I just spent a week in Germany, somehow after traveling Internationally pretty regularly for 15+ years I never made it there. The world is a big place and given that Sonos had a separate office and team for Europe (I focused on Asia, Australia, and Latin America) Germany never made it on my itinerary.

Now, Bold Metrics is expanding into Europe and I had my first client meeting in Germany last week and just landed in The Netherlands for another meeting tomorrow. While in Germany I noticed:

  1. It’s really cold…but not as cold as Canada which I compared the weather to on a daily basis.
  2. .DE is everywhere and it’s actually hard to find a .COM domain name anywhere

dot-de-domainsAnother thing I noticed in Germany is a strong interested in domains with dashes in them. We had coffee at a popular coffee shop called Einstein Kaffee, honestly they’re everywhere, like Starbucks in the US (or at least in Berlin they were). I was surprised to see that they didn’t have EinsteinKaffee.de, but when I checked I realized, nobody had that domain, they wanted the domain with a dash in it and could care less about having the two-word .DE.

I also probably can’t go another day without sharing what might just be the most hilarious billboard I’ve ever seen. Spotted this on the train ride from Nuremberg to Berlin.

german-billboard

If you take a look at Verisign’s latest report .DE came in as the third most-registered ccTLD behind .CN and .TK with 16.2M .DE registrations. While sometimes I think to myself when I’m traveling, “I should buy some ccTLDs from this country!” I usually stop myself. The reality is, I don’t know the German language and I don’t know the German domain market, and when it comes to domains I find it’s best to stick to what you know, which for me is .COM.

That being said, I’ve met some Domainers who have done well with .DE and if you’re one of them, I’d love to hear more about your experiences in the German domain market. Also, let me know if you think my observations are correct that .DE really is stronger than .COM in Germany and that dashes are cool as a cucumber.

I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

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cloud startups

I was recently talking to a friend who runs a startup that helps companies save money on cloud hosting, they’re in the market for a new domain and she said to me – “ugh, everyone has registered all the good cloud domains and now they’re all $10,000+”

I told her she was wrong, then showed her BrandBucket and I think her head almost exploded. Their budget is in the $2,500 – $5,000 range and they were about to give up, that’s definitely not the case any more.

Since I know she’s not alone I thought I’d highlight some of the cloud-related brandable domains on BrandBucket, and don’t worry, there’s enough good options on there that if someone buys one she’s not going to be without a good domain. All of these domains pass both the radio and billboard test which are two important tests in my book. If you don’t know what these are, here ya go:

Radio test – can you tell someone your domain (i.e. if someone hear your name on the radio or from a friend) can they remember it and spell it correctly. One example of a domain that doesn’t pass the radio test is CloudPhame.com. Think about it…most people would go to CloudFame.com, radio test failed!

Billboard test – someone’s driving down the highway, they see a billboard with your domain on it, can they easily remember it so when they finally park they can get to your site?

If your domain doesn’t pass these two tests you’ll find yourself potentially losing customers. Okay, enough from me, now onto the domains!

CloudState.com – $4,995

HonestCloud.com – $4,995

CloudCog.com – $3,490

MuscleCloud.com – $4,995

CloudSiren.com – $3,955

BrewCloud.com – $3,495

CloudResponse.com – $3,495

PickCloud.com – $2,335

CloudAbbey.com – $3,225

FierceCloud.com – $2,895

Oh and in case you’re not familiar with BrandBucket, any domain that you buy from them comes with a logo, hence the name brand bucket, you’re getting the complete brand which makes it easy to get started right away.

What’s your favorite name on the list? 

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.net domains

Verisign released their Q3 domain report (read it here) and in it shared some pretty interesting data. One site covered the report and highlighted something about .NET that wasn’t directly mentioned in the report:

DazeInfo

The popularity of .net TLD is decreasing. As compared to 15 million domain names registered with .net TLD in Q3 2017, the count has been declined to 14 million in Q3 2018. (Source – DazeInfo.com)

Rewind fifteen years ago and if you couldn’t get the .COM, you went for the .NET, maybe the .ORG, but in most cases the .NET is what you’d go for. Then domain extensions like .CO, .ME, .CLUB and .IO changed the game and gave people an alternative to .COM that was shorter and more brandable than .NET.

