Your silence speaks volumes

A friend of mine wrote a very powerful article on Medium titled, Check On Your Black Friends and Colleagues… We Are Not Ok. In it, he shares what his experience is like as a Black man in America and how the little things that you might not think twice about, are a very meaningful and impactful part of his day, here’s a good example:

Every morning at 6 a.m. I go for a run around my neighborhood. Before I leave the house, I’m faced with a decision that most people don’t have to consider:

Should I wear my hoodie or should I leave it at home?

I think: It’s colder in the morning, so I should probably wear one. But, on the other hand, what would my neighbors think if they saw a black guy running around this predominantly white neighborhood with a hoodie on? I stand in the mirror for a few more minutes weighing the decision. I ultimately decide to leave the hoodie at home. Now I’m fully dressed and ready to go exercise.

(Source – Medium)

I’ve been having phone calls and Zoom conversations with friends of mine who are Black to hear more about their experience, share my support, and find out how I can be supportive as a friend. The feedback I’ve had from everyone is how amazed they are that so many people just ignore what’s happening and continue to post on Twitter, Facebook, etc. as if nothing is going on, just business as usual.

One of the companies I invested in early on is Sandbox Commerce, the founder, Sterling Smith shared this powerful image on Instagram recently:

Silence Speaks Volumes

If you have been silent this whole time, know that it’s never too late to break your silence and stop pretending everything is okay. Like James says in his article, he is not okay, and all of my Black friends have echoed his words, they are not okay. I’ll end my post with what James shared at the end of his article that I encourage all of you to read and take to heart:

And our ask is simple: We need you. We need your voice. We need your support. We need your privilege. And we need you to become Allies while locking arms with us in solidarity. What you’re witnessing happen in this country right now is a by-product of the voiceless going unheard for so long. And what we need now, more than ever, is for those who have a voice and who recognize their privilege to really step up and use those things to help us fight and finally put an end to systemic racism and racial injustice.

(Source – Medium)

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar LA Times

People across the United States and around the world are protesting in honor of George Floyd and to fight against systemic racism and police brutality. The vast majority of these protests have been peaceful and I think they should and will continue until we start to see some real change. I have made it very clear that I stand with the protesters and support Black Lives Matter.

If you don’t understand why people are protesting, I highly encourage you to read this article in the Los Angeles Times written by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Here’s one of the key points Kareem makes that I think is important for everyone to read and reflect on:

What do you see when you see angry black protesters amassing outside police stations with raised fists? If you’re white, you may be thinking, “They certainly aren’t social distancing.” Then you notice the black faces looting Target and you think, “Well, that just hurts their cause.” Then you see the police station on fire and you wag a finger saying, “That’s putting the cause backward.”

You’re not wrong — but you’re not right, either. The black community is used to the institutional racism inherent in education, the justice system and jobs. And even though we do all the conventional things to raise public and political awareness — write articulate and insightful pieces in the Atlantic, explain the continued devastation on CNN, support candidates who promise change — the needle hardly budges.

(Source – Los Angeles Times)

Now is the time for us to come together as humans to support each other and fight to put an end to systemic racism. If you are wondering what you can do to help, I highly recommend you read this article that shares seven different things you can do.

As I mentioned on Monday, this week I will not be writing about domain names, it is much more important to me to use my platform to show my support for Black Lives Matter and provide information, resources, and encouragement for others to get involved and take action.

This is not the time to be silent or pretend nothing is happening, now is the time to be loud, take action, and demand change.

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Black Lives Matter

We are at a turning point in American history, a time where enough is enough and real change needs to happen, now. Systemic racism in this country needs to end and police policy reform also needs to happen, now. Today, Jack Dorsey the CEO of both Twitter and Square shared this:

And while social networks like Twitter are censoring our Presidents hateful tweets, companies like Facebook are complacent. Today, President Trump staged a sickening publicity stunt in front of a church which was denounced by the church itself along with religious leaders across the country:

We have a racist President and we have police in our country who are abusing their power and targeting black people in what can only be described as systemic racism. Mark Suster, one of the VC I’ve always looked up to the most shared this powerful tweet today:

This week, my blog will be dedicated to sharing something that is much more important than articles about domain names. I’m going to be putting my heart and soul into what I write this week more than I ever have in the thirteen years I’ve been writing this blog. If you’re looking for ways to make a difference now, Barack Obama has some great places to start.

