.CLUB Auction

It’s no secret that two and three character domain names have risen in value over the years. This is due in part to scarcity but more because of a fundamental shift in focus and interest from businesses in acquiring short, memorable domain names.

This month popular new domain extension .CLUB will be holding one of the largest auctions of two-character domains and with starting prices that should be accessible to businesses that might otherwise not have the budget for domains in this category. Along with twenty-four two-character domains .CLUB is adding C.CLUB to the mix, one of the most premium new gTLD domains to hit the auction block this year.

According to a recent press release from .CLUB,

This auction, to be held on the Chinese EachNic.com platform, marks the first time .CLUB Domains, the Registry behind one of the world’s most popular new domain extensions, is offering this set of domains in a public auction format. The domain inventory included in this auction has been hand-selected by the EachNic.com team to specifically appeal to Eastern and Western businesses and investors alike. Auction bidding starts as low as $5,000USD for the majority of two-character domains, making them accessible for businesses of all sizes and budgets.

EachNic The auction will be held on the EachNic.com platform, one of China’s first professional domain investing websites boasting over 400,000 registered members. The first auction kicks-off on October 29th, below is a full list of auctions, start times, and opening bids:

Domain Reserve Start End
HJ.CLUB $5,000 USD 29-Oct-2015 1-Nov-2015
JC.CLUB $5,000 USD 29-Oct-2015 1-Nov-2015
YM.CLUB $5,000 USD 29-Oct-2015 1-Nov-2015
JS.CLUB $5,000 USD 29-Oct-2015 1-Nov-2015
GZ.CLUB $5,000 USD 29-Oct-2015 1-Nov-2015
PC.CLUB $5,000 USD 30-Oct-2015 2-Nov-2015
YX.CLUB $5,000 USD 30-Oct-2015 2-Nov-2015
QC.CLUB $5,000 USD 30-Oct-2015 2-Nov-2015
DK.CLUB $5,000 USD 30-Oct-2015 2-Nov-2015
PK.CLUB $5,000 USD 30-Oct-2015 2-Nov-2015
ZS.CLUB $5,000 USD 31-Oct-2015 3-Nov-2015
CG.CLUB $5,000 USD 31-Oct-2015 3-Nov-2015
SQ.CLUB $5,000 USD 31-Oct-2015 3-Nov-2015
KF.CLUB $5,000 USD 31-Oct-2015 3-Nov-2015
ZI.CLUB $5,000 USD 31-Oct-2015 3-Nov-2015
YC.CLUB $5,000 USD 1-Nov-2015 4-Nov-2015
DS.CLUB $5,000 USD 1-Nov-2015 4-Nov-2015
YQ.CLUB $5,000 USD 1-Nov-2015 4-Nov-2015
ZQ.CLUB $5,000 USD 1-Nov-2015 4-Nov-2015
TB.CLUB $5,000 USD 1-Nov-2015 4-Nov-2015
C.CLUB $50,000 USD 2-Nov-2015 5-Nov-2015
JD.CLUB $10,000 USD 2-Nov-2015 5-Nov-2015
PJ.CLUB $10,000 USD 2-Nov-2015 5-Nov-2015
LY.CLUB $5,000 USD 2-Nov-2015 5-Nov-2015
GW.CLUB $5,000 USD 2-Nov-2015 5-Nov-2015

I’ll be keeping my eye on this auction, with domains like Wine.club selling for $140,000 this year it is clear the market sees real value in .CLUB domains, and as you can see from the list above, there are some truly exception names available in this auction that could see major interest from a wide range of companies.


Google Alphabet

Google has purchased a 26L.com, abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz.com. This has actually been reported on mainstream websites like Mashable.com and NBCnews.com.

The full alphabet is actually registered in many extensions, from net and org to country codes like .ca,.de and .co.uk. The string is surprisingly registered in some new gtlds as well such as .site and .online.

The .com has been registered since 1999, it had been under privacy lately. Whois history shows Onyx domain solutions as the owner back in 2014.

What are they going to do with this name will be interesting, currently it does not resolve.


Branding With New gTLDs

Mark Skoultchi  a partner at Catchword, wrote an article on BrandChannel.com that delved into how naming strategies with regards to new gtlds. Mark was clear that .com was the top dog but provided some insight for big companies, Start-ups and small businesses.

From the article:

gTLD Strategies for Major Companies and VC-backed Start-ups

Make no mistake: Dot-com still reigns supreme. With more than two decades of worldwide recognition and countless marketing dollars behind .com, it is the downtown of the internet and will remain so for businesses of all sizes. Regardless of which gTLDs gain traction, Nike.com won’t be changing what’s to the right of the dot anytime soon. Dot-com simply has too big a headstart and even the most popular new gTLDs will find themselves competing against each other in a divided market of domains with restricted meanings.

