There has been a lot of controversy lately over domain name bloggers starting to talk about Bitcoin. I wrote two posts about this topic, both which had a very lively comment stream which can help you understand the great debate better, and is pretty entertaining thanks to some particularly vocal readers of mine!

Do Domain Names and Bitcoin overlap? Rick thinks yes, Konstantinos thinks no

The domain industry divides again over Bitcoin – and it’s getting ugly

Today rather than talking more about if domains and Bitcoin are similar…I wanted to talk about another topic that has peaked by interest over the course of the year. What I’ve noticed is increased bidding activity and higher prices on cryptocurrency-related domain names than I have ever seen before.

Now I’m not incredibly surprised by this, heck with Bitcoin climbing into the $17,000 range at one point last week it’s not secret that Bitcoin is all the rage. The question I have is, does this make Bitcoin-related domain names more valuable or are people wasting money that they could put into the cryptocurrency itself?

Here are a couple of examples of popular Bitcoin/cryptocurrency-related auctions going on right now:

BitcoinChange.com is currently at $1,525 on Go Daddy still with almost four days left in the bidding. CoinZoom.com is up to $565 with over a day left and MeCoin.com (which used to run a controversial/scam service) is up at $807.

Domain names with the word “coin” in it have been performing pretty darn well in the aftermarket all year, here’s a look at some of the coin-related domains that sold over the summer:

coin-domains

(Source – NameBio)

Domains like CoinBook.com sold for $20,000 and CoinTax.com sold for $12,200 so it looks like there’s already a good base in place to justify a five-figure price tag for the more premium coin domains. The question is, are these domains getting more valuable as Bitcoin continues to climb in price?

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

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domain-trademark-law

It might sound crazy, but it’s true. You can buy a domain name for a million dollars (or more) and not be able to use the domain, or even worse, lose the domain because you are infringing on someone’s trademark. It’s something that many startups don’t think about until it’s too late, but the mistake can be devastating.

The reality is, most people don’t understand the complexities of trademark law and how it applies to domain names. Couple this with the fact that trademark laws vary by country, and the issue only gets more complex. While you might expect that someone selling a domain should know if the domain they’re selling is infringing on a trademark, this is rarely the case.

This means that as a startup founder, it’s up to you to do your due diligence before you pick a name and begin the domain acquisition process. Of course, this rarely happens. Normally what happens is, a startup comes up with a name and immediately jumps to finding the domain name. If they see the domain name is for sale on a reputable marketplace they assume it must be free and clear of any pesky trademarks.

Here’s the rub. It would be impossible for domain marketplaces to do the detailed research necessary to determine if the names they are selling infringe on any trademarks. That’s because there is no simple tool that you can plug a domain into and out comes the trademark details. It’s a pretty involved process and one that most people can’t do themselves without the help of a professional.

Too many people think, “well if I spend good money on a domain name and buy it from a trusted marketplace, then I can do whatever I want with that domain name.” Unfortunately this isn’t the case, and like the title of this post said, you can buy a domain name for $1M or more and if it infringes on a trademark, you might not be able to legally use it…even worse, you could legally lose it, and no you don’t get your $1M back.

So what can you do to make sure the domain you’re buying doesn’t infringe on any existing trademarks? I usually recommend that founders work with a company that specializes in this exact issues. This shouldn’t be confused with a domain broker, and also shouldn’t be confused with an attorney, you really need someone that specializes in both domain names and trademark law as it applies specifically to domains.

brandit-logo

“Getting the right domain for your business is just as important as knowing if you are allowed to use it in all the markets you are targeting. Solid advice is crucial before investing in your digital branding.” (Jochen Kieler, Chief Strategy Officer, BRANDIT)

BRANDIT is one of the industry leaders when it comes to helping startups with just about every aspect of the digital branding experience, from domains to trademarks, strategy and brand protection, they eat, sleep, and breathe domain names. When it comes to navigating the complexities of trademark law as it applies to domain names, BRANDIT is one of the best.

Okay, but what if your budget isn’t $1M? I think it’s safe to say that most of us don’t have a million dollar budget. So let’s say you have something smaller, like a $25,000 budget. Even then, spending that kind of money on a domain name and not being able to use it would be a painful and costly experience. While I’d love to say – well if you have a smaller budget just head over to the USPTO and make sure there aren’t any trademarks on the word – it’s just not that simple. Even if you take the time to use an online trademark search service, seeing that come up clean still doesn’t mean you’re in the clear.

To add insult to injury, infringing on a trademark could mean paying even more money in damages even after you lose the domain if the trademark holder feels like you might have profited off of or caused damage to their brand, yikes!

