Global Domain Investing

As many of you know I love travel and have spent the last 20 years traveling 3-4 months a year. Like most domain investors, when I get to a new country I can’t help but take a look at what domain names I see out in the wild. When I’m here in the US it’s pretty clear that .COM has won, do not pass go, do not collect $200.

But, take last December when I was in South Korea…

South Korea

Not as much .COM, but plenty of .kr and .co.kr. In case you missed it, I wrote an article while I was there taking a look at some sales the Korean domain market.

Last year I was also in Japan a couple of times, .jp and .co.jp was everywhere and promising Japanese startups like Hey, that raised $66M built their brand on Hey.jp.

And well, who doesn’t love Italy? Two years ago we spent the holidays in Lake Como and, I think you get the picture – .IT takes the cake.

While I love traveling…this whole global pandemic issue has grounded me here in San Francisco which hasn’t been a bad place to be, but I do really miss my life outside of North America. At the same time, it’s given me a lot more time to think and strategize about opportunities in other markets and areas where there might still be plenty of domain gold to be mined.

I’m still pretty early on when it comes to research so I haven’t made any moves yet, right now I’m still collecting data. There’s a good chance I’ll be collecting data for quite some time before I do start making any buys, but I can tell you that I think there are some great opportunities in domain extensions that aren’t on most people’s radars. Japan is one market I’m very interested in, they have the third largest economy in the world and thriving eCommerce superstars like Zozo that are bringing in over $4B/year, all online.

.jp domains

My guess is you don’t own any .JP or .CO.JP names, and you probably don’t know other investors who own them. But I can tell you there are about 126 million people that know and love .JP and .CO.JP and that means there’s a real opportunity, and no, it doesn’t involve bidding against everyone else on Go Daddy auctions.

On thing I’ve always really appreciated about domain investing is that there are so many amazing niches to explore and opportunities you can carve our for yourself. Sure, we could all buy one-word .COMs or try to get the best .IO names, and yes, I still love .COM – but I’m starting to explore and what I’ve found learned so far is pretty exciting.

As usual, more to come – I’m only 13 years into my domain investing journey, the adventure has just begun!

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This morning I woke up to some pretty exciting news on Twitter that I thought was worth sharing with all of you. By now I think everyone who reads my blog knows Yogi, if you don’t here’s some articles you can check-out to play catch-up:

What I really like about Yogi is how open he is to share what’s working for him, what isn’t and overall contribute to the community and help others. So I was really happy to see this tweet today:

Yogi Outbound Domain Sales Blog

I don’t think there has ever been a blog in the domain world dedicated to outbound sales so I think this is going to be a great addition. Yogi already has a sign-up page to subscribe to the blog on OutboundDomains.com.

Yogi Blog

I’m super happy for Yogi (as you can probably tell!) and personally can’t wait to start reading the new blog. Not a bad way to start a Saturday! πŸŽ‰

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MorganLinton.com is hiring

Hiring

I still can’t believe that I’ve been writing MorganLinton.com since October of 2007. When I first started writing this blog I never thought I’d still be writing, every day, thirteen years later.

When I first started MorganLinton.com this was me:

Morgan Linton Kid

Just kidding! That is me but I’m just a bit younger than I was when I started this blog, here’s what I really looked like back then.

Morgan Linton Blogger

At the time I was working at Sonos which was still very much a struggling startup trying to find its way. Back in 2007 I’m not sure any of us knew if the company was going to be around for the long haul or fizzle out like so many startups do.

Fast forward to today and well, Sonos is now a public company with close to 2,000 employees, and I’m now running my own startup tech company, Bold Metrics, which has been rocking for over eight years now. It has been an incredible journey and through it all, this blog has been a core part of my daily life.

So I’m excited to say that the time has come to grow the team and add another writer or two to MorganLinton.com πŸŽ‰ There are so many wonderful people with interesting and unique points of view I want to expand the content you’ll find here, and through it, hopefully set a course for the decade ahead for MorganLinton.com.

