So for those who have been reading my blog for the last decade or so, you know I get pretty darn sentimental and appreciative right about now. In the past I’ve written long posts thanking dozens of people, and while I have a lot more than three people to thank in 2020, I’m going to start with three.

It would be a serious understatement to say that 2020 wasn’t a tough year for everyone, some in similar ways, others in different ways. And on that note I’d like to start by honoring everyone we lost this year, and to give a big 🙏 to all of those who have been saved this year.

While we you can look at 2020 as a year of division, I’m a glass half full kind of guy and I appreciate all of the things people did to strengthen their community and help others. The three people in this post are people who helped me and many others in 2020, and I want to end the year saying “Thank you!” to them, and giving them some love and appreciation. So here we go…

Braden Pollock – Braden I have been friends for somewhere in the 13-15 years range. I’m at that point now where I’m getting too old to remember the exact year, but I have a tight range so we’ll stick with that. Beyond being an exceptional friend, I can proudly say that Braden is #1 on my list when it comes to people I admire and want to be more like in life.

Along with starting and investing in more amazing businesses than I can list, Braden also shares, helps, and connects with as many people as he can. When I first met Braden I thought there must have been some angle, some edge, that he was getting out of connecting with so many people. I quickly learned that it was more about hearing other perspectives and just genuinely appreciating people, their approach, and ideas.

I could go on, no seriously I could, for a whole post just about Braden, but I’ll leave it at this and tell you that I’m honored to call him a close friend and every time I spend time with him I am more inspired. Thank you Braden 🙏, you made 2020 much better for me.

Ron Jackson – as someone that somehow ended up writing a daily blog about domain names, I can say with 100% certainty that my journalist hero is Ron Jackson. Ron is one of the most talented and dedicated journalists I have had the pleasure to get to know in my life.

What I truly appreciate about Ron is how much he cares. For those who have been reading DNJournal for 10+ years like I have, you know that Ron doesn’t just get stories out there. Instead, like an artist, Ron puts together meaningful impactful articles and approaches journalism in the way that I think we wish all journalists would.

On top of all of that, and on a more personal note, I have always been in awe of the amazing marriage Ron and Diana have. If you don’t believe in soulmates, spend some time with Ron and Diana and you will. Thank you both for brining peace and joy to my life in 2020 🙏

Francois Carrillo – Francois has created what I think we can all agree is the go-to resources for Domainers. I am always incredibly thankful that Francois does what he does, he brings the community together and through a lot of hard work has built a truly exceptional resource.

I have a secret plan (that’s not so secret any more) to someday meet Francois in France and do a live video interview with him. It’s safe to say the pandemic might delay my plan by a year or two but I’m really looking forward to the day I can make it happen.

Thank you Francois, you have made my life and countless other Domainers lives better in 2020. I am in awe of your vision for seeing what this industry would become so long ago, and honored to be a part of the vision you helped form.

Okay, well it’s 10:30PM on New Years Eve, time to go! I hope you’re all having happy and safe end to 2020, here’s to an exciting 2021, no matter what lays ahead of us, we’re going through it together! 🙌

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Flippa, the world’s largest marketplace for buying and selling online businesses and websites recently released a new offering called Flippa Exclusives which you can think of as a small collection of private, off-market listings.

Out of the gate I’m told the new offering will be available to people who run their business using Quickbooks Online, Stripe, or Shopify which should cover a ton of businesses. That being said, it sounds like Flippa will be adding support for apps, Saas, eComm, and media ad businesses shortly.

What I’ve noticed, that you might be noticing as well is that Flippa is really trying to up their game when it comes to verifying revenue stats. By connecting directly with accounting solutions like Quickbooks Online and payments solutions like Stripe Flippa can go much further to verify that the money a businesses says they make, is actually what they’re making.

🤩 🤩 🤩 So there’s one feature I read about that well, deserved the star eyes emoji, and three of them. Flippa has a price beat guarantee that I’m not sure I’ve seen before on any marketplace. Essentially, Flippa will ensure that you sell your asset and pay lower fees than anywhere else. As for all the mechanisms they employ to do this, I can’t tell you, but it’s a guarantee so it sounds like they’ll do what it takes.

So when will Flippa users opt for Private Exclusives?

