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  • NamesCon keynote: Frank Schilling’s comments on new TLDs

    1. BY - Jan 14, 2014
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    3. 28 Comments

    Here are my notes from Frank Schilling’s keynote at NamesCon this evening. In a couple spots I changed the order of his comments because he discussed the same issue at two or more spots in his talk (mostly in response to Q&A).

    The introduction of new TLDs is an evolution. It’s going to take many, many years.

    There are 7 billion people on earth, so for the most part nobody has domain names. This is because domains are very hard to use. That’s why people use Facebook instead of domains. It’s simpler to create a Facebook page.

    With deregulation including ending registry/registrar integration, it will be easier to use domains. This is going to make a big difference.

    Innovation will unlock the value of domains.

    These new names will not, not, not make .com domains go away. Even though an 800 number is harder to use than 888 (one number), I still want an 800 number because it was first and people think about it.

    There is no way to undermine the jaugernaut that .com is overnight. But remember, only 1% of people use names. As that grows, people are going to buy these new names.

    There may be a short time that your .com portfolio is affected. People may try out new domains, but they’ll say “I really should get the .com.”

    You haven’t had registries come out with meaningful strings at hand registration prices in more than a decade. Yes, there are some new TLDs coming out that will be more expensive. But there will be an opportunity to get good domains at low prices. That opportunity hasn’t been here for many years.

    Audience question: what worries you most about upcoming landscape?

    Frank: Well, there’s a lot of uncertainty. Here I am selling new gTLDs, what does all that available inventory do to the seconary marketplace for com/net? I think adding all these new names grows the pie. If you have really lousy names you might be in trouble. Maybe you can’t sell them for as much as before. But if you have names that get even a small level of traffic, you’ll still be able to sell them for something.

    I’d just say that putting your head in the ground and wishing all these new TLDs away isn’t going to help you.

    This year is a really good year to “make it happen.” Be smart. Do what got you here. Get the good ones at low prices that you can get. Hold on to them, manage them prudently, then sell them.

    I don’t know what a lot of these exensions will be used for. Some that people say are going to be great I don’t think will be, and there will be some that people think are going to fail that will take off.

    We’re going to see some that were uncontested selling more domains than ones that went for $14 M at auction.

    As for what new TLDs mean for the industry…Uniregistry will spend $40 million getting some of these names, that’s if I use my own money. But if I take investor money even more will get spent. Anytime someone spends a lot of money, that’s neat. We’ll spend money on marketing, you’ll see more people at conferences. And we’re not the largest player. So this is good overall for the industry.

    When you consider which domains to buy, consider the registry, how it’s being run, etc. I bought $1.8 M worth of .xxx domains. I would have bought more, but the interfaces that delivered these, the registrar interface sucked so badly, that I had no confidence in the namespace. When you buy new TLDs you should look at how good the registry is, what tools are with them, etc.

    Audience question: Frank, will you invest in others’ new TLDs (i.e. register SLDs in other people’s TLDs)?

    Answer: No. I have my hands full running my own registries. But I’ll carry them at my own registrar. On February 28 I’m going to launch my registrar, which we think will have a great deal of utility. Some really unique innovation in there. I want it to feel a little bit like the iphone. That’s hard to do with a registrar. I’m going to offer other people’s domains at the registrar.

28 Comments
  • I thank the Wire for the timely update.

    I have 3 serious takeaways from this. BUT I will refrain from raining on their parade today.

    I will be discussing them in the near future.

    It was interesting tidbits

  • This sums it up:
    “Audience question: Frank, will you invest in others’ new TLDs (i.e. register SLDs in other people’s TLDs)?
    Answer: No.”

    And this:
    “These new names will not, not, not make .com domains go away.”

  • Thanks for the timely update, Andrew.

    “With deregulation including ending registry/registrar integration, it will be easier to use domains.”

    Did I get it wrong? I always thought registry/registrar integration were prohibited until now.

  • At least it’s a vote that domain names in General will be needed for a long time to come.