That said, when the dust clears, the most versatile and logical of the extensions are likely to see the light of day; the success of extensions like .ly, .tv, and .io are an indication that there is demand for variants beyond. com. So it only makes sense for large companies to register such variants, if for no other reason than to prevent a competitive or unsavory usage or to hedge against the possibility that Google will change its search algorithm to favor, for example, a .law extension in a web search for a lawyer. While this is unlikely to happen in the near future, it’s worth mentioning that Google itself applied for 101 new gTLDs, such as .youtube, .earth, and .search—a strong endorsement of the viability of new extensions.

Read the full article on BrandChannel.com

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Not too long ago Google made a major announcement – they were changing their name to Alphabet (or at least the parent company), and today that change went live. Starting Monday Google will no longer trade on the NASDAQ, Alphabet Inc. will. Don’t believe me? Here are the SEC filings. Starting Monday if you owned Google stock, you now own Alphabet stock.

Google Alphabet

I’ve heard some confusion around what Alphabet is and while it may seem like a strange move it actually makes a lot of sense. Google started as a search engine, then they became a search engine with a robust and compelling ad platform, fast-forward to 2015 and they do a while lot more than that. Google has an investment arm called Google Ventures, a Life Sciences group, a group focused on building self-driving cars, Google Fiber, and the list goes on, these will soon all roll up under Alphabet.

Alphabet will be the parent company to all of these entities and Google, as we will know it, will be a company that continues to power and build-out search, You Tube, advertising, Chrome, Android and all the other things we know and love Google for.

It’s an incredible transformation and I think a good move to recognize that Google has become much more than Google, it has become an ecosystem of companies, all relatively autonomous while still being deeply connected in some ways. While it may seem like more of a branding move than anything I think this will allow Google to make some of the different groups feel a lot more like companies, each with their own mission and vision, and it’s little changes like this that over the long run can make a big difference, and let’s be honest, who would know more about that than Google Alphabet.

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Most Popular Domain Name Scams, Part I

The summer domain sales lull is coming to an end and domain scammers are out in droves.

Have you received an offer on your domain that seems too good to be true? A WHOIS security email that seems slightly out of the norm? A message from your registrar asking to confirm a password?

Don’t fall for it! Follow this series to find out how to spot scam attempts, how to report them, and where to go for information on known scams.

In this first installment I’m going to cover one of the most well known schemes in the industry: the domain appraisal scam. Morgan has covered these since 2007 to remind new domainers to stay on the alert.

Here’s the basic domain swindle play-by-play

  1. A broker sends you what seems to be a normal offer for one of your domains. They may offer a large amount right off the bat. Otherwise they’ll probe a bit, asking if it’s for sale, if you have more domains, and if you’re an “experienced domainer.” Here’s one I’ve personally received:

    “Hello! I represent a businessman who needs to buy [removed].com for a new project.
    I located your contact information in a domain name whois lookup and understand that you own the domain name. Are you still interested in selling?I work for a hosting company based in UK. I help our clients to buy and sell intellectual properties.

    Do you have more names? Can you send a list? Are you an experienced seller?

    Best Regards,
    [Name Removed]
    Vice President
    [Company Removed]”

  2. After they’ve made some exorbitant offer to you between 5 and 6 figures, they’ll ask you for a “certificate” to prove its worth. The certificate is generated by a fake appraisal service for a nominal fee between to $49-$99 that the broker recommends, and will usually point to a fake blog post or thread that they’ve created.
  3. Once you pay for the appraisal and send the certificate to the “broker”, they will:
    • Claim their buyer is no longer interested
    • Say that you took too long
    • Want to wait 30-60 days for them to secure the funds to pay you
    • Simply disappear and never respond

