A couple of weeks ago another founder here in SF that I’ve been friends with for years reached out to me, they had just raised their Series A round and were ready to buy their matching .COM.

The owner came back with a six-figure price tag which I told him was definitely reasonable for the name, it’s a one-word .COM, that’s what they sell for. He emailed me back a few days later and said, “can’t we just file a UDRP and get the name? We’re using it for our business and he’s just squatting on it.”

I did a bit of research, the current owner registered the domain name eleven years ago, at that time my friend hadn’t even picked his college major. “Nope, I told him, it doesn’t work that way, and in fact, you could get hit with Reverse Domain Name Hijacking if you try it.”

This happens all the time. You start a company but then pick a name without looking at who owns the matching domain name. Then you raise millions of dollars, maybe tens of millions of dollars. Where your thinking goes totally wrong is believing that for some reason you’re entitled to the domain, you’re not, and if you file a UDRP, expect to lose and to get hit with Reverse Domain Name Hijacking.

In fact, this just happened to a company that filed a UDRP last week:

A Pennslyvania brewery and winery has been found guilty of reverse domain name hijacking in a dispute over SpringGate.com.

Schoffstall Farm, LLC, which does business as Spring Gate Vineyard, Winery and Brewery, attempted to get the domain name in a cybersquatting dispute at the World Intellectual Property Organization.

The company has traded as Spring Gate since 2014. But the domain’s owner, Ashantiplc Limited, registered the domain name in 2006. Therefore, it could not have registered the domain name in bad faith to target the non-existent brand.

(Source – DomainNameWire)

My advice to startups is, do your research before picking a name for your company, or be okay with paying fair market value for the domain, i.e. not getting it for one one-hundredth of it’s actual value. If you just pick a name and assume you’ll have the rights to it for $5,000 or less once your company takes off…think again. Just know that many people have learned this lesson the hard way, hopefully this article saves you from having to!

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Domain Investor Logan Flatt has thrived over the years, and one of the things that has always impressed me about him is his ability to adapt and innovate. On Friday, Logan shared on Twitter that he’s sold 20 domain names over the past 30 days on DNWE.com.

So how did he do it? I’ll let you read the tweet:

Logan Flatt domain sales

Like Logan said, he’s selling “OK” domain names at bargain prices. This makes sense since DNWE is a marketplace for domain investors so pricing names at wholesale is key. On top of that, Logan has a good eye for domains, particularly two-word .COMs and I’m thinking this is probably what he’s moving the most of if I were to guess.

The domains, their prices, and the sales data is kept private on DNWE so we won’t know exactly what this added up to but if I were to take a guess, I’d say he’s probably selling these for say $250/each which means he’s made a cool $5,000 over the last month, at least, maybe more. Correction: the minimum price on DNWE is $299 so Logan made at least six thousand bucks!

As we all know, if you’re going to sell to other domain investors, pricing at or below wholesale is the key to moving names. I’ve seen too many people try to sell domains to other investors at retail pricing, and, not surprisingly, it never flies. Congrats to Logan, sounds like one heck of a month!

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Wholesale

One thing I’ve noticed, and written about a bit more lately is the rise in wholesale pricing on .IO domain names. I’ve been investing in .IO for years now and while it’s a small part of my portfolio, it has become more and more meaningful. In total I have around 50 .IO domains and I wish I bought more back when I first started buying them since I got most of my original names for under $500.

I’ve noticed the wholesale price for .IO domains climb quite a bit, particularly over the last 6-9 months. Now it’s not uncommon to see .IO names sell for $1,000 – $2,000 to wholesale buyers. This week ko.io sold for $6,750 (which I’m assuming was a retail buyer) and two weeks ago Recon.io went for $4,999. At the same time there are still tons of .IO names selling in the $250 – $750 range.

So I’m starting to wondering, is it that the wholesale price on .IO domains is really getting into the low four figure range or are end-user buyers now looking at places like Park.io to find domains for their companies? I’ve always thought that these auctions were just other domain investors like me but maybe the word is out and we’re now bidding against retail buyers?

Oh also, I just realized this is two days in a row of articles about Park.io. They aren’t a sponsor, I guess I’ve just had .IO on the brain the last two days so they end up being a part of my posts. That being said, they’d be a great sponsor so maybe they’ll read this and decide now is the time! 😉

Anyways, back to the title of this post – what do you think wholesale is on a solid one-word .IO domain? Has it crept into the low four-figure range?

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Park.io

I’ve been buying expired domains from Park.io for years now and over time I’ve watched the bidding activity grow and the range of extensions grow with it. When I first started bidding on Park.io, most of the one-word .IO names I bid on would go for $99 – $300, today, names of the same caliber are going for over $1,000 and sometimes over $2,000.

At the same time, I’ve noticed domain extensions that once saw almost no activity now see strong bidding, and sometimes it makes me scratch my head and wonder what’s going on. Today was one of those days.

