Should Rick Schwartz Bid On Domains At His Own Auction?

Oct 07 2011

I’ll never forget my first big domain auction.  I had been buying domains for years. I had read their blogs, seen their pictures, and now I was sitting one row away from all of them.  Together sat Rich Schwartz, Howard Neu, and Michael Berkens all laughing and having a good time at the TRAFFIC auction in Vegas. I could see it in Rick’s eyes that he loved just being part of the action.  The money, the fast pace, being surrounded by others in the industry.  It was his time to do a little showing off, showing what he does.  But can he do that at his own auction?

Schwartz has a lot to lose and gain.  He has never called out Rick Latona but everyone knows when he says better, he’s talking about all other conferences but especially the previous TRAFFIC shows.  The motto of this conference seems to be “we can do better and we will” which in my mind he already has.  But Rick loves to participate and in this case,  I think he may have to sit it out.  I think it could be a huge conflict of interest if the owner/organizer of an auction is actually bidding.  How would you feel if you paid more for a domain because the auction holder bids against you?  There have been unproven accusations of shill bidding in past auctions and I think TRAFFIC is doing a great job of being open and hones,t but it would all go down the drain if the organizers participate in the auction. While it may be in good faith, just the mere appearance of driving up a price would taint the outcome.  Some may say he can just have a few friends bid on names for them.  I don’t think TRAFFIC needs to do this and from everything I’ve read or heard, they think the quality will do it’s own bidding.  As far as friends buying names for the organizers.  It will be pretty easy to tell because many people have already put a DomainTools watch on all the names and you’ll know soon enough who won the name.

Rick may have already been asked this same question and I missed the response or will most likely respond in a public way.  Either way I’m curious if the industry felt it would be a conflict of interest if anyone involved in the management of the auction participated in the bidding.  Regardless I’m hoping it will be a successful auction because our industry needs a few success story.  I do hope that the XXX names aren’t the highlight though.  Nothing wrong with that but it would be nice to headlines other than the new adult name sales.

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Outsmarting the Dumb, Outworking the Smart

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  1. prosper

    nothing wrong with Rick bidding at Traffic. The next man can aways bid him out. There is no one holding others back from bidding on the same names.

    It’s great that Rick is able to bring domainers together and offer a platform where others can make deals happen.

  2. Rick Schwartz

    Sorry, I don’t give up my rights as a domainer by helping everyone else. Never have….NEVER will.

    As for conflicts of interest…….this INDUSTRY is riddled with the WOSRT of it and everyone has sat SILENTLY by and let it exist. Let ALL KNOW that come to TRAFFIC that when I see a domain I want I will bid. If that rubs somebody the wrong way, then either don’t bid against me or I’ll buy you dinner during the auction. :-))

    Besides, it would have been easier to negotiate with the sellers BEFORE the auction. Then way the domains “I” want would NEVER SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY! I can STILL do that if everyone prefers. I know I would PREFER it that way!

    Besides, with so many trolls running around saying what a terrible list it is, there should be no issue at all.

    I just love when a PLAN comes together.

    Thanks for bringing this into the open and allowing me to have my say. The same “Group” of folks have been trying to pull this SHIT for years! I am a domainer FIRST!

  3. Louise

    It’s not a conflict if Schwartz makes it official. People put a reserve, so they should be happy if the reserve is met. If you, Rick, used your leverage to find out how high people are going to bid on a name prior to the auction, it could be viewed as a conflict. But I think you would censor yourself to not try to find out what kind of budget people own up to for certain names.

    The more the merrier!

  4. Rick Schwartz

    “Schwartz has a lot to lose and gain. He has never called out Rick Latona but everyone knows when he says better, he’s talking about all other conferences but especially the previous TRAFFIC shows”

    Shane This bullshit that YOU made up!! Assigning motives to me is talking out of your ass. Why would you do that? Bored? Just trying your best to start shit?

