Has Anything Changed in the Past Five Years in the Domain Business?

5 Comments

As I contemplate the trip to Austin for Namescon in a month, I wonder if anything has really changed in our Business in the past five years. I will be bringing some new insights on domain name investing and community in February. I want to know who else is disrupting. My conclusion is we have become pretty insular.

For me I still like buying and selling internet real estate and educating domain investors and the public on the domain name industry.  I am a Domain “homer”. I still don’t make enough money on sales to buy everything I want…. maybe someday.  I’m asking myself what do I want to say in 2025 I was involved in that made a difference.

Because right now, I think time has stood still.

Registrars. Same Ole. Same Ole. Godaddy treading water trying to keep the technology working (I appreciate it) and gathering margins; while promising new integrations.. but nothing changes.   Web.com and Enom/Name.com/Tucows passing around and combining registries and properties.  Centralnic/KeySystems gathering steam, but with existing properties.  Some nice outliers like Dynadot, Porkbun and Namecheap are strong independents. I saw in the registrar reports Namesilo broke in the Top Ten. So that is one new registrar.

Registries. .Com is king. Verisign has one and only one bullet in the their marketing, the cheap registration rebate.  The .net pictures and supposed TV commercials look nice, but I doubt I’ll see innovation when #1 and #2 are owned by the same company.  The .org mess is no surprise. Entitled insiders from 2002-2012 creating wealth off ICANN.

The new gTLD’s seem to still be stuck at the starting line when it comes to public awareness, they have been great for the registries.  The same special ones with their community are still special.   Ok, here is some change, cctld’s are growing and becoming more relevant locally…. I think.   And .IO has done a good job. So that’s new.

We have the same parking partner dominating. Traffic intermediaries have merged and grown together.  No innovation there.  Landing pages look the same. Maybe a drop in revenue. Best properties still doing well. Huge domains is still HUGE.  New move into expired auctions has been disruptive… for competing buyers, so not in a way that helps.

The major aftermarket platforms haven’t innovated.  Still too many names with no way to sort.  Buyers come from landing pages, not marketing.  The same dropcatch companies are monetizing the expired names and deletion stream.  For-sale landers look the same. We have swapped out Estibot (are they still reporting 2006 numbers) for Godaddy valuations as the main data point.

Buyers still don’t respect the resale market. Dreamers, led on by hyping e-books make everyone think they can make money flipping.  The strong thrive with old school 1994-1999 one word names. Cash is still king in buying great names. Great inventory is always available with needy sellers.  Cash wins.  And UDRP is rigged and inconsistent.

We get the same reports from the same websites, and the same tip-sheets.  Same blogs, same education and videos. We have the same mash-up page.  Same sales reports. I like all these things and they are being done well, so maybe no need to improve.

We have the same Trade Show. We have many of the same terrific brokers leading the pack.  Chinese high-end buyers still want global scarcity and quality. And millions of names are sold each month at reg fee. Its money going to the registries for the hope a return will come.

I still see my friends, and I do make some new ones every year at the show. Overall I think  our industry has many more “nice people” than not. The community is giving of their time, and money, for good causes and ready to help others.

But I can’t help thinking I could be doing something more. Stay tuned. And if you are innovating, comment below, maybe I missed you.

  1. everything you mentioned is true…same same!

    but number of domain “investors” increased rapidly…no way to prove it though.

    sales reports are good but i see some say it is just fraction of completed sales coming to reports…if there is a way to get more data that definitely adds value.

    Afternic should start reporting sales again…thats a change.

    I wonder what top minds can add and think about this article…maybe they noticed some things we missed…NamesCon is packed with all these people, I think you should get some words from them to give more detailed view on domain industry in February.

    I do think NamesCon (global) should be held outside of US for some change and more reachabililty to other world.

    Thanks,
    Ravi

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