cut-the-cord

So I’ve been an on and off cord cutter for years now. It has been a strange experience for me since a few years ago I declared “screw cable, I can get everything I need through streaming!” and then I realized that I couldn’t watch the Olympics. In fact I didn’t even want to watch the live Olympics, I just wanted to watch the events through the NBCSN app which I found out requires an existing cable subscription.

So…I signed up for cable again. I actually did really enjoy using the NBCSN app, it was awesome – I could pick any of the events I wanted to watch and watch them at a normal hour of the day for me. Once the Olympics ended I cut the cord again, this time it was for real – bye bye cable.

Then I got into Golf and also learned the hard way that the Golf Channel had no streaming options, the only way to watch it was to get a cable subscription. Back again, cord re-attached. I’ll be honest – my stint with golf was short-lived, I still love the sport but once I had the golf channel and unlimited access to golf I learned that I didn’t actually watch it all that much.

Boom – cord cut…and this time it was for real. Or so I thought. Then I got into basketball, and I thought – okay, I can keep the cord disconnected because NBA League Pass had me covered. That’s when I learned that NBA League Pass actually locks you out of some games based on where you are…so I couldn’t watch some of the key games that I wanted to watch, the only way to access them was, doh – cable!

Cord re-attached. Now I could watch all the basketball I wanted to watch (Go Warriors!) and life was good. Then, a bit like golf, I started to watch less and less basketball and started to get much more interested in eSports. The good news about eSports is that 99% of the time the only place you can watch it is online. DOTA 2 is my game of choice and The International is the specific event that got me into it.

Now I realize, if I do watch sports (in case you haven’t learned I’ve never really been a die hard sports fan) it’s likely eSports these days. When I do watch actually TV shows or movies, it happens on Netflix or Hulu, there hasn’t been a single time when I’ve found that one of the shows we want to watch isn’t available on one of these two services. So I did it, last week I cut the cord.

While I’d love to say, this is the last time, based on my past experience I think it’s safe to say, we’ll see. What I do know is that what finally pushed me over the edge is Sling and their TV offerings which includes channels like BBC World News, ESPN, and many others that I usually had to rely on cable for. Then I learned about You Tube TV and I thought…hmmm maybe this would be a good option, so I signed up.

That’s when I learned about the major limitation with You Tube, if you have an Apple TV or Roku, you can’t watch it. Instead you have to open up the app on your phone and then steam it to your TV which is no exactly a seamless experience. All that being said, You Tube TV definitely has a solid channel lineup, but the lack of a native channel on Apple TV and Roku makes it a deal-breaker, for now.

What has your experience been like trying to cut the cord? Did you do it? If so have you gone back or forth like me?

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Today popular domain name blogger Konstantinos Zournas complained on Twitter about an issue he was having with Escrow.com, here’s the tweet:

konstantinos-escrow-com

I’m no lawyer so I don’t know if Escrow.com is legally required to provide this kind of information however Konstantinos did bring up European Union laws in a follow-up tweet about the situation.

konstantinos-escrow-com2

Escrow.com did follow-up at the end of the string indicating that the buyer did agree to allow them to disclose the buyers address and it was sent to Konstantinos.

escrow-com-buyers-permission

So here’s the question, should Escrow services like Escrow.com disclose the address of the buyer to the seller or should they follow the process that Escrow.com is now where they ask for permission directly before disclosing. I guess I can see both sides of the story here. On one hand, as a seller I definitely would want to know the details of who I’m selling to, I don’t know the value of this domain but if I sold someone a $200,000 name I’d probably be pretty concerned if they tried to hide their address from me.

At the same time I can understand Escrow.com’s predicament here since they are trying to facilitate the transaction and an address might be considered confidential? Still, it feels to me like if you’re going to share someone’s name and email, why would the address be off limits?

Like I said above though, I’m no lawyer, and I have no idea what kinds of restrictions Escrow services have on how they handle information like this. It’s hard to know whether this is a decision that Escrow.com made themselves or a regulation they are abiding by. I do know as a domain seller I’d be pretty nervous selling to someone that wouldn’t share their address since this goes on every contract I’ve ever seen.

