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Domain Investing News Highlights for the week of April 15th, 2019

Hello, happy Friday, and welcome to my Domain Investing News Highlights for the last week. First things first, the photo above isn’t really what I look like any more so this will be the last time you see it…I shaved my beard this morning, so I’m getting a new cartoon drawn to reflect the new Morgan.

I originally grew the beard because my wife said that she liked it, then yesterday she said, “you know, I think I’ve had enough of the beard” so poof – this morning, shaved it off!

I’m going to a passover sedar at my Dad’s house tonight so safe to say I’m going to surprise a lot of people tonight. Okay, well enough beard news, or lack-of-beard news, onto Domaining News. Here are some of the stories that caught my eye this week.

  1. Popular sales CRM Close.io acquired Close.com, so now they can call themselves “Close” rather than “Close.io” which is pretty awesome (read more on TheDomains.com)
  2. Someone listed a ton of keyword .XYZ domains on NameJet and it looks like a lot of them could be pre-releases (read more on DomainGang)
  3. A Chinese company called XAG announced the acquisition of XA.com for $1.79M (Read more on DomainInvesting.com)
  4. Mike Sullivan wrote a great article/interview with the founder of Drillers.com on how he went from a few thousand to over 30,000 visitors/month (Read more on DSAD.com)
  5. Expired domain Toni.com closed at $42,500 on Go Daddy and some people are saying the new buyer overpaid (read more on TheDomains.com)

As usual, if you think I missed anything feel free to include it in the comment section below. Either way, I’d love to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

NameCheap is on a roll, adds 235,000 new customers in Q1

Here in San Francisco I’m finding it’s hard to have a discussion about domain names without someone talking about NameCheap. The registrar has been growing like crazy and has become a go-to registrar for startups and entrepreneurs.

What some people might not know is just how quickly NameCheap has grown over the years and where they are today. For starters, NameCheap is the second largest retail domain registrar in the world (Source) and they are on track to generate close to $150M in revenue in 2019.

The company just released their Q1 numbers and DomainNameWire.com shared some great data like the addition of 235,000 new customers in Q1 and $37M in gross revenue.

Earlier this week NameCheap kicked-off a pretty interesting campaign focused on helping parents register domain names for their kids.

“Getting a domain name is the first step for establishing a child’s online presence. Namecheap introduces first ever campaign encouraging parents to register their kid’s first domain. Whether it is buying a domain with a baby’s name for future investment, or securing a piece of digital real estate for a kid’s first online project, there has never been a better time for parents to share and experience the Internet with their children.”

Source – PR Newswire

I’ve been thinking about doing an interview with Richard Kirkendall and all of this exciting news is a good reminder to get that kicked off. So, that being said, I always love to include my readers in any way I can. Do you have any questions for Richard, if so feel free to add them in the comment section below and if they aren’t too crazy, I can include them in the interview!

Congrats to Richard and the whole NameCheap team, what a great start to 2019, and like they say, the best is yet to come!

Yes, new gTLDs can market themselves without calling Domain Owners Cybersquatters, right?

Like most things in life there are two roads you can take when you’re releasing a new product, service, solution, or technology. You can decide to bash the competition, as Apple famously did in their very successful Mac vs. PC ads…remember these?

Or you can decide to highlight what makes whatever it is that you’re doing so incredibly amazing and awesome, like Sonos does in this ad.

I’m not sure there’s a right or wrong answer to what is the most effective, and in fact, sometimes doing a bit of both works. While I gave an example above of a Sonos ad that highlights how great the Play:1 is…they also have an ad that bashes the competition like this one here:

And just to be fair, Apple also doesn’t just run ads bashing PCs, they also run ads like this highlighting a specific new feature or enhancement to a product.

At the same time there’s a line, it’s a somewhat fine line in some cases but crossing it can mean going too far and alienating a specific group of people. I don’t think Apple is trying to insult PC owners, just like Sonos isn’t trying to insult people who own bluetooth speakers…but in the new gTLD space maybe things are going a bit too far with marketing like this:

In this case, .INC is saying that people who own domain names and try to resell them are Cybersquatters. I strongly disagree with this sentiment and think most of my readers would too. It also doesn’t really play to any strengths .INC offers outside of affordability. But, at a price point of roughly $2,000, .INC is actually more expensive than .COM names like this one on BrandBucket, and there are of course many more examples of solid .COM names for under $2k.