Here’s how to easily spot them without even responding

  1. More often than not, anyone asking for an appraisal on your domain before buying it is a thief. If you really need an appraisal for some reason, get a free one from Estibot or appraise.epik.com
  2. The starting offer for your domain is exorbitantly high. Now I know some domainers think all their domains are premium, but most of us know the general ballpark someone will likely begin negotiations with. Not to mention that if your domain doesn’t usually field any offers, you should be a bit skeptical.
  3. The email’s domain is usually hosting related, riddled with dashes and several words, and registered recently. It will also usually forward to a legitimate company with a very similar domain when visited. Here’s a list of the offending domains compiled from Morgan’s past user comments and NamePros scam threads over the years to give you an idea (all the domains have expired, but they may be re-registered by the same scammer(s)):
    •  domain-hosting-shop.com
    • asp-hosting.org
    • asia-web-hosting.biz
    • php-mysql-hosting.info
    • net-hosting-solutions.com
    • go-appraiser.com
    • vip-hosting-server.org
    • web-hosting-clue.org
    • asp-net-hosting.org
    • asp-web-hosting.biz
    • solutions-web.info
    • best-unix-hosting-plans.com
    • cheap-web-hosting-search.com
  4. Here are scammer domains that are still active
    • lowcost-hosting.com (created two days ago)
    • 123-reg-domain-support.info (created in January and I personally received an email from it)
    • website-domain-hosting.com (created in May)
    • front-office-email-server.info (created in May)
    • network-host.org (created over a year ago)
    • internet-domain-investing.com (created in 2012)
    • cheap-web-hosting-search.com (created in 2012)
  5. They’ll always eventually link to threads in forums like “archive.answers-google.org…” or “answers.archive-google.com…” Within those threads they’ll link to “legitimate” appraisal services. However, if you check the links, the domain’s anchor text is always different than the actual link.
  6. The person’s name in their signature does not match the name in the email header.
    (I know some of you may want me to post the fake names and phone numbers used by these scammers, but this will only hurt those who legitimately have these names and numbers).
  7. The email usually contains spelling mistakes and poor grammar. You really can’t just chalk up someone’s typos to the combined effects of touchscreen smartphones and big thumbs!

Here are links to past reported domain appraisal scams uncovered by MorganLinton.com commenters and NamePros members

What you can do about it

  1. Comment on this article with the email address and message of any scam attempts you’ve received.
  2. Post a warning on NamePros with the same information alerting the domain community of fake domain appraisals.
  3. Send a message to the domain’s registrar abuse contact email found on its WHOIS info.
  4. Mark the message as spam in your email client.

It’s imperative that we shine a light on these scams and take action to help prevent future victims. It’s nearly impossible to catch these thieves, so our strategy should be to make their job as difficult as possible.

Stay vigilant and stay tuned for part II of this series covering fake WHOIS security emails.

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I arrived in Florida yesterday afternoon and have been absolutely blown away by what a great job Barbara, Howard, and Ray have done at putting together what I think will go down in history as one of the best domain conferences we’ve ever had. The venue is spectacular and as the weekend has progressed more and more people have arrived and it’s safe to say that just about every “mover and shaker” in the domain industry is now here.

Right now it’s the tail end of the opening night party hosted by .CLUB and like the huge geek that I am I thought now would be a great time to share some photos from the last 48-hours. Enjoy!


Like I said above, the venue is amazing, here’s the first photo I took when I arrived.


As guests arrived Barbara and Ray were there to welcome them


I played croquet with Andee and Dan from Donuts, and like chess, I didn’t quite win


Braden and I were unofficial twins today representing team FM!


Apparently the FM shirt is even more popular than me (or Braden) had imagined


Spending some quality time with GGG (or Dr Gregg as his badge says)


The opening night party was (and still is) rocking…which reminds me I need to get back up there!


I took this photo right before heading to my room to write this post, the one and only Ammar

Okay, the party officially ends at 10:00PM and it’s 9:56PM which means I need to hop in the elevator and get back up there. As usual I like to include you, my reader, in every adventure I can so I hope you enjoyed coming along for part of the ride, the show officially starts tomorrow and I can’t wait!


I received a great question via email from a blog reader this week:

“What price do you typically buy domains for and what do you sell them for? Also is there a certain ROI goal that you try to hit?”

Most of the domains that I buy are in the sub-$500 range, and most of the domains I sell are in the $1,000+ range. Domain names have been my top performing asset class for years now and it’s because I’ve always stayed focused on locking in big returns (500% or higher is my bar) and focused less on big dollar values.

This is where extensions like .CO, .ME, .IO and others have been very good to me. They’re cheap to buy and while you’re not going to lock-in a lot of solid five and six-figure sales with them, you can make 10x or more on your investment, which in my book is about as good as it gets. Also, since you’re making sales in the sub $5,000 range most of the time these can be more liquid and flippable.

A domain I purchased on Park.io earlier this year that is a great example of the kind of flips I focus on. I’m not under any NDA or confidentiality agreement so I can share all the details of the deal. The domain name was Yummy.io and I bought it for $99 on 3/23/2015 on Park.io. If you haven’t been to Park.io yet I can tell you it has quickly become my go-to site for buying .IO and .ME domains.

