Sedo’s new CEO opines on opportunity in the domain name industry.
Editor’s note: Tobias Flaitz has been CEO of Sedo for about six months now. I recently reached out to him to get his thoughts on opportunities in the domain name industry, both for his company and the industry as a whole.
Six months into my new role as CEO of Sedo, I’ve had the great opportunity to get to know my colleagues and many of our partners and to get diverse and big-picture insight into the domain industry. With the potential expansion of the internet just around the corner, I have to say that there is no better time to have entered the industry.
Of course, the biggest topic right now is the launch of the new gTLDs. In the past, we’ve worked with a lot of registries to auction and promote emerging TLDs such as .me and .co. It will be interesting to see which new gTLDs reach the market and how they perform by comparison with the historic heavyweights like .com.
It’s important to stay on top of these changes, especially for providers like Sedo. We expect a huge rush for premium domains under these new extensions, and our primary goal is to make sure that our marketplace is poised to not only support the trade of the newest domains, but also to support new registries when they launch. What’s key now and in the future is offering multiple auction types to make these launches equitable, and to also establish clearly-defined processes for introducing new gTLDs.
There are other opportunities for growth, such as in parking. While parking views per user may be declining, developing markets around the world bring new internet traffic. Of course we know these emerging markets will continue to demand innovation from all corners of the industry to keep up. Even offering account support and management in 25 languages, as Sedo already does, may not be enough in the domain industry of tomorrow! It’s imperative that we watch trends in the market, shifts in traffic origins, and changes to conversion rates and spend to make sure that parking evolves as well.
Not only that, there’s a lot more competition in the domain monetization arena. I’ve learned that this has been the case for at least the last five years, and that competition has only gotten stronger during the last 18 months. This means that Sedo—and the industry as a whole—has to focus on innovation within the domain parking sector. Nearly everyone in our offices talks constantly about the ongoing testing and optimization of our parking platform to meet the demands of our tech-savvy customers, and we’re lucky that our partnership with Google has given us the opportunity to do this kind of testing often and early. I’m excited to see what newcomers to the monetization game will bring to the table, and to see my own team already hard at work to release new products to maximize earnings across the board.
In general, we’re seeing strong sales figures and a lot of end users coming to Sedo.com and the SedoMLS network to purchase premium names. With a steady focus on increasing both the inventory in the network and the reach that we’re offering our domain sellers, we see this as a key to growth in the domain industry as a whole. We’ve seen a lot of growth to our SedoMLS partner network (over 80 and counting!) and this has ensured that more and more buyers and sellers are connecting, wherever they’re based globally.
As part of this extended reach, we expect that smart pricing tools will be a big part of the continued fluidity and success of the domain market. There’s definitely room for improvement in automated pricing, and we’ve heard from customers in all markets that knowing the right price or budget is crucial to doing business. Thinking globally is important if the industry wants to grow on this front: pricing tools need to take into account the wider economy (which is something IDNX does very well), as well as the specific conditions of the different markets that sellers are based in.
Of course, as there’s more open communication between marketplaces and registrars, more data will become available for continued development (by Sedo and others) of appraisal tools, domain evaluators, etc. This will also make domain investment more accessible for the general public. Even in the last few months, we’ve made strides by getting both Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters to embrace domains as a legitimized opportunity for anyone. And that’s something that has never really happened before!
In summary, there is a lot of excitement in the industry, and at Sedo we’re extremely optimistic about these opportunities to grow the domain market. As always, we’ll continue to do our part to educate end users and bring those clients into the mix. We want to make sure that the continued success of the domain industry is part of daily life for not only financial pioneers, but for customers from all corners of the world, no matter their occupations. And based on where we are, that’s exactly where domains are going.