Hello, happy Saturday, and welcome to Morgan’s Flippa Five. In case you’re just joining us now, here’s a quick rundown of this weekly series. Every week I go through Flippa’s domain auctions (by hand, no fancy tools involved) and select five domains that I think would be a good fit for startups. I try to find domains that are priced low or at the very least are still in a reasonable range when I see the bidding in action.

This is not a series for domain name investors so don’t confuse my Flippa five with a list of names that you can acquire at wholesale. Instead I’m looking for names that a startup can use for years to come, not a domain that you’ll buy and try to quickly flip for a profit. Got it? Okay, let’s get to my domain picks for this week!

Hacked.com – 19 year old one-word .COM, I could see this name being a great fit for a startup in the network security space. Easy to remember, easy to spell, and currently under $7,000 but the reserve has not yet been hit.

Unfriend.com – I’ll stay by saying this is a very niche-specific domain, not something with a lot of broad use cases. That being said, if you’re a startup that has an automated tool to unfriend spammy friends on Facebook, this might just be the name you’re looking for.

Numo.com – nice four-letter brandable .COM, this one is not niche specific so could be used for a startup in just about any industry you can think of. I see this as a nice upgrade for a startup that been searching for a short, easy to remember name.

BookHut.com – I’ve covered this domain before and it looks like it’s back up for auction. Great fit for a startup in the book space, eBook or those old physical books that we all used to read. It’s also a 20 year-old domain which never hurts.

Search.io – if you’re a startup that makes an API in the search space this is a solid name. While I don’t typically recommend .IO domains for consumer-facing startups, I’ve seen them do very well in the developer community with startups that make APIs.

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I’ve always found the holidays to be an interesting time for domain investors. There always seems to be less bidding activity on popular aftermarket sites like NameJet, Go Daddy, etc. which often means that some lucky investors can add a few solid names to their portfolio with a little less competition than usual.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m one of those investors and historically I’ve had good luck buying names over the holidays. Of course it’s always a balancing act since the holidays are the best time for me to unplug and get some R&R.

Right now I’m literally out in the middle of the Canadian Rockies in a small town called Golden, BC, and on Monday I’m headed to Banff which is just over the border in Alberta. The Internet connecting is pretty darn slow so I’m not sure if I’ll be bidding as much as usual but I’ll still likely buy a few names while I’m up here.

I’ll likely be buying two-word .COMs, and I’ve moved away from keyword .COMs so I’ll likely be buying brandable domains.

What about you? Are you planning on buying any names over the holidays? If so what kind of names are you looking to buy and what’s your go-to marketplace?

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Is Apple kicking Mac fans to the curb?

21289911948_071ba259a0

If you know me, you know I’m a bit of an Apple fanatic. Okay, fine, you can call me a fanboy since if I didn’t say it now someone would just call me out in the comment section so I’ll save you the time. I use a Macbook Pro as my main computer, I have a Mac Mini at home, my watch – yup, an Apple Watch, and of course I use an iPhone (and get a new one every year).

And no, it doesn’t stop there. As I write this I’m watching Netflix on my Apple TV, and when I’m traveling I watch Netflix on my iPad, and tomorrow morning I’ll get up and get into my Apple car. Okay, that last one’s not true but I’m sure it will be some day. Suffice it to say, Apple still has my attention.

But I’m becoming less of the norm as Apple seems to be inadvertently distancing themselves from their most loyal customers. Bloomberg said it best today:

To die-hard fans, Apple Inc.’s Macintosh sometimes seems like an afterthought these days.

(Source – Bloomberg.com)

The fact is that in my list of all the awesome Apple stuff that I know and love, the Macintosh, Apple’s computer is just one of many, and for Apple it only generates around 10% of their total sales. This number could shrink as it sounds like the internal team behind the Mac has seen better days:

Interviews with people familiar with Apple’s inner workings reveal that the Mac is getting far less attention than it once did. They say the Mac team has lost clout with the famed industrial design group led by Jony Ive and the company’s software team. They also describe a lack of clear direction from senior management, departures of key people working on Mac hardware and technical challenges that have delayed the roll-out of new computers. (Source – Bloomberg.com)

I’ve heard more and more friends talk about moving away from the Mac and most people I knew were pretty darn disappointed with the latest Macbook release. While it would take a lot for me to switch, it has been interesting to watch the waning interest amongst people who were once more fanatical than me.