I know this post, and all of my posts over the course of the week will cause me to lose some readers. This is MorganLinton.com, it is my blog, it represents my views and what I believe in. I am proud to stand with the protesters (not the looters and rioters, please understand these are very different groups) and with organizations like Black Lives Matter.

Tomorrow, my blog will be silent as will I on all social media in honor of #BlackoutTuesday, but I will be back on Wednesday, not to talk about domain names, but to talk about what really matters right now in our country, and in the world – putting an end to systemic racism and fighting for police reform and justice.

Now is not the time for us to pretend everything is okay, now is the time to realize that everything is not okay and to fight for what is right.

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Happy420 domain auction

Today I saw this tweet from domain investor Jason Sheppard and I had to do a double-take. Happy420.com was at $30,166 at the time of his tweet, it ended $6,000 higher at $36,166.

While I can understand why this domain would have some meaningful value and make it’s way into the four-figure range, this seems like a much higher sale price than I would have expected. Of course, to get that high there had to be at least two people bidding the auction up so there were two people out there who seemed to feel like the price made sense.

I’ll be incredibly interested to see if this sale goes through, and if it does, who bought it and what they end up doing with it. We all know that marijuana-related domains were hot, then cooled down, but they never went ice cold. At the same time, there’s a general feeling that pot stocks will never get back to where they once were, and if you want to do a deeper dive into that, there’s an interesting article in Forbes about it.

So let’s see what happens here. Like I said, this one doesn’t make much sense to me, I could see the buyer not following through, but I’ve been surprised many times before, it’s the domain name world so anything really is possible.

What do you think? Is Happy420.com worth $36,000?

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Black Lives Matter

Today, I feel it is important for me to speak up to share my thoughts on the murder of George Floyd and the systemic racism that black Americans face. First – let’s be clear, George Floyd’s murder was a hate crime, committed by a police officer who massively abused his power.

Former Police officer Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd by crushing his neck with his knee for almost nine minutes. Six minutes in he learned that George Floyd no longer had a pulse, but he continued to crush his neck. This is murder, period, and a third degree murder charge is far too light of a sentence. Additionally, the officers who were with Derek and did nothing to stop him, also need to be charged, immediately.

People are protesting now to both honor George Floyd and demand that we end systemic racism in America and racial profiling that happens all too often across our country by the police. While a small percentage of protesters are rioting and looting, I encourage everyone to look at the data – the vast majority of people across the country are peacefully protesting.

We live in a free country and people have the right to peacefully protest. It would be horrible to tell people they cannot peacefully protest if at any point a protest somewhere turns violent or looting starts. People are angry, they have the right to be angry, and they are demanding change that needs to happen.

Sadly, we have a President who has publicly threatened to shoot protesters and this morning encouraged his supporters to come out and face off with protesters in Washington DC. Trump is a bigot, and if you haven’t taken the time to understand how deep his despicable comments and actions go, I highly suggest you read this article – An Oral History of Trump’s Bigotry.

More than anything now, we need a President who can bring us together rather than divide us, who can help our elected officials rather than insult them, and who can make a stand to truly make American a great place for everyone, regardless of the color of their skin.

If you, like me, want to see an end to systemic racism in America, know that I stand with you. Black lives matter, America is better than this, it is time for a change. I am a proud supporter of Black Lives Matter and the George Floyd Memorial Fund and encourage you to donate to either or both of them.

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NameLiquidate

Lately I’m seeing more and more activity on Twitter from domain name investors that have decided to use wholesale domain marketplaces like NameLiquidate.com and DNWE.com. Earlier this week veteran domain investor shared recent results with NameLiquidate which he updated with data from a second sale today:

There’s also a pretty nice thread on NamePros now highlighting domains at NameLiquidate. It makes sense to me that if you’re going to let a domain expire and thus make $0 on the name, making anything is well, better than $0.

Now that I’m moving my portfolio from Go Daddy to EPIK it makes using NameLiquidate completely seamless, another nice bonus that I’m finding in the move. That being said, I haven’t taken the service for a spin yet, but I’ll definitely share my experience once I do.

