So I’m always amazed at times when Google returns a result that makes very little sense when it comes to relevancy. No, I’m not going to stop using them, I don’t think any of us would, but I am surprised sometimes when they return a result in the top position that really doesn’t deserve to be there. Honestly, there’s a simple heuristic that should be a part of the algorithm that it feels like doesn’t quite get applied in some cases.

Here’s an example I ran into today. I was searching for “best malware protection mac” and Google provided what they called a “Featured Snippet” at the very top, which means Google has selected this page as what they think is the best answer to your question. In this case, here’s the featured snippet:

featured-snipet

So you’d think, okay well this must be the most relevant article right? Well you’d be completely wrong because the article they link to is from five years ago…

best-mac-antivirus

Given how sophisticated Google’s algorithm is, why would they possibly think that the most relevant result for someone searching for malware protection software would be from last year? It seems like this article should be buried on page 30 given that software like this changes a lot over even a single year.

What do you think is happening here? Is this an edge-case where Google’s algorithms aren’t doing the right thing or are these fancy algorithms not quite as sophisticated as we’d think?

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domain-landing-page

Since it’s the beginning of the year I thought now would be a good time to circle-up with all of you to see what you’re putting on your undeveloped domain names. Rewind 10+ years ago and I think most people would say that they parked their domains, today I think that has changed quite a bit.

I never really made much money parking because I’ve only had a handful of names that get decent type-in traffic and even when I did it wasn’t anything to write home about. That being said I still used parking pages for a long time, I just made sure they had a strip at the top that made it clear the domain name was for sale.

Today I only use Make Offer landing pages because I’ve found they generate more inbound offers than a parking page with a make offer callout on it, and since I don’t make money parking I want to put the focus on inbound offers. My two favorite services for “make offer” landing pages are Domain Names Sales and Efty.

So now I’ll turn the question for you. Do you park your domains or use a Make Offer landing page? Comment and let your voice be heard!

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The cryptocurrency market is a rollercoaster, if you’re a day trader, which is why I’m really glad I’m not a day trader. I’ve already made two rules for myself when it comes to crypto:

  1. Only put a small sliver of my investment dollars into crypto. If I loose 100% of my money, it is a-okay.
  2. HODL until 2023 (i.e. five years from now)

Now to the current state of Bitcoin and the crypto market which has dropped like a rock over the last week. While it would be fun to say that you can use traditional technical analysis to explain what’s happening, or refer to your favorite Wall Street genius the reality is that crypto is incredibly volatile and even single news stories can move the market massively in one direction or another.

This week what scared the crap out of everyone (and for good reason) is that Bitcoin’s incredible price rise over the past few months could have been caused by a cryptocurrency exchange called Bitfinex buying a bunch of Bitcoin with…drumroll please, Tether.

In December 2017, Bitcoin reached a historic high of almost $20,000 (£14,000), before slumping to its current value of roughly $9,800 (£6,876). This catastrophic plunge may have been driven by the actions of a Bitcoin exchange called Bitfinex, it has now been suggested. This exchange stands accused of using a cryptocurrency called Tether to buy vast amounts of Bitcoin, which inflated its price. (Source – Metro.co.uk)

If this is true it means that Bitcoin’s price was massively manipulated and honestly, there’s nowhere to go but down. How low could it go? Who knows but I wouldn’t be surprised if it continues to drop like a rock.

As many of you know, I’ve never been ridiculously bullish on Bitcoin, Ethereum is my largest crypto holding and I’m also a fan of other altcoins like Litecoin, Cardano and Stellar. Of course, in the current market if Bitcoin is down, everything is down, and I think it could take a while for everything to sort itself out if it turns out that the rumors here are true.

So here’s the question, if Bitcoin drops below $8,000 – heck if it drops to $1,000, do you care? Since it’s such a small part of my crypto portfolio I’m not that emotionally attached to it…but if Ethereum dropped to $200 I’d be pretty bummed. That being said, given a five year time horizon I still see this as the very early days of crypto so I’m interested to see what the years ahead will bring.