Then all the new gTLDs hit and now there are tons of new domain extensions for people to pick if the .COM is taken. The reality is, over the last 15 years .COM has remained king, but the second choice has gone from .NET or .ORG only to a zillion different options with about 5-10 extensions being more popular than the rest (i.e. I think it’s safe to say people would much rather have a .ME name than a .HOLDINGS name).

So, if you look at the Verisign report you might think – .NET is less valuable now than it was last year…but that’s not at all what the data is showing. All this report says is that there are less .NET domains registered y/y, it says absolutely nothing about the value of .NET.

I think what’s happening with .NET is the same thing that is happening with all the other .COM alternatives, the best names are valuable but people aren’t out there hand registering a ton of junk like they do with .COM.

late-night-domain-registrations

Think about it. We’ve all been there, and it usually happens late at night. We think of something, maybe a brandable or two or three word domain and check to see if it’s available in .COM. If it’s not, most people don’t decide, well I’ll just register it in another TLD – they don’t buy it. Domain investors aren’t stock-piling random .NET domains like they do with .COM either, they still invest in them but usually focus on the high quality names.

Now think of someone that wants to call their company something like “Cool” – well Cool.com is a six or seven figure name, so that’s out of the question for most people. So then they look at Cool.net, Cool.me, Cool.club, etc. Good domains in extensions like .NET are still incredibly valuable and I think we’ve actually seen these prices rise as .COM prices have continued to go up.

So don’t get confused when you read the Verisign report, sure, there are less .NET domains registered but that doesn’t mean they are any less valuable. Or at least that’s my two cents.

Now it’s your turn, I want to hear from you – comment and let your voice be heard!

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domain valuation

As I dive deeper into the mysteries of numeric .COMs, I’m finding that I also come across domains that are a combination of numbers and letters that get a lot of bidding activity. At first this was a bit of a head scratcher for me because when you look at the domain (or at least when I do) it doesn’t jump out at me as a four or five figure name.

But the reality is, no matter how you slice it, a domain name with 3 numbers or letters in it, or a combination of the two is valuable because of how short and memorable it is. Or at least that’s my current going theory.

Two domains caught my eye on Go Daddy this week, 72k.com which is currently at $9,192 with more than six days left in the auction and k37.com which is at $6,600 with more than five days to go. I think it’s safe to say that 72k.com is going to sell in the five figure range and I wouldn’t be surprised to see k37.com do the same.

72k-dot-com

It’s important to note that these are expired domains so there are two people out there who owned these names and probably had absolutely no idea what they were worth. For a domain investor, short names like these are becoming digital gold in many ways and while we tend to focus on NNN.coms and LLL.coms, this really illustrates about a combination of numbers and letters is still pretty darn valuable.

Have you bought or sold any short domains with a combination of number sand letters in them? It’s honestly not the kind of domain that crosses my mind when I’m looking at expired domains…but it’s definitely on my radar now!

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We held our first board meeting four years ago, and looking back, I wish we knew what we did now. It isn’t that our early board meetings were bad, they were fine – but they weren’t nearly as useful as they could have been. The challenge is, unless you’ve run a company and had a board before, or sat on a board yourself, you’re really making it up as you go.

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard about board meetings is – board meetings shouldn’t be about your board/investors grading your homework, it should be about you talking to them about the important things that are happening in your business and how they can help.

I’ve heard too many stories of founders who “dread” their board meeting because the board just beats them up for missing their goals. If your board is doing this, something isn’t right. Your board meetings should be helpful and in hard times, you want a board that can be there for you and help you get through it, not just make you feel bad about yourself.

Well luckily, there’s actually one blog post you can read that will likely radically improve your board meetings – it’s written by a VC Firm called NextView and it covers all the bases from what to talk about, to when to start having board meetings, and even includes board deck templates in both Keynote and Powerpoint formats. Here’s the post – simply click this giant image to read it:

board-decks-blog-post

If you scroll down to the bottom of the post you’ll also find my second-favorite article about board meetings that I think is a must-read specifically for founders who just raised their Seed round and are getting ready for their first board meeting. It is aptly titled – How to Approach Your First Board Meeting After Raising Seed Capital.