    1. Post author

      Rick and Rick,

      I didn’t mean to imply that there were any problems between you two. And certainly not trying to put words in anyone’s mouth. If I offended either one of you i apologize. Rick S DID make a big deal about taking back the shows and doing it right. He also is trying to make the auctions better. Both of these IMPLY that they weren’t ideal in the past. That includes everyone’s shows and auctions I realize. I didn’t mean to say that you two had issues with each other only that Rick felt he could do a better job than anyone else.

  5. Louise

    Let me say an example. Say there is a name I want at $30,000 reserve, and my budget is $50,000. That is, I’m willing to go as high as $50,000. In view that you will be bidding, that is not small talk I’d want to take part in in the cabanas prior to the auction! If Rick asked and I said, then he is the only OTHER bidder so that I wound up paying $45,000 instead of $30,000, yes, I’d have a gripe with that.

  6. dcmike77

    Gimmie a break!

    I see no conflict of interest here. I have no idea what you’re talking about. If he wants to bid on a domain, he’s more than welcome to it.

    Rick, just ignore the trolls. I’ll admit some names are a little strange (, but the vast majority are exciting and priced to move.

    And was just added?? Huge name. Congrats!

  7. Hal Meyer

    How could it NOT be a conflict of interest? That’s just my personal opinion.

    Which is it –Rick Schwartz the neutral provider of a fair auction where no one is favored and no one has any advantage over anyone else –or — Rick Schwartz the auction owner insider who may have access to more information than others and who trades for his own account?

    I don’t see how it can be both. At the very least, there is an appearance problem, a question of integrity. That’s all I am suggesting here: there is an appearance problem.

    But one thing is now a certainty, Schwartz the possibly conflicted is definitely Schwartz the Bully:

    “Shane This bullshit that YOU made up!! Assigning motives to me is talking out of your ass. Why would you do that? Bored? Just trying your best to start shit?”

    No journalist should be personally attacked for asking reasonable questions about an auction’s integrity where the auction owner is also trying to wear the hat of a participant.

    How could this possibly be a “best practice?”

    Are there any auction industry standards? Is there an auction association? There must be. Who licenses auctions? It must be by state, right? What are the rules?

  8. Louise

    It could apply to anybody, not just @ Rick. It wouldn’t be smart to show your hand to anybody regarding a domain you want.

    On the flip side, I heard desired domains get decided among the top people at all these event prior to the auction.

  9. Paul J Kapschock

    i have seen on many occasions, at different auction venues, the auctioneer; runners; family member or owner(s) bid on items…pretty much accepted.

  10. michael berkens


    Interesting topic since you mentioned me I thought I would chime in.

    I think we can all agree that no one wants shill bidding in any auction.

    So to be clear shill bidding is when a bid is placed for the sole purpose of increasing the price of the domain and many times if the shill bidder gets stuck holding the high bid they simply don’t pay for the domain.

    Huge issue.

    There are only 2 people who can benefit from a shill bid, the seller and the auction house.

    Now I think shill bidding is problem which occurs much more in online auctions since your just bidding against a user name.

    While some domainers like myself has used the same bidder name for years on all the online auction services many times I find myself in an online auction bidding against user a40983ik405 or something like that, not to reassuring.

    So back to your post and the live auction, well its a live auction and when Ricks hand goes up to bid everyone in the room can see it.

    So unlike an online auction, in a live auction everyone knows Rick is bidding and can decide what to do on that particular domain.

    As you said I typically sit at these live domains auctions is the row directly in front of Rick and Howard so I can tell you when Rick bids on a domain he bids to win and always pays for what he buys & sometimes even overpays.


    Do I think Rick would be on a domain just to bring the price up with out wanting to buy the domain?


    No chance in hell.

    and Louise I would suggest you don’t tell ANYONE what your budget or the max bid you would place on a would be that’s just bad business.

