How do we break the “squatter” stigma?

This weekend me and my college friends got together for a weekend reunion in DC. It was always and it’s something we try to do every year but end up doing every 2-3 years. That being said, it was a blast and it’s also incredibly interesting to see how all our lives change over time. The best part is, the moment we’re all together it’s like we spend every weekend together.

Here’s us after completing an “escape room” in DC, this one had a VR component to it.

the-cmu-crew

At dinner last night I was talking with one of my friend and he shared his experience getting the domain name for his startup. They do very cool things with VR and 360 video and if you’re looking to do a VR promo video for you company I highly recommend you check them out at Foundry45.com.

My friend then said to me, “the problem with buying a domain is that there are so many people squatting on all the good .COMs” Of course as domain investors we’ve heard this all the time, so I asked him to go a step further to explain what he meant by a “squatter” – his definition was similar to what I’ve heard before, essentially anyone that owns a domain name and isn’t using it.

I used an example that I use all the time, “can’t people buy land, a house, heck even an island, and not use it, or do what they want with it and then re-sell for a profit?”

It’s strange isn’t it? If you bought a house in Malibu 20 years ago and sell it for 10x what you paid you’d be called a successful real estate investor. If you bought a domain name 20 years ago and sell it for 10x what you paid for it, you’d likely be called a squatter.

When will people start appreciating digital assets? Why do people praise buying and selling physical assets for a profit and not digital ones?

More importantly, how can we as domain investors break the “squatter” stigma? I’d love to hear ideas from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

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Well I think I may have broken a record for my longest streak without a blog post at six days without writing. It was a strange feeling but we did something this week that consumed absolutely every waking minute, meaning that my life had no balance, just one singular focus – it was awesome, and it really feels like we made history.

This week we announced a partnership between Bold Metrics and Morph3D, and unveiled what I think we’ll remember years from now as the first look at the future of commerce. What does all this mean?

bold-metrics-gold-standard

Over the years our technology has emerged as the gold standard for predicting body measurements. We’re helping to create a world where you don’t need to measure yourself, take a selfie, or step into a body scanner. Instead, our AI technology can calculate your body measurements more accurately than you can likely measure yourself, and return a result in milliseconds. All a user has to do is answer a few simple questions like height, weight, etc.

Today we provide solutions for brands and retailers where they want to connect people with products. This can be clothes, furniture, sporting goods, and this week we announced the first application of our technology in augmented and virtual reality with our partnership with Morph3D.

bold-metrics-morph3d-shoptalk

Morph3D is the world leader in realistic human avatars that are used in AR and VR. With this new partnership the Bold Metrics API is powering nearly instant true-to-life avatar creation which solves a huge problem – creating a real “to-scale” avatar of your body. Why is that important?

While having a virtual you that actually matches your detailed body measurements might not be a requirement for gaming and entertainment, to enable commerce, it’s a must. Imagine a world where we no longer have physical screens, the digital world isn’t flat any more, and instead you can shop in 3D again, just like the real malls but virtual. This experience will likely be powered by virtual or augmented reality, and we think augmented reality will likely have the most interest when it comes to commerce.

Now think about what you do when you buy things relative to the human body today…you go to a store? You sit on the couch, you stand on the bike, you try on the jacket. It’s not hard to envision a world 5 – 10 years from now where incredibly similar experiences can happen, but from the comfort of your own home. In this world having your body actually there in AR or VR will make it possible for the next evolution of commerce. This is incredibly relevant now given the struggle brick-and-mortar retailers are seeing, VR Focus did a nice write-up about that partnership that did a deeper dive here:

vr-focus

Retails stores in the real world have suffered a slow in sales and profits since online retailers like Amazon began their rise to prominence. Brick-and-mortar stores need an extra incentive to lure customers away from the internet, and Bold Metrics and Morph 3D believe they have found it.

The technology they are introducing allows shoppers to create 3D avatars of themselves.
The Bold Metrics algorithm maps body measurement details onto an avatar, a process that involves no measuring tape or time-consuming 3D scans, only a series of simple questions. The resulting virtual avatar can then be used to experience products and services available in the virtual world. (Source VRFocus)

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We made the announcement at one of the biggest shows in the retail world, ShopTalk, and let this group of retail leaders and innovators be the first to try-out the future of commerce using one of the most cutting-edge AR headsets, the Microsoft Hololens.

