A prominent figure in the domain name industry has apparently hit hard times.
I’ve been writing Domain Name Wire for ten years. When I started writing, domain forums were where all of the discussion took place. Over time, blogs have become a central point of discussion in the domain name industry.
Part of the reason for a rise of the blogs is curation. Each blog has its own voice and idea of what is news, and people choose to read blogs they believe give them good information without a bunch of noise. I think a big part of my job is to decide what not to write about because it’s not newsworthy.
Sometimes there are things that are important and newsworthy but are difficult to write about. I’ve covered many of these things.
So yesterday, when someone pointed me to a thread on NamePros (that subsequently links to a blog post) about Adam Dicker, I had to consider if it was newsworthy or just gossip.
Gossip would be something like this. It’s hardly relevant to a business publication. It’s TMZ stuff.
After sleeping on the allegations raised in the post and giving it some thought, I decided it was unfortunate but newsworthy.
In a nutshell, some people say Adam Dicker, who runs Domain Name Forum and a number of other businesses, has broken promises to them and owes them money.
Dicker says part of the accusation is true. It’s clear by now that he owed money to Frank Schilling, who took the unusual step of posting on Twitter a request for Dicker to get in touch with his billing department.
As I thought about the allegations, it crystallized many thoughts I’ve had about the domain name industry over the past decade. Much of this is not specific or directly relevant to the current accusations, but I’ll make it clear when there’s a connection.
1. A lot of people in the domain business are one bad deal away from insolvency. I’m often surprised to learn that people who have generated a lot of money with domain names also have a lot of debt, and one bad year can wipe them out. Perhaps this is just a different level of risk tolerance than I’m used to.
2. People relish personal failure when the person who fails engages in puffery. I’ve made it a practice to root for people to succeed, not fail. I’ve learned this over the years after discovering my own shortcomings in business. As I’ve matured, I’ve learned to not relish in others’ failure.
Where the public seems to smirk at someone’s failure is when the person who hits hard times has boasted about their success. It’s the same reason people get excited when the “Christian family man” politician gets busted for prostitution.
Dicker has held himself out as a very successful domain name investor. Maybe this is true, maybe it’s not. I’ve never seen his finances. But people tend to relish the thought of someone who has boasted that they’re doing great hitting hard times.
It’s worth noting that we celebrate when Silicon Valley startups risk it all and fail. “At least they tried,” we tell ourselves. The difference in the domain name business is that it’s often not a company failing. Even if there’s a company behind a person, it’s the person we associate with.
3. I wish we’d stop celebrating when investors spend big on a domain. This isn’t directly relevant to Dicker but something that has always bothered me. This industry seems to place people on a pedestal if they spend a lot of money acquiring a domain name. I think we should praise people who make a lot of money selling a domain name, not the other way around.
For now, the allegations against Adam Dicker will have to play their course. After his initial comments on the NamePros thread, Dicker hasn’t commented. I don’t blame him.
And since I don’t root for failure, I hope Adam is able to work with people to leverage his domain portfolio to take care of any outstanding debts and obligations.