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As many of you know, I love games. I grew up playing both board games and video games, still love them both, and over the last few years have really gotten into both indie games and VR games. Since the Moscone Center is just a few blocks from my place, I usually pick up an EXPO pass for GDC so I can get a chance to walk around a bit, play some games, and chat with companies like Unity, Google, etc.
This year at GDC there’s a lot of buzz about all kinds of different things, Oculus released the Oculus Rift S, Unity announced a zillion things including some incredibly slick real time ray tracing, and Google is getting more buzz than they ever had at a gaming conference as they dive into the gaming world with Stadia.
Okay so before I dive into the name, I know most people have no idea what the heck Stadia is, so let me explain. Right now, if you want to play an awesome new game like Fortnite or APEX Legends you’ll need a kick-ass gaming PC to really get the best experience. For those who are in this wacky gaming world, you know that a kick-ass gaming PC costs $2,000+ and for those wondering, yes I built my own gaming PC and no, I’m never happy with it and always want to upgrade.
Google is taking an entirely new approach with Stadia by creating a gaming platform where the games are actually running on super fast computers at Google and streamed to gamers. This means that the speed of your computer really doesn’t matter, you just need a fast Internet connection. To demonstrate this, Google actually tried to find the slowest PC possible during their demo to highlight how powerful Stadia is…and it was damn impressive.
Seriously, a $500 PC can now play a networked game with the same settings that only a $4,000 gaming PC could normally support. While you can use your own controller with Stadia, Google is also releasing their own controller later this year, here’s what it’s going to look like:
Okay, so now you have a rough idea of what Stadia is…now for the elephant in the room. What about the name? It didn’t take long for people to hop on Twitter to share their thoughts on the name and overall with many people commenting that it sounded like some new medication.
I have to agree, this was a bit of a head-scratcher for me. The domain name Stadia.com was originally bought for $3,601 back in 2010 but I haven’t done the research to see if it was Google that picked it up then or a private buyer who might have resold to Google more recently. Either way, IMHO it’s a pretty mediocre product name and it really doesn’t feel like a name for a gaming-related product or service.
When I think of popular gaming platforms, they all have pretty strong names – Steam, Discord, Twitch. Stadia just feels like it doesn’t fit in with the rest. Of course maybe I’m just being too critical, and let’s be honest, with the marketing machine that is Google behind it, they’ll be okay. I’m really excited about what they’re doing and will definitely be a Stadia customer myself so in this case product > name at least for me.
What do you think? Did Google pick a good name for their new gaming service? I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!
Whether you love or hate .DEV, there’s no denying that “dev” is used all the time to describe developers
As we all know, Google launched the .DEV domain name extension this year, and whenever I write about it I find it’s a pretty polarizing topic. In case you haven’t read what I’ve written about the extension let me be clear before I go any further. I think .DEV would be a terrible investment as a Domainer. If you buy and sell domain names, stick to .COM and don’t look back.
That being said, I do think .DEV could be a good choice for a developer, if the .COM they have their heart set on is not available. If I want a place to show off some of my code, a link to my Github profile, etc. honestly .DEV feels pretty natural to me.
The reality is, “dev” is a term used all the time to describe developers. Living in San Francisco and running a software company I can tell you that I both hear and say the word “dev” multiple times a day. I’ve heard a few people say that “dev” is not commonly used so I thought it was time to put that to bed. Whether you love or hate .DEV, the word “dev” is a thing and it’s used all the time.
Below are a few examples of “dev” being used, and there are honestly tens of thousands of examples I could give you from articles and tweets…
So I get it, maybe you think .DEV is the most ridiculous domain extension on the planet and maybe it’s only popular because Google owns it. Sure, no issues there. But there really is no argument – “dev” as a word is used all the time in the tech world and I don’t see that going away any time soon.
What do you think? I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!
Something seems to be in the air in March as I’m noticing quite a few stories that seem to really miss the mark when it comes to understanding the domain industry. Earlier today, DarkReading published an article titled, Are You Prepared for a Zombie (Domain) Apocalypse?
