Where did the domain name investors go?

Opinions

I have been wondering in the past few weeks where the domain name investors have gone. It seems that a significant percentage has left the industry.

This happened in the end of 2017 so it might be temporary. It is too soon to tell.

Of course there are always people leaving the industry but new people are coming in. It seems that now people looking to find the next “get rich quick scheme”  have found a new toy: cryptocurrencies.

In November and December I saw a decline in traffic on OnlineDomain.com. This decline coincided with the huge increase in cryptocurrency prices and investors moving a lot of their money to crypto. The most interesting thing is that search engine traffic and social media traffic roughly remained the same while it was traffic from domaining.com that caused the decline. I think it was that time when domaining.com had a lot of annoying and irrelevant crypto posts. In January things started to rebound a little and March was not a bad month. Let’s see how April turns out.

NamesCon 2018 in Las Vegas in late January/early February was slower in attendance than the previous year.

I think that most of the people that left the industry were not full-time domain name investors and were probably not making a lot of money or were even losing money.

For some of them I am glad they left, especially for some of the brokers, as leaving probably means that they were not passionate enough to stay. You need to have a naming passion to make it in domaining. You need to also understand both business and marketing otherwise you will make one mistake after another buying domains that no one wants.

Domaining is not a get rich quick scheme. It takes dedication and a multi-year plan. If you are here to make a quick buck then you are into the wrong business.

You need to work hard to make money as a domain name investor. You need to read everything there is about domains including the blogs, forums, some ICANN policy and learn about UDRP so you can protect your investment. By “protect” I mean that you need to learn what to do so you don’t get into any legal trouble.

You need what domains to buy yourself. You need to scan the drop and auction domain name lists YOURSELF. Reading domain name lists prepared by someone else just doesn’t cut it.

Judging the value of a domain name based on an automated appraisal by GoDaddy is also a recipe for disaster. GoDaddy appraisals are bad for domain investors and the industry in general. It seems that the GoDaddy Domain Appraisal tool has uses a very basic algorithm that anyone in their basement can make in 2 days and produces very bad results.

You need to watch emerging trends BEFORE everyone knows about this trend. Buying 4-letter .com at $2,500 is the same as buying crypto in December 2017. You are already too late in the game. Find your own niche and exploit that. Blogs are not there to tell you exactly what domain name to buy or the bloggers would be buying these domains themselves. The blogs are helpful to give you some insight into the whole business side of domaining, to describe some of the tools, to point out the problems and to ultimately make you think.

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.

80 comments

  1. Leaving aside cryptocurrency, the domain industry proper during 2017 did seem a bit tepid compared to other years. Not much going on. Even at NamesCon, many of the presentations and discussions were centered around crypto. When a domain industry conference is preoccupied by another separate industry, that means domain companies are short on ideas and domainers are disillusioned or bored.

  2. Industries can and should cross-pollinate. NamesCon would not exist if it copied others, e.g. the TRAFFIC paradigm. It broke some rules in order to get where it got to.

    Trends and investment havens are being swayed by global events. Think how the Facebook scandal and Trump’s tweets affect stocks and the global stock market.

    But there’s more.

    A year ago, Frank Schilling was bashed relentlessly on forums and blogs. I don’t blame him for working quietly now, and so do other domain investors. Even Drew Rosener, who seems to share more in the open through his own show, doesn’t reveal all his cards. Rick Schwartz is off the light of social media, but he’s domaining full time, rest assured.

    The new norm is working silently, mostly under the radar. It makes people appreciate the domain “golden days” more.

  3. @Acro and @Konstantinos,

    Like you say, people are working away quietly. And “boring” is good. The domain industry is maturing slowly. Eventually we’ll outgrow the easily excitable teenage years and settle into something responsible & steady.

    2014 – nTLD hype
    2015 – Chinese surge / bubble
    2016 – etc.
    2017 – Crypto

    • Exactly. These are all phases. Crypto is almost gone now.

      • $300,000,000,000.00
        Three Hundred Billion dollar market cap in a bear market that eclipses the Domain industry. Cryptocurrency is king. And if you own quality Cryptocurrency Domains you are in the money.