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Today Discovery Channel including our partnership in a segment on their popular Canadian TV show, Daily Planet and next week you’ll be able to hear me talking more about this exciting move into the future on NPR. On top of sharing the future of commerce I think we also broke a new record for the number of new client’s that are going to come on-board using our core solutions. Our technology is already  used by some of the worlds largest brands and retailers, in fact you might have even used us before and never even knew it! As a backend technology, we plugin to eCommerce sites and in-store experiences, today we do this in the same way we all access content, on laptops, desktops, smartphones and tablets.

In the future we’ll plugin to some of the most immersive and exciting AR and VR experiences and with it power the next generation of commerce. As you can probably tell, I’m more than a little excited and I don’t think it’s just me!

bold-metrics-shoptalk-celebrate

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October of this year will mark the ten year anniversary of my blog. If you told me back in 2007 that I would still be blogging ten years later I would have never believed you. Now, writing is a part of my everyday life and I honestly feel weird/guilty if I don’t write a post.

My blog has gone through a ton of changes over time, first moving from the name domainflipper.typepad.com to Domainvestors.tv and finally over to its rightful forever home at MorganLinton.com. I’ve changed WordPress themes, design, logos, etc. quite a bit over the years as well.

One of the more recent changes is switching to a completely different view on mobile devices to focus on readability. My goal is always to put content first and make it as easy as possible for my readers to access my content from any device, big or small.

Of course I still think there’s a lot that could be improved and I thought, who better to ask than you my reader. So now I’ll ask you the question: if you could change one thing about my blog, what would it be?

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2017 marks my tenth year in the domain industry. Ten years ago I had real money to invest for the first time in my life; I was 25 at the time. Instead of investing in mutual funds (which was what my Dad wanted me to do) or real estate (which is what all my friends were doing), I took all of my savings and put it into domain names.

I’ll be honest, in the beginning I felt like it was probably the biggest mistake I had ever made in my life. I lost almost all of my life savings – yes, like most new Domainers I bought a lot of junk. Note that at the age of 25 your life savings isn’t a lot of money, still, putting all of it into domains felt like taking my nest egg and exchanging it for magic beans.

Fast forward to today and I couldn’t be more grateful to have put my money into domain names, it changed my life forever. At the same time, today the industry is more divided than ever. I can still remember my first TRAFFIC Conference, it was back in 2010 in Las Vegas.

Honestly attending my first conference was like meeting all of your favorite celebrities all at once. It was overwhelming. The first morning Ron Jackson invited me to breakfast and I sat with Rick Schwartz, Howard Neu, Ron Jackson, I got goose bumps, it was amazing.

Now, with new gTLDs dominating the industry news we are an industry divided. We’ll get through it but it’s a bit sad to see. What I always appreciated about the domain industry is that it was a small group of people united by a common passion. Today, we’re just not united in the same way, not matter how you slice it we are arguing with each other like it’s going out of style.

That being said, argument is good, sharing opinions is important, and I’m actually glad in many ways this is happening. Still I do hope that a year or two from now we can come together again because one thing I can tell you is that we’re all a lot more similar than we are different. Or at least I’d like to think that we are.

What do you think? Comment and let your voice be heard!

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We’ve seen it time and time again. A startup can’t get the domain they want, so they end up with a word like “get” in front of it, or “online” behind it. I’ve heard from many startups that this isn’t an issue for them, and the reason they almost always give is, “well we show up fine in search engines!”

Sure, it’s true. If you have some solid SEO chops you can (and will) get your site ranking for your company name, heck you could even outrank the person who owns the exact-match domain since Google is domain agnostic. However there’s one factor that is often overlooked and the second I say it, it hits home.

email

What about your email?

Yes, a potential client can find you on Google, but what happens when they email you, and out of force of habit, write the email to you@yourcompanyname.com vs. you@getyourcompanyname.com or you@yourcompanynameonline.com? Now someone else gets that email. This is much worse than having someone accidentally end up on a competitors site, now they’re sending what could be very sensitive information to someone that you don’t know.

I’ve owned a particular one-word .COM for years now and at one point I put a catch-all email account up just to see what came in. The results blew my mind as hundreds (yes hundreds) of emails hit my catch-all account and yes, it was all from people just typing in the wrong domain name. So next time you’re thinking about going with your second choice domain name because you’d rather register a domain for $10 than buy one for a few thousand…I’d think twice.