Which in all honestly, does sound pretty darn scary. Until you hear what they mean by a Zombie (Domain) Apocalypse.
They mean, people simply buying expired domains. This is something me and many other domain name investors have done for years. This article makes it sound like anyone who buys expired domains is a shady figure looming in the shadows.
“When a domain registration expires, they can be claimed by new owners. And sometimes, those new owners have malicious intent.” (Source – DarkReading)
Spooky. The reality is, people registering expired domains aren’t usually a big problem online. Like anything in life, a bad person doing something a normal person does can go bad easily. Have a criminal (let’s say someone running a meth lab) moves into a suburban neighborhood and starts a “Breaking Bad” style drug house…well that doesn’t mean that we now should believe that everyone moving into suburban homes is running a drug ring.
The domain name world has long been both not understood and misunderstood. This article highlights another pretty big misunderstanding. The reality is, most people have no idea that you can just buy expired domain names. The people out there registering expired domains are often just investors, not nefarious criminals.
Hey, there are even blogs and newsletters focused on highlighting opportunities in the expired domain market. They aren’t there to support scammers and criminals, they’re supporting investors, just like a real estate investor or stock investor would share places to get good deals on either of those assets.
The silver lining for all of us who choose domain names as an asset class is, the rest of the world still hasn’t quite figured out what we do yet…and maybe that’s okay.
What do you think? I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!
Another week is behind us, and as usual, there was plenty of news in the domain investing world to keep us all busy. In case you missed it, here are some of the top stories that caught my eye. Last week I think I covered too many stories and I really want to keep this short and sweet because it’s Friday and you really don’t have the time to read a bunch of news stories, so I’m sticking with three, if you want more in the future just let me know in the comment section below.
Now, onto the news!
- ICANN shuts down Alpnames – one of the top stories this week is the shuttering of a registrar that I frankly have never heard of called Alpnames…they broke some rules, are no more, and now hundreds of thousands of domains are in purgatory. DNW broken the news (to me at least) and also wrote a solid article about how to rescue your domains from Alpnames.
- Mike Mann declared himself the real domain king – here we go again. It’s happened before, and it’s happening again. Domain Investor Mike Mann went on Twitter and said he really should be the domain king. I like both Rick and Mike so I’m staying out of this one.
- Sketch.com was acquired just before a $20M raise – another great one-word .COM is off the market forever as Sketch.com was acquired by the startup of the same name, perfectly timed just before they announced a $20M raise.
A little bonus story, while I don’t want to promote my own articles too much here, I am excited for Efty who announced this week on the Domain Sherpa show that they’ll be supporting larger portfolio owners (i.e. 5,000+ domains). Woot!
Okay, now stop reading domain investing news and go out and enjoy your Friday night. If you think there’s a story that should have made the list, share away in the comment section below.
So a pretty strange article hit the news today. The article states that traditional domains have stagnated and a new class of domains, “blockchain domains” are going to take over.
Some companies in the .com era may have succeeded largely due to their domain and its primacy in search results. Today, this market has become stagnant, but innovation is popping up in a new area — blockchain domains. (Source – InvestInBlockchain.com)
Uh…I’m not sure this guy knows that millions of dollars in domain names sell every week, and more domains sell now than did back in the “.com era” since that was referring to early Internet startups…not domains as an asset class.
The article continues by complaining that it’s impossible to get a new domain extension. This is just bizarrely misinformed since ICANN has approved over 1,000 new domain extensions, some of which are still hitting the market, like .DEV which launched last month.
It gets weirder.
The article goes on to talk about how payments aren’t native with the current domain name extensions…huh? Then soon jumps to how “blockchain domains” are going to fix everything. The first point he makes is that, poof, new domain extensions will be easier than ever to get…why?