    1. Post author


      Excellent comment. I think Rick being open with what he is going to do helps all involved. The only two issues I see are this. If I am a bidder and everyone else is out at 300K and Rick and I battle to $550K and I win. I have essentially lost $250K because of Rick’s bidding. So a “customer” has paid $250K more than he would have. Rick also gets paid in commission on this transaction. Secondly, if Rick’s going to bid he’s there to win. Like always. But in this case he may be more inclined to try and win to avoid the first problem. He also had reduced commission because he is the house. The point of this is not to say he has a conflict of issue but rather to say there COULD be one if not done properly. And to see what others think.


      I have only seen them hold bids for their customers. Or at least that’s what they say they are doing.

  11. Louise

    If you want to pull this post, @ DomainShane, I got everything I want out of it go ahead! The headline is more inflammatory than you intended, I believe. It wouldn’t detract from your journalistic rep.

    1. Post author


      You are a special gal Louise. Pull this post? Inflammatory headline. I asked a simple question that I felt needed to be asked. I see nothing wrong nor am I accusing anyone of any wrong doing. By the way, I have no journalistic rep.

  12. Shiphouse

    Shane – Great post. This is 100% a conflict of interest, does it mean it is bad or good? That is up for each individual person participating at the auction to decide that is all. While I would assume everybody who would be in attendance, knows who Rick is, there is a chance that someone may not. Like for instance if a end user actually showed up (laugh laugh). In full transparency it should simply be disclosed, that is it, which has now been done. You (shane) did a good job of bringing the issue to light and Rick fairly pointed out he will bid and if he is bidding probably won’t be outbid.

    Additionally, I must say, I do find it comical that RS came after you the way he did about pointing out the obvious with respect to making this a better conference than latona’s, whether that is his intention or not, that is the way it comes off, sorry Rick, no harm in that and whether you agree with Shane or not, you shouldn’t attack him for calling it like he sees it.

    Good luck to everyone at the conference, I wish I was going to be in attendance, conflicts of interests or not (every industry is full of them, the domaining industries are just more transparent), I think it will be a good one.


    If anyone wants to comment on my grammer, save your breath. My two year old is learning how to use the computer through his love of itunes and I am missing half of the keys on my keyboard.

  13. Jason Stewart

    It seems only those not participating in the auction feel this is conflict of interest. I certainly don’t see any conflict here, is there anyone who is actually participating in the auction that this bothers?

    1. Post author


      As long as the buyers and sellers feel comfortable what everyone else thinks is of no concern. I am just saying aloud that in general I would hate to bid against someone with an advantage of reduced commission and knowing all the reserves in advance ( I realize there are many no reserves). There is a reason auction houses don’t let employees bid or buy the names. It only takes one customer to feel slighted to screw everything up and it’s not worth losing credibility over a few good priced domains.

  14. C_Sivertsen

    TRAFFIC is running the auction directly and is receiving a sales commission on every domain sold for this service, standard stuff.

    Thus if a TRAFFIC principal bids $100K for a domain and wins, and they’re making a standard auction house commission of 15% on the sale, the net sale price might be closer to $85K (I have no knowledge of actual terms, just ballparking here)

    Everyone else in the room would be paying $100K for the same domain

    Is that a level playing field?

  15. Shiphouse

    Jason – conflict of interest isn’t defined by whether or not you have a problem with it or not. this is clearly a conflict of interest. Just because it isn’t illegal and he can do it, doesn’t mean it is not a conflict of interest. it needs to be fully disclosed that rick and anybody else for that matter affiliated with traffic may bid on names and may recieve beneficial terms and pricing. auction houses or their affiliated companies financing names (cough cough) is even a bigger conflict of interest, but lets not go there.

    ultimately, all shane did was bring something to light, what he brought to light may mean nothing to some and everything to a few. it is not right nor wrong, it is simply transparent.

  16. Troy

    As long as he is truly interested in owning the domain then he has every right to bid. Shill bidding, or bidding just to up the price, is still a no-no.