What do you think? Comment and let your voice be heard!

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Every year SXSW brings a lot of people and money in Austin. Last year over 70,000 people attended the conference and $325.3M was injected into the Austin economy – boom! The first part of SXSW (which is called South by Southwest BTW) is called “Interactive” (read more here) and it has become the go-to tech show in the US, hands down. Founders from startups around the world along with some of the top VCs in the world all converge for a week to talk about innovation, disruption, and to have a great time together listening to music or hanging out in one of the zillion lively bars in downtown Austin.

After Interactive comes Music and Film, which means that by the end of this week the tech community will have returned to San Francisco, New York, Boston, and LA, and the music nuts and the film buffs take over. Companies that target startups always focus on the Interactive week since it’s the best time to reach some of the true innovators in the tech world. This year three companies really stood out to me, meaning that I constantly saw them which means they definitely worked it to get their brand out there. So here they are:

.ME Registry

.ME (domain.me) has been popular with startups for a long time and we all know companies like About.me that have raised millions and branded on the extension. This year at SXSW, .ME is on every single staff shirt which means that you really do see .ME everywhere.

dot-me-sxsw2017

.XYZ Squad

For years now .XYZ (gen.xyz) has sent their now famous purple body-suited XYZ Squad into the streets of Austin. They’re hard to miss and people clearly love interacting with them. This year they brought a giant Instagram frame which was a great way to get people interacting and sharing their moments with the .XYZ Squad. I was lucky enough to get everyone to pose for a picture…and even a backflip which you can check-out here.

dot-xyz-sxsw

Sedo

Sedo (sedo.com) is one of the largest domain marketplaces in the world, so it should come as no surprise that they also had some of the largest posters at SXSW. These are all over the convention hall and downtown so if you didn’t know about Sedo before SXSW, there’s a good chance you do now.

sedo-sxsw

Congrats to .ME, .XYZ, and Sedo – it’s clear they put some serious thought into how to get more eyeballs on their brands this year and it’s definitely working. Now if I can just find a way to get one of those awesome purple .XYZ body suits?

 

 

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Yesterday I wrote this post about the price increases that Uniregistry is doing on some of their new domain extensions. It’s no secret that this topic has struck a nerve with the domain community, many of whom immediately jumped to “I told you so” mode or “.COM wins” land, which isn’t wildly surprising.

My view is that Frank is operating a business, and like many business owners, he had to make a tough choice, which he did. Honestly it’s as simple as that. I don’t think the sky is falling for new gTLDs, I don’t think that this means only .COM will survive in the end. Instead I think that as we all should probably know, not all of the new domain extensions are going to take off like a rocket ship.

I’ve said this many times before but let me just say it again. I think that a TON of the new domain extensions are going fail, big time. I feel like I’ve repeated this over and over yet one of my readers still called me a cheerleader for new gTLDs in this comment:

cheerleader

I’m always a fan of my readers sharing their opinions, good or bad, love me or hate me, I like it and suggest that everyone who takes the time to read my blog also takes the time to comment. That being said, I don’t think that I’m a cheerleader for the new gTLDs since I think the vast majority of them are going to fail.

What I do think is that twenty years from now we’ll probably live in a world where more domain extensions than .COM have survived, and I think that’s a world we should all hope to live in. Wouldn’t it be crazy if ALL the new gTLDs failed?

.COM is where the vast majority of my investment dollars go, and it’s where they will continue to go for the foreseeable future. Still I think that some, definitely not all but some new domain extensions will do well. We don’t have to see it as a threat to .COM but instead a scenario that I feel clearly exemplifies the phrase “a rising tide lifts all boats.”

But that’s just me.

If you didn’t comment yesterday (or if you did) I’d love to hear from you. Comment and let your voice be heard!

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Did Frank just burst the bubble?

So there’s really no way to sugar coat it, the last 24-hours has been about as tumultuous as it gets in the domain industry. At the same time, it probably shouldn’t be that surprising to those of us who know the numbers. It costs money to run a new domain name extension and if registrations don’t take-off, the only way to keep the extension alive is to charge more for annual renewals.

new-gtlds-price-increase

Painful, yes, but realistic, well, yes as well.

