Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

Congrats to DomainSherpa – Best Domain Blog!

Michael Cyger, author of the domain industry blog DomainSherpa.com was awarded ‘Best Domain Blog’ in 2012 at the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Conference today.  I wholeheartedly agree that Domain Sherpa has been a great resource for not only domain industry news but for especially for sharing wisdom via extensive interviews with players in the domain/development space.

I’ve watched dozens of Michael’s interviews and always takeaway so much from each one.  There are so many great domain blogs out there and the nominees all deserve praise for what they do for our industry.  Extend a congrats to Michael and the DomainSherpa.com team in a comment here!

Video courtesy of DomainGang via Youtube:

Interview with Mike Mann

Mike MannI had an opportunity to chat with Mike Mann on the phone last week and discuss domain investing as well as some of his projects in an interview style which I have published below.  In case you are not already familiar with Mike, he is a serial entrepreneur and domain investor.

One of his companies is DomainMarket.com a domain sales platform and brokerage.  Mann is also the author of Make Millions and Make Change! a book that is a guide for small businesses to learn how to profit while better serving our society.  You have probably seen many of Mike’s domain sales on DNJournal over the last few years as his sales consistently make the big board.

Enjoy the interview!

Mike Law: You have a very extensive background with Internet business. In the 1990’s you founded Internet Interstate which you sold to Verio 1997. You then founded BuyDomains in 1998 and sold the majority interest to Highland Capital and Summit Partners. Can you tell us more about your involvement with BuyDomains?

Mike Mann: They are doing a great job of selling domains. I’m still a part owner but a silent partner and own a considerable piece of BuyDomains.

Mike Law: So now you have created and are running DomainMarket.com, which is also a domain sales platform.

Mike Mann: Yes. It’s in competition with BuyDomains. Basically I’m competing with my own company but my non compete clause of my contract expired a few years ago.

Mike Law: So that made you want to open up DomainMarket.com?

Mike Mann: I wouldn’t say I wanted to but I wanted the revenue stream basically.

Mike Law: I am friends with you on Facebook and I see you are posting several sales each week. Just in the last couple of weeks it looks like you have sold over $80,000 in names including Musaic.com for $15,000, PersonalMail.com $40,000.

Mike Mann: I actually had much more sales than that, I am just posting highlights, not every sale.

Mike Law: Are these name sales mainly coming from DomainMarket.com?

Mike Mann: No, actually there’s all kinds of people selling my names. The world’s top brokers are selling my domains. The best people in the world for this type of stuff work for me at DomainMarket.com or they work at BuyDomains, Sedo, DomainHoldings, Godaddy or DomainAdvisors. Those are all the people selling my names. We hire people in house and we also work with organizations that have a history of selling domains.

Mike Law: Again, you’re quite active on Facebook and you have been posting a lot of job availability recently your for start up companies most of which are CEO positions.

Mike Mann: Yes, the companies that I have that are already running have CEOs and Presidents. The only jobs that I promote are the CEO/President jobs for my new companies. There are lots of jobs available at my companies, I don’t get involved in hiring for the lower level jobs, I’m just worried about finding quality people for the top jobs.

Mike Law: Right. Can you disclose a little more about the CEO/President positions? Are they equity positions? What kind of salary? Do they require relocation?

Mike Mann: These are Internet executive positions that require very highly skilled people. The pay is salary + stock options. Some of the jobs require living in Utah and some don’t. Salt Lake City, Utah is the center of my enterprise. Most of my newer and older businesses are based out of Utah but not all of them.

Mike Law: So companies like SEO.com and Phone.com are based out of Utah?

Mike Mann: Not Phone.com. Phone.com is out of New york with offices in San Diego and is still expanding.

Mike Law: Ok. Are you finding good potential employees using social networks such as Facebook?