Still, like the die-hard Apple fan that I am I think this is just a momentary blip in the radar, an inflection point that any company has to go through to find themselves. Here’s to hoping I’m right.

What do you think?

Photo Credit: jimabeles Flickr via Compfight cc

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Let’s take a step into my time machine and go back to the late 90’s, a time when .COM, .NET, and .ORG were the three domain name extensions you would think of when picking a domain name. Those were the good old days when there weren’t many choices so picking a domain name was a whole lot easier than it is today.

Now let’s fast forward to 2016 and there are more domain name extensions than you can shake a stick at, from .GURU to .XYZ, .CLUB to .WORLD, and the list goes on. Here’s the catch, all of these domain extensions are still early, most people don’t even know they exist, which means that you could either be incredibly early on a trend that’s going to catch-on like it’s going out of style, or you could be buying some magic beans that never amount to nothing.

At the same time if you’ve wanted to brand around a particular word, let’s say a word like “data” now is the time to do it. Companies like Data.world are raising $14M and they aren’t alone. We’re moving into a world where .COM might not be the end all be all. At the same time, domain names like Vivo.com are selling for north of $2M showing that .COM domain names are more valuable than ever.

So here’s the question. Why should a startup pick an unknown extension like a .CLUB, a .WORLD, or a .XYZ? If you can raise north of $10M without getting a .COM, what’s stopping you from picking another extension?

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Let me know if this rings a bell. You hire a marketing firm and spend a month (or longer) writing down things like your company values, the words that are important to you and your clients, the feeling you want your name to evoke when someone hears it, and the list goes on.

About $10,000 later you’ve emerged with that perfect name for your company. You then rush to a browser and type the name in, add a .COM to the end, and – doh, it’s already taken. Maybe it looks something like this:

friending-com

First things first. You probably should have known that if you wanted a meaningful one-word .COM it wasn’t going to be sitting there available. All of those names were usually taken in the 90’s, and those that weren’t got scooped up in the early 2000’s.

At this point you’ll probably say something like, “Some stupid squatter has my domain!” In some cases you’ll make an offer, in others you’ll just pick something like GetFriending.com or FriendingOnline.com or maybe you’ll try a different domain name extension and pick something like Friending.io?

Okay, before I go any further let’s make sure you know what a real cybersquatter is, because if indeed someone is squatting on your domain you can take it back through a legal process called a UDRP. A cybersquatter (squatter for short) is someone who registers a domain name that matches someone’s existing trademark or a name they’ve been using for years. It’s a malicious act and is pretty darn close to extortion. That’s why UDRP’s are there, and for under $5,000 you can file and likely win the name through this legal process if indeed someone is squatting on your domain.

udrp-process

In all actuality someone probably isn’t squatting on your name, instead someone has invested in that domain name, just like you might invest in real estate. If you bought land 30 years ago and I offered you the same price you paid then, would you sell it to me for that price? Probably not. So don’t expect someone that owns a valuable domain from the 90’s to do the same.

That being said, domain owners aren’t evil, in fact many of them are startup founders, angel investors, VC’s, well-known startups, Fortune 500 companies and other entrepreneurs just like you. It’s easy to blow the whole deal by making a number of mistakes that will leave you with the word “Get” in front of your name or “Online” after it for years to come.

Don’t want to blow it. Here are three ways you can screw it up, avoid these and you might just be able to get the domain you want.

