A recap of what I did, saw, and heard during NamesCon last week.
Last week was the inaugural NamesCon conference in Las Vegas.
In case you weren’t one of the close to 600 people who experienced it in person, everything you’ve heard is spot on: it was a home run. Richard Lau, Jodi Chamberlain, and Jothan Frakes did a fantastic job pulling this conference together in a short period of time. They saw a hole in the domain conference circuit and filled it with zeal.
I’ve already written a few posts about the conference, and I’ll write more in-depth posts about some of my observations the rest of this week. This post is a brief walk-through.
NamesCon attendees strolled in most of the day Monday. The day didn’t officially kick off until 8pm, when .xyz hosted the opening night party. It was packed.
Monday morning started with a keynote by Jennifer Wolfe, a new TLD consultant who works primarily with brands. I’ve read Wolfe’s book, which explains how companies can leverage .brand top level domains. Her talk also discussed how companies that didn’t apply for a .brand could leverage other new TLDs.
The challenge I have with her book and her talk is that all of her examples are things companies can currently do with .com domains or other extensions. Merely creating a domain.brand instead of domain.brand.com or brand.com/domain isn’t big innovation, and won’t change how people interact with brands online. I have yet to hear how a brand can do something truly new or different with a .brand, although I’m all ears.
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman then came on stage to pitch Las Vegas as a good place to do business. She also mentioned .vegas, but made a faux paus: she accidentally said Vegas.com one time. We’ll be hearing a lot of these mistakes over the next couple years.After Goodman’s talk, the conference split up into three tracks. I stuck around the main conference area to hear five new top level domain applicants discuss their plans. There are a wide variety of marketing plans and price ranges for new TLDs. On one end of the spectrum was .xyz, which is open to everyone and will cost about $10. On the other end is .luxury, which will truly be a luxury item costing hundreds of dollars to register.
Just outside the main conference room was the exhibit hall, which you had to walk through to get to the conference area. The exhibit area was much bigger than any non-ICANN domain conference I’ve been to in a while. It was similar to DomainFest a few years back. One of the big draws was .buzz’s massage booth.
I missed the next couple sessions due to meetings. Had I not been busy, I really wanted to see the “New TLDs + Domainers” panel to hear what Top Level Domain Holdings Chief Strategy Officer Fred Krueger had to say. I wondered if he’d carry the same tone that he did in a comment over at Domain Incite, where he wrote “…New TLD registries are going to have the last laugh as all these new TLDs crush (and I mean crush) dot com domainers. Good luck standing up to this tsunami of alternatives to your bad and overpriced domain name portfolios gentlemen.”
Apparently he delivered. Shane Cultra has a great post about what Krueger said, and draws some great analogies.
Around lunchtime I managed to sneak in a trip to .xyz’s new office, just a few minutes down Tropicana from the hotel. You can read more about .xyz and its Las Vegas office building here.
In the afternoon I attended the legal panel. Despite an all-star cast including John Berryhill, Bret Fausett, Ari Goldberger, Daliah Saper, and Albert Angel, the session failed to draw a big audience. That’s a shame, because they each gave a great story about stupid legal mistakes people have made. I have a separate post (coming soon) with all of their stories.
The programming concluded with Frank Schilling’s keynote, which you can read about here.
The day ended with Water Night, a charity event that raised over $100,000 for The Water School.
In the morning, Jodee Rich, who’s backing the bid for .ceo and runs social media analytics company PeopleBrowsr, discussed his view of the domain market going forward and .ceo. I don’t really understand .ceo, but I went into his talk with an open mind.
He discussed how social networks are not niche enough, and people don’t want to post niche subject matter on Facebook when so many viewers won’t be interested.
The idea of niche social networks isn’t new. The joke at startup conferences five years ago was that everyone was starting “a social network for ________”, with the blank filled in by teachers, knitters, athletes, or people who like to be choked by dead cats.
The difference may be that Rich’s company has the Twitter data to target these niches. Whether there’s demand, I don’t know. He plans to use some of this data and pre-made web pages to target CEOs for .ceo. Although I’m sure there’s a market for a network for CEO’s, I still don’t understand why adding a new top level domain name layer to it adds value. I also think that if someone started emailing me from a .ceo address, I’d think they were a poser rather than a leader.
Rich concluded with an encore to his interesting .ceo video played during the ICANN meeting with more of the same, which some people in the crowd labeling it as sexist.
Jeremy Schoemaker, aka ShoeMoney, followed up with a keynote about how he’s made money online and the value of creating prospect lists.Around lunchtime I moderated a panel featuring some of my domain blogging peers. Afterward I stopped in for part of the last-minute visit by WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg. He had some interesting comments about domain names.
The next programming I caught was Bing’s Duane Forrester, who started his talk with a discussion about domain names and search. I’ll have a separate post about that later.
As things started to wind down, the Ping Pong tournament in the exhibit hall heated up. A lot of familiar faces squared off. Ray King of Top Level Design, a new TLD applicant, won the tournament.
I headed back to Austin on Thursday morning.
Las Vegas has this cruel idea that it should take every nickel you have before you leave town. Its airport is stuffed with slot machines trying to grab your attention before your flight boards.
I actually hadn’t gambled at all while in Vegas. I was too busy. But I stopped at a slot machine at the aiport. When I quickly went up $50, I decided to call it quits.
It was just $50, but for once I could say I left Las Vegas a winner.