Domain Investing News

Hello, happy Friday, and welcome to my weekly Domain Investing news roundup. Below are some of the top stories that caught my eye this week, and if you just want a quick update before you head into the weekend, here’s a brief summary of this week’s news below.

Weekly domain investing news brief:

The week started out with Neustar announcing that they will be taking control of .COMPARE and .SELECT and will also become the backend provider for .VU. News also broke this week of what could possibly be the worst new domain extension on the planet, a spelling of .eu using two greek letters that resemble an “e” and a “u” – yikes!

Popular domain sales catalog NameBio released an API giving people and companies direct access to over $1.8B in domain sales data. Speaking of sales data, Uniregistry released data on their top 20 sales this week with Wearly.com taking the cake at $25,000. Something very interesting also happened this week when it comes to sales numbers with Shopping.uk locking in the #1 spot at $56,055.

Efty debuted a new Marketplace theme called Spinoza this week and Radix shared their 2019 premium domain report going into the second half of the week. There has also been some discussion about hotel options for NamesCon Austin with some people expressing concern around pricing, Alvin (who lives in Austin) shared some alternative options for those looking for less expensive options.

To end the week, Sedo released the results from their .UK domain auction, the top sale was Big.uk at 4,350 GBP which comes out to around $5,200 USD.

Weekly domain investing news stories:

  • Neustar takes control of two new gTLDs (read more on Domain Incite)
  • Worst domain extension will soon launch (read more on OnlineDomain.com)
  • NameBio rolls out an API for interactive domain name data queries (read more on DomainGang)
  • Neustar new backend provider for .vu (read more on TheDomains)
  • Who bought the top 20 sales at Uniregistry this week (read more on Domain Name Wire)
  • A ccTLD & a .Com That Was Quickly Flipped for a 400% Profit Top This Week’s Sales Chart (read more on DNJournal)
  • Presenting Spinoza. The Sixth Efty Marketplace Theme. (read more on the Efty Blog)
  • Radix 2019 premium domains report (read more on OnlineDomain.com)
  • 9 Alternative Hotel Options for NamesCon 2020 (read more on TheDomains)
  • Sedo’s .UK Auction Results (read more on DomainInvesting.com)

I hope you all had a great week, if you think I missed a story that should have been included in here, feel free to mention it in the comment section below.

Of course, if you want to share your thoughts on any of the news from this week, share away – I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

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For some reason, whenever I write a post about any extension except for .COM some readers get confused and think I’m suddenly suggesting that people should invest in other TLDs. I don’t know how many times I’ve repeated it on my blog but I may as well do it once again so it’s crystal clear.

The vast majority of my investments are in .COM domain names. From all the data I see, my guess is I’ll continue to stay focused on investing in .COM domains forever.

Yesterday I wrote a post about .CO, in the past I’ve written posts about .IO, .ME and some other domain extensions that I see startups using. I think right now startups have been flocking to .CO and .IO, as a domain investor, I’m not, but as a domain blogger I think it’s interesting to write about.

A lot of startup founders and entrepreneurs read my blog, they’re interested in reading about domain names, not investing in them. At the same time, I have a very loyal foundation of readers from the Domaining world (love you gals and guys!), so I try to write articles that resonate with both sides.

I am not a full time domain investor, never have been, likely never will be. I am a full time startup founder – that’s where I spent just about every waking hour outside of writing a blog post here once a day and spending an hour or two on the weekends looking at expired domain names. I don’t have any kids and am not planning on having any so I do have the time to spend 30 – 45 mins a day writing for this blog and 1-2 hours on the weekend managing my portfolio and looking at expired domains.

So don’t get confused when I write a post about seeing a bunch of startups using a domain extensions, I’m writing that because…I’m seeing a bunch of startups use a domain extension. This is very different from saying, I think you should stop buying .COM and start investing in another extension.

Domain investing has been a life changing thing for me both financially and personally, and that’s because of .COM. If you want to make money investing in domain names, .COM is the way to go.

That being said, if you’re a startup founder, there are other domain extensions to brand on, and tradeoffs that you make if you do deviate from .COM. Right now I think .CO is pretty darn hot with startups, I’m seeing .CO everywhere and it feels newsworthy to me, enough to write a post. So don’t get confused, remember, this is a domain blog that’s read by startups, entrepreneurs, and Domainers – I talk about domain names in all my posts, but not every post is about domain investing.

As a domain investor .COM is it, the end, period, done. As a startup, .CO and .IO are pretty hot right now and I’ll continue to write posts when I see cool innovative startups branding on these and other extensions.

