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Interview with Monte Cahn – 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 tenth interview is by Monte Cahn.
Monte is Founder and former President/CEO of Moniker.com, former President of SnapNames.com, and former Sr. VP of sales at DomainSponsor. Over the past decade, he ran 117 ICANN Accredited Registrars and monetized hundreds of millions of dollars in internet traffic.
Monte has been pioneering domain name and virtual property aftermarket services since 1995. His industry leading inventions such as Whois Privacy protection, Domain Escrow, domain name theft prevention, and domain appraisals are widely used industry standards today.
He started investing in domain names in 1995 and helped start the first online domain brokerage business on the Internet in 1996. Success includes participating in the sale of more than $300,000,000 in domain name sales & brokerage, including the industry’s first domain name sale for over $1 million dollars with the sale of Wallstreet.com and the industries first $2 million dollar plus domain sale with the sale of Autos.com in 1999. Many feel that these two industry record sales were responsible for dot com buying and selling frenzy that started in late 1999. Later, he sold the highest dollar domain in history for $9.5M and most recently the sale of Slots.com for $5.5mm. He is also the visionary behind Live and Online Domain Auctions, bringing transparency and an open market mentality to the domain industry.
Consistently pioneering and inventing new products and services for the domain industry along with generating hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue, Monte was voted into the 2010 Domain Hall of Fame by his industry peers. He has spoken and presented at more than 100 industry conferences such as Ad-Tech, WebMasterWorld/PubCon, Search Engine Strategies/SES, Internext, The Strategic Forum, SMX, T.R.A.F.F.I.C., and DomainFest on the subject of domain names and intellectual property.
Cahn is the President and Director of RightOfTheDot, LLC, an Internet consulting and advisement firm, co-founded by him and domain industry legend, Mike Berkens. RightOfTheDot, LLC specializes in new and existing TLD consulting, board advisement, as well as other domain services sales, marketing and strategy. Currently the firm is helping companies maximize profitability and strategic direction for the new and existing gTLD program set to roll out later this year. Read More at RightOftheDot, LLC
1) What are your current thoughts on the Domain Aftermarket?
The secondary market for domains seems very healthy. We are seeing a fair volume of transactions occurring below the $50,000 range. Companies like Domain Holdings and a few other have notched some seven-figure sales in 2012 which signals the domain aftermarket is alive and well. RightOfTheDot now has the exclusive rights to sell some of the best domain names in the industry, including Vehicles.com, Girl.com, Illinois.com, Televisions.com, Sale.com, as well as work with the new TLD applicants in mapping out a well thought out premium domain auction, sales, and business development strategies when the new TLDs are launched. Many are depending on this new string of income to help with funding marketing and operations of the new TLDs they are going to be working with. We feel that the Aftermarket will only get stronger with more choices available to end users as well as domain investors once this expansion of the Internet opens over the next 2-5 years.
2) Where do you see GTLDS in 3 years time?
There are only 200 million domains registered to serve 2 billion online users and what should be 4-6 billion in the next 10 years, hence the need for more domains, applications, email addresses, hosting services, and other ancillary services that serve end user customers and the overall domain industry. I see a huge expansion of online users and need for domain names in Asia, Africa, and third world countries that never had access before. Also the expansion of the mobile industry will benefit the domain industry as new apps drive traffic to the domains and websites those applications are built on, sold through, and downloaded from.
3) What are you and your companies investing in?
At RightOfTheDot – we have just applied for and were granted a special Auction Business License for the purpose of providing contention resolution and private auction services to new and existing TLD applicants and Registry operators. We have invested a considerable amount of time in our brand, trademarking, and applying for this license. We have been traveling to several domain industry conferences and speaking on the topic of domain values, premium name strategies, as well as networking and promoting our services at ICANN meetings to existing and new applicants of TLDs
At Domain Holdings, where they have eight full-time brokers tracking down end-users, they are noticing that most companies are interested in the exact match or premium one-word .COMs. It’s a fairly consistent trend, but as businesses continue to operate online in a greater capacity the need for quick, easy-to-remember name is incredibly important. Also there is a considerable investment in their technology and platform for domain monetization. I would consider it the best technology in the business.
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?
