user-dot-com

Today I spotted an interesting press release, the announcement of the $150,000 sale of User.com to UserEngage. I checked the date, December 4th, 2018. Hmmmm, I thought…isn’t this old news? Didn’t Elliot break the news of this sale back in October, and I wrote an article about how it sold for too cheap?

The beauty of the Internet is that twenty seconds later I had confirmed that yes, Elliot from DomainInvesting.com had broken the news of the $150k sale of User.com back on October 28th.  I personally think that UserEngage got a great deal on this domain, and I wrote a post about how it probably was sold for too little. Well, even though it’s a couple months later, we can now hear a bit more from the UserEngage perspective on the acquisition.

greg-warzecha

The risk they took at a very early stage of their business life can surprise but company CEO, Greg Warzecha doesn’t have a doubt the purchase was worth it. “The money we paid, $150,000, seems a very high price for a domain. But when you think about it for a while, then you see it’s a great deal. Look, we are living in a world that is out of 4L domains!” (Source – PRWeb)

The press release also cites three other domain sales when talking about how much domains can sell for. They shared iReport.com which sold for $750 to CNN, Insure.com for $16M, and VacationRental.com for $32M. The strange thing about these examples is that only one of them was the sale of a domain name. Insure.com and VacationRental.com were businesses, if the domain was sold independently those numbers would be much lower.

It probably would have made more sense to mention more recent 4L .COM sales like Kush.com for $500k and Seva.com for $310,000 (Source – DNJournal). And hey, while we’re talking about similar sales, is it just me or would you have expected User.com to sell for more than Seva.com?

All this being said, there’s no doubt that buying User.com was a great move and I bet Greg is reaping the reward of this move, especially doing it so early in their company history. Congrats to the whole User.com team, I’m love to interview Greg a year from now and hear about the impact the domain had in its first year!

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marriott-domain-scams

In case you missed the memo, if you’ve ever stayed at a Marriott before…there’s a good chance that all your personal details now belong to hackers. Over 500M people’s information was compromised making this one of the largest data breaches of all time. Given that Marriott is in the middle of a heated labor dispute, it’s safe to say they have been a prime target across-the-board.

Sadly, when a company is down, especially after they’ve suffered a huge data breach, scammers start to come out of the woodwork. As I’ve covered before, one of the first places scammers look when they’re starting a scam – domains of course.

Well this time around security experts are trying to stay one step ahead of scammers by registering Trademark infringing names on behalf of Marriott and using them to warn users of potential scam activity.

Often what happens after a data breach, scammers will capitalize on the news cycle by tricking users into turning over their private information with their own stream of fake messages and websites. It’s more common than you think. People who think they’re at risk after a breach are more susceptible to being duped.

Companies should host any information on their own websites and verified social media pages to stop bad actors from hijacking victims for their own gain. But once you start setting up your own dedicated, off-site page with its unique domain, you have to consider the cybersquatters — those who register similar-looking domains that look almost the same.

Take “email-marriot.com.” To the untrained eye, it looks like the legitimate domain — but many wouldn’t notice the misspelling. Actually, it belongs to Jake Williams, founder of Rendition Infosec, to warn users not to trust the domain.

“I registered the domains to make sure that scammers didn’t register the domains themselves,” Williams told TechCrunch. “After the Equifax  breach, it was obvious this would be an issue, so registering the domains was just a responsible move to keep them out of the hands of criminals.” (Source – Techcrunch)

What does this mean for you? Be very careful if you get an email from “Marriott” talking to you about anything remotely close to updating your account information after the data breach. Sure, there are legitimate emails going around but scammers are getting good at faking emails and those scam emails look almost exactly the same as the real thing.

For now, it’s safe to say that Marriott probably isn’t the most fun place to work…and for those of us who have stayed with Marriott before, which is probably a lot of us, it’s time to start monitoring your identity because all your information is probably out there.