This morning I got an email from Park.io highlighting some of the recent auctions, and one of them was, PutLocker.bz with bidding at $1,109. I’ll be honest, I’ve never even heard of .bz, and at over $1,000 for a two-word .BZ, I’m still confused.

Moving.io, which I think we can all agree is a solid one-word .IO was at $2,010 which just goes to show how high the wholesale value of .IO domains has gone. This is a name that would have sold for less than $300 at wholesale years ago, but today, names like this can sell for $10,000+ so wholesale in the $2,000 range isn’t too surprising, but it is interesting.

Another domain extension that I’m yet to really understand is .TO. I personally don’t know anyone who invests in .TO or is even thinking about investing in it, but Call.to was at $777 today. Is there some hidden .TO market that I don’t know about?

Last but not least is .VC, a domain extension that I’ve started “lightly” investing in, nothing crazy, just a few names here and there. Today You.vc was at $666 on Park.io and I’m now regularly seeing .VC names sell for over $500 when a year ago they rarely got bids above $200.

While Park.io is only one marketplace it still gives a view into non .COMs and the demand for them in what I think is mostly the wholesale market. I’m still focus on .COM with two-word .COMs being my primary focus but as always, I’m keeping my eye on what’s going on in the non .COM space and this week certainly was an interesting one!

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Tomorrow is a big day for us

Rocket

I’m going to keep this post short and sweet since I’ve been working since 7am non-stop and it’s now 11pm. At Bold Metrics we’ve been working on something very special that we’re announcing at 7am PST tomorrow.

I never thought we would be running a company during a global pandemic, but we are, and I’m incredibly proud that we’ve been able to keep 100% of our team through it all. The world is changing and that means finding new ways to engage shoppers digitally online and in-store.

While I don’t want to give it away, hey – many of you have been reading my blog for 10+ years so why not give you a little inside scoop. Tomorrow we’re announcing a first-to-market solution to help apparel stores open safely, even if the dressing rooms are closed.

I’ll leave it at that for now but I’ll also mention, our website might be updated a bit early if you want to have a first look. The whole team has worked non-stop to make this happen and tomorrow it all comes together. We can all do our part to help make the world a better place, I’ve never been more proud to do that alongside the best team that I’ve ever worked with.

I know many of you read my blog and think of me as someone in the domain world, and yes, I love domains, they’ve changed my life in so many ways. That being said, I spend 10-12 hours a day focused on Bold Metrics and 20 minutes a day focused on this blog, what we’re doing now really has the potential to change the world in a very positive way so I thought, let’s take a day off from talking about domains and share the news, I’m too excited not to.

And that’s it. Comments are closed on this one, time for bed.

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Scammer

A couple of weeks ago someone made an offer on one of my domains, we went back-and-forth and landed on $1,500. He suggested we use Pay Pal, I said I only use domain escrow services and kicked off the transaction at Epik Escrow…then he went radio silent.

I learned my lesson the hard way when I first started buying and selling domain names, that was before I had a bear so it’s safe to say I wasn’t nearly as wise. I remember the first time someone asked if they could pay via Pay Pal, I said, sure – sounds good. They sent the funds via Pay Pal, I transferred the domain, then a few days later Pay Pal contacted me, the buyer had claimed they never got their merchandise and had asked for a refund.

I was livid. I sent Pay Pal proof that the transfer had happened but they said they couldn’t verify it, so I got robbed. You know the saying, fool me once…after that I decided, I’m using a domain escrow service from now on.

While it sucks to lose a sale that you thought you had in the bag, it’s also good to know that you actually never had a sale, you had a scammer that you thwarted once they found out they had to actually follow through. What I really like about Epik Escrow is that they actually hold the domain, huge advantage to an escrow service that’s also a registrar and adds a nice additional layer of security.

If you ever find a buyer that’s ready to close the deal but wants to pay with Pay Pal, just tell them you want to use an escrow service and see what happens. That will show you if you had a real buyer or a real scammer.

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.CLOUD Domain Names

While 2020 has been a tough year for a lot of industries, the cloud has been one sector that has been seen explosive growth.

From the speed of modern business to the rapid response to COVID-19 enabling millions of people to work remotely, it’s hard to imagine a world without cloud technology. At no other point in time has there ever been such a need for the instant availability of IT resources enabled by the cloud than during this coronavirus pandemic.  The cloud continues to transform connectivity between people and businesses on a global scale. The cloud is everywhere; in our vehicles, on our television screens, in our phones, and even in our watches.

(Source – Forbes)

So it’s no surprise that the operators of the .CLOUD domain name extension have decided to update pricing on over 100,000 premium .CLOUD domain names starting as low as $200. For those of you who don’t know much about premium names, let me break it down for you.

Unlike .COM domains, new domain extensions often hold back some domain names and include them in their “premium” inventory. Sometimes premium inventory is available only by contacting the registry directly, but typically, and especially as time goes on, the names are made available but at higher registration and renewal costs.

