Hello, happy Saturday and welcome to the brand new 2020 edition of my weekly domain investing news update. I’ve decided to spice things up this year and rather than just sharing links to articles about what happened this week, I’m adding my own commentary and pulling in data from Twitter as well. Let’s dive right in.

Go Daddy’s acquisition of Uniregistry continues to be a top story, and this week data came out about what the likely sales price was. I first read about this on DomainInvesting.com which revealed the following:

I reached out to a representative from GoDaddy to ask if this figure includes the company’s recent acquisition of Over, a social content startup. This acquisition was reported by TechCrunch in late January and the Annual Report referred to two acquisitions from February. I was told that this figure includes the acquisition of Over, so the Uniregistry deal was for the $196.9 amount minus whatever Over cost to acquire.

(Source – DomainInvesting.com)

This news led to domain investors across the world speculating on how good of a deal this was for Frank, i.e. did he sell to cheap? Shane shared his thoughts on Twitter and Andrew Rosner shared his thought as well in the following tweet:

DomainShane thoughts on Uniregistry sale

As for my thoughts about the Uniregistry sale. I think Frank has done an amazing job, made a ton of money, and will continue to do incredible things. It’s impossible for me to see anything but good things when someone who was a leader in our industry makes over $100M. Well done Frank, and for those saying he should have got more, try it yourself then! I think he did just fine.

Next up is easily the most controversial domain name news story of the year, Ethos Capital’s acquisition of the .ORG extension. This story has seen coverage in major publications like the New York Times and this week the less-than-loved PE firm made an announcement that could be considered a positive move by some:

Ethos Capital tries to save the .org deal. Ethos is “voluntarily” proposing to add an amendment to PIR’s .ORG Registry Agreement with ICANN in the form of a PIC. Upon completion of the acquisition, the PIC will become a legally binding amendment to the current Registry Agreement:

“Fees charged to registrars for initial or renewal registration of a .ORG domain name will not increase by more than 10% per year on average for eight years from the start of the current Registry Agreement, under a precise formula that does not permit front-loading of those price increases. Through this commitment, .ORG will become one of the only TLDs to have a price restriction and it will remain one of the most affordable domains in the world.”

(Source – OnlineDomain)

While I think most people are still not going to be very happy with this deal, it does feel like PIR and Ethos are trying to do what they can to quell concern over the deal.

This week also marked the next release of the Liquid Domain Report from GGRG.com. I’ve known Giuseppe (founder of GGRG) for years, he’s an awesome guy and I think it’s very cool that he releases this report and shares all this data with the industry, for free.

DNJournal covered the report and shared a nice overview of the findings:

The latest report begins with a brief overview page that, for Q4-2019, shows the total dollar volume for publicly reported liquid domain sales jumped to nearly $7.3 million, a rise of over 30% from the previous quarter. However that news is tempered by seeing total liquid domain sales dip 13.3% at Escrow.com to about $12.2 million (individual domain sales information is not released by Escrow.com but they do their cumulative sales total for these domains).

(Source – DNJournal)

In conference news, ICANN 67, which was originally scheduled to take place in Cancun, Mexico has been converted to a virtual conference given concerns around potential risk and spread of the Coronavirus. I think most people are happy with this decision, here’s the scoop from ICANN:

“This is a decision that the ICANN Board has been considering since the outbreak was first announced and it is one that we haven’t taken lightly,” said Maarten Botterman, ICANN Board Chair. “We know that changing this meeting to remote participation-only will have an impact on and cause disruption to our community; however, this decision is about people. Protecting the health and safety of the ICANNcommunity is our top priority.”

(Source – ICANN)

This week NameCheap announced their 2019 revenue numbers which came in at $149M up almost 19% over 2018. I’ve always been impressed with NameCheap and it’s founder Richard Kirkendall is without a doubt one of the nicest people in the domain industry as well as one of the most successful.

What I think doesn’t get talked about enough is the kind of culture NameCheap has built within the company. Ask anyone who works there and they’ll tell you it’s an incredible place to work, and a great work environment attracts great people, and well, as you can see, great people are helping the company soar to new heights. Huge congrats to the whole NameCheap team, what a year!

And last but not least, this tweet from Josh Reason caught my eye yesterday and it doesn’t look like I’m alone as it has 60 likes already. A startup that raised their Series A last year is moving from a two-word .COM to a one-word .IO.