Clear enough?

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No matter where in the world I go, I see a startup branding on a one-word .CO domain name. In July I was in Denmark and one of the top scooter companies there, Wind was branding on Wind.co.

Then, I get back to SF and I’m walking to the office, and there it is again, another startup, another one-word .CO, this time with Nura.co a new headphone company.

Today I was taking a look at DNJournal’s list of top domain name sales and there’s .CO again, taking the #3 and #4 spot with Generate.co selling for $39,500 and Octane.co selling for $27,500.

As we all know, .CO has been popular with startups for a long time but I have definitely seen the popularity grow a lot and it really seems to be on fire now.

This of course make a lot of sense, .CO is short, easy to remember, and is a generic TLD so doesn’t peg a startup to a specific niche like many of the new domain name extensions do. And then there’s price. A domain like Generate.com would likely sell for six-figures so buying the .CO for under $50k is a great deal.

I can still remember the early days of .CO, I was there with Juan, Lori and team at TRAFFIC in 2010 when they were getting everything off the ground. It’s been amazing to see the growth and I still get goosebumps when I travel halfway around the world and see a .CO name being used by another innovative startup.

Congrats to the whole team over at .CO and congrats to all the startups crushing it using .CO domain names!

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One thing I really like about having a blog is that it can be a great way to vet ideas and get feedback. Last week I wrote a post about a new idea I had, a newsletter that curates domains that people are thinking of dropping, and offers them up for sale for something in the $25 – $50 range.

A number of readers chimed in on the idea and brought up a really good point that I don’t think I had thought through enough – going through lists of names and managing all the back-and-forth communication is going to be pretty darn time consuming.

I spent the weekend camping on Mount Tamalpais, which was a great way to disconnect and let my mind just relax a bit. I find getting into nature is a great way to think through things, by just letting things sit in the back of your mind you can sometimes get surprising clarity.

Here’s a few of the comments that really resonated with me…and I have to start with Snoopy since he’s one of my most active commenters and honestly does tell it like it is:

Another one of my readers, Ravi did a solid deep dive into the reality behind what it would really take to do this:

Another reader, Steven brought up a problem with my pricing strategy that I also thought was pretty spot on:

Of course, there were a number of people who liked the idea and said they would be interested in seeing the newsletter get off the ground. What was nice about getting all of the feedback is that I had a couple days to really think it over and take into account what everyone had said.

While I think someone could run with this idea I do think Ravi said it best, “needs lots of time (yours) and prompt execution” – given that I work 60+ hours a week running a startup, the only time I have for Domaining is on the weekends, and well, I like hiking, camping, and generally unplugging during the weekends. Giving myself a task that’s going to plant me in front of a computer all weekend or for hours at a time doesn’t feel like something I want to do.

So for now, we’ll file this under “ideas I had that if I had more time might be worth doing but aren’t going to happen right now.” Thanks again for the feedback, now back to your regularly scheduled program!

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Most people get started in the domain investing world the same way. They read an article about a domain name that sold for a lot of money, or they find a list of domain sales and boom – they’re excited. Then, they head to their favorite registrar and start hand-registering domains like it’s going out of style.

They “think” the names they are registering are so similar to names that sold for thousands of dollars that they must be sitting on a goldmine. Soon they take to Twitter and online forums to share the names they bought, they email domain investors and domain bloggers, they’re reading to start cashing in.

Then reality sets in. They just bought a bunch of junk, and suddenly the dreams of domain riches are washed away. I would guess that more than half of the people who jump-into Domaining by hand-registering domains quit after realizing the domains they registered aren’t worth anything.

For those who don’t quit there are two categories of people:

  1. Those who realize they made a mistake and start looking online for advice from people who actually know what they’re doing.
  2. Those who cannot admit they’re wrong and instead hang onto every name they registered, renewing them every year and refuting anyone who tells them to explore a different route to buying investment-grade domains.

For those in Category #1, what they usually learn is that buying expired domain names is often where they should be putting their focus. This is true, expired domain auctions offer investors a real opportunity to buy investment-grade domains, the complexity is often buying at the right price.

What I think often gets overlooked is another way to buy investment-grade domain names. Reaching-out directly to the owner. I know a number of successful domain investors who along with buying expired domains put a fair amount of time, energy, and negotiating wizardry into buying domains from end-users, at wholesale prices.