I can’t stand Cybersquatters, people who maliciously go out and buy or register domains with criminal intent. Cybersquatting is illegal and UDRP is there to help people defend against Cybersquatters.

But let’s be honest. Only a very small fraction of domain owners are Cybersquatters, heck – many large companies like Google, Facebook, etc. own tons of great domain names that they have priced astronomically high, are they Cybersquatters too?

While I get it. As a new gTLD you want to market on the fact that there is scarcity in the .COM market when it comes to hand-registering domains. At the same time, I think there are a lot of great .COM names available in the sub -$2,000 range so this argument is a bit less strong with a new gTLD like .INC that charges a pretty hefty registration and renewal fee.

I think there are a lot of creative ways to market new gTLDs, but calling all domain owners Cybersquatters is a pretty weak move IMO. What do you think? I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

Rick Schwartz shows “the power of No” in the email that closed the $8.88M deal for Porno.com

Rick Schwartz is back on Twitter and I have to say, he’s sharing some real gems. From offers he’s received on some of his domains to actual emails between him and buyers, Rick is sharing some virtual gold with the world.

Yesterday Rick shared the final email exchange between him and the person who ended up buying Porno.com from him for a whopping $8.88M. The point of sharing the email was to show how powerful saying “NO” can be, and it’s safe to say, given that this ended in the 4th largest domain sale of all time…it worked, big time!

Here’s the email:

Source – @DomainKing

While I think it’s safe to say that most (if not all) of us don’t have any domain names in our portfolio worth anything close to $8.88M, this does illustrate a very powerful point. If someone does really want a domain name that you own, there’s probably no better way to test how much they need it than to see how they react when you take it away.

Of course, it’s important to understand that this doesn’t mean that you should just say “NO” to every buyer every step of the way. It’s knowing the right time to say “NO” that really makes all the difference, and Rick is someone that has truly mastered this technique when it comes to timing.

I’m looking forward to picking Rick’s brain on this more when we’re together in Asheville this summer. If you aren’t signed up yet, or if you don’t know what I’m talking about, click here to learn more.

Note: I am not being paid to promote this event in any way; I paid for my ticket and hotel room like anyone else. That being said, I think this is going to be an event to remember and one that most Domainers will regret missing if they don’t go!

Should you set BIN prices on your domains?

Okay, a new week is here so let’s open up a nice big can of worms and talk about one of the more polarizing topics in the domain name world. The question is – should you set BIN prices on your domain names when you list them on marketplaces like Afternic or Sedo?

Well, the alternative to setting a BIN price is to list your domain without a price and leave it to the prospective buyer to make an offer.

Overall I think the general way I’ve thought about these two options is as follows.

BIN – listing domains with a BIN price could allow you to sell domain names faster in some (but not all) cases. At the same time, it’s safe to say that if someone does buy your name for the BIN, you probably left some money on the table.

Make Offer – listing domains without a BIN price could mean that takes longer to sell your domains. The thinking here is that a buyer might think the domain is out of their price range and just pass on making an offer in the first place. At the same time, it’s generally thought that if you don’t set a BIN, you can get a higher sales price for your domain.

So what do I do? Well, as a quick reminder, I’m a small fry when it comes to domain sales so don’t look for my advice here. There are a LOT of full time Domainers that have a lot more data and experience here and I’m hoping some of them share their thoughts in the comment section below.

For me, I take a blended approach. Domains that I think wouldn’t ever sell for over $10k, I typically list with a BIN. Domains that I think could sell for over $10k I list without a BIN. My thinking here is that there’s a segment of my domains (i.e. those under $10k) that I’d rather sell quicker vs. waiting around for the perfect buyer, since I don’t think I’ll get that much more if I wait longer.

For domains that I think that I might be able to sell for over $10k, then I’m willing to wait longer since selling for $30k instead of $20k makes a difference.

So there’s my take, now I’d like to hear from you. What do you think about listing domains with a BIN price vs. Make Offer? I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

A few birthday reflections and the one gift I really want

I took this photo on my iPhone yesterday, crazy how good phone cameras are now!