      • $300 Billion that can become $1 billion in one day. That is just an illusion.

      • Personally, I have no opinion either way regarding cryptocurrency, as I pay no attention to the topic.

        My only point is that domainer enthusiasm has been diverted by a separate industry and topic. Why? Because that topic seems to be more vibrant than the domain industry per se. Enthusiasm about cryptocurrency among domainers is another way of saying LACK of enthusiasm about the bread-and-butter domain landscape.

        At any given time, domainer attention seems to be diverted by a subcategory of domains that has suddenly begun selling for higher prices. Or by speculation on such a category.

        I’m not saying that people who pay attention to crypto are wrong. Only saying that the crypto market is not domain market. They overlap only a little.

  4. Parking is way,way down, even compared to a year ago, and crypto is way up.

    Domains on the platforms are running too high in most cases and inventory is tight. It’s just not dropping like it used to.

    More negative news than positive news, overall, lately.

    And, many of the blogs are not saying anything much new anymore. With the exception of about 4-5 blogs, most are just rehashing articles or parroting others.

    Great blog you have here, btw…..always liked it.

  5. Hi Konstantinos,

    Enjoy your blog.

    It’s been a good year for me so far with acquisitions and sales.

    What’s your point of view on GDPR compliance issues for those of us with websites in the USA?

  6. Where all those cry babies that were bragging about buying bitcoins…..as high as $20K..??

    You always hear about their braggings how much they were making big money on bitcoin…where are they now?

  7. Cryptocurrency Domains are the next big thing.

  8. The investors will be back very soon…The future of domains looks very bright as Progressive Web Apps (PWA) replaces Native Apps and mobile websites. Progressive Web Apps are being adopted by all the big tech companies and they rely on DNS protocols, or domains for this subject. I remain surprised that the domain industry has not embraced Progressive Web Apps, at this point in time, as domains are part of the framework behind the technology.

  9. News flash if they left domaining for crypto in December of 2017, they are most likely down 50-75% of their investment. Crypto doesn’t have the buying volume it did in December 2017, they are just making lower lows in the space, it was bound to happen, there is no way you can sustain a $100B valuation on a coin that has no assets, no income, just usability value, with no real active users or function.

    • @Trent , not down necessarily if they are trading as opposed to investing. You can still make money trading a falling or bear market.

  10. As for new investment in the domain space, the aftermarkets are to expensive, most of these guys buying today are getting bid up 300-400% and will get their asses handed to them by holding dead money, or overpaying.

  11. The problem with the domain Industry right now, is that GoDaddy and Huge Domains have taken over. IMO

    GoDaddy and Huge Domains are selling domains for lower than normal prices, making it hard for domain Investors to compete and survive. They are selling domains based on quantity Instead of quality. Volume selling.

    Unfortunately, domaining is also a marathon, not a sprint.

    • GoDaddy is the problem in many different ways. They are undermining the industry they are in.

      The difference between GD and HD is that GD is selling cheap quality domains. HD is selling lower quality domains.

      • I’ve seen Huge Domains sell some quality domains too cheap.

        But yeah, GoDaddy does sell more quality domains cheap through Afternic, than Huge Domains does.

        Both of them are hurting the domain Industry with their domain volume selling.

  12. you couldn’t tell my expired auction prices…high as ever.

  13. Can someone tell me what the next phase is before it begins?

  14. I also forgot to mention that in 2017 New gTLD sales were very few and apart.

  15. For the majority of you. Do you really think crypto is going away?. Look at traveler.com and tell me crypto does not play a role in domain names or that a very big domainers sold it for $$$$$$- Very easy to figure out what this sold for. So many private sales going on it is insane!

    While many of you are bashing Crypto the big 5 of domainers are making millions selling crypto related domain names. Nothing even compares to crypto as far a returns goes. That includes the latest decline in crypto.

    When ETH is at 1500 to 2000 by end of year you will remember that a fad is Milli Vanilli and not the blockchain. Generation M, Y or Z you will have to look up who that is 🙂

    • Crypto is here to stay like it was last year. This whole bubble made a few people money and but many more lost money. That is it.