Do you have regular board meetings? What works about your current board meeting structure and what doesn’t? I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

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monday-morning-walks-with-morganSo I had an idea for a new weekly segment here on MorganLinton.com, mostly inspired by my readers who have been asking for more video content from me. I typically like to go for a walk on Monday mornings, it’s how I clear my mind and get ready for the week. There are a zillion studies that show going for a short walk can be just as effective as meditation or a good power nap and it certainly works for me (here’s a good article to read about walking if you want to learn more).

To kick off this new video series I wanted to wait until I was somewhere particularly interesting, and I was in Paris on Monday so decided, this was the time to make it happen. I was planning on posting this video on Monday, since, well, it makes a lot more sense to have a video series that takes place on a Monday to be posted on Monday – duh…but the Internet connection at my hotel in Paris didn’t agree…so today is the day.

Now is where you come in. Is this a good idea or was this one of the most boring videos you’ve ever watched? If it’s not exciting when I’m walking around Paris, it certainly isn’t going to be interesting if I’m walking around my neighborhood in SF.

Let me know what you think, this is a work in progress so if you have ideas on how to make this better, more interesting, or if you just want to tell me to never post this garbage again, let me know. As usual, I want to hear from you – comment and let your voice be heard!

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So today I learned that there’s a small country called Niue about 2,400 north of New Zealand. It turns out that this tiny island paradise happens to be the rightful owner (or at least according to them) of the .NU domain extension. Well that doesn’t seem so bad, does it?

Well it’s not bad, if Niue was actively using and selling .NU domains, but instead it looks like Sweden has taken over the ccTLD dating back to 2013, and since then, they’ve made a pretty penny with it. Before I go on, I know what you’re thinking…what does Niue look like? It looks like this:

niue

(Image source – theculturetrip.com)

I know what you’re thinking now, why don’t we start holding domain name conferences here? I digress. The reality is, Nieu feels like they were cheated out of the chance to rightfully use their own ccTLD, here’s the skinny:

In the early days of the internet, what is now the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) assigned a country-code top-level domain (ccTLD) to nations — like .au in Australia, and .nu for Niue.

Par Brumark, the lawyer acting for Niue’s Government in the case, told the ABC’s Pacific Beat program they are arguing the Internet Foundation in Sweden (IIS), which is the current register for .nu, is using the domain unfairly.

“In their founding charter and statutes, it’s clearly stated they’re not allowed to administer any foreign national top-level domains. And they have, without consent from Niue, taken over,” said Mr Brumark, who is also the vice-chairman of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers’ Governmental Advisory Committee. (Source – abc.net.au)

So first things first, I’m not a lawyer, and second, I haven’t done a lot of research here, but at first glance, it does sound like Niue might have a point. The reality is, the documentation and regulations about running a ccTLD can be confusing, and I don’t think it’s crazy to imagine a much bigger more tech savvy country like Sweden taking advantage of a situation like this.

This issue does look like it will come to a head in 2019 as Niue has plans to sue Sweden for something in the $27M – $37M range. I would highly recommend reading the full article (link below the quote above) to hear all the details but safe to say this is going to be an interesting story to follow.

For anyone who reads my blog that does happen to be a lawyer, or anyone that knows more about this that wants to chime in…who do you think is at fault here? Does Sweden owe Niue millions of dollars? I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

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Well here’s an interesting one. The new Avengers movie revealed its official title yesterday, Avengers:Endgame, and yes, someone scooped up the matching .COMs, AvengersEndGame.com and AvengersEndGameMovie.com. The owner instantly took to Twitter to announce that he actually didn’t want the domains and would happily trade them for tickets to the premier.

end-game-tickets-domains

As many people know, technically this is cybersquatting since Avengers is Trademarked so if the movie studios really wanted to sock it to him they could UDRP it. Of course, I don’t think the studio would do that because hey, seems like a nice guy and he’s not holding the domains hostage for a million dollars, he just wants to go to a premier.