Well, it’s official – I’m old. Today is my 38th birthday which means I am now officially closer to 40 than 35, yikes! That being said, I think I’m digging this getting older thing minus all the new face wrinkles…but apparently there are creams that can fix that, right?

While I’m trying to spend the day away from my computer, I had some reflections I wanted to share as well as my one gift request for anyone who wants to get me something. First let’s start with some reflections.

  • More than anything I feel very lucky and appreciative at this point in my life. It’s great to be back in San Francisco where I can see family and friends a lot more frequently. I also love the energy of the city, the ocean, access to amazing hiking and backpacking, in short – there’s no place like home and it feels really good to be back.
  • I also realize that while it is an incredible privilege to be able to run a startup, create jobs, and build new technology, it’s also incredibly stressful. Lately I’ve been more stressed than I have ever been in my life, most of it’s for good reasons, but it’s stress nonetheless. Moving forward this year I need to do a better job of taking breaks, slowing down even for a minute or two, and doing more to bring my stress back down to a healthy level.
  • On that note. Exercise has been a fantastic stress reliever for me this year and I’ve really amped up both my biking and gym routine which has felt great. As I get older I realize how important it is to prioritize exercise in my day. I did a pretty terrible job of keeping up with any meaningful exercise routine over the last decade, it feels good to get back in the groove.
  • On the personal growth side, I want to write more about Machine Learning, Python, game development, eSports, and other topics that I deal with on a daily basis but don’t talk about publicly much. Still need to figure out the best outlet for it, this blog probably isn’t the place but I do really love writing and in my reflective birthday mode that I seem to be in now, I feel like I should try to chisel out a way to write more about my passions outside of domain names.
  • Last but not least. Naps. I started taking more naps this year and it’s been a really nice thing. As I get older I see more naps in my future. It’s amazing how even a ten minute nap can totally recharge your batteries.

Okay, now for my birthday gift request. Don’t worry – it doesn’t cost a penny. There’s a great organization that helps the homeless living here in the Bay Area called Bay Area Rescue Mission. I donate to this organization and also want to start volunteering for them. What’s pretty neat is that you can actually donate to them without actually giving money directly, you can just change the URL you go to when you shop at Amazon, or download a program to track the money you spend at grocery stores.

A list of ways you can help to support Bay Area Rescue can be found here. If you enjoy my blog and want to do something special for my birthday, just try shopping on Amazon using this link – http://amzn.to/2blmhCL

Just like that, a portion of your purchases will go to help this awesome organization. Of course if you want to donate as well directly, that’s great too but there are little ways you can make a difference, the easiest being literally just shopping on Amazon using a slightly different URL.

Okay, well my day started with a morning workout at the gym, followed by a haircut, then I met a couple LA Clippers players and told them I hope they lost tonight (go Warriors), and now I’m off to a friends baby shower and then onto Sausalito for a weekend on the water.

Thanks to all of my readers, this will be my 12th year writing this blog and I wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t for all of you. So keep reading, keep commenting, and know that all of you play a important part in my daily life for which I am eternally grateful.

Now back to your regularly scheduled Saturday activities!

Domain Investing News Highlights for the week of April 8th, 2019

So I decided to get creative and put together a new image for my weekly news highlights. Looking at it now, I’m thinking it might be more ridiculous than I intended since I do have a pretty big goofy face, in cartoon or photographic form. But I’m going with it.

Another week is now behind us and as usual there was a lot going on in the Domain Investing world. I’ve done my best to highlight stories that I think you’ll find interesting, and can help you stay in the loop if you’ve had a busy week away from the domain name world.

So let’s dive in – here’s what happened in the Domain Investing world last this week!

