CATEGORY: Business

Name.com on the Road

While I’m enjoying the month of June here in sunny and arid Denver without any work related travel, you fine folks can catch up with Bill at DomainerMeeting and the ICANN meeting in Paris.

In July I’m back on the road with two trips to Chicago. We’re sponsoring the GeoDomainExpo so come find me at the W City Center July 10-12. If I see you wearing a Name.com hat on the show floor I’ll have a free gift for you. I’ll only have a couple of gifts with me, so you might want to try to find me before I run out.

Two weeks later I’ll be back in the windy city for HostingCon July 28-30 where I hope to catch up with some folks from my previous life in the hosting industry.

Will I see you there?

Busy Times At Name.com

First, let me apologize to the five people in the world who read this blog. I’ve been way lax in updating here but I have a really good reason. I’ve been supah busy actually doing things. It’s crazy I know, but it’s good. But that means that we needed help and we’ve been interviewing candidates for a variety of positions for a while and have recently added some folks to the team and wow’85 what a difference it can make. I’m planning to get back to writing semi-regularly.

I’ll have a new promo code for you later this week. Watch for it.

Keyword Search Headed For A Breakdown?

As the Internet swells with more information every second of the day we will find keyword search results less and less relevant. TechCrunch recently reported on the limits of keyword search and the inevitable breaking point. Direct Navigation offers any business a short cut to being found.

While the point behind that post is that the semantic web will save us all when that breaking point arrives, it’s hard to miss the alternative: Direct Navigation. Arguably, generic domain names will be seen as the authority space on the web for the associated terms. When these domain names find their way in the hands of end-users or investors who are willing to put in the time, money and effort to develop them we’ll see more people trusting their address bar to get them to relevant information.

Until that time we’ll see PPC revenues continue to fall. Why? Well, a number of reasons really, but one of the major reasons is more domains names that ever are parked with monetization companies. As a savvy Internet browser I get frustrated when I type in a URL hoping to find content and getting hit with ads. I’m hardly unique. The more ads there are the less attention is paid to them.

As a domain name investor you’ve probably got at least a couple of great direct navigation domain names. You’ve got a leg up on 99% of the websites on the Internet. You’ve got the Park Place spot versus their Baltic Avenue. Use it!

Domainers Go Social With Two Networks

ocial networking has been hot for a while now. It’s often struck me as funny that an industry that is all about networking hadn’t embraced the trend. That’s all changed. Following on last month’s launch of Randy Charach‘s Synergy Domain Club, Steve Morales has launched GeoDomainer.com.

Both networking sites are built on the back of Ning and make great use of the technology. Best of all if you have an account at one you needn’t create a new account/username for the other.

Synergy Domain Club has racked up about 135 members in just a couple of week, no doubt due to Randy’s natural knack for networking. GeoDomainer is off to a good start as well. I don’t think either site will eliminate the need to get out and meet other people in the industry, but perhaps open a dialog you can continue in person.

When you join be sure to friend me.

Name.com Heads to Domain Roundtable, Offers Special Regsitration Discount

Name.com is taking the show on the road again and we’ll be landing in San Francisco next week for the Domain Roundtable. Even better, we’ve hooked up with the folks at Domain Roundtable to offer our customers and readers a $200 discount on registration. So there’s just no excuse not to come see us at the show.

The discount is good for the full Domain Roundtable pass. You’ll have full access to all panels, keynotes and parties. Name.com’s own Michelle Miller will be speaking on Marketing & Advertising your domain portfolio. CEO and Founder Bill Mushkin will be featured during the Heads Look Ahead/CEO Rountable. Both of these sessions promise to be insanely informative.

To get your discount code just email namedotcom@domainroundtable.com

See you in San Francisco!

Name.com is Hiring!

Name.com continues to grow and we are in need of the following professionals:

Web Developer: Object Oriented / PHP etc.
We are currently seeking multiple developers to join our team. Our office is casual and the work environment is fairly relaxed and enjoyable. We have multiple positions to fill and welcome resumes from experience professionals as well as talented entry level programmers.

The Responsibilities:
’95 Working with a team of developers on new and existing products and features.

The Requirements:
’95 Academic background in Computer Science or related field.
’95 Excellent programming skills (knowledge of Object Oriented Design Methodologies or PHP a plus).
’95 Excellent communication and teamwork skills.
’95 Good understanding of the technologies behind modern Web Applications.

