I have been pretty bullish on .IO domain names for the last couple of years and while they still represent a small minority of my portfolio I’m always surprised at the level of inbound offers they receive. Still, I think it’s safe to say that I’m still learning the waters with .IO and right now and part of learning means making mistakes.

What I’ve always appreciated about blogging, and most of the blogs I like the most, is the chance to learn from each other about what’s working, and what’s not working in your business, life, etc. While there are some bloggers who sensationalize domain investing like it’s a great way to “get rich quick” I’ve tried to stay realistic with the real challenges that exist making money with domain names.

While I’ve seen solid results buying and selling .COM domain names, I like experimenting with other extensions as well and .IO has been one I’ve been more active with lately. That being said if you’re new to domain investing I’m not sure I’d recommend experimenting too much since this usually means losing more money than you make in the beginning.

I’m happy to say that buying and selling .IO names has been a profitable path for me, but I’ve learned a few lessons along the way I thought I’d share with all of you to maybe save you some money if you’re thinking of experimenting as well. Here’s what I’ve learned so far…and like most things in the domain world, it is subject to change so please check the date on this post when you read it, if it’s a year from now things could have changed dramatically.

  1. 3L .IOs have very little liquidity – I bought around 15 three letter .IO names, ones that I knew could sell for five-figures in .COM so I thought they could easily sell for low four-figures in .IO. I was wrong, to-date these have been the worst performing category of .IO names for me both in resale price and number of inbound offers.
  2. Brandable domains get the most inbounds – I get the most inbounds on my brandable .IO names and it’s safe to say that the vast majority of these inbounds are from end-users not other investors.
  3. Nobody knows that .IO is a ccTLD – if you’re a domain investor you might know that .IO is actually a ccTLD but I can tell you that most people out there in the real world think this stands for “Input/Output” and that it’s an extension geared towards developers or dev tools.
  4. My .IO names parked at Park.io get the most offers – I’m always amazed how well the simple make offer landing pages that Park.io puts up on my domains perform. They are super simple, no crazy bells and whistles, and prospective buyers definitely like them.
  5. .IO renewal pricing is all over the board – be careful where you keep your .IO domains, renewal prices really can span a pretty wide range. Make sure you aren’t paying way more than you actually have to to renew. .IO is not like .COM where there’s a reasonable amount of consistency in renewal prices between registrars.

I’m still learning every day and who knows, next year 3L .IOs might be hot, for now this is what I’ve learned. As always I’d love to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

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generals-io

It’s no secret that startups have been all over .IO domains and today I spotted a new one that is currently trending on the wildly popular Y Combinator’s Hacker News. It’s called Generals.io and like many .IO startups, it’s more developer-focused and this one has a twist I haven’t seen much before but we’ll likely see more of.

What I’m talking about is a game that you don’t actually play yourself, but instead you play with a bot you build, that can then play against other bots. These bots are hosted on General.io’s bot server which you can check-out at bots.general.io. Sounds geeky and dev-focused? Well it is and that’s why .IO is the perfect home for it.

No, I haven’t built a bot yet, and I probably won’t but if you have the dev chops and want to throw your hat in the ring (or, err, your bot) let me know how it goes. Either way it will be interesting to see how this develops and it’s definitely a new path for a video game that I think a lot of developers are going to dig. Given that it’s trending pretty nicely on YC Hacker News its clear many already are.

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Tonight I was driving for a little over an hour, and when I do this I usually either listen to a DNW Podcast or DomainSherpa. Tonight ended-up being a DomainSherpa night since I had the chance to meet Mark Levin (albeit very briefly) at NamesCon.

mark-levine-225x225-150x150

What I found really interesting about Mark is that he’s someone that really “got” domains long before he became a domain investor. Mark used domains to help grow his business which he built to the tune of over $5M in revenue and sold for millions of dollars only a few years down the road.

So what does Mark do once he becomes a millionaire? He decided to become a full-time domain investor. If you want to hear the full story you’ll have to listen to Michael Cyger’s interview with him. Somehow it ended-up literally spanning my entire drive and when I arrived at my hotel it ended almost at the exact second that I pulled up…who says everything doesn’t happen for a reason?