Domain name blogs have been going nuts over the last 24-hours with posts likes:

Franks Schilling just killed the new gTLD program (warning!)

Schilling: big price increases needed to keep new gTLDs alive

Yowza! And I don’t think I’ve said yowza in the ten years I’ve been writing my blog so now seems like the most appropriate time to break out the term. Like I said in the first sentence of this post, there really is no way to sugar coat it, a big move has been made.

All that being said, here’s my take, for what it’s worth.

These are the early days. Sure, maybe new gTLD pioneers jumped the gun on the expected success. Maybe the marketing machines got ahead of reality. At the same time I still think it’s fair to say these are the early days of new gTLDs and none of us really know what consumer adoption is going to be like long-term.

I for one have always looked up to Frank as someone who really does have his finger on the pulse of the domain name world. Does that mean Frank will always be right? No. At the same time, does it mean he could be early? Yes.

So here’s what I’ll say. Yes, Frank increased prices on new domain name extensions because as a business owner he realized that his pricing model wouldn’t support the business he’s trying to build around new gTLDs. Still, as a pioneer, adapting to change is paramount and Frank isn’t shying away from admitting to the industry that he’s had to adapt, and he’s doing it now to preserve his business.

Yes, I’m prepared to get absolutely slammed in the comment section below…but so be it. I’m proud to stand behind people like Frank, who might make less-than-popular decisions, but do it to stand up for a cause they believe in, and a cause that very likely progresses our industry as a whole.

Sure, I agree that .COM is king, heck .COM is probably getting stronger by the day. However I think we as an industry need people like Frank to venture into unexplored territory. One of the problems early explorers face is uncovering something different than what they expected.

I’m proud to be in a part of an industry with people like Frank who aren’t afraid to forge ahead, try new things, and change course when they see something different than what they expected. These are the times that will define us as an industry, and while we all might be shocked by what’s happened in the last 24 to 48 hours…let’s give it time, learn from what we find and remember that without out pioneers, many of us wouldn’t be where we are today.

What do you think? Comment and let your voice be heard!

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Rick Schwartz currently has a poll running on Twitter asking the question, “If you are into buying gTLD’s which best reflects your current outlook?” I think it’s very safe to say that this question is geared towards Domainers and that’s likely the bulk of the folks who are following Rick on Twitter.

Rick-Schwartz-DomainPoll

I had a bit of a tough time answering this as I didn’t find an answer that really covered my position. I have never been all in on the new gTLDs, for me I’ve always told myself I’m okay experimenting but the only TLD I’m all in on is .COM. So the first two answers wouldn’t really apply to me.

At the same time, I wouldn’t want to return the new gTLDs I registered so the only answer that would most closely describe me is that I have stopped buying. That being said, I haven’t stopped buying but it’s pretty close to accurate since I never really bought big on new gTLDs and I do buy new gTLDs pretty darn rarely.

What the numbers do show though is that 71% of folks don’t seem to be incredibly bullish on the investor side and I think that’s probably pretty fair. I personally have seen end users doing some great things with new gTLDs but I haven’t heard of many investors that have made a killing yet.

If you haven’t voted yet I’d pop on over to https://twitter.com/DomainKing and cast your vote. Of course I’d also love to hear your thoughts below. Are new gTLDs going to be a good investment for Domainers long-term or will those who have spent big be out big bucks?

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Mike Mann announced on Facebook today that he rolled out new landing pages on his DomainMarket.com platform and apparently they’re seeing some pretty solid results out of the gate. Here’s what the above-the-fold of the new pages look like…in this example it’s a pretty pricey name but a darn good one:

domain-market-landing-pages

Below the fold they cover two pretty critical bases, the first being the advantages of owning a premium domain name and the second being why DomainMarket is badass. Here’s what you see once you scroll down:

domain-market-landing-pages2

I’ve seen a lot of landing pages over the years and I have to say that I can see why this would be performing well. A landing page like this gives the buyer trust in the marketplace and the Testimonials link is a great idea and something I can’t say I’ve seen before. Accepting Bitcoin is the icing on the cake which definitely makes it easier for international buyers or people who might be flush with Bitcoin so more willing to buy with them.

What do you think of the new DomainMarket.com landing pages? Comment and let your voice be heard!

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