      Selling domains to crypto companies does not really connect the 2. People have been making money in domaining by selling to certain niches for 20+ years. That doesn’t really connect the 2.

      Talk about returns to the people that bought bitcoin at $19,000+.

      Cryptocurrencies and blockchain are not the same thing.

  16. Circle ID posted a well-thought out article

    Facebook vs. Domain Names: Lessons from Cambridge Analytica http://www.circleid.com/posts/20180402_facebook_vs_domain_names_lessons_from_cambridge_analytica/

    I think 2018 will be defined by the full popping of the Crypto bubble, how public disclosure impacts platforms like Facebook/Twitter/YouTube, last phase of the Retail apocalypse, and the possibility of an economic recession in fall 2018. I believe all these possibilities bode well for domain names moving forward…

  17. KonMan,

    In a while folks will see why Crypto really started…and who is actually BEHIND bitcoin. It is not at all what domain investors think. When it is found the currency will plunge.

    Don Trump
    Donnie Trump
    Donald Trump

  18. Domainers (Miners) have sold the best domains for cheap, Not many quality domains left in their hands now and The investors are holding for end users or their own development. Unlimited supply of domain names but only so many are quality.

  19. The next big thing (crypto domains) Is already happening. Been happening since end of November 2017.

    Domainers late to the party, scrambled to buy crypto domains at the end of December and into 2018.
    They were waiting for bitcoin futures to be listed and for crypto whales to sell, before they sold their crypto and buy crypto domains.

    I watched the whole thing unfold and nothing surprised me. Now the crypto pumpers have blocked their Twitter accounts or stopped posting.

    A lot of domainers overpaid for their crypto domains too, IMO. Paying $$$$ to $$$$$ wholesale, when they could of bought the same domains for $$ to $$$ last summer and fall, like i did. 😉

    Pays to buy low and sell high.
    Just like how i discovered Bitcoin at $20, instead $20,000 and how i bought low and sold high in the dotcom bubble.
    Also, how i acquired NameSelling.com for $$$ in 2015 and many other valuable .Com domains for $$$ since then.

    • @Mark Thorpe, NameSelling.com ? Mediocre domain at the very, very best.

      • Name Selling is poor english, 3rd world grammar domain

      • This is why I stopped talking about sales! Whenever you post anything you get attacked unless you’re Mike Mann or the domain king (who I can’t stand) – or domainshane and Andrew (who are both awesome)
        Other than that – you get bashed and trolled. I had a guy give me my home address and tell me he was on his way to hurt me and my family! People are crazy

  20. I am a horrible domainer and a lucky Crypto person. I made 3 Million profit in Bitcoin, cashed out at $17,000 and retired for good. Bought Bitcoin in 2014 only because I thought it might be the next big thing, and I was lucky, no skill just bought and hold until sold all at 17K. I still own about 500 domains, and made a total of $18,000 last year in domains. I wish everybody well in both Domains and Crypto, but I am spending time with my new grandson who was born 3 months ago and that is my joy in life.

    • So you bought like 50-60k worth in 2014? Even that is a huge risk. Glad it paid off for you. Its basically gambling in my opinion, I’d never take such a risk but when it works, it works.

      • Yes it was a gamble, and it paid off. But I am 62 years old, and failed many times, but I guess after all these years I finally got something to hit. But 100% luck.

  21. In emerging markets, where most of the long-term growth potential for the domain industry ultimately resides, one hinderance to market growth is the role played by non-bank financial institutions (NBFIs). Without easy access to other sources of capital, NBFIs play an outsize role in legitimizing business models, branding strategies, and valuation principles.

    “Sure, we’ll fund your expansion or go-to-market strategy with that four-word piece-of-garbage domain name,” say NBFI principals every single day. “At a valuation of _____.”

    Excellent education work has been done by numerous people in the domain industry. But I wonder if we are reaching the right people. Not just NBFI principals, but the academics who educate them.

  22. “Where did the domain name investors go?”

    They never left, China is still buying, a lot of new investors are also in the mix. The difference is, that almost no one is reporting their sales anymore, and why would they. I know of multiple high 6 figure deals in the first 3 month of 2018 alone that will never be reported because both parties don’t want to. Investors are buying for the upside, and not to brag about it. That’s the difference. The money that quietly buys up premium assets is still out there, but why report it and leave a search engine indexed benchmark for everyone to see… makes no sense.