“New blockchain domain services can just launch on a public blockchain, no ICANN approval necessary.” (Source – InvestInBlockchain.com)
Sounds simple right…err, no? Yeah, it’s not, and the author even realizes this and wrote a “now of course” paragraph below about how it’s actually probably super complex and you really can’t “just launch on a public blockchain”
“Now of course, there are many challenges with this, but getting approval from a regulator that may take years isn’t one of them. Instead you need to worry about deploying smart contracts correctly, getting apps to support your new extension, and of course getting users to buy and use the domains.” (Source – InvestInBlockchain.com)
The punchline here is .ETH domains and some stats about how they have done, which is impressive in its own right but still just a tiny sliver of the domain market. There also hasn’t been a massive proliferation of “blockchain domains” nor does this seem to be something that’s really actively being pursued by many companies…except for people like the company the author runs…who are launching blockchain domains.
And that’s when it hit me. This was just a marketing article promoting what the company is doing and positioning the market they’re trying to create as some rocket ship about to overtake the domain name industry…I’m not buying it and this is honestly one of the most poorly-researched, and just plain bizarre articles I’ve read about domain names in a long time.
That being said, I understand the concepts behind blockchain domains, heck I’ll even admit I think they could gain popularity as blockchain becomes more widely used. But to claim that the domain industry has become stagnant and blockchain domains are growing like crazy just isn’t true.
Where’s that facepalm emoji when you need it, ah – here it is:
Tyler O’Briant, the co-founder of Kowalla wrote a great article about lessons learned from generating 182 bad startup names. The reality is, for any startup, coming up with a name is hard, and given that just about every name you can come up with is likely already taken, it’s probably harder than it has ever been.
While I don’t completely agree with Tyler’s entire article (sorry Tyler, you’re awesome and I like 98% of what you said!) there were some really solid words of wisdom that I think many founders can relate to.
Alec started working a demo he called “Actualizeur” earlier in the year. The name worked on a conceptual level. We wanted to build a place for people to actualize the projects in a community of like-minded builders. But it had it’s faults too. Mainly, I haven’t found anyone but Alec who could spell it correctly.
Actualiezer… Actualizr… Actualizer… Actualizur?We launched into the process of finding a new name. We hoped to find another name-product match like we had with Actualizeur, but with a lower vowel-to-consonant ratio. (Source – ProductHunt)
Look to the fallen. CBInsights has been compiling postmortems of various failed startups since 2014. These post mortems are interesting reads, and while naming your startup they’ll help give you some insight into naming trends over the years. Kowalla’s name was actually inspired by Gowalla, a former Austin-based startup mentioned in this list. (Source – ProductHunt)
As many of you know, I’m not a domain broker. In the past I have brokered a domain name here and there but for the most part I just buy and sell my own domains. Still, every once and a while I get connected up with someone that has a domain that is just so darn awesome that I can’t help myself. I don’t have a lot of additional bandwidth so when I do broker a domain, it’s just one domain, usually for the entire year.
This week a domain name crossed my path that is too good not to take on, so I’ve decided that in 2019 I will broker one, and only one domain name. At this point you’re probably wondering, okay, get to the point Morgan, what’s the name!?!?
While the owner is in no rush to sell I am starting to field offers, this is a monster name and I am really looking forward to finding a company with a big enough idea and market to do it justice. There are many examples of companies that have acquired a one-word .COM and seen it as a massive game-changer for their business. Zoom recently acquired Zoom.com, and the story of the Candy.com sale at $3M is a great one, this turned out to be a small investment for the return it provided for the new owners.
If you are interested in this domain name or know someone who is please feel free to contact me directly. If you’ve been interested in me brokering a domain name, you’ll have to wait until 2020, 2019 is going to be a Chill year for me.
If you happened to catch today’s Domain Sherpa show, a bit of news was broken that I think a lot of Domainers are going to be pretty happy about. Efty just announced that they are going to be adding support for large portfolios soon. A large portfolio in this case means Domainers who have 5,000+ domains.
