“So I Did What Anybody Would Do” – Domaining IS Mainstream!

Why would you advertise your company during the Super Bowl if your target audience wasn’t average Americans? GoDaddy’s phenomenal growth over the last few years is evidence enough- domaining is mainstream! While the average person might throw their arms up in frustration at not finding an available name they like, they certainly won’t hesitate to register a name, phrase, portmanteau or new business idea they come up with either.

This was brought home to me recently while listening to a Long Now Foundation podcast. Listen to best-selling author and neuroscientist David Eagleman tell us about Possibilian.com. Notice the audience reaction when the subject of domain names is introduced.

(Click arrow to play audio) David Eagleman

My Rule Is Something You Can Spell

jason-calacanis-steve-huffman-twist-76
Jason Calacanis & Steve Huffman

Steve Huffman, co-founder of Reddit and Hipmunk was recently the guest on This Week In Startups with Jason Calacanis. In this audio clip, Steve and Jason share their frustration with acquiring good dot coms and discuss their minimal criteria for choosing a domain. Funny that but for the random passing of a S. American tourist, Reddit might have ended up being called Read.ly or something worse. This is a great episode where Steve tells the story of how Reddit got made, and then sold. He was 22 when he and a co-founder sold Reddit to Conde Naste for a rumored $25M. You can check out the entire episode, with show notes, here.

(Click arrow to play audio clip) Steve Huffman My rule is something you can spell.

A Great Domain Name Is a “Signal of Quality”

Again from ThisWeekInStartups.com, the Jason Calacanis ustream.tv show. It’s a great show, and the experience of watching it live has turned out to be a little bit addictive. Check out #TWIST on Twitter. Jason is simply Twitter.com/Jason.

In this audio clip from ‘Jason’s Shark Tank’, Jason tells caller/developer Kevin, of pikk.com what he likes about what Kevin’s created so far.

Signals of Quality

Jason Calacanis: Everyone should follow you on Twitter obviously, Pikk. You have that up and running, and you have a four letter domain name. These are, again, signals of quality for me. You have a decent domain name decent web design. I’m  not crazy about your web design, to be totally honest with you I think it’s a 7 or 8 out of 10 but, listen, Mahalo was a 6 out of 10 at one point, now it’s a 10 out of 10, so, it’s progress you know, and I can appreciate that. Smart enough to pick a four letter domain, great – how did you get the domain was that available or you bought it.
Kevin: I bought it.
Jason: Yeah, how much did that cost you?
Kevin: Ah, I’ve been told I got the bargain of the century, this cost me about twenty-five hundred dollars.
Jason: That’s a great deal.
Kamran Pourzanjani: Yeah.
Jason: For a four letter domain…

You’re Going To Wind Up With A Dot Com

But don’t take my word for it. Here’s another Jason Calacanis audio clip from This Week In Startups, episode 29.

Jason on ‘Dot Com’

The context is a domain/brand a caller mentioned in a previous ‘Ask Jason’ segment.

Jason Calacanis: Isn’t it amazing though Tyler? The people with the naming.
Tyler Crowley: I just found out… I think lean.ly is available. With the dot L-Y which seems to be the hot new…
Jim Lanzone: Hmm!
Jason: Oh…
Tyler: Don’t get you started with that?
Jason: gov.ly? (refers to earlier in the conversation)
Tyler: gov.ly?
Jason: gov.ly
Tyler: lov.ly gov.ly
Jason: lov.ly gov.ly… I hate that nonsense.
Tyler: Yeah.. L-Y’s catchin’ on, so is dot F-M
Jason: (Sighs)
Tyler: But it gives people more of an option to come up with names… You use Bit.ly all day long!
Jason: You know what, De.licio.us did this as well, and then when they were successful they wound up buying Delicious dot com.
You’re going to wind up with a dot com anyway, You might as well make the effort and spend the money to get it early. So you don’t have to re-brand it!

