.CA Domains

I read an interesting report today from CIRA, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority that talked about an apparent pivot towards .CA domains in Canada. Here’s a highlight from the report, and then I’ll share my two cents, hint – I don’t necessarily degree this is as exciting as they make it sound…

The pandemic has brought about an exceptional year for Canada’s internet landscape, and particularly for the .CA domain. Data from CIRA —the non-profit organization that manages the .CA domain on behalf of all Canadians— suggests that Canadians are choosing a .CA domain name for their websites more than ever before.

The findings come from the Q1 2021 .CA Insights Report, which showcases .CA domain registration data from January to March 2021. Using a combination of .CA Registry data, third-party vendors, and publicly available data, the report shows the emerging trends in Canada’s online presence and the pandemic’s impact on Canadian domain registrations.

Overall, the first quarter of 2021 has seen a large rise in .CA domains registered, demonstrating the value of the Canadian brand both nationally and globally.

(Source – Yahoo Finance)

Okay, so reading this at first it sounds like .CA domains are on a tear…but when you look at the growth numbers, while they did triple year over year, that tripling was from 0.35% to 0.99%. In my book, it’s hard to claim explosive growth in anything when the growth rate is 1% y/y 🤷‍♂️

While I know that interest in domains grew during the pandemic as consumers shifted from in-store to online, I don’t know if I think .CA suddenly reached a tipping point. That being said, I don’t mean to totally poo poo .CA domains. I know that people like them in Canada and yes, they’re definitely more popular as a ccTLD than say .US domains in the US, but we really use .COM as our ccTLD here.

At the end of the day, I think during the pandemic, more Canadians than ever before launched online businesses, and when they did, they found the .COM was taken and .CA became their next logical choice. So while I think it’s great that .CA saw some growth over the last year, I don’t think there’s any fundamental shift where Canadians would now rather have a .COM than a .CA. Instead, like I said, I think more people started online businesses, saw the .COM was taken, and went for .CA.

Overall the reality is domain names as a whole have seen and will continue to see incredible growth as the whole world makes the shift to buying online. What do you think? Is there a fundamental shift happening in Canada that is biasing Canadians towards .COM or is this just a part of the general shift we’re seeing globally as more people launch businesses online?

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

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Get Started

A good friend of mine asked be this week about how he could dip his toes into the world of domain investing. I thought it was awesome that he asked before doing what most people do which is, buy a ton of names, find that none of them sell, and then give up claiming that domain investing is impossible and all the good names are taken…

The right way to get started with just about anything is usually to learn from people who are already doing it which will usually save you from making a lot of the initial mistakes most people make when they’re trying something new.

Oh and just to be clear, I didn’t follow this path initially. Rather than asking for advice when I started, I dove in, bought a bunch of .mobi domains, tons of junky .COMs and burned through a lot of money until I realized I had no idea what I was doing. Painful lesson, but I persisted and finally worked up the courage to ask some real experts for advice, and well, safe to say, I wish I did that sooner.

Fast forward to today and there are so many resources out there to learn about domain investing, the challenge is knowing which resources are actually useful and reliable. Since this is top of mind for me, and I know some of my readers might have the same question my friend did I thought I’d share my current advice on how to get started in the domain investing world.

