My Personal View On The Adam Dicker Issue

gtldsIn the past 3-4 weeks I have been so busy that I didn’t even had time to read about what seems to be one of the biggest scandals in domain name industry.

Although in reality it not a hardcore domain name scandal but a mix between domain names, web development and people that want to get rich quick.

I still have not read all the complaints on the Namepros forum (the post has over 150 pages, 350,000 views and 3,800 replies) but I read a few articles, including the original from Shane (this article named “Is Adam Dicker a criminal? You decide.” seems to have been deleted now but I have it, together with the 70 comments) and it didn’t took me long to realize what this was about. Theo Develegas and Raymond Hackney wrote 2 great articles on the subject addressing other issues about domaining as well.

No one from my readers send me a complaint about Adam and I have never done any business with him ever so I didn’t have anything to write about. You have probably read pretty much everything on NamePros and some other blogs. A reader asked me why I haven’t written anything about the Adam Dicker story and if I am part of a blogger’s cover up. I explained my busy schedule and that I have no involvement with this story. So here is what I think of what happened, knowing the domain name industry, the little I know about Adam Dicker and the very little I know about human psychology and behavior. Everybody has been saying that small niche websites and mini sites that make thousands per month (and mass development) are pretty much dead. Yet Adam Dicker appeared to be killing it selling cheap website development. I attended a couple of his sessions at NamesCom 2015 and at Domaining Europe. Not because I was interested in website development but because I wanted to hear Adam’s stories and see why Adam’s sessions were so popular. So I watched them and something didn’t feel right.

The level of anticipation and excitement was not on par with what Adam could offer to the attendees. It wasn’t that Adam couldn’t deliver. No one could. So a small part of the blame has to be put on the people that were in the sessions. The people that wanted to get rich quick while spending $300 on development and using a crappy domain name. The people wanted to hear that their $100 domain name could be worth $10,000 developed. Some people paid a lot more than $300. Shane Cultra wrote about them (“There are a lot of people that feel that they paid for website development and did not get what they paid for.  This is not one, two, or ten.  It is more.”, “Several of these claims from clients are not new. Many have been trying to get resolution for more than 6 months and some more than a year.”, “Refunds have not been given to a group of people that feel they deserve it.   The reasons have been various from Adam,  the last two weeks he told people he would send repayment.  Each time the payment was delayed until the point the communication stopped.”) and the site that was delivered was total crap. But no matter how much money people spent they should have gotten what was promised.

But if you put the money and effort any domain name (or website actually) could be worth $10,000. But not with a $300 website development package. This is called willful blindness. It happens quite frequently in life and in domaining.

To tell you the truth I wasn’t quite sure why Adam was doing this. Was it money? I doubt Adam made a lot of money on this. He probably wasted his time and effort just to ruin his reputation at the end. I don’t understand the reasons. But I feel that some domain name investors feel this pressure to build a “real” business no matter how much money they make from domain names.

But I am writing all this for a different reason. Adam was never a friend and not even someone I talked to occasionally. I knew who he was but I doubt he knew I existed until last year. I don’t remember doing a domain name deal with him and I doubt we have exchanged more than 2-3 (if any and probably about dnforum) emails in the past 13 years I am active in domaining.

I met him at NamesCon 2015 and also saw him again at Domaining Europe. (That is when I heard some minor complaint about an unfinished website. But I didn’t hear anything else until the scandal broke.) Maybe I am wrong for writing this because I don’t really know him but this is what I felt. I saw a man exhausted. Not happy exhausted but sad exhausted. The most I talked to him was on elevators. He seemed to be trapped in this domain name hero persona that he didn’t really enjoy. When I was going to a party he was heading to his room. He didn’t attend any of the big dinners or sightseeing tours. He didn’t seem happy. I could be wrong but he seemed to have a lot of stress. I asked him how he does 6 sessions per day and told him that I could never do it.