DomainSherpaYou can watch the video here or if you’re like me and you’re driving so can’t watch a video, you can download the audio version here, enjoy and make sure to thank Mark in the comment section on DomainSherpa.com if you enjoyed it!

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One of the things I’ve always found interesting about the domain investing world is that people often focus on their wins, the names they sell, and ignore all the garbage they drop. The reality is that all of us, even big investors and small, drop domains all the time, it’s a reality but one that isn’t discussed as much as the sales. Of course this makes sense since it’s a lot more exciting to sell a domain name for big money than to drop hundreds or thousands of dollars in domains.

What differs between investors is the criteria they use to determine which domains they drop when a renewal comes around. Some investors have detailed heuristics they use, others just go with their gut. I’ve used a relatively simple formula over the years and can tell you that I’m still learning every year so it’s definitely far from perfect.

Here’s what I look at:

First I only look at dropping names I’ve paid less than $100 for, that’s just me, other people may have a higher or lower number. Next I look at the number of inbound offers, if I’m not seeing at least one real offer a quarter, I usually drop the name. Sometimes before I drop a name I’ll reach-out to 2-3 potential buyers and see if they want to buy it for a few hundred dollars. This at least gives me the opportunity to make a profit and in some cases double or triple my investment on names that I would otherwise drop.

At the end of the day I want to have a portfolio full of names that I have paid a pretty penny for and know are valuable, or I’ve paid less than $100 for and I’ve seen are valuable (or at least think are) based on the inbounds I’m getting. Of course everyone has a different time horizon and I don’t need to sell all of my names or even 10% of them this year to be satisfied. What I do look for is making sure I’m seeing real value from my investments which means making more money off of my domains than I put in, and beating what I could have made if I threw my money in the stock market or real estate.

As I’ve said many times before, even though I’ve been investing in domain names for close to ten years I definitely don’t consider myself an expert. I’ve never done this full time and I don’t plan to. So don’t take my heuristic above as a rule I think you or anyone else should follow, I just wanted to share my own strategy with you since I think it’s never fair to ask a question unless you’re willing to answer it yourself.

So now it’s your turn. How do you decide which domains you want to drop? Comment and let your voice be heard!

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What are the top startup accelerators of 2017?

As many of you know I’m a proud alumni of Techstars, one of the top startup accelerators in the US. I can tell you first-hand that going through an accelerator definitely changed our lives and our company forever. A lot of amazingly awesome companies have gone through Techstars with companies like SendGrid that have raised over $80M, Salesloft who just announced a $15M Series B last week, to companies that you might use every day like Classpass.

I recently gave a talk where I covered our experience with startup accelerators along with all the accelerators that we applied to and didn’t get into along the way. Getting into a top tier accelerators can actually less likely than getting into Harvard. However, like Harvard, a top tier accelerator can make a world of difference. You’ve likely heard of Y Combinator and 500 Startups, but you might not know about AngelPad, Mucker, or Launchpad, or many of the other incredible accelerator programs around the US and the world.

Forbes did a nice roundup last year with the best startup accelerators of 2016, but now it’s a new year and time to update the list. I’m pretty confident that Y Combinator, Techstars, and AngelPad will likely stay in the top 3 – 5 but what about all the new accelerators that might not have been on the radar last year but are coming out swinging this year?

So I thought I’d reach out to my readers to hear what they think the top accelerators of 2017 are going to be? I’m biased so forget me, what do you think? Comment and let your voice be heard!

