city-domains

It’s no secret that a lot of the new gTLDs are struggling. At the same time some new gTLDs have found a solid path to success with extensions like .CLUB, .LOAN, and .ONLINE seeing real interest from end-users. I’ll be honest in saying that I thought .CITY domains were going to take off like a rocketship given how valuable real estate is in New York City.

Still, we’re now years into the new gTLD program and there isn’t a single .CITY domain in the list of the top 30 new gTLDs. Today the results of the .BOSTON sunrise came out and only 170 domains have been registered. I think Michael Berkens nailed it in the headline of his post today:

.Boston Domain Extension Off To Slow Start With Just 170 Domains Registered in Sunrise

In his post Michael points out that major sports teams like the Boston Bruins didn’t bother to get their domain names and with 35 Universities in the surrounding area Harvard was the only one to claim it’s matching domain in .BOSTON. Of course, like I said above, there are no .CITY domains in the top 30 new gTLDs so I guess we can’t be too surprised.

The real question is, do .CITY domains have any hopes or are companies, sports teams, and public figures in cities like New York and Boston going to turn a blind eye to their corresponding .CITY domain? Yes, these are still the early days but jeez, I would imagine that in a city like Boston more than 170 people would participate in Sunrise.

As a domain investor all I can say is that I’m steering clear of .CITY domains for the foreseeable future, it’s pretty clear the end-user interest isn’t there and I’m guessing that out of those 170 registrations it’s safe to say that at least half were simply for brand protection, not because someone was dying to get a .BOSTON domain.

What do you think? Are we still just living in the early days or do .CITY domains really have no chance of taking off?

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startups

Hello, happy Sunday and welcome to my new weekly “Domains for Startups” post. Each week I’ll be sharing five domain names on the popular domain marketplace NameJet that I think would be a great fit for startups. If you’re not familiar with NameJet, let me break it down.

There are a number of marketplaces out there to buy domain names. You’ve probably heard of Go Daddy and Flippa but you might not have heard of other marketplaces like Buy Domains, Uniregistry, and NameJet. While these aren’t new marketplaces, they are new to many startups which is why I’m starting to highlight them more and more on my blog.

Buying from a marketplace has a lot of advantage, the main one being that you don’t have to haggle with a domain owner who is asking for a ridiculous price. Instead you’re dealing with someone who actually wants to sell and usually is asking for a price that’s reasonable.

I don’t use any automated tools to find these names, instead I use my own gut and my experience helping startups find domain names to highlight five names that I think will be interesting to other startup founders like myself.

Last but not least, I have no affiliate links attached to these domains so if you buy one, I don’t make a penny so don’t think you’re doing me any favors by buying, there’s really no way to track it. That being said, NameJet is a sponsor of this blog because I think they rock but like I said, I don’t make any money if you buy a name on this list. Okay, now after that super long, probably really boring five paragraph rambling from me, here are this week’s names, enjoy!

CoderVault.com – great domain for a company that has anything to do with coding. Could be used for a coding education site or a site that hosts code similar to Github, either way it’s an easy name to spell and remember and a solid two-word .COM.

Ship.net – I’m not usually a huge .NET fan, in fact, I’m not much of a .NET fan at all. That being said, I make an exception if it’s a truly premium .NET, something that would sell for 7-figures if it was a .COM, and that’s why I like Ship.net. Let’s be honest, the .COM is probably $2M+ and this name will likely sell for less than a tenth of that price. Great domain for a startup that does anything related to shipping.

HerbProject.com – it’s no secret that the Marijuana industry is booming right now and this is a great name for someone in that space. It’s relatively broad so would fit a wide range of companies. Also it’s another great example of an easy to remember, easy to spell, two-word .COM.

EasyRide.com – while I’m not sure I’d want to dive into the ride-sharing market right now with two major players like Uber and Lyft in the mix, if you did want to do it, this would be a great name to do it with.