Mike Mann: First of all, we own an HR agency (ProHR.com) that does active advertising and recruiting which is our main source of new employees. We are however looking at a lot of people and a lot of resumes because we are very particular and the top job openings we have are very difficult so it’s not easy to find the right people for them. We are trying pretty much everything.

Mike Law: Ok. I am going to jump back to domains. The big news this month is the release of .XXX. Do you have any interest in applying for a specific TLD?

Mike Mann: No I definitely would not do that.

Mike Law: I know you have a decent .co portfolio, are there other TLD’s you like to invest in?

Mike Mann: Well, I already hold some of the best .co domains, and I think that’s enough for me. You know .net and .org are good but .co is the only other one that really matters to me. In those other TLD’s (and ccTLD’s) I would maybe buy 100 of the very best names but wouldn’t bother digging deeper than that.

Mike Law: Great. You also post names on Facebook quite frequently that you are purchasing. Where are you buying names and are you still hand registering.

Mike Mann: I have an automated system that helps me identify what I want essentially. It’s the same situation where I try to buy the best stuff and I only buy if they are priced cheap.

Mike Law: A lot of the names you share that you are buying are almost all .coms – mostly two word .coms.

Mike Mann: Yes, if you search those two word .coms in Google you’ll see they really are premium so I think the issue is that people don’t realize how good they are which is why I am buying them for cheap and holding them for later.

Mike Law: I totally agree, there are a lot of great two word .coms that are out there for decent prices.

Mike Mann: That’s the key. Those are .COMs they will stand the test of time whereas other TLD’s may put you at perilous risk.

Mike Law: So do you think .COMs will outlast all other TLDs and continue to be “king”?

Mike Mann: Well listen, if you build something on .TV and someone else builds something on the .co.uk and someone builds something on the .net that’s just going to make the .com worth ten times more.

Mike Law: Right. Are a lot of your sales of .coms being sold to people who have started building on other extensions?

Mike Mann: Not very often but the issue is that the keywords are in demand around the world. Whether it’s the exact owner of of an alt TLD or just someone who is in that market space the point is there is demand for those keywords. As more people buy PPC and SEO and build websites around those keywords as well as buying up the alt or cctlds in those words – they are just making the .com more valuable. Not to mention the type in traffic that goes to .com names.

Mike Law: You also have a PPC company – PurePPC.com

Mike Mann: Yes, we have a fantastic PPC company which is the flipside of the coin of my SEO company (SEO.com).

Mike Law: What is your strategy with your PPC company, are you marketing that towards domainers?

Mike Mann: No, it doesn’t have anything to do with domainers really. Again we have a world class SEO company (SEO.com) servicing many top clients such as Dell, 1-800-Contacts, Mrs. Fields, media companies, many Fortune 500 companies.. So, the flipside is pay per click where these clients are buying Adwords through Google. With PurePPC we are offering the entire package – SEO and PPC for those clients.

Mike Law: Ok. The last topic I want to touch on is Grassroots.org. Can you explain in a nutshell how that site works?

Mike Mann: Sure. The object of Grassroots.org is to aggregate valuable services that people normally pay cash for but the idea is that we are going to try to get all those services donated to charity, wrap a nice clean interface around it and provide it for free to select 501c3 charities that meet the right criteria. We already have 5,000 charities that took us up on that offer. So there are more than 5,000 charities that we provide services for free and we are going to sign up 5,000 more charities. Our goal and object is to provide them free services and product that are ordinarily very valuable and expensive saving them time and money and giving them efficient tools to operate. Therefore, if they are an aids charity they can give more benefit to aids patients, if they are a cancer charity they can give more benefit to cancer patients, there’s a lot of educational related organizations and all sorts of organizations within our 5,000 charities doing fantastic work and they deserve to save money and have a lower budget. This will allow them to provide more influence in the charitable community. That’s essentially what Grassroots.org is doing and we could use a lot of help.

Mike Law: Grassroots.org needs more help so are you in need of more volunteers? resources?