    Regarding the attendance of convention like Namescon.. the get-rich-quick crowd has left the building. That is very favorable and a good sign. You don’t want these pushers and scammers in your industry, believe me.

    As to cryptos. Acting like the rise of crypto currencies like Bitcoin and Ether had no impact on the domain industry is just plain dumb and dangerous. Cryptos killed the whole nGTLD program and they sucked the get-rich-quick folks out of the industry. So thank you for that. By the way there are app. 50 times more crypto conventions and summits than domain events, and they are all fully booked and PACKED, so make no mistake who’s the tail that wags the dog here. Yes prices have come down to a market cap of around $260 billion, but most people are still up so much that they couldn’t care less.. (Ether is up over 2000% during the last 52 weeks.) There are roughly a dozen crypto billionaires out there, all minted in less than 5 years. How many domain billionaires do you know? How many that made at least 100-500 millions? Maybe 3 in the whole industry? The whole crypto ecosystem is FAR bigger than the tiny domain industry, make no mistake about that.

    • No one was reporting domain sales before too. That is how it has always been.

      I am curious. These crypto billionaires… Do they have their billions in bitcoin/ether/etc. or in USD/EURO/Etc.?

      • LOL of course people were reporting.. What are you even talking about? Go to dnjournal and look up “pvt sale”

        These crypto billionaires have their money in different asset classes, like most people should. Crypto is just one of them. Take a look for yourself: http://nordic.businessinsider.com/bitcoin-billionaires-forbes-richest-people-in-cryptocrrency-2018-2/

        I’m curious too. Is is your thing to act dumb?

      • Richard nothing has changed. The same amount of sales are reported and not reported. There are “private sales” now too. So I have no idea what YOU are talking about…

        What is this stupid article? “XXXXXX is worth $700 million – $1 billion in crypto.” means nothing. NOTHING!
        “5.2 billion XRP, the token launched by Ripple.” hahahahahahaha
        Some of these are complete scams and some are blockchain companies. People are mixing these all together…

        Crypto is not like having Apple stock where you have some kind of stability and yearly earnings. And it certainly NOT like having money in the bank or even real estate or gold.
        If you don’t cash out your crypto you don’t have jack shit. Bitcoin can go from $7,000 to $1,000
        So in this logic HugeDomains is worth $10+ Billion??? Come on man…

      • “Richard nothing has changed. The same amount of sales are reported and not reported. There are “private sales” now too.”

        False. Less private sales are reported. You just don’t know that because you don’t know that these deals happened. I am closer to the dealflow than you, that’s why I know these things and you don’t.

        “What is this stupid article? “XXXXXX is worth $700 million – $1 billion in crypto.” means nothing. NOTHING!
        “5.2 billion XRP, the token launched by Ripple.” hahahahahahaha”

        Same here, Konstantinos. You just don’t know enough about the ecosystem. You don’t know the players or the technology behind crypto currencies. You may have a rough understanding, but the reality is that you are clueless AND simply scared. You are scared because people in that space made more money (on paper and in the bank) in 3-4 years than you will make in your lifetimes. Now I’m not saying that making money is the ultimate goal in life but the way you talk about something that you just don’t understand (sorry but that is the truth) makes me wonder if you are maybe just jealous on other peoples success. Again, reading some stuff about crypto and blockchain does NOT make you a crypto expert.

        “Bitcoin can go from $7,000 to $1,000”

        True, but the reality is that it went from 0 to $19,000 in the first place. That’s a fact and this was the biggest increase in value of ANY asset in the history of finance, eclipsing the tulip bubble by miles. It will definitely be the biggest asset price inflation in our lifetimes. Make no mistake about it. You weren’t a part of it. I won’t judge you because I don’t judge how other people invest their money. But I am sure you asked yourself that question many times, so I will leave it at that.

        I own both, domains and crypto. But I would never compare both from a monetary standpoint. Far more people got rich with Bitcoins and Ether in a far shorter period of time than domainers can ever dream off. Yes, “Crypto is not like having Apple stock” but believe me, the assets that these guys bought from their winnings are pretty damn real.

