don’t know – you tell me, enjoy!

Oh and if you haven’t followed me on You Tube yet, you should as I’ll be posting more videos on there this year but they won’t also get featured on my blog. You can subscribe by visiting my channel page and hitting the red Subscribe button at the top, easy enough right?

.AR domain names will soon be available to the world

Sat, 2020-02-15 15:39

Over the last decade, domain name extensions like .CO, .IO, and .AI have become a go-to for companies big and small, around the world. Now there’s a new kid on the block and I think we’ll be looking back ten years from now remembering its humble beginnings.

I’m talking about .AR which will become available to the general public starting March 10th. I first read about this on DN.biz, here’s the scoop:

.AR is the country code for Argentina and recently they started a process to allow second level registrations. Meaning you can get GreatName.ar, instead of previously being limited to greatname.com.ar

I Spoke with Simon Penchansky, COO at Toweb, one of our sponsors, about .ar.  Simon is based in South America. We use Toweb to manage registrations in global cctlds, especially those with complex registration requirements.

Simon shared the General Availability opens March 10th 2020, midnight local time which is GMT -3. That means it is March 9th, late night, for many North American investors, and various other times around the world.   .AR has already had a sunrise period for trademark owners and a land-rush period to grab highly desired names. The process for the land-rush was a lottery system with one winner drawn at random among applicants. You had to pay $20 for each prereservation, and submit notarized and mailed documents; a barrier and hassle for many.

(Source – DN.biz)

So why get excited about .AR? Well, the size of the Augmented Reality market, which is called AR 99% of the time is massive, and growing fast. Here’s some numbers for you – right now AR is a 10 billion dollar market, by 2024 it’s expected to be a 72 billion dollar market. Yes – you read that right, 7x growth in the next four years. Here’s the full scoop:

The report Augmented Reality Market by Offering (Hardware (Sensor, Displays & Projectors, Cameras), Software), Device Type (Head-mounted, Head-up), Application (Enterprise, Consumer, Commercial, Healthcare, Automotive), and Region – Global Forecast to 2024″, is estimated to grow from USD 10.7 billion in 2019 and projected to reach USD 72.7 billion by 2024; it is expected to grow at a CAGR of 46.6% from 2019 to 2024. The healthcare sector has witnessed rapid technological advancements over the years, and various kinds of advanced imaging equipment have been introduced in the healthcare sector. The healthcare sector has one of the most important and practical applications of AR in the current market scenario.

(Source – MarketsAndMarkets)

I’m pretty excited about .AR and while .COM has been and likely always will be my go-to domain name extension I will likely be adding some .AR names to my portfolio in March.

What do you think about .AR? I want to hear from you – comment and let your voice be heard!

Weekly Domain Investing News Update – new format, more social “buzz” and more

Sat, 2020-02-15 01:05

Hello, happy Friday and Valentines Day and welcome to my weekly domain investing news highlights. This year I want to do a better job of including breaking news from social media as well as blogs so I’d like to kick-off this week’s update with the following tweet…you might find it’s related to the title of my post (hint – buzz, too corny?):

Congrats to Shane, solid sale and another great example of why two-word .COMs make such good investments.

Not surprisingly one of the top stories in the Domain Investing world so far this year has been the impending rise of .COM prices and many people have chimed in to share their sentiments. Below are a few different blog posts from the last week about this topic:

Namecheap: “Help Us Avoid .COM Price Increases”
(read more on DomainInvesting.com)

.Com price hike comment period ends February 14
(read more on DomainNameWire)

ICANN president on .COM domain prices : Articles perpetuate misunderstandings!
(read more on DomainGang)

GoDaddy: “Let your voice be heard”
(read more on DomainInvesting.com)

The major headline this week was Go Daddy’s acquisition of Uniregistry and Frank Schilling’s domain portfolio. Below are some article highlighting the transaction and speculating on the final sales price…which I think we all know is a big chunk of change no matter how you slice it.

GoDaddy Makes Blockbuster Acquisition of Uniregistry’s Registrar & Market and Frank Schilling’s Domain Portfolio
(read more on DNJournal)

What GoDaddy’s acquisition of Uniregistry means for domain investors
(read more on DomainNameWire)

Rob Monster’s prediction on Uniregistry on the money
(read more on TLDInvestors)

and it’s safe to say Frank was pretty darn exciting and did some celebrating of his own with family and friends. This week Frank sent out a tweet encouraging people to follow him on Instagram as well:

Here’s one of my favorite photos from Frank’s recent shares on Instagram…I’m wondering if this is the call where they finalized the deal?