    Have fun at TRAFFIC guys.

  17. Anunt

    I think this auction is much more better and fair since only live bidders can bid.

    Alot of scams come when there is online bidding.

    And i agree with Rick…he should be able to bid…

    If he really wanted to be unfair…he could have bought the domain name before it hits the auction block.

    And please STOP complaining about the domain list…

    This is 2011…you should not and can not expect to see great domains for sale anymore … nobody is going to sell their one word dot com premium money making domain name in 2011…this is not 2005 people…you have missed that opportunity long time ago…so stop bitching!

    Shane, you should not have made that bitchy comment about Rick Latona and Rick Schwartz…Rick Schwartz is NOT trying to do better than anyone, he is just trying to do the BEST he can to make TRAFFIC the BEST possible…so that it is a win-win for everyone.

    Good Luck to everyone and God Bless Steve Jobs!

  18. Ms Domainer


    A resounding NO!!!!

    It would be a definite conflict of interest (given that RS has the inside track), tantamount to shill bidding.

    The people organizing the conference and auction should be barred from bidding.

    It would look bad; people would be suspicious that RS (or his staff) made backroom deals to sellers: “Oh, don’t bother setting a reserve (wink, wink).”

    I’m not accusing anyone of anything, but in any business, perception is everything. Inside trading is illegal, and this sounds like a form of inside trading.

    DON’T DO IT!!!

    If you’re an insider, pull the domain from the auction and make a fair offer.

    Otherwise, hands off!!!!


  19. RH

    First off Shane where is Rick Latona posted in this comment section ? All the comments are from Rick Schwartz, Schwartz blasted you not Latona. You told someone it was Latona and it was Schwartz

    Rick Schwartz October 7, 2011 11:16 am

    “Schwartz has a lot to lose and gain. He has never called out Rick Latona but everyone knows when he says better, he’s talking about all other conferences but especially the previous TRAFFIC shows”

    Shane This bullshit that YOU made up!! Assigning motives to me is talking out of your ass. Why would you do that? Bored? Just trying your best to start shit?

    Secondly insider trading is not legal in the stock market, regulated industry, its legal in other areas and in a lot of countries even in the stock market.

    Plus wrong definition here, I have two names in this auction, I have told Rick Schwartz nothing about the names, if he were to bid he has no advantage.

    But at least the post good for traffic not T.R.A.F.F.I.C nothing boosts traffic like a Rick Schwartz post.

    1. Post author


      You are right, I read Latona in the comment and attributed it to him. Thanks for pointing that out. And thanks for your comment. You’re a customer of Rick’s in this case and if you’re happy with the results that is all that matters.

  20. RH

    No prob Shane. Shane I am sure Rick most likely not interested in my name. Its first time I ever submitted any. But even if I was not, I would not think its a conflict for the points Michael Berkens made.

    If he is doing it in public in front of everyone than imo its fine. Maybe he should announce it in front of everyone at the start so they know he bidding.

  21. Ms Domainer


    This industry seems to be short on Ethics 101, which is sad because it will continue to be held back as a result, to be forever viewed as a sleazy, shill-filled, cybersquatting industry.

    Wasn’t Adam Dicker fired from Godaddy for bidding on Godaddy auctions? There’s a good reason for forbidding insiders and promoters from bidding in house auctions. We all jumped all over AD and Halvarez for shill and inside bidding, so how would this be any different?

    At least RS was honest about it; that way, potential bidders can decide for themselves whether or not this is something they can accept. But not for me. As it is, I stick with expired and BIN auctions–and with both eyes wide open and solid Google analytics.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the Feds came sniffing around. (NOT a threat from me–I have better things to do). It will take just one disgruntled bidder to get that ball rolling.

    Shane, thanks for this post. A lot of people would rather you just shut and not rock the boat, but these sensitive issues need to be addressed.