I’ve talked quite a bit about Efty in the past but in case you need a little refresher, Efty is one of the top platforms in the Domain Investing world for managing, marketing, and selling your domains. They did a UX update a little bit ago that IMHO really took the platform to the next level. I often explain to people that Efty is like a “dashboard for your domains” – you can view lots of important details like how much you paid for a name, when it expires, name servers, etc. Here’s an example of the main dashboard:
Efty also lets you build your own custom marketplaces so if you’ve ever wanted a site with all your domains on it, Efty can make that happen. I think this feature is going to be particularly interesting for large portfolio owners who will essentially be able to open full scale domain marketplaces given their portfolio size!
So if you have over 5,000+ domains and have been itching to use Efty, it sounds like the wait might be over very soon. I know that there is certainly quite a bit of additional complexity when it comes to supporting this on the backend so hats off to the Efty team for making this move.
I’ll make sure to update everyone once this goes live so stay-tuned!
De-Platforming is Digital Censorship. Blacklisting is Digital Shunning.
“I have always strenuously supported the right of every man to his own opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who denies to another this right, makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of changing it.” – Thomas Paine (1737-1809)
For those not familiar with the case, Gab.com’s ability to operate was abruptly terminated by Godaddy, among other vendors, who deemed Gab to have violated their terms of service. This de-platforming of Gab generated much discussion in the mainstream technology press. It also prompted a lively discussion in the professional domain name community, including at the popular discussion board NamePros.
As the news broke, and as some elements in the mainstream media rendered their judgement, I embarked on my own search for truth. Along the way, I did have an opportunity to meet with the Founder of Gab, Andrew Torba, an entrepreneur who was willing to swim against the tide for what he believes is right, namely empowering netizens to discuss openly about matters of mutual interest with limited risk of censorship.
Although, I did not take the decision lightly to accept this domain registration, I look forward to partnering with a young, and once brash, CEO who is courageously doing something that looks useful. As I reflect on my own journey as a truth-seeking tech entrepreneur, I have no doubt that Andrew will continue to develop not only as tech entrepreneur but also as a responsible steward — one that can balance bravado with diplomacy and who tempers courage with humility.
A Word on Inalienable Rights
De-platforming a haven of free speech is not about left or right. Anyone who remembers studying civics is familiar with the concept of inalienable rights — rights that a worthy government can only protect but would have no moral authority to take away. The idea of Natural Law and Inalienable Rights dates back to Ancient Greece, if not before. Tolerance for competing views — including those protected by Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Press — is not an American concept even though the Founding Fathers of the United States built a prosperous nation around the concept.
We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. – Thomas Jefferson
These days there are many kinds of online content that some people find objectionable. When it comes to publishing content, online or offline, there is an interplay between free will and personal responsibility. Specific to Gab, the decision to not only tolerate but to welcome competing views, does come with a responsibility to take action when free will is exhibited without personal responsibility. This was famously illustrated in the opinion rendered by Supreme Court in Watt vs. United States (1969) where threats of violence was deemed unlawful.
In the case of Gab.com, there is a duty to monitor and lightly curate, keeping content within the bounds of the law. The duty is perhaps best explained by Uncle Ben of Spiderman fame:
“A Republic, if you can keep it.”
– Ben Franklin (1787)
A Word on Decentralization of Ownership
One of the unique features of Gab is their democratic approach to capitalization. For an online media portal with exponential growth, there are variety of potential acquirers and investors that would have a keen interest in providing growth capital, even for a business model that is presently loss-making as is the case with Gab. Rather than go down Sand Hill Road, they have opted to follow in the footsteps of Blockchain by designing a distributed ownership model. And while Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) lost some of their heady momentum, the premise of shared ownership for shared outcomes remains compelling.
In the domain name world, we often talk about domain ownership. The reality is that we are mostly leasing domains from registries, who in turn is often regulated by a regulator ICANN. Recently I have been a vocal advocate for Forever domain registrations whereby a domain is free of ongoing expense. At the moment, this is possible through Epik though there is still more work to do to make this a risk-free industry norm. The danger of not proactively embracing digital sovereignty, in all its forms, is that the digital world will inevitably find a way to achieve it, with or without domain names.
