Interview with Fred Mercaldo – I have asked various parties within the domain industry to take part some interviews to give us a little background about themselves, where they see the industry heading and how they feel the current market for domain names are our eleventh interview is by Fred Mercaldo.
Fred Mercaldo Started with the purchase of Scottsdale.com over 7 years ago, followed by Tempe.com and FountainHills.com….Fred has developed the Number One City.com software platform in the industry, called City In The Box (www.CityInTheBox.com) which now powers over 125 City brands worldwide. In 2010, Fred founded GeoDomain Development Ventures, LLC (dba www.CitiesPlanet.com) which handles the management and marketing of over 65 City.com brands. CitiesPlanet recently started a Call Center in Scottsdale, Arizona to handle advertising sales across the entire network. Fred also serves as President of the largest GeoDomain trade association in the industry, www.GeoPublishers.com.
1) What are your current thoughts on the Domain Aftermarket? i.e. Sales and Enquiries etc – General Mood of Domainers / End users?
Like many other segments of the economy, domain purchases/prices have been affected. I see sales being made mostly at bargain basement prices, unless an end user is involved. Geo domain brands, meaning pure City.com brands, remain very strong. It is important to not only find a particular end user (even in the Geo domain markets) or monetize the domain to the point where the sale is not just the domain itself, but the cash flow that is being generated by the domain. I don’t see selling to other domain investors right now that attractive of a proposition…..really need to concentrate on the end user.
2) Where do you see GTLDS in 3 years time?
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.
3) What are you or your companies investing in? i.e. Dot Com only Domains – Typo – etc?
Pure City.com brands only.
4) Do you believe in Parking or Developing? What are your tips for either i.e. Top Parking Platform (What Do You Use) – Developing your thoughts on what to develop and how best achieve it?
Developing….absolutely. For City.com brands, our platform which is priced between $12,500 to $30,000, depending on the project, is a bargain. But for any and all domains, development is best….not only for the best possible chance for a positive cash flow, but also from an eventual exit strategy/selling standpoint. While I have a personal portfolio of over 400 non Geo domains, I have not had the time to explore development or parking strategies for these, but plan on addressing them soon.
5) What is your favourite domain personally or company owned?
Scottsdale.com is our largest and most successful domain, and it is the domain that got me started in the industry.
6) If you were starting out in the domain space today what are your 3 top tips?
I would concentrate on spending the time and money to purchase the best .com names available, on subjects you know about, and like. Then, I would development these domains to attract traffic, but also attract advertising partnerships that will generate monthly revenue. Finally, while it is very important to watch overhead, it is also important to employ the best talent available in the SEO, development, marketing, etc. areas, as these are all important to your success, and all change almost on a monthly basis.
7) What’s the next big thing that your companies are working on?
The challenge of successfully monetizing 65 City.com brands from our Scottsdale location. We have engaged well over 1000 businesses with interviews and written articles across the network, and now we are working hard to turn them into paying clients/advertisers. We have packages anywhere from $49 per month, up to over $5,000 per month.
8)Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
Good question. I would love to see CitiesPlanet as part of a major media company, and I would love to still play a role in the overall strategies that would guide the business. We are presently in discussions with numerous entities, and truthfully, being in 65 markets with the pure City.com brands requires a larger infrastructure than we presently have. The good news is that there is plenty of interest in what we have built, and hopefully we will choose the right partner to take the operation to the next levels of success.
9) What has been your biggest challenge in the domain business?
The recession. We built Scottsdale.com into an $800,000 per year business, with most of the revenue being generated through real estate, golf, and hotel advertisers. Those 3 industries were hit hard by the economy, and still are slow in making a comeback. So while we achieved some pretty impressive goals with Scottsdale.com, we then had to reinvent ourselves to compete in an entirely different arena and economy.
10) What do you feel has been your largest accomplishment in the Business / Personally?
Building the CitiesPlanet network over the past 2 years has been a major accomplishment, yet still remains a work in progress. I am proud that we have been able to not only survive, but also grow during some of the most difficult business economies I have ever seen. This is probably our largest accomplishment.
I would like to say a big Thank You to Fred Mercaldo for taking part in this interview for RobbiesBlog.com – Please check out Fred Mercaldo’s sites – Scottsdale.com & Tempe.com, CityInTheBox.com and many others.