  22. RH

    Halvarez was shill bidding, no one here including Shane is implying that Rick would be shill bidding.

    Online and offline auctions for me are very different, there is no masking or hiding who is bidding offline. Again IMO

  23. T1D

    Shane way to post something that stirs things up on a slow news day, lol. This conflict of interest topic reminds me of all of the drama at Techcrunch over Arrington an his new VC fund.

    Rick is obviously a savvy buyer and seller. I don’t think he needs to buy anything at auction, be it TRAFFIC or otherwise. TRAFFIC I would venture to guess is his pride and joy. For anyone to think that Rick would risk destroying nearly a decade of his hard work to do what, pick up a domain for less? Or maybe bump the price up only to increase his cut of the commission or help out a friend, well it’s absurd.

    If I’m bidding on a domain I’m not going to concern myself with who I’m bidding against in the room. Do your research, know what your max is days before the auction. Don’t go above that number based on who is bidding.

    Everyone should check their emotions at the door.

    Although if that guy from Storage Wars shows up and bids (Yuuup) at the very last second before the hammer drops, well that’s different. He’ll get drop kicked. Sorry if that reference doesn’t click with everyone. You’ve got to know the show.

  24. Jason Stewart

    “I am just saying aloud that in general I would hate to bid against someone with an advantage of reduced commission and knowing all the reserves in advance”

    Excellent point Shane, but more importantly…you’ve got the whole industry diving into this issue…so hats off to bringing an important issue to light.

    I never thought about this point, and its an important from a buyer point of view, but as a seller I could care less…

    Regardless, 33 comments show this is an important issue you brought out for discussion.


  25. Jason Stewart

    “I would be interested in hearing Adam Dicker’s opinion on this…”

    I have the utmost respect for both Rick and Adam. They both gave me the time of day when I knew absolutely nothing. Adam and Rick are both very very very smart guy’s and they both seem ethical enough to not do anything to cross the line, but enough business smart’s to see business opportunities that many do not see. I would take a bet that they would be in agreement in their positions.


  26. Jason Stewart

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the Feds came sniffing around. (NOT a threat from me–I have better things to do). It will take just one disgruntled bidder to get that ball rolling.

    @ Ms. Domainer..

    That seems very extreme. They have no business doing so, its a private business, a private club, with private entry……that’s the way I see it….its absurd IMO….We have freedom when we can choose who we do business with, and with Rick giving full disclosure there is no issue. This community is pretty small, and the people involved know the rules. In fact, I would have to say a major selling point of this auction is the possibility Rick could bid!

  27. Hal Meyer

    Shane, You operate a well read blog. Whether your business card says “Journalist” or not –de facto –you are one. Thank you for asking tough questions of someone who intimidates many, proof of which exists in these comments.

    1. Post author

      Thanks for the compliments but all strong and/or powerful people intimidate. Confident people intimidate as well. There is no negativity in intimidation, only weakness in those intimidated.

  28. Rick Schwartz


    As long as you keep calling me these names for YEARS…

    Why don’t you tell folks about the British Heart Foundation and what you did and why you were tossed off my board? Something with cigarettes I believe and trying to “Sell” them one of your domains. Please refresh the domaining community and myself of that episode. I am sure they would love it and agree with what you did. RIGHT???

    Shane, why don’t you do a little journalistic digging and find out about Hal and his way of doing business. Ask around. I don’t want the KEYWORD of what Hal was doing coming from me. But Vanna I would like to START with a Vowel. Can I buy an “E” Vanna? Not sure what I am talking about?? Ask around.

    Hal, you drip in SLIME IMHO. I shook your hand once at an ADULT SHOW (BEFORE I KNEW WHO YOU WERE) and still bothers me to this day. Slimy, sweating, yucky. Give me some more Purell.

    Funny, how not a single attendee has said something or objected in 22 shows and auctions about me bidding. Only the peanut gallery about TEN TIMES. Not a buyer I bid against and CERTAINLY not a seller. A few trolls, a few guys that are broke and could not even bid to begin with.