What do you think? Was Escrow.com in the wrong here or are they just playing by the rules?

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dot-tv-domains

I don’t own many .TV domains, for me personally I’ve found they’re hard to flip and years ago I dropped most of the .TV domains that I own. Still I’ve held onto a handful of them and I still watch the market to see how .TV names are selling. Last month I was pleasantly surprised to see that .TV domains sold at a pretty nice clip with some sales prices that made me do a double-take.

The top sale from last month, as reported by NameBio was 365.tv for $60,000 which sold on NameJet. That seems like a really nice price for 365.tv and it was in good company with some other nice .TV sales in September. Here’s a look at the top five:

  1. 365.tv – $60,000 (NameJet)
  2. Experience.tv – $35,000 (Sedo)
  3. D8.tv – $15,000 (private sale)
  4. Bridge.tv – $11,778 (Sedo)
  5. Telechargementz.tv – $9,103 (NameJet)

Looking back at August there was only one five-figure .TV sale reported, Podcasts.tv which went for $16,000. So was there something in the air in September or are end users starting to look more and ccTLDs that look like gTLDs that they might not have noticed as much in the past?

It’s something I’ve wondered about the new gTLD program. While I agree, many domain investors don’t see the new gTLD program as a runaway success, and I’d have to agree on the whole, there’s no doubt that it’s made the average person think more about the idea of using TLDs that speak to the type of content that’s on their site.

Given the incredible growth in the online streaming world it’s not a surprise that .TV might get increasingly more interesting to a larger audience. From You Tube to Twitch, to Netflix and Hulu, cable is out and streaming is in, and more and more regular people are becoming online video content producers, and many of them are looking for their home on the web.

online streaming(Source – DaCast)

Of course I think it’s fair to say that I’m looking at a very small sample size here so it could just be completely random that .TV had such a solid set of sales in September. Still, I do think that the new gTLD program is getting consumers to think differently about what comes to the right of the dot, and while I agree .COM is king and will always command the highest prices, it is interesting to see a TLD like .TV with some pretty healthy sales prices.

What do you think? Is this just a blip in the radar that I’m making a big deal out of for now reason or is .TV going to be on more people’s radar given the growth in the online streaming space?

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hiring

When we first started our company, I thought I had read enough books, blog posts, and articles written by “the experts” to know the ins and outs of hiring. Then, after building our initial team I realized that a lot of what I read in those books didn’t actually apply, things were different, our product was unique, our market was unique, heck the city and specific office we were in were unique and all of those factors combined made things different.

Then we hired someone who considered themselves an expert at hiring. He said I just hadn’t read the right books, I needed to read the Patrick Lencioni books, which I agree are awesome, but they also helped me realize something. You can’t learn real business lessons by reading a book, startup or not, you have to do it yourself.

Now I’m not saying these books are useless. Yes, I’ve picked up solid nuggets of information from everything I’ve read, and I still think that The Five Dysfunctions of a Team is one of the best books I’ve read, period, and I’ve read it twice just to make sure everything sinks in. Still, you can read all the books in the world and encounter situations that, surprise surprise, aren’t in a book.

In startups this is more true than ever since you’re dealing with an incredibly fast-paced environment with a product or service that likely doesn’t have product market fit yet, isn’t completely built, or doesn’t have the right funding to really do what you want. As a founder you have to balance all of these things, keeping the company in a good place financially, keeping your customers happy, making sure the product is delivering as expected, and at the same time, juggle the most important thing of all – building a great team that’s excited and inspired to join you on your mission.

I know a lot of people that have been Managers at companies, they’ve build and managed teams, read all the books, then they become founders themselves and poof – everything changes. Yes, it’s different hiring when it’s your own company vs. being a Manager or Director and hiring for a company that you’re working for. Like I said above, plenty of those awesome lessons you read about in a book still apply, but many don’t – it’s a different world and like most things in startupland, you need to learn by doing.