Yoko.com – I’ve said it many times on my blog and I’ll happily say it again, I’m a huge fan of one-word .COMs, especially short ones like this. Great brand and as broad as you can get so this could be used for any startup in any space.

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esports-full-stadium

I didn’t truly understand how big eSports has become until I saw a talk at SXSW this year by one of the top execs at the company that runs some of the largest stadiums in the US. In his talk he said that as a company, they are starting to tweak their strategy to move from building stadiums that are made to support athletic sports like football, baseball, and basketball to support the growth of eSports and the changes that need to be made to make a stadium eSports ready.

The picture that you see above is from an eSports competition, and yes, those are all screaming fans cheering for their favorite team exactly like most people have for the last 100+ years for their favorite traditional sports team. If you think this is a fad, it’s not, it’s actually a trend, and a growing one with the next generation of sports fans.

eSports — basically video-game competitions — came in second only to movie watching among the demographic’s most popular modes of online video consumption. It beat TV shows, news, and traditional sports. (Source – Business Insider)

Yes, you read that right. This study applies to you men between the age of 18 – 25 and they like watching eSports more than any traditional sport, Netflix series, or news program, the only thing they like more than eSports. There’s a growing divide and just like your average 22 year-old sees Facebook as the social media network for their parents, football is also starting to be seen more and more as a traditional sport, watched by an older generation.

Of course, I know just writing this is going to be controversial and I’m likely going to get comments saying that I’m crazy and this is just a fad, and football and baseball and basketball are here to stay. And you’d be right, traditional sports aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. That being said, twenty years from now you’re going to be the crazy one for not seeing how big eSports really is.

esports-landscape

If you want to really understand the eSports landscape, read this article on Medium – honestly it might just blow your mind and at the very least it will show you how serious all of this is and how strikingly similar many of the facets of eSports resemble traditional sports. Fans are fanatical about their favorite players, merchandise sales produce meaningful revenue, and yes – coaches can make a big difference, and yes, they can also get fired if their teams perform poorly.

So I encourage you to scroll up at this point, to the image at the top of my post. What you see there isn’t a one-time thing, a blip in the radar. It is what a very typical sporting event will look like within the next decade. As someone who isn’t a huge traditional sports fan, but is a big eSports fan I can tell you I am really looking forward to this future. Are you?

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Bitcoin

The cryptocurrency space as a whole is growing like crazy, with Bitcoin and Ethereum seeing massive growth trajectories and what feels like a new ICO every day the entire world has now become obsessed with all things blockchain. So it should come as no surprise that when it comes to domain names, cryptocurrency domains are a hot commodity and based on Verisign’s Q2 report, they were the hottest commodity in the last quarter.

According to the report “Coin” was the top trending keyword in both .COM and .NET in Q2 and “Crypto” was number two in .COM. While you might think this means that owning a domain with the word “coin” in it means a five or six-figure price tag, a lot of these domains seem to be selling in the sub $10k range.

This week the two highest coin-related domain sales on NameBio were ToyCoin.com for $2,849 and SECoin.com for $1,966. The highest “coin” related sale in September was ChargeCoin.com for $3,000. August saw some higher sales like CoinRate.com for $8,888 and CoinTime.com for $5,000. So I think it’s safe to say, if you invest in “coin” domains you can probably get a nice ROI but if you’re expecting a sale in the five-figure range you might have to wait a while for the right buyer to come along.

Crypto has seen similar sales prices with CryptoAlerts.com selling for $5,000 and .IO also getting some love in the with CryptoMarket.io selling for $5,525. Sedo saw a five-figure “crypto” .COM sale in August with CryptoNews.com selling for $50,536. I also dipped my toes in the cryptocurrency domain waters as I brokered Crypt.com for $64,000 a couple of weeks ago.

Given how fast the cryptocurrency space is growing I think we’ll continue to see demand for “coin” and “crypto” related domains continue to increase in value over time. Of course I don’t have a crystal ball so only time will tell, and if cryptocurrencies crash, so could the value of crypto-related domains.

