As NamesCon enters its third day, here are my thoughts from the conference.
NamesCon continues for its third day in Las Vegas today. There have been some cool events and sessions, and NamesCon is doing a great job recapping them on its website.
So instead of recaps, I’m going to talk about the mood…how people are thinking about domain names going forward.
There are a couple of recurring themes.
First, China is dead. That boom from a couple years ago has worked its way out of the system.
When you think about it, many of the Chinese domain name investors were treating domain names as cryptocurrencies. They were buying huge swathes of otherwise low-value domain names with the hopes that someone else would buy them for more money.
Now people are trading crytocurrencies with the same idea. The bet is that someone else will pay more money for the cryptocurrency at a later date.
The similarities are uncanny. You had lots of people in China pumping up domain names as an investment. There was even a coffee shop where you could learn how to get rich investing in domain names. People were telling other people how the value of these domains was going up and convinced them to buy so they wouldn’t be left out. Then some people gut stuck holding the bag.
At a bar last night, while having a conversation about cryptocurrency and blockchain, I overheard a conversation next to me. Some guy was telling his friend how he should get in on cryptocurrency.
Let’s see how that plays out.
The second overall theme is that the domain industry is stuck. How do we grow from here? What is there to get excited about?
I haven’t found that yet. It seems that we’re in a position of stable to slow growth. In fact, we might be in a short-term period of decline thanks to manufactured demand (e.g. penny domains) that is working its way out of the system.
From a domain investor perspective, I’m more optimistic. We don’t need overall registrations to grow. Investors just need to sell more of their domains. I’m hopeful that there are ways to do that, and it all comes down to making end users aware that they can buy domains that are already registered and helping them understand the value. That’s where companies like Afternic and Sedo are extremely important. Any company that makes people aware of the ability to buy domains and can help facilitate the transaction with minimum friction can help increase sales velocity.
Of course, you have to have good names to begin with if you want to sell them.