NamePros

If you register a domain name with a trademark in it, you will be faced with the risk of possibly losing that domain name to the company who owns the trademark through WIPO arbitration initiated by the trademark holder. If the trademark holder also believes you have been profiting off their brand name or have effected their reputation in any way, a lawsuit may also be filed to reclaim lost profits and for recovery from damages you may have caused their company. (Source – NamePros)

Hopefully this article serves as a bit of a wake up call for founders who are in the process of rebranding or buying a domain name. The process isn’t as simple as coming up with a name, finding it for sale, and buying it. Ignoring the realities and complexities of trademark law as it applies to domain names could be one of the biggest branding mistakes you never knew you could make.

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.TOP has been the #1 new gTLD for a while this year, and even now they sit at the #2 spot when it comes to registrations…but their one-year chart tells a different story:

dotTop-2017Ouch. This doesn’t look like a chart that would make you think this is one of the top new gTLDs. Think about it, if a stock, cryptocurrency, or piece of real estate had a one year chart that looked like this you definitely wouldn’t jump to put your money into it.

So why then are new gTLDs so interested in touting registration numbers? Isn’t registration growth, i.e. a chart that goes up and to the right the real metric of success?

The challenge is, consumers don’t really know any metric other than registrations. Instead they hear marketing campaigns that brag about registration numbers and think, well if that’s one of the most-registered new gTLDs, it must be hot. If they just took a second to look at the registrations over the course of the year, they’d see the reality.

The chart for .CLUB is a much better example of a new gTLD that sits in a top spot, and is growing:

dot-club-2017-registrationsSo while .TOP started 2017 with close to 5M registrations, and with 2.4M still sits in the #2 spot, it literally lost half of its registrations over the course of the year. While .CLUB technically sits in the #4 spot, two below .TOP and with half the total number of registrations, they’ve seen steady growth over the course of the year.

Domain names are such a new asset class that most people don’t know how to look at them yet. Compare this to stocks and it’s a completely different story. What do you do when someone recommends a stock to you? Usually you look at the chart for the last few months, then for the year, and that is critical data when it comes to deciding whether to invest or not. Nobody would make an investment by just looking at the price of a stock, so why would they decide to invest or brand around a new domain extension just because of the sheet number of registrations?

Still, these are the very early days for new gTLDs and domain name investing in general, still I’m ready to start spreading the word and getting people who are interested in investing in domain names to pay attention to the metrics that matter…not the vanity metrics.

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

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A year ago Frank recorded a twenty minute video on You Tube sharing domain investment tips. It’s had north of 6,000 views since then so I’m guessing that many of my readers saw it, that being said I’m sure there are plenty who haven’t. Either way it’s worth watching it, either for the first time or again because Frank covers some critical points that are just as relevant today as they were a year ago.


I’m always interested in hearing what my readers think so I’d love to hear from you. Do you agree that most of these tips still ring true today? If not which ones do you think have changed in the last year, or maybe weren’t right in the first place. I want to hear from you – comment and let your voice be heard!

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Bitcoin

I recently wrote an article about Bitcoin getting close to crossing the $10,000 mark (which it did). This post spurred a good amount of comments, one of them which asked a question that I’m personally interested in that I’m sure many of my readers are too. Here’s the question from a MorganLinton.com reader named Anthony:

Morgan, a few posts ago you had discussed the correlation between bitcoin and domain names, both being digital assets. Do you know if any place where you can currently sell domains and get paid via bitcoin or other cryptocurrency?

So I’m drawing a blank here. I know that Uniregistry gives me a nice bonus in TopCoin, but I’m not sure if they take Bitcoin…given how innovative they are I wouldn’t be surprised if they do and if I just missed the memo. I don’t think Sedo takes Bitcoin and I’m 99.9% sure that Go Daddy and NameJet don’t. Given how much Bitcoin has grown in value of 2017, my guess is there are a lot of people flush with Bitcoin riches that could easily cross over into the domain world.

Seriously. The Bitcoin boom could be good news for all of us in the domain world. Think about it, what if you suddenly went from having $5,000 to having $200,000 – you might want to diversify, and since investing in 1’s and 0’s already made you good money, why not explore other options?

Whether you think that Bitcoin and domains are related is pretty irrelevant when it comes to this point. I’m fairly certain that people that now have  lot more money than they did earlier this year are going to cash out and will re-invest some of their profits. When they do, something tells me they’ll be more open to assets like domains, moreso than ever before.

But what do I know? My guess is as good as yours. Still, this is MorganLinton.com so it makes sense for me to share what I think…even if you think it’s ridiculous. What I want to know, just like one of my blog readers – Anthony, is – where can I sell domains and get paid in Bitcoin?