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growing-money

There’s a pretty popular concept in personal finance – it’s often referred to as “pay yourself first” and it’s nothing new, but it is something incredibly valuable to put into practice. The idea is, when you get paid, take some of the money you make first, and invest it (or put it in a savings account, but that’s boring IMO), then take what’s left and divide it up as you normally would. Here’s the official definition according to Investopedia:

“Pay yourself first” is a phrase popular in personal finance and retirement-planning literature that means automatically routing your specified savings contribution from each paycheck at the time it is received. Because the savings contributions are automatically routed from each paycheck to your investment account, you are paying yourself first. In other words, paying yourself before you begin paying your monthly living expenses and making discretionary purchases. (Source – Investopedia)

I’ve been a fan of the “pay yourself first” methodology for a long time, my Dad first introduced it to me when I was in High School and its stuck with me ever since. When I first started doing it, I was taking about 10% of what I made and putting it into stocks, the percentage increased to over 20% and by the time I was in my late twenties I moved from stocks to domain names.

That’s when I realized, within my domain sales themselves I needed to pay myself first once again. The idea here is, every time you sell a domain name, take a chunk of the profit (note that I said profit) and put it into another domain, or two, or five depending on what kind of profit you made.

10% is a pretty safe place to start, over time you can increase it. This means that when a name leaves your portfolio, another name (or more) comes in, on top of your principal plus a nice profit.

I’ve often heard domain investors talk about selling a name and immediately putting that money into a depreciating asset like a car, watch, etc. While I don’t think there’s really anything wrong with this, I do think that at least when you’re starting out it’s a good idea to re-invest some part of your profits and pay yourself first.

Even with small sales, let’s say a domain you hand registered and sold for $1,500. If you take 10% of that, head over to Go Daddy Auctions and buy a domain for $150, you’re enjoying a really nice profit, and adding an even better name to your portfolio that you could sell for $2,500+ locking in an even bigger profit.

Of course the complexity with domain sales always comes down to timeline. Some domains sell in a few months, others could take a few years, others ten years. There’s no way to know if the domains you are replacing the name you sold with will sell as quickly, (or ever depending on your price expectations), so buy carefully when you are re-investing your profits.

I don’t think I’m saying anything too groundbreaking here but it’s something I don’t think I’ve covered much on my blog and since we’re heading into a new year, it’s never a bad time to start a new, positive habit.

What do you think? Is paying yourself first a good idea when it comes to domains? I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

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legacy-wins-disrupt-berlin

(Image Source – Techcrunch)

I see it happen all the time, a startup wants to call themselves “something” and when they find the .COM is taken and too expensive they end up branding around “GetSomething.com” or “SomethingOnline.com” or in this case, GiveLegacy.com.

The company is called “Legacy” but Legacy.com is currently used by a site dedicated to helping people’s life stories live on. In this case, it’s safe to say that Legacy, the company who won Disrupt, will likely never land the .COM since it’s being used by an active business, now the question is – will they go for the .ME, .CO, .IO, or another popular non .COM alternative.

There’s no doubt that a company sounds like less of an authority (from a branding perspective) if they don’t own a domain name that exactly matches their brand. At the same time, at a very early stage, when your focus should really be product and customers, Legacy has shown that the domain hasn’t made much of a difference…yet.

My guess is that, now that Legacy is in the limelight they’ll likely move to Legacy.something, and with so many new gTLDs out there the sky really is the limit. The question is, what will they choose and why? Personally I think Legacy.me makes a lot of sense, what do you think?

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

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How not to pick a domain name for your startup

insult

I just got back to San Francisco after spending the evening in Silicon Valley at an event for angel investors. When I’m at events like this first I realize what a newbie I am when it comes to investing, and second, I can’t help but pay attention to the domain names that early stage startups sometimes gravitate towards.

When it comes to picking domain names, tonight I think I found a startup that can serve as an example of how not to pick a domain name. Out of respect for the startup I’m not going to share the domain, but instead I will share how the founder came up with the name.