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dot-nyc-domains

I just got word that Neustar, the company behind the popular .NYC domain name extension is releasing some of their most premium fashion-related domain names just in time for Fashion Week. The names become available starting on February 1st and I think you’ll agree they are some of the best:

Apparel.nyc Boots.nyc Boutique.nyc Bras.nyc
Clothes.nyc Couture.nyc Deals.nyc Designer.nyc
Fashion.nyc Jewelry.nyc Lingerie.nyc Makeup.nyc
Models.nyc Photographer.nyc Rings.nyc Runway.nyc
Salon.nyc Shirts.nyc Shoes.nyc Shop.nyc
Sneakers.nyc Stylist.nyc Suits.nyc Swimsuit.nyc

 
My three favorites are Fashion.nyc, Suits.nyc (HUGE business in New York), and Shop.nyc. That being said I think it’s safe to say that all of the domains listed above are some of the most premium in the fashion space and it’s the first time they have been made available to the public.

While I’d probably want to buy a few of these domains myself, I can’t since they are only available to New Yorkers. Still I thought this was exciting enough to write about and since I’m actually flying to NYC on February 1st I also thought the timing was pretty interesting. With domains like RealEstate.nyc selling for $21,300 I’ll be very interested to see what these domains end up going for.

If you’re in New York and interested in learning more, or if you just want to learn more, you can check-out all the details at www.auctions.nyc

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namescon-2017-lasvegas

One of the things I really enjoy about going to a conference like NamesCon is getting a pulse on what other domain investors are seeing, doing, and most importantly, changing about their investment strategy. It’s the reason why I’ve said many times before that any blog post, book, video, or anything else you read about domain investing should come with an expiry date. This industry changes a lot from year-to-year and if you take advice from a year or two ago, you’ll likely be playing a losing game.

I had the chance to catch-up with a lot of fellow domain investors at NamesCon this year and here’s three trends that came through pretty clearly, at least to me that I think are worth paying attention to.

  1. 4L .COMs just aren’t as hot as they used to be – I heard a number of people say, “I’m glad I sold my chips at the top of the market,” and many others talk about the fact that we probably aren’t going to see the highs we saw in 2015 ever again. That being said, I didn’t find anyone selling their 4L .COMs in a fire sale, but most people were more comfortable holding than selling now for a lot less than they would get a little over a year ago.
  2. Some people are making money with new gTLDs – while I still feel very strongly about focusing on .COM and it’s clear just about every investor feels the same way, I did talk to quite a few people that had seen some nice ROI with new gTLDs. I don’t know anyone that has diverted away from .COM but it doesn’t seem too unusual for investors to now chisel out 5% – 10% of their portfolio for new G’s. The key trend I saw with people who were actually making sales is that you had to own a super premium name, think of a word that would sell for six-figures in .COM.
  3. Nobody is talking about parking – when I went to my first domain conference back in 2010 parking was still a hot topic, sure it had died down quite a bit since its heyday but it was still on the radar. This year I honestly don’t think I heard a single person talk about parking, and when I talked to some of the folks that I know who used to make a killing in parking, they no longer are. Heck – look at the sponsors on the archway above, only one of them is a parking company, oh how things have changed.

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namescon-2017-morganlinton

I’m back from Las Vegas and this time with more money in my pocket than when I arrived thanks to some good gambling luck and some even better domain deals. First let me just say I am incredibly impressed by the quality event that Richard and team have put together. NamesCon should be looked at by conferences around the world as the gold standard for how to do things right.

Of course I can’t say something like that without backing it up, so here it goes:

  1. Ticket prices that make it possible for everyone to attend – let me just compare this to conferences that I go to now with Bold Metrics. eTail West, an awesome retail show that we go to in California every year costs $3,800 per person to attend. This means that ONLY venture funded startups with a real budget for shows can attend. NamesCon tickets are in the hundreds of dollars range which opens the doors to everyone.
  2. Panels and talks that cover a wide range of topics – from the founder of WordPress to Frank Schilling, to geo-domain experts like Steve Kay, the agenda really did offer something for everyone. Yes, the title of the conference is NamesCon but the topics really hit home with Internet entrepreneurs from around the world.
  3. A hotel that is actually affordable – I hate to keep ragging on eTail West but they give attendees a hotel discount and it still ends up at close to $300/night. The Tropicana is on the Vegas strip, easy to get around, and costs less than $150/night.
  4. Organized, organized, organized – I’ve known Richard Lau for years and I can tell you…he’s one organized dude. Seriously, Richard and team have NamesCon running like a finely-tuned machine and it’s only the fourth year they’ve been running the conference. Pardon my french but this is fucking hard to do and I’ve seen it done wrong more times than I can count.
  5. The attendees – at the core of a great conference is great people. The quality of attendees at NamesCon is top notch because everyone is there to learn. Honestly, this is not a conference for egos, everyone is at NamesCon to learn from each other and spend time with quality people. If you missed the show I can tell you that you really missed something special and you should come next year to spend time with the people that go above all else.