That being said, I’m not just looking for anyone, I’m looking for someone special. Here’s a few bullet points on what I’m looking for:

  1. You have experience in both the startup and domain world – I’m giving more preference to startup experience here. The ideal candidate would have worked for one or two venture-backed startups and/or started their own company. You don’t have to be a domain expert but you should have bought and sold some domains in the past and be genuinely interested in the domain name world.
  2. You aren’t a professional writer – I’m not looking for a professional writer or journalist with years of experience. For this position I’m looking for someone who is enthusiastic and excited about writing, but you don’t have to already be a blogger or someone with years of experience writing for the web.
  3. You don’t live in the United States – nothing against my fellow Americans but I’m looking for a different perspective here and a more global view on domain names and startups. If you live in Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia – please apply, for now this position is closed to US candidates.
  4. You have the bandwidth to write 1-2 posts a week – I’m not looking for someone to write daily but I’d expect a cadence of once or twice a week starting out.

If you just finished reading through these and you think – hey this sounds perfect, feel free to shoot me an email, ml(at)hey.com. Oh and yes, this is a paid position πŸ’°

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Here’s a good tip for selling domains quickly

Fast Sale

For those keeping score, Yogi Solanki has quickly built up a reputation as a domain outbound machine. I’ve written articles about Yogi’s suggestions on do’s and don’ts for outbound, and I’ve interviewed him as well. What I really appreciate about Yogi is that he’s seeing some pretty awesome success in the domain space, and he’s been totally open and transparent about how he’s doing it.

One critical takeaway for anyone who wants to learn from Yogi is that the key to repeatable, scalable sales doing outbound in the way Yogi is requires selling names typically in the sub $500 range. While you could do a bunch of outbound and try to sell domains in the $1,000+ range, I don’t think you’d see the same results.

All that being said, Yogi drops some pretty great nuggets and this one today is a good tip for turning people who once passed on a name into a buyer.

Ever heard the old adage, the squeaky wheel gets the oil? Well the same is true in sales and someone who took the time to respond to a sales email, especially with something like, “not at the moment,” is still a potential buyer, just not right now.

Going back through old leads is a great way to drum up new sales and I’ve talked in the past about combining this idea with a discount to really make it enticing.

Of course, this doesn’t just apply to outbound. If you only sell on inbound you should still be keeping track of everyone who makes an offer on your domains. The opposite of this situation could be true, i.e. someone who didn’t have the budget a year ago, might have the budget today. While you could always wait for them to come back to you, getting there attention today could be the difference between making a sale or not.

Thanks as always to Yogi for sharing and congrats on another two sales!

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Startup Brands

As many of you know, or maybe don’t know, a few years into Bold Metrics we went through Techstars, a startup accelerator that was a game-changer for our company. We raised $1M shortly after demo day and through the process I made some really wonderful friends.

What I think makes the process of going through a startup accelerator so unique is that you take a journey that is usually very isolating, and go through it alongside other founders all on the same journey. It’s a real, raw time full of ups and downs and there’s a connection you make with the other founders that remains strong now, six year later.

Not surprisingly, over time, more and more of my friends end up in the market for new domains and as the fellow founder who happens to know a thing or two about domains, I tend to end up involved in the process in some way or another.

Since I know my blog readers are both domain name professionals and startup founders, I thought it would be interesting to share a bit more about the thought process they’re going through when trying to buy a domain name.

First, setting the stage, this is a startup that has raised around $5M and is targeting B2B customers. They met with a branding consultant who helped them come up with a number of potential brand names. Of course, then the hard part came – finding those words in corresponding domains that don’t suck.

When my buddy first approached me, he asked about the .COM of the word they were the most interested in. The name is definitely a six-figure name, possibly a seven-figure name, and that’s out of budget for them so it was onto other extensions.

I asked my friend what their second choice is next to .COM, he said the team universally agreed on .CO. .IO doesn’t make as much sense since they’re B2B and most startup founders (my friend included) feel .IO is really a better fit for startups that target devs. While they use AI in their product, they weren’t too interested in .AI, it really was .CO and .COM, with .NET not even being on their radar.