Next up, Josh Reason announced a brand new service for domain investors to sell names at wholesale to other investors called DNWE.com. Before announcing the new site he hinted at it on Twitter in this tweet:

Later that day Josh tweeted:

Last but certainly not least, domain industry veteran and well-known domain attorney Howard Neu uncovered some very interesting new data on the UDRP-front. Howard first announced the news on his blog at NeusNews.com and then Ron Jackson covered it on DNJournal.

What Howard discovered after analyzing hundreds of UDRP cases is pretty interesting, and if the trend holds, could mean very good things ahead for domain name investors.

Of course there was a lot of other exciting news this week but these are the stories that caught my eye. As always, feel free to comment on any of these stories are share one you think I missed in the comment section below!

Josh Reason launched DNWE.com this week and it looks pretty awesome ????

Fri, 2020-02-14 05:50

Josh and I have been Twitter friends for some time now but I finally got the chance to meet him in-person at NamesCon. Well fresh off of NamesCon Josh has a new announcement, and like many others, I’m pretty excited. It’s called DNWE.com and it’s a marketplace for Domainers to sell to other Domainers at wholesale prices.

The first thing that struck me about DNWE.com is the UX – it is super clean, from the site itself to the registration flow it’s clearly thought out and feels sparkly and fresh, like a new car.

As a domain investor buying domains there are four reasons why DNWE.com thinks it will be a go-to for you:

  1. Only accepting investment-grade domains
  2. Domain pricing clearly set at wholesale
  3. Easy to search and filter
  4. Non-negotiable BIN prices

For domain investors selling domains the main draws to DNWE are:

  1. Still maintaining retail prices on your domains in public marketplaces
  2. Only a 9% success fee
  3. Quick payouts = fast liquidity

While there have been some initial bugs getting things off the ground Josh has been super honest about them and incredibly communicative on Twitter.

This is the right way to do things. Rather than promising people a perfect experience, I think it’s great that Josh is honest, hey – there are always bugs when you’re getting a new site launched, rather than hiding it Josh is taking the high road and I think that’s awesome.

I’m looking forward to listing some of my names on DNWE.com, I think it’s a great idea and with Josh at the helm I also think it’s going to be done right. Huge congrats to Josh – looking forward to being a customer both as a buyer and a seller!

Equal Ventures just raised a $56M fund, and of course they’re branding on a .VC domain

Wed, 2020-02-12 18:12

Last week I wrote an article about the growing popularity of the .VC domain extension. Honestly, I’m seeing .VC everywhere now and it’s getting hard to ignore how quickly this domain extension has become a go-to in the Venture Capital world.

Yesterday TechCrunch broke the news about Equal Ventures, a new VC firm that just closed a $56M fund. No surprises, they are branding on Equal.vc. Here’s a bit more about the fund:

The two believe that a concentrated and thesis-driven investment model for seed will win out against casual, spray-and-pray investors, as well as larger firms that dabble in seed as a way to build up their cap table positions for later-stage rounds.

While the fund is officially closing this week, the firm has already been busy, locking in more than half a dozen startup investments in areas like retail, logistics and talent. The firm targets a median check size of roughly $1.5 million, and will presumably reserve a hefty chunk of its fund for follow-on investments.

One element that Kerby explained to me that differentiates Equal from other firms is the firm’s lack of focus on the technical background of its founders. He and Zullo believe that modern SaaS tools and more democratized business platforms make it easier than ever to start digital businesses, even without a background in computer science or that fancy alphabet soup of AI/ML.

(Source – TechCrunch)

What I really like about Equal Ventures is their approach. They’re taking a different path and focusing on great founders and an approach that goes deeper than just a check. Equal Ventures likes to work directly with their founders to help them succeed:

We believe conviction favors concentration over diversification. We treat every startup like a member of our family, not just a logo. We invest in a concentrated number of companies to allow us to spend more time with our portfolio and bring the resources of the firm (not just a single partner of a platform) to our founders.