  1. Don’t overload yourself with resources – seriously, there’s so much out there, if you decide to read forums, blogs, eBooks, podcasts, You Tube videos, you’ll get whiplash, focus on two to three solid resources to start
  2. To simplify things, make DNAcademy the core of your focus – while there are plenty of free courses and eBooks out there, I give everyone the same advice, start with DNAcademy. In all honesty, nobody has put more time and energy into a course about domain investing than Mike Cyger who runs DNAcademy, it’s the best-of-the-best and your time is best spent in the beginning just focusing on this.
  3. Skim Domaining.com daily – next up is an easy one that’s just fun to do, and if it’s not fun, well then domain investing might not be something you’ll enjoy too much. The domain investing world is lucky to have a centralized resource with all the domain blogs out there, all in one place – Domaining.com. Skim this at least once a day, if something catches your eye, read it. This will help you learn what’s currently happening in the industry and start to familiarize yourself with the different people.
  4. Watch DomainSherpa – this is one fun show, it’s packed with info, and it’s a great way to hear from experts on what they’re doing. Rather than searching all over You Tube for different videos about domain investing, just stay focused on DomainSherpa when you start, there are so many nuggets in each episode it should get the creative juices flowing.
  5. Go to a conference like NamesCon – conferences are the icing on the cake, they allow you to get away from your computer and talk to real people that are doing what you want to do. I’ve found the domain investing community to be incredibly welcoming and meeting people in person and chatting about domains over coffee or a beer is completely different from talking on Twitter or a forum.

That’s it, hope this is helpful, just remember point #1 – don’t overload yourself. It can be easy to get really excited about domain investing and dive in by reading everything you can get your hands on and then registering every cool domain name you can think of. Take a step back, stay focused, and just be a sponge, learn as much as you can before buying domains, and trust me, you’ll be glad you did.

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At this point it’s safe to say Bored Ape Yacht Club has gone beyond the world of silly JPEGs and become a cultural phenomenon. If you happen to visit Vegas anytime soon you’ll see Bored Ape billboards all over the place:

Bored Apes Vegas Billboard

Walk by a bus stop, there’s a good chance you’ll also see an ape:

Bored Apes Bus Stop

One of my apes is going to be part of an art installation in a city I’ll leave anonymous for now as it’ll be more fun to share it once it’s live, but I’m excited and I think it’s going to be a long-standing part of the city’s art scene. And of course I’m just talking about things in the physical world, in the metaverse, BAYC euphoria took over The Sandbox where apes from around the world claimed digital land.

Interest in the Sandbox platform by the ‘apes’ was quite high, to the point that Sebastien Borget, COO and Co-Founder of the metaverse dedicated a tweet about the euphoria of ‘colonization’ that haunted the virtual world of BAYC in the blockchain gaming platform, with the entry of new SAND owners related to the exclusive NFT club.

(Source – HackerNoon)

Put all of this together and it’s no surprise that the floor price for Bored Apes keep going up, but what’s happening this week is propelling the floor to new highs. Rumors are spreading that BAYC has a big announcement coming out any day now, or really any hour. Buzz around the announcement, of which nobody really knows what’s being announced has brought the floor for Bored Apes up to 4.4ETH or around $8,400.

Bored Apes Floor

General thinking is the floor is going to break 5ETH whenever the announcement hits, and well, I feel like since I’m writing a post about it I may as well try to guess what the announcement is going to be. I think the announcement will be one of three things, I can make three guesses right? Higher chance of being right 😂

  1. New merch drop
  2. New NFT mintable by all existing apes
  3. BAYC feature in a major film

No matter how you slice it, BAYC was a great investment for a lot of NFT investors around the world and that investment is only continuing to go up in value and grow in notoriety. On top of that, what I truly love about BAYC is the community, it’s a lot of fun, and seeing all the incredible things the community is building and sharing together is very inspiring and I think shows what the future holds for NFTs.

If you don’t get it and think it’s silly, great, don’t buy any 🤷‍♂️ I say the same thing to people who tell me they don’t understand why anyone would pay more than $10 for a domain! The reality is, this isn’t going away, it’s just beginning, and it’s hard to imagine a more exciting start. What’s ahead for this week? Time will tell, but it’s safe to say that me and 4,600 other people are looking forward to finding out! 🚀

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Conversation

Here’s a topic that I know has been covered quite a bit in the domain investing world but I think is still an important one to highlight. Before I go any further I’ll just say, there is no right answer here, everyone has a little different approach to selling domains so take this as what it is, my own opinion and not fact or any general rule people need to follow.

