Kevin Lawrence is a successful entrepreneur, developer, and .TV investor who resides in Southern California.
Kevin just sold the domain name FYI.TV for $30,000 marking it the highest reported .TV sale of 2014.
I did a short interview with Kevin to get the background of how he decided on the .TV extension to investment a large portion of this domain investments.
So your a pretty big .TV domain investor can you tell me what drew you to the space?
“Almost weekly I come in contact with .TV because of an advertisement (car, billboard) or news related to a .TV startup featured on a non-domain blog (TechCrunch, VentureBeat, Forbes, or Business Insider). It is a frequent reminder of just how disconnected I have become with the .TV domaining community.
When a startup I founded in 2004 started to show traction, I left my professional career in May of 2005 to rejoin it . Because it was getting traction, the decision was motivated by the possible regret I’d feel if I didn’t pursue the opportunity full-time.
The startup developed a custom CMS to feature automotive content and to leverage our proprietary HD streaming video platform.
We streamed HD automotive video content several months before Google acquired YouTube–long before the masses knew about YouTube! Based on what I know now, the demand for video and the rate at which we acquired users with no marketing was a recipe to raise money, but that was almost a decade ago when I was a young entrepreneur (my partner even younger) coming in from outside the startup ecosystem for the very first time.
The positive, unsolicited feedback we received from our audience motivated us to work harder (work more) not smarter (raise money and scale). The video consumption habits of our audience seemed insatiable and demand continued to spike so we decided to feature the HD videos exclusively on their own domain.
That presented us with the modern day domain dilemma–what domain should we register that offers an excellent opportunity to brand this new video channel?
What would still be available in a .COM world on a shoestring budget where all good name were already in use or for sale in the aftermarket at prices beyond what we were willing to pay?
I poured through hundreds of aftermarket listings to identify ANY relevant .COM URL that might appeal to us, but the options did not look good so I expanded the search thinking we might get lucky and find a .NET or .ORG that could work and searched ‘All other extensions’.
That is when it happened! Two letters, T and V, jumped off the page.
I paused while my mind envisioned the future of video on the Internet not only competing with traditional television for eyeballs but also rivaling it for consumer attention and engagement
“What better extension to use than .TV,” I thought to myself.
.TV REALLY intrigued me.
I recall feeling excited like I had discovered an opportunity missed by others.
TV had more intuitive meaning than .COM (though everyone knows what it is), the TV acronym is well-known and established in practically every country, most of the keyword category killer .TV domains remained on the shelf and available to register, and highly sought after .TV names are significantly less expensive than their .COM counterparts.
Thus, .TV seemed well-suited and the most natural and viable channel for businesses and entrepreneurs looking to promote video or television related content online.
Investing capital into the .TV extension for the first time posed a certain amount of risk, but after evaluating that, I determined that the returns in the long run would offset that risk.
I initially targeted the automotive vertical and acquired several keyword .TV domains that could leverage our existing audience. These moves not only preserved the opportunity to develop new channels in the future but also served to block potential competitors from capitalizing on these domains.
I also began publishing my thoughts about the extension especially as an outsider on the forums
One gentlemen from the forum befriended me. We spoke offline a few times about .TV and felt that we should start a blog covering the .TV extension, including .TV sales, news, opinions, and interviews.
AllThings.TV was born.
Since then, the market for .TV has grown considerably in part due to VeriSign implementing changes to the pricing and marketing of .TV domain names.
The biggest change involved a complete revamping of the steep annual renewal pricing policy.
In 2007, VeriSign entered into a strategic alliance with VeriSign that included making eNom the exclusive registrar for Premium .TV domain names.
This included Premium .TV domain names already registered and those still on the shelf available to the public.
The strategic alliance eventually dissolved and VeriSign re-launched the extension some time later, opening up the opportunity for different registrars to offer Premium .TV domain names and abandoning the high annual renewal pricing structure
Originally, Premium .TV domains required an annual renewal price equal to the Premium .TV registration price.
This ‘Premium .TV registration price equals your renewal price’ became a pain point and proved to be one of the biggest hurdles to wider adoption.
When VeriSign modified this pricing structure, it resonated well with the target audience including domainers, investors, and businesses.
If you acquired a Premium .TV domain this year off the shelf, then you would pay the same annual renewal rate as you would had you purchased a non-Premium .TV domain (typically $20-30).