To give you a bit of context, the domain itself is a common English word repeated twice, think wordword.com. This particular word relates to food, the startup is in a business completely unrelated to food.

When asked how they came up with the name they said they had a few drinks one night at a party, felt really happy, realized that they wanted their startup to be centered around happiness. Here’s where it gets interesting, they then thought – well what happens when you’re happy? You dance. And what’s the word for dance in another language.

Then they repeated the word for dance twice, slapped a .COM at the end and called it a day. The domain had nothing to do with what they do, stands out because it’s the same word repeated twice, and given that it’s a word used to describe food, makes you think they’re in the food space.

There’s a good lesson here, it’s a mistake that people make all the time. Rather than coming up with a name that will resonate with potential users, they come up with a name that ends up being an inside joke or something that has a specific meaning only to them.

While it’s true that you probably can’t come out of the gate buying a big juicy one-word .COM, you can think about who your customer is and what name will resonate with them. Coming up with a name that means nothing to your customer and steers the conversation away from what you do and instead towards – “how the heck did you come up with that name?!?” doesn’t exactly accomplish what you want from a branding standpoint.

The silver lining here. I’m going to help this founder find a better name, after going through the same logic with them they agreed. Like I said above, I don’t know much about angel investing, still learning a lot there, but I do know a bad domain when I see one and no, I can’t help but say something.

For startup founders reading this, remember – don’t pick a name that means something to you and only you – pick a name that will mean something to your users because at the end of the day you’re building a product for them, not you, right?

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Over the last couple of months, Uniregistry founder Frank Schilling has been hinting at a new product release that he thinks will be a game-changer for the company. If you’ve seen Frank’s Twitter account, you’ve been following the build-up to yesterday when the new product was released to the public.

frank-schilling-new-uniregistry-app

Well yesterday was the day and I have now had the chance to take the new Uniregistry app, called Uni, for a spin. I can definitely see why Frank was so excited about this release – with it comes a new email service and a slick new website builder called Postboard. Here’s a look at the home screen once you’re logged in:

uni-app

While I personally don’t need another email address (I probably have too many at this point!) I am incredibly curious about the email experience that Uniregistry put together so I’ll be creating another email address to play around with this feature. Postboard, on the other hand, is something I think could be really interesting for me to use as it looks like an incredibly easy way to get a nice clean site on an unused domain name.

At first glance Postboard looks like a modern version of About.me, a way to put up a really clean personal page with a bit of information about yourself and links to your site(s) and social profiles. I used to have an About.me page years ago, and hey, maybe I still have it and just don’t know where it is, but I’m due for a new one-pager so I think I’ll be using Postboard to do it.

Of course the Uni app still has all the things in it that many of us in the domain industry know and love like direct access to our domains being sold at the Uniregistry Market and the ability to manage all of our domains (no matter where they’re registered) from one app.

Like all things Uniregistry the app has an incredibly clean UX, so it’s safe to say that Uniregistry is holding the title of “The Apple of Registrars.” That being said, it’s probably time to make this statement a bit more broad since Uniregistry is now becoming a one-stop resource for a lot more than domains with the addition of email and a slick new website builder. Oh and yes, I checked and as you might expect, Frank does own Postboard.com and it forwards to Uniregistry.

Congrats to the whole Uniregistry team, I know how much work must have gone into this release. Stay-tuned, I’ll be sharing more of my experiences as I create an email address and Postboard site. What do you think of the new app? I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

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While you might think that paying for a domain name means that it’s yours forever, that’s not always the case. Recently digital assets platform Wex learned this the hard way when they used fake contact information to register their domain name Wex.nz.

According to reports, the directors at Wex allegedly registered their internet address using fake contact details. For this reason, the New Zealand Domain Name Commission (DNC) revoked the wex.nz domain.

The DNC announced that it had suspended six Wex domain names following the commission’s “enquiries in to the accuracy of the registration details for each of these domains.” DNC said it “initiated an investigation following complaints made to it.”