Okay, now onto the subject of my post. When you get an offer on a domain name it’s easy to respond with a quick comeback like, “add a zero” or “sorry but that’s far below what I’m looking for.”

While this will work in some cases and it certainly weeds out most buyers and leaves only the very serious ones, it can easily scare buyers away. I’ve always preferred to start a conversation with someone when they make an offer on my domain so they know I’m a real person they can talk to and negotiate with.

Unfortunately, the reality is, a lot of people think of domain investors as squatters, there’s a negative feeling right off the bat, so if you respond with something snarky, in their head they’ll say, “confirmed, stupid squatter.” I know a lot of people in the startup world who get responses like, “sorry but you’ll need to make a much higher offer,” and they just walk and find another name.

Sure, you could say, “well that’s fine, they can go find another name, I’m waiting for a buyer who really sees the value in my name that I do,” and that’s fine, but I think it’s better to show a potential buyer that you’re a normal(ish) person just like them, and someone that maybe they’d want to do business with.

This technique worked out for me last week with a .vc domain that I sold. The buyer put in an offer of $500, I countered at $4,500 and they went silent. Rather than just let it go, I decided to start a conversation. I reached back out, asked them if they were still interested in the domain and told them I’d be open to going down in price a bit. They got back to me, and a conversation started. We landed at $3,200 and the deal closed last week.

If I didn’t reach back out to them my guess is they would have picked another name. The reality is, I would have taken $2,500 for the name, I paid $99 for it last March and paid the renewal fee this year so taking a ~16x ROI was fine with me. In the end, I locked in a ~20x ROI after the DAN.com fee and I’m more than happy with that.

I’m almost 100% certain that if I had just stuck with that $4,500 counter-offer, the buyer would have found another domain. Meanwhile, they actually had a budget that was above my price expectation, it just took starting a conversation to find that out. While I wouldn’t recommend taking this approach with every domain you have, if you’re shooting for the moon, playing hard to get can work in your favor, but for names you’re looking for liquidity on, starting a conversation can often be the difference between a deal, or no deal.

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Hello, happy Friday, and welcome to another Flippa Friday here on MorganLinton.com! Like I do every week I’ve gone through Flippa’s listings and found two sites that look like they could be interesting investments. As always, with any investment, it’s important to do your homework and I always encourage people to use Flippa Due Diligence service if you’re looking at buying a business with meaningful revenue to make sure everything checks out.

Oh and before I dive in I also wanted to highlight something pretty cool that Flippa is doing in Texas this month. July 27th, 28th, and 29th Flippa will be holding meetups (think free beer 🍻 ) in Houston, Dallas, and Austin. Here’s the details if you’re interested:

So if you’re in Texas, I’m jealous of you this month, grab a beer and if you can, snap a photo and share it with me on Twitter (@morganlinton), maybe I can live vicariously through you this month 😂

This site caught my eye for a couple of reasons, first, and you’ve probably learned this about me by now, the site has been operating for 8 years so it has some real history. It’s also selling at a very low multiple of 1x which seems a bit too good to be true but my guess is there is some work involved in running this so it’s not entirely passive.

For me personally, I also like SEO and think it’s an interesting space so I could see this being fun for someone who also gets a kick out of SEO. All that being said, I do have to say I’m a little concerned about how easy it really would be to run an SEO agency that someone else has built. Additionally, I know that link-building services sometimes can follow somewhat scammy practices so I’d want to really do a deep dive to understand how they’re structuring the services that they offer.

At the end of the day, if you’re already an SEO pro (which I’m not) this could be an interesting opportunity to pick up an existing book of clients and take the business to the next level. As you can see at the top, you can pay just $100 for a due diligence report on the site and I would definitely do that in this case as it doesn’t look like the seller has sold sites in the past on Flippa.