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

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Reflections on NamesCon 2018

I just got back from Vegas, and yes, I’m tired, but I’ve learned that the best time to write a reflections post is right when you get back and you’re still in the moment. If I waited until Saturday, sure I wouldn’t be totally exhausted, but everything wouldn’t be quite as fresh in my mind.

ICA-Party-NamesCon2018

I’ll start my reflections with last night since that’s the most top of mind, and it’s also where this picture comes from. Last night the ICA held a really awesome event at the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay. First things first, if you don’t know what the ICA is, you should – they are the people working tirelessly to make sure that we can all buy and sell domain names for years to come. I’ve been a member for years and last night was a good reminder why – the people behind the ICA are truly some of the best-of-the-best, period.

Everyone who attended the dinner last night was allowed access to the Foundation Room at the top of Mandalay Bay which as you can see from the photo above offers without a doubt one of (if not the) best views of the strip. I packed into an Uber (that took 30 minutes to get to us – long story) with Braden, James, and Mike – you can see James trying to help the Uber driver find us in the picture below…

morgan-braden-james-mike-namescon2018

Okay, so enough about last night, let’s get into some reflections, in no particular order, but I’ll use bullet points because I feel like if I start to write in paragraph form this could turn into a small novel.

  • I said this in my previous post but I can’t emphasize it enough, Domainers have the crypto bug. Sure some of you reading this think crypto is stupid, crazy, even riskier than Vegas gambling. By the end of my time at NamesCon I think it’s fair to say I spoke to close to 100 people and crypto came up in almost every conversation. I also found out that WAY more Domainers than I could have imagined have made a small fortune in crypto – why couldn’t they have told me when they started investing!
  • We have a truly incredibly community. I go to NamesCon every year (since it started) to connect with people. Every year I have a blast catching up people I’ve known for years and I’m always surprised at how instantly connected I feel to people I just met. Let’s be honest, we’re all crazy passionate about domain names, but most of our friends and family just can’t relate to it, everyone at the conference can and it’s so much fun just to be around so many likeminded people.
  • Waternight was a huge success. Hats off to the entire Water School team for a great night filled with great food and an absolutely hilarious comedian magician. I really liked the format this year and it was also pretty entertaining to watch Richard get called on stage to put a cup of water on his head (see pict below)

richard-lau-waternight-namescon2018

  • .COM is still king and that doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon. Everyone I spoke to about their portfolios said that they’re still continuing to invest in .COM, while it does seem like more people than ever are dabbling in new gTLDs I didn’t talk to anyone that is shifting their focus away from .COM.
  • Development is a hot topic and getting hotter. It’s now secret that parking has declined massively over the years but it’s clear that Domainers are becoming increasingly interested in development. There were some great sessions at NamesCon about development and monetization and I think we’ll continue to see investors that made money parking making even more money but with developed sites.
  • The Tropicana made some nice improvements since last year. Robert Irvine’s Public House is a great spot and definitely added another destination for Domainers to hang out and enjoy a drink either at the bar or on the back patio.
  • Every year I go to Vegas I can feel that I’m getting older, and I’m not alone. This year I could tell that we’re all getting older, last night by the time we left Mandalay Bay and headed for Hakkasan I was definitely struggling. At the same time it’s probably good news for Red Bull as Domainers moved from beer to Red Bull Vodka’s to stay awake.
  • Last but not least is the opportunity for something magical to happen. No I’m not talking about the magician at Waternight, I’m talking about real magic that happens when you’re having a random conversation with someone and find a business opportunity. I had two instances of magic that are going to likely mean good things in the future and it wasn’t something I was planning it all, it just happened organically. Serendipity is an incredibly thing.

Did you go to NamesCon? I’d love to hear your reflections, feel free to share in the comment section below. Didn’t got to NamesCon? I’d also love to hear from you. Either way, comment and let your voice be heard!