  • God forbid that everyone on Mothership Earth (would) have their own domain or worse, website.

  • There were four other really good quotes for me:

    “There is no email without a domain name. Try as they might large ‘platforms’ that have tried to make email go away, have failed and email has only gotten stronger. Email is not possible without a domain name.”

    “All the good names in .com are registered. The new generation of kids growing up will never know a World without these new extensions and they will not be as critical or discriminatory of these new spaces as we all are”

    “All the good names in all the good extensions will get registered in the next 10 years”.

    “Making more diamonds (mining them) does not make the price of diamonds go down.”

    It was a pretty good speech

  • I am not sure I understand what Frank meant by “registry/registrar integration” and the regulation issue. Can someone shed some light on this for me? I don’t think I have ever really been aware of this. BTW, thanks to domain name wire for the information:-)

    • MarkM, it used to be that registries couldn’t own registrars and vice versa. Now they can. That means that registries could sell/provision a domain directly to you and then offer the services on top of it. Google could provide you with one of its domains directly as both the registry and registrar and then provision services such as email with it.

  • Imagine a city. Not a massive city, but one like Dallas with a population of about a million people. Some of those people own a fish tank, about 1% of them. The other 99% don’t own a fish tank. Sure, they’re happy to watch the fish if a friend has an aquarium at home or if they’re in a fancy restaurant, but they don’t want the trouble of cleaning the tank or have the knowledge to keep the fish alive. In our city there are some stores that sell fish tank supplies, about 20, which are kept profitable by the keen fish tank owners. Now imagine one sunny day, out of the blue, 900 new stores open selling fish tanks. Will the 99% rush out to buy an aquarium or will the 920 stores race to the bottom as they compete for the one percent’s cash in a desperate attempt to pay the mortgage? Welcome to Economics 101.

    • Of course, there were only 744 Unique non-brand strings applied for, and when you back out closed apps there are only 500 or so unique stores to race to the bottom.

      And uhm, do you think that “maybe” those 500 stores could convince another 1% of prople in Dallas to buy fishtanks by making them self cleaning, and in new shapes/colors? I’m gonna guess yes.

      Reality bites.

      • For ten years there have been many hosting companies that allow a person to host a website with minimal effort. There is nothing new about easy website creation. Time will tell, but we have plenty of history that shows these won’t gain traction. Sure, in isolation, .web looks like a good possibility, but we already have plenty of .net, .biz and .info possibilities that no-one wants. You really think people are going to care about .tattoo or .plumbing or .horse? I have friends with “interest” in those three things, but they would never buy one. These registries are going to be competing for the attention of customers who aren’t even there.

  • Reality ….that the best fish story I’ve heard so far :-)

  • Sounds all like the rich getting richer, $40 million on ‘some’ of these names . Gtfo. $40 mil should be able to buy every name thats worth a damn. You know all domainers will own the “good” domains within hours of a new gTLD release, and the same game will continue. Except for the dunce that buys SuicideHotline.luxury .

  • Realistic VS. UnRealistic vision.

  • “Experience taught me a few things. One is to listen to your gut, no matter how good something sounds on paper. The second is that you’re generally better off sticking with what you know. And the third is that sometimes your best investments are the ones you don’t make”.

    Donald Trump

    May be Schillings should have stuck to being a domainer instead of a Registry?

  • albert yemenian says:

    January 15, 2014 at 9:56 pm

    Frank, will you invest in new TLD’s other than yours?

    Answer:

    No, I only want to sell the shovels, not mine.

  • they are just words behind a comma..