(Source – Equal.vc)

I am really looking forward to seeing what companies Equal Ventures invests in, they’re taking a unique approach and have a strong thesis that I think is going to make them a very well known fund over time. Huge congrats to Richard and Rick, $56M is one heck of a nice way to kick off a new fund!

Taking DAN.com for a spin – first impressions

Tue, 2020-02-11 16:44

Over the years I’ve used just about every solution out there for generating landing pages on a domain name. As I’ve said many times before – if you want to sell a domain name, having a landing page on that name that let’s a prospective buyer know it’s for sale is critical.

Yes, most of us in the domain name world know all about WHOIS and even how to contact people using WHOIS privacy (just email the darn email address!) but that’s not true for everyone.

My go-to over the last few years for domain sales landing pages is Efty.com, I’m a huge fan of theirs and have been really impressed with all the features and functionality they’ve added over time. That being said, I’ve never tried DAN.com and do know a number of people who use it so thought I would take it for a spin.

One thing I really liked about DAN.com from the get-go is their UX, it’s super clean and very polished. When I first logged-into DAN.com a message on Intercom showed up on the right-hand side that recommended an article to me about some new features they added. I clicked on the link but ended up on a “404 not found” page.

As a software guy myself I know these things happen so I sent them a quick note to let them know, no big deal. Next I went to add my domains, this is pretty darn simple – you can either just write a list of domain in a text entry box or upload a CSV, here’s what the experience looks like:

I added my domains and then updated my NameServers to point to the following four NameServers:

NS1.undeveloped.com
NS2.undeveloped.com
NS1.DAN.com
NS2.DAN.com

The reason I’m writing all of them in this post is just to highlight that when you’re using a service like this, you should always use as many NameServers as you can, that way if something goes screwy on their side, you have something to fall back on.

After that, poof – landing pages were rocking. Here’s an example of what one looks like:

Two small things I noticed that aren’t a big deal but just caught my eye. One is a small grammar error under my profile. It says “Member since over four years” rather than “member for over four years.” I was surprised to see that I was a member for that long but remembered that I did create an Undeveloped account probably four years ago so that’s where I think that’s coming from.

The other stylistic thing that really isn’t a deal-breaker but just bugs me a little is that the icons on the bottom aren’t centered. My eyes feel like they should be centered but they’re squished over to the left. Once again, no big deal.

What did confuse the heck out of me is the options for the seller box. DAN.com allows you to pick what you want it to show in that little box with my face in it…and well, two of the options sound like something I certainly don’t want to show up there:

  • Delivers within about 50 years
  • Responds within about 50 years

Also since I’m new to DAN.com, the “offers received section” shows zero. So my current concern is that anyone who ends up at my landing page either sees that it takes me 50 years to deliver a domain, 50 years to respond to an offer, or that I haven’t had any offers. I definitely wish there was a way to disable this as I’m thinking this is probably going to be a detractor to anyone thinking of making an offer.

Of course, like I said above, as a fellow software guy, I know that bugs like this happen so I let them know and I’m guessing they’ll have this fixed soon.

I like the look-and-feel of the landing pages, the design is incredibly clean and polished and like Efty, DAN.com has some good features behind-the-scenes to validate people so that I’m not getting a bunch of SPAM.

At the end of the day, I still think Efty is going to remain my go-to but I’m looking forward to seeing how DAN.com does over the next month to compare results. Either way, I think it’s awesome that there are companies offering a service like this to Domainers and really putting the time and energy into building a solid solution.

Rewind ten years ago and there really was nothing that comes close to what either of these companies offer so hats off to both of them for putting in the time, money, and work, all so we can have beautiful for sale landers on our domain names

If anyone has experiences with Efty or DAN.com they want to share, feel free to do so in the comment section below!

Domain Investing News for the week of February 3rd 2020

Tue, 2020-02-11 01:57

Well it’s safe to say I’m still on cloud nine after NamesCon this year, I think everyone who went recognizes how darn special it was. Heck, it’s been special every year but I think what changes is us, we all get closer and that means even better conversations, experiences, etc. I’m already getting excited for Budapest

I ended up selling two domain names that more than covered the entire cost of my flights, hotels, food, drinks, etc. so the conference has been paid for. Also, one of the deals I started working on at the conference looks like it will close this week, and with a few more in the works, I think this could turn out to be my best NamesCon yet

Like I’ve said over and over again, it’s all about the people. While I think video chat has been a game-changer, there’s really nothing like being in-person with someone. I’ve already put some of the tips people shared with me to work and I’ve had a ton of follow-ups with people that is really setting up 2020 to be one heck of a year. Can you tell I’m excited? Talk to anyone that was at NamesCon…you’ll find they have the same energy.

