UPDATED: The Rise and Fall Of Oversee.net

With the news that Oversee.net sold DomainSponsor.com as well as their owned and operated domain portfolio which reportedly numbered between 700K and 1M domains, to Rook Media, it marks the end of to a 14 year run of one of the biggest companies to ever exist in the domain space.

It’s important to point out that the current management of Oversee.net including Debra Domeyer who was just appointed CEO back on March 2, 2012 were not involved in much of what happened to this company over the years.

It’s a really interesting story on many levels

Since the company is not public we can only take information that was made publicly available.

It’s just my opinion but it could be that Oversee may have lost the most money of any company in the domain name space.  As I said don’t have all the numbers, so it’s just a guess but an educated guess.

Also on a personal note, over the years I have done  millions of dollars in business with Oversee.net starting from the days when Ron Sheridan got my company Worldwide Media, Inc, to place its domain name portfolio at DomainSponsor to spending money with Moniker and Snapnames, so I find the story kind of sad and it brings me no pleasure in reporting and revisiting the timeline and stories

Keep in mind that while Oversee.net was founded in 2000 and DomainSponsor in 2002, we didn’t start writing TheDomains.com until in December 2007.

Here is a timeline of the company with a lot of assistance of  CrunchBase.com as well as other sources including TheDomains.com

2000:                        Oversee is founded by CEO and Co-Founder Lawrence Ng.

January 2001:        Oversee named Mason Cole as Vice President of Communications & Industry.

September 2001:   Oversee named  Ron Sheridan as Founder, Dir Business Development.

July 2006:              Oversee named  Jothan Frakes as Senior Director

July 2006:              Oversee names Jeff Kupietzky as CEO

January 2007:       Oversee receives $60M in Debt funding from Bank of America

February  2007:    Oversee holds the First Domainfest Conference in Hollywood

June 2007:             Oversee acquires SnapNames for a reported $35M.

July 2007:              Oversee announces buying $7 Million in domains in May & 66 portfolio’s in past 10 months & Has over 600K domains

October 2007        Namejet.com is formed and Network Solutions & Register.com leave SnapNames.com

December 2007:   Oversee acquires Moniker for $65M

January 2008:      Oversee added Lawrence Ng as Chairman.

January 2008:      Oversee receives $150M in Private Equity funding from Oak Hill Capital Partners

August 2008:         Oversee fires 10% of its staff

November 2008:  Jeff Kupietzky named President of Oversee.net

January 2009:       Oversee lays off 18% of its workforce 39 people including Jothan Frakes

February 2009:     Third Domainfest held resulting in $3,148,000

January 2010:        Fourth Domainfest live auction produced $930K in Sales plus a low reserve auction of $150,000

May 2010:               Oversee holds a Domainfest in Florida and the auction generated over $2 Million in Sales.

December 2010:     Monte Cahn who headed up Moniker, the live domain auctions and Snapnames.com leaves the company.

January 2011:          Oversee acquires ShopWiki.com for undisclosed amount

January 2011:          Oversee names Scott Morrow and Debra Domeyer as Co-Presidents.

February 2011:        Domainfest live auction generates $500K in Sales but over a hundred people got a mysterious illness from the party at the Playboy Mansion

May 2011:                Monte Cahn files suit against Oversee, CEO Jeff Kupietzky and founder Lawrence Ngover $13 Million dollar incentive plan

July 2011:                Jeff Kupietzky resigns as CEO of Oversee

September 2011:    Oversee.net “lays off” 13% of its Staff

February 2012:       Oversee.net sells its Moniker & SnapNames domain aftermarket and registrar business units to KeyDrive S.A. for an undisclosed amount.

March 2012:            Debra Domeyer & Scott Morrow are promoted to Co-CEOs and will also hold seats on the Board of Directors.

August 2012:           Monte Cahn Settles Lawsuit for an undisclosed amount

April 2014:               Oversee.net sells DomainSponsor and its domain portfolio for an undisclosed amount.

Of course the timeline only tells part of the story, as Paul Harvey used to say now for the rest of the story as told over the years on TheDomains.com

On January 15, 2008 we reported that Oversee received $150,000,000 investment from Oak Hill Capital Partners, a lot of that money was used to buy Moniker.com and Snapnames.com

When they acquired SnapNames.com, it was the largest drop aftermarket and had exclusive arrangements with the then largest domain name registrars to auction off their dropped domains including NetworkSolutions.com and Enom.com.

Of course the price Oversee paid for SnapNames.com was based on all the business Snapnames.com had done in the years previous to the sale selling drop domains for these registrars, however just a couple of months after acquiring Snapnames.com, NetworkSolutions.com and Enom.com  used an escape clause in its contract with SnapNames.com (which Oversee either didn’t see or didn’t consider) to exist SnapNames.com.

