domaining business reviews 2012
Happy New Year’s everyone! Hope 2011 will be a great year for you!
Anyway, just wanted to share an idea I have had for some time now. Never really got a chance to do it myself initially, then I decided that the business opportunity isn’t that huge and I have to focus on bigger niches. It’s basically an aftermarket play exploiting the drop game, a domain flea market if you will.
The idea is simple – all of us domainers drop domains sometimes, we choose to let them expire. The idea is that somebody would build a service where you could push these domains, say 2 weeks before they expire, and offer them for $10 a piece + renewal fee. If two or more people would be interested in the same domain, a standard namejet style auction would follow. The service operator and the domainer would then split the proceeds 50/50.
The service would just need to create accounts at all the main registrars where domainers would push the domains and do some simple programming of the marketplace, not much work imho.
This idea is based on a simple premise: some people can find gems (in their perception) in your garbage.
I personally drop a couple hundred thousand domains a year. The thing is that my only criteria for renewal is if the domains make reg fee. If they don’t, I simply let the domain drop and there are definitely gems in these drops that other people can discover but I don’t have time for.
I hope I created a new buzzword “drop monetization”:). Hope somebody picks this idea up. Good luck with it!
Sorry for not posting much lately. First two weeks of November I was too busy. Second two weeks I was depressed (manio-depression sucks). Last week I am hyper though again so back in work mode. Just wanted to give a little update on things I am working on and how things are going.
- Elephant Traffic – since I last posted about ET has grown tremendously, we are currently monetizing about 550k uniques a day, which is a very decent chunk of traffic. Our advertiser base is growing on a daily basis and on some domains we are peforming 10x better than parking. If you have high volume domains doing over 1k uniques a day, contact us, we can beet your current monetization by a big margin. We’ve also expanded the team and planning version 2.0 hopefully next week.
- Elephant Orchestra lead generation – Still growing very nicely, we are now doing $200k in revenue a month, however we do have some issues with profitability, so we need to work hard on our margins, 30% is not enough. We need to get it up to 40% next year and double revenue, then it will be a pretty nice business. We’ve added a lot of bluechip clients in the last two months such as the Czech Rep’s biggest bank etc, expanded into new verticals such as utilities and travel etc.
- Otherwise we continue to be chased by venture capital, we just had a meeting with a fund with over $11 billion under management, they seem to be pretty interested. Otherwise word is on the street that we are planning an IPO in Poland, funny we had Nasdaq OMX contact us as a result and pitching their exchange to us as a better option
- When it comes to my own domain portfolio, I’ve been selling off a little. I sold about 20k domains in the last two weeks alone. I don’t usually sell much, but this is probably the best time of the year to do so since ppc is high. Plan is to use the cash to deleverage a little, maybe build a little warchest for some nice acquisitions.
- I”m thinking of buying one multimillion domain at the moment, so I’ve been putting together the cash, arranging a little investor syndicate and raising some debt for it. We’ll see how it goes. Plan is, believe it or not, develop!
- Otherwise Rick Latona has a new venture called WatchBrokers.com, so I put some money into that along with my friend Ammar. Looks very promising. Basically it’s a cash4gold concept, but for luxury watches. And I also think Rick can pull it off.
- I’m also bankrolling a new start up that is playing around with some semantics, we want to build out a new news aggregation service that will have some advanced features such as sentiment, emerging story spotting, some hyperlocal features etc. More news soon.
- Otherwise my friend Ondrej Bartos finally launched his venture fund Credo Ventures, so I put in a million euros into that. Plan is to finance promissing Czech and regional IT/biotech companies. Somehow makes me feel a little bit good as well as it’s nice to plow some money back and help start-ups.
- Otherwise my facebook game development venture Viral Maniacs that I bankrolled didn’t go so well, so we had to lay off the whole gaming division, we will just be focusing on apps now. One big one coming hopefully still this year, gut feeling that it might be a killer. All is not yet lost hopefully.
- What has been absolutely hot hot hot is our online insurance broker ePojisteni.cz. We are now the biggest in the Czech Rep, doing about 4,500 car insurance contracts a month. Our staff has grown to 50 people there and is actually starting to be a bottleneck since we need more skilled phone brokers. Early next year we’ll launch a new site with more products and also run a big media campaign for around $1 mil. That should boost our dominance further.