Let Freedom Ring
To the casual observer, the case of Gab.com seems like it is something new. It is not. It is history repeating itself. While there are consequences to actions, there is also the proverbial risk of throwing out the baby with the bathwater. My hope, for all of our sakes, is that Gab.com treads wisely, using its liberty for the betterment of most, and the enlightenment of all.
‘Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it. – George Santayana (1863-1952)
An important milestone on the road to Digital Sovereignty
Seattle, WA and Barcelona — [October 24, 2018] — During the 63rd convocation of global domain industry regulator, ICANN in Barcelona, perpetual domain ownership achieved an important milestone as Seattle-based Epik.com became the first domain name registrar to offer perpetual domain registrations for hundreds of popular domain extensions. Since the advent of private ownership of internet domain names, owners of domains have become accustomed to annual domain name renewal along with regular price increases for ownership of domains. From time to time, over the years, important domain names have unintentionally fallen into the wrong hands or have become temporarily disabled due to expiration or policy enforcement.
Although perpetual registrations are not yet available for every domain extension, a growing number of popular domain extensions can now be secured perpetually for a one-time fee. For example, the iconic .COM can be secured at Epik.com for the one-time, all-inclusive fee of $420 regardless of where a domain is presently registered. Eligible forever registrations at Epik include free privacy protection, theft protection, forwarding services and unlimited subdomains all at no additional cost.Epik.com Founder and CEO, Rob Monster, a digital rights advocate, is a member of the ICANN global registrar stakeholder group that convened in Barcelona this week. In an interview on the opening day of the ICANN conference, Mr. Monster explained the move, “This is an important development for the domain industry. Customers have been asking for perpetual domain registrations for years. Epik is working with industry stakeholders to make forever registrations not only available but also affordable and eventually commonplace for registrants around the world.”
Peace of Mind in the Digital Age. Forever.
Forever domain registrations provide individuals and businesses with peace of mind. Once a Forever registration is secured, the future risk of domain loss due to administrative oversight or lack of funds is eliminated. While domain owners are still subject to legal use, domains can now become an enduring part of a will or estate, with continued managed registration compliance, even after the death of the original registrant. A Forever domain registration, which can be optionally combined with a Forever hosting plan, offers not only peace of mind, but also allows registrants to preserve their digital legacy, and on their terms.
Forever Registrations are for Everyone
Domain names are often described as a form of digital land. Freehold property ownership is not without precedent. Freehold ownership dates back thousands of years where the practice of perpetual land ownership was the standard. Epik is the first ICANN-accredited registrar to offer the perpetual registration. Additional registrars are expected to follow in the coming year. In the short time since Epik began offering Forever domain registrations, more than 1000 Forever registrations have been completed.
Epik customer, the Father Flanagan League has purchased 43 Forever registrations. League President, Steve Wolf explained the value of the Forever registrations, “Our mission and agenda is an enduring one. Epik has been a trusted and unwavering ally in securing our digital presence for the long term. With a portfolio of managed forever registrations from Epik, our digital presence is secured permanently and this is one major aspect of our organizational identity that we do not have to constantly deal with. This Epik service feature is a tremendous value and gives us peace of mind.”
Debra McCann, mother of international music sensation Kiesza, also secured Forever domain registrations for the Kiesza and SteamPop brands. “With Kiesza’s global chart topping hits, brand protection was a priority. We secured Forever registrations from Epik. Whether Kiesza is in the recoding studio or on world tour, we sleep well at night knowing that Kiesza’s most important domains can never fall into the wrong hands. Our domains are right where they belong. Forever.”
Paulo Leocadio, of Pompano Beach, Florida is Founder of SculpIT. Paulo owns 23 Forever registrations at Epik, broadly protecting the SculpIT brand across multiple planned categories of factory. He explains “The name ‘Sculpit’ means different things to different people. I am protecting my brand across multiple new domain extensions including .FITNESS, .LIFE, .DIET. Forever registrations are a key pillar in protecting my brand once and for all.”