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Matt Holmes Lead Generation

I first met Matt Holmes in Las Vegas at NamesCon and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know him better over the years. Matt is a high energy guy, always super fun to talk to, and doing some particularly interesting things in the domain development and lead generation space. Along with understanding the power of a good domain name, Matt knows the development and lead generation space well and has scaled his business to over 90 live websites.

Matt and I were having beers in Austin this year at NamesCon (actually after this concert) and we did a deeper dive into some of the projects he was working on. I was fascinated, I couldn’t get enough, it was so interesting, so I asked Matt if he’d be open for doing an interview on my blog since I think my readers would really dig it too…and here we are. I think you’re really going to enjoy this one – now let’s get to the interview!

First things first – why do they call you “Matt Handshaking Holmes” – I feel like everyone who doesn’t know you is going to want to know that.

I’ve been accused of the wrongful act of handshaking since 2013, when i was working Special Projects for a NM Congressman. It was simply too tempting to ask for a pic when working at Capitol Hill with people like Paul Ryan when seeing them walk around our mutual office hallways. When friends started seeing the pics like this one, they started the name calling, Handshaking Holmes!

Okay, now onto lead generation websites. How did you get started in the lead gen space?

I have been an entrepreneur since before graduating college in 2010. It started with buying a motorcycle after a bad break up in college, moved onto residential real estate after graduation. And after 3 years of screaming at tenants and contractors, i knew there was a better way to invest knowing how popular the internet was getting. Land was so much more affordable online. In Denver a piece of land costs hundreds of thousands to build a house on, but online, a piece of land only cost $8/yr if it was not claimed. I now own 500 pieces of onlines real estate (domains) and almost 20% are developed as lead generation businesses that make up my full-time income, alone with our several staff members.

What did you do to find out which niches performed the best?

We tested about 2 dozen niches in the home services space, and a little bit in automotive. We have 91 live websites as of today, but that changes on a weekly basis.

You’ve built a team in the Philippines, when did you make that move?

As a solo founder, with no investors, I made that move after 3 months of seeing my business savings account just be smashed by a contractor charging thousands per month for his very limited time. After that I choose to ask my virtual assistant to work full-time which equaled only a few hundred dollars. Despite the cultural differences, SH*T was getting done.

What advice would you have for other entrepreneurs that might want to build up their remote workforce in the Philippines?

Visit. In addition to changing your life, it will grow your appreciation for what you have, save you money, and introduce you to some food that is almost as good as traditional Thai or Vietnamese food. You’re close to those countries anyway, so I’m sure you’ll visit them, too.

Where do you sell lead gen sites?

We sell our lead gen sites to our customers for big money, or we sell them to savvy investors who subscribe to Empire Flippers for a multiple of the past revenue it’s made over the last 6-12 months.

(An example of one of Matt’s lead gen sites – ColoradoHeatingAndCooling.com)

How do you think the Coronavirus will impact lead gen?

Well, that greatly depends on who you’re selling leads to. If I was selling leads to an over crowded theatre, I probably wouldn’t be selling many leads today. But fortunately for us, home service providers can provide contactless quotes, and often perform work without even asking for a handshake (yes ironic!).

What impact are you seeing from the Coronavirus and what are you doing to adapt?

Our sales are slightly up, despite losing one of our big customers. I think we are still figuring out how this is effecting us. The businesses buying leads from us vary in every single city since we are selling to all kinds of different home service providers. It also depends on each individual person’s feelings on the pandemic. Luckily, even if our sales were to drop we would remain profitable. There’s probably some opportunity for us to do more work for our lead buyers or help get them set up online, but we’re not looking to get into the marketing agency model unless we have to. Sales are not down, so no need at this point, but things are changing every week!

Okay, let’s end with some fun stuff – you’ve traveled the globe for years now, where’s your favorite destination?

Fortunately, Manila, Philippines is absolutely one of my favorite destinations to enjoy personally, as well as it having big professional benefits since I learn more about the Filipino culture, enhancing my relationship with my staff.  Philippines is beautiful, has great food, and their english is by far the best.  Superior to any other asian country and even many European countries.  Philippines wins overall.  But I’ll throw out one more for all the foodies out there:  my second favorite would have to be Saigon, Vietnam is absolutely amazing, and yes hugely because of the food. Some other destinations I’ve been to and would like to spend more time in would include Malaysia, UAE, Malta, and Spain.

I’ve had the same last question for a while – tell us one fun fact about Matt most people don’t already know or can’t easily find online.