- Otherwise I had to scratch plans for the wood pellet factory in Eastern Slovakia. Corruption there is terrible and I refused to give bribes. Nothing was simply possible there with stuffing somebodies pockets, so in the end we didn’t get the contract for wood etc.
- My lipousuction chain Slim & Go is a little shit now, a) it’s a bad season now and b) competition has gone up like crazy and everybody is discounting like hell. We opened a new one in Brno though and will open in Ceske Budejovice in january.
- What’s been really fun lately is this movie we are making together with a friend. We have a pretty decent budget for a Czech film, hired the mexican cameraman who did Amorres Perros, so shots look really good. I’ll hopefully have a little teaser in a few weeks, so will post it here.
- Also have plans to open a new small club in Prague, little bit of a freak show. I’m talking midgets, women in latex, men in wehrmacht uniforms, cyberpunk music etc. Will be fun hopefully. Still early stage idea at this point only.
- Otherwise the European Poker Tour is coming to Prague next week, so will be probably playing the main event or at least the heads up event. Have had a pretty sick run in poker in the last two weeks, up more than $40k, mostly in heads up cash games.
- As for my travel plans, I’ll probably show up at Affiliate Summit in Vegas and DomainFest in LA, so if you’re coming, let me know.
P.S. Keep it real!
Earlier this year I wrote a post about the likely consolidation in the parking business and that Namedrive was very likely to play a role in it. Seems like I have been right and Namedrive is being bought by Key Systems. Should be made public very soon… Otherwise the parties in Prague are starting to get really tough here at DomainFest
I see a lot of domainers diversify into real estate when they start making money. They view it as something similar to domains. The truth is that they would have been much better off if they would have kept re-investing in domains or other businesses.
My perception is that real estate investments are a sinful waste of money, money that maybe yields 5% per year. For us domain investors that is a petty return. If I would have a choice, I would prefer to have money in the bank than in real estate. Because it’s liquid and available for opportunistic deal making and this liquidity outweighs the forgone yield for me.
The main arguement made by domainers is that real estate is a very secure investment. Every domainer has paranoias that his domains might be taken away but he knows that nobody is going to take his house away. Hence they sacrifice yield in favour of security.
The big secret is that you do not have to sacrifice yield in exchange for security. The answer is diversification. If you have a diversified portfolio of high yielding investments (like domains) or businesses (obviously running the risk that some of these may default/go bancrupt) you will still be better off in the long run than if you plow money into real estate.
I like to illustrate things with analogies, so here’s one from the bond market. In the long run, a well diversified portfolio of junk bonds will perform better than a portfolio of tripleA rated bonds. Some of the junk bonds will obviously default, but the higher yield of the others will more than compensate for this in comparison to the AAA’s.
I am generally cautious with new monetization platforms. So I’m generally not the first to jump on the bandwagon for tests. I prefer other friends to test out first and if I get a decent recomendation I start thinking about it. That was the case with WhyPark. I heard a lot of positives about it during DomainFest in January.
I’ve known Craig for some time, so I finally decided to run a test. Two weeks ago I pushed over a couple thousand domains onto their system that were making zero – we tested them on pretty much every parking company, so these were domains relegated to being dropped. From day one they started making about $20/day on WhyPark and about 7k uniques/day. Today it’s two weeks later and they are getting 11k uniques/day, so search engines are starting to pick them up. The amount of searches and clicks are going up as well, as the WhyPark team optimizes the domains. Yesterday they made $80, which is a great result if you look at it that previously they were making zero and were ready to be dropped. Seems like the earnings still have potential to go higher.
The test has been successful, so I’ve decided to put much more domains on WhyPark very soon. Well done WhyPark boys, looking forward to doing more business! Your platform has proved itself to me.
Over the short time I’ve been in the domaining business, I’ve experimented with both reserve and no-reserve auctions. If I balance the pro’s and con’s I am strongly in favour of no-reserve auctions, especially for domains where it is likely multiple parties will be interested in the domain. The upside of a no-reserve auction here outbalances the risk for me (of the domain selling for less than I’d like). For example, just a few minutes ago we had two no-reserve auctions ending on Sedo. We ended selling 949.com for $13,560 and 313.com for $25,000. My original expectation was aroud $30k for both, so the upside (even less Sedo’s commission) worked out well for us. I think the fact that it was a no-reserve auction brought a lot of this upside. Few months ago, the no-reserve format worked out very well for us with the our auction of 64.com, which went all the way to $90k. So I continue to strongly support the no-reserve format because I also want to see more liquidity.