Okay – enough gushing from me. A lot happened in the Domain Investing world last week and I’ve hand-picked some of the article that I think are an absolute must-read. Enjoy!

Results from the 2020 NamesCon Live Auction
(read more on DomainInvesting.com)

New York times covers the .Ai extension
(read more on TheDomains)

5 Immediate Actions to Execute Following NamesCon Global
(read more on Kickstart Commerce)

Spanish fashion company tries to scalp Scalpers.com
(read more on DomainNameWire)

Two startups building their brands on .IO domains raised $53M combined today
(read more on my blog)

ADD.com and Mercury.com go live
(read more on OnlineDomain)

Two New Six-Figure Sales Top This Week’s Domain Sales Chart and Neither Are .Coms
(read more on DNJournal)

Domain price increases : Gave ICANN a piece of my mind, and so should you
(read more on ACRO.net)

Voices Rising Against Proposed ICANN Agreement With Verisign That Would Push .Com Prices Up 31% in 4 Years
(read more on DNJournal)

Countries consider their country code a natural resource
(read more on TLDInvestors)

Weekend Musings – Hiking on Mt Tam, dinner in Stinson Beach and Domaining Sunday

Mon, 2020-02-10 04:21

Hello, happy Sunday, and welcome to my weekend musings. This is a series that I used to do on my blog but haven’t kept up with over the years. Last week at NamesCon enough people told me I should start this back up again that I decided to do it, so welcome back, let’s do this.

One of the things I really love about living in San Francisco is how easy it is to go from being in the middle of the hustle-and-bustle and out into nature. As you probably know, I’m a big fan of hiking, camping, and backpacking and one of my favorite hiking spots close to the city is Mount Tamalpais.

Daina and I had a great hike on Mt Tam on Saturday, which is where the photo above was taken. You never know if you’re going to be able to see the city or not from the peak, it really depends on what Carl (yes, the fog in SF has a name) decides to do. It was pretty clear yesterday so you can see the rolling hills of the Marin Headlands, the ocean, and the city in the distance.

We had a picnic lunch on top of Mt Tam and watched the sun set…once the sun goes down it starts to get mighty cold so we headed back to the car and onto Stinson Beach for dinner. Here’s a shot of the sunset:

If you haven’t heard of Stinson Beach, you’re not alone, and in some ways it’s by design. Nestled along the California Coast, Stinson Beach is a small beach community that wants to stay that way. Main Street is tiny and with no main highway taking you in and out you’ll have to wind along the coastline to get here.

That being said, if you’re already on top of Mt Tam, it’s only about a 15 minute drive and well worth it. My favorite restaurant in Stinson Beach is The Sand Dollar, and since it’s Dungeness Crab season, our timing was perfect.

That was Saturday. As for today, I got up, went to the gym and then spent most of the afternoon Domaining (i.e. doing things related to my domain investment portfolio). Given how busy my weekdays are, Sunday tends to be the only day I can give my Domain Investments some love.

Tonight we’re making salmon and broccoli which has become a regular Sunday night go-to for us. While I know a lot of people are probably watching the Oscars, we aren’t big movie buffs, and we’re currently really into a Korean Drama called Crash Landing On You (available on Netflix) which I highly recommend.

On that note, it’s time for dinner. I hope you all had a great weekend, it was so awesome seeing everyone at NamesCon, thanks for the encouragement to bring this weekly series back!

The .VC domain extension is becoming pretty darn popular with Venture Capitalists

Sat, 2020-02-08 20:39

In 2020 there are a ton of options when it comes to buying a domain name. While .COM is and probably always will be king, niche-specific domain name extensions are becoming increasingly popular. From .TECH to .AI, more and more companies are looking at what comes after the dot to give context to what it is that they do.