When discussing .NET a bit more I think the complexity for them is that they felt .CO was just as strong if not stronger, but it seems domain owners want more for a .NET which is misaligned with what they saw as market/brand recognition. They evaluated some new gTLD options and actually have one they’re considering now as a potential top pick…bit it’s a six character extension and they think it might be quite a mouthful.

Overall there’s a general feeling that if they can’t get a .COM, a two-word extension with .CO clearly the top choice (if not the only choice) at this point was universally the preference both within the team and with the branding consultant they’re working with.

Out of respect for my friend I’m keeping the name of their company confidential but if he’s okay with me sharing it in the future, and if that includes sharing what name they ended up with I’ll happily do a follow-up post. Either way I thought this would be interesting data for my readers, both investors and founders.

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Could a Google shakedown help domain investors?

Justice

This week one of the top stories that isn’t the global pandemic or US elections is the new antitrust lawsuit against Google. Apparently this is a moment Google has been planning for, yet fearing, giving it the nickname “code red” and for good reason, it could be a very big deal for them.

If you don’t know much about what’s going on, here’s a quick summary to get you caught up:

The complaint (PDF) lays out the case that Google used “exclusionary agreements and anticompetitive conduct” to become dominant in the search marketplace, and then kept abusing that market dominance to prevent nascent rivals from gaining enough of a toehold potentially to become real competition.

The suit is focused on Google’s search business, including search advertising and “general search text advertising,” which the DOJ alleges the company has “monopolized” for more than a decade.

(Source – Ars Technica)

First things first, if any company is big enough to really fight an antitrust case, it’s Google, so it’s hard to know if the outcome will really cause any long-term pain for the search giant.

What I’ve been wondering is, will this impact domain investors, and if so, will it be in the positive direction? I think it could, and here’s why.

One of the big changes that dramatically reduced type-in traffic to domain names was the repurposing of the address bar to double as a search engine text entry field. Google is the default search engine on the iPhone so every single person who owns an iPhone and types something into the default browser (Safari) on the iPhone, instantly triggers a Google search.

This antitrust case could change that, and with it, there’s a chance that this could default back to what it was in the past and sending direct navigation traffic back to domains, most likely to .COM.

While I don’t think this is a sure thing by any means, it’s more of a possibility now than it has been, which could be very good news for domain investors. What do you think?

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Domainer

As many of you know, I made a shirt a couple of years ago, yeah this one you see above that I unveiled at NamesCon a few years ago. I love the shirt, but I’ve been thinking lately more and more about the term Domainer and what it means outside of the industry.

Most people in this world who invest in things invest in either the stock market or real estate. Sure, there are lots of other things you could invest in (I know the crypto crowd is here!), but these two options easily capture 90% of the global investment community.

What do stock market investors call themselves? Investors. How about real estate investors? Investors. Domain investors? Domainers.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a proud Domainer, but at the same time, when I hear friends in the startup world talk about “Domainers” they often are thinking of squatters, not investors, and while they don’t know the difference between the two, they also don’t differentiate between the words.

All that being said, I’ll be honest, I don’t care. I don’t live my life trying to fit a specific mold, and I actually like that domain investing is a totally different world, a niche completely unknown to most real estate and stock market investors. So I’m proud to say I’m a Domainer and fine correcting people when they say, “you mean squatter!?!”

But I do sometimes wonder if calling our community Domainers vs. investors does hurt us sometimes. What do you think? πŸ€·β€β™‚οΈ

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Domain Flipping Competition

This summer, with the Olympics canceled due to the Coronavirus I realized the world still needed a global competition, something that would allow people from around the world to compete, but from the safety and comfort of their own homes. Kidding 🀣

That being said, in all seriousness, I did announce the world’s first domain flipping competition in July of this year. In partnership with Domain Smoke, at first without them knowing (surprise!) and then (luckily) with their support, we kicked things off officially on August 1st.

In case you missed it, here are the rules:

  • Participants had to sign-up before Aug 1st
  • Max spend on domains set at $500
  • Time period – three months

Prizes for the Gold, Silver, and Bronze winners are:

Gold Medal – $500 Cash Prize via Riz fromΒ EmpireNames.com + $500 Platinum Industry Expert Listing on DomainSmoke.com

Silver Medal – Β $50 cash prize courtesy of 55 Domains for the second place winner.