DOMAINSPONSOR® EXPANDS DOMAINFEST® TO EUROPE --Early October event in Prague will focus on networking, building European business interest in online real estate-- LOS ANGELES, Calif. and FRANKFURT, Germany. DomainSponsor®, the domain monetization business unit of Oversee.net® and organizer of the DOMAINfest® series of conferences, said today that it will expand the highly regarded franchise into Europe with a conference in Prague, Czech Republic. The two-day event will be held Wednesday and Thursday, October 6 and 7, 2010 at the landmark Hotel Intercontinental located in the heart of one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. Building on the success of last month’s event in Santa Monica, California, the October meeting will continue DOMAINfest’s focus on increasing the value of Internet real estate and will offer a rich setting for extensive networking involving topics relevant not only to domain investors from Europe, but also from around the world. Subject-matter experts will be invited to facilitate the networking sessions on Wednesday, October 6th. The first day will also include a Moniker® Premium Domain Name Auction powered by SnapNames LiveTM technology. Day 2 will be focused on social activities in and around Prague designed to provide the kind of shared experiences that can contribute to the building of long-term relationships between DOMAINfest Europe attendees. Conference details, including the agenda and speakers, will be released in June, 2010. “DOMAINfest Europe is an excellent opportunity for European publishers, online marketers, and domain-related service providers to meet and discuss ways to increase the value of domain names, which we like to refer to as Internet real estate, “ said Peter Celeste, Senior Vice President of Oversee.net and General Manger, Monetization Services. “The DomainSponsor team looks forward to becoming more engaged with the European domain investor community, and this forum is the perfect venue to exchange ideas and build relationships. As with all DOMAINfest events, we will be offering affordable registration rates to encourage maximum participation from a wide range of talented professionals from both inside and outside our industry.” In January, 2010, DomainSponsor hosted a highly successful DOMAINfest Global® conference in Santa Monica, California that attracted more than 600 professionals from a variety of internet-related industries. The conference included a variety of sessions over a three day period, including a keynote fireside chat with Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com. This recent DOMAINfest conference also featured a first-ever PITCHfest contest, structured networking sessions, and moderated general sessions with experts from the world of investment, advertising, and marketing. Videos of each session, including the keynote fireside chat, can be viewed at http://www.domainfest.com. In November 2009, DomainSponsor announced the establishment of its European head office in Frankfurt, Germany with Joerg Schnermann as General Manager. Moniker® Auction Moniker will host a live premium domain name auction on Wednesday, October 6 followed by an extended online-only auction from October 7 to October 14. Specific start and end times for each auction event will be announced June 1, 2010. The live auction offers real-time online viewing and bidding from anywhere in the world via a free software download. Details on how to bid in-person or remotely in any Moniker live auction can be found at http://domainauctions.moniker.com . Registration and Sponsorship Opportunities Registration for DOMAINfest Europe will be open June 1, 2010. The early bird registration rate will be US$395 until July 1st. A discounted rate of US$495 will then be available until September 1st, at which point the price increases to US$595. Companies interested in sponsorship opportunities can contact email@example.com . About DOMAINfest® Founded and hosted by DomainSponsor®, the domain monetization division of Oversee.net, the DOMAINfest® conference brings domain industry and Internet professionals together to learn, network, and do business. Attendees include online advertising experts, domain publishers, domain monetization experts, SEO and SEM specialists, website developers, online marketers, ad or affiliate network suppliers, search advertising providers, venture capitalists, bankers and trademark/legal advisors. Visit http://www.domainfest.com for more information. About Oversee.net Oversee.net® is the leader in Internet real estate, specializing in monetizing, registering, selling and developing domain names. The company provides an array of managed services to domain investors, corporations, and individuals across more than ten million web sites. Oversee owns one of the largest portfolios of domain names in the world. The company’s unique optimized technology connects consumers and advertisers with highly relevant advertisements. Headquartered in Los Angeles, the company’s core brands include DomainSponsor®, SnapNames®, Moniker® and LowFares.comTM. To learn more, please visit www.oversee.net.
Some things are irrational or absurd, without explanation. One of these things seems to be a complete lack of revenue data about domains on the various aftermarket platforms. Even though a domain’s parking revenue would strongly influence the selling price of a domain, nobody is even bothered with communicating this information to potential buyers who may be interested in bidding and revenue is a key factor for them. For some unknown reason potential buyers are forced to estimate and their accuracy determines their success. Buyers focused on traffic/revenue names on the various dropcatching platforms can strongly support this argument.