Now I’ll admit, I personally don’t do this too often, I mostly focus on expired domains. The reality is, reaching out to domain owners and negotiating deals is time consuming and I just don’t have the time. But I did this in the past and one of my favorite examples from my own experience is Summon.com.

Back in 2011 and 2012 I had more time on my hands (yup, before I started running a startup, go figure!) and I was actively reaching out to domain owners. I reached-out to the owner of Summon.com and we landed on $3,500. At the time I knew this was a screaming deal, and four months later I sold the domain for $17,500.

Now hindsight is 20/20, if I could do this over again I would have waited and sold the domain for a lot more since I think I could have likely been able to get six-figures for the name if I waited long enough. Still, at the time I was happy to make $14,000 and making 5x your money in four months isn’t bad no matter how you slice it.

While I still don’t have time to do this direct outreach, yes – running a startup does take up just about every waking minute…I know that in the future, if I were to ever decide to do Domaining full time, this would definitely be something I’d get back into.

For those reading my blog who do have more time to commit to Domaining, you might want to give this a try. Of course, I’d still probably stay focused on expired domains, but if you haven’t tried direct outreach yet, you might be surprised at the opportunities that are out there.

Okay, now back to looking at expired domains!

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Well this is embarrassing. I got so busy that I actually completely forgot about the weekly domain investing news series I started on my blog. Thanks to one of my blog readers for sending me an email and asking “hey – what happened to your weekly news series, I like that!” for jogging my memory.

I also liked this series so let’s just pick it right back up and get rocking. Below are some of the news stories from the domain investing world that caught my eye that I thought were worth a read, enjoy!

This weekend I’m going camping on Mount Tamalpais which should be a blast. That also means I probably won’t be writing a blog post tomorrow but very likely will once I get back on Sunday. Have a great weekend everyone!

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So spending time with ~80 domain investors in Asheville last week sparked an idea, and I thought I’d give it a shot. Here’s what I’m thinking.

A lot of domain investors have to pick some names from their portfolio every year that they’re going to drop. It’s a fact of life, we can’t all pick names that end up being winners, or so we think. At the same time, one person’s trash could be another person’s treasure and I know many people have had the experience of watching a name they drop sell for hundreds of dollars on a drop.

This got me thinking, what if there was an easy way to broadcast out names you’re planning on dropping that you would sell for say $25 or $50? The reality is, you’re planning on making $0 on the name so why not make something on it?

Of course the first thing that came into my mind is that this could easily be abused. People could list names that they actually do plan on renewing just to see if someone else will buy them for $25 or $50 but I feel as long as the price stays low, the abuse will also stay low…but I could be too trusting, who knows.

I also know if I let people list as many names as they want this will become a huge junk newsletter which I also don’t want. So here’s my idea and the way that I’ll keep people from spamming junk names.

  • First – there’s a cost, $5 to have you names included in the weekly newsletter. I’m not going to do something like this for free and I think having “some” cost will limit this to people who are actually serious about selling names.
  • Second – you can list a maximum of five domains
  • Third – I can tell you that a name sucks too much to be included and you have to be okay with that
  • Fourth – one strike and you’re out. If you refuse to sell a name or end up renewing a name you submitted, you’re out for good. Same goes for buyers, if you decide not to buy a name after committing to it, you’re out.
  • Fifth – it felt like there should be five rules but I can’t think of a fifth, can you think of something I’m missing?

So here’s some things I’d like your feedback on:

  1. Is this a good idea at all? Be brutally honest, I can take it.
  2. Is $5 the right price to charge?
  3. Should there be one fixed price for names or should sellers be allowed to pick a price within a range? If you think they should be able to pick a range, what should that range be?

Thanks in advance for your feedback. If everyone thinks this is a bad idea, I won’t do it, but if enough people are in, I’ll give it a shot. The reality is, we’re all dropping names every year, if you made an extra few hundred dollars a year selling names you’d normally drop that wouldn’t be too bad would it?

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Morgan Linton and Michael Berkens and Judy Berkens

Michael Berkens and his wife Judy were two of the first people I met in the Domain Investing world. I first met Michael at TRAFFIC Vegas back in 2010 and he made me feel incredibly welcome to the industry, and was one of my first guests in my video interview series (you can watch it here). Over the years I’ve had the chance to get to know Michael and Judy better as we’ve traveled the world together going to domain conferences. Judy and my wife Daina quickly became buddies and spending time with them in Asheville was a blast!

Now if you don’t know Michael, he’s someone you should know, while he’s probably the most famous recently for selling his portfolio to Go Daddy, Michael is one of the sharpest and most successful Domain Investors in the world and has some landmark domain sales under his belt.