Okay, so my second pick for this week might just be the first online business I’ve seen on Flippa that’s over 20 years old. With 21 years of history it should be very possible to validate the revenue and really understand what the owner has done to keep the business running profitably all of these years.

One thing I’m not crazy about with this one is that you’re selling physical equipment and parts, I’m used to selling 1’s and 0’s so selling real things scares me…but I know there are plenty of people out there that are more than comfortable selling physical goods.

I think this site could be a great opportunity for someone that has operated a paint equipment or related site in the past. When someone runs a business for 20+ years they have the curse of knowledge and sometimes a fresh set of eyes can help see new opportunities for growth. While the site does cost a pretty penny, if it does indeed do $120k+ a year, this could be pretty darn interesting.

Okay – and that’s it for this week, TGIF and have a great weekend! 🙌

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Yes, this headline probably caught some attention, it was designed to do that, and well, it’s long overdue. I’ve been a Go Daddy customer for over a decade and I’m leaving, but it sucks because I really love the Go Daddy team. From Paul to Joe, Amy to Brett, there are so many awesome people at Go Daddy, I’ve stayed as long as I have because of the insanely amazing team they’ve built.

That being said, I can’t ignore it any more and I know many people in the domain investing world are in the same place. The reality is that Go Daddy has bloated, buggy software that at least for me, isn’t reliable enough for me to keep assets that are my core investment focus in life.

I’m currently moving my domains to NameCheap and Dynadot and comparing the two, I’m a big fan of both. NameCheap is my current fav because of the CEO Richard Kirkendall who is someone I’ve looked up to for years, he’s the kind of founder I strike to be. Richard is team-focused and the whole team (or at least everyone I’ve talked to over there) loves him, oh, and their software works, you can register, buy, sell, and transfer domains names and it’s seamless.

Go Daddy on the other hand, and like I said above, I love the people, but the software is broken and it’s time to just say it publicly and let others share their experience. To-date, Go Daddy’s website is the only site on the Internet that I visit that loads in Spanish and only gives me the option of Spanish unless I change my location to Canada, but then switches my currency to CAD 🤦‍♂️ Couple this with random errors I get when I try to buy domains, transfer domains, or view my own portfolio and I’m honestly just baffled. Ten years ago Go Daddy had a much better, more reliable platform than they do today, at least for me, and I’m confused.

For those who have been reading my blog for years, you know I’m a positive guy, and like I said, I really do love the people who work at Go Daddy. Sometimes I think anger gets misplaced – the people we know and love and probably most of the people at Go Daddy now aren’t responsible for the bloated code beast they have today. But at this point it feels like it’s time to let our voice be heard, while domain investors aren’t the focus of Go Daddy, and they could be a happy profitable public company without us, I still think it’s worth one last shot at real change.

So if you use Go Daddy as a domain investor and have some ideas on how things could improve, share it below. I can tell you that I’ll do my part and pass it along to some of the awesome people I know, and maybe together, with our voices combined, we can enact positive change. Worth a shot right?

You know that to do – comment and let your voice be heard!

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Hold Time Domain Investing

Here’s a question that I’ve seen come up a lot over the years and just came up again from a new reader so I thought it was time for a fresh post about the topic. What I’m talking about is how long you expect to hold a domain name before selling it, hopefully, at the target ROI you’re looking for.

Now before I share my answer to this question I’ll note that there really is no right answer here, but like most topics, there are plenty of opinions and well, this is my blog so where better to share mine right? 🤷‍♂️

Most of the domains I sell move in the $2,500 – $7,500 range and I’ve typically found the average hold time for these is around five years. While I think you probably could set a lower hold time for yourself, you’d likely also have to lower your pricing a bit, my guess is you could cut that time in half if you decided to focus on the $1k – $2k range.

Of course, this data isn’t that useful unless we share the type of domain, and for me it’s two-word .COMs, that’s been my focus for years and I don’t see it changing anytime soon. Over the last 5-6 years I’ve added .IO and .CO to the mix along with a few .VC names here and there but I can’t say I have enough data to really know what the true hold time is for names in those extensions.