Domains that generate a constant stream of parking revenue are the most liquid part of the domain universe because most smart domain investors buy on yield, not on potential development potential, end-user resale value etc since these values are just hypothetical and speculative whereas yield=cashflow. There is always somebody who wants to buy yield. The people who have had the biggest success in this business focused on yield.
Cashflow domains generally sell in bulk portfolios for a given revenue multiple. Say you buy a portfolio o 1000 domains making $10k/month for a 5 year revenue multiple, so you pay $600k for it. You are buying/selling the revenue of the entire portfolio, you are not really looking at the individual domains.
This is where the opportunity in the aftermarket lies – If you would unbundle the portfolio and sell it by individual names, you might get a total of 7 years revenue, for example, for the entire portfolio. The reason being that certain people might see more value in certain names for which they are willing to pay more (because for example they have a better way to monetize the traffic). So somebody may be willing to pay a higher multiple for your travel traffic names, somebody for finance traffic names etc. Somebody may see development potential in the name. Somebody might assess the risk of the domain differently etc.
Somebody smart can quickly carve out this niche in the aftermarket and start focusing on revenue names and include detailed parking stats with every domain for sale. Buyers will then simply be bidding based on what revenue multiple they are willing to pay for the name, ideally in an auction format.
In a previous post about Bido, I said that I think Bido will have to fundamentally change its model to start making money. This is the direction I think it should go, because this is where potentially the money is and it is an unoccupied niche. Instead of focusing on names with predominantly speculative value that usually catch the eye of 1 or 2 bidders (as hard as you try), why not focus on revenue names where you are likely to get interest from tens of different bidders if you can create a liquid marketplace.
I really enjoy reading the feature stories on DNJournal, they bring a lot of inspiration. What usually most of the profiled people share in common is a pretty comfortable middle to upper class upbringing (I’m no different) which to a large extent helped them to be successful in their future business careers.
Today I want to tell you part of the life story of a huge domainer (easily over $200k in revenue per month), because it is one of the most breathtaking and fascinating stories I have ever heard and really differs from all of us. This person comes from Eastern Europe just like me and I have got to know him pretty well in the last two years, although we have met in person only a few times. This guy is completely under the radar, so obviously I will keep his name private. Let’s just call him Igor for the purpose of this story.
Igor spent most of his teenager years still behind the iron curtain, growing up under the communist regime of the time. The times were tough then, shops were undersupplied, there was a lack of freedom, you couldn’t travel etc. Igor dropped out of school early, never finishing high school. His first major encounter with life was when his father committed suicide when he was a teenager, to be found by Igor’s brother. Igor would later attempt to committ suicide himself through a rohypnol overdose, which he fortunately survived (he woke up 48 hours later). With the revolution in 1989, Igor discovered he had an entrepreneural spirit and decided to go into business, opening a newsstand at a train station. Unfortunately he ended bancrupt with no money, he had to find a new way how to provide himself with a living quickly. During his time working at the newsstand he got acquainted with some of the homosexual prostitutes residing there, which would tell him about their “business” and the potential of making decent money from it. Because of the situation he was in, he opted for this option and moved to Germany, where he would prostitute himself for over a year (although being straight himself). He also had a stint in Switzerland, only to be banned from the country for 10 years. As his financial situation improved, he came back and went back into business, starting a book wholesale operation. This career was brought to a halt though as he got involved in a serious car accident for which he was sentenced to two years in prison. After being released from prison he again started a new business, this time in import-export, where he finally found some success. The internet was becoming integral to this business and Igor stumbled upon the relatively new Google Adsense programme, which he implemented on his export related websites. After making 50 cents in the first day, he saw potential in this and was looking at ways to scale this and was quickly drawn to domains, which he would acquire through drops. Even though he had a demon called alcohol haunting him (he would go through two bottles of vodka a night working), he would put immense amounts of work into his new passion of domains and would observe his portfolio and parking revenue grow every month, mainly through re-investing all his income back into domains. Today, his portfolio numbers tens of thousands of domains and is still growing every day.I really admire this guy because he is one of the smartest people in the business, has a huge drive to move forward and has an unbelievable sense of humour. This guy is the biggest charater in the biz and is 100% pure. I hope a movie is made out of his life one day.