10 Thoughts On the Latest Craziness That is Domain Investing

Jul 15 2014

These are the kind of posts that get me in trouble.  It’s been a while since I wrote my opinionated jumblings. In the past they’ve gotten me banned from a forum or a call from a person that may or not call me a friend after the post. Some of it is fact, some of it is opinion.  Some probably should not have been said, some needed to be.  It’s all things that other friends and I have been discussing privately over the past few months.


1.   There are a lot of domain investors “upgrading their portfolios”.   Selling quantities of names and buying just a few big names. Investing in super premium, one word dot coms.  Myself included.  Andrew Rosener bought Santa.com and looks to be financing it with a few sales from his portfolio.  It’s not that any of them have been forced to sell their names.  It seems to be a combination of two things.  Sales have been amazing for most people with good portfolios and and instead of putting it back into medium priced names, they’re buying six figure dot coms.  The future isn’t clear on anything we do, but most agree that the premium, one word, dot coms are generally the best names to own if you can afford it.

2. Domain Investors prove day in and day out they don’t do build outs.  They are generally unwilling to go “all in” to their new business. When one does, it becomes a headline and a DomainSherpa story. But the success stories are few and far between.  Domain Investors don’t seem to want to own real businesses.  Most don’t have the skills or the time.  The real money is starting a business on one of these domains but it requires complete dedication.  Morgan Linton is one of the few success stories but it certainly had nothing to do with the actual domain FashionMetric.com .  It had everything to do with the the concept and the buildout.   He would be the first to say (or maybe not) that he had to throw a lot of darts to figure out which project would become the lifeblood of Team Linton.  Mark Cuban answered that question.   He also shows how hard it is to do all things well.  When you put in as much work as he does, it’s hard to put the same effort into the other entities.  I think that’s why we’re starting to get Python coding stories and “How to Clean Your Shirt” articles on his domain blog.  It’s what he’s doing every day over at Fashion Metric and it bleeds over.

3. Flippa has pretty much taken over the average joe domain auction market.  People that sell one or two domain at a time. Bido tried it, Godaddy wants to do it, Namejet is a different type of auction market. Flippa has made it easy for anyone that wants to sell a domain put it up for sale.  Just like they did with websites for the last 15 years (as Sitepoint).  Godaddy had a good thing but there has been a noticeable decline in private sales in my opinion (Godaddy has real numbers, my stats are merely perception since I don’t really know which names are expired or private) due to non paying bidders for higher priced domains. And Sedo.  What can I say?  They decided that their auction platform and marketing department would be an afterthought starting back in 2009.   Namejet has been the best auction platform for years but generally it has been a closed platform that is mostly partners expired names combined with larger portfolio owners. Or people that can give quantity and consistency of names.  They are rewarded with the highest results of the auction platforms.  But Flippa has been holding their own lately.  And like Namejet, the sales almost always complete.

4.  Anyone really click gTLDs like .ONL running along the top of Domaining.com and TheDomains.com? 

5. Nice to see Jaime writing his domain discoveries again.  I wrote a description of Jaime back in the day “Brilliant, doesn’t work well with others”  I take it back.  Not the brilliant part.  He has an amazing ability to build tools and dig deeper into data.  I don’t really have a team but if I did, he’s the kind of guy I want on it.

6.  I lost quite a few friends in the Domain Boardroom scuffle a few months ago. I really didn’t lose them as friends, just reclassified them.  It’s been a while and things have settled back to normal. In hindsight it wasn’t that big of a deal.I realized that there are quite a few people in the industry that I talk to occasionally, email every once in a while ,but really aren’t friend friends.  They are more like business friends.  Business friends are great and can be quite enjoyable, but you can’t share quite as much because it may come back to bite you.  Business friends also don’t want to offend anyone else in the business because it effects their profits, so they can’t really take sides on anything.  This isn’t just domaining.  It’s really the case with any small industry.  You have to neutral and avoid controversy because at one point or another you will need everyone to make a dollar.   Originally I was upset that some people I considered friends didn’t defend me. I thought they were afraid of Donna.  Now I realize they can’t afford to alienate anyone and I completely understand that.  It’s the people that piled on and went the extra mile to criticize me personally that I will remember….and make feel a little uncomfortable at Namescon :).

7.  Daniel Negari really blew it.  I know this has been said a million times over at DomainGang but I remember the .XYZ party at Namescon with Daniel sitting there with his hair slicked back, looking young and dapper.  He was already successful.  Had made millions.  The story told many times.  But now we all know him because he refused to address anything regarding the auto purchases.  Even Ron Jackson called him out which may be a first for an article in DNJournal and Morgan, his good friend, took a step back from the whole ordeal.  The overall feeling at that party was that Daniel was going to show us how it’s done.  The new generation showing us old guys how the new generation of TLDs is going to work.  Instead he made the old mistake of trying to cheat his way to the top.  Fortunately he still has his money, he’s just going to have to rebuild his reputation.