UI / User Interface Specialist
If you’re a critical thinker with good design sense, a strong technical background, and an eye for making things better we want to talk to you. This is a full-time salaried position.

The Responsibilities:
’95 Help define and create the user interface for new and existing products and features.
’95 Develop high level and/or detailed storyboards, mockups and prototypes to effectively communicate interaction and design ideas.
’95 Evaluate the usability of new and existing products, and making informed and constructive suggestions for change.

The Requirements:
’95 Demonstrated experience in designing usable web-based interfaces.
’95 Understanding of the MVC architecture and experience developing user interfaces in Symfony, Ruby on Rails or similar platform.
’95 HTML & CSS skills.
’95 Knowledge of JavaScript.
’95 Strong, clean visual design sense.
’95 Excellent communication and teamwork skills.

System Administrator / Hardware Specialist
The ideal candidate for this position is a passionate Linux enthusiast that is able to work closely with developers and others to implement and maintain hardware and software solutions that meet the needs of a dynamic company in an ever changing industry. You should be able to troubleshoot and solve problems fairly independently and, should they come up, be able to find solutions to issues with which you may not have much experience.

The salary for this position is negotiable. This position is open to both experienced and ambitious entry level administrators.

Preferred Experience
’97’97’97’97’97’97’97’97’97-

1) knowledge and experience with the Linux OS
2) experience setting up and installing servers and server hardware
3) knowledge of networking concepts and the installation of networking components – both software and hardware
4) experience with installing, setting up, and customizing Linux based applications
5) knowledge and experience with Linux, networking, and application security
6) knowledge of Mac OS X a plus
7) experience working with hardware and software vendors

The following is some of the software and hardware that you will be in contact with and will more than likely be in charge of setting up and maintaining.

1) Linux, Apache, PHP, MySQL, PowerDNS, Qmail, LDAP, Bind, DHCP, Iptables, etc.
2) IBM Bladecenters and Blades
3) Nortel Layer 2-7 Switches and other networking devices
4) Other miscellaneous hardware and software
5) Figuring out whatever needs figuring
Please indicate which position you are interested in when submitting your cover letter and resume to careers@name.com. For the UI position please be sure to include samples of your work or a link to your portfolio.

OpenSocial v. ICA: Why one flies and the other falters

Since the announcement of Google’s OpenSocial project I’ve been following the developments with great interest to see the adoption flow. I think Social Media and the Social Web are here to stay. The development of a standard platform for Social Media projects at this relatively early stage of the game indicates that major companies are hedging on long term growth.

The OpenSocial Foundation was announced today.

The basic notion behind OpenSocial was/is to create a common API to make it easy to create and host applications on the web. Evolving out of this important idea is a non-profit organization that Social Web’s heavyweights have gotten behind. MySpace, Yahoo! (owner of flickr, Upcoming.org and Del.icio.us) are part of the holy trinity.

Wouldn’t it be great if the same kind of standardization and cooperation were available within the domain industry?

There’s been a lot of talk about transparency from many corners of the domain industry but no one is taking the lead yet. Is there really room in an industry that is often thought of as being filled with mavericks? Does the continued onslaught of threats to domain monetization and ownership mean that companies will be more willing to work with each other going forward? I ask because we’re a very small industry. We’re growing all the time, of course, but we’re tiny in many ways. We’re also very incestuous. I can think of a half dozen associates who have moved from one domain related company to another in just the last few months. So knowledge moves very quickly from one company to another anyway. Why isn’t there more collaboration?

Rick Schwartz recently decided to quit blogging, in part because he feels like his pleas/warnings have been falling on deaf ears. Elliot Silver has had a lot to say for the ICA (Internet Commerce Association) lately. They are both frustrated because so few people/companies within the industry are supporting this organization that is allegedly working hard to support the interests of domain name registrants/investors. Why aren’t more people?

My gut tells me there’s just not enough perceived upside for the majority of people in the domain industry. There’s no “greater good” that’s being helped by the ICA. It’s like asking flyers to support an airline lobby group. Yeah, I benefit from favorable airline terms/contracts/legislation, but I’m not going to see dramatically improved service or significantly cheaper airfare. At best I’ll get to continue choosing between one crappy provider and the other. Wee. For 99% of people who play in the domain sandbox it’s the same thing. They haven’t invested hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars in domains, nor have they felt the sting of losing an investment. Why should they plunk down $300 at this point? Where is their perceived value?