Runner up prizes include aΒ Morgan Linton #Domainer Shirt, sponsored Domain Smoke Newsletter Listings, and actualΒ domain names (courtesy of Domain Smoke) that will be delivered as prizes.

Of course to win the competition you have to log the biggest net profit from your flip during this time period. So if you haven’t sold a domain yet, you’ve got two weeks to make it happen! If you missed the sign-up date, don’t worry, something tells me we’ll be doing this again. Happy Flipping!

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Are .LY domains back in fashion?

Today I was doing my regular end-of-week auction review on Park.io when I noticed that the domain getting the most love is a .LY domain, Coffee(.)ly which just broke the $1,000 mark.

Coffee.ly

If you can remember, years ago a startup called Bit.ly popularized the .LY domain extension which for those who don’t already know is technically the ccTLD for the country of Libya.

Today, I think it’s safe to say that extensions like .IO, .CO, and .AI have stolen the show when it comes to non .COMs that are popular with startups. That being said, I’ve always wondered in the back of my head, “what if .ly became cool again?” 😎

So while I was surprised in many ways to see a .LY name at the top of the auction list at Park.io, I also wasn’t. If you’re a cool new startup disrupting the coffee world Coffee.ly might be what you’re looking for.

The reality is, for a word like “Coffee” the .COM is off the market (in this case owned by Peet’s) so your only option is a non .COM and while I had all but forgotten about .LY, it’s still here. My guess is a domain investor is bidding on this but either way it will be interesting to see what happens with this one.

All it takes is another well-known startup taking off on an extension like .LY to get it back in the limelight.

🎯 Fun fact – the highest reported .LY sale is Local.ly sold by Braden Pollock back in 2011 πŸš€

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Six Figure Domains

First things first – it’s important to note that my blog is read by two different groups of people:

  1. startup founders who know about running businesses and building brands
  2. domain name professionals who know about buying and selling domain names

If you’re one of my readers in the domain name world, what I’m writing about here isn’t news to you, so this post will probably be pretty boring and you can skip it. Of course, keep reading if you want, but this won’t be groundbreaking news for you.

Hello fellow founder πŸ‘‹ Read on!

So last week I was talking to a friend who runs a startup here in SF, they just raised an eight-figure round and decided it was time to upgrade their domain. All the names they ran by me sounded great but I wanted to make sure they knew what kind of price tag to expect.

“Those are all great names, just know that you’re going to be paying six-figures for domains like that,”

They didn’t believe me. I think the exact response was:

“What are you talking about? I don’t think domains sell for six-figures very often.”

The reality is, very few people know the sheer volume of six and seven figure domain sales that happen. While seven figure sales don’t happen daily, they do happen more than once a month but often go unreported, the same is true for six-figure sales except more of these get reported.

Recently Go Daddy released their sales data and I think this provides a valuable look at the true volume of domains that are changing hands for six-figures every week. Here’s a quick look at domains that sold over the past week compliments of DNJournal:

What you’ll probably notice here is that there were actually nine six-figure sales reported and they aren’t even all one-word .COMS – FiveNines.com just made the cut at $100,000 as did VanInsurance.com, and surprisingly, the same name in .CO.UK sold for $6k more.

Now here’s where things get interesting.

These are only the reported sales. I can’t say that me, or anyone else really has the data on how many sales go unreported but most people believe it’s more than 50% of sales in the six and seven figure range.

Of course you might look at a domain like FiveNines.com and think – what?!? I wouldn’t pay $10,000 for that domain, and I believe you. That’s the magic of domains, certain names are incredibly valuable to certain companies, and since there’s only one of each domain name out there, they are each truly unique assets.

So if you just raised a round and are looking at getting a new domain, let me be the first to say – do it πŸš€ Your domain name has a major impact on your business, and just like you’d pay top dollar for an office on 5th Ave in NYC (okay maybe pre-pandemic), you can expect to pay top dollar for the same location online.

Just know, if you spend six-figures on a domain, you’re not alone, you’re just one of many buying domains in this price range that week, or even that day.

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