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Well it’s official, NamesCon 2018 is here and the first day is just wrapping up. I got here on Saturday night so enjoyed a day at the conference yesterday and had a blast giving a talk about what startups need to know about raising a seed round in the afternoon. I also sat down with the NamePros team for a little interview which is always fun, here’s me with Edward yesterday:

morgan-linton-namescon-2018

I went to two events last night (before I got too hungry and went to go get sushi with Braden – an annual tradition of ours), the first was held by .CLUB in their sweet suite at the Tropicana celebrating their announcement of Names.club, a new marketplace for brandable new gTLD domains. After that I went over to the opening cocktail party (hosted by .GLOBAL) which was also a lot of fun, and had a pretty kick-ass band.

dot-global-party-namescon2018

So, after a day at NamesCon and probably 30+ conversations (yes you end up talking to a lot of people at conferences!) I’ve noticed three pretty clear trends that are hard to miss. Here they are:

  1. Crypto – love it or hate it that isn’t stopping people from talking about it. I think it’s safe to say that crypto came up in almost every single conversation I had. On one side I heard people talking about how stupid it is and how they hope it doesn’t make people less interested in buying domains. On the other side I heard people talking about how much they love it and how they think that people making money in crypto are actually going to put more money into domains as they want to put their profits into something more reliable. This is a huge topic for Domainers as they know that whether they believe in it or not, it’s making an impact one way or another, and common, it’s pretty fun to talk about isn’t it?
  2. Weed – and not I don’t mean just talking about weed and weed domains, everyone smells like weed this year. Now that pot is legal in Nevada it’s clear that Domainers have decided to add it into the mix. I also talked to quite a few people who have been doing well with marijuana-related domains so it’s clear this is another trend to keep an eye on and like crypto, it’s probably only going to grow.
  3. New gTLDs – there’s a lot of buzz around new gTLDs again this year at NamesCon. I think everyone now agrees they are here to stay and I had a number of conversations with people about which ones they believe in the most. I don’t currently invest in new gTLDs (I dabbled a bit a while ago but haven’t bought any in quite a while) but I was inspired to hear stories of people who had actually been seeing some pretty solid results. My takeaway is – only the most premium names are what most people are investing in, buying a bunch of new gTLDs hoping one will be your ticket to retirement probably isn’t going to work, duh.

Okay well I missed the whole day time portion of the conference today because I’ve been sitting in my room working but it’s almost 6:00 and it’s time to get ready for WaterNight! If you’re at the conference and aren’t going to WaterNight, change you plans and come, it’s definitely going to be a night to remember and every dollar goes to an incredible charity, hard to beat that.

Hope to see you there!

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Next stop Vegas!

I am currently on my flight heading from San Francisco to Vegas for NamesCon. Tomorrow I will be giving a short talk sharing tips for startup founders that are interested in raising their first venture round. NamesCon brings together some of the smartest people in the Internet world, from domain names to crypto to branding and funding, it’s all happening under one roof starting tomorrow.

NamePros, one of the top domain name forums has been doing some great sit down interviews for the last few years and I was honored to be included in the mix last year. On that note, I just got an email from them with my finished video (which I haven’t even watched myself) so I thought I’d share it with all of you.

Tonight I’m going to be joining my cousin for some adventures in Vegas, it’s a tradition we did for years but haven’t done in probably eight year so I’m really looking forward to it. So for anyone coming in early I won’t see you tonight but I’ll be at the show starting tomorrow afternoon.

This year I’m really impressed with the new NamesCon app – it has a Facebook-like timeline feature just for people who are going to the conference and it’s been a lot of fun watching everyone share their adventures to Vegas. I’ve been sharing a few “blast from the past” photos on the app but I also wanted to them with all of you so here’s a few for those of you that aren’t able to make it out this year.

Okay, enough blogging, I need to finish my presentation slides, yikes!

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t-shirt

As the largest Domain Name conference in the world, it’s no surprise that NamesCon also hosts one of the most exclusive domain name auctions in the world. While the auction has great domains every year, I think 2018 is going to break all kinds of records given the caliber of the domains in the auction.

