We haven’t completed many interviews recently on Robbie’s Blog but we do have some more planned for later this year, Troy reached out to me recently about some of the recent posts he discovered from Robbie’s Blog and we connected to discuss his domain portfolio and his number one domain name “HomeGym.com” was given a large 7 Figure Valuation by one domain broker which you can read about in the Q&A below.
Tell us more about Troy…
I was born in Kansas, but moved a LOT as a child. I attended a different school in a different town every school year from Kindergarten to 10th grade.
I married my high school sweetheart whom I met at the cafeteria lunch table. We have been married almost 36 years, and have 8 children, 6 grand children (and counting!)
I grew up in a family that is 3 generations of adoption, so hearing my mom talk about the fact she had a biological family “out there somewhere” is what eventually drove me to start a business at the age of 22, dedicated to helping people find long lost loved ones.
That business grew significantly due to the overwhelming level of national media we were able to generate (we created a proprietary process for doing that).
We made over 500 national television appearances, which eventually brought Paul Allen- the founder of Ancestry.com- to me. Within a few weeks Ancestry had acquired my company and made me their national spokesperson at the time. From there I was offered my own primetime reality TV series, which would grow to be three primetime shows of my own! It was crazy exciting! With all of this media, we have been able to reunite over 40,000 families and counting!
Question 1: why & when did you start to invest in domain names?
Back in the 90’s, we realied we would need to reinvent our entire business model if we had any hope of surviving this thing they called “the internet”. Discovering these digital real estate assets was quite a realization for me. I vowed to buy a domain anytime an idea came to me or I saw a need. Never in my wildest dreams at that time did I think I would ever sell any or still own most of them 25 years later!
Question 2: how big is your portfolio of domain names and has it changed over the years from size to type of domains acquired.
In comparison to most people’s domain portfolios, mine os quite small- about 130. However, unlike many people’s portfolios, mine are nearly all 15 to 28 years old. I never buy “fad” domain extensions. I stick strictly to “dot com” for the most part. There is nothing with the staying power and the mindshare of “dot com”. Everything else is a distant second. The only people who disagree are the one’s trying to sell something that is not a dot com.
I have NEVER purchased a domain with the plan to sell it, flip it, etc. NEVER. If I buy a domain, its because I can see a need in one of my businesses, or its something I’d like to pursue eventually. (My “eventually” list is longer than my likely lifespan.)
Question 3: how many domains have you sold from your portfolio and how did these sales happens?
I believe I have only sold 5 of my domains- and ALL of those sales were simply buyers who found a way to reach out to me to see if I was interested in selling the domain they want. That’s getting hard for buyers to do with the GoDaddy’s of the world trying to block all registration information and requiring all inquiries pass through them. But it’s fine. I know there are countles workarounds, but I’m content being reactive to inquiries from interested buyers.
All of these “tools” that have been created to value domains are bogus. Their algorythyms and formulas are a bunch of smoke and mirrors. Behind every domain valuation tool is an agenda. The only honest appraisals are the buyers and buyer agents. No matter what others tell you or what you keep telling yourself, your domain is not worth one penny more than anyone is willing to pay for it. Doesn’t mean you have to sell a domain to the highest bidder. You can decline all offers and sit on it until it reaches the value you believe it should be. (Which could be next month or never.)
Question 4: what’s the largest sale you have had and can you explain details around it.
The 5 domains I’ve sold all sold from $15k to $35k each. The $35k domain was weird. I bought a domain I wanted for our business, from a private seller. I think I paid $500. No brokers, no sales commissions- no escrow. Just two guys transferring a domain.
Within 48 hours, I received an angry email from a guy in NYC saying I stole his domain name and he threatened legal action. I just laughed, because I KNEW that was bullcrap. I blame his behavior on that NYC vibe that makes people so hard, so aggressive. I told him I did no such thing but he was welcome to call me if he wanted to talk. He called immediately and told me his whole story. He had a fashion startup, he had been negotiating with the same seller I was, and just hadn’t completed the transaction. Something seemed fishy about his story since I was able to buy it so easily, but whatever.
He asked me what I would take for it. I told him it wasn’t for sale and explained how it was going to help my business. He offered me $10k on the spot. I declined but told him I would email him a counteroffer after I had a minute to think about it.
I eventually emailed him what I felt was a reasonable offer, based on what I had planned to do with the domain for my business.
The terms were: $35k, 3% of his company and first right of refusal to buy it back at the same price he pays for it.
He emailed me back two words: “F*ck you!”
The next day I received a Fedex from him with a cashiers check for $35k and a certificate for 3% of his company. (That 3% never became valuable.) About 15 years later, I received another certified letter from him telling me he was going to sell the domain but was first offering me my first right of refusal to buy it back for $35k. I politely declined and wished him much health, happiness and success. Never heard from him again.
Question 5: what’s is the most valuable domains in your portfolio and why?
Domains are only as valuable as the price buyers are willing to pay for them. So in that sense, I guessmy entire portfolio is worthless since I haven’t sold them all, LOL. But the more accurate answer is I have a dozen domains that receive continuous offers from interested buyers- week after week, year after year. I just don’t get offers that get me excited. I’m not greedy- quite the contrary- I’m super willing to be creative, and even willing to put a little flesh in the game if it makes sense.
