Dollar Sign

Now that we are well on our way into the new gTLD process I thought it would be a good time to poll the domain community on what pricing seems to be working and what isn’t. Without a doubt it is clear that the registration price of a domain name directly impacts the growth of the TLD but price it too low and you’ll have to sell millions to make a profit. Price it too high and you’ll have trouble selling 100.

Another important factor to consider is that not all domain name extensions are created equal. Strings like .GURU, .CLUB and .BERLIN are just naturally going to be more popular than something like a .HOLDINGS that is a bit more niche. For the sake of this poll let’s just assume all domain name extensions are created equal.

Of course it wouldn’t be fair for me to write this without sharing my own opinion. First I think a price-range is a fair answer since none of us have a crystal ball. I think the sweet spot is between $20 – $40.

Now it’s your turn – what do you think? Comment and let your voice be heard!

Photo Credit: mag3737 via Compfight cc

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This is one of those things you really do have to see to believe and yes, it pretty much solidifies the depth at which startup culture has in some ways gone mainstream. Banana Republic recently announced a new style for the summer, and the name of the style is – “The Startup Guy”

Source - Banana Republic

Source – Banana Republic

I still personally can’t get used to the whole “shoes without socks” look but I can tell you it’s a real thing in the startup style world. While I applaud Banana Republic for trying to nail this trend, I can tell you that most startup founders just aren’t this trendy, yet, but of course that could change.

Indeed, some people think that Silicon Valley has no style at all. “Vanity Fair struggles to find Silicon Valley’s ‘Best Dressed,’” ran a headline from ZDnet, for a list of fashionistas that sometimes hailed from outside the Bay Area. But, if you can’t beat ‘em, why not join ‘em? Banana Republic has taken the bold move of transforming anti-fashion into the summer’s must-have threads. You can check out the entire line here. (Source Venture Beat)

Now here’s the million dollar question for all the “startup guys” who read my blog, does this look like something you would wear?

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Flippa Friday

Hello, Happy Friday and welcome to Flippa Friday here on MorganLinton.com! Every week I pick domain names that I think have the potential to be a solid investment. I don’t tend to list more than six names because, well, I’m picky and I think you should be too. Now onto my top picks from this week:

  • Cleveland.info – I think city name .INFOs make a lot of sense and definitely have real value. While they will only sell for a fraction of the .COM, .INFO has seen a fair amount of liquidity over the last few years and this one should have some flip potential.
  • Dowo.com – pretty solid CVCV that is easy to spell and remember. Currently at $3,750 with six hours to go, under $5k for this would be a steal in my book.
  • HealthcarePlans.com – I really like this name even though it is a bit long. The reason I like it is that there is a lot of confusion going on right now about Healthcare and a name like this would be perfect for a comparison site (or to get scooped up by one). Currently just north of $1,000 with over 20 days to go.
  • CPC.io – if you’ve been reading Fippa Friday for a while now then you know I’m bullish on .IO when you can buy at a low enough price. This is still a nascent market so don’t think of any investment in .IO as a “sure thing” but like .INFO I think it has some nice growth potential over the next few years.
  • SAY.io – another solid .IO name IMO but be careful not to over-spend, there are some great .IO deals out there so don’t feel bad if pricing does get too high, as I said above these are a risk and have no proven market like .COM does.
  • 3DPrinter.org –  as I’ve said many times, I’m not a huge fan of .ORG but 3D printing is going to be such a massive market I do think this name could be put to very good use over the next 3-5 years, it’s a longer hold but a good name.

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Early Stage vs. Seed Stage

Seed Stage

A good question came-up at Techstars yesterday during a VC meeting prep session that I thought would be good to share with all of you. I know that many of my blog readers are fairly new to the fundraising game so I’m sure this is a question that many of you also might have.

Just to give some quick background here, a startup usually begins with an Angel or Seed Round (and sometimes both) and then moves onto their Series A round once they’ve proven to investors there’s a viable way to scale. While plenty of companies that raise a Seed round already have some form of traction, the assumption is that startups at the Seed stage are still searching for product-market-fit.