Mike Mann: Again it’s an organization with almost no money in it. It’s all been money out of my pocket and my business associates pockets. It’s an organization that’s run on a tight budget so what we need is volunteers, we need money to hire people and we need people to donate services and applications so we can provide them for free to the charities that are our members.

Mike Law: Sure. So for those reading this interview, what kinds of volunteer opportunities are there for someone who may have limited time but still wants to help Grassroots.org grow?

Mike Mann: There is someone who operates this on a daily basis who I would put someone in touch with. We need help managing information and data, writing grants, managing and recruiting other volunteers, building a business management infrastructure,
web development, SEO, basically everything.

Mike Law: I think that Grassroots.org is a great organization, I commend you for creating it and I would like to see Grassroots continue to grow.

Mike Mann: I appreciate that and a lot of people have done a lot of work on it. It’s a tough project but we are totally committed and we’ll never give up on it.

Mike Law: Awesome. Well, Mike you are up to a lot of great things. I really appreciate you chatting with me today and I look forward to talking more with you in the future.

Mike Mann: Thank you.

Interview with John Ferber About Raising Money for Prostate Cancer Research

John Ferber is a well known domainer, serial entrepreneur and philanthropist, his most recent projects include DomainHoldings.com and RapidDomainBuilder.com.  These are both sites that focus on domain name development.

Recently, Ferber started a new cause on his Microgiving.com charity site called Mr. Manuary!
The purpose of this contest is to collect money for prostate cancer research and is for males only.  Contestants are raising awareness and money for the cause by growing a mustache during the month of January – winners are determined by the number of Facebook ‘likes’ on their Mr. Manuary profile page and how much money is raised.  This cause really hit home with me and made me want to get get involved and spread the word somehow as my father is a prostate cancer survivor and has been in remission for over five years now.

I got a hold of John this week and he was nice enough to take time out of his busy schedule to do a quick interview about the Mr. Manuary contest, in which he is a contestant and has already reached his month goal of $2,500 in less than 13 days!

Mike:  What made you choose prostate cancer as the first cause to promote starting off 2011?

John:  I had a few friends who have gotten prostate cancer in the past few years so my awareness was heightened, and for Mr. Manuary I specifically wanted to focus on a male related charity.  The Susan B Komen Foundation has done an amazing job with breast cancer and I’d love to see the same type of rallying with guys on some men’s related diseases.

Mike:  How many Mr Manuary contestants are there? How much has been raised to donate to prostate cancer research so far? Is it too late to enter?

John:  This is the first year and we have a few dozen contestants so far. We’ve been able to raise more than 10k in the first 13 days.. It’s not too late to enter, we’d love to see as many people enter and participate as possible, the contest ends January 31st!

Mike:  What prostate cancer foundations/organizations will receive the money from the contest?

John:  www.pcf.org will receive 100 percent of the donations we receive.  The Prostate Cancer Foundation

Mike:  You raised your goal of $2500 in only twelve days of the month long contest, to what factors to you contribute your success with this campaign? Have you extended your goal?

John:  I have really been promoting hard through my social networks and I was surprised I was able to reach my goal in 12 days.. I am going to raise my goal this weekend and try to do at least 5k this year.

Mike:  Where do readers go to donate to your Mr. Manuary cause?

John:  http://www.microgiving.com/profile/johnmrmanuary

Mike:  Are you getting used to wearing a mustache? Is it something that you sport at times or is it rare to see Mr. Ferber with a stache? Will you keep it past January?

John:  It’s alot easier to get used to than I thought, there was an itching phase but after that it has been pretty much smooth sailing. This is the first mustache I have ever sported.. As a standalone not sure I will keep after January but put together with a beard and I think I find myself groovin it 🙂

Mike:  Any other additional information you would like to share about Microgiving.com or the Mr Manuary contest?

John:  Microgiving is a crowdfunding platform and charity that let’s anyone raise money for anything!!! Fund your next idea, invention, work of art, or business by using Microgiving!