I know how that feels as I am really stressful when I have a lot of different unfinished jobs. I want to focus and one project and close them one after the other. Then I feel ok again. So I try not to have too many projects at any given time. He didn’t seem to enjoy doing the domainsherpa shows and that is probably why he quit. Or at least that is what they told us. Shane’s article has a transcript indicating that Micheal Cyger asked Adam Dicker to leave the show.

I might have accidentally fueled this Adam Dicker craze over the past couple of years by posting some of his domain name evaluation videos. Maybe I should have put a disclaimer for newbies. But then again my blog would be full of domain name disclaimers. At the end people will believe what they want to believe.

To be clear, I am not saying that Adam is not responsible for this whole mess and shouldn’t try to make this right. I am just saying that he didn’t feel like this whole mess happened on purpose. It feels like Adam and his company couldn’t deliver on their promises. But that doesn’t matter to the people that did not get what they were promised and lost their money.

Sold.Domains

About Konstantinos Zournas

Konstantinos studied Computer Engineering and Computer Science in London and lives in Athens, Greece. He works on domain names, websites and software development. Has been online since 1995 & domaining since 2002.

36 comments

  1. I thought well development companies took deposits, and payments in stages, to pay fully upfront for a project does not seem like the industry norm.

  2. You are very observant. I agree with your assessment. It never really looked like he was happy on the sherpa show. I believe he was removed from the show. If you’re not reading all the blogs you probably didn’t see that.

  3. This is a collaborated scandal…Is this good time to talk about the ‘Secret Domain Society’?……

  4. I would guess he made quite a bit of money offering website development. Some of the stories talk about people paying $1,500 for a site. The internet reaches the majority, combined with people wanting to get rich quick, and add in a ‘guru’ that has a positive online reputation, is a noteable speaker at conferences, runs one of the 2 big domain name forums, is on every domainsherpa show which also advertises his product, etc. It would not surprise me if he pulled in a solid six figures a year selling niche websites. I’ve seen little rinky dink guys pull in four to five figures a month selling niche sites on just one internet marketing forum.

    The sad thing is you can hire a great web developer from offshore, pay them 50% of each sale to develop high quality sites, and everyone wins. It seems like he was more concerned with pocketing as much money as possible and paying for a cheap/low quality developer.

  5. Tired or not you do not take money, and. It deliver services, there is a word for that hmmm

  6. Per the saga at NP, he was supposedly asked to leave the show. And the “story” would be he is too busy.

  7. Aww, poor exhausted Adam, the victim of those lazy evil people who want to get rich quick (by paying $3000 for a $50 wordpress theme filled with lorem ipsum).

  8. Not sure if your comment was a reply to mine, but per NP, the show owner asked him to leave and it would be explained that he is leaving because he is too busy.

    • Indeed, Adam was asked to leave the show because many people (sponsors, people following the show and even some sherpas) were complaining to Michael Cyger about Adam and his failed commitments/promises and Adam’s inability to refund what’s owed.

      • I had noticed that he was doing other things while on the show and he was asked twice a question as he wasn’t listening.

      • Narcissism is the pursuit of gratification from vanity or egotistic admiration of one’s own attributes. The term originated from Greek mythology, where the young Narcissus fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water.

    • Yes, Teri….That is a disturbing part of the scandal and a small example of the depths….

  9. Judging by the number of pro-gtld cheerleaders, there are alot of suckers in the domain name industry. It is probably easy to swindle them. Not Adam’s fault if they were too stupid to see it coming jsut as they are blind to the pending gtld crash and burn.

  10. Um I don’t think his departure from domain Sherpa was due to his lack of enjoyment

  11. Domain Sherpa was one of the best places to recruit new clients, once that gravy train dried up, the entire foundation seemed to crumble

  12. I’ve being away from domaining for 1-2 yrs so I may have missed some of the news. That said I have to ask; Didn’t AD hold some great .com domains? Some of them were sold too for $$$,$$$’s. I mean whats the point creating a niche website development business when already having lots of money to live your life. Even if he wanted to run a real business(I know the feeling) why wouldn’t he create something more meaningful like an eshop or an offline business? We all know that selling niche WP sites is not the kind of business that can make you rich or a public figure. If I had so much money I would at least send refunds right away.