What do you think? Is now a good time to invest in coin or crypto related domains or have all the good ones already been taken, leaving only scraps for your average investor?

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dot-com-dot-hk

It has been twelve years since I have been to Hong Kong. In my early twenties I opened up distribution for Sonos in Hong Kong and used to be here all the time so it has been pretty exciting to see back and to see what’s changed and what has stayed the same. As usual one of the first thing that catches my eye whenever I leave the US is what domain name extension reins supreme and in Hong Kong it’s not .COM, it’s .COM.HK and .HK.

While there’s no doubt that .COM is a global TLD and yes, people around the world use .COM more than any other gTLD, it is incredible to see what a major force .COM.HK is here, and also not too surprising. I would say that so far 90% of the domain names I’ve seen so far in Hong Kong use .COM.HK or .HK, honestly – it’s everywhere.

It’s also interesting to see that while Chinese is the dominant language here, the URLs all use English characters, it certainly doesn’t seem to me like IDNs have really taken off yet. When I was here twelve years ago I remember meeting with people from the domain industry that live in Hong Kong and they were betting that IDNs were about to really take off. Given how much time has passed it really makes me wonder what kind of legs IDNs have.

At the same time, it’s also easy to forget that these are still the early days of the Internet and fifty yeas from now things will be different, the question is how long is it really going to take for IDNs to take off, and will they take off at all? Of course maybe I’m missing something, I’m definitely no expert when it comes to ccTLDs or IDNs and like I said, I haven’t been here in twelve years so if you’re reading this and thinking, “Morgan has no idea what he’s talking about” please comment below and share your experience!

This afternoon I’m grabbing lunch with Doron from Efty so I’m looking forward to talking with him about this as well since he lives here so definitely has a lot more expertise than me. Either way, it’s pretty interesting to see .COM.HK everywhere, I’ll continue to take more pictures of domain names here in Hong Kong so I can put together a more comprehensive post once I get back.

Okay, now time to head out for the day. As always, I want to hear from you – comment and let your voice be heard!

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Weekend Musings: Next Stop Hong Kong

morgan-hongkong

Lately I’ve been feeling like the phrase – “never a dull moment” has become pretty much an every week mantra for me. It’s an exciting time and without a doubt the busiest I have ever been in my life, but I’m loving it. Bold Metrics is at an incredibly exciting place, we’re making a big impact and I can honestly say that it does feel like we are changing the world which is pretty darn cool.

morgan-linton-blogging

As I write this it’s 8:07AM and I’m sitting at LAX getting ready to board a 15 hour flight to Hong Kong for a week of meetings. I used to go to Hong Kong quite a bit when I was opening up the Asian market for Sonos back in my 20’s but it has been probably twelve years since I’ve been to China.

I don’t have much time to write this post since we have a number of last-minute things to do before I leave so I’ll leave it at that, but expect to see some fun blog posts from me while I’m out in Hong Kong. If any of my blog readers live in Hong Kong and want to meet for a coffee or a beer please feel free to shoot me an email (morgan(at)morganlinton.com). Okay – now I really need to book my hotel, bon voyage!

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I think I’m getting more and more into eSports by the week. Now on a Saturday morning I find myself going to Twitch and seeing what’s on, and usually watching some kind of tournament, often of a game that I don’t quite completely know or understand yet, but I still find it incredibly engaging.

One of the first strategy games to capture my attention was Warcraft II and after that Starcraft so I was pretty excited to find out that the Starcraft II World Championships were going on in Montreal today. When I first logged-onto Twitch there was a countdown timer with about 12 minutes left.

starcraft-2-championship

After the countdown timer finished, like most sporting events, announcers popped onto the screen and started covering the competitors, standings and games ahead for the day.

esports-announcers

It’s pretty interesting, the players are profiled a lot like athletes are before a major championship game. The announcers even compared today’s tournament to the energy and excitement that comes before a major football game. As the players took their positions in front of their computers the competition began and when the camera pulled back panning across the crowd you could really feel the intensity.

mid-game-starcraft-world-championships

Lucky for me, Starcraft II not surprisingly is pretty darn similar to Starcraft which is a game that I knew and loved a long time ago so the longer I watched the more the dynamics of the game came back to me. Without the announcers I’m not sure I would have been as sucked into the action but with play-by-play coverage I was soon at the edge of my seat (or bed in this case since I was still not officially up yet) waiting to see who would win.