Not only did that cause SnapNames to lost its most valuable drop inventory but to add to its problems NetSol and Enom.com started their own drop service NameJet.com to compete with SnapNames.com which of course went on to become the largest domain drop auction house.

Then we learned that a former employee of SnapNames.com had engaged in bid rigging, which came to be known in the domain industry as the Halvarez scandal.

Oversee lost three ways on the The Halvarez scandal.

Oversee had to refund Millions of dollars to bidders for bids placed back when they didn’t own SnapNames.com; the rigged bids artificially inflated the revenue numbers for SnapNames.com for the year previous to Oversee purchase, which in turn increased the amount which Oversee paid to buy SnapNames.com and Oversee’s reputation in the domain industry took a big hit.

Here are some of the stories we wrote about the Halvarez scandal.

Oversee Uncovers Huge Inside Bidding Scheme At SnapNames.com & Will Offer Refunds 11/04/09

Can Oversee Get Some Of The Money They Paid For Snapnames.com Back? 11/04/09

The 5 Most Surprising Things That Came Out Of The SnapNames Scandal 11/05/09

Will “Halvarez” Face Criminal Charges? It Maybe Up To You  11/07/09

Breaking News: SnapNames.com Puts Back Auction History To August 2004 11/07/09

12,000 Auctions: The Halvarez Effect On Our Account (So Far) 11/08/09

12,000 Auctions, 8,900 Bidders and 350,000 Bids: We Conclude Halvarez Was The Only Shill Bidder At Snapnames 11/12/09

An Open Letter To Oversee/SnapNames.com: Hey Guys Here Is A Plan To Fix The Halvarez Scandal 11/17/09

I Just Signed Off & Accepted The Snapnames Settlement Agreement 1/07/10

Then in 2009 Oversee bought Moniker.com but by and saw tremendous loss of domains under management once Monte Cahn left the company at the end of 2010.

By April 2011 Moniker.com had dropped to the 8th largest registrar, by June 2011 they dropped to the 9th.

Today Moniker.com is the 17th largest registrar.

In 2010 some insiders of Oversee.net put there shares up for sale on SecondMarket.com based on an implied valuation of Oversee of over $1 Billion dollars and there was talk about the company going public.

So from a company with an implied valuation of over $1 billion dollars in 2010 to have just a handful of developed sites, well for me and in my opinion its kind of sad.

Rook Media Acquires DomainSponsor.com

DSLOGOSMALL

rmg_logo

Oversee.net, announced today that Rook Media, has acquired DomainSponsor.com, Oversee.net’s monetization business along with its parked domain portfolio.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Oversee.net which once owned the domain name registrar, Moniker.com which was the 7th domain name registrar in the world at the time of acquisition , the auction platform SnapNames.com, was the largest dropping domain name aftermarket with exclusive deals with registrars like and Enom.com and NetworkSolutions.com at the time of acquisition and grew DomainSponsor.com into the largest monetization (parking) service, is now left with a few  developed web properties.

According to the press release Over 230 million unique users per month visit DomainSponsor’s direct navigation ad network.

According to a press release put out by RookMedia, they “deliver over 680 ad impressions every second and is the largest parking company based in Europe.”

Rook Says they are especially competitive in international domain monetization, the platform has quickly grown to manage over 12.5 million domains in just three years .

“Rook Media was founded by five domain professionals who all have over a decade of experience running industry-defining domain monetization platforms. That know-how has allowed Rook Media to significantly raise payment standards and realize substantial growth in the domain space, operating a platform that served over 12 million domain names in 2013.”

“The combination of Rook Media and DomainSponsor is a game changer for our industry,” noted CEO Ash Rahimi. “These two companies complement each other’s strengths and will provide our customers with the best US and international domain monetization solution. With unmatched relationships with the biggest advertising providers in the industry and our combined in-house technology solutions, there has literally never been a better way to monetize domains.”

“With the completion of this transaction, Oversee can now focus on more aggressively developing its growth businesses. The company has been continually enhancing its online portfolio of web properties and mobile applications with strong brands that engage user’s passions.”

 

Looks Like A New Domain Publication Coming in July

domainworld

It looks like there will be a new domain publication coming on the scene in July.

On Facebook.com today we spotted an ad for DomainWorldMagazine.com

As a magazine type publication rather than a blog its seems the new magazine seems to be taking on DnJournal.com which always has considered itself more of a newspaper/magazine than a blog

Ryan Colby of Outcome Brokerage looks to be the registrant of the domain.

From the Facebook page

With over 175,000,000 iPads sold, we figured it was time to publish the first interactive digital magazine devoted to the domain industry!

About

The interactive digital publication for the domain industry. (Launching July, 2014!)
Description

DomainWorld is a subscription based, interactive digital magazine that covers all aspects of the domain industry. We are a monthly publication featuring insightful interviews and cutting edge strategies for key stakeholders.