Here’s where the confusion can come in. Many VC firms will label themselves as “Early-stage” which does sound like they would invest in companies in their Seed stage, right? However, as was highlighted during the morning session yesterday, when a VC says they are “Early stage” that usually means they focus on Series A, not seed. If an investor does typically invest in the “Seed Round” of a company they will usually say they are a “Seed stage” investor explicitly.

Sounds confusing? I think it is for many startups who are putting together lists of investors to target and might end-up with quite a few “early stage” VC firms when what the are really looking for is investors who contribute during the “Seed stage”.

Forbes put together a solid list of the top ten Seed Funders of 2013, some of these also participate in Series-A rounds and beyond but they are all comfortable contributing in the Seed stage.

Photo Credit: Neal. via Compfight cc

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Last week WordPress announced that version 4.0 of their platform is coming, and for those who want to give it a shot before the rest, the beta is now ready to rock. While I’m typically the type of guy who likes to dive in and try new software versions I tend to hold-off on testing new version of WordPress or Mac OSX since both are pretty mission-critical to my life.

WordpressThat being said WordPress has made it easier than ever to test this version of the platform thanks to a WordPress Beta Tester plugin so you can give it a shot without wreaking too much havoc.

Of course that doesn’t stop me from looking under the hood and what’s coming-up, here’s a few highlights I thought were worth mentioning about the next iteration of WordPress:

  • New plug installation experience – this looks pretty cool and something that I think has been in need of a refresh. Plugins are one of my favorite things about WordPress since it makes it easy to add complex functionality without spending your time writing custom modules
  • The editor should now resize itself properly – this has bugged me for a while and I’m the most interested in seeing how it works on mobile
  • Customizer panels – WordPress says it best themselves, “Just like a section is a container for controls, a panel is a container for sections” (read more here)
  • New improved media library – this is another section I’ve been waiting to see get a refresh and it’s the new media library looks a lot better (see a preview of it here)
  • Security patches – while WordPress often doesn’t go into too many details here I can tell you that there are plenty of secret security holes being fixed which is good for all of us, and a reason why everyone should update once the stable release comes out next month

If you want to dive deeper into this release without testing it yourself I recommend you check-out this post from WPMUDev.org

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Lately I’ve been thinking that there is a growing disconnect between the domain world and the startup world. A lot of this has come to me over the last year and a half as I’ve moved from the domain industry to the startup space myself. Now that I’m in Techstars I am surrounded by other startup founders all day every day and I’ve been learning that there is a bit of a disconnect.

First, most people think I made-up the term “Domaining” and “Domainer”. The #1 response I get when I tell people that I used to be in the “Domaining” space is, “Did you just make-up that term, what does that mean?” Once I tell people, “Domain Investing” then they start to smile, “Oh Cybersquatting!” is the typical answer.

So then I explain the differences between “Domain Investors” and “Cybersquatters” and usually that hits home. Still I realized that the term “Domaining” has really been an industry term, not as much a term that the outside world (or at least the startup world) is very familiar with. This made me think – if the startup world doesn’t know what “Domaining” is, they probably don’t know the term “new gTLD” which has become an incredibly popular term in the Domaining world.

So I conducted a little survey. I asked 20 startup founders if they knew about the “new gTLDs” only two had any idea what I was talking about. I asked 20 different startup founders if they knew about the “new domain name extensions” and eighteen of them knew what I was talking about. We’ve been speaking in riddles and the only ones who know what we are talking about is, well, us!

It can be easy to think that everyone knows what a TLD is or knows the difference between a registrar and a registry. So next time you’re writing about or sharing all the excitement around the “new gTLDs” just remember, you might need to say things a bit differently if you want other people to know what you’re talking about.