I do think the hold time for a domain investment varies based on two critical factors:

  1. The domain itself
  2. Your expected ROI (and floor)

Investors I know with one-word .COMs will often hold for 10+ years before selling a domain whereas people I know that want a quick flip will go for two and three word .COMs priced in the $100 – $200 range. There’s no winning formula for domain investing, just different paths you can take.

All that being said, I’m curious to know if there is some overall number investors have in mind when they buy a domain when it comes to liquidity? I feel like I’ve been settled on the five year mark for a while now but I know I could change that in one direction or the other if I changed the type of domain I invest in and the ROI I’m looking for.

So now I’ll hand the mic to you – when you buy a domain, how long to you expect to hold it for before you sell it? I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

Disclaimer: The above references an opinion and is for information purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice.

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Hello, happy Friday, and welcome to a special edition of my regular “Flippa Friday” post, this week focused on Amazon FBA businesses. If you don’t know what that is, don’t worry – just keep reading and I’ll fill you in. Like past weeks, I’ve scoured Flippa looking for good potential online businesses to buy and grow. Given the incredible growth of Amazon FBA businesses, and all the awesome FBA’s listed on Flippa, I felt it would be fun to do a dedicated post just for them, and this is that post 🕺

On that note, let’s dive in – here’s the first FBA business that caught my eye 👁

Sports Fan eComerce store

As you probably know by now, FBA businesses have been thriving and it looks like the market is going to see strong growth this year. If you don’t know what an FBA business is – I’ll break it down. FBA stands for “Fulfillment by Amazon” and here’s the description from Amazon themselves:

Fulfillment is the process of storing, packing, and shipping orders as well as handling returns and exchanges. Effective, reliable ecommerce fulfillment delights customers. With FBA, you send your products to Amazon’s fulfillment centers, and we pick, pack, ship, and provide customer service for those products.

(Source – Amazon)

It’s not surprising these businesses have done well. With so many consumers shopping online the demand for category-specific or product-specific eCommerce stores growing, it’s always fun to see stores doing well with products I wouldn’t have thought would work well with this model.

The business I highlighted above is an FBA business selling licensed sports gear. A few things caught my eye when I saw this site:

  • the store is three years old – I tend to gravitate towards businesses that have been running for at least two years. It feels like this helps to de-risk the monthly revenue numbers.
  • growth – growing 50% per year is nice, I’d probably want to ask the seller what’s driving the growth so I would know how much time I’d need to put in to sustain it.
  • product category – this is a fun product category for someone who is into sports, I could see it being a site that someone actually has fun updating and playing around with.
  • revenue – the site is doing over $4,000/mo in revenue. I’d want to dig in to see how long it’s been in the current revenue range and if there’s any revenue spikes in the last year that might be worth looking-into more. That being said, if it all checks out, this is great cashflow and makes the $95k price tag feel okay.

Since the seller on this listing doesn’t seem to have sold a site through Flippa before I’d probably want to use Flippa’s Due Diligence service just to make sure I know what I’m getting.

Sticking with the FBA theme this week, here’s another business that caught my eye, and for similar reasons. With three years in business and over $4,500/mo in revenue, that’s interesting. At the same time, one key thing I’d want to look-into more is why the profit margins are so small. Doing the math, the site costs ~$3,500/mo to operate, now if this is all relatively passive, that might not be a bit deal, still, I’d be interested to understand more about the margin model on this one.

All that being said, I think it’s an interesting site, and generating revenue from three products is nice since you won’t have to worry about managing a large product catalog. Here’s a rundown of the highlights for me, trying not to repeat myself too much from what I just said!