Mike:  Thanks for raising money for this excellent cause and also for taking time out of your busy schedule for this interview about the Mr. Manuary contest!

John:  Thanks Mike!

 

.TV Spotlight Post #6 Interview with Michael Berkens

DomainStore.tv Buy and Sell .TV Domain Names!

Michael Berkens

Photo Of Michael Berkens, Courtesy of

I am really excited about this week’s .TV Spotlight post as I have a very special guest interview with Michael H. Berkens, President of MostWantedDomains.com and author of the extremely popular blog domain industry blog TheDomains.com. Michael and I spoke over the phone at length about the .TV space and this interview is all about Michael’s views on investing in .TV domains!

Before we get to the interview I want to remind my readers to sign up for the DomainStore.TV newsletter if you haven’t already. DomainStore.tv is the sponsor of my weekly TV Spotlight post and Brian Berke, founder of DomainStore really provides a great resource to buy and sell quality .TV domains at great prices.

There have been some fantastic .TV sales over the last week which I am not going to cover in this weeks post.  I recommend checking out AllThings.tv for a full rundown of those most recent .TV sales.  AllThings.tv does a great job of covering sales, sightings and news related to .TV.

On to the interview:

Mike Law: What was your first experience with .TV Domains? When did you start investing in .TV and why?

Michael Berkens:  My first .TV name and only .TV domain for many years was Great.tv.  I basically envisioned it as being a site where we could highlight and facilitate discussion of the top TV shows and talk about the programs we loved or hated.  It was a development idea we had that we actually never got around to.  Great.tv was a premium name and we spent alot of money on it, as it cost $3,000 /year for renewal.  Up until March of this year it was the only .TV domain we owned.  Of course, the thing that kept me away from .TV up until this year was the huge renewal costs for premium names, I didn’t think it was a competitive product.  Now that the premium renewals have been eliminated to a large extent, .TV is one of the extensions that we invest in.  I think  it’s viable for particular purposes and certain situations.  I do think it’s a great extension but it’s not a universal extension like a .com.

Mike Law: After the .TV premium renewal re-launch and gold rush in March, how many .TV domains are in your portfolio now?

Michael Berkens:  About one hundred names, I would have owned more but unfortunately that particular night in March when they released the premiums kind of late into the evening it was one of the few nights I wasn’t up late online and so I kind of missed the whole experience, therefore I only own around a hundred or so.  Had I been around for the big release at the exact time I would probably have a few hundred.

Mike Law:  Have you noticed an increase of type in traffic to any of your .TV domains now that there is more PR about TV and Internet convergence?

Michael Berkens:  Since we have a portfolio of nearly 75,000 domains, not to brag but just as a matter of organization, I don’t spend a lot of time analyzing all of the traffic stats within our portfolio.  I do look at the top traffic getters and earners weekly and our .TV’s are not yet on my radar.  I haven’t done a study to compare traffic our  .TV names used to get and what they get now.  There hasn’t been anything that has caught my eye yet.

Mike Law:  Have you seen an increase in offers since the Internet and television convergence movement has been gaining traction?

Michael Berkens: I have definitely received many inquiries but since I haven’t really owned any .TV names before March, I probably am not the best person to judge that.  I certainly think it has become a viable option for many end users.

Mike Law:  Do .TV domains present a more favorable investment from a risk standpoint than generic .coms which are now all pretty much set at the end user price level?

Michael Berkens: No, not really.  Of the 75,000 domains we own 97 % are .coms.  We have some .net, .org, .tv and .me but I wouldn’t say it has the enormous upside potential as a .com speaking very broadly. Having said that I do think there are some really good opportunities in the .TV space.  I think that it (.tv) has to be somewhat video or television oriented maybe either related to programming or something that may be sold or watched on tv.  .The .TV extension has a much smaller universe of possibilities.

