My first impressions of Park.io

When it comes to investing, I still invest most of my money in domain names, they have always provided the best return and I don’t see stocks, bonds, or real estate beating them anytime soon, at least for me. This may have to do with the fact that I’ve spent the last seven years investing in domains, or it could be that I’m just too disconnected from the stock market or real estate market to figure-out how to get the same kind of returns. Still my accountant tells me I’ve got something special here so I’m sticking with domains as the main way that I grow my money the fastest.

My biggest return on investment has always come from expired domains. Before I go any further I want to be clear though, these are not domains that people forgot to renew and then realize after the fact that some annoying squatter picked-up from them. Instead these are domains that people have decided they are not going to use and have decided to drop. If I get an email from someone who did own the domain prior to me buying it I always give it back to them immediately, but so far this has only happened once in the last seven years.

Currently the vast majority of my investments are in .COM, .CO, and .ME however lately I’ve decided to add .IO to the mix given how popular it has been getting. I recently heard about Park.io and decided to take it for a spin.

park-io

Since it’s my first time using the service I thought I’d share my experience. First, I’ll start with the UX – I’m impressed. It’s simple, not cluttered and my favorite part, there aren’t a million ads popping up left and right.

Of course good UX only goes so far, at the end of the day my goal is to find quality domains and quickly since I spend about 10-15 minutes a week looking at expired domains so I need results, and fast. When it comes to .IO domains I have pretty simple criteria, I’m only looking for one-word names and specifically looking at very common words. It was incredibly easy to spent 2-3 minutes on the site and before I knew it I had placed 6 backorders.

To be perfectly honest I’m not sure if Park.io is filtering for quality or if it just so happens that a lot of one-word .IO names are dropping but I did find it very easy to quickly spot names I wanted to buy, not for thousands of dollars, but for $99.

park-io-browse-domains

I started using Park.io yesterday and caught my first name today, for $99, and it was honestly a name I would have gone up to about $500 for in auction so I’m very happy with the results, so happy that I’m writing this review. So if you’re open to looking beyond .COM (which does mean taking bigger risks) and .IO is on your radar I can tell you that I highly recommend Park.io, just don’t bid against me please :)

 

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I’m a bit late on this one but someone just sent me an email congratulating me on Fashion Metric being listed as one of the top 50 startups to watch in Austin in 2015 by BuiltInAustin.com. We’re in very good company with some incredible Austin startups on the list many of which we’ve either crossed paths with during our time here or seen as inspiration/mentors.

Built in Austin - Top 50

Some of the other awesome startups listed that I think everyone should know about (if you don’t already) are – CrateJoy, Edgecase, EvoSure, Pivot Freight (went through Techstars Austin with us!), and Proto Exchange (also a Techstars alum).

Fashion Metric Built In Austin

It’s not secret that the Austin startup scene is booming. It is an incredibly exciting time to be here and one of the best things about the entire experience is building a company around so many other passionate and inspiring entrepreneurs. As my old boss (and one of the founders of Sonos) used to say onwards and upwards!

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Hello, happy Sunday, and welcome to my weekend musings. Right now I’m sitting in our office in downtown Austin working away. I’ve always found that Sundays are a great day to get work done with minimal interruptions and today has been no exception. I absolutely love what we are doing and wake-up so excited about it I don’t want to wait until Monday, I want Monday to come sooner, hence working on Sunday. Here’s a photo of what I’m looking at right now:

working-on-sunday

 

You’ll probably also notice the fancy elevated monitor stand we put together in our office. Yes, we’re a startup so that means spending every penny wisely, and as a book-lover we happen to have a lot of books in our office.

One thing that I’ve had to get a lot better at in this phase of my life is saying no. It’s something I’ve always struggled with but in order to achieve the level of focus that I need, I need to say “no” a lot more than ever before. I wrote an article on Medium about the importance of Focus which is also directly related to saying no. It’s been incredibly hard but now I have to say that I’m getting used to it and it’s incredibly liberating.

Alex Iskold, the MD of Techstars New York wrote a great post today about goals, milestones and tasks, and I think he really nails it:

“We spend a lot of time talking to Techstars founders about focus. We talk a lot about saying ‘no’ to things that don’t matter. We talk a lot about not chasing too many things at once. We try to give founders tools for deciding what’s important. We try to give them a framework for how to get things done.” (Source – Alex Iskold’s Blog)

I still know people that like to brag about all the different things they are doing, I used to be one of those people, now I’m proud to be putting my time into one thing not a million different things. Of course that means saying no a lot more. I can’t go to every meetup group, dinner, happy hour, conference, etc. Instead I want to be here in the office with our team, if I travel it has to be for a very good reason.

I strongly believe that what we are doing right now in life will change the world forever, and that means staying focused, saying no, and knowing that that’s okay.

