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Comparing expired domain name platforms

A look at the three big expired domain platforms.

Picture of clock with words "expired domains"

The majority of domain names I acquire are expiring domain names sold on GoDaddy, DropCatch, and NameJet/SnapNames. Each platform has something going for it, but all have some drawbacks as well.

This post digs into the three platforms and their pluses and minuses. Please note that, for this post, I’m focusing only on expired domain inventory, not domainer-to-domainer inventory that can be listed on some of these platforms.

GoDaddy

GoDaddy auctions off the largest amount of direct transfer domain inventory, including that from all of GoDaddy’s brands, Newfold Digital’s Endurance brands, and Enom/Tucows, among others. “Direct transfer” means that the domains are sold to the new owner without going through the registry’s complete deletion cycle.

This type of inventory has benefits compared to dropped inventory that goes through the complete expiration cycle. First, direct-transfer domains retain their original registration date in Whois. Second, GoDaddy’s deals with other registrars guarantee that the inventory goes through its system, so you don’t have to backorder the domain at multiple expired domain platforms.

The other nice thing about GoDaddy is that all of the domains you win are inserted into your GoDaddy account. Even if the domain is at Enom or Public Domain Registry, they all show up in a single account. That makes them easier to manage.

GoDaddy also has a pretty good (if not buggy) app for searching and bidding. It’s nice to get alerts on your phone when an auction is closing or you are outbid, and to be able to respond immediately.

There are some drawbacks, though. One common complaint is never receiving domains you win. GoDaddy auctions off domains before the deadlines that some partner registrars offer their customers to renew or transfer the domains. This means that an auction you win might be canceled before you receive the domain. You’ll receive an automatic refund but it’s still annoying. (This shouldn’t happen on domains at GoDaddy registrars because of the timing of its auctions compared to the renewal/transfer deadlines for customers.)

It’s also annoying that you have to wait to receive the domains you win. One understandable reason is that GoDaddy has to transfer domains from other registrars to GoDaddy, but there’s also a delay on domains that are registered at GoDaddy.

Another annoyance is the seemingly neverending technical bugs on GoDaddy’s platform.

Oh, and people complain a lot about bidders using the API to place last-minute bids. GoDaddy recently changed its closeout pricing structure in response to complaints about snapping domains the moment an auction ends with no bids. Time will tell if it’s helping everyday domain investors get any good closeout domains.

DropCatch

The DropCatch platform specializes in catching domains that go through pending delete status. DropCatch has over 1,000 registrars in its stable that it uses to snap up domains the moment they drop.

One of the best things about DropCatch is that all of the domains you win are instantly transferred into your NameBright registrar account the moment you pay for them. There’s no waiting and they’re all in a single account.

On the downside, NameBright defaults to not using Whois privacy on the domains you win at DropCatch. This means your phone will ring off the hook and your inbox will be flooded with spam from people pitching you on website and app development. There’s a simple way to fix this, though.

NameBright also isn’t a member of AfternicDLS, so you can’t quickly list your domains on the Fast Transfer system.

Also, as fully deleted domains, you don’t retain the original registration date in Whois.

Keep in mind that inventory that goes through the full delete cycle that is registered at a registrar participating in direct transfer programs with GoDaddy or NameJet/SnapNames goes there first, so you’re catching the scraps.

Some people also complain about the backordering process. At NameJet/SnapNames, only people who order a domain in advance can participate in the domain’s ensuing auction. DropCatch lets anyone bid, so other domain investors benefit from your hard work identifying domains.

NameJet/SnapNames

Web.com owns NameJet and SnapNames, and Web.com was recently rolled into Endurance International Group to form Newfold Digital. I have to assume that combining NameJet and SnapNames into one modern platform is in the works. Then again, since Endurance already sends its inventory to GoDaddy, will the company decide to scrap the platforms altogether? I hope not, as competition is good in this industry.

The platforms have direct transfer inventory and also compete for pending delete dropped domains. The inventory is the same on both platforms. Web.com owns two of the oldest registrars, Network Solutions and Register.com, where the bulk of its good inventory comes from. This inventory is, frankly, the main thing NameJet and SnapNames have going for them.

With direct transfers, you also get to keep the original registration date in Whois.

Bidders also appreciate that only people who backorder a domain get to participate in auctions.

On the downside, the technology is horrible. NameJet’s app stopped alerting bidders about being outbid years ago. SnapNames is riddled with technical issues.

And when you win a domain, prepare for it to show up in some random domain registrar account. Having to consolidate domains you win is perhaps the biggest frustration with these platforms.