Domains Are Brands – Square Squareup.com Fever Feedafever.com

I wasn’t the only one scratching his head when I read the TechCrunch story announcing Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s new, very cool, credit card reading startup. It’s called ‘Square’. But the domain is squareup.com. Here’s Elliot Silver’s take (links to full post)

TechCrunch reported today that Jack Dorsey, founder of Twitter, has launched a mobile payment service called Square. While the actual product/service looks pretty cool, I am surprised that someone with the capital resources such as Dorsey would launch a new brand on a domain name that is different from the actual brand.The big problem for Square is that they are using the domain name SquareUp.com for their website. This really defies logic to me for a couple of big reasons…

Exactly! Can’t afford it? Not worth it? It’s just a domain name? But it is difficult to supply the facts that support our side of the argument. The best evidence I’ve come across that supports, with data, the efficacy of a great (generic) domain name comes from Edwin Hayward at MemorableDomains.co.uk with a report entitled Improving PPC Search Engine Campaign Results Using Generic Domain Names (check out Ed Keay-Smith’s OzDomainer podcast interview with Edwin where he explains the report!) Still, that makes sense for PPC and generic domain names. But is branding any different? How? I’ll leave that for the comments and for another post. In the meantime I’d like to focus on this aspect alone: Why call your company one thing, Square, but have a different URL? If you can’t afford the domain name, at least call the company after the domain you do own!

Here’s another case. I may come back to this over time. When I first heard about ‘Fever’ it sounded interesting (I’m into feeds and feed readers). But I couldn’t find it! I’d heard about it on a podcast. It literally took minutes to find. Fever.com is a parked page with illness related ads popping up. Hmm, just curious, how expensive would Fever.com be? But maybe a lot. Because a domainer could be holding out for a play from a big pharmaceutical. So ‘Fever’ uses the domain feedafever.com. Not bad. Reasonably memorable. So why not call the product that? As/if Fever continues to gain momentum, I’ll update the Compete pics. but check it out. Don’t the numbers seem to be indicating, that as momentum for Fever grows, more traffic is being sent to the parked Fever.com page?

November 2, 2009

A month later.

Doesn’t it look like for whatever reason, Fever.com is getting more traffic?
What do you think? Is that extra traffic likely to be people looking for ‘Fever’?
What makes me nervous about all this is thinking about what will happen to the price of the domain over time if/when Fever becomes very popular.
Like I mention in a previous post, $75,000 for Poken.com?!!!
Acquire your startup domain names early!
If you’re starting a company I’m happy to help brainstorm an available domain name or help you connect with a great domain at a fair price.

Domains ARE Brands!

I’ve been listening to a LOT of startup related podcasts. Especially ThisWeekInStartups.com mentioned earlier and Andrew Warner’s Mixergy.com. I’ve pretty much spent the last month going over every one of Andrew’s podcasts. It’s surprising how many startups miss the boat on domains and how that can impact marketing efforts. I think this clip from an interview Andrew did with Grasshopper.com founder Siamak Taghaddos pretty much sums up what I hear over and over again.

Siamak Taghaddos

Seems pretty obvious, right? But here’s an example (from another excellent Mixergy interview) of what so often happens.
Noah Kagan

Matt (WordPress / www.Ma.tt) had to get it. Would like to know more about that story.
Matt Mullenweg

Otis (of Goodreads.com) definitely gets it. Exactly, “a good domain will give you a 30% extra chance of success”.
Otis Chandler

Sure, domain names can be expensive. But the trouble is, the larger you grow your company, the more you
run the risk that someone is going to hold that domain name hostage (and why shouldn’t they, really?)
I guess my point is that getting the right domain name upfront will save you a lot of money in the long run.
If you would like help finding or acquiring a domain name for your startup please drop me a line. I love to
brainstorm domains and can help broker a deal for a domain that’s already owned.

In The News.
From: DomainNameWire.com

Social gadget company upgrades its domain name.
Sedo
has brokered the sale of Poken.com for $75,000 to a company that bills itself as a mobile social business card.

According to the web site, “poken is your ’social business card.’ it’s an easy way to share your contact details and online social networks in the real world. just hold two poken palms together – high4! – and you’re connected.”

The web site makes it look like a product primarily for teenagers. This domain is a big upgrade, as it appears the company has been using DoYouPoken.com as its web site.

From: DotWeekly.com

Ad.ly Purchases Adly.com Domain Name
Ad.ly is becoming a very popular in-stream advertising platform for Twitter.com users and they just purchased what would be considered a typo of their domain name, Adly.com for $6,000 at Sedo.com .

Adly.com was first registered in late 2001 and changed hands to Adly Inc. on 10-31-2009.

This is a very wise purchase for Adly Inc. because not only could the domain name be considered a typo of it’s Ad.ly domain, but it also matches the company name exactly.