 

 

 

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morgans-flippa-five

Hello, happy Sunday, and welcome to my Flippa Five. This week I’m changing the rules a bit to make sure I am recommending what I do really think are some of the best domain names on Flippa. I can change the rules because, well it’s my blog and I can do what I want, oh and Flippa introduced a new feature that I think really strengthens their platform.

Now when an auction ends you can still make offers on a name which means that rather than having great inventory fall off the site, the option to buy is still there. You will notice that a majority of the names I have listed below didn’t sell in auction but are still available to buy. So enjoy this week’s list and enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Gemstones.com – my cousin used to buy Gemstones on eBay like it was going out of style. I’ve never been a gemstone collector myself but I can tell you many people are and this is the category-killer and a stronger name than the singular IMO.

3D.io – I’ll pretence this by saying that I am bidding on this name. From 3D printing to 3D games I think 3D is a term we’re only going to hear more and more about in the future. Given that the .IO extension has seen strong growth on the API-side I think this is the perfect domain for someone building libraries for 3D printing, 3D gaming, virtual reality, you name it. This is a strong brand and I name that I personally would like to buy and hold.

Consoles.com – as a retro-gaming fan I have to say this is one of my personal favorites. Video game consoles are a big business and I’m not just talking about current systems. We live in a time where older consoles (you know the ones you grew up with like Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis) are seeing a serious comeback. This is a great domain that I could see being used for a blog or eCommerce site, either way it’s easy to spell, easy to remember and just as strong (if not stronger) than Console.com

Automating.com – everything is being automated and while I think I do like Automate.com more, Automating.com is a close second. Solid name with a very broad spectrum of use cases.

5.uk + 5.co.uk – I’ve never included a .UK or .CO.UK name in my Flippa Five but this bundle really stuck out to me since since number domains are very hard to come by. I’d only recommend this for someone in the UK who is running a business online. The nice thing about single number domains is that they can be used for virtually anything and are incredibly easy to remember and type on a mobile device.

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Welcoming Bob McGough to MorganLinton.com

As many of you know my life has changed a lot over the last two years. The biggest change without a doubt was leaving my domain business and putting my full time focus on Fashion Metric, the startup founded by Daina and myself. It has been an incredible journey and one that I find consumes just about every waking minute of my time, which means I have a lot less time to blog.

I love writing and you can still expect to see fresh new posts from me but my blog has been around for almost eight years and my readers are used to reading new content every day. Also since my day-to-day life is no longer in the domain space, most of the topics that I want to write about have to do with things I’m dealing with in my life right now like hiring and building a team, working with investors, growing a SaaS business and the Austin startup scene.

Still my roots are in the domain industry and you can expect to see posts about domains from me, but I know for a fact my readers want more. So I’ve decided to expand the writing team, and since this is MorganLinton.com, I am being incredibly picky to make sure the content remains engaging and unique.

So with that I am incredibly excited to introduce you to the newest addition to the writing team, Bob McGough. I met Bob some time ago and he has been the editor for the last two editions of my book, The Domain Investing Handbook. Here’s a bit more about Bob:

Bob-McGough

With seven years of domain investments under his belt, he still considers himself a rank amateur with much to learn. He edited Morgan’s Domain Investing Handbook, a book that kick-started his domain investing with a wealth of industry data and the benefit of Morgan’s experience.

Bob was an early employee of Adobe. He managed Adobe’s major accounts, the Unix PostScript product, gave corporate presentations and produced Adobe’s videos. Bob has managed the development of software, information, learning or certifications for over 150 products; this includes all of the entry- to professional-level career certifications at Cisco. While at Cisco, he also won a Webby award for excellence in corporate video production.

Earlier in his career, Bob worked on the flight-test engineering for the Boeing 757 and 767 airplanes, configured a 28-site documentation system for the NASA Space Station and was Marketing Director for the company that supplied the US FBI with their $500 million AFIS (fingerprint) system. But what Bob has enjoyed most is working with companies to help move their ideas from concept to product.

Whenever time permits, Bob plays piano and travels toward the sun. Lately he’s made several trips to SE Asia, where he commissions and collects works of art.

Please join me in welcoming Bob to the team and lookout for his first post!

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Austin Housing Bubble

When we moved to Austin everyone told us that this was one of the last accessible real estate markets in a major US city. After almost a year in the city I can tell you, those days are gone if you want to live in downtown Austin. Sure, you can live 30-45 minutes outside of town in a big house and still save big, but affordable downtown living has come to an end.

We moved to Austin from Los Angeles and I assumed that prices in LA were inflated, it turns out LA is actually significantly more affordable than Austin, even in incredibly desirable areas like Bel Air and Marina del Rey. Couple this with the fact that new luxury highrises are going up every few months and it looks like living downtown is only going to become more expensive. In short, there was a time to buy real estate in downtown Austin, and that time is long past.