  1. Putting in an insultingly low offer price – the number one way these deals go south is if you insult the domain owner, either right away or early in the conversation. If you paid $100,000 for your house in San Francisco in 1970 and I tell you I want to pay $120,000 you’d probably just ignore my emails. The same will happen if you put a $15,000 offer on a domain that usually sells in the $500,000 range. Last month Vivo.com sold for $2.1M, this summer Jade.com sold for $1.2M. If you want a good one-word .COM, don’t expect to pay .NET or .ORG prices. Be realistic and be a normal person during the negotiation if you want a domain owner to both do business with you and actually want to help you out and maybe give you a good deal in the process.
  2. Assuming that a domain owner with a privacy protected email can’t be contacted – I’ve seen this happen all the time. You try to look up the domain owner using a WHOIS service and it’s something like privacy119347@privacyprotection.com. What most people don’t realize is that you can email these addresses and they forward to the owner. So don’t hold back, email that weird looking email address and let them know that you’re interested in buying the domain name.
  3. Hiring a bad domain broker – there are a lot of domain brokers out there, seriously, there are hundreds of people who help startups acquire domain names. While there are lots of great domain brokers (two of my favorites are Igloo and Media Options), there are also lots of bad ones who actually work for the sellers and are trying to get the highest price possible so they get a big commission check. You want a broker that is on your side if you choose to take that path so make sure to do your research and talk to previous founders that have worked with a broker before bringing someone onboard.

Okay, so I’ve covered three ways you can blow it, what about how to not blow it? I wrote an article on Medium a while back about this called – What every startup founder should know about buying domain names. If you haven’t read this yet it will walk you through the basics so you can hopefully get the name you want the first time around.

Oh, and maybe make sure the marketing firm you hire to come up with the name in the first place knows a thing or two about domains. If it’s not a part of their process and they leave you high and dry with a name you can’t get now just know you’ll pay a lot more for the domain later down the road if your startup hits it big. The best time to acquire a domain is before you’re all over Techcrunch since this just tells the domain owner that you have a big budget.

Thanks for reading and good luck getting that domain name!

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dot-com-registrations

Popular domain name blog The Domains wrote an article today about .COM registrations falling below 128 million after hitting the new high back in September.

Verisign is reporting that the number of .Com domain names in the Domain Name Base have fallen below 128 Million. Back in September of this year we reported the number of .com domain name had broken through the 128 million mark for the first time. (Source – The Domains)

Now I don’t think this is any cause for concern, and I personally don’t think this represents any kind of trend. The article goes on to say that Verisign typically sees very strong numbers in Q4 so it’s definitely a real possibility that registrations will go back over 128 million by the end of the year. Still it does make you stop and wonder if the new domain name extensions are starting to have a meaningful impact on .COM registrations.

Just to be clear, I don’t think this has anything to do with the value of .COM. I still think .COM is the most valuable extension out there hands down and likely will be for a very long time. However it’s not hard to imagine that we’re moving into a time where someone looking to register a new domain now looks beyond .COM more so than they had ever done in the past.

Is this a taste of what’s to come or just a blip in the radar? What do you think?

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One thing you might not know about Uniregistry

I’m a big fan of Uniregistry. I’ve said it before and I’ll happily say it again because in a short period of time Uniregistry has innovated in a way that most registries haven’t, period. Most people that I know think of Uniregistry as the Apple of Registrars because the UX is so clean that it really is an experience that you can’t find anywhere else.

What you might not know is that you don’t need to have all your domain names registered at Uniregistry to manage them there. Yes, Uniregistry allows you to use their kick-ass domain management system (pardon my french) to manage domain names that you have spread across other registrars.

uniregistry-tracker

The service I’m talking about is called Uniregistry Tracker and you can learn more about it here. While you could manage all of your domain names in one big massive spreadsheet, Uniregistry has literally created the tool you’ve probably been looking for and made it completely free.

Like I said in the title of this post, this is likely one thing you didn’t know about Uniregistry. Since we’re getting ready to jump into 2017 now is the best time to start getting organized and Uniregistry honestly makes it a lot easier. Enjoy, and as always if you have anything to add don’t hesitate to jump in and share in the comment section below.

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dot-com

I’ll start this post by saying I’m a huge fan of .COM, most of my investment dollars go into .COM and when anyone asks me what to invest in now I tell them .COM. That being said, I hear a lot of people saying that the new domain extensions are going to fail, some have even declared that they’ve already failed. Heck I’ll just be blunt, I think that’s a bunch of BS.

Seriously, what is the chance that all the new domain extensions fail?

I’d say it’s as close to 0% as you could get. Like I said above, I’m still investing in .COM and still think they hold the most value. However I do think we live in the reality where .COM can still hold its value (and actually grow in value) while other domain extensions also grow in value. Look at new extensions like .CLUB, .XYZ, .SHOP and many more and it’s clear that there’s something happening here and it’s not a fad.