      • Ok. So you know more than me about everything. And you know what I know and what I don’t know. Agreed.

      • “Ok. So you know more than me about everything. And you know what I know and what I don’t know. Agreed.”

        I never said that, did i?
        All I said was, that you can’t know about deals that remained private because they were private in the first place. I know about them because I am closer to the dealflow, that’s it. You asked the question, where the domain investors went, and I told you they are still here. There are just doing business in a different way than before. As to crypto, well I really know more about crypto than you do.

    • @Richard,

      “As to cryptos. … there are app. 50 times more crypto conventions and summits than domain events, and they are all fully booked and PACKED, so make no mistake who’s the tail that wags the dog here. … There are roughly a dozen crypto billionaires out there, all minted in less than 5 years. How many domain billionaires do you know? … The whole crypto ecosystem is FAR bigger than the tiny domain industry, make no mistake about that.”

      Once again, domainers talking about crypto on a domain blog – instead of talking about domains. Let’s assume for the sake of argument that crypto is bigger, badder, better than domains. OK. So what? We can all name PLENTY of industries that are bigger, richer, more exciting, more important. Nevertheless, the domain industry exists.

      Conflating crypto with the domain industry is the whole problem. They are not the same. They’re not naturally related at all. The only thing they have in common is a lot of speculation-prone people who participate in both markets. It really doesn’t help the domain industry that people inside it would rather ignore domains and talk about something else – crypto. The domain industry still exists and needs to be discussed in its own terms. If the goal is to discuss the domain industry primairly, then crypto is a shiny distraction. Doesn’t matter how big and bad-ass it is. It’s only slightly relevant.

  23. Richard, bitcoin prices are being manipulated by a select few. When they are done playing with it and making their money or think they can no longer get away with it, the price will plummet leaving everyone else holding the bag.

    • You are wrong.
      If “a select few” are able to manipulate the market, why are they manipulating it to the downside?
      The trading volume of Bitcoin on any given day is above $4 billion. Roughly the same as APPLE. Go figure.

      • Richard this is basic economics. Because they sold high and now they want to buy low again!

      • That is not “basic economics” but merely your guess.
        And since when are you an economist anyway? Bitcoins price action since 2010 was largely due to the oldest economic principle that exists, supply and demand. Yet you somehow managed to completely miss it. So let’s not go into economics because that doesn’t seem to be your best talent.

      • Hahaha. So we go back that you know best. Let’s leave it at that.

      • This Richard guy is not plugged in at all. He is not referencing coming measures to stall the active pump and dumpers. The use for sex trafficking. The past use for arms deals. Drug deals. The known short term use for money laundering. Or even distribution within the US within the Muslim communities as a mechanism by which to stage wealth for long term Sharia conversion and to create short funding and distribution mechanisms for sustainability. Or groups like Jeff Bezos using it to orchestrate money movements pivotal to attempting to crash the stock market post Trump’s state of the union to offset his gain claims. While he has leveraged anti-trust movement for world crushing growth from the prior admin for eight years, and now sicks the self-owned Washington Post to leak data that should put him in prison every day in an attempt to keep everything they do protected again. Everyone in the world that matters knows that these coins are largely Ponzi schemes, that they are manipulated in short waves, that they yield serious long term consequences to hide tracks and trails for democracy killing endeavors, and that there is some 3445 out of 3450 failed models now, while everyone is pushing asset securitization in the future as a condition of ICO support. It is a bad joke, propagated by the worst of us on behalf of a sociopath leadership structure where those in power seem to be absolutely corrupted near absolutely all the time.

        I am assuming as well that Joseph is no longer with Monster? Given the attacks on those he otherwise should ignore? First thing I thought when reading his conceited/twit attack on a neutral party, regardless of their perceived intellect, was how bad this reflects on Rob.

      • @FC,

        I’m still Director of Operations at Epik.com, if that’s what you’re alluding to. Do you believe that I have forfeited the right to speak as an individual? It sounds like you wish either (A) to blame Rob Monster (Epik’s CEO) for my personal opinions, or (B) to ask Rob to intervene and censor me. Which is it?