Okay, now that’s it from me – we’re off to Stinson Beach for a relaxing weekend on the beach to enjoy some of this awesome summer weather we’re getting in the Bay Area. I hope you all have a great weekend, thanks for reading!

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Angry at Domain Investors

I wrote a post a couple days ago about what it’s like being a full time domain name investor. Just to be clear, I have never been a full time or even part time domain investor. I’ve actually only had two jobs over the last twenty years – I have worked for a startup (Sonos) and now run a startup (Bold Metrics). I probably see myself staying in the startup world for the foreseeable future, I just love building things and being around the creative energy of other founders.

That being said, I’ve put more money into domain names than I have into the stock market or real estate and I know a number of people who invest in domain names full time. I think one of the biggest challenges domain investors have is the negative stigma that surrounds domain investing.

If you invest in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, real estate or startups, people normally think that’s pretty darn cool. If you invest in domain names, a lot of people have some choice words to say about what you do. One of my blog readers chimed in on my post about full time domain investors and said the following:

It’s tough to hear things like this, but it also highlights one of the big challenges that I think full time domain name investors face. They have one of the few professions where people might hate them after they tell them what they do. Outside of being the person who repo’s someone’s cars there really aren’t that many professions out there where you know that some people will think of you as scum.

I know so many incredible people who are full time domain investors, they are amazing parents, partners, and people who give more to charity than just about anyone I know. They’ve had to deal with some pretty harsh criticism over the years for the career path they’ve taken, it’s tough.

That being said, I think anyone who does decide to go full time in the domain investing world should know that there are a lot of people like Rob out there and it’s pretty much impossible to get them to change their mind.

Do you think this stigma will go away over time or will domain investors always have to deal with angry people like Rob who think of them as “garbage middlemen” – I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

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Domainer T-Shirts

A couple of years ago I made a shirt based on input I got from my blog readers, you can see it above. It’s a simple shirt that says #Domainer on the front and has morganlinton.com on the back.

I think the shirt ended up costing around $23 per shirt for me to make and I gave it away to blog readers who shared their opinions on the design and asked if I would give them one. Note – if you didn’t receive one and think you should have, shoot me an email, I’m not perfect so if I missed someone I want to make sure you get yours.

In the end I spent over $1,000 making shirts and shipping them all over the world. It was well worth it since I feel incredibly grateful to all the people who read my blog and wanted to find a way to give back.

Which brings me to the topic of this post.

At NamesCon this year a number of people asked me if there was any way for them to get a #Domainer shirt. Since I’m not really a shirt-maker or apparel company myself there wasn’t much I could do for them…but I did ask them – if I ever sold them on my site would you buy one? 100% of people said yes and the price that everyone seemed to triangulate on as their maximum was $35…which is a lot for a t-shirt IMO.

I left NamesCon thinking, well – I don’t think I’ll do that since it’s a pain in the butt for me to actually manually ship t-shirts around the world. Then I thought, well what if I took 100% of the profits and donated it to charity, then it would be worth it since we all know, every dollar counts when it comes to giving.

I currently give to multiple charities but as I get older I’ve found myself looking for more ways to give back, and maybe this is a way we can do it together. So I thought I’d ask, if I sold this #Domainer shirt and 100% of the profits went to charity would you buy it, and if so, what would you pay?

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Full Time

I’ve been investing in domain names for almost thirteen years now, but it’s never been full time, or even part time for me. Instead, like most investors, it’s just been an investment strategy. Just like most people who own stocks don’t consider themselves “part time” stock market investors, I’ve never considered myself a part time domain investor. Instead, the time I would put into investing in things like the stock market or real estate, goes into domain names.

That being said, over the years I’ve had the chance to connect with full time domain name investors, some of whom I’m happy to call close friends now. I’m always fascinated to hear more about what their daily life is like. While no two people are the same, there are a few things I’ve learned about what it’s like for full time investors, here’s some high-level observations.