Enter .VC, while this is technically the domain name extension for St. Vincent and Grenadines, doesn’t ring a bell? Here it is on a map:

as for what it looks like, you guessed it – island paradise.

Of course VCs aren’t flocking to this domain name because it’s a beautiful vacation spot, to them, and most people that see a .VC domain extension they’re thinking one thing – Venture Capital.

The increased popularity of this domain extension in recent years has led to some decent sales but most end up in the four-figure range making this a massive discount off of what you’d normally pay for a one-word .COM. Here are some examples of some notable .VC sales:

  • VS.vc – $10,000
  • Bond.vc – $6,120
  • EOS.vc – $5,500
  • Feitopra.vc – $5,000
  • Apollo.vc – $4,789
  • Scale.vc – $4,240

As for the Venture Capital firms that brand on .VC, the list is getting longer every month. Most VCs I’ve talked to about the extension like it because when someone sees it they know exactly what they do. Take 2048 Ventures started by Alex Iskold, former MD of Techstars NYC and a well-known Angel Investor – if they branded on 2048.com, you’d have to visit the site to know what they do, 2048.vc makes it clear they’re a VC firm.

Here’s some examples of other VCs branding on .VC domains:

Cowboy Ventures (Cowboy.vc)

Primary Ventures (Primary.vc)

2048 Ventures (2048.vc)

Hustle Fund (HustleFund.vc)

Chapter One (ChapterOne.vc)

Decibel (Decibel.vc)

Like most domain extensions, most of the best domains were taken a long time ago which means if you’re trying to buy a .VC domain for your fund, you’ll probably have to buy it from someone who already owns it. The good news is, unlike .COM where even two-word .COMs like MyWorld.com can sell for over a million dollars, there’s a good chance you can get the .VC domain you want for less than $5,000.

Unlike the startups VCs invest in that pay six-figures and seven figures to get the domain name they want, VCs are getting lucky, for now. My guess is over time .VC domain names will increase in price and we’ll start to see more five-figure sales like we’re seeing in the .IO space right now.

Until then, it seems like now is a great time to be a VC looking for a domain because the opportunity to get your first choice .VC domain probably costs less than what you spend attending a single conference. At the same time, I’d also recommend buying the two other variants in .COM, i.e. CompanyNameVC.com and CompanyNameVentures.com, IMO those two with the .VC name is the trifecta you’re looking for if you really want to own your brand online.

It will be interesting to watch the market for .VC names continue to grow over time, I’ll be watching and reporting more on my blog. On that note if you know of any notable .VC sales that haven’t yet been reported, feel free to send them my way. Like so many higher-value domain sales, some of the top sales in any domain extension don’t get reported so you can bet there are deals happening all the time that nobody knows about.

It was an interesting week for domain investors as the top three sales went to non .COMs

Fri, 2020-02-07 21:29

I’m a big fan of .COM. A majority of the domain name investments I make are in .COM, my blog is on a .COM domain, and my company is also on a .COM domain. So safe to say I’m a .COM guy.

At the same time, I have found myself investing in other TLDs from time to time with extensions like .IO, .CO and .GG being the ones that have been the most interesting to me lately. I also can’t help but notice some of the amazing non .COM sales that have been happening lately and this week was no exception as .CHAT, .ES, and .FR ended up taking the top three spots this week in DNJournal’s weekly sales report. Here’s the top five:

No surprisingly, two-word .COMs made it in the top spots, these are my personal favorite and I actually spent close to $1,000 over the last week buying new two-word .COM domains to add to my own portfolio.

While Live.chat took the #1 spot this week I do think it’s important to point out that .CHAT does not have a strong sales history so I hope nobody looks at this and thinks they should dump a bunch of money into .CHAT domains because I think that would be a waste of money.

As for the .ES and .FR, these are two very popular ccTLDs and if you happen to know French or Spanish, there are always opportunities in this space. For me, .IO is my primary investment focus outside of .COM but I still always see .COM representing the vast majority of what I invest in, it’s the only truly proven investment grade domain extension IMO.

Still, it’s hard to ignore what’s happening in the non .COM space and as we all know, there are a lot of great opportunities out there in the domain name world. For anyone who thinks they missed the boat, you didn’t.