I think Adly Inc. got a Great Deal on the new domain purchase, as Adly is a nice 4 letter brandable domain name… Just like Ad.ly decided to name their company!

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Entrepreneurship 101 – Name Your Company The Same As Your Domain Name

From Jason Calacanis of Mahalo and ThisWeekInStartups.com TWIST Episode 16.

Listen to the clip

Jason Calacanis –   … Number one, the name is terrible… If the name of the company is Aardvark you should own Aardvark dot com. They only own Vark dot com. I mean this is like 101 entrepreneurship stuff like name your company the same as your domain name.  I don’t know, what’s the domain name of Challenge Post?
Brandon Kessler –  It’s ChallengePost.
Jason Calacanis – (sarcastic) Oh is it? Really? Do you wanna know the domain name of Mahalo, by chance? It’s Mahalo.com. Do you know where to find This Week In Startups?  That dot com. You know where to find Aardvark? Drop the a-a-r and the d,  and then put a dot com.
Aaron Vohen – What if they were thinking people don’t know how to spell Aardvark? They would try A-r-d-v-a-r-k.
Jason Calacanis – It wasn’t available obviously, but I mean if you’re…

[Follow-up from TWIST 31]
Listen: Vark ll

Walking the walk.

Calacanis then laid out $11,000 for the domain name Mahalo.com, which, at one point, had been a nude-celebrity site.

Of course there are exceptions (when you’re a seed investor and on the board perhaps?).
TWiST #17 with Ryan Block and Peter Rojas 32:30

Listen to the clip

Jason Calacanis –  I love the logo to g-d-g-t… and you can call it gadget
Ryan Block / Peter Rojas – You can call it gadget,  yeah.
Jason – People can just call it gadget.
Peter Rojas – I say g-d-t-g just so people know how to spell the url.
Ryan Block – I’ve been saying gadget a little bit more lately, but…
Jason – Yeah, people will get it. Anyway… Great to get a four, was that four letter domain available?
Ryan Block / Peter Rojas – We had to buy it but we didn’t have to spend very much. We had to buy it but… surprisingly affordable.
Jason – Under a G?
Ryan – Yeah.
Jason – Oh perfect. I mean, it’s not even a rounding error.
Ryan – So what it actually was was they had like a catalog of just letters. You know, so like g-d-g-t, g-d-g-s, g-d-g-r…
Jason – Oh there just waiting for people to buy them. They’re like, (as in company receptionist), Hello, Domain Squatting Scumbags, how can we help you?  Which domain did we take of yours… bastards… that’s quite a business idea… I think I  ought to do that. Let’s do it with five letters. Probably didn’t get to five letters yet.

Little bit of a disconnect here considering Jason’s comments in TWIST 16. But certainly understandable considering what Gadget.com or Gadgets.com might cost (guessing $400k). Looks like Gadget.com is a real site, but Gadgets.com is parked. Perhaps Gadgets.com owners Domain Capital would consider some sort of equity/lease-to-own deal.
Jason is obviously kidding when he refers to the previous owners of GDGT.com as “Domain squatting scumbags”, but he’s been around the interwebs for a long time. A lot of people do see domain investors as squatters. But only be because someone else has registered a domain name they want. At least a domain investor (or ‘domainer’) is looking to sell the domain! Better a domainer than a competitor who has bought up all the keywords in your niche for the sole purpose of keeping them out of your hands!

No Ads, No Clicks, No Revenue? What Business Model?

Something Chris Tolles, CEO of Topix.com said on a This Week In Startups episode got this started. He stated that Content was worth $.08 to every $1. of Search. Thanks to the magic of Twitter, a DomainNoob like myself, was able to follow-up with Chris directly for details. He pointed me to research (here and here) Mike Markson had conducted. Wow! You mean to say that for every $1 Google makes on Search, they (and we if we split it) make $.08 on (our) Content? Well sure, Mark’s figures could be off, and the articles were written in 2006, but even if they’re close… For me it begs the question, “Are we all just fodder for Google’s search engine?”

Then a post on Michael Berkens’  TheDomains.com blog about Comcast stealing error traffic, ” Comcast Launches “Domain Helper”: I Call It “Cash For Typos” re-sensitized me to how much it pisses me off that Verizon steals my type-in errors (costing me time and frustration) and re-directs to their ‘Domain Helper’ page full of ads. (Not to mention how much it pisses me off that OpenDNS isn’t Open at all and has their own version of browser-bar-Hijack-to-ads).