  • IMO one of the best uses of this new option is to test market demand
  • Companies where key partners might see an exit as risky
  • Companies where the owners or employees want to make sure to keep the sale private and discreet

Flippa has a massive market of buyers that includes Private Equity firms and institutional buyers so I can see sellers with six and seven figure businesses really digging this new option. Qualifying assets can select the option through Flippa’s onboarding process or contact AccountManager(at)flippa.com for more information.

Congrats to Flippa on adding this feature – while we might not hear about the sales, my guess is this will make 2021 one heck of a year for them! 🥳

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Root.me domain auction

Lately ccTLDs have been seen impressive bidding wars on expired domain auction sites like Park.io. Over the course of 2020 both .IO and .CO saw strong interest with many one-word domains selling in the the four figure range at auction. While .GG and .VC tend to show up on the list they rarely take the top spot and .ME is there every once and a while but not often.

So I was surprised to see a .ME domain, Root(.)me break past $2,000 in bidding at Park.io and as of me writing this it currently sits at $2,550:

Root.me domain auction

I first started investing in .CO and .ME domains in 2010, back then these two ccTLDs found themselves as the most likely choice for startups that couldn’t get the .COM or .NET. This was also when .NET started to slip and options beyond the big three (com/net/org) became a real thing.

While I feel like I hear about .IO and .CO every day, I haven’t seen .ME as frequently as I did…but auctions like these make me wonder if it’s coming back in style, especially as more .IO and .CO names are taken and the prices keep going up.

Both Root(.)io and Root(.)co are taken but undeveloped and Root(.)com is owned by a company called Root Advisors who I’m guessing wouldn’t be very interested in parting with the name. Looking at past sales data the highest reported sale for a Root(.)something is Root(.)global which sold for $7,800 back in 2014.

For those who remember back to 2011, .ME had a major blockbuster sale, also for a four character word, Meet(.)me which went for $450,000. Fun fact about that sale, the domain was jointly owned between Michael Berkens, Rick Schwartz, and Ammar Kubba.

This sale, while almost ten years ago, definitely proved that there are buyers that will pay mid six-figures for a .ME domain. Now, with bidding activity heating up in the aftermarket it will be interesting to see if demand for .ME increases, and with it – prices. The same happened to .IO and .CO over the last few years, and it could be happening right now with .ME.

We’ll see, if there’s one thing that is certain about the domain world it’s that things can and do change all the time. Keeping an eye on trends and getting in early, and with strong domains, leads to sales like Mike, Rick and Ammar did nine year ago…

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Nailed It

With a handful of days left in 2020, predictions for 2021 are getting out there and one that is getting a lot of positive attention, and for good reason, comes from Nikul from Hypernames in an interview with Andrew from DNW. I heard about the interview on Twitter from Josh Reason in this tweet:

Shane joined in and shared what I think we all are leaving 2020 thinking, 2021 is going to be an incredible year for domain owners. No matter how you slice it, having a strong online presence has become a must-have for all businesses, big and small, and at the core of that presence is domain names.

I thought Andrew’s 2021 predictions interview was awesome so I suggest you listen to the whole thing but like Josh pointed out, Nikul really nails it just around the 29 minute mark. You can listen to the episode directly below:

Thanks to Andrew for putting this podcast episode together and to Nikul for sharing some words of wisdom. While I know you probably want me just to quote the episode to share these nuggets with you, and Nikul has ten so it’s well worth a listen. Enjoy!

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Merry Christmas 2020

I wanted to take a moment to wish all my readers around the world a very Merry Christmas for those who celebrate it. While I was raised Jewish, we always celebrated both Hanukkah and Christmas as it’s still one of my favorite holidays.

Usually Daina and I go somewhere outside of the US for Christmas but this year for obvious reasons we’re staying home and doing Xmas here in SF just us and our two cats, Milo and Minshka.

I was just looking over my blog stats for this year and am always so amazed to see how global my audience is, from Europe to Asia, Africa and Australia, my readers really are spread all over the world.

Since today is all about spending time with family I’m going to end it here and keep this short and sweet. Merry Christmas from my family to yours!

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2021

When it comes to domain investing I’ve always felt that we’re incredibly lucky (Domainers that is) for many reasons. One of those reasons is that people who make millions of dollars (or tens of millions of dollars) buying and selling domains readily share advice and help other members of the community.

