There are tons of domain name marketplaces out there with a solid track record selling .COM domain names. The vast majority of my domain investments are .COM and have been for the last 9+ years so this is really all that I know. While I’ve dabbled in new gTLDs like I’ve said many times before, I think most are going to fail and only a select group will live on which is why I’ve mostly stayed out of investing in this space.

That being said, there are people who are more bullish on new gTLDs than me that are buying and doing their best to actively sell these names. Yesterday I got an email from a blog reader who has been investing in new gTLDs that asked me the question I posed above – “what is the best marketplace for selling new gTLDs?”

Since I don’t know the answer to this question I told her that I would poll my readers to see what the community thinks. So now I’ll turn it back to you.

If you’re someone who is actively (or somewhat actively) selling new gTLDs, what marketplace are you seeing the best results with? Comment and let your voice be heard!

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china-flag

Last year the Global Domain Industry Summit held its inaugural conference and cemented itself as one of the biggest domain conferences in China. This year it’s back and it looks like it’s going to set a new bar for domain industry events in the East.

Pinky Brand, a domain industry veteran who has been very active in the Chinese domain market recently wrote a post on his blog highlighting the event and the location which is colloquially known as domain island.

Xiamen is a lovely metropolis with fabulous outdoor markets and attractions. It’s known as China’s “domain island” where several domain name registrars and domain investors are located.

It’s on the coast and about an hour and a half flight NE from Hong Kong, or about three from Beijing. Last I checked, it will take you 1 or 2 connections to get there from the USA or Europe.   You lose a day when traveling there from overseas, so for USA folks that means you can still enjoy the 4th of July, leave on the 5th or 6th, and get there in time for the start, although you may have to deal with the jet lag.

Last year while at the conference Pinky put together a video on behalf of ChopChop.domains that I highly encourage everyone to watch whether you’re going or not. It’s no secret that the Chinese domain name market has been growing steadily every year and I think this video gives domain investors in the West a nice look at what’s going on in the East.


2016 Global Domain Summit – Hangzhou, China from Pinkard Brand on Vimeo.

 

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new-park-io-site

Park.io has been my favorite place to buy expired .IO domains for some time now and recently they did a major UX update and added a number of new ccTLDs like .VC, .MN, .AG and more. While the site started with a focus on .IO, hence the name, they expanded to a few other ccTLDs last year and this year they appear to be doubling down.

While I don’t have much experience with extensions like .GG or .MN this does add a lot of options to the site and makes me think that a name change could be in the future? Just a guess, I don’t know anything that you don’t know.

I’m really impressed with the new UX – it’s very clean, organized, and with it comes some new additions (or at least new to me) like two-factor authentication which is something I turn on everywhere I possibly can.

dot-io-domains-parkio

Not surprisingly .IO is still the first tab followed by .LY, .TO and .ME which I believe have been available on the site since the early days. Along with the new UX and added support for additional ccTLDs Park.io is also testing out a new SMS notification feature inspired by a discussion on DomainSherpa.

You can read more about how to try out this new feature on the Park.io blog. I think it’s pretty awesome that Mike from Park.io was listening to DomainSherpa, heard the sherpas talking about a feature they’d like to see implemented, and then went out and did it. Talk about listening to your customers!

Hats off to Mike (the founder of Park.io) on all the great upgrades, as an early user and a big fan of the site it’s been fun to watch it grow and progress over the years. When it comes to innovation I can tell you Park.io sets a high bar, they implement features fast, are in touch with what domain investors are looking for, and now they have one of the nicest looking domain backorder sites I’ve ever seen. Well done!

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ROI

It’s always interesting to see domain names move from one marketplace to another at a huge ROI, and even more interesting when it happens in a matter of months. This is exactly what happened with 000100.com which sold for $560 on Go Daddy on January 25th and then less than three months later sold on NameJet for $3,500 (source – NameBio Blog).

Just to be clear, I didn’t make this sale or have anything to do with it, I just read about it on NameBio’s blog and am writing about it now. For those keeping score that’s a 525% ROI in less than three months. Of course if this was repeatable every time then we’d all own an island or two and take private jets everywhere we go.

While things like this do happen in the domain name world, finding a way to do this repeatedly is incredibly hard. It’s seeing things like this that cause people to get inspired to become domain investors, but I think too often we only focus on the big wins like this that really represent a small percent of the actual transactions that take place. Take SustainableBusinesses.com which was purchased for $3,288 back in 2013 on Afternic and sold for $260 this week on Go Daddy – ouch.

So here’s the question. What can we learn from sales like 000100.com? Is this a complete outlier, a one-off that we shouldn’t read into, or is there something we can glean from this to produce similar results. As always, I’d love to hear from you – comment and let your voice be heard!

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It’s no secret to anyone who keeps up with the domain name industry that the new domain names extensions (or new gTLDs as industry insiders call them) have had a bumpy start to 2017. This hasn’t been much of a surprise to me, as I’ve said many times before, I think most of the new domain extensions will likely crash and burn, but I do think some will do well and have a bright future for years to come.

