In 2012 we interviewed Fred Mercaldo on RobbiesBlog.com, It was a great interview so we decided to go back and revisit the questions we asked in 2012 and get Fred’s thoughts now in 2015.
Who is Fred Mercaldo and City Brand Media?
Here is an update by Fred, Last November, 2014, we were fortunate enough to merge with a large Bay Area company with vast and diversified business interests, many of which work perfectly into our City(dot)com development strategies. Specifically, they own a large Call Center with numerous Fortune 500 clients, and a digital agency with a very talented team of programmers and marketers. CitiesPlanet has merged with our new partners and is now City Brand Media, LLC (www.CityBrandMedia.com). We now are 140 PLUS City(dot)com brands, and growing! We are in the process right now of releasing an entirely new software platform that will power each City online brand, and this platform by far is the most robust and capable platform in existence for City sites. Heavy emphasis on reporting and CMS….not only for advertiser clients, but also for domain owners as well. Anyone will be able to log into our system and see the results on a real time basis, which is huge in this world of transparency. Personally, I travel twice monthly to the Bay Area to meet with my partners and our team of programmers; we are hiring numerous digital marketing experts to help take us to the next level, and they will all be supported by our digital agency team. Understanding for quite some time that the needs of our company, and the opportunity and challenges we were facing, were way too large an undertaking for myself and a few key employees, the merger with my new partners is the best scenario imaginable in order to accomplish our goals.
1) What are your current thoughts on the Domain Aftermarket? i.e. Sales and Enquiries etc – General Mood of Domainers / End users – Have you seen an increase in domain enquiries that you own since we last interviewed you back in 2012?
I have not seen much change, except in the excitement (mostly from domain brokers and registrars) of the new extensions. Many had predicted back in 1998 that over the years, .com would be king. Many predicted 2-3 years ago that the new extensions would actually strengthen and increase the value of .com, and I believe they are correct.
2) Could you confirm how domain names you have purchased / sold since we last interviewed back in 2012 and has there been any sales with NDA that you cant disclose?
We have purchased 27 City(dot)com brands in the past 24 months…all under confidentiality agreements.
3) 3 years ago when we asked you “Where do you see GTLDS in 3 years time?” You had said “I believe only a few will be successful commercially, and it will take a significant amount of capital and time to achieve the success. The pure .com brands that are being developed today, both generic names and geo names, will continue to thrive without fear of competition from many of the newcomers, however there will be a few exceptions.” Do you still stand by that answer and would you like to expand on it?
Totally still stand by this answer and observation.
4) Do you have any plans to develop GTLD’s or shall you remain only Dot Com for development purposes?
I have learned never to say never! But for now, we are dedicated to the pure .com City brand.
5) Is Scottsdale.com still your favourite domain name that you / company own?
Since I live in Scottsdale, and it was my first large purchase….I would say yes…however they are all my “children”.
6) If you were starting out in the domain space today what are your 3 top tips?
Well, I really don’t refer to myself as a domainer, or domain investor. I consider myself a developer and asset appreciation specialist, and monetization person. But to try to answer your question, I would concentrate on buying the best .com you can, something you know about and enjoy, and something you can develop and have the asset provide both a cash flow, and also an appreciated value.
7) What’s the next big thing that your companies are working on?
Perfecting a software model that serves both the visitors, and also the advertisers and domain owner/clients in the City brand space….on a high volume scalable level.
8) Where do you see yourself in 10 years time? When you last answered this question you had said “I would love to see CitiesPlanet as part of a major media company” – That Goal has been achieved, Do you have any other comment to make on the next 10 years?
Goals, at least for me, are constantly changing to the next level. I now can see our Company, City Brand Media, being a major player in the media publishing business, with yearly revenues that surpass even my wildest dreams just 24 months ago. It’s about doing the right thing….accomplishing what needs to be accomplished and taking things to that next level that excites me; I now have the team that can do this.
9) What has been your biggest challenge in the domain business? Previously it was the recession that had hit the Scottsdale.com brand very hard from an $800K revenue making asset to changing your business model has that been the only challenge? Is Scottsdale still generating this type of revenue?
First challenge was survival, and keeping the asset. Next, building the network to where we are today….140 PLUS City brands. Scottsdale.com is back in the monetization and advertising game in a big way; while we are not at our previous high of $800,000 per year again, we are doing everything that needs to be done to once again achieve that number, and even more.
10) What has been your biggest achievement since we last interviewed you in 2012?
Without a doubt, finding our new partnership and merging CitiesPlanet into City Brand Media, LLC. Our partners in the Bay Area, led by Tom Henderson, his son Matt Henderson, and his portfolio of companies such as Hydrant Media, CallSocket Call Center, and other assets, have given us the team that we needed all along. They are the reason we are well on our way to taking what we’ve been building to the next level. It is a very exciting time for our business, and I personally could not be happier or in a better place!