Thirteen years ago when I started buying and selling domains my go-to blogs were Rick’s Blog, DNJournal, and Domain Name Wire, today they are still three of my favorites. While Rick isn’t writing daily on his blog I still go back and read past posts and I always look out for his tweets as that’s become a great way to get more insights from him.

One point that Rick has made over and over is that too many domain investors undervalue their domains, big time. Rick has developed a methodology that focuses on the costs a business would incur paying for a physical storefront for 10 years. I’ll be honest, the first time I read this it didn’t stick, I thought there was no way I could use that as a justification for domain value.

Fast forward to today, and like the post title says, it’s the one piece of advice I’m keeping front-and-center as we go into 2021. Rick recently wrote a great blog post celebrating his 25th year as a domain investor and continuing to hammer home this critical point. Below are two tweets Rick included in the post that I think are absolute gold.

For those who missed the news, three days ago Rick announced he had sold GoBet(.)com for $850,000. The offer went from $70k all the way up to the final sale price in 18 months. I think most of us would have sold this name for less than $100k. If you’re in the group of people that would have sold it for six-figures, my guess is you’d take the money and run at $200k.

You, me, and most other people would have left $650,000 on the table. Rick has always seen domain names for the incredibly rare and valuable asset that they are, and it all comes back to his analysis of what a storefront would cost the business over ten years.

Prices for good domains names is only going up, we’ve all seen it this year, and we’ll all see it next year. Going into 2021 I have Rick’s methodology cemented in my mind, and while I’ll be saying no a lot more than ever before, I’ve never been more excited for what I will end up saying yes to.

Thanks to Rick for keeping this mantra going, it’s such a great reminder as we close out the year and get ready for the next one. Don’t ever forget how valuable a domain is for a business, and don’t say nobody told you how to calculate that value – Rick has put together the ultimate cheat sheet, in public on his blog, now go read it!

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All over Twitter and Product Hunt I can’t seem to miss a new real-time messaging app called Honk. The idea is one that I do think has a real chance of catching-on – rather than typing a message to someone and hitting send, Honk allows the receiving party to see the message, in real-time as you type.

Like more and more startups these days, Honk decided to stick with a one-word brand name and forgo the .COM at launch and instead go with Honk.me. I did a bit of research and determined that nobody was actively using the .com, .net, .org, .co, .io, and the .ai forwards to a Github repo so it’s very possible for them to rank well for Honk and become known as Honk without any issues.

While there is always the chance that someone else will buy the .COM, I would guess they’ve probably tried to already buy it from the current owner and know it’s out of budget for most people. At the same time, I think .ME is a great choice for what they’re trying to do here, they really want to turn “honk” into a verb. And just like someone would say, “text me,” they want people to start saying “honk me.”

I think Honk has a pretty interesting idea for making messaging more dynamic and I’m looking forward to trying it out. Congrats to Benji and team! 🎉

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In June the sale of Jackpot.io was announced and coming in at $48,500 it still stands as one of the top .IO sales of all time. The seller who goes by Bar (@ppcbz on Twitter) has been very active on Twitter and he’s quickly become one of my favorite domain investors to follow.

Today Bar shared his stats for 2020 and like the post title says, he cleared the $100k mark coming in at $113,000 to be exact, here’s a high-level breakdown of the COGS and top line revenue:

Bar 2020 domain sales

Before I go any further I know someone is going to say, “hey but he probably bought more than 11 domain names to build his portfolio!” And yes, that’s true but it’s clear based on this data that Bar knows how to pick em’ since turning $3,782 into $113k is no small feat.

Bar did comment on this as well in his tweet:

Domain sales details

Bar went on to share that he has around 700 domains in his portfolio so for those doing the math he still has ~98% of his portfolio left. Oh, and this is a very good thing IMO. If you’re able to generate over $100k from your portfolio while parting ways with only a handful of names, that’s a good sign. Of course this assumes a portfolio full of evenly matched domains but it’s clear Bar has a good eye so my guess is there isn’t too much junk in his portfolio and more names like these are relatively abundant still.

Also, while the Jackpot.io sales definitely catapulted Bar into .IO legend status, only ~100 of the domains in his portfolio are .IO, he’s mostly a .COM guy. Given that almost half of his annual revenue came from one .IO domain, I think it’s safe to say that he’s pretty darn happy he has a good chunk of .IO names as well.

