NameJet-Domain-Auctions

As most of you probably know by now, I try to stay away from blogging about controversies in the domain name world. That being said, it’s hard for me to stay out of this one so I thought I would share my thoughts, and keep it short and sweet since in my humble opinion this is pretty cut and dry.

You should not be allowed to bid on your own auctions, period. If you do this, you are, whether you mean to or not, increasing the price of your own domain names. If you did this in an art auction, car auction, home auction, or just about any other type of auction you could go to jail.

It’s always disappointing to see the domain industry become even more divided but let’s be honest, there’s not much grey area here. If you bid on your own auctions and drive up the price (which last time I checked is what happens when you bid on your own auctions) you should be banned, period, end of story.

That’s my two cents, what do you think?

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bitcoin-logo

If you’re like my Dad, you’re getting really excited about all the buzz surrounding cryptocurrency, but you’re also trying to understand what the heck is happening all at the same time. Here’s the challenge. Most people understand things like the stock market and physical real estate, but when it comes to investing in 1’s and 0’s, whether it’s domain names or Bitcoin, things get complex.

Oh and it doesn’t help that really understanding Blockchain at anything below a surface level probably requires a PhD in math. Okay, maybe I’m just being dramatic but suffice it to say that cryptocurrency and the underlying technologies (and math) behind it is complicated no matter how you slice it.

This complexity makes all the news about Bitcoin scaling all the more confusing for most people so I thought I’d try to break it down at a very high level. I’ve actually been doing this for my Dad who is really trying to understand the details of what’s going on so thought I may as well share with my blog readers as well.

Before I go any further I also want to make sure you know that I am FAR from a cryptocurrency expert, I haven’t made a small fortune with Bitcoin and I don’t have a lot of money invested in cryptocurrency. That being said, I did make a nice profit on Bitcoin last year (over 100% ROI) and just recently made investments in both Ether and Litecoin. So I guess I know enough to be dangerous.

Okay, so here we go.

Bitcoin Scaling 101

The basic idea: People want to see Bitcoin support greater transaction volumes

The complexity: People don’t agree on how they want to do this

The proposals: There are three proposals on the table (that have gained the most steam) for increasing transaction volumes, one is called SegWit2x, BIP 148, and BIP 91. I know, who names these things?

The risk: Nobody agrees (what’s new) and some people are threatening to revolt which would, uh, make things super awkward and likely have a ripple effect on cryptocurrency prices.

The day of reckoning: The plan is for this to all go down August 1st so cryptocurrency prices could jump way up or way down leading up to and after this date. I personally like taking risks (i.e. I don’t mind losing all the money I put in here) so am betting that it is going to go up and am buying crypto now.

Where to learn more: Just read this article, it not only covers all the basics but also gives you links to places where you can do a deeper dive if you really want to get geeky.

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Earlier this month Spotify made a pretty interesting new product announcement on Product Hunt, a new product to both view and share analytics on your listening habits. Rather than launching this on something like Spotify.com/analytics or as an internal product directly off their main site, they decided to launch the new offering on Spotify.me.

spotify-me

I think this is an interesting move for two reasons:

  1. It represents a new shift that I think we’re seeing from a number of innovative brands where they are sharing more and more data and analytics, usually leveraged by internal BI teams, directly with their customers
  2. It shows how brands are embracing domain name extensions like .ME for new products, in this case with a focus on something truly personal/personalized to the user which is why .ME is such a great fit for this specific product

So what kind of data does Spotify share with you about your listening habits? The Verge says it’s like a Spotify subscriber yearbook, except insane:

The report measures three different characteristics of music listening: Discovery, or how much people are looking for new music; Diversity, or the range of music people listen to; and Tilt, or how much people “curate” their music. Based on where they stand in these categories, users are then further broken down into specific types of listeners, like “Easy-Goers,” who stream music in the background, and “Eclectics” who don’t seem to have any specific taste in music. Each type of listener is paired with a seemingly random action they are “more likely” to do than the rest of the listeners. It’s like a Spotify subscriber yearbook, except insane. (Source – The Verge)

dot-me

I can see more brands following suit here since companies like Netflix, Nest, and Tesla collect all kinds of really cool data about how people are using their product/service that would probably be pretty darn interesting to their users. It also feel like .ME is probably one of the best extensions out there for a product-specific URL which is something that I think we’re going to be seeing a lot more of in general.

Congrats to Spotify on the new product, they’re continuing to define themselves as innovators and I think this move is likely going to inspire other innovative brands to do something similar…or at least I hope it does!