Other than wex.nz, the DNC has suspended a number of domain names—wexbet.nz, wexcash.nz, wexcoin.nz, wxcash.nz and wxcoin.nz—that lead to the same cryptocurrency website. (Source – CoinGeek.com)

Now this particular case might be a bit more harsh given that the domain name is a .NZ and the New Zealand Domain Name Commission doesn’t work the same way that things do here in the US with .COM domains, but it’s still a good lesson that you certainly don’t want to learn the hard way.

One of the top reasons why domain names expire without their owners knowing about it is old WHOIS information with email addresses they no longer have access to or check. I’ve heard people complain about their domains expiring without warning, but often there have been tons of warnings, actually months of emails and sometimes phone calls, but if the WHOIS information is incorrect, none of those make it through.

So as we head into the end of 2018 now is as good a time as any to make sure your WHOIS information is up-to-date. If you don’t take the time to do this, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

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2019-loading

That’s it, we’re officially on the home stretch of 2018 which means you now have a little more than a month to go before you close the books on domain sales for the year. At the end of the year I’ll often use this one technique I’m about to share with all of you to maximize my end of year sales.

So what’s my tip for generating more domain sales at the end of the year?

Go back through the inbound offers you’ve had for the year and see if you can find a handful of domains that you would sell for less. I’m not saying to do a fire sale, but I am saying that if you had a name that didn’t sell because you wanted $3,500 for it, think about if you’d be okay selling it for $2,500?

Whatever you do, don’t sell off your best names at a discount, but there are likely domains that you received offers on that you could part with at a discount and still lock in a more than healthy profit. I started this process last week and ended up selling a domain for $1,500 (Potluck.co) after sending two emails on a Saturday so it didn’t take a lot of time/energy.

I usually put my list of names together in a simple Google Sheet along with the inbounds I’ve received on it, what price I quoted, and what price I’d be willing to go down to. Then I send an email with something like this in the subject line: “Price reduction – <insert domain name here>”

In the body of the email I don’t quote the new price, instead I just make it clear that I’m willing to sell the domain for less than I last quoted and ask if they are still interested. From there I try to hop on a quick call if I can and that’s usually where I can close the deal in realtime.

I’d say the #1 reason why an inbound offer doesn’t turn into a sale is because of price, that means you’re probably sitting on a pretty nice database of prospective buyers. The end of the year is a great time to ping these prospects and turn them into buyers. Oh and if you make a sales or two using this technique please feel free to comment and share below!

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domain-name-udrp

I’ve heard it so many times I’ve lost count, “a squatter is sitting on the domain name I want.” I cringe every time I hear this because to me, it sounds the same as if you complained about undeveloped land in San Francisco that you think should be yours since nobody is actively using it. Domain names are like the raw land of the Internet, and just like land, you’re allow to own land without actively developing on it or using it at all.

Two block away from me in SF there’s a vacant lot, the owner isn’t doing anything with it. So I thought for fun I’d look online to see what it was worth, $10M. I could put my next office there if the owner would just give it to me for free, or the price that they got the land at 50+ years ago.

Alas, the world doesn’t work this way yet we’re still early enough in the history of the Internet that people still feel entitled to the raw land, domain names, if someone who owns one isn’t using it. Some people think they can sidestep the rules and demand a domain name that they think should be theirs.

I try to remind entrepreneurs that they need to do their homework first, otherwise they could end up paying the price, which usually means being found guilty of Reverse Domain Name Hijacking. Popular domain name blog DomainNameWire.com covered base where a company, called Clearly Agile, tried to get ClearlyAgile.com…the problem – the owner bought the name before Clearly Agile existed as a company, so it’s truly impossible to say the current owner is squatting, he came up with it first actually!

Clearly Agile, Inc., which uses the domain name ClearlyAgileInc.com, filed a cybersquatting complaint against ClearlyAgile.com with World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

ClearlyAgile.com is used by another company that offers somewhat similar services.

As you can imagine given their choice of domain names, ClearlyAgile.com was registered before the Complainant existed.

