Toby Clements hopes to reboot after running into financial trouble.
Last week David Clements announced changes to his domain brokering service Brannans to focus on only bigger ticket domain names rather than daily newsletter sales. As part of this, he said he was transferring his buyer database back to his brother Toby.
It was originally Toby’s database, but Toby ran into some financial trouble and his brother David took over. Toby’s financial trouble meant a number of people in the domain name business didn’t get paid for transactions they completed. So, how will Toby win back the trust of the domain name community? I connected with him over email for an answer.
DNW:. Were all of the people that you owed money to eventually paid? Did you pay them or did your brother?
Toby Clements: Andrew, first of all, I want to thank you for reaching out to me. Back in early 2011, you were the first one to interview me about the launch of the newsletter, and I’m happy that you’re the first person I’m talking to this round as well.
As you know, I’ve been buying, selling, and brokering domains since 2007. Over those 10 years, I’ve held auctions in 10+ countries, and all over the USA, and, for much of that time, I ran one of the most successful newsletters in our industry. Throughout that period, and up until 2014, I had very few issues with clients or otherwise, despite conducting tens of millions of dollars in sales and acquisitions. Unfortunately, due to slowing sales and some personal issues, my company took on more debt than I could afford, and I ended up making some bad business decisions. This was my first experience with financial failure, and I obviously didn’t respond to it well. Hearing and reading people talking about it on the boards, phone calls, emails, etc., absolutely broke my spirit.
Even though I had to push pause on the newsletter for a while, I never ran from my obligations. The plan was always to pay back every penny that was owed, and that’s what I set out to do. After cutting all of my expenses and downsizing everything in my life, things began to take shape. I made a deal with David, my brother, to use my database to keep the newsletter alive and to help me pay down the debt.
So, to answer your initial question, while not everyone has been fully paid back yet, the vast majority have been made whole. As of today, I have repaid over 80% of my company’s debt. I expect that number to be at 100% by Q2 of this year, and will do everything in my power to make sure that deadline is met.
Moving forward, I want this entire unfortunate situation in my rear view mirror, and I will get every single person taken care of in the coming months. Anyone that has anything they need to discuss can reach me directly at toby (at) tobyclements.com.
DNW: Why should people trust you after what happened last time?
Toby Clements: This is a pretty easy question to answer, but I’d like to elaborate a little bit first.
100% of all transactions moving forward will be handled through escrow (Escrow.com, Payoneer.com, etc.). It doesn’t matter if it’s a $500 transaction or a $500,000 transaction, 100% means 100%. This protects the buyer, the seller, and any co-brokers, so all sides are covered.
This being said, I’m not an untrustworthy person, Andrew, and my primary goal at this time is to rebuild trust in our community. As I mentioned above, I’ve brokered well into the eight figures in transactions, held live auctions, hosted and attended trade shows, and sponsored parties and events. If you take it all into account, most would agree that the positive things I’ve done in our industry greatly outweigh the negative. Unfortunately for me, though, the negative is what people have been focused on for the past couple of years. I’m ready, willing, and eager to change this perception now and move forward, and I’m getting a lot of support from industry heavyweights, friends, family, and clients.
In line with this “fresh start”, I will be retiring my previous brand, TobyClements.com, and will relaunch the newsletter at DTrader.com. And this time, I’ll have some help. Ammar Kubba, a long-time friend of mine, has agreed to come on as an investor and advisor, providing guidance on the business, marketing, and strategy of DTrader. We will continue to send out a “daily” (up to 5 per week) newsletter, occasional special edition and thematic newsletters, and might even consider periodic auctions, as well. We are in the planning stages right now, but hope to launch in the next couple of weeks. I’ll be at NamesCon later this month and welcome the opportunity to meet new people, see old friends, and schedule meetings with anyone and everyone that wants to talk.
I’m done staying silent, and I’m ready to get back to doing what I do best, which is brokering domain names. Again, anyone that needs to reach me can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and/or we can meet up in a few weeks at NamesCon.