  1. Full time Domain Investors work a lot – some people think full time domain investors just get to sit on the beach and sell domains. Not true. Just about every full time domain investor I know works 10+ hours a day. It’s a lot of work and the most successful people I know work even longer hours than any bankers I know.
  2. Full time Domain Investors do have location independence – this is a nice perk. As a domain investor you can really live anywhere in the world, and you can travel around the world without seeing any major impact on your business. That’s pretty awesome IMO.
  3. Full time Domain Investors have to deal negative stigma – most people have jobs that other people generally understand and think good things about. The full timers I know have told me it can be tough to first explain to people what the heck they do, and then convince people that they aren’t cybersquatters. It’s a profession that doesn’t even sound real and carries with it a negative stigma…but hopefully that will change more over time.
  4. It can be isolating – probably the #1 thing I hear from full time Domain Investors is that they can end up feeling isolated. Domain Investors often work alone as a one-woman or one-man show. Usually friends and family aren’t going to understand the first thing about domains so there really isn’t anyone to talk to about what you’re doing. You also aren’t going into an office or working with other people on a daily basis and that can be isolating. Luckily, the domain investing community is a strong one and a lot of investors talk on the phone, in forums, and hang out in person every chance they get, with other investors.
  5. They aren’t all millionaires – there’s this concept that all Domain Investors are millionaires. That’s also just not true. I know some full time domain investors that make $50k/year, I know others that make $500k/year, and yes – I do know others who make $1M+ per year. Like most career paths, there are different scales, but don’t assume that everyone’s driving Ferrari’s and living in mansions.

Some of my best friends are full time domain investors, they’re awesome people and they enjoy a lot of benefits that most people with a normal day job don’t have. That being said, like most things in life, there are pros and cons. If you’ve ever thought about going full time I’d recommend going to a conference and connecting up with a few people who have done it to do a deeper dive.

These are my observations but I’m sure other people have additional insights. Feel free to comment on any of the points I shared or share some of your own. Either way I’d like to hear from you – comment and let your voice be heard!

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Making Sense of Cents blog

As someone who has been writing a daily blog for twelve years now I’ve always been interested in how other bloggers do what they do. In particular, I’ve always been fascinated by people who can turn their blog into a full time income source, and in some cases, a seven-figure one.

One of the most successful bloggers out there that has done a stellar job turning her blog into a jaw-dropping $100,000+ per month income stream is Michelle from MakingSenseofCents.com.

How does she do it?

Well, this would turn into an epically long post if I tried to go through her entire journey from $0 to $1M+ per year so I’ll just share a few insights that might inspire other bloggers. First, like the title of my post says, a majority of Michelle’s income comes from affiliate marketing, here’s the breakdown:

What I think is particularly interesting about this chart is what a small little piece of the pie display advertising has become. As we all remember from the early days of the web, banner ads were all the rage, now – it’s pretty clear they certainly aren’t something many bloggers depend on.

For those of you who aren’t super familiar with affiliate marketing, the idea is – you promote a product or service and get a cut if someone signs up. Here’s an example from Michelle’s blog, it all starts with an informative blog post like this one:

(view the post)

Now this is actually an interesting and informative blog post. As you can see, it has had 356 shares, and I’d imagine it’s seen tens of thousands of reads. Anyone can read the article and benefit from the content…the magic of affiliate marketing is that within the content are links to services like Acorns, that can earn Michelle money if someone clicks on the link and signs up. Here’s an example from the post above:

See that link there that says “Acorns automatically invests for you” – click on that and you’ll end up at the Acorns website, sign-up for Acorns and Michelle makes money. Acorns runs their affiliate program through an affiliate marketing company called IgniteOPM – here’s the details.

As you can see, if someone opens and funds an account, the referrer gets $5. If you read through Michelle’s blog you’ll find links like this all over the place and this is where 62% of her income comes from.

What I think has really made Michelle’s blog such a success is that it’s well written and interesting. While she might make money when someone clicks a link, that often happens at the same time that someone is reading an article and getting good information from it.

Congrats to Michelle on building one heck of an amazing blog and with it a lifestyle that most people dream of. If you want to learn more about how to start a blog yourself – well Michelle’s got that covered too, just click here to learn more.

Note: No affiliate links in this article and Michelle is not a sponsor of my blog, I just think what she’s doing is damn cool and thought other people would too!

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Morgan Linton's Weekend Musings

Hello, happy Sunday, and welcome to my weekend musings. Last weekend I shot some video of what a typical Sunday is like for me when I’m home in San Francisco. While I travel 4-5 months out of the year which makes many weekends completely different, when I’m home I really enjoy my Sunday routine.

Sunday is the one day a week where I actually have time to sit down and focus on domain investing, and it’s also a great day to get more time at the gym, study Japanese and just slow things down.