    And a competitor (C_Sivertsen) that knows better but took a cheap shot. I don’t think Moniker, Snapnames and are in ANY POSITION to cast doubt on others. You guys lead the entire industry in what most call “Coverups” and need to clean up your own house and the MULTIPLE lawsuits FIRST! Nice try Chris. Except your logic is flawed. That would be like me complaining that the auction is not fair because Frank Schilling has more money than me. I guess Jeff rubbed off on you. Again, nice try pal. But clean up your own skeletons before you worry about others.

    Funny how unwarranted personal attacks are never the issue. Just when I respond firmly with FACTS I am called a “Bully” by a Mo&#$&%#R because few can debate on the issues. They have to hurl SHIT and threats and resort to other tactics. The haters NEVER change. And I will call them out each and every time to make the case and reveal their motives when I can. Whatever comes at me is coming back 10 fold on them and I can certainly understand why they don’t like getting called out.

    1. Post author

      Nobody says it quite like you. I really appreciate you putting in all out on the table. The point of the post wasn’t to call out or demean, it was merely to ask a question that I feel many people had but were too afraid to ask. You’ve answered it well with no room left to question what you are doing. I’ll make sure to keep the personal attacks out of the comments in this thread from this point forward. Opinions of actions will be welcome but opinions of people will be removed.

  29. Rick Schwartz

    “I really appreciate you putting in all out on the table”

    Thanks Shane.

    And that is the point. Everyone is always so busy reading between the lines with me that they either ignore or just don’t believe that it is out on the table. So that wound me up with Latona because that never crossed my mind. The only thing I compare it to is the last TRAFFIC at the Loews in South Beach (That Howard and I also ran) and making it better than that and all other shows and making it better then them. The BEST. Nothing but the best.

    That is why I believe that if all the ingredients are the best, the result will be a great one. So we picked arguably the best hotel chain in the world, the Ritz Carlton. We match that to one of the coolest places in the world, Fort Lauderdale Beach. We add the top domain investors in the world and the companies that service them. Then we add top shelf food so we can break bread together and get to know each other on different levels. Then we add great panels with knowledgeable speakers that tackle subjects that make some uncomfortable and others won’t speak about at all. Then we wrap it up in an auction process that We started in 2004 and I was the the only one that bought a major domain. That started the entire Live auction history at TRAFFIC that has produced more sales than any other show venue in the industry. Maybe all added together.

    An auction that some of the same clowns are running around this week and saying what a shitty list. Only problem with that is that “Shitty List” as a portfolio in and of itself is better than the portfolios of most that lodge the complaint to begin with. 🙂 DUH!!

    I am a lightening rod. There is never a debate about a subject once my name comes up. Then it just turns to personal attacks mostly by folks I never met or did business with or broke bread with but have an agenda or who has a friend that has an agenda. Says more about them than me. I find it amusing. But that does not mean I won’t deep six them with words once I find the opportunity. Payback is a bitch. In an industry that revolves around reputation, it amazes me how many will just flush it down the toilet and then blame me or everyone else but not ever look at themselves.

  30. steve cheatham

    Wow. Good discussion. This is what I get out of it…

    No schill bidding. If you do it you will be called out in public by the people who are mad at you.

    Don’t bid on your own name. You already own it and this is not a pricing excerise. It is up for sale.

    Have fun.

  31. Prakhar Agrawal

    @Shane: Just repeating one of the points said above, this headline is surely bringing you “traffic” (Pun intended). 🙂

    As for the post itself, these are some very good and reasonable questions that you have dared to bring out in the open. Somebody had to ask these.

  32. Prakhar Agrawal

    @Rick: It is really good to see you coming here and replying to this post. It clarifies a lot of points and I hope that whoever stumbles upon this post, actually reads the comments and clear his doubts.

    Reputation is a clever bitch.