One group of domains caught my eye, and I’m guessing that a number of the largest t-shirt brands in the world are also watching. There are a group of category-defining names that, if owned by one company would pretty much instantly make them the go-to t-shirt brand on the Internet. Here’s the domains I’m talking about:

T-Shirts.com
T-Shirt.com
TShirts.com
Tee-Shirts.com
T-Shirts.co
Shirts.com
Tees.com

It’s pretty amazing to see, and while it’s not guaranteed that one company would buy all of these together, if they did they would own the t-shirt market online. You can see the full list of domains that will be featured in the NamesCon live auction this Tuesday on NameJet.

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estibot-front-page

To kick off 2018 Estibot debuted a brand new look and feel. As a long-time Estibot user I was excited to see the refreshed UX, it’s incredibly clean and the mobile experience is a major step forward. It’s clear that the team over at Estibot really went above-and-beyond with this update, but it’s what they have under the hood that has always impressed me the most.

I was talking with a new domain investor the other day who was asking me about what tools they should use. Estibot is always at the top of my list, but when I did a deep dive into what you can do with Estibot they were blown away, I think the exact response was, “I thought Estibot was just for domain name appraisals?”

Yes, Estibot is the defacto standard when it comes to algorithmic domain appraisals, but under the hood there’s a lot more things that they do and I’m always surprised when people don’t know about the other services that they offer. So I thought now was as good a time as any to share three things that you probably didn’t know you could do with Estibot.

1. Generate a list of potential end-user buyers for your domains

I made this feature #1 for a reason – it is one of my favorite things about Estibot and it’s a huge time saver. All you have to do is enter a domain name that you’re interested in finding potential buyers for and Estibot will put together a solid list of potential buyers (including contact information).

estibot-lead-generation

Below is a high-level look at what is offered with the Estibot Leader Generator & End User Finder:

  • Instantly checks 300+ million domain names and analyzes them for usage
  • Instantly finds developed sites that could benefit from your domain
  • Instantly finds advertisers already spending money on keywords related to your domain
  • Instantly finds offline business that match your domain name and can benefit from an online presence
  • Gets web site details, whois contact information and business information
  • Contact potential buyers with a click of a button, using templated or custom offer letters

2. Domain Sales History

While Estibot can help find end user buyers, they can also help you research domain names that you’re looking to buy yourself. Whenever I’m interested in buying a domain from someone else the first thing I do is try to find out how much the current owner paid for the name. Enter Estibot’s Domain Sales History feature:

estibot-domain-sales-historyYou can also use the Domain Sales History tool to do a more broad search by keyword which could be used when buying or selling a domain to quickly generate a list of similar domains and their sales prices. I often use this on the sales side when I’m trying to explain my pricing to a potential buyer. It’s one thing to say you want $7,500 for a domain, it’s another to show five other names that have sold between $5k – $10k.

3. Appraised Drop List

Last but certainly not least is Estibot’s Appraised Drop List feature. This does exactly what it says, providing domain investors with appraisals on expiring domain names. I’ve found this is a great tool to instantly curate a list of expiring domains that might be worth looking at.

estibot-appraised-drop-lists

Estibot now also provides raw PendingDelete lists from Verisign which publishes every morning at 4:00AM. One thing I really appreciate about this feature is that if you do find a domain you want to buy, you know exactly what a prospective is going to see if they get it appraised on Estibot.

Of course there are more than three additional features that Estibot offers, but these are my personal favorites. Just remember, you can do a lot more with Estibot than appraise domains, so if you’re an existing customer, or someone that’s been thinking about joining any one of these features could easily pay for itself.

Do you have a favorite feature that I didn’t mention? Want to talk more about any of the features above? Comment and let your voice be heard!

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whale-crypto-investors

The last couple of weeks has been quite the rollercoaster ride in the cryptocurrency world. At times the skeptics enjoyed saying “I told you so” to speculators who saw their fortunes diminish, and days later the tables were turned. Well it’s safe to say today the tables have turned again as just about every single crypto is down with Bitcoin sitting at $10,515 as of me writing this.