I think the premium domain I have that gets the most attention is HomeGym.com. It’s the #1 keyword in a multibillion dollar industry that has skyrocketed post-Covid. Seven figure offers are the norm. But I have a bigger vision for this one. I believe this particular domain could be an answer to a prayer for funding our nonprofit- “The Locator Foundation”, which carries on the work of granting wishes for families desperatelys eeking long lost family members. We currently have a heart-breaking waitinglist of over 5,000 people- and growing. We need a strong cash infusion to make this all work.
Last year, the premium domain, NFTs.com was sold for $15 million. That transaction was handled by the highly respected, London-based domain brokerage firm- Domainer.com. After news of that transaction broke, I reached out to Domainer CEO, Ian Garner, asking him for his advice and opinion about HomeGym.com. He was quite surprised to learn this domain had never been utilized as a brand-EVER- and enthusiastically offered to provide an appraisal of HomeGym.com.
Within a couple of weeks, Ian sent me a multi-page document with a request to call him to discuss it in detail. It was a fantastic conversation that educated me more than anyone ever has. The domain industry is flooded with self-proclaimed domain industry experts that are all talk, and have little to nothing to show for it. Ian Garner is the real deal and his appraisal of $9 million was very insightful and helpful. His appraisal demonstrated how this domain name is not only the #1 keyword in the home fitness industry, it is also a gateway for fitness enthusiasts to also purchase fitness apparel, supplements and virtual training. So the value of the domain is not JUST based around the age (25 years old, and counting) the virginity of it (it has NEVER been activated as a website or brand) or the fact that the industry it is a top keyword for is growing steadily post-pandemic. It is ALSO valuable because of the hundreds of billions in commerce it is closely aligned with. For example- owning Giraffe.com is fine if you simply wanted a catchy brand for your art gallery. (Thats what this domain is.) But there is NO Giraffe industry- nobody buying and selling Giraffes that would justify this domain being automatically more valuable based on its organic revenue projections.
HomeGym.com is a EMD- an Exact Match Domain. The BEST EMDs are those with an industry attached to them that pose likely revenue opportunities. Look at Apartments.com, Cars,com, Diapers.com (owned by Amazon) OfficeSupplies.com (owned by Office Depot), etc…there are hundreds of examples of EMDs and most of them have very lucrative business models attached to them. For all of these reasons, HomeGym.com is my most valuable domain name.
Question 6: have you ever developed or create partnerships with your domains.
I have developed domains that I have purchased, yes. The company I founded back in the 90’s was almost made obsolete overnight by the meteoric rise of the internet. However, we bought a domain name, reinvented our entire business into a tech company, and sold it to Ancestry.com. As for partnering ith any of my domains- I would LOVE to. But nobody has approached me with any creative proposals to do so. So some of the coolest domain names in the world remain locked away in my vault, collecting digital dust. 🙂
Question 7: what are your views on GTLDs vs TLDs?
My opinion on GTLD vs TLD? LOL, many may not like it. In the world of toll-free numbers- there is STILL only ONE prefix that everybody wants and everybody thinks of- 800! Everything else is just noise. In domain names- dot com remains the one everybody wants and everybody thinks of. Everything else is just noise.
Question 8: what’s next for Troy in his domain name adventures?
At this point, barring a strong buyer for HomeGym.com coming forward with an acceptable offer, I will move forward with a crowdfunding campaign for it so that I can build a company on top of this great asset- which I am really excited to do! We have a strong business model, and I believe we will steal some measurable marketshare from some large ecommerce fitness brands, while providing a really awesome resource for fitness seekers worldwide. As a former football player, I love contact sports and I love to win with an aggressive gameplan.
As for the rest of my portfolio, these epic 25year old domains will remain under lock and key until and unless someone comes calling to buy them.
Question 9: any tips for domain owners ?
My first tip for domain owners is shoot the messenger. Most of the so-called experts in the domain industry are either full of crap, or working their own angle and have a stealth agenda. Take everything anyone says about the domain industry-me included- with a grain of salt. There are no domain industry wizards, Kings or billionaires. NONE. You are as smart as any of them.
My second tip for domain owners is to be honest with yourself- if you own a cute little lot in a trailer park in Kansas, don’t convince yourself you own a priceless corner property on Times Square. The overwhelming majority of domains are worth very little to anyone else other than the person who registered them. That said, if you are right and I am wrong- no worries. Somebody will come calling, needing that domain you bought. Hang in there and play the long game. I like to tell people this about domains- “Domains are never sold. They are only bought.” Ponder that for a bit.
My last tip for domainers is this- be one of the good guys. I have met (or dodged) some really slimy trolls in the domain industry- people who run down everyone’s domains excep their own, squat on the ignorance of others, take advantage of good people who missed a renewal, etc. Like any industry, the domain industry has some amazon people in it, and some you wouldn’t want around your wife and kids. Be very particular who you let into your personal space.
Question 10: will you be on our screens again soon?
Due to the ever-expanding digital platforms, my previous hit shows are finding second lives. As it stands, you can binge my series, “The Locator” on Hulu (one of their top streaming shows currently) and you can find my shows “APB” and “Last Hope” on Prime, Appletv and bunch of other platforms I’ve never heard of. We are considering a new series and are exploring it with a well known studio. At this point, I’m doing it to try and fund our nonprofit, “The Locator Foundation”. If any wealthy folks want to dramatically change some lives, come grant a few thousand wishes with me!” 🙂