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Tonight me and some good friends from college decided to hang out in VR, and while I was expecting it to be more of a novelty than a good way to connect, it turned out to be a lot more fun and dynamic than I was expecting. For our first VR hangout we decided to use Altspace VR, which looks a little bit like this:

altspace-vr

We spent most of our time in a room like this where we could talk, watch You Tube videos, and play a variety of games they had built-into the room. I have to say that the games weren’t incredibly fun but they did make the room more entertaining. Also, not all of us had VR headsets so while some of us got the full VR experience, others viewed the 3D world through a computer screen which definitely was less immersive.

At one point we teleported to another world where there was 360 degree You Tube videos surrounding us, this was a bit more distracting than interesting. In the end we found ourselves in a flat world, a bit like the base layer of a Star Trek Holodeck just standing around and talking. When people spoke, the mouth on their avatar moved, and the closer we were together the easier we could hear each other.

In the end, we spent an hour and a half together which I don’t think would have happened if we all jumped on a Google Hangout, and in the end it actually does feel like we all went somewhere and did something together. Yes, the graphics are still a bit basic and blocky, and sure, the games weren’t a blast, but we did all share different experiences together and agreed that next time we’d try to find a tv show or movie to all watch together.

While these are still the early days of VR, the fact that I can hang out with my friends who live all over the country and actually feel like we did something together vs. just chatted is a bigger deal than I think most people think. If you don’t believe me, just try it out for yourself!

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Is now a good time to buy Ethereum?

If you’ve been following the cryptocurrency world then you know this past week has been buzzing with activity. While the hottest topic has been the future of Bitcoin, the second hottest topic has been the impact that concerns around Bitcoin’s future has had on other cryptocurrencies like Ethereum. After enjoying some time above $200 USD, Ethereum took a nose dive down to around $160 USD following a slew of scary news stories about potential challenges ahead for Bitcoin.

ethereum-usd-chart

(Chart source – TradingView) 

Of course, with both Bitcoin and Ethereum dropping in price many cryptocurrency skeptics have been enjoying a bit of “I told you so” moments on Twitter. At the same time, on the other side of the fence, cryptocurrency experts have been telling people – keep calm and crypto on.

As many of you know, domain names is my thing not cryptocurrency so this is all new to me. That being said, I’ve been interested in Ethereum lately and am thinking this might be a good time to buy. At the same time, I’m always a bit concerned about buying something on it’s way down and it really is hard to know if this is a blip in the radar or the beginning of the end.

What do you think? Is now the time to buy Ethereum by the digital bucketload or should newbies like me sit this one out and just follow the action on Coinbase?

 

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morgan-linton-russian-river

Good morning (or afternoon depending on where you are) and hello from Russian River. If you don’t know where Russian River is, think two hours north of San Francisco in the heart of Sonoma wine country. Growing up in Berkeley I always loved this part of California, close enough for a weekend trip but still far enough away to really feel like you’re getting away from it all.

Right now we’re at a very intense point in our life where we are working just about every waking minute and most weekends. So we decided, after a busy week of meetings in the Bay Area to take a day and half to relax in the woods, unplug (minus of course blogging and the occasional email), and taste a bit of the incredible wine that the Russian River Valley has to offer.

I found an incredibly cool book titled “How to build your own spaceship” that just seemed too interesting not to read, but don’t get too excited, at this moment I’m not planning on building my own spaceship. This afternoon we’re headed over to Iron Horse which is a pretty special winery off the beaten trail that does tastings by appointment-only so if you come to this region, I highly recommend it, just remember to call in advance.

iron-horse-russian-river

The entrance to Iron Horse is lined with Palm Trees #awesome

The rest of the day we’ll be reading and relaxing in the redwoods and then having dinner at Canneti, a cute little Italian restaurant in Forestville. Tomorrow morning we’ll wake up, enjoy a little walk in the redwoods, and then head to SFO and back to Austin.

I’m already feeling a lot more relaxed, which given how hectic and stressful our lives are feels really nice, and is something I think we really needed. It can be easy to tell yourself that you just have to work every waking minute, and something’s that’s probably true, just don’t forgot to take a step back every now and then and spend a weekend in the woods…

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ai-and-ml-resources

So as many of you know, just about every waking hour I spend building AI and ML technologies at Bold Metrics. Our mission is to change the way products are personalized for people and what we’re doing probably wasn’t possible ten years ago, and I think ten years from now people won’t know how they lived without technology like ours.

That being said, I myself am not an AI or ML expert, but I am proud of the experts we have hired and what we’ve been able to build as a team. I am also always trying to extend my knowledge as much as possible so that while I might not be writing any of the core code myself, I can still understand how the space as a whole is evolving and how we can help contribute to breakthroughs and innovations in AI and ML.