So today I sat down and edited the video together, note – I’m still new at making videos like this and I’m a totally newbie when it comes to video editing so don’t expect anything spectacular. That being said, I did go on Fiverr and got someone to whip me up an intro and outro which I think makes a difference, I don’t know – you tell me, enjoy!

Oh and if you haven’t followed me on You Tube yet, you should as I’ll be posting more videos on there this year but they won’t also get featured on my blog. You can subscribe by visiting my channel page and hitting the red Subscribe button at the top, easy enough right?

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.AR Domain Names

Over the last decade, domain name extensions like .CO, .IO, and .AI have become a go-to for companies big and small, around the world. Now there’s a new kid on the block and I think we’ll be looking back ten years from now remembering its humble beginnings.

I’m talking about .AR which will become available to the general public starting March 10th. I first read about this on DN.biz, here’s the scoop:

.AR is the country code for Argentina and recently they started a process to allow second level registrations. Meaning you can get GreatName.ar, instead of previously being limited to greatname.com.ar

I Spoke with Simon Penchansky, COO at Toweb, one of our sponsors, about .ar.  Simon is based in South America. We use Toweb to manage registrations in global cctlds, especially those with complex registration requirements.

Simon shared the General Availability opens March 10th 2020, midnight local time which is GMT -3. That means it is March 9th, late night, for many North American investors, and various other times around the world.   .AR has already had a sunrise period for trademark owners and a land-rush period to grab highly desired names. The process for the land-rush was a lottery system with one winner drawn at random among applicants. You had to pay $20 for each prereservation, and submit notarized and mailed documents; a barrier and hassle for many.

(Source – DN.biz)

So why get excited about .AR? Well, the size of the Augmented Reality market, which is called AR 99% of the time is massive, and growing fast. Here’s some numbers for you – right now AR is a 10 billion dollar market, by 2024 it’s expected to be a 72 billion dollar market. Yes – you read that right, 7x growth in the next four years. Here’s the full scoop:

The report Augmented Reality Market by Offering (Hardware (Sensor, Displays & Projectors, Cameras), Software), Device Type (Head-mounted, Head-up), Application (Enterprise, Consumer, Commercial, Healthcare, Automotive), and Region – Global Forecast to 2024″, is estimated to grow from USD 10.7 billion in 2019 and projected to reach USD 72.7 billion by 2024; it is expected to grow at a CAGR of 46.6% from 2019 to 2024. The healthcare sector has witnessed rapid technological advancements over the years, and various kinds of advanced imaging equipment have been introduced in the healthcare sector. The healthcare sector has one of the most important and practical applications of AR in the current market scenario.

(Source – MarketsAndMarkets)

I’m pretty excited about .AR and while .COM has been and likely always will be my go-to domain name extension I will likely be adding some .AR names to my portfolio in March.

What do you think about .AR? I want to hear from you – comment and let your voice be heard!

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Domain Name Investing News

Hello, happy Friday and Valentines Day and welcome to my weekly domain investing news highlights. This year I want to do a better job of including breaking news from social media as well as blogs so I’d like to kick-off this week’s update with the following tweet…you might find it’s related to the title of my post (hint – buzz, too corny?):

MyBees.com Domain Sale

Congrats to Shane, solid sale and another great example of why two-word .COMs make such good investments.

Not surprisingly one of the top stories in the Domain Investing world so far this year has been the impending rise of .COM prices and many people have chimed in to share their sentiments. Below are a few different blog posts from the last week about this topic:

Namecheap: “Help Us Avoid .COM Price Increases”
(read more on DomainInvesting.com)

.Com price hike comment period ends February 14
(read more on DomainNameWire)

ICANN president on .COM domain prices : Articles perpetuate misunderstandings!
(read more on DomainGang)

GoDaddy: “Let your voice be heard”
(read more on DomainInvesting.com)

The major headline this week was Go Daddy’s acquisition of Uniregistry and Frank Schilling’s domain portfolio. Below are some article highlighting the transaction and speculating on the final sales price…which I think we all know is a big chunk of change no matter how you slice it.

GoDaddy Makes Blockbuster Acquisition of Uniregistry’s Registrar & Market and Frank Schilling’s Domain Portfolio
(read more on DNJournal)

What GoDaddy’s acquisition of Uniregistry means for domain investors
(read more on DomainNameWire)

Rob Monster’s prediction on Uniregistry on the money
(read more on TLDInvestors)

and it’s safe to say Frank was pretty darn exciting and did some celebrating of his own with family and friends. This week Frank sent out a tweet encouraging people to follow him on Instagram as well:

Here’s one of my favorite photos from Frank’s recent shares on Instagram…I’m wondering if this is the call where they finalized the deal?