I donate monthly to a non-profit called the Innocence Project, which uses DNA evidence to help get wrongfully convicted ‘criminals’ out of jail (Hint: they were always innocent). I mention his now since they just dropped an AMAZING documentary on Netflix called Innocence Files, which of course I’ve already binged and tried not to cry watching it. They do really meaningful work for people who have had their freedom stolen from the government, and also have had society turn their shoulder on them. Check it out if you’re spending extra time at home right now 😉

Thanks again to Matt for taking the time here and if you have any questions for Matt feel free to ask away in the comment section below!

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Autoinsurance.us

Last week I wrote an article about potential renewed interest in .US domains after Zoom’s meteoric success while branding on one. I’m not personally putting an investment focus on the space, for me I see .COM as my primary focus for many years to come…but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been taking a look to see what’s going on over in .US land.

So I was pretty surprised to see when I was poking around Go Daddy Auctions tonight that AutoInsurance.us is at $1,324 with 16 hours to go. Given that there are 13 bidders in this auction it wouldn’t be too surprising to see this name sell for over $2,000.

I’m not sure how many end-users are shopping for expired .US names on Go Daddy auctions so I’m assuming this is a domain investor, but maybe I’m totally wrong there, you tell me. If this is an investor, then they likely think they can get quite a bit for this domain.

While we all know that the insurance space is a big money maker for lead generation companies online this does seem like a lot to pay for a .US domain. Of course, like I said, I’m a .COM guy so I don’t know much about the .US market, maybe you know something I don’t.

What do you think? Is this just a normal auction price and wholesale on this name is in the $2,000 range or is an end-user in the auction driving the price up?

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Domain Appraisal Services

Ah domain name appraisal services, a topic that has been polarizing since I started in the domain name world thirteen years ago. There seem to be two sides here – those who think appraisal services can be useful and helpful in the domain investing process, and those who, think, well, the exact opposite.

Right now there’s an interesting discussion going on at NamesPros about domain appraisal services and so far my favorite response comes from a user named Ategy who says:

A) Title Question: Favorite Domain Appraisal Service?

Answer: My brain! Honestly, when looking for a price on individual non-liquid domains I would have just as much faith in the Easter Bunny than on any existing automated algorithm valuation. Some might get things close to being accurate from time to time .. but at the moment NOTHING beats a solid informed and educated human opinion. But by educated I specifically mean (1) someone with a strong grasp of all elements of domaining .. and (2) someone with good knowledge of the industry related to the domain in question.

I don’t mean you need to be an astronaut to sell a “space” related domain. But you should have a bit of knowledge on the subject and/or invest a bit of time on Google learning about the industry and potential buyers. Effectively to guestimate with relative accuracy (1) the likely sales multiple and (2) the likely sales through rate.

(Source – NamePros)

I tend to agree with Ategy on this one. While I actually like domain appraisal services and think the tools that both Epik and Estibot have put out are fine, at the end of the day I do think it does really take thinking about it yourself and doing your own research.

For me, I actually find that NameBio is one of the most useful tools I find myself using since it helps me quickly look up similar domains. Since I mostly focus on two-word .COMs, I’ll typically run a search maybe looking at the last ten domains that sold that started with that word, then at ten that ended with that word. Of course, you have to infuse this with data like search volume and CPC since once you have two words combined the value can vary dramatically.

What’s your take? Comment and let your voice be heard!

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Today is such an important day, I decided, let’s take a break from domain names, and instead talk about how each and every one of us can give back and honor those who have given their lives fighting for our freedoms.

The first thing you can do is give back by making a donation to a charity that directly impacts our veterans and armed service members. Today I made a donation to the Wounded Warrior Project, a wonderful charity that supports veterans that were wounded in battle. There are a number of other great charities, here’s a few to consider:

The second thing you can do is call or email someone you know who has lost someone who served and tell them how much you appreciate them and the person that they lost. Little things like this make a difference.

The third thing you can do is something like this. If you have any kind of platform where you can reach people all over the world, encourage them to give back and honor our fallen heroes today.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to my readers who serve or have served, and to those of you who have lost somebody, know that they will never be forgotten. I will reserve the comment section below for anyone to write in anything about someone they lost that they would like to honor.

Today isn’t about me or you, it’s about the people who will forever live on as heroes.

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