The ICA needs to do a much better job of transparency and visibility for itself. I’ve attended several shows where the booth space for ICA has been empty. I know, it’s a small organization. But where else are the small to mid sized domainers going to find Michael Collins? They aren’t going to be rubbing elbows with the big shots, they are going to be roaming the trade show floor looking for information, answers, help in growing their business. This is another missing component of the ICA. As a trade organization what services, what resources is the ISA providing that the average domainer can latch onto as a benefit. Whether it’s the American Association of Cosmetology Schools or the National Association of Theater Owners or any of the thousands of other trade organizations around the world, you’ll notice that there are real resources available to members. There needs to be a two way relationship like that with the ICA as well.

OpenSocial has gotten more people interested in being involved in a single day than the ICA has gotten in the two years it’s been in existence. If what you are doing isn’t working, it’s time to change tactics guys. Here’s hoping I see you at a booth in San Francisco!

Disclaimer: I am not, in anyway, saying the ICA is not worth supporting. Quite the contrary. Go. Join. Prosper!

Search Engine Optimizers Hate Domainers

If you thought that Google & Yahoo! were working in a vacuum to make life more difficult for domainers you’re kidding yourself. I’ve seen the enemy and the enemy is SEO.

I’m in NYC for the Search Engine Strategies show. For those of you who do not know what I’m talking about, SES is the largest conferences dedicated to improving your visibility within search engines. Google and Yahoo! reign here. Whether your goal is natural/non-paid results or better placement in paid results.

In yesterday’s Domaining and Address Bar Navigation session Sedo’s Matt Bentley and Moniker’s Monte Cahn found themselves up against the anti-domaining duo of Point-It’s John Lisbin and Sendtec’s Janel Landis. The timing for the discussion couldn’t have been better due to Google’s recent announcement that advertisers will be able to opt-out of parked pages for their campaigns.

Bentley kicked off the conversation with a bit about perception skew. Based on later discussion I think that he was spot on. He’s point was that Internet professionals, and particularly SEO professionals, think that being found on the web is all about search navigation. He used the 1976 New Yorker cover cartoon about the geographic skew from a New Yorker’s point of view. Matt went on to talk about the various ways to use direct navigation as a viable, and often times, better option to paid search campaigns. Of particular interest was his assertion that a good generic domain name has an average ROI of 2 years, even with a price tag of $350k.

Matt was followed by PointIt, Inc’s John Lisbin. John started off attacking “cyber & typo squatters”. Which immediately put me on the defensive. It’s no secret that our industry has bad apples but to lump typo squatters into legitimate domainers borders on libelous. There was very much a vein of domainer as criminal. Further muddying the waters for the advertisers in the audience was the grouping of “made for Adsense sites and parked pages. Utilizing one of his customers bad experiences with a group of Adsense optimized sites such as UniqueChristmasGiftsA.com and about six others which were very similar. Clearly you cannot compare the traffic that would be driven to URLs of that nature (whether from link farms or arbitrage) to the natural type in of ChristmasGifts.com, can you?

Well, that very notion was the premise of Sendtec’s Janel Landis. Janel came out with both guns blazing. Janel claims that address bar navigation is almost exclusively an accident and visitors use any link on the page as a way out. Therefore she posits that any traffic from parked sites is not quality/qualified. The lone exception to her theory is typo domains. Yes, you heard that right. This search professional was espousing the value of typo domains to individual brands. She didn’t differentiate between whether the trademark holder or someone else was the domain registrant in her point, but both of the TurboTax typos that she used as examples were parked/monetized domains. In summary she maintained that traffic from parked pages was almost exclusively useless and she encouraged advertisers to opt out.

Monte Cahn, who was introduced as the Godfather of domaining (be sure to call him Godfather at TRAFFIC) batted clean up. Monte wrapped up things nicely by encouraging advertisers and mark holders to register the most frequent typos of their name and their brands. And, the savvy marketer that he is, he offered his company as the perfect company to help with that project.

I cannot stress enough the number of people here. These people are looking at improving their visibility via search. They are being told that parked domains are crap.

All of that talk by industry leaders about transparency and quality traffic? Ya, it’s a little important if you want Google and Yahoo! to keep domains in their programs at all. Arbitrage? It’s spoiling it for everyone. Link farms? Yep, those too. Concentrate on quality generic names. If you can’t land those you better start developing names into valuable resources. There are no shortcuts to making money with domain names these days. I’ll talk more later this week about ways to make money with domains. But for now I need to pay more attention to this session on Social Media Marketing. Ciao.