That being said, it will be interesting to see if more people go out and register popular movie titles and attempt to trade them for cool perks in the future. More than anything I’m surprised that movie studios don’t register these domains in advance. Sure, if they’re trying to keep the name a secret it could hint at the new name if the domain is registered, but they could always register a few minutes before they announce.

To me this either shows that movie studios aren’t that concerned about getting the exact-match domain of their movie, or at least this case they didn’t. What do you think? Should studios care more about domains or does it not really matter given all the other marketing tools they leverage?

I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

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numeric domains

I’ve been writing quite a bit this year about the strong prices numeric .COMs are seeing, and yes, four and five-figure names are dropping all the time. That being said, 00567.com seems to be getting some serious attention as it’s currently at $58,500 with 72 bids as of me writing this post.

On the other hand, another 5N .COM, 90322.com is currently at $873 with four days to go and 55118.com is at $2,075 with a week to go. It’s unlikely that 90322.com is going to jump up into the five figure range in the next four days but I could see 55118.com getting there…but nothing close to $58,000.

So I’m stumped. What makes 00567.com such a valuable name, it doesn’t have an 8 in it, from what I understand 0 isn’t anything special, so what I am missing? Do you have a guess as to why this particular 5N .com seems to be getting so much attention?

I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

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denied

It’s an all too common occurrence these days, a company wants a domain name, but rather than buying it for what it’s worth, they instead try to steal it by abusing UDRP. For those who don’t know what UDRP is for, it’s pretty simple – it is designed to get domains back from cybersquatters. Here’s the thing, just because someone owns a domain and isn’t using it, doesn’t mean they’re a cybersquatter.

Domain names are often considered to be the raw land of the Internet and many people around the world (myself included) invest in domain names just like you would buy vacant land. Also, it’s important to note that it’s not just individuals who invest in domain names, huge companies like Loreal, Facebook, Google, etc. own plenty of domains that they don’t actively use.

For some reason, the “cybersquatter” term gets thrown at people who simple bought a domain name as an investment. They aren’t infringing on a Trademark and they didn’t buy the domain name to interfere with anyone’s business. Now cybersquatters are scum in my opinion, they make the whole domain industry look bad, but luckily only a small fraction of domain owners take part in this illegal practice. UDRP is there to protect trademark owners from cybersquatters, but too many people, like Medical Marijuana Inc. in this particular case, abuse the process to try to get out of paying for a domain name they want to buy from someone else who owns it fair and square.

Medical Marijuana Inc from California had attempted to claim ownership of the domain, claiming it incorporates the essential aspects of its trademarks for CBD and HempMeds.

It alleged that the registrant of the disputed domain, Michael Wigton, who does business as Bionic Sports Nutrition, was engaged in “systematic cybersquatting”.

Wigton argued that the medical marijuana company was attempting to reverse domain name hijack the domain, as it brought this claim in bad faith and squats on trademarks related to both CBD and hemp medicinal products.

Panellists Andrew Bridges, Lawrence Nodine, Paul DeCicco denied Medical Marijuana Inc’s complaint as it did not prove that Wigton used the domain in bad faith, despite the three finding that the domain was “confusingly similar”. (Source – IPProMagazine)

What most companies don’t realize is that when they try to bully someone into giving them a domain name, and they lose a UDRP, they can end up getting hit with Reverse Domain Name Hijacking and that’s exactly what I think is going to happen here. The reality is, people pay big bucks for domain names all the time, and it’s worth it, domains are incredibly powerful online branding tools. Just yesterday I wrote a story about the company that bought User.com for $150,000 – they are thrilled to have the domain, and no, they didn’t try to steal the domain from the owner, they paid for it like most people do.

The reality is, most people that own domain names are not cybersquatters, and most people who want a domain name are not hijackers. At the same time, yes there are real cybersquatters out there, just like there are real domain name hijackers out there. Make sure you’re not one or the other because both should be ashamed of themselves.

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