Mike Law:  How did you acquire most of your .TV domains?  Was it mostly during the premium gold rush or have you been buying on the aftermarket?

Michael Berkens:  We acquired some of them during the 3-5 day grace period when there were some names that got registered but released again when registrants realized that there were still some premium prices.  We also bought a few through the first Sedo.tv auction and we have acquired some privately as well as picking up names that have dropped because past registrants did not pay the renewal fees on them.  We are continuing to look at picking up names in this space.

Mike Law: Do you feel like there will be an added effect from all the publicity about Google TV, Apple TV even Oprah’s OWN TV Network on the value of .TV domains?

Michael Berkens:  There certainly should be.  The more often  that any product related to TV is seen and the more exposure it gets, I would imagine you would get more saturation in the market.  I don’t think it’s a quick process, I know it’s not a new extension but I think a lot of domainers including myself look at it as more of a new extension that was reborn in March when the pricing changed.  Domainers need to be patient, the guys you read about today the like Frank (Schilling), Kevin Ham, Rick Schwartz – they didn’t get names in 1995 and sell them in 1996.  There were people that did that but those are not the people in the business now that you hear about.  These people were patient and waited 5-10 years before they started selling names and making their money.  There’s certainly a quick buck to be made in domaining and there’s nothing wrong with that.  There’s plenty of people that buy a name for $500 and sell it for $5,000, again there’s nothing wrong with that at all, you can do that all day and make a nice living but you know you’re not going to buy a .tv, .co or .me and in four to six months or even a year into it turn around and flip the domain you bought for a thousand for a million dollars, that’s just not going to happen.  It takes a little more maturity of the industry.  I think .TV will over time appreciate in value but again if your flipping that’s fine and there’s money to be made but if you want more lucrative of a payoff you’re going to have to be patient and wait for the maturation and the learning process to take place.

Mike Law:  Do you expect these bigger corporations, like Google to start using the .TV domain instead of maybe just forwarding to .com or not even acquiring names in the .TV space?

Michael Berkens: Players like Google are heavily invested in the visual space so yes, but there are a lot of companies that aren’t in that kind of space that I wouldn’t expect see using it like a Johnson & Johnson, I wouldn’t expect to have a TV channel along with many other major corporations.  On the other hand, there are huge corporations out there that should be using it but aren’t so you can make the same argument.  An example is NFL.tv, as you know Major League Baseball owns MLB.tv they use it and market it.  Then you have the NFL (National Football League) that is a multi billion dollar enterprise who didn’t even want to spend $3,000 to acquire NFL.tv.  The BBC (British Broadcasting Company) I don’t know where that name sits right now (bbc.tv) but it was available for forever and a day and they didn’t seem to anxious to grab it.  So for every company that does it there are other companies that should do it but haven’t so I think it’s a kind of a wash in that regard.

Mike Law:  In your view is there something that needs to change in the existing model of .TV for it to become more attractive to end users?

Michael Berkens: I think it just needs to get some saturation maturity and become known a little bit more, it’s still fairly unknown in the community outside of domainers.  I think if we took a poll of an average guy on the street most will not have heard of it and don’t understand it, so it takes time for that to develop.

Mike Law: After the price restructuring in March the extension was kind of reborn in your eyes.  Do you still see .TV as a ccTLD as it technically is or do you feel it should be categorized as a gTLD?

Michael Berkens:  First and foremost it is still a ccTLD, people need to understand that and understand what they are investing in. Knowing it’s a ccTLD there are positives and negatives about it. From an investment standpoint it’s important to understand that since it is a ccTLD it’s not regulated by ICANN. Things that we know are that the contract between Verisign and Tuvalu expires in 2016, we also know that the Prime Minister of their country has made statements to the effect that they are unhappy with their current deal, which could be anything from just posturing like athletes do to basically saying that they are not going to renew the deal as it fits.  Maybe they want a bigger share or want to change the deal all together.  Whatever that ultimate decision is, it will affect domain investors and we have no control over it and neither does ICANN or the U.S. government.  They certainly could go back to a premium price model if they wanted to, there would be nothing stopping them from doing that so I do think it’s a good idea to renew .TV’s as far in advance as possible.  Understanding that things could change when that contract gets renegotiated or changes hands completely is something that people need to be aware of.