VeriSign also priced registration costs for any non-Premium .TV domains, enabling registrars the opportunity to pass on that savings by lowering registration prices to as low as $9-$10/year which in some cases has been less than .COM at some registrars. It is important to note that you can receive this discounted yearly price for each year when you initially register a non-Premium .TV domain so make sure to max it out when you initially register a non-Premium .TV name .
Unfortunately, VeriSign has yet to grandfather in. TV
Premium domains that were registered prior to this change in the pricing structure and that continued to be renewed after this change–some domainers refer to these .TV domains as Legacy Premium .TV Domains.
Still, this latest move by VeriSign attracted a new group of customers and spurned further investment from existing .TV stakeholders.
When I first registered a .TV domain, an infinite number of single keyword and category killer .TV names sat available to be registered.
Today, the majority of these are registered and even back-ordered by domainers hoping that the original registrants fail to keep their .TV domain renewed.
And the .TV market is on the rise.
I have personally verified some big 6 figure .TV sales that have been reported and many 5 figure sales.
I also know of some .TV domainers who excel at picking up dropped .TV domains and successfully finding buyers for them within 30 days at $1xx-2,500 prices on a regular basis–I have no idea how this last group figured out how to quickly market and sell their domains for a quick flip but they have.
In general, I resisted selling throughout the past few years and avoided selling to anyone that was not an end-user or their representative.
End-users typically place greater value on a domain they would like to use for a specific purpose as opposed to the domainer or investor looking to expend as little as possible to acquire this domain just to treat it as inventory that will be resold at a later date.
In the last few years, I sold or brokered the sale of Tattoo.TV, PIMP.TV, Vintage.TV, Weed.TV, Word.TV, and the latest domain sale I brokered this month involved FYI.TV on behalf of an investment group I am a member of.
In my experience, any counter offer received during the 3rd round of negotiation may possibly be their last and final offer.
This latest deal was smooth but took considerable time because I was dealing with a broker for the buyer, and I know that buyers with brokers do not always respond immediately to the broker.
When they do respond, more time can pass before a broker gets a chance to communicate their parties’ wishes to the seller or seller’s broker, and vice versa.
How Do you think the new gTLD’s will effect the value of .TV domains?
I believe that only great things lie in the future for .TV as vanity TLDs rollout–which I see as further promoting the fact that interesting things can live beyond the DOT not just COM.
This can also eliminate any possible confusion that people might have suffered in the past when they saw something other COM, NET, or ORG following the dot.
It seems that most of the people outside the domain business do not know that .TV started life as a ccTLD that was subsequently marketed as vanity TLD, so I view the rollout as nothing but great news for .TV because .TV is already established, the rollout will further enhance the existing public awareness of .TV, and the renewal pricing of .TV is no longer that obstacle it once was (not including those Legacy Premium .TVs), increasing the adoption rate we can expect from entrepreneurs and businesses, both large and small.
Ironically, I would never have guessed that the .TV names I sold would be the first because they are not representative of the best names in my portfolio.
This experience has taught me not to always swing for the fences or discount the potential return from great names in search of the best names.
But I also realized that the biggest piece of selling a domain is knowing how to market those domains to the people who are in the best position to leverage them.
While every domain inherently has variety of potential values to different end-users, those end-users or the decision makers, i.e. those in management roles, may not know or have information that the domain exists, that the domain can accomplish what it is you think it can accomplish for them, or that the domain is even available for purchase. So you might have gold your gold may be worthless if potential gold buyers don’t know you have what they need or want.
What are the 3 major lessons you learned as a Entrepreneur that you would like share with the audience:
The biggest lessons I learned from all my collective experiences as an entrepreneur that I want to share are:
1) Invest your time expanding your network to people within the industry who are successful at doing the things you want to be better at; spend less time interacting with those who are not successful;
2) Invest in yourself (education and business) and be willing to make mistakes; and
3) Resist adopting the mindset and agendas of unsuccessful people.
Thank you Kevin anything else?
I want to thank Mike Berkens for extending me the opportunity to guest blog a post on TheDomains and the team at The Legacy Fund for staying on me to announce this most recent sale.
I would have been quick to report such a sale in the past but with a family, the beginning of a new year, and my involvement in a new startup, the time available to do things like this just escapes me!