Then a friend who’s deep inside the web marketing business Tweeted how invasive ads are getting to be on some pages.
That all lead to me try the Adblock Plus Addon for Firefox, which blocks ads. Check out this 1:30 YouTube video for an overview. it really couldn’t be simpler.

Here’s what ad-free browsing looks like. I picked Ron Jackson’s DNJournal.com. I have a lot of respect for Ron Jackson and I very much appreciate the information he provides, but I’ve always hated visiting his site because the ads are so obnoxious. (If you haven’t heard it already, check out OzDomainer.com’s interview with Ron).

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Before AdBlock Plus (much of this is blinking)

After AdBlock Plus

After tweaking AdBlock Plus for Ron’s site. (Really easy to do)

 

I’ve been browsing ad-free for a few days now. I love it. I’m reminded how much I hate ads. I’m beginning to sense the psychic price (as Bill Hicks would have put it) we pay to see all these ads everywhere. I’m thinking about my own mini-site experiments whose whole purpose in life is to generate a few Adsense dollars. I’m thinking about all of us scampering around generating content for Google to monetize with ads.
And my point? I don’t know yet. But I don’t think I want to be in the ad business. And if it’s this easy to turn ads off, maybe it’s something we should all put a little thought into.

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“The First Man Gets The Oyster…

the second man gets the shell.
Andrew Carnegie.

Today marks the 4th year anniversary of My Trip To Domainland. 4 years ago I concluded a four figure deal on a domain name I’d owned for years. I bought it for a vanity video site where I planned to host my collection of off-beat backstage band banter and inanity. I’d invite other people to host their behind-the-scenes band craziness. It was named after a scene in Spinal Tap. It had absolutely NO generic value. In one of those Black Swan coincidences, a fellow had built a network of domains around one of the keywords and he needed my domain to flesh out his by now successful empire. Yesterday I did the math, and in dollars only, certainly not hours, it turns out I’m about $2k down from that initial domaining seed money. Apart from my domain flipping on Ebay experiment [Fail], I have not sold a single domain–the type of transaction that got me into domaining four years ago has never repeated itself. Certainly I’ve had a few offers, but they were LAME.

So am I getting out of domaining? Am I frustrated and miserable and full of loathing for Domain Kings, Magnates, Experts, Flippers, Whizzbangs and otherwise? Not at all! The fact is I still LOVE domaining! Really, don’t ask me why, I’m sure I don’t know. It’s got something to do with words. Something to do with collecting. Something to do with the potential for huge profits. Domaining gives my over-active imagination a productive place to play.

Which brings me to the question… Is Domaining (for me at least) a hobby? And am I okay with that?

Wikipedia: A hobby is a spare-time recreational pursuit.
“Hobbies are practiced for interest and enjoyment, rather than financial reward. ” Certainly in my case. “Examples include collecting, 300+, I like them all creative and artistic pursuits, Photoshop chops! making, tinkering, mini-sites! RSS feeeds and adult education I don’t think they mean that kind of Adult. Engaging in a hobby can lead to acquiring substantial skill, knowledge and experience Yes, but try to keep quiet about it at parties. However, personal fulfillment is the aim of course,  oh, and boatloads of cash somewhere down the road.
What are hobbies for some people are professions for others You know who you are. Generally speaking, the person who does something for fun, not remuneration, is called an amateur (or hobbyist), as distinct from a professional Elliot is a professional I’m not.

It is easier to turn a Hobby Business into a money making opportunity because the driver is passion and to some degree obsession. Turning your passion into a business say for example in arts and crafts domaining, a home studio internet connection and a credit card is all you need; a space to be creative exactly! Gift shops blogs, specialty stores SnapNames, galleries and arts cafes Sedo are the best avenues to exhibit and sell artworks, pottery, woodcraft, sewing craft domain names, web and  mini sites .

So maybe you weren’t hanging out in the (mostly porn and gambling apparently) forums back in the 90s and so didn’t get hip and grab yourself  a passel of generic category domain names. Don’t beat yourself up about it, relax!– domaining is fun, enjoy it.