Parking goes hand-in-hand with selling of names. In the domain parking space the real race right now is about coverage. Who can provide a solution that appeals to most types of domains? As a board member with Domain Holdings, their Domain Power platform is among the most competitive in the industry, adding new monetization partners almost weekly. This continuously increases their overall coverage and competition for their traffic. More competition equals higher payouts.
As far as choosing either parking or developing, it depends on the objective of a site and site owner. Parking can actually help you determine if a site is worth building out. With many young companies these days with such good products, they can save a lot of pain and marketing in product discovery just by taking advantage of inherent traffic of a name that closely mirrors your product or service offering.
5) What is your favourite domain personally or company owned?
I registered a couple thousand domains in 1995 – 1999 personally. I have several favorites and have sold a few. My favorite current domain is Trekkie.com – for all the Star Trek fanatics. It seems to get consistent traffic and the a lot of offers every year. I hope to develop or sell this over the next 12 months.
6) If you were starting out in the domain space today what are your 3 top tips?
I think there are great opportunities in the domain space to make money and be successful. First of all, unlike when I started when there was no Google, Yahoo, banner ads, and only 2 email companies, chances of getting your ROI was much less than today. Although competition is greater, so are the opportunities to be successful and to make money. As I mention above, there are only 200 million domains registered for 2 billion online users. That user base will be growing to 4-6 billion over the next 10 years. Many countries and their populations around the world are just coming online now, many are have less than 10% using the web today. Whole continents such as Africa are putting new broadband infrastructure in place today to provide free access to companies and populations. Computers and hardware are being donated and provided to third world populations to drive and promote online education and business opportunities.
Domains and key word specific domains in these countries will have incredible growth opportunities. Traffic on these domains will also be increasing at incredible growth rates. New TLDs will apply to business, industry, and geographic categories and segmentation that will promote increases in domain registration and aftermarket values. Online and traditional businesses well be able to access customers like never before and that increases the chances of job growth in the online and domain industry all around the world.
Some are predicting a new land rush in new extensions that were never available before. Imagine turning back the clock in time and grabbing open real-estate along waterfront, exotic islands, downtown business districts, etc. Building new businesses on websites, monetizing traffic and selling domains will only grow in my opinion, so many opportunities to make money and provide good content and information through the web.
There are also some very good aftermarket domains to buy now because prices are low or below market value in many cases. DomainHoldings.com has many in their inventory that will only increase in value over time.
7) What’s the next big thing that your companies are working on?
As mentioned above, being granted our special business auction license to conduct private auctions and mediation services for the new TLD industry was a huge accomplishment and positions us as the only known company with a proper license to run proper contention resolution services for the industry going forward. This also allows us to conduct private, online, public and live domain auctions of all types for the existing TLD and new TLD market.
8)Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
In 10 years I hope to be spending a lot of time with my children. I am very active in their lives and hope to watch them grow and succeed in life. I see myself advising new and existing companies, working on my investments and mentoring others.
9) What has been your biggest challenge in the domain business?
My biggest challenges have been creating and growing a domain company when many did not know what a domain was. As I mentioned above, when I started buying and selling names, there were only a few hundred of us in the space. We were the first to build an Aftermarket for our own domains then created a company that were the first to broker domains for others. We pioneered the escrow and appraisal process for domains, theft prevention, live and online domain auctions, bulk registrar management, whois privacy, and many other services that helped the industry grow and become a legitimate industry. All this while going through the dot com boom and bust, 911, two economic recessions….and selling Moniker 2 times in 5 years…while trusting my suitors/buyers to do right by my employees and customers all along the way.
10) What do you feel has been your largest accomplishment in the Business / Personally?
I was the first to build an Aftermarket for our own domains then created a company that were the first to broker domains for others. We pioneered and invented the escrow and appraisal process for domains, theft prevention, live and online domain auctions, bulk registrar management, whois privacy, and many other services that helped the industry grow and become a legitimate industry. I made sure I spoke at, educated and conducted domain auctions at related industries and their conferences around the world – such as search engine optimization and marketing, affiliate marketing, the advertising industry, adult industry, and alike so that other industries and their users and customers would know the importance of domains and the impact domains can have on their businesses. I feel that my impact on these industries and my company’s impact in these industries greatly helped and benefited the entire domain industry world wide.