8.  Does anyone know who “first” is on Namejet?  That guy, girl, or company has been buying up numerics like they are the secret to the fountain of youth.  CCC.coms, NNNN.coms, you name it, he’s on it.  The names go under privacy once purchased.  The DNS tends to go to Hong Kong but I was pretty sure he was from Asia anyway.  I’m sure Jamie can find out.

9.  I’m already burnt out on the new gTLDs and they’re barely out.  Heck, the real money may be in the later ones that come out after everyone has blown all their money and don’t want to keep dumping more money into names.  The domain market is built on turnover and there isn’t going to be much turnover in gTLDs unless you count next years’ drops. Profitability is going to take years and nobody even knows which one is going to the best resale market. Heck, we don’t even know if there will even be a resale market.  It’s like betting on a race with 1100 horses in the field and a race that goes on for 5 years.   I think DomainIncite’s “sell them the pick and shovel” private pay for tools method is best angle yet.

10.  You have to give it to Aron Meystedt at Heritage Auctions, he certainly has built a good portfolio this go around.  There are only two goals for a domain auction. Good a good group of names to sell. Get good prices for those domains.  He has absolutely achieved the first half.  We’ll see how the second half of the equation plays out.  Regardless, this auction is good for the industry and everyone should be rooting for great prices.  If the names hit big numbers it will draw the attention of people that visit HA for other investments.  Yes, most of the buyers want things they can touch and feel but they also want to make money.  I also think that more people understand the prestige of owning a premier domain name than you think.  And we all know that most of the items that are sold for big money at auctions are just to impress their friends.

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Outsmarting the Dumb, Outworking the Smart

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  1. Jeff Schneider

    Hello Shane,
    When the smoke settles the ones that will be remembered are the ones who guessed what the truth really is. These are the ones they will remember and trust. Kudos

    Grateully, Jeff Schneider (Contact Group) (Metal Tiger) (Domain Master)

  2. Eric Borgos

    Great article. I am curious what the “Domain Boardroom scuffle” was. I am a member of that site but only login every few months so I have not seen what you are talking about.

  3. Carl

    “You have to give it to Aron Meystedt at Heritage Auctions, he certainly has built a good portfolio this go around. There are only two goals for a domain auction. Good a good group of names to sell. Get good prices for those domains. He has absolutely achieved the first half. We’ll see how the second half of the equation plays out. Regardless, this auction is good for the industry and everyone should be rooting for great prices. If the names hit big numbers it will draw the attention of people that visit HA for other investments”

    Exactly, this type of auction houses are what is need in the industry. What about another prospect high level auction house like could be Hilco?

  4. Paul H

    8. Does anyone know who “first” is on Namejet? Yes.
    Looks like they don’t put ‘all’ their names under Privacy. Rather not make it public so hit me on my name and I’ll drop you what I know.

  5. Steve C

    Who know what the new flood of domains will do? The Shadow knows.
    Seriously, I am selling the lower priced ones < 10k and looking to buy premiums on dot com.

  6. Doron

    These posts are great because everyone will agree or disagree with at least one or more of these points. I agree with most of them except for 7. “Daniel Negari really blew it”. I honestly think Daniel doesn’t give a flying f what everyone in the domaining industry thinks of him as long as XYZ will turn out to be the success he hopes it will be. The majority of domains are being registered by people OUTSIDE of the domaining industry and those people will never know (and never care) about Negari and the whole Netsol issue. Maybe Daniel really blew it among the domaining industry insiders but he still has just a a big a chance to market his extension as any other of the new GTLDs (personally i think .XYZ is one of the worse extension tho but that doesn’t have anything to do with this).

  7. Steve C

    I don’t know why anyone would think Daniel Negari blew it with the NetSol thing. His job is to generate revenue for .xyz not play by mythical rules. The opportunity was there, he took it since it was not illegal. His main concern is not displeazing his customers and he seems to have accomplished that. From what I see, customer impact is nill. No apology needed.

  8. NameConnect

    You’re correct about Flippa and no one says it, that’s where the developers are and for the right project will get you top dollar for a targeted generic. They have grown exponentially by putting a lot time and hard work in over the last five years, kudos to them.

  9. Deon Takpuie

    Yet another brilliant and sincere article! With regards to point 2, I do agree people should develop domains however they do not need to go all-in neccessarily, as this would be risky, if they do not have sufficient capital. As Michael Porter said, diversification of business is the new strategy to success, create multiple income streams (even having a job), in case any one income stream was to ever fail, you are still safe.

  10. Kevin Fink

    Loved reading this (and not just #3!) — We sincerely appreciate the recognition, though. Keep an eye out for some great changes in the near future, as we look-up-to HA and what they’re doing (and hope to emulate soon).

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