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Transferring Names To GoDaddy – 30 Day Gotcha

Update 090709: FIXED! Just noticed that a domain transfer I purchased didn’t actually initiate. I didn’t receive the usual request for the Transaction ID and Security Code that GoDaddy uses to begin the transfer procedure. Checking the status of my transfer I see a new bit of information there,

The transfer cannot be processed because the registry will not allow the domain to be transferred at this time. Most registries do not allow a domain to be transferred for a 60 day period after registration or prior transfer. This will be reprocessed automatically when the domain is eligible for transfer.

Excellent! It would appear that GoDaddy has come up with an elegant solution, simply do not initiate the transfer process until the domain is eligible. Thank You GoDaddy!

Update 073009: Got me again! Almost. I got the generic ‘update your ICANN info’ email from a registrar where a domain I’d won in auction was registered. Thing is, I thought I’d transferred the domain to GoDaddy months ago. (Helps to keep copies of my receipts… ) Yes I’d purchased a domain transfer back in January. I had one email notifying me that the transfer had failed.  But that’s it. No doubt I let it sit because, GoDaddy used to re-try the transfers later on. Anyway, I got on the phone and a very helpful support guy found the transaction, refunded my money and re-instated the transfer. He thought the refund SHOULD have been automatic. I’ve since re-confirmed with a supervisor that FAILED TRANSFER ORDER REFUNDS NEED TO BE  PROCESSED MANUALLY.

Just a heads up on what in my opinion is an annoying bug in the GoDaddy domain transfer process. Your domain transfer (this is a product you purchase from GoDaddy for $6.99) will expire after 30 days unless the transfer completes. You will be informed via email that the transfer didn’t go through. But you will not (as of 062609) be informed that GoDaddy has dropped your domain transfer and that it is no longer in your account. You will not get an email notifying you that your transfer has been dropped. YOU WILL NOT AUTOMATICALLY GET A REFUND. So for example, if you win a deleting name through SnapNames (or whoever), and wish to transfer the name to GoDaddy, DO NOT INITIATE THE TRANSFER BEFORE 30 DAYS HAS PASSED. Because the domain cannot transfer for 60 days (ICANN rule) you run the risk of throwing away your money, or, as in my case, an hour on the phone at your expense to GoDaddy support getting your refund (I was told to call, too complicated for email).
I was told by a supervisor that expiration of a transfer after 30 days is stated in the Domain Name Transfer agreement you have the option of reading at Checkout. And so it is.

2. Failed or Rejected Transfer Requests
Go Daddy may elect to accept or reject Your domain name transfer application for any reason at its sole discretion. Rejections may include, but are not limited to:

  • The current Registrar rejected the transfer;
  • The original registration took place less than sixty (60) days prior to the transfer request;
  • The domain name has been placed in a locked status by either the Registry or by the losing registrar;
  • The domain was transferred to Go Daddy less than sixty (60) days prior to the transfer request;
  • The domain name expired but was not renewed;
  • The domain name expired and was renewed during the forty-five (45) day grace period and the forty-five (45) day grace period has not yet passed;
  • The Domain Name Registrant was changed less than sixty (60) days prior to the transfer request;
  • Any pending bankruptcy of the current domain name holder;
  • Any dispute over the identity of the domain name holder;
  • Any situation described in the Dispute Policy; or
  • Transfer orders over thirty (30) days old.

I was also told by the supervisor that refunds are at the descretion of GoDaddy but that they almost always do.

I guess the reason this is so frustrating is because I remember when GoDaddy would attempt to make the transfer UNTIL THE TRANSFER COMPLETED, i.e I could initiate the transfer after acquiring a domain and after entering the authorization codes, forget about it. Eventually, some 60+ days later, I would get an email confirming the transfer. Anyhow, that is no longer the situation.

Not just to whine. By and large GoDaddy works for me. In this situation though I would recommend:

1. Make mention of the transfer having to complete within 30 days at the point of purchase – not buried away in the legal agreement
2. The email that states a failure to transfer just prior to the passing of 30 days should offer a method to either re-initiate the transfer, or obtain a refund.

But why is it that in 2009, we, YOUR CUSTOMERS, are STILL perceived to be annoying, have-to-deal-with-them, sources of aggravation. The experience I had with GoDaddy, or rather, the feedback I had to provide as a result of my experience, IS EXACTLY WHAT YOU NEED TO MAKE YOUR COMPANY THRIVE!. Customer service is the new black. This is what it looks like….

SouthBySouthWest 031409 Zappos.com CEO Tony Hsieh keynote audio (right click to downlaod) click triangle to listen.

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