I sold the domain on August 10th for $1,698 through Afternic, which after $169.80 in escrow fees came out to $1,528 – a 15x return on investment in less than six-months.


Smaller flips like these have become the bread-and-butter of my domain investment strategy. Sure, a nice big juicy sale feels incredible, but as an investor I’m always trying to stay laser-focused on how to get the best return on my investment.

Last week I had a similar flip with a one-word .CO domain, Elan.co which I purchased for $125 and sold last week for $1,248 ($1,215 after escrow fees).


So shoot for the moon, make some big monster sales, but always keep your eye on ROI because at the end of the day, as an investor, this should be your focus. Happy Saturday!


7 Quick Ways to Spot a Horrible Domain

Have you ever mentioned your company’s name to someone, only to be met with “What?”, “Can you spell that again?”, and “How dare you?!” Or maybe they completely mispronounced it? All these responses mean your business name is a problem.

Startups already have an endless list of challenges to focus on without piling on the overwhelming importance of domain name sales. Even those with business acumen are susceptible to falling in love with mediocre domains. This isn’t new information, but it’s sometimes very easy to forget in the whirlwind of startup life.

This list isn’t the be-all and end-all way of judging a domain, however, it does serve as a good litmus test. There will always be exceptions to the rule, but it’s not often that your name will be one of them.

Prevent your bootstrapping startup from making the same mistakes and follow these 7 quick ways to spot a horrible domain:

  1. Too Long – If your domain is more than 15 characters long, there’s a very good chance that someone is going to misspell it halfway through typing it into the omnibox. Yes, you can buy all the typos for that domain, but why choose a name that your customers will have trouble spelling? Opt for brand recognition and easy spelling, otherwise you may also encounter problems with receiving important emails when someone forgets a silent letter.
  2. Telephone Test – Say your domain name out-loud to yourself. Do you think it sounds confusingly similar to another name or could be typed incorrectly? If you’re still on the fence, literally call one of your friends over the phone and tell them your domain name once without any additional help. If they immediately asked you how to spell it or couldn’t understand you, you should move on to another name. Ask them to email you the domain name once your phone call is over. Did they remember it? Did they spell it correctly? You’re one step closer to a winning name.
  3. Typos and Confusing Spelling – Brandable, nondictionary domains like etsy.com or Remax.com are fine when their spelling is straight forward. If you have a name with a silent letter, a double consonant, or a typo on purpose because you couldn’t afford the actual spelling, then you may want to reconsider your choice. It would be extremely difficult to remember findrstorr.com. People are often on the move or multitasking when they see your domain. Lack of attention to detail is rampant and this will just make it more difficult to remember.
  4. Homonyms – Grade school refresher: a homonym is essentially a word that sounds exactly like another word, but has a different definition. This isn’t necessarily the worst choice in the world, but if you go down this route, you should definitely buy each version of the homonym. If the meaning of one of the alternates is something that could damage your brand, you should probably strike this one from your options. Here is a list of some homonyms to watch out for:
    • Loan – Lone
    • Ate – Eight
    • Brake – Break
    • Cell – Sell
    • Buy – By – Bye
    • Eye – I
    • Fourth – Forth
    • Higher – Hire
    • To -Two – Too
    • Accept – Except
    • Ad – Add
  5. Negative Connotations – Want to visit a website named HorribleViruses.com? How about a restaurant named the Moldy Cheese? Steer clear of domains with negative sounding connotations to be safe. There will always be an exception, like the famous Beverly Hills restaurant, the Stinking Rose. In all likelihood, you will not pick an exception, so steer clear of domains with negative sounding names unless you’re starting a rock band.
  6. Trademark and Diversity – One of the quickest ways to burn up all of your company’s runway is quibbling with another entity’s law firm over trademark infringement. Even if your business isn’t breaking the law, make sure your customers can differentiate your name from your competitors’. NedsAudio.com is different from BetaSpeakers.com, but DeltaSpeakers.com isn’t. Elliot’s blog, the NamePros Blog, and Morgan Linton have covered this topic more in detail if you’d like to read more extensively. As an example, here’s a list of some trademarked words to avoid:
    • Realtor
    • Memory Stick
    • Auto-Tune
    • Super Heroes
    • NOS (nitrous oxide systems)
    • Photoshop
    • Botox
    • PowerPoint
    • JumboTron
    • Taser
    • Dumpster
    • Breathalyzer
    • Escalator
    • Xerox
    • Thermos
    • Frisbee
  7. Domain Hacks, gTLDs and Nonsensical Combos – Blending your company name into a gTLD can be a valid avenue, however, you have to be sure that your extension targets your key demographic. If they are primarily tech driven people, then a .io or verb.me might be right for you (assuming you can’t secure a great .com). However, if you’re looking to secure older adults with a finance related app, you may want to pass over anything that’s not a .com, .net, or potentially .co for the time being.
    In addition to the TLD, vigilantly review what you want left of the “dot.” Does the juxtaposition of words make sense?  “Driver” and “keys” may sound like two great words, but DriverKeys.com doesn’t make much sense. A good rule of thumb is Googling the pair of words first to see if it’s something commonly spoken. If not, take into consideration whether or not your target demographic will understand its connotation or unique nature. No one has a purple dog, but that may be a decent and memorable name for your pet grooming business or shelter that sets you apart from the crowd.