This is where you come in – know  place? Share it in the comment section below – or of course feel free to slam me and tell me I’m wrong. My comment section is fair game, all I ask is that if you read my posts, comment and let your voice be heard!

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Will Bitcoin break $10,000 this week?

Bitcoin

A little bit ago when Bitcoin was at $5,000 I thought that just had to be as high as it could go, now this week the cryptocurrency is expected to cross the $10,000 mark. I’m one of those people who bought Bitcoin years ago, and sold it for more than 2x what I paid…but looking back now it’s painful to calculate how much that would have been worth (I had 8 Bitcoin so as of this writing it would have been worth $76,000) .

So when Bitcoin hit $5,000 I thought…okay, it has to come down at some point, I’ll buy in again at a dip. Now I wish I just pulled the trigger and bought then since it now feels like Bitcoin might never dip below $5,000 ever again.

Of course, like everyone else interested in cryptocurrency, I have very little real data to base an investment decision on. Yes, I could come up with a compelling case based on the number of big companies and banks embracing Bitcoin, the economists that have talked about it’s bright future, or just the fact that it is the top news story in the financial world pretty much every day. I could also dive into charts and trend analysis, but that’s a whole other can of worms. While I’d love to say, “I’ve done the research and here’s when I’m going to buy,” the reality is when I buy (and when most people buy) it’s going to be a lot more random, no matter how much me (or you) try to convince ourselves that we’re investing based on data…it’s just too new and too volatile to really know.

With Bitcoin (and cryptocurrency in general) it looks like you really have to go with your gut and take a risk. It’s no secret that cryptocurrency is incredibly volatile so while Bitcoin could be $20,000 next year, it could also drop to $100 – nobody really knows. That being said, it’s feeling less and less likely that Bitcoin is going to crash so the question is, how high can it go?

This week Bitcoin is expected to hit $10,000 and as of writing this post it is currently at $9,525 up 2.13% so far today. For those who like to get geeky and analyze the charts, here’s what Coindesk is seeing in the data:

With the rising trendline (pattern of higher lows on price chart) well and truly intact, bitcoin looks set to test $10,000 today, and may even extend the rally to $10,400 levels as suggested by the bull flag breakout discussed on Nov. 20. (Source – CoinDesk)

So what do you think? Will Bitcoin break $10,000? If so is it still a good buy at this price or at we at the peak? If we’re not at the peak, how high could it go? I want to hear from you – comment and let your voice be heard!

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ethereum-logo

While Bitcoin has dominated the cryptocurrency world for some time now, Ethereum is picking up steam and is quickly becoming a real force. There an alliance (called the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance) dedicated specifically to making Ethereum better suited for business applications and big banks are already starting to using Ethereum:

Several banks have already adapted Ethereum to develop and test blockchain trading applications. Alex Batlin, global blockchain lead at BNY Mellon, one of the companies on the EEA board, said over the past few years banks and other enterprises have increased collaboration with the Ethereum development community, facilitating the creation of the EEA. (Source – ZeroHedge)

So with a huge amount of support from big companies, tons of consumer interest, and what looks like an amazing growth path ahead, it’s no surprise that Ethereum domains are on fire right now. Last month ETH.com sold for $2M and now Ethereum.com is up for sale on the popular domain name marketplace Uniregistry.

Ron Jackson from DNJournal was quoted in a Bloomberg article about the strong interest cryptocurrency domains are seeing right now:

“The unfettered euphoria I see around bitcoin/cryptocurrency/blockchain reminds me a lot of the atmosphere I saw in the period preceding the dotcom bust around 2001,” said Ron Jackson, editor and publisher of Domain Name Journal. “However, dotcoms came back and had bigger years than ever in the mid 2000s, so even a bursting bubble isn’t necessarily a final death knell for a given asset.” (Source – Bloomberg)

While $10M might seem like a lot for a domain name, there’s only one Ethereum.com and given that Ethereum is poised to be the next big cryptocurrency, this could make the domain one of the most valuable .COMs on the planet.

What do you think, is $10M the right price for Ethereum.com?

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Black Friday Domain Deals

A couple of days ago I wrote about how over the years Black Friday/Cyber Monday has been my time to lock in great deals on domain renewals. On top of great renewal offers Black Friday is also a great time to register new names, start or renew hosting packages, get SSL certificates, and the list goes on.