Mike Law: Is there anything else you would like to convey about .TV domains to .TV investors/speculators reading this blog entry that we have not yet covered?

Michael Berkens: I don’t think so, we’ve covered most of what I have to say about the extension.  I am an investor, I don’t invest in a lot of ccTLD’s and this is one of the ones I do invest in, so I do see upside and good potential in it.  There are of course, some risks in it too and it does have that limited universe of options.

Mike Law: Thank you so much Michael for taking the time to have this interview with me and talk about .TV.  I really appreciate it and look forward to talking with you again soon.

Michael Berkens: You’re welcome Mike.

.TV Spotlight Post #4

Today’s .TV Spotlight features an interview with Samit Madan the founder of Media.TV.  Before we get to the interview, let’s take a peek into what’s going on in the .TV world..

    • SouthBeach.TV is for sale in the live auction at the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Domain Conference. That is happening right there in South Beach as I write this!!  The live auction starts at 4pm EST TODAY and SouthBeach.tv is lot #915.  I expect a nice sale will result, the starting bid is $7,000. The domain does have a $500 premium yearly renewal fee.

 

    • I joined a .tv discussion forum today at AllThings.tv, looks like a great resource for domainers that concentrate on .TV, my handle on that forum is TVSpotlight, let em know I referred you if you sign up.

 

    • Some recent significant .TV sales were reported by Sedo.com – Terme.tv sold for 6,000 EUR, Casino24.tv sold for 1,600 USD, Rewind.tv sold for 1,000 USD and Cardiff.tv sold for 1,550 USD.

 

  • As promised, I had a  mini-interview with Samit Madan about his new company, Media.TV I’m excited to share with you.  Samit resides in Mumbai, India where he is an advertising and marketing professional at his company MediaWiz.  He can also be found at his domain blog, MWZD.com.  On to the interview, enjoy!

Q. How did you acquire a great domain like Media.tv?

A. I got this domain purely through luck of the draw. When the .tv premium changeover happened I registered a few domains via Name.com – they eventually hit me with premium fees so I kept some and dropped some.  One of those I kept was Media.TV – it was just too good to drop. It’s regular renewal now, used to be $10k/yr. Those I dropped included Banks.tv Commerce.tv and Lol.tv

Q. What is your vision for Media.tv in 2011? What services/information will you be providing users?

A. We’re using this to offer Video On Demand services in India via DTH or Direct to Home platforms. This is just stage one and will go live in March 2011.

Q. Where does video integration fit into Media.tv?

A. It’s video all the way, just delivered differently than most websites.

Q. Have you had any significant offers on the domain name? Is the domain for sale?

A. I have had a few offers on it in the low five figure range, nothing significant though. It is currently not for sale unless the offer is one I just can’t refuse, like a seven figure one , our project has backup domains in that case.

Q. Your viewpoint on .TV domains in general?

A. .TV is coming of age, with the convergence of TV and internet just around the corner adoption is increasing, what does need to change is the owners attitude towards its use, they really need to think beyond single media usage of a multimedia extension.

Thank you Samit for taking the time to talk with me today about Media.TV. I look forward to the launch of your new company next year, I’m sure it will be a very successful.

I am trying to keep .TV Spotlight posts coming once a week although I missed last week because I was on DNCruise. As always I like to end the .TV Spotlight with a .TV related video… A couple years old but still a really good one to watch, this is Kevin (Founder of Allthings.tv) interviewing Richard Rosenblatt of DemandMedia discussing .TV Domains.

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