The Social Business Answer To Getting The Domain You Want

 

Jason Calacanis interviews Jon Ferrara
Jason Calacanis interviews Jon Ferrara This Week In Startups #189

After he and his partner sold their bootstrapped company, Goldmine, for close to $100MM, Jon Ferarra took 8 years off to raise kids. Now he’s back with a new startup called Nimble. It’s an all digital CRM platform with a thick layer of ‘social’. A single seat is free so check it out. Jason expertly extracts in story and detail, the history of Goldmine and Jon’s plans for Nimble. It was refreshing to see a founder with some grey hair for a change and encouraging to hear him liken building his company to a guy building a project car in the garage. I was fortunate to catch Jason’s eye in the chatroom with a direct question about Jon’s domain. Here’s how he got Nimble.com.
Click arrow to play audio. Jon Ferraro on getting Nimble.com

It’s Not Squatting Until Someone Else Wants It

But what do you think? If someone was early to the Twitter game and took the time to register 100 keyword accounts around the possibility that someday Twitter handles would be valuable, is that wrong? Now that it’s apparent that Twitter handles ARE ‘valuable’, but that person’s not using them, should he give them up – release them back into the Twitosphere? And what about you? Do you ‘own’ multiple Twitter handles? Did you secure the Twitter handle to match your domain name or does some ‘Twitter squatter’ have it now?

Election reaction
Creative Commons License photo credit: markhillary

As you can probably tell I’m a big fan of Jason Calacanis’s This Week In Startups web show. I learn a lot and I enjoy Jason’s quick wit. Jason is a very public figure who lays his opinions on the line and for that reason attracts a lot of haters. So many in fact, that the acknowledged term for them is ‘Jaters’.  I know I’m risking adding fuel to the fire, but this is more interesting than that, so here goes.

On a recent episode Jason volunteered that he ‘owned’ the Twitter handle @democrats. He mentions that he had a use for it – he’ll use it to cover politics – but that the DNC had called him and asked for it. Jason’s response was, “Well, what kind of arrangement would you like to make for it?” To which they replied, “Well when you give us the handle we’ll retweet it.” What ensues is a funny riffing session between Jason, Lon Harris, and Tyler Crowley. Listen carefully and you’ll get some insights into the kinds of things, apart from money, that could entice the owner of a domain (or Twitter handle) to part with it.

(Click arrow to play audio) @democrats

But what do you think? If someone was early to the Twitter game and took the time to register 100 keyword accounts around the possibility that someday Twitter handles would be valuable, is that wrong? Now that it’s apparent that Twitter handles ARE ‘valuable’, but that person’s not using them, should he give them up – release them back into the Twitosphere? And what about you? Do you ‘own’ multiple Twitter handles? Did you secure the Twitter handle to match your domain name or does some ‘Twitter squatter’ have it now?

My point is only that ANYTIME someone wants what someone else has, a MARKET grows. You can regulate it, but you can’t control human nature. If you’re angry and find yourself using the term ‘squatter’ you’re probably being irrational. Either that or you should call an IP attorney, at least for a consultation. In other words, GET OVER IT!

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.

Startup Social Proof Number One – Your Domain Name!

Marco used credit cards to put 30% down on a $36,000 domain name. Financed at 6%, he used Moniker’s escrow service to purchase Thumbtack.com – before he even had a product!

Marco used credit cards to put 30% down on a $36,000 domain name. Financed at 6%, he used Moniker’s escrow service to purchase Thumbtack.com – before he even had a product!
Jason Calacanis tells you why it was a smart move in this discussion with local services hub Thumbtack.com’s Marco Zappacosta.
Excerpt from This Week In Startups #68.
(Click arrow to play audio clip) Domains as Social Proof.

jason-calacanis-marco-zappacosta.jpg

Takeaways: People who know startups know domains well enough to have an idea of what you paid for it.
Save countless dollars and hours in branding/advertising costs by buying an easy-to-remember domain.
Some registrars (In this case Moniker) will finance your domain acquisition. If you’re not getting traction you can default on the purchase and only be out the down payment.

If You Didn’t Know What An Mp3 Is, Why Did You Register The Domain?

Jason Calacanis and Michael Robertson TWIST 42

Ultimate early internet domain name play story. In this excerpt Michael Robertson tells how he came
to own mp3.com and what happened when he ‘turned on’ the traffic.

(Click arrow to play audio clip) Michael Robertson tells the story of mp3.com.

In addition to starting mp3.com (later sold to Vivendi), Michael Robertson founded Lindows
(Linspire) and SIPphone (becamse Gizmo5, recently sold to Google). He’s now focused on
building mp3Tunes.com which allows users to store their music in the cloud and access it from
anywhere. Check out the entire interview at ThisWeekIn.com.

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!

TWiST Angel Showdown – Things Got Interesting!

TWiST #23 – Angel Funding Showdown

I’m assuming that’s a Halloween AK-47 Jason Calacanis is holding. The other fellow is Steve Bell (links to his take on all this). Things got a little heated today on This Week In Startups around the issue of Jason’s current beef, “Why startups shouldn’t have to pay to pitch angel investors“. Mr. Bell likened Jason’s attack on companies like Keiretsu (who Mr. Bell, an angel investor who uses Keiretsu’s services called in to defend) to ‘Jihad’. The upshot? Jason stated he would start an OpenAngelForum if Keiretsu and their ilk refuse to drop their fees. He also made what I think is a very valuable offer (paraphrasing here) – that if Keiretsu does drop their fees, Jason will support them 100%. Hmm. Having the support of Jason with all his Tech Crunch 50 experience and connections, not to mention the Jason Nation -VS.- going head to head with one of the most savvy entrepreneurs on the planet? Watching this go down live was a lot of fun. The chat room was going off.

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!