Jim Reifsnyder-Smith, of A1B 2BC is the owner of the premium 3 letter domain with an appraised value of more than $1 million that he leases to another Epik customer on Epik.com. Jim bought a Forever registration at Epik and explains “We lease our domain, so perpetual ownership gives our lessee’s extra peace of mind knowing that the domain they have been leasing isn’t going anywhere.”
For further information, or to schedule an interview, contact Rob Monster, CEO of Epik, at firstname.lastname@example.org or at +1(425)-765-0077. Domain owners can complete a no-cost check for eligibility of Forever domain registrations by visiting Epik.com/forever
About Epik Holdings Inc:
Founded in 2009, Epik is s leading full-service, all-inclusive registrar, as well as the leading provider of domain name leasing services and provider of escrow services for intangible assets. Domain industry regulator, ICANN, has accredited the privately held provider of domain registrations since 2011.
About Rob Monster:
Entrepreneur of the Year, TEDx alumnus, author, venture investor, and philanthropist, Rob Monster is a global advocate for sovereignty in the Digital Age – sovereignty of individuals and of the communities where they live and work. Rob, a Dutch-American, is a trusted advisor on digital strategy to both the public and private sector around the world.
Safe Harbor Language: Any statements contained herein related to future events are forward-looking statements and are made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act 1995. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. Epik Holdings, Inc. undertakes no obligation to update any such statements to reflect actual events
For many people, the year 2018 has been a good financial year. As we are now in the fourth quarter, I wanted to take a few moments to share some pro tips for using your domain holdings to manage your year-end tax liability.
One of the most popular moves for reducing your 2018 tax liability is our Forever domain registration. This is a one-time purchase of a forever domain. This service is uniquely offered through Epik and can be done with most domains. The Forever domain allows you to recognize a 2018 expense to cover the registration costs for as long as you hold the domain at Epik. To check if your domains are eligible for Forever registration, visit here. In addition to Forever domains, Epik also offers Forever web and email hosting plans.
Year-end domain selling
One of the unique features of Epik is that we are not only a registrar but also a domain name marketplace for selling and leasing domains. When you sell domains on Epik, your proceeds are initially deposited tax-free in a Masterbucks account. These proceeds can be held or spent tax-free. If you are redeeming your proceeds, that is generally considered a taxable event and possibly best timed for after the new year. If you are new to selling and leasing domains, read our helpful how-to guide here. For transactions larger than $10,000 use our escrow service.
Fund your account for planned 2019 purchases
You may also fund your Epik account through your preferred payment method before December 31, 2018. Your deposited funds are held in the form of Epik In-store Account Credit which can be used for future domain and hosting related expenses regardless of whether you choose to process the renewals at this time or after the new year. You can fund your account online from your account by logging in and adding funds here.
Domain Gifting and Estate Planning
If you hold domain names that have appreciated in value, you may gift domain names to qualifying institutions such as 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations. To do this, you will want a 3rd party appraisal of the domain names being gifted, particularly if the size of the gift is more than $5,000. If you have a domain portfolio that would logically benefit a qualifying institution, that institution can in turn use or sell those domains. For a professional appraisal, visit our appraisal page here.
For anyone holding cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, Epik does offer the option of funding your Epik account using these cryptocurrencies in addition to bank deposit, wire transfer, ACH, and PayPal. If you wish to fund your account via cryptocurrency, please contact us and we’ll assist you with this task. Your cryptocurrency payment can be held in the form of Epik in-store credit for use with future domain and hosting purchases.
Bulk Domain Transfers
I hope these pro tips are helpful for you. Consult your tax advisor or contact us for a free consultation on year-end tax strategies for domain holders. Feel free to share these tips with others. For now, I wish you a blessed year-end holiday season and look forward to another year ahead of industry-leading innovation and legendary support. Thank you for your continued feedback. If you loved Epik in 2018, feel free to let us know here or by liking us on Facebook.
Attending NamesCon this week?
Stop by the Epik hospitality booth in the exhibitor area