Network Solutions and Register.com don’t obscure Whois by default, so you can expect to get lots of spam and phone calls.

Other options

These aren’t the only options for catching expired domains. Dynadot has its own auction platform and there can be good buys because the auctions don’t get as much attention. Sav has become a popular resource for acquiring dropped .io and .co domains, and it only charges the standard domain registration fee for domains you win. Park.io is popular for ccTLDs. Sedo offers the first crack at some expiring IONOS domains.

The future

The expired domain game has changed a lot over the past 25 years and will likely change again in the future. For example, Verisign might offer access pools to catch dropped domains so that drop catchers don’t have to create a thousand registrars.

The biggest question right now is what happens to NameJet and SnapNames given the merger into Newfold Digital. I hope that Newfold decides to invest in these platforms rather than shutting them down. We need competition in the expired domain business.

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  1. Rob Monster - Epik.com says

    Shocking — no mention of NameLiquidate.com.

    Of the entire list above, none of them are growing, and none of them are innovating. They are just part of the old cold war of accruing more registry connections and duking it out, often with shill bidders and bots that push prices higher and then pay zero to the registrant.

    Some major advantages of NameLiquidate.com are:

    1. The platform is registrar agnostic –any registrar and any registrant can participate as long as there is a valid auth code for an unlocked domain.

    2. Dutch auction model means zero shill bidding — it is impossible — if you bid, you own it. The prices start at $998 and end as low as $9.

    3. The registrants keep 91% of the proceeds which means the domain investor gets value that they too can re-deploy. Win-win.

    NameLiquidate is the game-changer. It is a tool for empowering new market participants. Your sponsors know it, and I am pretty sure you know it too.

    Don’t drop. Liquidate. RIP dropcatching.

      • Rob Monster - Epik.com says

        Nameliquidate.com is first and foremost an “expired domain name platform”. The difference between a Godaddy auction and a Nameliquidate auction is simple.

        In the case of the Godaddy auction, the house keeps 100% of the money. The guy with the biggest checkbook wins the domain, no matter how many shill bids occurred along the way, and no matter whether the winning bidder actually paid with cash rather than house funny-money, and regardless of any unholy alliances that may or may not exist between Godaddy and Huge Domains.

        In the case of NameLiquidate, an expired domain on Godaddy gets sold on NameLiquidate, and Godaddy gets zero, the former registrant keeps 91%, and the new registrant gets a clean domain with no clawback risk, for a price that likely was cheaper than he or she would have gotten on a Godaddy auction. That is why NameLiquidate is a game-changer. It breaks the rigged game.

        For the moment, NameLiquidate is unique. Epik owns all the code. We will happily license it to anyone who wants to stand up their own version of NameLiquidate in any language, in any currency on any domain. If it empowers more entrepreneurs to end the rigged game, the more the merrier.

        Godaddy has locked up portfolios with long-term DNS deals where people with portfolios as big as 65,000 domains, and likely larger are required to use Godaddy DNS. If during that time, they don’t make enough sales, guess who is poised to monetize the expiry stream. Godaddy.

        Liberty will win in the end. Tyranny only has brief episodes of winning before the tyrants get overthrown. When tyranny is exposed, as happened with the Brent Oxley case, the bullshit ends in a hurry. And so it goes. The industry has had it up to HERE with the Godaddy bullshit.

        The game did change in August 2018 when the Godaddy insiders cashed out of the company. I did highlight that in this post which most will have missed but is solid gold for anyone who wondered what could possibly explain why Godaddy became so focused on running rigged games:

        https://www.namepros.com/threads/brent-oxley-loses-access-to-create-com-plus-millions-of-dollars-worth-of-his-domains.1230431/page-42#post-8199080

        I do respect you, Andrew, for not moderating these comments. The game IS rigged but, for now, at least we can talk about it, and make it better. I would much rather that Godaddy embrace empowerment for real than to have to industry heavyweights start calling out their systematic malfeasance.

        My very sincere hope is that Godaddy will embrace a new model which genuinely empowers, including in the expiry stream. For starters, let the registrants have half the proceeds from the expiry stream in return for opting out of clawbacks. It is a cleaner way and co-creates abundance.

        You could say why would Rob Monster advocate for NameLiquidate to have Godaddy become a competitor in the gain-sharing model? Very simple. I simply want to see all industry leaders to depart from the manufactured scarcity that enslaves and to embrace co-creating abundance!!!