The Complainant tried to buy the domain in 2016 but the parties didn’t work out a deal. Then a lawyer for the Florida company sent a demand letter to the domain owner in 2017. It waited another year to file the complaint.

The case was dead-on-arrival because the domain owner could not be found to have registered a domain to target what was a non-existent company at the time of registration. Thus, panelist Scott Blackmer found that the case was reverse domain name hijacking. (Source – DomainNameWire)

Domain names sell for six and seven figures all the time, they are an asset class. Just like you wouldn’t call a person who has inherited land owned by their grandparents a squatter, don’t call someone who registered a domain name before you came up with your company name the same…it makes you look out of touch. The world has changed and just like I wouldn’t expect to buy raw land from you for the price you originally paid, don’t expect the same from a domain owner.

Real estate has been one of the best investments for many people for a long time, now there’s digital real estate – domain names. It’s time to wise up and realize that nobody owes you the domain name that they bought ten years ago just because a year ago you decided to start a company that matches that name. Do you homework or you could end up like Clearly Agile Inc., who will now have their name forever associated with Domain Hijacking.

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coding

I’ve heard too many people say, “I wish I knew how to code!” recently, and my response is always the same. You can learn, for free, and before you know it you’ll be looking back in a few months and find yourself coding on a regular basis. It’s not rocket science and there are more solid (i.e. actually good) free tutorials online to get you started than ever before.

What I think gets some people overwhelmed is trying to figure out what programming language they want to learn and why…so I’ll break it down for you and in my biased opinion, tell you which language to learn based on what you want to do.

Frontend vs. Backend

The difference between these two words is where I find most people get stuck, which is right for you? First, what the heck do each of these terms mean?

Frontend development usually means learning things like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, i.e. building websites and user interfaces that people can interact with in a web browser. You can also hear people associate “client-side” with frontend.

Backend development usually means learning languages like Python, Java, Node.js, etc. and writing code that runs using a compiler or interpreter. You can also hear people associating “server-side” with backend.

A developer might argue that my definitions above are too broad but I want to keep it simple since making it longer or more complex only increases the complexity for you to get started.

So which is right for you?

Here’s the question I usually ask people. Do you want to :

  1. build web pages or visual user interfaces the people can interact with through a browser
  2. write programs that processes or do something cool with data (text or numbers, or both!)

If you’re gravitating towards #1, start with Frontend. If #2 is calling you start with Backend.

Okay, so which language should you learn?

This is where I’m going to let my own personal bias make your decision process a lot easier. Don’t worry, I’ll back it up with some data below.

If you’re going to take a dive into Frontend development, you should learn JavaScript. If you want to learn Backend development, you should learn Python.

Oh and like I said, you can learn for free and honestly if you spend a few hours this week going through one of these free tutorials, you will be able to start coding on your own, writing your own unique programs this month. So here are the two completely free tutorials that I recommend:

Frontend/JavaScript – https://javascript30.com/

Backend/Python – https://www.codecademy.com/learn/learn-python

Okay, you can stop here and jump into a tutorial right now…or if you want to know why I picked Javascript for Frontend and Python for backend, read on.

Why JavaScript?

JavaScript isn’t just the most popular frontend programming language in the world, it also happens to be the most popular programming language in the world, period. Also when it comes to Frontend development, there’s no argument, JavaScript is the language to learn, full stop. That was an easy one!

Okay, but why Python?

Unlike Frontend, there are actually a lot of choices out there when it comes to go-to backend languages for people. C/C++ were a mainstay for a long time, then Java came and stole the spotlight, and over the last few years Python has emerged as the fastest growing programming language, i.e. more people are adopting Python than any other backend languages. Normally top Computer Science departments have used either Java or C++ as their go-to language, now many are moving to Python (read more here).

Now what?

Stop reading this post and start learning either Javascript or Python, then come back a week or two from now and share with me what you built, happy coding, and keep reminding yourself, yes you can!

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