So while .CLOUD has been out for a while, there’s now 100,000 .COM names that you can buy directly from the registry at a lower cost than ever before. These names officially became available on March 6th but given that it’s only five days later, you can expect there are a lot of good names left. Here’s a bit more about the domains:

Released on May 6, 2020 at 16:00 UTC, the inventory totaling 103,395 domains is available for immediate purchase from hundreds of domain name registrars and thousands of their resellers. The inventory has been released within a simple new pricing structure with nine tiers, and one renewal price across all tiers. The lowest tier is expected to retail for under USD200.

The inventory includes excellent choices for startup companies, their products, and enterprises launching digital services. Hundreds of choices in hot industry sectors such as cloud computing, business and finance, internet of things (IoT) and gaming are available.

Mou Mukherjee, .Cloud’s Head of Registry Services said, “Our premium domain release includes many short and memorable domains such as atom.cloud, pix.cloud, vid.cloud, simply.cloud and financial.cloud. These prized domains could serve as an enterprise’s key brand asset.”

(Source – Global Newswire)

I don’t currently own any .CLOUD names, but I may try buying a few. Any new domain extension like this is a complete gamble so if you do put money in, be okay losing 100% of it. I often say, .COM is investing, most other extensions are gambling, so just know what you’re doing.

That being said, one of the names I tried to buy was listed as a premium but required me to fill out a contact form and email the registry to get a price quote. I’m not sure if that’s going to continue to happen but I’ll let you know as I try to pick up a few.

The big problem I see with .CLOUD is that it’s long. People tend to gravitate towards shorter TLDs which is why extensions like .CO, .IO, .AI, .ME and others have seen such widespread adoption. Longer extensions have had a tough time which also makes them less of a good investment option.

All that being said, I think this was a good move by .CLOUD, it will be interesting to see if it drives more adoption this year.

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As many of you know by now, there’s been a new domain investor named DoseBuy who has been sharing his adventures in domain investing since he started on Twitter. DoseBuy, whose real name is Johan, lives in Sweden and first caught my attention when he was tweeting a bunch about .CX domains.

I was hard on him initially, felt like a jerk, apologized, and now, in all honesty – he’s one of my favorite domain investors to follow on Twitter. If you’ve followed him for a while you’ll know he has a great sense of humor and I’ve been super impressed with his hustle, I think he’s here to stay folks.

DoseBuy promised to share stats on his first year in the domain investing world and this weekend he shared the results for his first ten months, here’s the tweet:

DoseBuy first year Domain Investing

Most domain investors lose money their first year, or at least I sure did. With his combination of sales and brokerage combined he likely hit at least a 2x ROI which is stellar in most people’s books.

While I think some people might say he’s heavy on hand regs, they’re all paid for now with profits so any that he sells onward is profit (less of course renewal costs) so if he continues to hustle it he’ll be in a good place.

My guess is Johan will end up balancing his portfolio with more expired domain purchases over the next year, but I could be wrong, that’s just my hunch. Congrats to Johan on a great first ten months, here’s to the next ten!

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So I wrote a post a couple of days ago about my new blog logo, which you can see above, but just to make sure you know what I’m talking about, it’s this one:

Morgan Linton's Blog

When I wrote my post last week I put an image at the top of the post that said “BLOG” in big neon letters, since it was a blog post about my blog. As you know, all my blog posts have images at the top and they’re related to the content of the post.

Well…I realize I must have confused some people because on Twitter someone thought I was proposing that my new blog logo be the word “blog” in giant neon letters.

So if you got confused, sorry about that! I was indeed talking about my new blog logo, the one you see at the top of my blog that went live earlier last week and that you can see front-and-center in this post. For years this logo was an “M” and an “L” intertwined, then I moved to a image of my face, and now I decided, let’s make it simple and just go with a nice clean “M” but hey, I’m not a designer so what do I know!

Which is why I’m interested in your feedback. So let’s try this again, what do you think of my new blog logo? Is it a keeper or should I go back to the drawing board? As always I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

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Selling domain names

If you don’t know Jason Sheppard yet, you’ll be hearing his name a lot more because he’s one of the rising stars in the domain investing world, and one heck of a kick ass DJ (we even made a song together). Jason does a great job of sharing his sales publicly on Twitter, and the most recent is a great one both for the ROI and the time between purchase and sale. Here’s the Tweet:

A few insights here:

  1. Brandable one and two-word .COMs have been all the rage over the last few years, and this is another great example of the kind of names that are available in the sub $100 range that are worth over $1,000 to an end-user.
  2. It’s okay to sell below your BIN. Sure, Jason could have waited a few months, or years, to get $5k, and maybe he would have gotten it. But now he locks in a 26x ROI and can take that money and re-invest it.
  3. Jason used a “for sale” landing page. I’ve said it before but I’ll said it again and again, you have a way better chance of selling a domain if it has a “for sale” landing page on it, period.

Congrats to Jason and good call on making the sale below BIN, it’s time for #SellThemWhenYouCan to start trending on Twitter!

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