There Must Have Been Two TRAFFIC Conferences This Week Because I Sure Attended A Different One Than Owen
When I woke up this morning I would never have thought I would have to write a post critical of another blogger.
Having come off the high of winning the blogger of the year award and accepting on behalf of all domain bloggers recognizing the time, work, commitment and criticism we voluntarily subject ourselves too, the LAST thing I wanted to do, especially today, is call another blogger out.
So I read Owen Frager’s post this morning about his experience at the TRAFFIC conference entitled simply, but brutally “TRAFFIC Sucked”, which was quickly endorsed by DomainGang.com, in its post entitled “Frager Factor calls it like it is” even though the author was NOT in attendance at TRAFFIC (confirmed with DomainGang.com).
I found Owen’s post to be internally conflictive, and very inconsistent in its statements and conclusions
Worse, actually much worse, it wasn’t just an attack on the TRAFFIC conference but on the entire domain industry.
An attack that could not go unanswered.
Owen in his post writes:
“What I witnessed was an industry defeated.”
“”Noticeably absent were many of the colorful players of the past.”
“This time it was an industry downsized.
“Vendors in booths with nothing to offer.”
“They seem to be running on fumes.”
Owen apparently see’s the industry differently than I do.
I saw a new face in the industry on stage one who has invested over $20 million so far in the domain space and plans on investing another $20 Million next year.
His name was Stuart Lawley and he is CEO of the ICM Registry.
Stuart by his own admission is not from the domain industry, nor is he from the adult industry.
He is a very successful self made businessman whom from very humble beginnings started a company, turned it into a public company, and cashed out for what an amount most of us could only dream of.
Stuart is a guy who could have at a young age called it a day and had a very luxurious life.
Yet Stuart decided to forgo 40 years of lying on the beach with an umbrella drink in his hand.
Stuart who could have gone into any business on earth, picked the domain business.
Stuart is excited and rightly so.
He isn’t running on fumes
Stuart is full petal to the metal just like the driver of the .XXX race boat pressing full on against choppy waters.
With ICM’s $5 Million in marketing this year, its planned $15 Million dollar spend next year added to the $10 Million .Co has spend on marketing its extension that’s $30 Million dollars in new money in the domain name industry that simply didn’t exist a year ago.
Did you happen to see the former Chairman of ICANN, Peter Dengate Thrush on stage talking about how the public company he is the Executive Director of is going to spend $10 Million dollars just in ICANN application fees to apply for 50 new Top Level Domain names?
I sat next to him.
Yet Minds + Machines is just one of many very smart people I have had the honor of sitting with this year that are waiting for their chance to write a $10 Million dollar check to get into the domain name industry.
A couple of months ago I sat with a group that is investing hundreds of millions of Euro’s into the domain name business.
And that’s just to get the extensions.
There are billions of dollars entering the domain name industry.
New money, new people, new visions.
Far from a “industry defeated”
Sounds like a booming industry.
Yet Frager quickly dismisses all this new money, new investment by calling it simply a “side track”
“Once upon a time TRAFFIC was an advocate for the attendees needs. It forced companies to innovate. Now the domain industry is side tracked by the money in new extensions.”
Hey maybe the attendees of TRAFFIC just paid to figure out where the industry is heading for the next 10 years to be in front of the curve instead of playing catchup.
If you didn’t know it, if your in the domain industry, you’re in the Tech industry, an industry which is constantly changing.
If you want to be in an industry that’s going to continue to operate in the same basic way for the next 10 years, you picked the wrong industry.
Invest in a bank or an insurance company instead.
TRAFFIC had “Vendors in booths with nothing to offer.”
Do you really want to tell John Ferber that he is just a “Vendor in a booth with nothing to offer”
The guy who built and sold Advertising.com for $500 million and is still decades younger than myself or Owen.
John is another guy who could have called it a day, go relax on a beach for the rest of his days, but instead raised over $3M in venture capital money with a few phone calls.
John like Stuart could have went into any business he wanted to but chose the domain name industry.
John’s vision for his company DomainHoldings.com to be a game changer.
What Game does John want to change?
The same game that Owen says no one is trying to change:
“”We are at the mercy of Google because even knowing what’s coming for 10 years, no one is addressing the issue.”
DomainHoldings is addressing the issue.
They are pouring millions behind addressing the issue and have hired over 25 talented people to change it up.
Theparkingplace.com is trying too
SmartName.com, well I had three meetings with them and while I can’t tell you what they have, they have something.
Its new, different, innovative.
Will any of them change the game?
Hell I don’t know.
If I knew what Apple would be trading at a year from now I wouldn’t need to know anything else. I could just chuck all our money in and buy or short Apple stock and call it a day.
Unfortunately I don’t have a crystal ball.
But I have eyes and can see what people are trying to do.
But to say no one is trying, is completely false and insulting to those who have invested millions in changing the game.
Matter of fact, Owen just a few sentences after saying:
“We are at the mercy of Google because even knowing what’s coming for 10 years, no one is addressing the issue.”
Owen goes on to say Frank Schilling “Swept most of the (TRAFFIC) awards and deservedly so.”
“For a select group of invited participants he has improved their results and is introducing sales and marketing tools that should do a better job of closing sales than throwing your name in a list of millions.”
“One award Frank didn’t receive that he should have was for disrupting an entire industry.”
How can you say that NO ONE is addressing or trying to change the domain industry and then a few sentences later praise Mr. Schilling for doing exactly that by “disrupting an entire industry.”?
Owen goes on to say that the “The industry lacks leadership and focus at the top.”
Well what the hell do you call someone who starts a brand new business, which is able to take a substantial market share, just a couple of months after launch and “disrupts an entire industry” if not a leader?
Is that not the definition of a leader?
Yes the faces change.
Leaders become laggards.
Its a brutal economy.
People lose their jobs, companies lose there way.
Some of the companies that lead the way just a few years ago are on the verge of collapse.
This is business.
Owen goes on to say although the TRAFFIC show sucked, “”most attendees left with great return on their investment. From the new relationships they opened, existing relationships nurtured and the face time with people that would not be possible any other way. Business was done. Money will be made.”
Good return on investment.
Business was done
Money was made
and yet it sucked?
Its clear Owen is disenchanted with the domain name business
“”Hence those with great names, but in need of cash, will call one of the big players and sell the domain for squat. And thus the once thriving wholesale market is gone. Big players with infinite capitalization can pick up domains on the cheap on the drop”
and how exactly is this the TRAFFIC show organizers fault?
Yes if you need cash and only have a watch or a guitar or a TV to your name, you might have to go to a pawn shop and take whatever your offered.
Such is life and if that’s the situation you find yourself in I’m sorry because
That’s what sucks.
Was it a perfect conference?
I personally missed having a sit down lunch especially with sessions running until 7pm, when the parties starting at 8, also without sit down meals.
The auction would have been better if there was online bidding.
There are other issues we can pick at but I’ve have never ran a conference, nor do I have any desire to do so.
It’s a ton of work, planning, not to mention the expense and risk capital involved if no one shows up.
Dealing with hundreds of people and personalities all who have an opinion of how it could be run better.
On top of it all, then comes a blogger who puts up a post with a headline blaring “the show sucked” which is then picked up by Google news even though the author thought the attendees got a “great return on their investment”.
What a nightmare.