One of the new domain extensions that I’ve been the most bullish on is .CLUB and for two reasons. First, it’s a relevant word to tack onto the end of many other words and phrases and second, it’s run by two of the sharpest entrepreneurs I know, period.

Now that we’re officially in Q2 .CLUB has released their premium domain sales numbers for Q1. The total dollar value of all premium .CLUB domains sold in Q1 was $501,139.40 bringing the total .CLUB sales (all time) to $4,844,428.45.

.CLUB has also been selling LL .CLUB domains separately. For those who don’t know what LL means, this just means a two letter domain like PV.club. A third of their LL.CLUB inventory has been sold and these go for an average sales price of $4,020.

Sometimes when I write a positive post about a new domain name extension people confuse it with me suggesting that people brand around these instead of .COM. This isn’t the case. My company (Bold Metrics) is on a .COM, my blog is on a .COM, and most of the investments I make in the domain industry are, you guessed it, .COM.

I am more bullish about .COM than any new domain name extension. That being said, if you want a domain name that costs six or seven figures in .COM and you really want to brand around that word – I’d prefer a new domain extension to adding the word “get” in front of your domain name, or adding the word “online” to the end.

Like I said above, many new domain extension will fail over the coming years, but there are some that will do very well and it’s pretty clear that .CLUB is one of the winners. Congrats to Jeff, Colin, and the whole team at .CLUB – not a bad way to start out 2017!

If you want to read more about .CLUB’s Q1 sales you can read more on the .CLUB blog here

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Have you every been scammed buying or selling a domain name? I have, it only happened once and since then I have sworn by online escrow services to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Here’s how I got scammed:

I sold a domain name to someone and decided to use Pay Pal for the transaction. It was one of my very early domain sales so I still didn’t have too much experience with the process. The buyer insisted on using Pay Pal, I had used Pay Pal for years, so I thought it made sense.

The buyer paid quickly and after receiving the money I transferred the domain. Then a few days later I received a notification from Pay Pal, apparently the buyer claims they never received the merchandise (i.e. domain name) and requested a refund. I responded to Pay Pal with all the details of the transaction, clearly showing that the domain was transferred and was now in their name.

I contacted the buyer to understand what was going on, and no surprises, I got radio silence. Pay Pal got back to me and said there was nothing they could do and they refunded the buyer. I got scammed, it sucked, but luckily it was only a few hundred dollars which is a small price to pay to learn a lesson like this IMO.

A domain name escrow service prevents scams like this by securing the money first, holding it until the domain name is transferred and then transferring the money to the seller. If the buyer tries to pull a scam like they pulled on me, an escrow service will verify if the domain was indeed transferred rather than just siding with the buyer.

Payoneer is one of the most trusted escrow services on the Internet, and having raised over $180M last year, they are also the most well-funded. After Escrow.com was sold to Freelancer, Payoneer brought the former CEO Brandon Abbey onboard, a domain industry veteran and domain escrow expert.

It’s been amazing to see how quickly Payoneer has grown as a go-to escrow service in the domain industry and this growth seems to be accelerating. Last week one of the top domain investing platforms, Efty announced integration with Payoneer and free escrow transactions for the month of April.

“Payoneer is very pleased to partner with Efty, enabling their marketplaces to offer our premier escrow services. Efty continues to excel in providing best in class solutions for domain investors. Payoneer recognizes the strong growth in the domain investing community, and we continue to add new features to our system to better support the needs of domainers.” (Brandon Abbey)

It’s exciting to see growth and innovation in the domain name escrow space. It’s definitely ripe for disruption and Payoneer is definitely leading the charge right now.

Have you ever been scammed before when buying or selling a domain name? If so feel free to share your story in the comment section below.

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morgan-linton-tedx-roma-2017

Happy Friday and hello from Rome. Tomorrow I am speaking at Tedx Roma giving my very first TED talk, something that has been on my bucket list for a while now. I still can’t believe I’m here – I’m nervous, excited, honored, and thrilled for what’s ahead tomorrow.

The main theme for Tedx Roma is what the world is going to be like 20 years from now in 2037. My talk is titled, “The Future of Commerce – From Ancient Rome to Virtual Reality” a topic that I’m really passionate about since it’s something we’re living and shaping every single day at Bold Metrics.

A few weeks ago we announced our partnership with Morph3D and were one of the first companies in the world to show how commerce changes when you introduce holographic augmented reality through a device like the Microsoft Hololens. In the future, the screen you’re reading this blog post on right now will be gone, and instead you’ll be reading this through an AR or VR headset.

Tomorrow I will take the stage in Rome to share our vision of the future, a world that I think is really only 20 years away, or less, and a world that is dramatically changed as AR and VR become a part of our everyday lives.

If you want to watch my talk you can view the livestream (note it’s at 4:30AM PST) you can see me speak by visiting tedxroma.com and clicking on the link for the livestream. Okay, that’s enough from me, I’m off to bed – Ciao!

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Expired domain names can come with baggage

Buying expired domain names is one of the best ways to find investment-grade domain names at wholesale prices. Of course you’re likely not going to be the only person to find the name and if it’s a really good name you can expect to get into a bit of a bidding war to get the name. Since you never know who you’re bidding against all it takes is one end-user who is buying at a retail price to quickly move the auction from a good deal for an investor to a terrible one.