  • store age – just like above, over two years old which I like.
  • small product catalog – personally I’d rather sell a handful of more expensive products than lots of inexpensive products, that could just be me but it feels like a lot less to manage.
  • crafts category – I think the DIY crafts category is a good place to be online, it feels like a site with good potential to update and tweak over time in a category that is positioned for strong growth

Okay, that’s in from me for this week, for those reading here in the US, happy 4th! And for anyone else – have an awesome weekend and as always, thanks for reading!

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I saw an interesting tweet from NameBase today, they almost clocked in their highest volume month in June breaking past the 2.2M HNS mark. The only higher month that June was February when Namebase saw 2.6M HNS in transaction volume.

To put it all in perspective here’s the chart showing Monthly NameBase marketplace volume starting in May of 2020.

NameBase Marketplace Volume

Looking at this data it’s hard to ignore the fact that NameBase has had one heck of a 2021, and it I’m not exactly sure what happened in June to drive this volume but it could mean we’re in for an interesting summer in the Handshake domain world.

Today Johnny, the community manager at NameBase also shared a pretty funny tweet, or at least an image that I thought was funny enough to share:

HNS wave

Now I still think people who buy Bitcoin and Ethereum today can still ride the wave, but that being said, if the decentralized Internet does take off, these certainly are the very early days for HNS. While there are a lot of pieces that need to fall-into place for the entire Handshake domain ecosystem to go mainstream, the momentum is there and with the activity NameBase is seeing going into the summer, it’s clear there’s a lot of wind in the Handshake domain sails.

Of course, I always have to make sure to note in any post I make about Handshake domains that I’m not by any means saying people should stop buying .COM domains and jump into Handshake. When it comes to domains, I’m still a .COM guy, two-word .COMs to be exact. At the same time, I’ve always been a big fan of seeing how the industry is changing and seeking out new opportunities..and looking at the data NameBase just shared it’s clear there’s something interesting going on here.

Disclosures: I am an investor in HNS, Handshake domains, and companies in the Handshake ecosystem.

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Domain Portfolio Sale

Today I read an interesting article on TLDInvestors.com about why some bigger domain investors sold their entire portfolios. The article shared some speculation from a contributor at NamePros about what they considered to potential manipulation of the market.

First, if you read the article you’ll see that Raymond think the person making these claims is uninformed, the reality is, they can’t backup their claims. Still, I think it’s great that Raymond shared this since if one person thinks this, there are probably a lot more than one people thinking the same thing.

While I haven’t run the numbers, my two cents is that the person who made these claims isn’t just wrong, in fact, the reasons big investors have sold is because the exact opposite trend has taken shape. The reality is, rewind a decade or two ago and the Internet just wasn’t what it is today. For most of the legendary domain investors we know and love like Frank Schilling and Kevin Ham, they were incredibly early to a new trend, people actually valuing and wanting domain names.

That trend took off and today, people don’t just want domains, they need them, period. What we’ve seen over the last few years is people need domains so bad, they’re willing to pay six figures for a non .COM because domains are so important to their identity online.

I think the domain investors who were early and sold their portfolios did so because they had seen so much growth from increased end-user demand and appreciation that it made sense, the dream they had envisioned happened, and they cashed in.

Of course, at the end of the day, data speaks a lot louder than words, and I don’t have the data, nor do I know exactly what Frank or Kevin were thinking, but like I said above, I think the reality is the opposite of what this person on NamesPros thinks. If the person who shared their opinion is reading this, know that I’m not trying to offend you in any way, everyone is entitled to their opinion and I’m just sharing mine here.

At the end of the day only Frank and Kevin know the real reasons why they sold their portfolios, but I put these two in the visionary category and trust they sold at the right time for them. As for less end-user interest in domains and domains just selling to other domain investors, I think that’s a bunch of BS, I think end-user interest in domain names is the highest its ever been, and interest is only growing.

That being said, if you do think all the end users have gone and you shouldn’t buy domains any more, I’m fine with that, that just means more names and less competition for those of us who see things differently 🕺

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