What startups do know is the extensions themselves, every startup I spoke to had heard of .CO, .ME, .IO and countless other TLDs, they just didn’t know they were called TLDs. Some had heard of .GURU, .NYC and a handful of others but these are still taking time to make it into the general population. As many of you know I think these new domain name extensions will help grow the domain industry in a major way, I’m incredibly excited about them which is why I also want to make sure we get the word out in a way that everyone else can easily understand.

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Way back when .Mobi was the flavor of the month and the only .whatever in town, some pointed out that the extension was not needed because many websites just use a m.website redirect. The logic held true and for the most part many sites just used a m.site redirect which kind of made the need for a .mobi seem less and less. I am not stating there is a need now, but an article I read that dealt with the m.site redirect and its shortcomings took me back to the days of .mobi debate. So we are clear on transparency I own no .mobi domains and have zero ownership in any .mobi related business.

Now many years later since the initial launch of .mobi more developers who focus on mobile have focused on making their website mobile responsive. CopyBlogger explains that, A responsive website automatically changes to fit the device you’re reading it on. Typically, there have been four general screen sizes that responsive design has been aimed at: the widescreen desktop monitor, the smaller desktop (or laptop), the tablet, and the mobile phone.

It seems there are still many eRetailers who are using the  m.site redirect, and it is costing them business according to one study.

There was a study conducted by Web optimization firm Yottaa that reveals that 150 of the top 500 eretailers still have a unique m-dot site.

Mobile Commerce Daily covered this analysis and wrote the following:

Yottaa’s analysis reveals that 39 percent of the top 500 retailers’ mobile sites redirect users an average of 3.03 times. One out of 10 of the top Internet retail sites redirects users three or more times.

Such redirects add seconds to page loads for these retailers.

Mobile sites with four redirects make users wait more than 16 seconds until a site renders. This is eight seconds longer compared to sites with no mobile redirects.

These redirects are happening primarily because of inconsistencies or workarounds on the back-end of sites.

According to Yottaa’s preliminary data testing the top 500 retail sites, it takes more than 10 seconds to render the average site on an iPhone using 3G connectivity. The time it takes to display the page completely clocks in at more than 20 seconds.

Mobile first
Ideally, a Web site using an m-dot Web address on a mobile device would jump directly from its base URL to the unique mobile version in just one step.

Other key findings include that there was only a one second difference between sites with one redirect and those with three.

You can read the full article here

Of course some sites are still using a .mobi for their mobile website, with the World Cup I was constantly checking lines with BetVictor an online sportsbook, I was always using my laptop but was out yesterday and wanted to see the money line for Germany right before the start, when I typed in BetVictor.com on my iPhone, I was redirected to BetVictor.mobi. So mobi fans some active websites out there are still using the extension, it was the first one I came across in a while so I took note.

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As many of you know I am the co-founder of Fashion Metric, a SaaS startup in the apparel eCommerce space. I have also been pretty intensely interested in fashion since I was around 15 and now that my full-time job intersects directly with the fashion world I have been getting even more involved in all things fashion. So I thought, why not share this on my blog once a week?

Most people who read my blog fall into two categories – startup founders/investors, and domain name investor. Yes, it’s two very different groups but they have one thing in common – they all wear clothes (or at least I hope they do!). So even if you don’t think you’re into “Fashion” you still probably want to look good and take care of the clothes you have, and every week I’ll be helping you do that.

Stone Rose Dress Shirt

The first topic is one that I’ve been learning a lot more about lately now that my wardrobe has grown considerably – how to properly clean a dress shirt. For the last decade I’ve assumed that the best way to clean a dress shirt is by sending it out to the dry cleaners. I was wrong. 

I recently learned that dry cleaners can instantly kill your dress shirts, especially if you’re buying high-end shirts. The problem is that they are exposing the fabric to incredibly high temperatures (which is bad) and they also stretch the shirt (also bad) which can permanently damage the fabric. Couple this with the fact that your dry cleaner is cleaning hundreds or thousands of shirts as quickly as possible and that $350 shirt you bought will get the same love they’re giving the $40 Gap shirt that comes right after yours.