Usually when you buy an expired domain you’re laser focused on getting the best price, what you might overlook is that the domain you bought might come with a bit of baggage beyond the price tag. I’ve learned this lesson before but saw it happen again just yesterday when I found a very official looking letter from a law firm in my mailbox. I opened the letter and it said that I had some website that was selling products with someone else’s name on it and they demanded that I stop…confusion set in.

I emailed the firm back to figure out what they were talking about and it turns out they were referring to a website that was on the domain name years ago, i.e. before the domain expired and I acquired it. There’s no website on it now and I never put a site on it, but the domain came with some real baggage from the previous owner. In some cases it’s easy to figure out if the expired domain you are looking to buy comes with baggage, just do a Google search and see if anything funky comes up. If you ever get a demand letter or something similarly scary – make sure to find out if it actually refers to you and something that you’ve done with a domain, or if a previous tenant might not have been an upstanding citizen.

So don’t be surprised if something like this happens to you someday, just don’t panic because it might not actually be referring to you! I’d say this is probably the second time in ten years that anything like this has happened to me so it certainly doesn’t seem to happen too often but it is a good reminder that expired domains can come with baggage.

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House Squatter

People have been investing in real estate for a long time, and if you were lucky enough to be in a family that bought property a long time ago, you’ve probably seen firsthand how the value can skyrocket over time. The median price of a home sold in the US in 1970 was $23,600, today it’s $231,000 (source – Yahoo Finance). My guess is that you know someone who invests in real estate, and likely more than one, real estate investing has taken off as a way for people to make either a primary or secondary income.

flip-or-flop

There are popular television shows about buying real estate and then flipping it for a lot more than you paid in as short a time period as possible. The stars of these shows aren’t buying the property to live in themselves, they’re buying it to resell for a profit, and people around the world at watching, learning, and getting into the real estate investment game themselves.

Starting in the 1990’s, people started buying and selling domain names. Imagine going back to the early days of land ownership, before electricity, before just about every single creature comfort we have today. That’s where we are when it comes to digital real estate, it’s still a very new concept. There isn’t a single TV show about domain name investing, but blogs like DNJournal and DNW.com have been covering the domain investing world since the very early days and conferences like NamesCon and The Domain Conference bring investors from around the world together every year. The foundation is there, just think of real estate investing in the 1,500’s…these are still the very early days for domain names.

As a relatively new investment vehicle, domain names are still new territory when it comes to pricing, sales, etc. While there is a formalized system and appraisal approach used with physical homes, the same does not exist for domain names. The challenge is that the average person doesn’t realize there’s been an entire industry taking place around investing in domain names.

Instead, when most people think of people who own domain names, they think – squatter. Here’s the problem with that term. The same term applies in the real estate world, but it’s pretty easy to tell between a real estate investor and a squatter. Here’s the definition of a squatter:

DEFINITION of ‘Squatter‘ A person who settles in or occupies property with no legal claim to the property. A squatter is one who resides on a property to which he or she has no title, right or lease. A squatter may gain adverse possession of the property through involuntary transfer.

So if someone is occupying your property and unwilling to move but with no legal claim to it, then they’re squatting. Let’s apply this same term to domain names. A squatter would be someone with no legal claim to the domain name yet claims ownership and/or will not transfer it back to the legal owner.

Just like real estate investors aren’t squatting on the property they legally buy, domain investors are not squatting on the property they legally buy. It’s that simple. Yes – sometimes people squat on domain names just like they squat on homes, those are squatters. In the digital world squatting often means violating a trademark which means the owner doesn’t have the legal right to own the name. In the real world people squat in homes, in fact in some cases squatters make it next-to-impossible to sell your home/investment property (here’s an example).

I agree – squatters are suck. Let’s just make sure we’re clear on the term because just like we wouldn’t call someone who legally buys and sells real estate a squatter, we shouldn’t apply the same term to people who buy or sell domain names.

Or should we? You’ve heard my two cents, now I’d love to hear yours. Comment and let your voice be heard!

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In case you missed it, last week two well-known folks from the domain industry, Andrew Rosner (Media Options) and Ryan Colby (Outcome Brokerage) had a disagreement, that went public on NamePros last week. The thread seems to have been taken down, but here’s a quick recap of what happened:

Andrew bought a domain name for $5,000 from Ryan, and it turned out that the domain name has a $1,000/year renewal fee. So as you might imagine, Andrew wasn’t very happy about the surprise renewal fee and asked Ryan for his money back. Ryan responded and told Andrew that he was not responsible for telling Andrew about the renewal fee and that as the buyer it was his responsibility. The two had a bit of an exchange and since the post was taken down from NamePros I’ll leave it with this high-level summary.

I personally do think that domain brokers owe it to buyers to disclose critical details like this, period. A premium renewal fee of $1,000+ is quite rare and this is definitely information that as an investor, you would need to know to make a decision. But that’s me, now I want to hear from you.

Do you think domain brokers should disclose things like premium renewal fees to buyers? Comment and let your voice be heard!

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