It’s an exciting time for our company, we’re opening up an office in San Francisco and making two new hires in the Bay Area. I can tell you that the process we’re following, and the way in which we’re filtering to get the right kind of person for our company is very different from the way we did it two years ago. We’ve had the experience of giving the “serial job hopper” a try, who claimed they weren’t a serial job hopper (and said this time was different) and, yes, they turned out to still be a serial job hopper. We’ve also hired amazing people that we gave a chance to, even though the role wasn’t exactly a fit, and we’ve seen them soar to new heights.

The key here is that we’re always learning, and while I still read books, articles, and blog posts about hiring. I know that the biggest lessons are those we have learned from experience (both good and bad), and those we are going to learn. To be clear I’m no expert, we’re still new startup founders, and the best we can do is take our experiences and use that to guide our path forward. What I can tell you is that while reading books can build a great foundation, if you want to know what it’s really like to start your own company and built a team, you’ll have to do it yourself, no book can tell you everything you need to know, that’s where taking the plunge and doing it yourself really is the only way to learn.

Just remember, you’re always learning.

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missed_the_boatI wrote a post over the weekend about .IO domains and how one domain name broker said that it had become the new .COM for tech startups. While I don’t agree with that…I do think that .IO has become a very clearly accepted alternative to .COM. You can read more about my thoughts in my post from Saturday.

Today I wanted to talk about a comment that someone made on my blog that I thought was interesting:

Whoever is telling startup companies to use .io needs to stop.

End-users will never accept .io.
End-users will and do not trust .io websites and will not submit personal information on them.

Think about an end-user visiting an .io website, they will be like WTH is .io?!

First, I think it’s pretty ridiculous to think that are people out there trying to convince startups not to buy .COM and go with .IO instead. Come on…do you really think that’s what’s happening anonymous commentator?

The reality is that a lot of startups would love the .COM but when it’s more expensive than what they can afford, they go with something different, and .IO has become one of, if not the, top alternatives.

As for saying that end-users will never accept .IO…I think that’s pretty ridiculous considering that companies like Keen.io have raised close to $30M and continue to brand and build a nice high-growth startup on a .IO name.

Apiary.io raised over $14M while sticking with a .IO domain and ended up getting acquired by Oracle, Import.io has raised over $22M in funding, and the list goes on. I think it’s safe to say that end-users have no problems accepting or trusting .IO websites, and they definitely don’t have any problem submitting personal information on them.

I think the reality is that for some reason there are domain name investors out there that see the success of anything except .COM as a threat. Instead I think it’s fair to say, yes .COM is king and will likely always be king, it will command the highest prices and have the most advantages associated with it.

That being said, it doesn’t mean that if you don’t build your company on .COM you’ll never be successful. It’s time to think bigger, and yes, some day, for some companies that brand on a non .COM, moving to the .COM will make a big difference. Still, it’s 2017 folks and it’s time to realize that there are businesses raises tens of millions of dollars building on non .COM domains and they’re doing just fine.

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Is .IO the new .COM for tech startups?

I recently saw an experienced domain broker that I follow on Facebook, Ryan Colby, post an interesting comment about .IO being the new .COM in the technology space. By technology space I think he means tech startups, and while I’m a huge fan of .IO, and I know a ton of startups that know and love it…I’m not sure I’d say it’s the new .COM for anyone.

dot-io-new-dot-com

I think the process of acquiring a .IO usually goes something like this, a startup says:

“Hey, I really want to buy that awesome one-word .COM!” 

Then they reach out to the owner, find out it costs six or seven figures, and then say, okay the .COMs out, what’s my next best choice. In this case, I do think we’ve seen a massive trend in .IO being a top pick. Still, like I said above, I don’t think .IO is the new .COM, instead I think .IO is the new alternative .COM for tech startups who might have picked domains like .NET or .CO in the past.

What do you think? Comment and let your voice be heard!