At this point, since I don’t know any of the gamers I don’t necessarily care too much who wins but I could see myself getting a lot more excited if a player that I knew and had been following for years took the stage. This is why everyone in the audience is literally at the edge of their seat as the games neared the end and droves of aliens stormed giant pod-like bases on opposite ends of the screen.

startcraft2-tournament-stages

The Starcraft World Championships is broken down into two three different stages, in each stage players compete to win by playing three different maps, the best of the three moves onto the next stage. If you want to tune in yourself just head over to Twitch.tv, it’s free to watch and from what I can tell we’re in Group Stage 2 (someone correct me if I’m wrong here) so there’s still plenty of action ahead!

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esports-tournament

I’ll be honest, I do watch sports, probably now more than ever, but I don’t watch the typical “sports” that you’re likely thinking of. Yes, I know tonight is opening night for football, but I don’t watch football, baseball, soccer, hockey, okay sometimes I watch basketball but usually only when it’s crunch time. So you might think that I just don’t like sports. I also felt like I was probably someone who wasn’t that into sports until eSports became a thing, now I find myself watching eSports more than I would have ever expected.

If you haven’t watched eSports I’ll tell you that you likely won’t get into it until you start playing one of the popular eSports games like League of Legends, DOTA 2, Overwatch, IRL, Overwatch, and yes, the list goes on. For me the game that peaked my interest in eSports was DOTA 2. As someone who has always enjoyed strategy games like Chess, I find DOTA 2 is like Chess on steroids, more moves, more characters, and a lot more complex scenarios to think through, in short – it’s a mind fuck.

Seriously, it is, as are many of the new eSports that challenge players to think more moves ahead than you ever would in a game of chess and require lightning fast reflexes. Sure, you might not be showing off your physical might but you absolutely are sporting some serious mental dexterity in combination with keyboard and mouse movement that is up their with what a concert pianist goes through.

Okay, enough about gaga I am about eSports, let’s talk about the subject of this post – a new arena, in LA, dedicated to eSports. The arena is being created by Blizzard, the game studio behind hit eSports games like Starcraft and Overwatch and of course Warcraft III which is what inspired both League of Legends and DOTA 2. It’s a lot smaller than a typical sporting arena seating only 450 people but it will include practice facilities, two control rooms, and of course – a gift shop full of Blizzard merchandise because just like you buy your sports jersey at a football game, you buy your eSports swag at a DOTA 2 tournament.

“We’re at a tipping point for esports and we look forward to helping usher in a new era of competition-based entertainment,” said Mike Morhaime, Blizzard chief executive and co-founder, in a written statement. “As we open the doors of Blizzard Arena Los Angeles and welcome fans from around the world, we’re honored to bring the best in Blizzard esports to the same stage that some of the biggest names in entertainment have called home.” (Source – Forbes)

The arena is scheduled to open the first week in October and will host a series of championship eSports competitions. I know what you’re thinking now…”Morgan – are you going to actually go to this arena and watch people play video games?” And my answer is – “no” – I’m going to go there to watch them compete at eSports. This is a great move by Blizzard, it’s going to not only help grow their brand but help grow eSports as a whole. I can’t wait to watch some amazing tournaments in the arena and think we’ll see a lot more of these eSports-specific arenas and stadiums popping up all over the US.