    On a side-note, while I was on the domain industry and after getting over “get rich quick” hype I found some weird domain sales that made me very suspicious when reading about a great sale.
    Weird domains sold in unbelievable high prices only to see that they never changed the whois, or the dns or they got dropped after 1-2 yrs. In other cases I felt like there was a “Secret” domain circle were domains supposedly got sold were in fact they didn’t. Then members of that “circle” created the domain sale hype and show went on.

    • I have noticed big 6 figure sales that occurred from private moniker accounts, still sit parked to this day.

      As for Dicked, I think he believes he can make a comeback, but Mr.Dicked there is no coming back from this.

      To many allegations, hundreds of pages of convo has been discussed. Nobody can associate with you within the industry, as you have that grey cloud following you wherever you go.

      Maybe try selling used cars

  13. All websites lead to “BullS”

    People are gullible, they think making money is Easy…but you and I know it is hard work.

  14. So, there was never really a “get rick quick” angle on any of the site builds.

    The way it was pitched was “I’ll help you build a business”. During the DNF College “sessions” (which were mainly domain “evaluations” with the cost of the site build added in) Adam would talk about audience submitted domains. If he liked the name he would think of a business model for it and quote a price to build it. Example: abc.com is a good name, we could build a directory site on it for $2k. Then the idea was he would give you advice running a business, help and guide you, as opposed to just parking the domain.

    Nothing really ever came out of the college other than the domain evaluations. Adam talked about a full curriculum of picking names, selling names, brokering names, and so on.

    What did come out of the DNF College was Webcorp.ca.

    This was the master plan to develop tons of Adams domains into businesses. The College members were recruited to be Project Managers of the different Businesses. There were 3 VP’s that basically ran or attempted to run the operation. They didn’t succeed at this, due to no fault of there own.

    The VP’s are good people as far as I’m concerned and tried to get things going, but that’s where it stopped. Nothing moved past that phase from my point of view. The development team was in Nepal, the guys that actually build all the Niche websites. They were hit with an earthquake at one point so that probably affected output, but the main issue was the bottle neck at Adam. Webcorp was taking on numerous projects, adding people and taking on more and more clients for the main business, Niche Websites.

    It seemed that Adam would not delegate any real responsibilities to the VP’s. Project after project just sat there with the PM’s doing the ground work, research putting real time in. With the leader AWOL and the VP’s unable to allocate resources everything just kind of evaporated.

    I personally was working on a project for months, waiting for a damn domain to brand the project. The name he had picked for the project was horrible, 22 characters no search volume, anyway after working on the project for months, one of the Vp’s advised me that Adam no longer wanted to due that project, he asked me if I was interested in running LivePersons.com. I said sure I’ll give it another try. I Developed a marketing plan, did research and never heard from them again.

    So my take is that there was no scam, probably not even bad intentions at the start, but something happened that basically made him implode and withdrawal. I think Adam became overwhelmed with it all and wasn’t able to delegate or give up any real control to the people that were supposed to be running the show.

    It’s human nature, “fight or flight” and Adam FLEW.

    I think this kind of thing happens a lot. People have grand ideas, visionaries that need to surround themselves with task oriented people, someone that can guide and organize the actual plan and implement it. They key is obviously knowing that you need those people and being able to pass the reigns when it’s time.

    All of the problems that have come out of this “scandal” derive from the start of Webcorp. The Niche Websites, DnForum, Cord Blood Banking were all lumped into the Maelstrom and suffered as a result.

    I’m sure there’s other issues that played a roll, all of this is simply from my perspective. It very well could be that the catalyst for starting the College and the Businesses was a play to get out of some deeper trouble, a sort of Go All In moment. Who knows.

    ikehook

  15. You should fix your article , he did not quit domainsherpa. Not sure how you came up with that conclusion. The correct info is right there in the leaked chat transcript that started everything.

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