It will be interesting to see if Ryan can make the subscription model work. Good luck to him and his team.
Andrew Warner tweeted today how newspapers are wising up to a subscription model. Warner runs Mixergy.com and he is who Domain Sherpa patterned his original interview format after. I believe Michael Cyger attended an Andrew Warner bootcamp.

The Sale of .Co To Neustar Closed Today; Offices To Stay In Miami

Although it was announced a few weeks ago, the sale of the  .CO Internet S.A.S to Neustar for $109 million dollars actually just closed today.

According to the MiamiHerald.com, the “Champagne popped and bonuses flowed after .CO Internet closed its chapter as an independent company and became part of the publicly traded Neustar on Monday afternoon.”

“In his first comments to the press about the transaction, Juan Diego Calle, co-founder and former CEO of .CO, said “The timing was right for both sides, Calle said. “We are going from a very regulated environment where there are a limited number of domain extensions into a world where there is essentially an unlimited number of options for consumers,” said Calle, referring to the thousands of new domain name options coming into the marketplace. “There’s this movement by the larger players in the industry to consolidate their positions of power and be market leaders in the new paradigm, and here we are, .CO, the most appealing of the new alternatives, so you can grab that asset and make it your flagship brand.”

“And for us, we were a small company with limited resources, we were profitable, we were growing. In that paradigm with thousands of alternatives, having a public company behind us owning the asset is a huge competitive advantage.

“Calle said Neustar’s plan is to keep the offices – and the jobs – in Miami and Colombia for the forseeable future.  There are 20 full-time employees  going to Neustar, plus a few consultants.”

“All of our employees are getting better jobs than they had at .CO, better benefits … and  everyone got a sizable bonus. Letting them know they were getting the money and celebrating the transaction with them was the highlight of my career from an entrepreneurial standpoint — really very cool,” said Calle, who has been an outspoken proponent of launching and growing companies in Miami.

“Of the co-founders, Calle and Nicolai Bezsonoff, the former COO,  will serve as strategic advisors, managing the integration of the companies. Lori Anne Wardi will remain in the role of vice president, and will continue overseeing the evolution of the .CO brand, as well as help Neustar with  .NYC, New York City’s soon-to-be-launched official domain extension.”

“Jose Rasco will continue as managing director of STRAAT Investments, independent of Neustar. ”

“Eduardo Santoyo, based in Bogota, will continue to lead the Colombia office and all matters relating to government relations and Internet policy.”

“I’m over the moon,” said Wardi on Monday. “This has been our baby, we saw such potential in these two letters and what they would become. … I feel so proud every time I see a .co.”

“Before the sale, STRAAT and the co-founders were planning to open a headquarters and co-working center in the Brickell area that they call Building, and that will still open in September, Calle said. ”

“Building will house the Neustar team as well as other ventures. “The idea of Building is to attract companies in a similar life cycle as .CO. We want to fill the later-stage niche instead of going after the pure startup plays. We are considering whether to expand the concept and to take it to other cities like San Francisco, New York and London. That is a business plan we are going to be actively developing now that we have sold .CO,” he said.

Neustar didn’t  acquire the subsidiary Pop.co, which allows consumers to set up a domain name, email account and website in 60 seconds. Said Calle: “You will see more push from us to build that out. Our goal is to make it one of the leading retail sites. We have a couple of other interesting things brewing, but right now the focus is on integrating .CO into Neustar as seamlessly as possible.”

Congrats to some of my favorite people in the domain space, Juan, Lori Ann, Jose and Nicolai.  An incredible success story achieved by some very hard working, brilliant people that took on the big boys and won the .Co contract from the government of Colombia over Verisign.

Excelente Trabajo.
Nos sentimos muy orgullosos y felices de que nuestros amigos.
Read more here: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/the-starting-gate/2014/04/champagne-popped-and-bonuses-flowed-after-co-internet-closed-its-chapter-as-an-independent-company-and-became-part-of-the-pu.html#storylink=cpy

Hilton Buys ChicagoAirportHotel.com For a Whopping $850

chicago airport hotel

Hilton just bought the domain name ChicagoAirportHotel.com for a whopping $850.

The domain name was listed on a Buy It Now basis through Fabulous.com

So one of the largest hotel chains in the world just picked up the bang on matching domain for one of the busiest airports in the country for less than $1,000.

If you do a Google search for Chicago Airport Hotel you will see Hilton is an advertiser under the term as well as Booking.com and Expedia.

Don’t you think Hilton spends more than $850 in adwords to advertise under the term each month?

Come on people, lets not give good domains away.

I’m not saying they would have paid $100K for it but they very well may have paid $5K or even $10K.

Hilton took possession of the domain yesterday