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logo-domainsherpa-369x95

I was shocked to see one of the top posts on Domaining.com this evening. It was from DomainSherpa and it was titled, After Six Years and 404 Shows, DomainSherpa Bids Farewell. Honestly I thought this was joke at first, I couldn’t believe it. I know that a number of my readers aren’t completely plugged into the domain name world so to give a quick primer – DomainSherpa has been the go-to resource for domain names investors to learn from seasoned pros through video interviews. If you go to a domain conference you’ll find Michael Cyger, the shows host is a bit of a celebrity and it’s safe to say he’s helped to inspire countless new domain name investors.

Earlier this year Michael had thought about scaling DomainSherpa up and was on the lookout for a producer to join the team but after thinking about it deeply he decided he was ready to take a different path.

Michael-Cyger-headshot-2015

“In July I posted an open position for a Producer of DomainSherpa. Eight motivated and highly qualified professionals submitted video applications and completed their first round of interviews. They are very impressive.

But as I spoke with these applicants – each eager to take on a new role – I realized that I too was ready to try something new. Delegating some of the responsibilities of the show to a producer was not enough.

It is time for me to move on from domain name publishing.”

(Source – DomainSherpa)

I have really enjoyed Michael’s interviews over the years and have learned a lot from them myself. I can’t say I’ve seen all 404 of them so now that there aren’t new videos coming out I might finally be able to catch up!

That being said I can’t say that I’m not a little sad tonight, the DomainSherpa show has been an amazing resource and something I guess I’ve just assumed would be around forever. It’s like DNJournal, I can’t really imagine a world without it, it’s become ingrained in the community, a staple. One of the most impressive things about Michael is that he started, built, and sold a successful business in the Six Sigma space before diving into the domain world. When he does something he does it well, and it was awesome to see him build a top notch resource in the domain world…so something tells me whatever he does next, it’s going to be a home run.

Also, all the DomainSherpa videos will stay up and continue to live on as will Michael’s domain investing course, DNAcademy. So it’s not really goodbye, but instead the opportunity to continue to learn from an incredibly vast library of content that is going to continue to be relevant for a long time. Thanks Michael, your videos will definitely be missed, but I’m very excited to see what you’re doing next and since we have a history of having lunch and catching-up at NamesCon, I think it’s safe to say – I’ll see you in Vegas!

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lilium-jet-series-b

If you thought flying taxis were just something that you saw in Back To The Future II, and, like the Hoverboard would only become a reality as part of a bizarre publicity stunt…it looks like you’d be wrong. With $90B in new capital from some pretty awesome investors like Obvious, Atomico and Tencent to name a few, Lilium is working hard to make flying taxis a reality and it’s not as far off as you might think.

Here’s a fun video of the maiden flight of the Lilium jet:

If you’re wondering if $90M is a normal Series B round…it’s not, the average Series B round falls in the $10M – $15M range (source). B Rounds this big go to only the biggest ideas and well, flying taxis are a pretty big idea if they take off (pun intended). The new round is critical to the company’s success since it will provide the funding for a jet that can hold five people because that’s what you really need to play ball in the flying taxi world.

“This investment is a tremendously important step for Lilium, as it enables us to make the five-seat jet a reality,” noted Lilium cofounder and CEO Daniel Wiegand. “This is the next stage in our rapid evolution from an idea to the production of a commercially successful aircraft that will revolutionize the way we travel in and around the world’s cities.” (Source – VentureBeat)

I know what you’re thinking. Okay, but if these jets ever see the light of day they’re going to be ten times the price of a taxi. Actually, Lilium expects to be able to fly people from popular destinations like the JFK airport to downtown Manhattan for less than what a taxi charges today, here’s a look at their planned route from JFK:

lilium-jet-jfk-route

Congrats to the whole team at Lilium, I love people who do things that most of us think is impossible, heck it’s been my mantra for some time now. I also think that technology is moving at such a fast pace today that things like this that once sounded impossible are actually starting to sound more and more possible by the day. With an incredible team and some truly visionary investors behind them, it’s safe to say the sky is the limit, literally.

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