According to a study done by RealtyTrac and published on MainStreet.com Austin is one of the five US housing markets that data shows is in a housing bubble.

“Property values have risen to Texas-sized levels in Travis County, which is home to Austin and some surrounding communities. Median prices there hit $374,900 in October, or 27.3% more than their February 2008 peak.” (Source – RealtyTrac)

What’s funny is that property in downtown LA is actually priced at about half the cost of real estate in Downtown Austin. Couple this with the fact that property taxes in Austin are more than double the average property tax rate in Los Angeles and the market here looks even more unattractive. Here’s a look at a couple of properties in Los Angeles, both in very desirable areas, compared to two in downtown Austin. I’ve tried to find very similar properties to make the comparison as close as possible.

Downtown Los Angeles (770 sqft 1BR 1BA)

losangeles-realestate1

Downtown Austin (642 sqft 1BR 1BA)

austin-realestate2

Marina del Rey (1,074 sqft, 2BR 2BA)

losangeles-realestate2

Downtown Austin (983 sqft, 2BR 2BA)

austin-realestate1

Just to be clear, I’m talking about property in Los Angeles and Austin that are in desirable areas where people could easily walk to work. Without a doubt it is cheaper to live out in Hill Country in Austin where housing prices are definitely lower but when it comes to living downtown I think it’s safe to say we’re either in a bubble or Austin is on its way to becoming one of the most expensive places to live downtown.

I love it here, we moved from Los Angeles because I think Austin is without a doubt one of the most incredible cities on the planet. I’m proud to live here and call Austin home and one of the main reasons we moved is so we could walk to everything. I just wish we could get a two bedroom condo for under $500,000 like we could if we lived like the Fresh Price, in Bel Air.

Photo Credit: LindsayEvette via Compfight cc

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Larry Myler wrote a piece today on Forbes, the article profiled Dan Boaz who has purchased over 1000 transportation related domains to help grow his business. Dan owns AirFreight.com a very nice two word generic.com that is the flagship name for his business. It is a nice look at how one non traditional domain investor, has built his portfolio.

From the article:

HOW MANY DOMAINS DO YOU NEED TO SUCCEED?

Meet Dan Boaz,the entrepreneur who has purchased over 1,000 transportation-related domain names, all in an effort to
completely control the expedited freight market online.

When starting a new business, most entrepreneurs will reserve a domain name and URL for their new venture…and then move on to printing business cards. Not Dan Boaz, Founder and President of AirFreight.com. Dan has amassed over 1,000 domains related to transportation, and he is working on a very deliberate strategy to dominate the shipping industry by directing web traffic to his expedited shipping companies.

Dan’s advice to would-be domainers:

1. Get specific. “Broad domains (such as AirFreight.com) are powerful, but more specific domains (SameDayDelivery.com) can resonate with buyers who are looking to purchase your services right now.”

2. Be vigilant. “Keep your eyes open for any domain that will help your business, either defensively or offensively.”

3. Don’t try to maintain too many websites at the same time. “I once had as many as 15 sites up at one time. That was too many.”

Read the full article on Forbes and check out the graphics that were included via pdf.

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Weekend Musings + My Thoughts On The 2015 Oscars

Hello, happy Sunday and welcome to my weekend musings. This Sunday is a special one, tonight is The Oscars (formerly known as The Academy Awards), a day where actors, directors, producers, writers, and all the other incredibly creative people that are part of the filmmaking experience are celebrated. This year we are the most behind on our Oscar movie-watching so we’ve been playing catch-up this weekend as much as possible.

The Oscars 2015

So far we’ve seen, Grand Budapest Hotel, Birdman, and The Theory of Everything. Today we’re going to be seeing a double-header watching Selma first followed by The Imitation Game. We used to watch more movies but now that we work 14+ hour days we don’t see nearly as many movies, but that’s a tradeoff I’ve been more than happy to make as a startup founder.

Selma and Imitation Game

So far The Theory of Everything is my favorite, in fact it is one of the most touching and inspiring films I have ever seen. While I knew a bit about Stephen Hawking, this film gave me an even greater appreciation for his life and the struggles he has had to overcome. While I enjoyed the absolutely stunning cinematography in Birdman I found the plot incredibly dark and to me it really did seem like a movie made by Hollywood for Hollywood. PandoDaily had a little harsher take on it:

“The Oscars and other yearly awards orgies are the only reason you watched and pretended to like Birdman, an incredibly impressive exercise in stunt-filmmaking that is otherwise utterly uncaptivating in its storytelling and character development. To the audience, it’s the cinematic equivalent of watching somebody take a very difficult Algebra exam.” (Source – PandoDaily)

Birdman - Oscars 2015

While I think Michael Keaton is an amazing actor and without a doubt acted his heart out in the movie, I have to say I will be genuinely disappointed if Birdman wins the coveted Best Picture award. The Theory of Everything, Selma, and The Imitation Game tell incredible stories of some of the most inspiring people in human history, these are the films that should be celebrated the most in my opinion.