        Most people are employed somewhere. And I, for one, don’t believe that employment prohibits free speech in a person’s free time. Anybody who knows me – and that includes Rob, Konstantinos, and any domainer who’s read anything online in the past 5+ years – knows that I speak openly and point out when someone’s remarks are misguided. That’s never going to change.

        There are some company employees who only show up in blogs as emissaries of their corporate brand. They’ll coddle people, never criticizing or pushing back, since they want everyone as a future customer. That seems nice. But they will also be speaking solely as a sales pitch – with a lot of hype and spin, thinking about customer relations rather than truth or accuracy.

        That’s not me. I’ve always been active on domain blogs as an individual. People who assume I am a surrogate for Rob or Epik are simply wrong. And I will always speak critically and candidly. Love it or hate it, that’s the way it’s gonna be.

    • “Have you not seen this?”
      https://techcrunch.com/2018/01/15/researchers-finds-that-one-person-likely-drove-bitcoin-from-150-to-1000/

      Oh boy.. Please read your article and then read my posting again…
      The article describes a situation where someone assumes market manipulation happened IN 2013 (!)
      in connection with trading on the (now defunct) bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox. I agree that trades on this platform looked highly suspicious at that time, and I’m glad that Mt. Gox is no longer around.

      I describe the situation TODAY, 2018.
      Please educate yourself.

      • You said this

        “Bitcoins price action since 2010 was largely due to the oldest economic principle that exists, supply and demand.”

        so no, you weren’t just talking about today. That is why I posted that link. It happened then, what is stopping it from happening now in different ways? The fact that bitcoin reached 1000 due to manipulation says a lot to me. Without this manipulation, would it of ever reached those levels and got the attention it did as a result?

      • Because history never repeates itself. Haven’t you heard?

        🙂

      • “Because history never repeats itself. Haven’t you heard?”

        I’d say you probably should read less of Investing 101’s and more of Mark Twain 🙂

  24. Hey guys
    If you believe Cryptos are almost done you can have my two domains:
    Bitcoinmeltdown.com and Cryptosmeltown.com

  25. Excluding bitcoin…..Much of the money made in cryptos was off the backs of a multitude of small investors that followed the hype a bit too late. Most cryptos will become worthless but not before they swallow up the peoples money.

    if crypto buying and trading were regulated like the stock market most people would have been denied for their own good.

    There is opportunity in crypto bitcoin will go up eventually but not as fast as the cryptos the public will eventually adapt for faster and cheaper transactions. The next paypal.

    The real money was made during the ico’s. Domaining blogs said it was a scam and most probably are but Big Money could have been easily made but who knew the general public would have bought the hype like they did. People love to gamble and hope is their excuse.

  26. Offers and demands are services in economic speculation, and they were services until 2007 in the US market, after years of construction of millions of houses on never real values of the US and global markets.

    After the subprime the US market needed other economic services so that investors could re-speculate for a future digital market and make the Bitcoin currencies to start from under.

    All begin year 2010 there have been and increases in the new coins of the future where the US market with a product of speculation similar to the beginning of the over value in USD figures as in last subprime the construction of houses was not to become millionaire and make fortunes, you are only they are created in the capitalist markets of the US.

  27. Wow what a tread totally enjoyed the read. With regards to domainers think most of them now are working quiet in the background building, developing, selling domains. Also think domainers now more focused on range domains they own while in past it was case lets buy this one and that one. Domainers now do the homework on buying domains. Think also the group or as we call it cleack of domainers who always posted in all the blogs times have changed. People know who wide boys are. people can spot the flyguys there is lot them in this industry how many times have you read the story of Golden Boys being plastered all over the place then to watch 2 years later Bang. There is lot great guys and ladies in the industry it will always adapt and move forward. Do lost the honesty of this blog.

  28. Always enjoy your honesty you tell it like it is.

  29. hey
    I am from Vietnam and I am the director of a company specializing in domain name hosting, vps.
    This is a new but very potential industry here.
    And in the near future, as my country’s information technology boom, the domain name will be extremely hot.
    Sorry my English is not very good.

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