Monday, December 25, 2006

Mavericks at Work

I just finished reading Mavericks at Work, and I highly recommend it to people who are interested in opening their minds to new ways of doing and thinking about business.

When I get around to it, I'll post an in depth review on my entrepreneurism blog, The Online Industrialist.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Domain Name Expiration

I've already explored the possibilities of the domain name business, it is now time to examine methods and strategies for getting there. This will be a series spanned over several posts, and I will try and keep the content density high to avoid wasting time. Hopefully this will help prospective domainers.

In my previous post, I briefly mentioned the possibility of catching domain names as they expire. This is a popular strategy for nabbing valuable domain names. It is the strategy Yun Ye used in the late '90s, and while it won't be as lucrative now, it is still viable. Here are some convincing reasons for employing this strategy:
  • Expiring domain names may have once contained a functioning web site with visitors and search engines may have indexed the web site. This potentially means more traffic.
  • The domain is more likely to have a traffic statistics which can be discovered through several methods. I will go into this in a later post.

How Domains Expire

Domains are not released back to the public right at their expiration date. There are several stages a domain name goes through before getting their. I will outline those stages from active, normal registration right up to deletion.


While the domain is live and within it's registration dates, it will be referred to as being active. The domain name is working as you would normally expect it to.


Let's say you have a domain registered. The expiration date is approaching. If you fail to renew when the expiration date hits, the domain will enter the hold status. Domains on hold will stop functioning as normal (i.e. they won't point to your web site anymore). However, you may still renew the domain for the registrar's regular price during this period. Other parties are blocked from registering the domain. This period varies by registrar and is usually between 30-45 days. A whois query on the domain will list this as ON-HOLD.


This is your second chance to renew the domain. You still have exclusive access to renew, but usually at a higher price. I've seen numbers from $100 to $150. Once started, redemption lasts 30 days. The redemption period is a new process. Unlike the holding period which is controlled at the registrar, this a Registry imposed period which must happen.


This stage can last up to 5 days. At the end of this period, the domain name is released back to the public. You may not renew while deletion is happening.

This covers the domain cycle from active registration to deletion. For a visual representation of this, view this Life Cycle diagram on DomainsBot.

Obtaining an Expiring Domain

Domain names can be back ordered, and there are many services that will do this for you. There is no guarantee that you will actually get the domain name. Thus, these services usually work on a bidding system. The more you are willing to pay, the better your chances. Since you don't always know how many people you are competing with on a given service, let alone across all services, it is difficult to determine your odds to a high degree of certainty. However, you can increase your odds by utilizing several services at once.

Obtaining an expiring domain will be the topic of my next post. I will detail several services available to you and provide further insight into strategies. After that post, I will probably discuss methods for valuing domains.

Happy hunting, domainers!


Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Domain Name Business, Part 2

I must admit, every day I kick myself for missing out on this. I knew domain names were important, but I was just a youngling when this was the rage, what did I really know?

Despite my frustration, my curiosity has been peeked. Where did the figures John provided come from (see my previous post)? If you had the forsight, just how good could you really be doing? Is there anything left? What can be learned from the examples of this business?

My investigation led me to an article authored by Paul Sloan. Featured on CNN, it's entitled Masters of their Domains, published in late 2005. It has many of the same statements John provided. I'm inclined to believe this is where he obtained most of his facts (though I didn't see any citation - tisk tisk).

Before I go further, I provide one quote to shock you:

"I don't like to work," Schwartz says, almost yelling as if to convince everyone within earshot that they're fools if they do. "I figure any moron in the world can generate work for themselves and tie up their time. I have one laptop, no employees, and no product whatsoever--none! This is magic." Magic, he claims, that's earning him $2 million a year.

Schwartz is a domainer, and as you can see, he's made a fortune in the business. Initially I had trouble believing these sorts of figures mentioned in John Chow's blog post, but this CNN piece seems to confirm it. Another confirmed figure comes from a Yahoo rep. "One Yahoo official estimates that type-ins could make up 15 percent of its search business." Well there you have it. John wasn't bullshitting.

John also brought up the case of Yun Ye, on which the CNN article provides much more information. Here it is in the CNN piece:

Domainers have their heroes, and one of the most mysterious is a man named Yun Ye, a Chinese citizen living in Vancouver, British Columbia. He is credited with boosting the entire market when he sold his portfolio of more than 100,000 domains to Marchex. His names were bringing in more than $20 million a year in revenues--and $19 million in profits--when Marchex paid the equivalent of 8.6 times annual earnings, based on figures provided in SEC documents.

Marchex did in fact shell out $164 million for his portfolio. Yikes.

Paul also covers the future of this business in his piece. From what I can gather, the future is consolidation. Large entities are taking notice. It's likened to the "billboard industry a decade ago, before Clear Channel and Viacom bought up the small operators."

For instance, take three men, Rabin, Bob Martin, and Marc Ostrofsky, who run the company Internet REIT. They are spending $250 million buying out domain owners. Rabin states, "We've only just begun the roll-up phase. This market will likely be in the billions."

Is there still room for small fish? I know I don't have $250 million. Perhaps. Right now .com addresses are prevailing, but who knows, maybe given enough time it saturates and things like .biz become more viable. The older generations grew up with nothing but .com, it's all they know, that's where the money is. But think of the younger generations, a little more aware of the dearth of top level domains. Perhaps one day a type-in of will be just as likely as that of Then again maybe not.