Congrats to the whole NamesCon team, I know how much work went into putting all of this together and I couldn’t be more proud to have been at the show every single year it has been around, looking forward to the years to come. Here’s a few highlights from the show, more to come over the next week!

morganlinton-pir

(Me, Kevin, and Brian from PIR)

morganlinton-speaking-namescon

(My attempt at a selfie after my talk)

internetx-blackcar-pickup

(Me, Braden and James getting our pick-up compliments of InternetX)

uniregistry-party

(Uniregistry party at Hakkasan)

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The NamesConROTD live domain name auction set a high bar for live auctions with over $1M in sales with roughly 75% of the lots selling in auction. The highest sale of the day was Single.com which went for $290,000 and many different extensions from .COMs to .HOSTING, to .XYZ saw active bidding from domain investors around the world.

namescon-auction

The auction was run by domain name industry veteran Monte Cahn who has been a part of more auctions than I can possibly remember. Monte is known for having a good eye for solid names and prices that will lead to sales. With a 75% sell-through rate I think it’s safe to say he hit it out of the park once again.

NameBio did a great report looking back at what the names in the auction sold for previously and the % increase/decrease after yesterday’s auction. A lot of names are in the green with over 200% ROI which really shows how strong of an investment domain names continue to be.

namescon-2017-sales

Huge congrats to Monte and the whole ROTD team and of course the team at NamesCon. Not a bad way to kick-off 2017.

What did you think of the auction? Any specific sales catch your eye. Comment and let your voice be heard!

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Today could be a day we all remember for a long time as the NamesConROTD live auction kicks off in Las Vegas in about an hour. I wrote about the auction this weekend because I do think this could be a truly historic event. Now that I’m here in-person I can tell you that the energy at the conference is palpable, and now that the final list of names for the auction has been released I think it’s safe to say today is going to be a big day.

Of the domains submitted 143 made the cut and will be included in the live auction this afternoon. There are some truly exceptional domain in this auction, a few that caught my eye right away are domains like, Leads.com, Stop.com, Keyword.com, and Single.com. Let’s be honest, these are monster names.

I will be at the auction and while the four names I listed above are definitely way out of my price range there are a few others that I have my eye on. Also for the first time I’ve listed one of my domains for sale and it made the cut so I’m looking forward to seeing how that goes. The full list of domains that will hit the auction block in Vegas today is listed below:

Lot 10 lasvegas.cam
Lot 20 airplanes.net
Lot 30 ti.tv
Lot 40 tranquilizer.com
Lot 50 e.hosting
Lot 60 accidentally.com
Lot 70 laxative.com
Lot 80 vrjb.com
Lot 90 dealer.net
Lot 100 jets.net
Lot 110 nnnk.com
Lot 120 loez.com
Lot 130 cmhs.com
Lot 140 certifiedplanners.com
Lot 150 domain.company
Lot 160 archeology.com
Lot 170 visitor.org
Lot 180 gold.club
Lot 190 sportscars.com
Includes Trademark
Lot 200 tilecleaner.com
Lot 210 gory.com
Lot 220 leads.com
Lot 230 travel.agency
$499 renewal starts June 18, 2018
Lot 240 raises.com
Lot 250 wages.com
Lot 260 oceanfrontproperty.com
Lot 270 stop.com
Lot 280 dpt.com
Lot 290 patty.com
Lot 300 lodges.com
Lot 310 interest.net
Lot 320 yea.com
Lot 330 uf.tv
Lot 340 bartending.com
Lot 350 farms.net
Lot 360 keyword.com
Lot 370 diamond.club
Lot 380 single.com
Lot 390 featured.com
Includes: featured.com featured.net featured.org, Facebook page, twitter handle
Lot 400 ol.com
Lot 410 rn.tv
Lot 420 electricrazors.com
Lot 430 vohi.com
Lot 440 bar.com
Includes: bar.com bar.net cafes.com grill.com place.com pub.com shelter.com
Lot 450 forexaccount.com
Lot 460 factory.net
Lot 470 gaming.net
Lot 480 sandra.com
Lot 490 aggregator.com
Lot 500 wineclub.com
Includes: wineclub.net wineclubs.biz wineclubs.co wineclubs.info
Lot 510 whitewine.com
Lot 520 coolshirts.com
Lot 530 rawo.com
Lot 540 sw.com
Lot 550 fort.com
Lot 560 homefinance.com
Lot 570 casiNone.club
Lot 580 hobby.net
Lot 590 roadsigns.com
Lot 600 dv.tv
Lot 610 loveline.com
Lot 620 trackandfield.com
Lot 630 strippers.com
Lot 640 marcia.com
Lot 650 broth.com
Lot 660 their.com
Lot 670 backinjury.com
Lot 680 let.com
Lot 690 cigarbars.com
Lot 700 benchmarks.com
Lot 710 catallergies.com
Lot 720 cranberry.com
Lot 730 digitalprinters.com
Lot 740 crete.com
Lot 750 seductions.com
Lot 760 advertisingagency.com
Lot 770 toner.net
Lot 780 duct.com
Lot 790 occupied.com
Lot 800 earrings.net
Lot 810 boob.tube
Lot 820 holidaygiftbaskets.com
Lot 830 nympho.com
Lot 840 toxic.com
Includes: toxic.com toxic.net toxic.tv
Lot 850 forexbusiness.com
Lot 860 journalists.com
Lot 870 rental.net
Lot 880 420.shop
Lot 890 raspberries.com
Lot 900 reducing.com
Lot 910 sales.net
Lot 920 89.tv
Lot 930 dreamhome.com
Includes Trademark
Lot 940 recognize.com
Lot 950 solitaire.com
Lot 960 silver.club
Lot 970 celebrityphotos.com
Lot 980 upsetstomach.com
Lot 990 business.broker
Lot 1000 compliment.com
Lot 1010 auctions.global
Lot 1020 doe.com
Lot 1030 parmesancheese.com
Lot 1040 cyi.com
Lot 1050 christmas.net
Lot 1060 yore.com
Lot 1070 shelters.com
Lot 1080 largest.com
Includes Trademark
Lot 1090 cleavage.com
Lot 1100 bargain.net
Lot 1110 beginning.com
Lot 1120 luxury.club
Lot 1130 duplicates.com
Lot 1140 ree.net
Lot 1150 owed.com
Lot 1160 receivable.com
Lot 1170 concerns.com
Lot 1180 shoes.xyz
Lot 1190 oldhouse.com
Lot 1200 entertaining.com
Lot 1210 gylo.com
Lot 1220 megan.com
Lot 1230 highquality.com
Lot 1240 allergyshots.com
Lot 1250 diagNonesed.com
Lot 1260 valuated.com
Lot 1270 spapackages.com
Lot 1280 sweethearts.com
Lot 1290 housealarms.com
Lot 1300 mudslide.com
Lot 1310 internetservices.com
Lot 1320 infections.com
Lot 1330 choreographers.com
Lot 1340 opid.com
Lot 1350 aristocratic.com
Lot 1360 skijacket.com
Lot 1370 subdirectory.com
Lot 1380 dolares.com
Lot 1390 antique.net
Lot 1400 erdf.com
Lot 1410 adolescence.com
Lot 1420 cookieshop.com
Includes: cookiestore.com cookiestores.com
Lot 1430 dirtysecret.com

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