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Spend any time in San Francisco and you’ll find that just about everyone that you bump into works in tech. While many people work in tech both here (I’m in SF right now) and in many other cities that have become startup hubs like Boston, LA, and New York, “working in tech” can mean a variety of things based on the company that you work for and your role.

Y Combinator

Today Y Combinator shared a really interesting article on their blog about the three different types of roles people can have at a tech company. The vast majority of people that you meet who say they work in tech are likely employees since that makes up the bulk of tech workers. Of course no tech company would exist without founders, and as the company grows executives play an increasingly important role and grow in numbers.

Like everything in life there is no right answer but there are pros and cons to each path. As a founder I can definitely relate to everything that the article shared, honestly they got it spot on. Here’s the list of pros and cons for founders:

Pro
• Work on something you’re passionate about
• Bring something new into the world
• High level of responsibility often inspires extreme productivity
• Choose the people you work with
• Learn new skills at an extremely fast pace

Con
• Incredibly stressful. Even success hurts
• Probably won’t maximize your personal earnings
• significant financial/skillset/location hurdles to get started
• Large scale success often requires decade plus commitment
• Commitment level can significantly hurt personal relationships

(Source – blog.ycombinator.com)

It’s interesting because as a founder I find myself spending more time with other founders than with employees. I’ve also found over time that when I talk to friends that are employees and they complain about work or about their bosses I end up seeing things from the other perspective and often encourage them to think about what the founders are thinking about when they do something they might disagree with.

I can tell you that my friends that are employees at tech companies definitely make a lot more money than I do, and many enjoy a little thing called work-life-balance that I lost so long ago I don’t even remember what it is. Here’s the list of pros and cons for employees:

Pro
• Stable income/benefits/etc.
• More work and fewer meetings
• More often directly affecting the customer through your work
• With a high demand skill-set you have flexibility in where/how much you work
• Often have more time to spend with friends and family

Con
• Productivity can be blocked by bad management
• You often don’t have control what you work on
• Often don’t get a voice in major decisions – even when you “know the right answer”
• It’s harder to become very wealthy
• It can be boring
• If you don’t maintain a high demand skillset or your productivity drops it’s easier to be fired

I’d love to hear from my readers, those who work in tech and those who don’t. What role do you fall into or would you fall into and do you think the pros and cons match with your experience?

I want to hear from you – comment and let your voice be heard!

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How do you keep up with your favorite blogs?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how the ways in which blog readers stay up-to-date on their favorite blogs has changed over time. At the same time, I know that people are creatures of habit so there are still many people who are probably keeping up with their favorite blog the same way they have been for years.

For me it has definitely changed in some ways and stayed the same in others. For domain name news (which I still read daily) I still go to Domaining.com, it has been my go-to for years and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. I also read blogs written by some of my favorite VC’s like Mark Suster and Brad Feld and I subscribe to those via email.

Then there’s the tech blogs like Techcrunch and Gizmodo, and for some reason I don’t subscribe via email to those, instead I just tend to direct nav to those sites myself. I also read a fair amount of content on Medium which I usually discover through Twitter.

I wish I could say I had a “normal” way that I read all the blog content that I consume in a week, but as you can see from what I wrote above, I have developed my own systems that seem to vary based on the subject area. I still can’t quite determine how things ended up this way, I just know that like most other people – I’m a creature of habit and these are my habits.

All this being said, I’m always interested in understanding how other people read blogs and keep up with their favorite writers so I wanted to send this question back to you, my blog readers. How do you keep up with your favorite blogs?

Comment and let your voice be heard!

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esports-arena

Fast forward twenty years from now and watching football and baseball is going to be a bit like watching lawn bowling. Okay, I’m kidding, regular sports aren’t go away quite that quickly, but it’s safe to say that since eSports has outpaced traditional sports, music, and tv for the last three years there’s a very good chance that 10 – 20 years from now, when you say “sports” eSports could very likely be the first thing that comes to mind.