I think the real challenge is that domain investor who want to play the short game are losing with new domain extensions because they don’t currently have the same liquidity as .COM. I think the issue here is a real dose of realism. When .COM initially launched people didn’t think the Internet as a whole was going to take off, and rewind 15+ years and buying and selling things online was cutting edge, still most things were purchased in stores.

As the Internet took off so did .COM, which has been fantastic for many of us who choose to invest in domain names rather than the stock market or real estate. Let’s just not let this cloud our vision of the future. Change isn’t a possibility, it’s a certainty, and there’s a reason why some of the biggest .COM investors in the world like Frank Schilling have decided to put very meaningful investment dollars into new gTLDs. It’s not because they have given up on .COM, or that they think .COM is going to slowly decline, it’s simply because they know we are moving into a world where this is real meaningful value in new domain extensions.

I see some domain investors embracing this change, I see others hanging onto the old ways, unwilling to admit that maybe, just maybe, the domain world isn’t going to stay the same for the next 20 years. So yes, I love .COM, you probably do too, but just remember that you can love .COM and still think that there are some new domain extension out there that are going to hit a homerun, heck, some like .CLUB and .XYZ already have.

The big question is, how are you going to position yourself and your own portfolio during this time to make sure that you don’t kick yourself for ignoring the opportunities that are in front of your face right now.

Okay, enough from me. What do you think? Comment and let your voice be heard!

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dot-shop

The .SHOP domain name extension hit the market back in September of this year and just about two weeks in had already made $2M with over 2,000 domains registered. According to GMO Registry, the operator of .SHOP 39,801 domain names were registered in the first 30 minutes that it went live for general availability.

Now .SHOP has announced a special run through the domain registrar Moniker to offer a free .SHOP domain to anyone who registers a new .SHOP domain between now and December 23rd.

moniker-shop-promo-2016Hey, it’s hard to argue with free so I’ll be nabbing a .SHOP domain and wanted to pass along the good word. Enjoy!

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So my VR PC is finally operational, it was no small task and I’ll go deeper into that process in a larger post I’m doing on Medium. Suffice it to say, after making just about every mistake possible, I finally have a machine that can power all the VR experiences I can throw at it. I pre-ordered the Oculus Rift and received it months ago so I feel a little silly for being an early adopter that couldn’t actually use the gadget I ordered early, butI really wanted to make sure I did VR right, which means getting a pretty high octane PC.

I have a handful of games and experiences now operational and I can tell you my three current favorites. Given that I’ve had a limited time to try out everything I downloaded I could see this list changing over time. Still I’m thoroughly impressed with these three titles:

#1: Eagle Flight (Ubisoft)

eagle-flight-vr

Without a doubt my favorite VR experience to-date is Eagle Flight, and for two reasons – first the game is absolutely beautiful, it really feels like you’re flying around like a bird through a wild and different version of Paris, the movement, sound, everything is perfectly done. Second, the idea behind the game is super interesting, you start as a baby bird and spend the game growing up, learning new skills, and as realistic as I think anyone has ever attempted to make the experience.

#2 Lucky’s Tale (playful)

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Do you remember that feeling when you played Super Mario Bros for the first time? For some of us it was that original NES game, for other people it might be the SNES version, or if you’re a lot younger than me, the N64 version. Either way there is a certain magic that Mario captured and I am thrilled to say that Lucky has done the same in what I think will be looked at for years to come as one of the best platformers of all time. The game is a work of art, both from its intricate yet intuitive gameplay to the absolutely amazing graphics that really make you feel like you’re playing a game in an entirely different world.

#3 Obduction (Cyan)

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One of the very first games that captivated my imagination at a young age was Myst. At the time, with what now look like incredibly primitive graphics, Myst took me away to another world. That was 1993. Now, 23 years later Cyan is has released it’s latest game/experience, Obduction and it’s doing what Myst did 23 years ago, all over again today, in VR. Like all Cyan games, the story is compelling from the moment the game starts, it’s like being transported to a different world where you’re immediately in the center of an epic mystery. I honestly haven’t had this feeling since I played Myst, and I was 12 then so its been a while.

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