Every year I scan through all of the different Black Friday domain name deals out there and pick my favorites. Let’s be honest – you’re busy, you probably just ate a whole plate of leftovers from yesterday and are slowly slipping into a food coma. Well don’t pass out quite yet, there are still some deals to lock in on Black Friday, here are five that caught my eye this year:

  1. NameCheap is running a ton of Black Friday deals, from new registrations, to hosting, to SSL certificates, there are new deals running what looks like every hour. The current deal that is running for another 42 minutes (as of writing this) gives you a .STORE, .ME or .FUN domain name for $0.33/year and includes whois guard. If you keep checking back you’ll see new deals continue to pop up on NameCheap.
  2. NameCon, the top conference in the domain name world is offering 50% off both regular and VIP tickets today through Nov 28th. If you are considering going to NamesCon, even if you aren’t 100% sure you can make it, now is the time to really lock in a good deal that likely won’t be coming back again.
  3. Go Daddy has some pretty stellar deals on a wide range of TLDs from .ME, to .CLUB, .CO and prices as low as $0.99/year which is hard to beat. Along with renewals I also tend to spend more hand-registering names over the Black Friday weekend. If I buy 20 – 30 domains at a major discount, it only takes selling one over the course of a year to pay for the rest and then some. Of course, like any hand-registration activity it’s all about actually buying quality and not loading up on junk.
  4. WPEngine is a kick ass WordPress hosting provider, I’ve been using them for years and suffice it to say I’m a fan. Over the Cyber Weekend they’ll be offering 35% off your first payment, depending on what you buy this could allow you to enjoy some serious savings.
  5. If WordPress isn’t your jam, HostGator is offering some great deals on hosting packages with discounts going as high as 65%. I used WordPress for years when I used to build-out mini-sites, they provide solid hosting with just about every bell or whistle you could think of.

Know other great deals that you think other people would dig? Please feel free to share below. Now it’s time for me to step away from the computer and head to the Warriors game!

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Black Friday 2017

Years ago I was talking with a friend of mine who has a lot more domains than me and he mentioned that taking advantage of Black Friday/Cyber Monday had been a game-changer for his business. While this might seem painfully obvious (it was to me the second after I heard it) if a handful of people who read this post haven’t thought of this, you’ll likely save hundreds, or thousands of dollars with this little tip.

Here we go, drum roll please.

What I learned years ago that has been a mainstay for me ever since is that Black Friday/Cyber Monday is without a doubt the best time to renew your domains. In some cases this could mean even moving domains between registrars to lock in the best deal depending on what promotions are being run. Here’s an example of the difference this can make.

Let’s suppose you own 500 domain names, and let’s also suppose that your average renewal is $10. That means you’re spending $5k/year on renewals. Now imagine that a registrar offers a 20% off renewal promotion for Black Friday/Cyber Monday, that’s $1,000 in savings right there, and companies go beyond 20% discounts so it only gets better.

So while you might be in the habit of renewing domains when they come due, unless you’re planning on liquidating over the next year, taking advantage of deals over the next week could allow you to sit back next year and not have to worry about paying for renewals, all while saving a nice chunk of change.

I will be looking around for the best renewal deals and sharing them on my blog so make sure to check back here on Black Friday to find out how you can start what I think will probably become a yearly trend for you going forward. Of course if you already know of deals feel free to share them in the comment section below, happy saving!

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I always enjoy looking at sales data and trying to understand how the dynamics of the domain name world are changing over time. It wasn’t that long ago that if the .COM was taken, you’d have .NET or .ORG – today there are so many more options it’s really hard to know which is the best for your company and what budget makes sense, especially if you’re leaving the .COM space.

There are .COM purists out there who say that you absolutely have to be on a .COM, but at the end of the day there are tons of examples of companies that have done a-okay building high-growth, super successful companies on non .COMs.

Let’s be honest, most people come up with a name, look to find the .COM taken, and then after finding out it’s way out of their budget, start to look into other TLDs. This month it’s been interesting to see TLDs like .LOANS, .KITCHEN, and .EXCHANGE in the mix with three pretty decent sales IMO:

InvestmentProperty.loans – $7,500 (sold on 11/16/2017)

Snap.kitchen – $5,895 (sold on 11/15/2017)

BTC.exchange – $12,500 (sold on 11/12/2017)

(Source – NameBio)

The first name in this list was actually a shocker for me. Very long two-word .loans domain selling for $7,500, have consumers built trust in .LOANS yet? If not would this impact a business that brands on it, like an additional hurdle to get over?

Then BTC.exchange for five-figures. I’m not sure how many stellar names .exchange has in whole but coin.exchange and coins.exchange sold for $5k each (at different times this year) so it’s clear there are going to be some cryptocurrency exchanges using this for their new home.

Here’s the question – assuming these are end-user buyers, are they making a huge mistake putting down a decent chunk of change on a brand new gTLD or are these early pioneers securing valuable real estate and brand space online at a fraction of the price?

What do you think – comment and let your voice be heard!

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