Unsubscribe.com is expiring, and it’s at $26,000 in auction with less than an hour to go

Thu, 2020-02-06 17:11

Great domain names expire all the time for one reason or another. In most cases, the owner stopped using it and has no idea what domain names typically sell for in the open market.

Today that seems to be the case for Unsubscribe.com which has expired and is in auction at Go Daddy.

The bidding is currently at $26,000 and like most auctions you can expect a big jump towards the end. In my opinion this is a six-figure domain and I’m pretty sure most of the people bidding on it feel the same so even at $40k+ it has the chance to provide a nice ROI to the buyer.

I always like to guess what a name like this will sell for, I think we’ll see a nice jump towards the end so I’m going to guess $38,000. What do you think the final sale price will be?

Two startups building their brands on .IO domains raised $53M combined today

Wed, 2020-02-05 23:27

I’ve been talking quite a bit about how extensions like .CO, .IO, .AI and others are seeing strong growth in the startup world and investors don’t seem to be phased by these non .COM innovators.

Today was a pretty special day for companies branding on .IO as Clearx.io announced a $13M raise and Aiven.io announced a $40M raise. So what are these companies doing to get investors so excited? I’ll start with Clear.

First I have to say, I’m pretty surprised that Clear is branding on Clearx.io rather than Clear.io…this is pretty rare IMO that a company brands on a .IO domain but can’t get their first choice name. I wouldn’t be surprised if they upgrade to Clear.io in the near-future, but let’s get to the good stuff – what do they do?

As usual, a picture is worth a thousand words and a video is worth a lot more than that, here’s a quick ~1 min video running through what Clear does at a high-level:

As for the one liner, I’ll give it a shot. Clear is a Blockchain technology company that has created a system to allow smart contracts to be created and executed automatically. Don’t understand that…well watch the darn video then!

Now onto Aiven.io which raised a monster $40M round that just got announced today. In this case, they are branding on their exact-match .IO which makes a whole lot more sense to me.

Given that Aiven.com is an existing company in China there is probably little-to-no chance Aiven will move to the .COM so if they do decided to move away from the .IO someday that will likely mean changing their name.

Looking at their Crunchbase profile the company has raised $50M so far and they are growing fast. So what do they do? Once again, I think a video does it a lot more justice if you really want to understand the nitty gritty:

As for the one-liner, I’ll give it a shot. Aiven allows you to quickly and easily build data pipelines so you can focus on software rather than infastructure.

Huge congrats to both Aiven and Clear, big day for both of them!

Three Domain Investing trends I noticed at NamesCon 2020

Wed, 2020-02-05 01:34

Hello from 32,000 feet I am currently on my flight back from Austin to SF, and as usual after a conference, I have a lot running through my head. While I still have some great videos to share, I thought I’d take a minute to reflect on three domain investing trends I saw front and center at NamesCon this year.

Since I’ve found the Internet on airplanes can be a bit spotty, okay – really spotty, I’m going to make this short and sweet so I can actually get this post out.

  1. Outbound, outbound, outbound – I heard more domain investors talk about doing outbound sales than ever before. On top of that, I found most people seem to be having better luck on LinkedIn than email.
  2. .CO, .IO, .AI, they’re a thing now – from investors like Nikul making a majority of their six-figure domain investing income from .CO to other investors making a killing with TLDs like .IO it’s clear opportunities beyond .COM are paying off for lots of investors.
  3. Payment plans are in – I heard more people talk about selling domains at higher prices and bridging the gap using payment plans than ever before. I also heard of other escrow services like Epik becoming a bigger player in the domain escrow space, especially when it comes to payment plans.

Okay, time to put on a movie and try to drift off to sleep as I make my way back to SF. More to come, just after I’m a bit more rested!

NamesCon Day Three In One Video

Tue, 2020-02-04 05:28

NamesCon 2020 may be over but I still have plenty of video content to share. I’m still in Austin spending time with some of the Bold Metrics team we have here in town along with some other friends that run startups here. It has been a blast but I’m definitely looking forward to heading back to SF tomorrow.

I’ll be honest, my day three video is pretty boring since I had non-stop meetings and felt it would be too weird to just video my meetings…so if you want to skip this video, go for it. That being said, since I recorded a video every day I felt it was important to still post this one, so here you go.

Enjoy and hello again from Austin, one more day to go!

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