That being said, most people have no idea where to start when it comes to eSports. Let’s face it, you know the rules of football, baseball, basketball, etc. inside and out, you’ve been watching it for years, you have a favorite team, suffice it to say you’ve gotten comfortable with sports as you know it.

While I’d love to say that following eSports is simple and you can start watching right away, that’s not really true. eSports, like regular sports, have a lot of rules, complexities, teams to learn, players and coaches to follow, and tournaments to become familiar with. That being said, if you think it’s only teenagers that are playing and watching eSports, think again.

eSports is here to stay, it’s not going anywhere and like I said above, the industry is growing faster than traditional sports, music or TV, so now is not a bad time to get familiar with them.

So how do you get started? Here are three tips to help you kick off your new eSports addiction, just remember like I said above, there’s a bit of a learning curve so be patient.

1) Create an account on Twitch.tv – just like ESPN is probably your go-to resource for watching sports, Twitch will quickly become your go-to resource for watching eSports. To get started create an account and then pick a game that you might already know, while you’ll find games like League of Legends and CS Go, you might not be as familiar with them. If you spot a Mario game you know and love, or really any game that you recognize this will be the easiest way to just get comfortable with the idea of watching game streams.

2) Pick a popular eSport to start following – once you’re comfortable with Twitch you’ll want to pick a popular eSport to start following. There are really four games that I recommend watching to get started since they are four of the most popular and have tons of major stadium-filling tournaments associated with them. These are, League of Legends, DOTA 2, Counter Strike, and Starcraft II.

To decide which you want to start with really depends on what kind of game you like. I’m a big fan of strategy games so League of Legends, DOTA 2, and Starcraft II are my favorites to watch with DOTA 2 being my current fav. Not into strategy? Then watch Counter Strike, it’s a first-person action shooter and is a bit easier to follow than some of the strategy games out of the gate.

3) Find out when the next major tournament is – just like it’s more exciting to watch the playoffs or the finals, it’s also more exciting to watch eSports when there’s a big tournament going on. You’ll be happy to know that ESPN actually follows all the big tournaments so feel free to head over to ESPN.com and take a look at what’s coming up.

And there you have it. Follow these three steps and you might just find yourself watching some eSports on Sunday in between your favorite football games. Enjoy and feel free to post in the comment section below if you have any more questions about getting started or if you want to share how you got started following eSports yourself.

Comment and let your voice be heard!

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brand-aftermarket

Brandable domain names have taken over as a very viably options for startups looking to built their brand online, but not looking to spend a fortune. For years BrandBucket.com has been a go-to resource for brandable domain names crossing the $1M profit mark in 2016.

BrandBucket has a unique model, domain owners can list their domains for sale and get connected with a logo designer that will create a custom logo for the domain. BrandBucket then generates a landing page for the domain, including the logo, and lists it on their marketplace, charging a $10 listing fee and 30% commission if the domain sells. When the domain sells you also pay the logo designer, usually somewhere in the $100 – $500 range.

Most of the domains on BrandBucket sell in the four figure range but this year they are growing the marketplace to support more high-value names. As BrandBucket moves more up-market, a new player has entered the space – BrandAftermarket.com offering a marketplace for brandable domain names but here’s the twist – they are all priced at $495.

I think it’s safe to say that while not all startups can afford a name like Resolution.com which is listed for $175,000 on BrandBucket, they can definitely afford a name like BlogDNA.com listed for $495 on BrandAftermarket. Of course there are still plenty of domains in the low four-figure range on BrandBucket like CareTaker.io for $2,995 and GuardParrot.com for $1,695 but $495 is hard to beat.

There are already thousands of .COM domains on BrandAftermarket and it looks like their inventory is only going to grow. As a big fan of BrandBucket myself (have been for years!) I’m still happy to see a new entrant into the space. Anything that can help connect startup founders with brandable domain names for reasonable prices deserves some love in my book.

Congrats to the BrandAftermarket.com on the launch, cheers to one more place for startup to find domain names without the hassle of haggling over price!

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