Panel discusses opportunities for domain investors with new top level domains.
The second panel at TRAFFIC in Fort Lauderdale this morning was a session on new TLDs and how they will affect domainers. Panelists were:
Michael Berkens and Monte Cahn of Right Of The Dot
Mike Mann of Domain Marketplace
Dan Schindler of Donuts
I thought this was a good mix of panelists. Berkens and Cahn are both .com investors but are betting on the success of new TLDs. Mann is a bit .com investor (having founded and sold BuyDomains, and now with DomainMarket). Schindler is with Donuts, which has applied for the most new top level domains.
Here are the highlights:
Cahn: Personal feeling is premium .com’s will retain value and some may increase due to confusion. Two and three word .coms will probably be hurt.
Schindler: there’s going to be some new prime real estate available. The best premium names in the .com space will remain the best real estate. But there will be good opportunities for some people, especially small businesses, to get good domains.
Cahn: Could see competition and good opportunities for .law, .health, .shop, where there’s good market segmentation and a lot of money in the industry. Sometimes these won’t be measured by number of registration and instead by acceptance in their community.
Mann: .Co was successful because it’s extremely well marketed, one of the first ones in line, and an excellent extension b/c means ‘company’. Only some of these new ones will meet these criteria.
Cahn: About 200M domains registered right now, but 2 billion people online — there’s demand for more domains.
Schindler: We’re not all here to challenge .com. It’s a pretty saturated space and there’s pent of demand for new domains. We believe people want shorter and more meaningful domains. The domain investor community has built their businesses on securing good real estate. Now there will be new beachfront areas that will be developed…lots of opportunity for domain investors.
Mann: with all the confusion I’d invest in .com’s. Their value will increase.
Berkens: It’s too simple to say all .com’s will go up because of confusion. Example of a long “New York City trial lawyer” .com domain — will a lawyer still want that when shorter .nyc, .law, etc. available and can be registered for $20 or so? Remember, not everyone thinks like .com investors.
Mann: but whoever is building on those alternatives is making my .com’s better.
Berkens: Some new TLDs will “go under”. It comes down to marketing and maybe getting to market first. It could be that .law goes out two years after .esqwire….esqwire would have a lot better chance.
Mann: Again, success of .co came down to excellent operations and marketing.
Cahn: In this next round you’re going to see some very interesting business models. Products and services attached to domains, and some unique city models around .city tlds because they attract a local community that’s loyal, local business.
Schindler: These are all opinions, time will tell. Think about the term “successful” and what your barometer for success is. If you’re measuring against .com then they’re all going to be failures. I’ve heard in the last 24 hours that .tv is not successful. It makes millions of dollars a year, of course it’s successful. Some will be successful based on the number under management, others have fewer domains but may be considered successful.
Mann: I just don’t know which new TLDs will be successful. I don’t have the data. So I’ll invest my money in .com.
Dan: roughly 2 out of 3 businesses that are started fail in the first year. Our world is not cocooned against this. I recommend if you have expertise in a certain niche (e.g. insurance, real state), then stick to what you know.
Cahn: This industry has now gotten more news coverage in the past 12 months than ever before. We now have a focus on our industry. $300M invested in new TLDs. That was the value of our entire industry five years ago. Lots of investment in our industry, I’m convinced of growth, it’s good for all of us. It’s going to be in the news constantly. We’re only an industry of 15, 17 years old. This is still something that’s not even in the first inning.
Dan: Right now I’d save your money for when new tlds come out
Mann: Think of the mind of the consumer. What will they do five years from now? I would best the consumers go for free domains from google.
Cahn: Just think outside the box a bit. Our market is not stagnant. There will be spectacular failures, but some will be successful. Google has shown what it thinks by making such a large investment in new TLDs.