        To Aman Bhutani and Godaddy Board: Let’s all get back to winning. The world does not need a “GREAT RESET”. It is a bullshit lie that you have been sold, along with countless others. We just need to start treating each other with respect. The directive to “Love thy neighbor” as thyself is still the single best advice anyone every gave anybody! It fixes EVERYTHING.

        Amen and Amen.

        • John says

          Amen.

          And re NameLiquidate, it’s about time I check it out myself since I cull the flock a lot every year. I will make a point of doing that soon.

    • Adolph says

      Come on Rob that may all be true but at least with the other platforms we have a clear conscience that we are not supporting white supremacy groups spewing hate and inciting violence.

      • Rob Monster says

        If you actually believe what the media has sold you, then you are a fool. More likely, you are just a useful idiot who is bought and paid for to maintain the lie.

        Here is a synopsis of the lie that the media tells you:

        https://www.npr.org/2021/02/08/965448572/meet-the-man-behind-epik-the-tech-firm-keeping-far-right-websites-alive

        That was the result of 3 hour interview in my home full of thoughtful commentary almost all of which was censored. They clipped 6 sentences, out of context to construct a narrative that makes Epik the villain.

        On the exact same day, another interview was aired on a Christian publisher that you will likely never have come across that provides context:

        https://chalcedon.edu/resources/audio/christian-ceo-offers-alternative-to-big-tech

        The juxtaposition simply educates more people that the media has abandoned journalistic integrity in favor of being sponsored propagandists. Independent media has prospered as a result.

        If you really want to live in a Godless and Marxist hell-hole, there are many to choose from these days. Those of us who believe in the idea of American constitutional liberty, will do our part to hold the line.

        • Rob says

          Hey Rob, don’t stress so much. I read that NPR piece linked to above and spotted the propaganda straight away. What they wrote had precisely the opposite effect on me – my knowledge and respect for you just went up with both that article and with what you have commented here.

        • Andrew Allemann says

          Rob, when you make comments like this it undermines your credibility:

          “That was the result of 3 hour interview in my home full of thoughtful commentary almost all of which was censored. They clipped 6 sentences, out of context to construct a narrative that makes Epik the villain.”

          You sat down for an interview for a radio segment. Did you expect them to publish all three hours? Of course not. You might not have been happy with what they chose to publish (I actually thought it was quite favorable to you and explained your perspective), but that’s in no way “censoring”. Throwing out the word censored when you clearly weren’t censored is like the boy who cried wolf…in those cases when you might actually be censored, people won’t take it seriously.

          • Joseph says

            True, the NPR article was quite favorable in the face of Rob’s actions as CEO in supporting the hate-filled alt-right movement with his company’s and investors’ scarce resources. NPR could have skewered him but they provided counterpoints that appeared to show him more balanced and nuanced, like with Epik not providing resources to 8chan and other hate-filled, right-wing extremist media outlets even if for seemingly inexplicable reasons.

      • John says

        Adolph…if there was even a minute trace of what you are saying, I would not want anything to do with Epik. And yet, why is the opposite the case and Epik is my favorite platform for years now and the one I recommend most above all?

        I may be both a “domainer” for about 20 years now and an end user publisher, but make no mistake: “the truth” about life and reality in this world and beyond is a priority which leaves those things effectively trillions of miles in my rear view mirror in terms of priorities. That why you can often see me waxing on about such things in the blog comments, for instance, something many would be familiar with by now.

        As Rob has pointed out, you are either a fool, a dupe, or something much worse than that. And there are many who are in that “much worse” group unfortunately.

        However…

        If you honestly do care about “white supremacy groups spewing hate and inciting violence” as you represent, and any other similarly undesirable anti-social phenomenon – a big “if” these days – then you would and should also be aggressively calling for the end of platforms like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and others, all of which strangely enough receive a pass the size of the Grand Canyon when it comes to various bad actors using their platforms for criminal and anti-social purposes and worse. Are you doing that? If you are for real about your comment, however, you have an opportunity to become “disabused” instead of just doubling down.

        FYI, check out Proverbs 18:13.

      • Rob Monster - Epik.com says

        LOL.

        I actually don’t think I know who John is but there are a few folks in this industry that are like brothers.

        John is a frequent commenter on DNW. He is wise and informed. He understands what is at stake.

        He reminds me of “The Rover” on NamePros.

        One of these guys, a few like-minded individuals are going to put our heads together. 🙂

        In the meantime, hopefully Andrew goes easy on the comment moderation.

        In my case I was moderated once on this thread but it was for good reason — I use a no-no word.

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