So what is the best way to properly clean a dress shirt?

The best way to clean a dress shirt is to keep it far far away from your dry cleaner and instead simply was with cold water, hang dry, and then steam. Yes, notice I said steam rather than iron. If you can avoid exposing your shirt to insanely hot temperatures it will last a whole lot longer. You can buy a steamer for $29 on Amazon or just go to your local Bed Bath & Beyond or Target and pick one up.

If you care for your shirts this way then you should be able to get a good 3-5 years of life out of your shirt. On top of saving your shirt you’ll also save a lot of money on dry cleaning. Yes, you might think that freshly pressed shirt wrapped in its nice neat bag on a brand new hanger is in better condition than it was before…but that’s where your wrong.

Boom! Just blew your mind? It blew mine too, but I’m glad I know and hopefully you are too.

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Weekend Musings

Hello, happy Saturday, and welcome to my weekend musings. This week has been incredibly busy with the first half of the week jam-packed with meetings in Austin and the second half also jam-packed with meetings but this time up in Dallas. We have been attending the J Hilburn conference over the last three days, if you don’t know J Hilburn, you should, they are the largest custom clothing company in the world and the world leader in getting fit just right.

photo

After the event I can tell you that I want to buy just about every single thing that J Hilburn makes, and after feeling the fabric and learning more about the care and detail they put into every single garment, I think I need some new clothes!

We’re headed back to Austin this afternoon and will probably spend the rest of the day working because, well, we have a lot of work to do all the time and it’s not slowing down anytime soon.

I am getting excited about basketball season starting and since I was never much of a Lakers fan (sorry LA!) I’ve been paying a lot of attention to the Mav’s which I think is going to be my go-to team now that we’re here in Texas. If you live in Austin I think you choose between San Antonio and Dallas and I think Dallas is going to have a great year and I’m looking forward to going to some games.

Biking in Austin

Tomorrow we’ll probably take a break in the action for a bike ride along the lake. I’m still getting used to this whole lake concept since to me it’s still the Colorado River (which Austin calls Town Lake). Either way, it is absolutely beautiful and only two blocks from our house, and for those who know me you know I love living on or near the water.

Town Lake Austin

Austin is one of the healthiest cities I’ve ever lived in (and I grew up in Berkeley!) and on the weekends it’s pretty common for just about everyone to grab a smoothie, go for a bike ride, and then end-up at Whole Foods for lunch and a bit of shopping, and I think that’s just what we’ll be doing!

I hope you’re all having a nice start to your weekend, as always feel free to share your own weekend musings in the comment section below or comment on any of mine!

 

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Flippa Friday

Hello Happy Friday and welcome to another Flippa Friday here on MorganLinton.com! This is quickly becoming one of the most-read weekly series I’ve ever run on my blog so thanks to everyone who has been reading, commenting, and sharing. Lots of great names this week so let’s get to it.

Mortgages.info – super solid one-word .INFO name in a great niche. I like this one and still find it funny that everyone hated .INFO years ago and said it would only be used by spammers and now it’s one of the top-selling domain extensions in the world, crazy how things change!

OAR.com – I covered this one last week and still love it just as much this week. I still think the price is pretty darn low at $16,000 as I’ve never seen a 3 character .COM of this caliber sell anything close to this low so I see this going up a LOT as it gets closer to closing.

Physical.com – what a great one-word .COM with plenty of ways it could be put to good use. It will be interesting to see what this ends up selling for.

SelfMonitor.com – this is a pretty decent two-word .COM that’s not getting too much love yet but I think that’s because the starting bid is set at $500 which is rare for a Flippa auction. There are a lot of apps in the self-monitoring space so I could see an app developer grabbing this one as the auction gets closer to its close. Also a good example of why most people start their auctions at $1 to encourage more bidding.

Craft.io – how could a week go by without another .IO name in the mix? I love short .IO names as do a lot of startups. In case you missed it, Keen.io (which goes by Keen IO) raised a whopping $11.3M last week.

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