Next up, Josh Reason announced a brand new service for domain investors to sell names at wholesale to other investors called DNWE.com. Before announcing the new site he hinted at it on Twitter in this tweet:

Later that day Josh tweeted:

Josh Reason announces DNWE.com

Last but certainly not least, domain industry veteran and well-known domain attorney Howard Neu uncovered some very interesting new data on the UDRP-front. Howard first announced the news on his blog at NeusNews.com and then Ron Jackson covered it on DNJournal.

What Howard discovered after analyzing hundreds of UDRP cases is pretty interesting, and if the trend holds, could mean very good things ahead for domain name investors.

Of course there was a lot of other exciting news this week but these are the stories that caught my eye. As always, feel free to comment on any of these stories are share one you think I missed in the comment section below!

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Josh and I have been Twitter friends for some time now but I finally got the chance to meet him in-person at NamesCon. Well fresh off of NamesCon Josh has a new announcement, and like many others, I’m pretty excited. It’s called DNWE.com and it’s a marketplace for Domainers to sell to other Domainers at wholesale prices.

DNWE

The first thing that struck me about DNWE.com is the UX – it is super clean, from the site itself to the registration flow it’s clearly thought out and feels sparkly and fresh, like a new car.

As a domain investor buying domains there are four reasons why DNWE.com thinks it will be a go-to for you:

  1. Only accepting investment-grade domains
  2. Domain pricing clearly set at wholesale
  3. Easy to search and filter
  4. Non-negotiable BIN prices

For domain investors selling domains the main draws to DNWE are:

  1. Still maintaining retail prices on your domains in public marketplaces
  2. Only a 9% success fee
  3. Quick payouts = fast liquidity

While there have been some initial bugs getting things off the ground Josh has been super honest about them and incredibly communicative on Twitter.

This is the right way to do things. Rather than promising people a perfect experience, I think it’s great that Josh is honest, hey – there are always bugs when you’re getting a new site launched, rather than hiding it Josh is taking the high road and I think that’s awesome.

I’m looking forward to listing some of my names on DNWE.com, I think it’s a great idea and with Josh at the helm I also think it’s going to be done right. Huge congrats to Josh – looking forward to being a customer both as a buyer and a seller! 🙌

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Equal Ventures

Last week I wrote an article about the growing popularity of the .VC domain extension. Honestly, I’m seeing .VC everywhere now and it’s getting hard to ignore how quickly this domain extension has become a go-to in the Venture Capital world.

Yesterday TechCrunch broke the news about Equal Ventures, a new VC firm that just closed a $56M fund. No surprises, they are branding on Equal.vc. Here’s a bit more about the fund:

The two believe that a concentrated and thesis-driven investment model for seed will win out against casual, spray-and-pray investors, as well as larger firms that dabble in seed as a way to build up their cap table positions for later-stage rounds.

While the fund is officially closing this week, the firm has already been busy, locking in more than half a dozen startup investments in areas like retail, logistics and talent. The firm targets a median check size of roughly $1.5 million, and will presumably reserve a hefty chunk of its fund for follow-on investments.

One element that Kerby explained to me that differentiates Equal from other firms is the firm’s lack of focus on the technical background of its founders. He and Zullo believe that modern SaaS tools and more democratized business platforms make it easier than ever to start digital businesses, even without a background in computer science or that fancy alphabet soup of AI/ML.

(Source – TechCrunch)

What I really like about Equal Ventures is their approach. They’re taking a different path and focusing on great founders and an approach that goes deeper than just a check. Equal Ventures likes to work directly with their founders to help them succeed:

We believe conviction favors concentration over diversification. We treat every startup like a member of our family, not just a logo. We invest in a concentrated number of companies to allow us to spend more time with our portfolio and bring the resources of the firm (not just a single partner of a platform) to our founders.

(Source – Equal.vc)

I am really looking forward to seeing what companies Equal Ventures invests in, they’re taking a unique approach and have a strong thesis that I think is going to make them a very well known fund over time. Huge congrats to Richard and Rick, $56M is one heck of a nice way to kick off a new fund! 🚀

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