  • Constantine Roussos and DotMusic won the rights to .MUSIC domain namesread more on OnlineDomain.com
  • Go Daddy announced the addition of bidder IDs to their online auctionsread more on DomainInvesting.com
  • An Italian bank bowed out of its dot-brand TLD…while another company moved away from it’s .COM in favor of it’s .BRAND – read more on DomainIncite.com (First story) (Second Story)
  • Snake.com was the highest reported sale at $135,000 followed by FusionBank.com for $65,500read more on DNJournal.com
  • English domain names might be starting to trend in Chinaread more on TLDInvestors.com
  • .COM expirations outpaced registrations at Go Daddy in Decemberread more at DomainNameWire.com

As usual, if you think I missed a story that should have been included in here – please feel free to mention it in the comment section below. Happy Friday, now stop reading about domain names and go enjoy your Friday night!

Out of all .COM domains registered, how many are owned by Domain Investors?

I had an interesting conversation earlier this week and was asked a question that I didn’t know the answer to…but wish that I did. The question was, as the title of the post already gave away, out of all the .COM domains registered, how many are owned by Domainers/Domain Investors/Speculators?

There was a blog post in January that took a sample of 100,000 domain names and came to the conclusion that 30% of domains are owned by Domain Investors…but I’m not sure I buy this.

While I’d love to think that as Domainers we have almost a third of the .COM domains under our control, I think that estimate is way off and the number is likely a whole lot lower.

That being said, I don’t have the data, nor have I spent any time doing the research required to get the correct answer. So I thought I’d throw it out to the community and my readers to see if someone out there does have something a bit more conclusive.

If it does turn out that Domain Investors own a third of the .COM domain names then it sure seems like Verisign would be incredibly involved in the Domaining world and setting policies that make Domainers happy. However from what I can tell, Verisign isn’t actually all that fond of Domainers given that they said the following last year:

“Flipping domain names or warehousing them to create scarcity adds nothing to the industry and merely allows those engaged in this questionable practice to enrich themselves at the expense of consumers and businesses.” (Source – Official Verisign Blog)

So I hand the microphone over to you. How many .COM names are owned by Domain Investors? Could it be as high as 30%? I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

Go Daddy Ups Their WordPress Game with ThemeBeans Acquisition

I’ve been using WordPress for quite a while now, and as such, I have tried a lot of different themes over the years. In the early days of my blog I was a big fan of WooThemes, but over time they pivoted away from making themes for personal blogs like mine and instead focused on eCommerce.

Right now I use a WordPress theme called Thesis for MorganLinton.com, but when I went to launch a new blog on Morgan.xyz last year, I began the search for new theme options. That’s when I stumbled on ThemeBeans and the code magician that is Rich Tabor.

What really impressed me about all the themes that Rich makes is how clean they are, both on the backend to update and modify, and on the front-end when it comes to usability and clean, clear design. Couple this with Rich’s ability to really push pixels around with mastery when moving between desktop, mobile, and tablet, and it’s safe to say ThemeBeans is at the top of the food chain when it comes to WordPress themes.

Yesterday I was excited to see an update from Rich on Twitter, ThemeBeans has been acquired by Go Daddy, and with it – they also got Rich!

ThemeBeans acquired by Go Daddy

Along with ThemeBeans, Go Daddy also now owns CoBlocks which is a super slick set of page building content blocks for the new Gutenberg block editor in WordPress. You can read a bit more about CoBlocks, not surprisingly at CoBlocks.com.

IMHO Rich is one of the top innovators in the WordPress community and now that Go Daddy has him on the team, and his amazing themes and page building tools, it’s safe to say Go Daddy has pretty much instantly become the trend-setter in the WordPress world.

Huge congrats to both Rich and Go Daddy, this is definitely one heck of a win for both sides!

I had some burning questions about .inc, here are the answers to them

dot-inc-domain-names

One of the more recent new domain name extensions to launch is .inc, and I’ll be completely transparent in letting you know I don’t own any at the moment. I’ve steered almost completely clear of investing in new domain extensions as I’ve only ever seen a meaningful return from my .COM investments.

When I first heard about .inc it was a bit of a head-scratcher, I didn’t quite understand where they fit in. I happen to know Shayan who helped to launch .inc and asked if he’d be open to answering a few questions about the extension. He said he was game, so I’m excited to share those questions, and his answers below.

Before we dive into .INC, tell me a bit more about your background and how you got into the new gTLD world.