Again, none of these are steadfast, unbreakable rules. There’s always an exception, and sometimes you have to get creative. Just be careful not to end up with a name that no one can remember, spell, or invite expensive litigation.

Bonus Tip – If you’re having trouble deciding between names, or you’d like to see if someone remembers your name at all, try the Domain Test.


If you’ve ever wanted to buy a domain name for your startup there’s an incredibly good chance that domain has already been taken. I wrote an article on Medium.com that goes through all the basics of acquiring a domain that’s owned by someone else.

The problem is – what if you’ve tried everything and the deal just isn’t going to happen?

This is a situation that many startups find themselves in and there are really only two choices:

  1. Pick a different company name
  2. Pick a different domain name extension

This is where things get confusing. If you can’t get the .COM, what do you pick? There are more options now than ever and from where I’m sitting new entrants like .CO, .ME, .CLUB, .IO, .XYZ, .NYC and many other new domain extensions are higher on most people’s lists than good old .NET or .ORG.

I personally think this decision depends on what your startup is doing.

Extensions like .CO and .ME are both short, easy to remember, and incredibly brandable…and there’s a good chance that premium one-word name you want is available for under $10k in either extension. New extensions like .CLUB are great for startups running monthly or quarterly subscription clubs. It’s easy for a consumer to understand that anything.club could be a subscription club about anything.

There’s also .IO which has been an absolute hit with the dev community, this is a go-to for startups building API’s or developer tools. .XYZ has branded itself as a generic domain extensions that is open to anyone, and last but certainly not least are extensions like .NYC and .LONDON that are perfect for city-specific startups.

In short, if you can’t get the .COM, I think there is a solid shortlist you can start with, but don’t expect one answer because it really does depend what you do and what market you’re in. The good news is there are more domain extensions now than ever which means the opportunities are almost endless.

That’s my two cents, now I’ll turn this question over to you. If you can’t get the .COM what extension would you pick? (or would you go with option #1 above?)



A week from today I will be giving the keynote at The Domain Conference in Fort Lauderdale. This is meaningful to me for a number of reasons, the first being how much I felt welcomed to the Domain industry from day one, and as someone who came to the industry late by most standards. Still today I think it’s early, but regardless, it was late to the party.

My first domain conference was TRAFFIC Vegas 2010 (here’s my incredibly dorky post from day one) and I can still remember when I had breakfast with Ron Jackson, Diana Jackson, Howard Neu, and Rick Schwartz. I can honestly say I well a bit starstruck – these were the guys I read about every single day, and now I was having breakfast with them!

For those with good memories, you can remember that’s when I also setup a camera, some studio lights, and started interviewing some real Domain Name legends at the Hard Rock hotel in Las Vegas. This might bring back some memories:


While I have a lot of readers who have been here since the early days, I know a lot of you missed these moments. So I thought it was time to dig into the archives and unearth some long lost footage that I’m thinking everyone will enjoy. So if you missed those interviews, here are a few, that still embarrass me to no end (I’m a huge geek wearing a puffy oversized shirt in every interview), but heck they’re public so you are welcome to watch.

Interview with Ray Neu at TRAFFIC Vancouver


Interview with Andrew from Domain Name Wire

Morgan Linton Sandra Water School

Interview with Sandra from the Water School

Morgan Linton and Mike Fabulous

Interview with Mike “Fabulous”

Okay, so by now you probably agree – “Morgan, what’s with the puffy oversized shirts?” I agree, it’s taken me years to fix. Regardless I hope this gave you a taste for what’s to come next week, great people, a great industry, and a family that I can tell you from a LOT of first-hand experience, knows how to run a conference better than just about anyone! I hope to see many of you next week at The Domain Conference, if you see me mention this post and I’ll happily buy you a beer as a reward for reading the last sentence of this post :)