It almost feels like buying property just past the major suburbs of a metropolitan area. Chances are the city will grow and cause growth to spill over into those unsettle areas. However, disasters do happen, so how can you really be sure?

Another option is to snag expiring domains. These domains have a history on the web. Some have been heavily indexed by search engines. As a result, they are more likely to draw hits.

The only conclusion I can draw at this point is that you have three options.
  1. Assemble capital and throw down thousands or millions of dollars of cash to buy proven names and reap the rewards.
  2. Speculate on something much more long term, like new top level domains such as .biz or .mobi.
  3. Snatch expiring domains using a clever method.

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Domain Name Business

I found this blog post by John Chow on something referred to as "domainers," people who make money from domain name speculation and ad parking.

It is an interesting read for anyone with entrepreneurial curiosity of the online sort, though I have trouble believing some of his figures. Regardless, you don't have to accept his numbers in order to believe that domain name speculation is, or should I say was, a lucrative business. If you had spent the early '90s grabbing any and every short and sweet domain name and you actually had the foresight to hold on, there is no doubt you would be rolling in money, but that bang is over.

So where do new comers stand? I liken it to the phase after a big name, highly successful IPO (like Google). Getting in on the ground floor is over, now all that is left is buying and selling just like you would with any entrenched equity. This is hard work, and usually requires a large amount of capital and research. Most likely you only stand to make several percent on your investment, and what good does 3% on $5 do you? Even if you did have the sort of capital necessary, you could probably do better elsewhere. If someone can prove me wrong on this, please share.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Find the Right Job Straight Out of College

I sometimes find myself dispensing advice about job hunting. Lately, one question - how to find the right job - has come up often enough for me to notice. So I've decided that I'm just going to lay this question to rest right here.

You're a college student. It's your last year. Have you started looking for a job? Do you even know what you are even looking for? How do you find the right job?

I've seen a lot of people flail around looking for jobs, enough to know the pitfalls people fall into. These pitfalls are numerous, but I've picked one I believe to be so common that it has to be dealt with. Why should you take my advice? Well, because this is how I proceeded with my job search, and it worked out very well. Some of you may just think I just "got lucky," but I know better than that, and you should, too. There was a lot more to it than just getting lucky.

So let's just jump right into it. Consider the following two statements:
  1. A company you've actually heard of and find interesting will most likely have a position relating to your field of study.
  2. A company that has a position relating to your field of study is one that you've heard of and find interesting.

These two statements are logical inverses of each other. Which of those two statements seem more likely? Is it if A then B, if B then A, or both?

On inspection, the first statement seems to have merit. If I've heard of a company, and I have had enough interaction with them to establish they are interesting, then chances are they are diverse or large enough to need every kind of person under the sun, from marketing to sales to tech to whatever. Do the experiment. Rattle off the top companies you like. If that's hard, name some products you know a lot about or just couldn't live without. Enjoy listening to your Apple iPod, you say? Then they probably have a position for you.

"But I'm not technical, I don't know how to make software or design hardware, and that's what Apple does, right?" That's extremely near-sighted. You didn't take to heart what I just said, did you? Someone has to sell the thing, someone has to market the thing, someone has to manage their public relations, someone has to balance their books... Are you really that ignorant to the workings of companies? Come on now.

The second statement is obviously complete garbage. S.S.S. Inc. needs marketing people, but you've never heard of them, don't know a lick about them, and you obviously don't have a clue as to whether or not it would be the most horrible experience of your life. What if I told you S.S.S. stood for Shit Shoveling Services. Do you really want to market Shit Shoveling?

You may say, "Well that's a drastic example," but if you have no history with the company (from using/enjoying their products) and have never heard of them, how do you know they don't shovel shit? You see my point.

Now if this is so obvious, why is it that when most college students search for a job, they sit down at their computer and type "[insert field of study] job in [insert city]" into their favorite search engine or job site. An example would be "marketing job in Boston." Naturally, they get back an enormous list of jobs, with not a clue where to start or which ones they'd enjoy. At this point, they are completely lost.

But we know better. Instead we go back to our example from before. We know we like iPods, so we do a search for "Apple job openings." Well look at that, first result is Oh and look, they have a page about information and/or interview sessions happening at colleges around the country. "But I go to Boston University and I don't see an event." Look harder, there's one at MIT, just a skip away. "But that's not my school, I can't go to that." You think Apple cares? 99% of the time these things are open events. At least look into it. If you let a simple thing like that hold you back, then you probably don't deserve the job anyway.

By now you should see my point. Knowing who you want to work for is infinitely more useful than searching on your field of study alone. Not only does it help you narrow down your search, but you are also likely to do better in an interview with a company whose products you enjoy. Take this advice, tailor it to your field (i.e. focus on companies you know relating to your field), and you'll be headed in the right direction. All you have to worry about now is passing the interviews.

Monday, October 09, 2006


Pligg is a free, open source content management system bearing similarities to Digg. Now you can have your own hip Web 2.0 site fairly quickly. It's advertised as being in beta, so I'm not sure how stable it is, then again, everything these days is listed as a beta product.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Visual Delight

I'm back after not posting for a while. New TV is finally here! Posted by Picasa