  33. Scott Smith

    Shane, kudos for raising an important issue.

    Here’s my take.

    I am the exclusive broker for, and contrary to (@ Anunt – “This is 2011…you should not and can not expect to see great domains for sale anymore … nobody is going to sell their one word dot com premium money making domain name in 2011…this is not 2005 people…you have missed that opportunity long time ago…so stop bitching!), this is one of the very few domains outlined above that is being offered at public auction.

    This reply is not designed to elicit your responses, pro or con, regarding pricing, timing or any of our tactics and strategies. The owner and I know what we’re targeting. Rightly or wrongly we have a price (or higher) in mind and we’ll work to achieve that. This is not a fire sale and we’re very patient.

    What this response is about is honesty, credibility and transparency. Call it ethics 101, disclosure 101 or whatever else you choose but in this particular case, know these facts:

    Did I initiate the call to Rick to enter my domain in the TRAFFIC auction?


    Did I understand and willingly agree to the auction rules in advance? – flat fee, guaranteed placement, commission structure, exclusivity period, escrow, money flow etc.


    Did I set the minimum bid with NO input from Rick or anyone else associated with TRAFFIC?


    At any time during negotiations and the listing process, either overtly or otherwise, and during several emails and telephone calls, did Rick ever suggest how the domain should be priced?


    If my minimum bid is achieved, do I really care who made the winning bid, even if they bid with .85 cent dollars?


    Look peeps, this is business. You need to do your homework and make decisions based on your best information and gut feelings. The rules for this auction are there in black and white for all to see.

    You know in advance that TRAFFIC charges a commission. If that ultimately reduces the amount that Rick pays for any domains that he bids on, so be it.

    Rick was called out and he responded forthrightly. If he decides to bid, he openly stated that he will… and he’ll do it front and center where everyone can see him. That’s a far cry from the Alvarezes’ and the strictly “online connected” shill bidding associated with some other auctions.

    If you don’t like the rules, DON’T participate.

    If you don’t want to bid against Rick in an open forum, then don’t.

    Take your money elsewhere and stick with the BIN auctions. And if you think you can do a better job at conducting a domain auction then go do it. Set up your rules and run it the way you want.

    No question domaining is a small sorority. Any hint of shill bidding, back door wink, wink deals or any other shenanigans and the perpetrators will eventually be identified and their credibility annihilated.

    In the end, honesty, credibility and transparency will dictate the players and the levelness of the playing field…

  34. Ira Zoot

    I think many of those not approving of Rick’s bidding in the auction would feel less negative
    about it if Rick were to forego the 15% commission on any names in the auction he bought
    himself. Or better yet … take that 15% and donate it to a charity. That was the playing field
    is level so no one can say he has an advantage and some needy charity would get some help.

  35. Poor Uncle

    Sounds like these kind of show/auctions are not for the novices. There are plenty of sharks surrounding these ponds. I don’t think we need to worry what is fair and what is a conflict of interest with these people. At the end of the day, it is about the quality of names and it’s price. If it is too much don’t buy it. If the auction has good names people will bid.

  36. Trico

    “Wasn’t Adam Dicker fired from Godaddy for bidding on Godaddy auctions?”

    No Ms.Domainer.

    Adam Dicker was not fired for bidding on domain auctions. That activity was revealed in June 2008 and resulted in a policy change at GoDaddy.

    Adam left GoDaddy in January 2010, almost one and a half years later.

    Initially, when Adam Dicker was a VP at GoDaddy, there was no rule at GoDaddy prohibiting employees from bidding on GoDaddy expired domain auctions.

    When that activity was brought to light, the uproar it caused was followed by a change in policy at GoDaddy:

    “To ensure customer confidence and to avoid any possible future questions of impropriety all GD employees are now and in the future prohibited from participating in TDNAM auctions, purchasing, sales & back orders.”