Of course, you could be reading this on Tuesday morning and Bitcoin could be at $8,000 or $15,000 – let’s be honest, nobody really knows. Here’s a look at where the top ten cryptos (by marketcap) are right now:

cryptocurrency-dip-jan22-2018

Today’s dip definitely shows that even a slew of good news might not be enough to move the market from red to green. One of the biggest stories of the day comes out of South Korea where the government announced that six major banks will be ready to provide services to cryptocurrency exchanges this month.

“The FSC’s announcement stated that 6 commercial banks including Nonghyup Bank, Industrial Bank of Korea, KB Kookmin Bank, and Shinhan Bank will have the new system in place from January 30, according to the Digital Times.” (Source – news.bitcoin.com)

Given that last week the markets tumbled on fear that South Korea would shut down cryptocurrency exchanges you would think the market would rally. But the reality is that the market may never rally again, or it might rally like it never has before. You can do all the technical analysis you want or quote whatever crypto You Tube star or old school money manager you want but the only right answer about where crypto is going is, who knows?

One of the most popular theories for the current market movement (and in general) is that whales are manipulating the market. Don’t know what whales are? Here’s a good quick description:

“Whales are powerful investors. An individual is considered a whale when he is powerful enough to change the value of a coin in a gigantic amount. When you see an extreme and sudden jump on the chart of your coin, it is for sure that there are one or more whales together influencing the value.” (Source – Steemit.com)

If this is true then your average individual investor/speculator is just along for a ride. While more crypto You Tube sensations are coming out by the day, all of their analysis could just be a bunch of malarky if whales are just deciding when to move the market up or down. Want proof of the impact that a single whale can make? Well there’s speculation that a single trader could have increased the price of Bitcoin by 700% in 2013.

“Based on rigorous analysis with extensive robustness checks, the paper demonstrates that the suspicious trading activity likely caused the unprecedented spike in the USD-BTC exchange rate in late 2013, when the rate jumped from around $150 to more than $1,000 in two months.” (Source – Business Insider)

If one trader can move the market that much, albeit years ago, why would that not be even more possible today, and by more than one trader. The reality is that good news or bad, cryptos might not really be moved by the headlines or FUD like most people would like to believe. The reality could be that whales are out their moving the market to make them millions (or more) while the rest of us hold on for dear life – HODL to the end, right?

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

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NamesCon-logo

Well NamesCon is getting closer by the day, my flights are booked and based on the buzz I’m hearing I think it’s safe to say that this is likely to break last year’s attendance record. Like any conference, you’ll get out what you put in and I always recommend that people take the time to plan our what sessions they want to attend.

There are a wide range of talks at NamesCon so there really is something for everyone. I got an email from one of my blog readers last week who is attending NamesCon for her first time, she’s just getting started in the Domaining world and wanted to know what talks I recommended.

So I went through the session list and sent her three talks that I thought would be good for her to go to and thought I’d share that list with all of you as well.

Domain Auctions and Brokerage: A Path to Monetizing Your Domains

The perfect primer to the live NamesCon Domain Auction on Tuesday afternoon! Join our auction partners to learn the ins and outs of how to select your best names for submission, how to appraise names, and insider tips on how to take part during the live auction event. (Sunday, January 28th – 3:00PM – 3:45PM)

Navigating the World of geoTLDs

Geographic TLDs in the form of city, region or country-specific codes are well established, but often misunderstood. Our panel discusses the benefits and downsides of investing in geoTLDs, and assesses the market and viability of these types of domain names. (Monday, January 29th – 3:00PM – 3:45PM)

Mastering Aftermarket Appraisals

Join some of the domain industry’s top brokers for insight on how to appraise and evaluate domain names to sell or purchase. Stay for an interactive Q&A, where we’ll put the panel to the test and have them assess your very own domain names! (Tuesday, January 30th) – 3:00PM – 3:45PM)

Of course there are plenty of other great sessions for new Domainers but I wanted to keep it simple here and recommend three. Feel free to share some of the sessions you’re planning on going to in the comment section below!

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