I’ve learned a lot from Michael over the years and my guess is every single one of you has too through his blog TheDomains.com. What you might not know about Michael is that he has done some experimenting with new gTLDs over the last few years and in Asheville he took the mic to share his experiences with the group.

Well, I was filming as I tend to find myself doing quite a bit lately and am excited to share Michael’s talk, plus some of the additional Q&A that followed, with all of you.

Huge thanks to Michael for taking the time to share this with the group. Michael could have easily sat on the sidelines but he took the time to share data and insights with all of us, that’s the kind of guy Michael is and we’re lucky to have someone like him in our industry.

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I’m always surprised when I read stories about people who refuse to buy a domain name because someone else owns it and wants a few thousand dollars for it. At the same time, I’m not a huge fan of people buying someone else’s first and last name .COM and trying to sell it to them for a profit, something about that just feels slimy to me.

While technically buying someone’s name isn’t cybersquatting, I feel like it’s a moral grey area and one that I’ve never had much interest of getting into. If you look at domain names as an asset class then it’s really generic domains and brandables that truly make sense as assets. Buying someone’s name when they forget to renew a domain feels less like buying an asset and more like trying to extort someone.

Still, I think everyone should own their name (first and last combined) in .COM and I do think it’s worth spending a few thousand dollars to secure it. Well, one guy didn’t think so and he decided to play the waiting game.

In 2010, Jerry Alex neglected to renew jerryalex.com, and woke up one day to find his website had turned into a squatter’s template, with a $1500 ransom. So he waited 9 years before pouncing on the drop.

(Source – BoingBoing)

Now waiting 9 years feels like a long time, especially if you could have done something useful with the domain. Still, I understand why he felt like the $1,500 fee was a ransom, at the same time, I’m sure there’s other people out there named Jerry Alex so he doesn’t really have the exclusive right to it but I get it.

At the end of the day, the guy who bought the domain ended up renewing it for nine years which means he paid about $100 to hold the domain and then finally let it drop.

Like I said above, while no laws were broken here I just don’t think it’s good form to buy someone else’s name and try to sell it to them for a profit, but maybe that’s just me. At the same time, I’m really surprised that Jerry didn’t want to spend $1,500 to secure his domain, nine years is a long time, hopefully he does something with it now to make up for the lost time!

What do you think, is it slimy to buy someone’s name or am I just being too sensitive here? I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

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One of the main ideas I walked away with after spending the last three days with other Domain Investors is that I could probably benefit from experimenting with lead generation on some of my names. It’s not too hard to figure out what domains would be good candidates, the ones that get people trying to buy something other than the domain itself are probably the best place to start.

In case you don’t know what I mean, here’s a good example. You have a “For Sale” landing page for a domain but people keep putting in an offer for the product or service that the domain refers to. Suppose you own NewCouch.com (not sure why that popped into my head?!?) and you get someone who makes a $1,000 offer and write a message, “Looking for a good couch for $1,000 or less.” Well – it’s probably safe to say that person doesn’t want to buy the domain from you, they want a couch. Get the idea?

Like most of you though I have absolutely no free time during the week so any kind of domain-related project needs to happen on the weekend…but I like relaxing on my weekends so I also don’t really want to spend much time sitting on front of my computer. This means I need a simple solution to whip up a landing page.

In the past I’ve used LaunchRock and Unbounce to build quick lead gen pages, and after looking at how both have progressed over the years it looks like Unbounce is probably the way to go.

While I know HTML, CSS, and Javascript and could certainly turn this into a fun light coding project, I’d prefer to spend more time hiking, biking, eating, and relaxing on the weekend so I’ll go with a no code option.

One of the domains that I currently see people getting confused with and submitting numbers for a service rather than the domain is ClosetDesign.com so I think I’ll start with that one. To get inspiration for the kind of data I should be collecting I’ll do a quick Google search for “closet design” see what comes up at the top (organically) and then see what data they’re collecting.

What I’ve always liked about UnBounce is that you can run simple A/B tests to try out different things so I’ll likely design two variants and then see which one converts the best. As I keep saying, my weekend time is precious so I’m going to give myself a maximum of one hour this weekend to work on this…and of course I’ll share what I learn and build with all of you.

Now all this being said this is pretty new territory for me as I don’t have a ton of experience with lead generation. If you do, I’d love to hear more about what’s worked for you and any other tips you’d like to share.

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

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