  37. C_Sivertsen

    Rick, ,
    Going back 5-6 years, I was the OVERSEE rep who purchased domains at live auctions on behalf of the company. However once Moniker was acquired, we were forbidden to bid in any of their auctions because of the perceived conflict of interest. Please ask Monte to confirm if you don’t want to take my word for it

    Secondly when OVERSEE started the DOMAINFest auctions, we were also prohibited from bidding in those events for the same reason. (ask Monte)

    PS. I was laid off from OVERSEE almost 2 years ago, so no I am not a competitor, nor do I have an agenda here beyond contributing to a discussion on another “grey area” in the domain space.

  38. Rick Schwartz


    Thanks for the update. Hope things are well where you are at.

    As far as Oversee’s Policy, I guess that did not work out so well for them. I think rules without the transparency to go along with it does not work well.

    Our policy is different and we state it is different as publicly as anyone can do. I have bought domains at EVERY single TRAFFIC I have ever attended. I even offered Monte a number of times to take myself out if it. He would never have any part of that. He wanted me in the room buying domain names and so did EVERY seller. EVERY seller.

    When you have abuse it usually happens behind the scenes. So if wanted to abuse the process I could have tried to buy ANY DOMAIN SUBMITTED before it was listed. Ask around and find out how many folks I made an offer of any sort whatsoever? The answer is ZERO! None!

    Now a few sellers certainly would have liked that outcome and I told those folks I do ALL my buying a the auction. That is an example of doing it right when nobody is looking. It would have been easy to abuse the system but something DEEP inside of me won’t allow that. I think it is called “Honor”. Something my Dad taught me by example.

    When the RESULTS come in and folks see the difference, that is all that counts and that is all folks will remember.
    They will also gain the confidence of the attendees when there are no “Ghost bids”, anonymous bids and showboaters. We really don’t want anything but total transparency including listing the names as they were selected right on

    Look, anyone that has a problem with the way we decide to conduct the auction does not have to buy anything or bid on anything. If they do, it means they accept me as another bidder just like they accept everyone else.

    Anyway, hope that clarifies things for you and others.

  39. Logan

    My thoughts:

    1. If Rick or any other owner, employee, or vendor of TRAFFIC intends to bid or may wish to bid in the auction, this must be fully disclosed in all marketing materials — including prominent signs at the venue — to be fully upfront and ethical. Full disclosure is key. From there, it’s up to each bidder to decide what they want to do.

    2. That said, appearance does matter — a lot. A superior policy to #1 is for TRAFFIC to preclude all owners, employees, and vendors of TRAFFIC from bidding on domain names in the auction. If any one of those folks really want a domain name so badly, they should buy it before the domain name is added to the auction list by executing a private sale with the current registrant. Otherwise, stick to the policy and let it go to market free of a real or perceived conflict of interest.

    3. Buying at auctions is the worst place to buy anything. Emotions often rule the day instead of reason. Thus, it is far better to be a seller at an auction than a buyer. Just sayin’.

    4. I’ve never met or talked to Rick Schwartz, but I will say this: he is more impressive as a speaker than as a writer. Reading his blog, I didn’t care much for what he had to say, but seeing the interview of Rick on changed my view. I highly recommend the interview video to everyone here. Rick has much wisdom to impart and he does it better through video than through the written word.



  40. Owen frager

    Since I have names in the auction I sure hope he bids. After all where in this business in this economy do you find someone flush with cash from recent sales that will go to taxes if not reinvested by the end of the year. Gary Rick Frank Eric B Shaun p and more all have ability and urgency to buy. That’s the side of this no one sees

  41. Owen frager

    Ps and yes I hope their emotions get the best of them. Thats the attraction of traffic to a seller otherwise there are a 100 online options to liquidate names.

  42. Joe Saladino

    Mr. Schwartz should absolutely be allowed to bid on domains! There should be NO reason why he or anyone else is restricted! Besides he is the DOMAIN KING with all due respect!

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