Congrats to Bar on a great 2020 and thanks for sharing your journey with all of us, now here’s to 2021! 🎉

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DND.com

Yesterday I saw a tweet from one of my favorite people in the domain name world, Alan Dunn about the launch of DND.com, a new resource about domain names and branding that is like nothing I’ve seen before.

Here’s a quick overview of what the site is all about:

DND (Domain Name Data) is a collection of unique perspectives about domain names, branding, and online commerce. Contributors include people from all around the world with diverse backgrounds.

(Source – DND.com)

As for the people behind the site, well it’s about as impressive of a group that you could think of putting together to share insights about domain names, branding, and online commerce.

Alan Dunn – Managing Director of NameCorp and digital naming expert and brand consultant with 20+ years of experience.

Jeff Gabriel – co-founder of Saw.com and one of the most well-known domain brokers in the world.

Jamie Zoch – founder of DotWeekly and well-known domain name consultant for 14+ years.

Andrei Polgar – best-selling author of One Minute Economics and long-time domain name industry veteran.

Wendy Leung – previously the VP of Operations at Domain Holdings, Wendy has 10+ years of experience in digital marketing and 5+ years of operation experience with deep expertise in digital marketing and analytics.

Mark Daniel – Managing Director of Domain Holdings and the man behind some monster sales of domains like Internet.com, Hero.com, Purple.com and more.

I spent some time last night reading some of the articles on the site and quickly found myself totally absorbed in a super cool experience about color and who owns the .COM. You’ll notice that I said experience because this was more than an article, it was an interactive experience where you both read about the power of color when it comes to branding and then can move over colored squares to reveal who owns the corresponding .COM.

So I think I ended up reading half the articles on the site last night and I can tell you the rest are going to be my weekend reading. As you can tell, I’m impressed and with the team behind DND.com I think this will quickly become one of the go-to resources on the Internet about domain names, branding, and online commerce.

Congrats to Alan and the whole team! 🎉

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.AR Domains

As we all know .AI has seen one heck of a run over the last few years as more and more startups are branding around this TLD. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been raised by companies using a .AI domain name and Expert.ai sold for over $100,000 this summer.

While AI is one of the hottest trends in the world (not just the tech world) right now, AR (Augmented Reality) is heating up as companies like Apple begin to discuss their entrance into the space with their own dedicated hardware.

recent report from The Information says new AR lenses are entering a trial production phase for Apple’s AR hardware (9to5Mac also breaks the report down). These lenses aren’t for an immediate product yet, but the lenses sound much closer to normal glasses than current AR headsets allow.

From there, Apple could add AR features and let newcomers settle into the experience. Augmented reality is weird and potentially off-putting, and people will need to feel out how much of it is right for them. The original Apple Watch was designed to be glanced at for five seconds at a time. Maybe the same idea is in the works for Apple AR features.

“Apple Glass” was one purported name for the glasses. Not surprising, since the watch is the Apple Watch, the TV box is the Apple TV. Apple could have gone the “Air” route like “AirFrames,” but I wonder if these things will end up being tethered some of the time.

(Source – CNET)

I’m hearing more and more about AR lately from friends and I personally am pretty darn excited about Apple’s new AR glasses that are liekly going to come out in a year or two. So I thought, maybe now could be a good time to pick up a few .AR domains?

In the past when I’ve bought .AI, .ML or just about any other ccTLD I tend to go to 101Domains first, so I did the same here and fifteen minutes later I had spent around $400 on some nice one word .AR names. Then I got an email – there was an error and every single was actually unavailable to register.

Now I wasn’t completely surprised, I had cherry picked what I thought would be some of the best one-word names to couple with .AR and since it’s not a brand new extension, I’m not surprised someone got to them before me. I asked around and it turns out that all registrars seem to have some issues with .AR and their availability API.

I did a little poking around to see if I could find any sales data on .AR names and the only one I could find in NameBio was Betway.ar which sold for $1,500 on Sedo in late November. Of course, like any new unproven domain extension, I only put money in that I’m okay losing and I don’t buy too many names, just enough to test the market.

What I do like about .AR is that it’s definitely an emerging trend that only going to get bigger once players like Apple are in the game with their own dedicated hardware, and it has a much lower holding cost than .AI. As for how to get my hands on some? Well it looks like I’ll be trying my luck again at 101Domains until I manage to get a few names, then up goes an Efty landing page and we’ll see what happens 🤷‍♂️

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