Of course it’s easy to forget that the Oscars aren’t about the films that impact us the most, or make us think more deeply about our lives. Instead the Oscars are about what a small group of Hollywood insiders think should win that year, it’s not based on impact or storytelling, it’s based on who they think should win.

Now all this being said, and in all fairness to the Oscars, films that are nominated are without a doubt outstanding movies that people spent years of their lives on to bring to the silver screen. Every film nominated deserves an award in some category and I think that if Birdman does not win best Cinematography I will be very disappointed since I think they did something truly unique in this arena.

So the big night is tonight and we’re getting ready to spend a day at the movie theater watching Selma and the Imitation Game. If you want to see all the 2015 Oscar Nominees you can see the full list here. Also if you want to watch the Oscars live this is the first time you can watch it live online.

That’s my two cents, now it’s your turn. Do you think Birdman deserves Best Picture or should Selma or The Theory of Everything get the gold? Comment and let your voice be heard!

Photo Credit: TempusVolat via Compfight cc

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Fashion Metric Featured in Dataconomy

I couldn’t think of a more exciting way to start a Friday than seeing Fashion Metric featured in one of the top big data publications in the world, Dataconomy. In the article titled, The Data-Driven Future Of Fashion Daina talks about the intersection of technology and fashion and how Fashion Metric is using mathematical algorithms, machine learning, and big data together to disrupt the apparel industry, a $4T space (yes that “t” stands for trillion).

Daina Linton Dataconomy

The world is changing and in the article Daina highlights why disruption in the apparel space has lagged other industries:

“Physical stores have seen massive disruption over the last decade with companies like Amazon.com and Netflix catalyzing major consumer habit changes. Walk down the main street of any major city now and you’ll find lots of restaurants and clothing stores but less and less bookstores and video rental stores.

The shift from physical to digital has swept through entire industries but left apparel relatively untouched. Amazon tipped the scales with books when they introduced the “Look Inside” feature, making it possible for consumers to virtually browse books like they would in a bookstore. Netflix moved people from physical disks to streaming, allowing instant access to content. These were disruptive forces that made it easier for people to do something they had done the same way for a long time.

In the apparel space “fit” has always been the limiting factor, just like people want to browse a book or watch a movie preview, they still want to try clothes on. Despite the growth of technology and access to huge amounts of data, the apparel industry is challenged with providing a compelling experience for consumers so that they can buy clothes without trying them on.” (Source – Dataconomy)

So if you’ve ever wanted to take a deeper dive into what we’re doing at Fashion Metric I think you’ll really enjoy this article. Have a great weekend!

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So I used to be a low-level programmer, in fact that’s what I spent most of my time doing while I was at CMU. I did wild and crazy things like optimizing C code in assembly and making sure that code was not just re-factored but optimized for the specific processor we were using. Now most of the coding we do is in Python but I’m still using C, just not as much as before. I’m also finding myself using more frameworks which means I don’t have to re-create the wheel quite as much as I used to.

Python Flask

One of my favorite frameworks on the planet is Flask, it’s an incredibly lightweight framework (in fact it’s even called a micro framework) that makes it easy to build and deploy a webapp. It also uses good old WSGI which is very easy to configure on either Apache or Nginx. Lately I’ve had more than a few people ask me where they can go to learn more about Flask since I talk about it quite a bit, so I thought I’d share what I think are the five best places to get started, and of course updated for 2015.

1. The Flask Mega-Tutorial – even though it was written in 2012 this is still the most badass Flask tutorial out there. Miguel, the guy who wrote this tutorial also recently wrote a book for O’Reilly called Flask Web Development that I also highly recommend (Amazon link).

2. Official Flask Tutorial – some people might fault me for not making this #1 but I do really think the mega-tutorial is the best-of-the-best. Of course this is definitely a very solid #2 since it’s the official tutorial written by the fine folks who wrote Flask.

3. Flask You Tube Tutorials – there are some pretty slick Flask tutorials that were put on You Tube last year that are easy to follow and for those reading this who would rather watch a tutorial, this is my personal favorite.

4. Bev-a-tron’s Flask Tutorial on Github – I’m seeing more and more people post full-blown tutorials with the code to boot on Github, this is a great one for Flask.

5. Full stack Python – this is a bit of a cheat since this tutorial also has links to a ton of other tutorials but in case five wasn’t enough, there are more Flask tutorials behind this link!

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