  • frank schilling says:

    January 16, 2014 at 10:32 am

    That’s actually not what I said. :-) I said I’m too busy running GTLDs to speculate. I also said a namespace is only as good as its best names. Think about it. Buy all the best .com’s and you’re more valuable than Verisign. Buy all the best .ANYTHING and you’re more valuable than .ANYTHING. There are different levels to participate and I chose to participate at the registry level in this round. If I was NOT running registries (and what I hope will be one of the largest retail registrars) I “would” be speculating in individual extensions. Why wouldn’t I? These guys spent hundreds of millions building registries and bringing names to market, and I’m going to shout them down from the sidelines because I don’t like them? Screw that – I’d be backing up the truck! I paid 1.8mm for 30 .XXX names remember? If I could get some “good” names in new spaces at low prices I’d do that all freaking day. I wouldn’t be shouting it out loud here tho. Domenclature: that’s a good Trump quote. Respect. But at the beginning of this process two different ones came to mind: “Ships and men rot in port.” and this one by Pink Floyd: “I’d rather have a walk on part in the war, than a leading role in the cage.” That’s why i’m doing this. Thanks to all for the comments regardless of your side. Good luck to all.

    • Frank if you don’t have time to speculate when you have tens of employees then you can only imagine how much time one-man-show domainers have.

      You can buy all the valuable .horse but you are still not even worth the application money.

      I remember that you paid 1.8mm for 30 .XXX names? But maybe you have regretted it… Have you? I would have… Especially after ICM started selling cheap.

    • come on, frank. be honest now. the main reason you got into the registry/registrar space is because there is more money there than speculating on domains that might take 20 years to gain value.

      thats the thing with new gtld releases (though this time may be different with the sheer number of them) is that the registry always wins even if the gtld doesn’t gain traction. i also think a lot of these big money domain guys who are involved in the new gtld’s are doing so out of fear of missing out. they don’t know if it will be big or not but if they take control and make it big they think they can direct the market in most profitable way for them. its about keeping control. we’ll see what happens though.

      as a domain investor these new gtld’s are not my friend. there are far too many to even keep track of let alone invest into when i have no idea if and when they will be valuable enough that someone will want them at a good ROI. which gtld’s do you chose and which combinations of words….there are millions of them. these new gtlds are very anti domainer. they are almost impossible to responsibly invest into unless you have money you can afford to lose or let sit for 10-20 years.

      • Frank Schilling says:

        January 16, 2014 at 3:00 pm

        JZ.. Do you know which one of the .com investments you buy will be big? There are far too many to even keep track of let alone invest into when i have no idea if and when they will be valuable enough that someone will want them at a good ROI. which .com names do you chose and which combinations of words….there are millions of them? ; ) Same thing.

      • Non-domainer centric might be a better term IMO.

  • Frank Schilling says:

    January 16, 2014 at 11:46 am

    No Konstantinos – no regrets. I get the .porn, .adult and .sex for just $60 when ICM gets those so I’m perfectly happy to own the .XXX’s.

    free.porn free.sex free.adult will be mine at registration price because I own free.xxx. Same with all those others.

    My point is you can sit on the sidelines and shout about it and accomplish nothing, or you can ride the wave coming in – Wax that board ; )

    I would not buy .horse because I don’t have many horse names. I would take some .cooking though.. But I just don’t have time.

    • Frank you talk about 1 gTLD and you don’t have the time. What about 500? When you have to find out what domains are reserved by the registry, ICANN, the Olympics, organizations, trademark holders, which are premium, which have premium renewals, where and when to pre-register, where and when are the premium auctions (if any), when is the landrush, the general availability etc. And that is spread over 1-2 years or more. That is just too much work that no domainer can keep up with if they want to make money today. At the moment .com doesn’t have all these variables and it is making money right now.

      I will try to keep up whenever I have the time but riding the wave… I don’t think so. More like watching the wave and maybe getting wet a few times…

      And of course some registries will be successful and some end users very happy. But gTLDs for domainers is a 10+ year journey and very few will invest more than 10% of the money invested in .com. That is what I will do.

      Frank you are still a domainer but you won’t invest in other gTLDs. This doesn’t sit well with most domainers when you try to promote new gTLDs.

  • I loved Schilling’s videos on nic.sexy and nic.tattoo. It could perfectly be taken a sample of storytelling marketing for academic use.

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