Here are my takeaways from last week’s event in Las Vegas.
What a way to kick off the year in the domain name business.
Last week’s NamesCon conference in Las Vegas attracted over 1,000 people. Enthusiasm, driven in part by a strong finish to 2015 thanks to China, was high.
That’s a lot of people. The record attendance was a good thing, but it also created a couple of challenges.
In general, there were no issues finding a seat at sessions and no clogged hallways. The only overflow situation was on Sunday, as topic tables had to be relocated from tables to rooms. I suspect NamesCon will change how this works next year.
Although individual events weren’t overcrowded, I did find it more difficult than usual to run into people and have conversations. There were many people I saw only in passing, and only once. Many also were offsite at meetings throughout the entire conference. I had a lot of great conversations, but I only got a chance to catch up with half the people I wanted to.
There were a lot of people there I’ve never met, and a bunch that I haven’t seen in many, many years. Kudos to NamesCon for bringing everyone together.
A mixed bag of content. I think the aforementioned topic tables should drive next year’s content, and it might be time to reduce the number of concurrent sessions.
I attended a handful of keynotes, including Frank Schilling, Brian Cute, Mike McLaughlin and Matt Barrie. They were all worth attending.
Schilling’s (podcast) was basically a sales pitch, but it was interesting. He demoed the new Uniregistry app by pushing domain names to audience members on the fly. One person selected Paleo.diet, which was subsequently sold in the Right of the Dot auction for $1,700.
Brian Cute (podcast) of Public Interest Registry showed off impressive 2015 numbers for .org, even when you exclude the effects of China.
Matt Barrie (podcast), CEO of Freelancer, gave an informative keynote. He explained the Freelancer.com story (one I hadn’t heard in depth) and released interesting statistics about Escrow.com, which the company acquired last year.
Party on, Wayne. No domain name conference is complete without networking and parties. NamesCon checked the box for these.
The most interesting experience was Public Interest Registry’s Ice Bar event. I had never been to an ice bar, and it was fun to hang out in a parka sipping a drink from a glass made of ice.
Also a shout out to DomainCapital, GoDaddy and Verisign for events/dinners, and to ParkingCrew for inviting me to dinner on Wednesday night.
ParkingCrew had a fun booth where you could get your picture taken as the “parking girl”, although I’m sure the guys at eNom wanted a hat tip for it. You can see some of the photos here (warning: safe for work, but…)
People will also be talking about Uniregistry’s party and Waternight for a while. Especially those that lost their hair in the name of charity.
Right of the Dot had a good auction, pulling in about $1.5 million during live bidding. A good number of these domain names were new top level domains, which accounted for a bit more than 20% of total sales value.
None of the big ticket domains sold, and the overall “China effect” seemed muted.
It’s the Trop.
I think most people have now accepted that the Tropicana is the Tropicana. It’s not luxurious, but it’s functional and cheap. People who don’t like the hotel have found other nearby hotels to stay in during the show.
I had a good room this time. However, the wait for room service on Monday and Tuesday was 90 minutes and two hours, respectively. The NamesCon team should demand higher service levels from the Trop’s food service during the show.
Many people say they attended NamesCon as a less expensive alternative to ICANN’s next meeting in Marrakesh, so I suspect that meeting will be lightly attended. However, the summer meeting in Panama will be big for the domain name investment crowd. Puerto Rico might be a good meeting this fall.
Sedo is planning a big push during SXSW in Austin this March, and I plan to participate.
September will have two domain name conferences: THE Domain Conference in Florida, and a DomainFest/NamesCon in Hong Kong.
So far my plans call for a trip to Panama. Beyond that, I haven’t set my schedule.
It was great catching up with everyone, and I look forward to a fantastic 2016.