I first entered the domain industry in 2013, before any new gTLDs had been released. Previously, I was Global Director of XYZ, where I had a key role in launching and operating the company’s first 9 TLDs, which included .xyz and .Cars. My goal was to help individuals and businesses re-imagine their online presence. This led to Google using abc.xyz and MIT using engine.xyz, among other notable use cases.

In 2018, I decided to take on the new challenge of launching .inc with Intercap Registry. It was an opportunity to focus the creativity that I had once dedicated to .xyz to a new audience that I believe has not yet been served by new gTLDs. There are some naysayers that believe no other gTLD can stand up to .com, .net and .org, but I expect the credibility and member benefits that .inc offers to challenge that sentiment.

Okay – pitch me, why .INC?

75 percent of all legally formed businesses in the US are incorporated, meaning literally millions of company names already end with “Inc.” In fact, “Inc.” is so ubiquitous with business that it is even used by companies located in countries that do not incorporate, such as China and Japan. One example is Baidu Inc. So not only is .inc essential for companies everywhere, it has a universal cachet that shows customers you mean business.

.inc is even more compelling because we have partnered with popular brands like LegalZoom, 99designs, WeWork, and Delta Air Lines to include more than $2,500 worth of free member benefits with every .inc domain. These services make .inc a unique domain ending that appeals to budding entrepreneurs and SMBs, as much as global enterprises. Learn more about the member benefits at www.get.inc/benefits.

Tell me more about the pricing model for .INC and how you came up with it?

.inc is priced for businesses, not speculators. As a premium domain ending, businesses can register any .inc domain, including single-letters and single-numbers, for a flat fee. Rather than pricing .inc at $10/year and watching many of the best names get taken immediately, we want businesses to be able to register the first .inc domain they search for – even if that search is performed 5 or 10 years from now.

There has already been a shift in business naming strategies, with domain name availability now dictating how businesses are branded. With .inc, companies have full control of their business names and domain names without compromising on either.

If someone already has a .COM, would you also see them getting a .INC domain?

There are a number of examples for a business with a .com to also use a .inc. For instance, Freshii Inc. is already using www.freshii.inc as its investor relations site (previously ir.freshii.com).We anticipate many other publicly traded companies to follow this route to complement an existing consumer-facing .com website.

Another site that recently went live is www.Collab.inc. The company’s previous domain, collabcreators.com, was a pain point because people would mistakenly refer to the company as “Collab Creators,” rather than its actual name, “Collab Inc.”

We also anticipate businesses using .inc for corporates sites, corporate email, newsrooms, new ventures, employee portals and other operational purposes. The seamlessness between the company name and domain ending provides the freedom to use .inc in any way a business chooses.

How do you differentiate between someone who would buy .inc, vs another TLD targeting businesses like .CO?

.co and .inc may seem similar, but the offerings and audiences are quite different. .co is a suitable low-cost option for someone who wants a domain for a blog, an idea, or a portfolio. It isn’t a business-focused domain ending in the same way as .inc, so it does not provide registrants with the same extensive naming choices or professional credibility.

The businesses that register a .inc domain are not looking to make sacrifices, and I think they are more likely to cross-shop .inc with six-figure .com’s in the aftermarket than a ccTLD or other new gTLD. In that scenario, the advantage of registering a .inc is that there is no negotiation process and no high upfront fees – in addition to the free member benefits at www.get.inc/benefits.

Okay, I like to end on a fun note. Tell us something about Shayan that we might not know!

Some in the domain industry may already know this, but I was recently married. What they may not know is that my wife and I grew up in the same small town in Illinois, but it took us 20+ years and more than 2,000 miles to eventually meet one another in Los Angeles. It’s been so busy with the .inc launch that we haven’t taken a honeymoon yet. I’d love to hear destination suggestions from your readers!

Thanks again to Shayan for taking the time to answer my questions. Now it’s your turn. What do you think about .inc? I want to hear from you, comment and let you voice be heard!

Well this is just getting crazy – another UDRP filed against a three character .COM

 MorganLinton.com: Over the last few weeks I’ve been talking about three character .COMs and citing a couple examples of UDRPs that have been filed against them. First I covered ADO.com which was one of the most ridiculous and scary UDRP decisions I’ve ever seen, then three days ago I wrote about AEX.com and the UDRP filed […]
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