I also tend to have friends ask me where they can go to learn more about the kind of technologies we build and I often send them lists of some of my favorite sites. As of three days ago I think I’ve found one resource that can actually help anyone get up to speed on all the really amazing and innovative things happening in AI and ML, and all in one article.

The article is written by a guy named Robbie Allen, a PhD student who, not surprisingly is focusing his studies on…you guessed it – AI and ML. You can read his article here on Medium. Enjoy and thanks Robbie for putting this together!

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I wish there was a different phrase that we could use for “Net Neutrality” that would better explain the severity of what it means for all of us. To people that don’t know about it, the phrase sounds relatively benign and very legal, like something a lawyer would worry about, not an ordinary person just going about their day.

The reality is, the issues surrounding Net Neutrality have the ability to completely change how we use the Internet, on our computers, smart phones, anywhere. Here’s the general definition of the phrase:

Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers and governments regulating the Internet must treat all data on the Internet the same, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication. (Source – Wikipedia)

Right now, big cable companies can’t force startups out of business by making their sites run slowly unless they essentially pay a bribe, if Net Neutrality goes away, that’s exactly what will happen. In a world without Net Neutrality, innovation will slow to a crawl since huge companies with big budgets will be the only ones that can afford to pay the prices that cable companies will charge.

Imagine if when services like Uber and Lyft launched they ran so slowly that the whole experience was almost unusable? Go Daddy’s CEO Blake Irving wrote a great article about Net Neutrality that I recommend everyone read if they haven’t yet – in it he says:

“Imagine if your local mall could direct the entire budget of your city’s planning department.  Eventually all the roads to and from the mall would be in pristine condition while the roads to Main Street shops would fall into disrepair.  When customers can no longer navigate the potholes and overgrown rambles on Main Street, they simply won’t go back and your town mall would hold a monopoly on brick and mortar business.  In this metaphor, Net Neutrality keeps the roads department focusing on the entire area, not just the town’s big businesses.”

I urge all of my readers to speak up and push their elected officials to make sure we continue to keep the Internet the free and wonderful place it is today. At the same time, I hope we all realize, this is much bigger than the Internet, because so much innovation happens on the Internet we’re really talking about innovation and progress as a whole.

Thanks for reading and as always, comment and let your voice be heard!

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Well here’s an offer I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. Uniregistry, a domain registrar started by serial entrepreneur and angel investor Frank Schilling is offering new customers the chance to move their domain names from their current registrar over to them, and they’ll beat whatever your current renewal rate is. Sound to good to be true? It’s not, but the offer is only valid for a limited time and subject to review.

uniregistry-renewal-rate

Uniregistry is pretty well known for having some of the most competitive pricing out there which is why it’s popular with both domain name investors who have huge portfolios of domains, and startups that also will often own multiple domains to protect their brand and branch out into new spaces.

Couple this with that fact that Uniregistry gives private registration away for free which most registrars charge for, and they have a pretty badass app that makes it easy to manage your domains from any mobile device. I don’t think we’ll see deals like this too often – hat’s off to Uniregistry for the offer, and if you miss out, don’t say I didn’t give you a heads up!

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x.com logo

It’s not ever day that a one letter .COM sells period, and it’s almost never that the previous owner is the buyer (in fact this might be the first time it has happened). Couple this with the fact that that original owner is Elon Musk and it’s fair to say the sale of X.com which was announced today is pretty big news no matter how you slice it.

I first read the news on my friend Elliot’s blog, DomainInvesting.com and in the comment section Andrew Rosner, founder of Media Options announced that he was the broker behind the deal.

I don’t believe this was supposed to be announced yet, not sure PayPal had permission to announce it.

We, MediaOptions, brokered the sale!

No comment on price so don’t ask.

X.com is in my opinion the single most valuable domain on the web. This sale proved that. For me it’s a very proud moment and the highlight of my entire domain career. Probably always will be the highlight for many reasons.

Congrats to PayPal and Elon. Americas greatest entrepreneur now has his domain back! (Source – DomainInvesting.com)

While you might be thinking that X.com will be the domain behind Elon Musk’s next venture, but in this case it looks like the domain just has a lot of sentimental value to him and he wanted to get it back.

I think this is about as good an example of a win-win as I’ve seen before. Huge congrats to Andrew and Media Options for brokering the deal and congrats to Elon for getting the domain back, not a bad day in the domain name world.

Also, a little fun fact – the logo from X.com above is from a previous use when the site was home to an elite international organization tasked with countering alien invasions of earth. Since the original game there have been a number of remakes, if you want to play it yourself, here’s one of the latest versions available for $4.99 on Steam:

x-com-apocalypse


Image Source (X.com logo) – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X-COM
Image Source (X.com Apocalypse logo) – http://store.steampowered.com/app/7660/XCOM_Apocalypse/

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