2017 is wrapping up and it was quite the interesting year in domaining.
It was a year when many heard of crypto for the first time and then played the part of crypto expert. It was the year of the emoji, one excellent guide written by Michael Cyger and emoji domains were off to the races.
Domaining has become to a certain degree a collection of echo chambers. Those seeking confirmation bias found warmth in their tightly knit cliques.
Whether it be .com is the only extension, to the consumer needs choice and certain new gtld’s really fit. From emoji’s are the future, to the who the bleep would use an emoji domain. Crypto is the future, the only true way forward crowd, versus the crowd that sees it as a giant bubble/ponzi scheme. There were a lot of debates in 2017.
There is no doubt crypto became one of the hottest topics in domaining. People like Rick Schwartz posted they saw a direct correlation to domaining, while Konstantinos Zournas disagreed.
Competing for money doesn’t mean there is an overlap. All investments compete for money. Domains are different as they are used by companies
— Konstantinos Zournas (@onlinedomaincom) October 14, 2017
Crypto related domain registrations have gone through the roof. The highest crypto keyword sale took place in 2017, CryptoBank.com for $125,000.
Many domain investors have diversified their investment portfolio, Michael Berkens owner of TheDomains, was given his first Bitcoin as a gift at an ICANN conference, has become an avid investor in crypto. Morgan Linton has written several times on the topic.
I would imagine crypto is only going to get bigger in 2018 with many more participants buying and selling crypto, trading Bitcoin futures, and trading in crypto related domain names.
From i❤️domains to the excellent guide produced by DNAcademy, to a high schooler named Shane Brunswick, an incoming high school sophomore who created Domainoji.com, an emoji domain registration website that automatically converts emojis to punycode.
Emoji domains have burst onto the scene, are newest writer Alvin Brown does a great job covering the emoji niche.
Not everyone believes in emoji domains, Andrew Allemann expressed his thoughts in a post titled, “What do I think of Emoji domains? Not much.” It was one of the most commented on posts on DNW with one commenter starting his comment, “You’re an old guy who doesn’t get it!”
.WS is the dominant extension for emoji domains, .ai just ended their support. .TO is another cctld that provides for the registration of emoji domains. .Com has some grandfathered in, but there doesn’t look like any new registrations will be allowed in .com, .net, .org due to ICANN regulation IDN2008.
Mergers and Acquisitions
2017 saw a fair number of deals take place. In January Rightside sold Enom to Tucows for $76.7 million.
In June, Donuts acquired Rightside for $10.60 per share in an all-cash tender offer, for an aggregate purchase price of approximately $213MM. Name.com and 40 new gtld’s were included in the deal.
In October DirectNic purchased Fabulous the once popular Australian based domain registrar.
In October, Elliot Silver broke the news that GoDaddy acquired an unknown number of domain names from the Name.com / Rightside domain name portfolio, which was sold by Donuts. GoDaddy also informed Elliot that the Name.com expiry stream will now go to auction via GoDaddy Auctions.
As reported by Andrew Allemann, GoDaddy also purchased a portfolio of domain names from legendary domain investor Kevin Ham.
GoDaddy stops support for all Uniregistry strings, the best discussion on this topic took place on Namepros.
Paul Stahura stepped down as CEO of Donuts, Stahura. On Facebook Paul posted,
I’m very much looking forward to my new role as Executive Chairman of Donuts and to helping (full-time) Bruce, our new CEO, and the company in anyway I can and in anyway that Bruce would like. Bruce, who has been on our board for over a year, will be great – fantastic – (much better than me) in taking the company I helped startup to the next level! (And this roll switcharoo, that I fully endorsed and support, is a bit overdue too!)
Radix reported numbers for the year hitting a milestone number of $12 million in revenue.
Ntldstats.com shows 23,500,000 +
2017 will end with these extensions as the top 10 in registrations:
Scandals and other shady happenings
There were a few scandals in 2017, some pitted investor against marketplace, some pitted investor vs investor.
2017 started off with a big schism on Namepros, the bad blood has been going on all year. A poster started a thread titled, “I lost $5805usd through PayPal scam by Shane Bellone”
This thread is 28 pages long, close to 60,000 views. The thread brought a lot of different things to light, it showed the different ways people look at the facts, the accusations, and how a predisposed notion toward an individual can really fan the flames of debate.
From one party staying silent, to the discussion spilling over on Twitter, to threats of violence and hopes for houses to burn to the ground. It was one of the most divisive and difficult threads Namepros has seen in years. It will take you some time to read but there are many interwoven stories that you might find worth reading.
My takeaway was when someone accuses you of something you need to speak your side. Another point is that when you take a side in a forum debate, prepare for others to go after you hard sometimes, even if you don’t know either participant in the dispute. You might just be giving your two cents but you might just be immersed in the controversy and people start to call your ethics and character into question.
NameJet and bidding on your own auctions. All hell broke loose after WebQuest posted, “Bidding on your own names at NameJet…?
We covered it here which brought about 123 comments, but that was nothing compared to the 1577 posts and 102,000 views on Namepros. Some members have made it their life’s work to investigate all the trading back and forth, usernames, whois changes. Some have said they have been threatened, some people pondered if bidding on your own names was legit, if done in a particular way.
In November, DropCatch found itself in a similar situation. Namepros member Arca found some bidding irregularities. The thread would go onto have over 11,000 views and 300 posts.
DropCatch did respond to the concerns immediately, we wrote about it here.
The gist of the story was that Afternic partners were marking up domain prices. I then also showed it was happening with Sedo as well.
Andrew got a comment from Afternic Chief Revenue Officer Bob Mountain:
Select partners are testing markups on Afternic domain names. There hasn’t been a fundamental shift, we’re just working with some of our partners at their request. If you would like to have your names removed from being listed at these markup resellers, please contact Afternic customer service.
When you read the comments here on TheDomains, you see most readers had no idea.
The Domain King
Rick Schwartz was active on Twitter in 2017, Rick often looked to buy domain names with certain criteria. He had a week where each day he was looking for different niches and pricing tiers. I did sell Rick a name through this manner, BraAndPanties.com for $1,000.
Rick stirred the pot with a few of his tweets and statements. Rick said that 90% of all domainers should start over.
He shared insight on how the Porno.com deal went down.
Rick became active in the crypto space and tweeted a lot about Bitcoin.
Rick ended the year by leaving Twitter as a reaction to how Twitter handled our account hack.
2017 sales were highlighted by Fly.com, ETH.com and Freedom.com. These were the 3 domain sales reported by DNJournal at $2,000,000 or more.
The top 5 sales:
As far as new gtld sales go, Radix topped the charts with Casino.online. The registry sale went for $201,250. The only other six figure new gtld sale was Video.games for $183,000.
Other sales news includes George Kirikos uncovering the fact that SnapChat paid $5million for Snap.com back in 2014.
George Kirikos did great work and found that Walmart purchased shoes.com for approximately $9million.
In other news
Heidi Powell or Grandma Powell as she was referred to in the community, lost her domain name to Fitness Heidi Powell. This incensed many in the community who went to bat for Grandma Powell. She is now at IamHeidiPowell.com. Here was an interview with Angela St .Julien.
Michael Cyger retires from Domain Sherpa. Michael retired and then a few weeks later sold the popular website to Media Options and Andrew Rosener.
Blake Irving the CEO of GoDaddy also announced he would be retiring. Today is his last day as CEO.
It’s been a good year here at TheDomains except for the Twitter hack. We welcomed a couple new writers with Daryl and Alvin who I am glad to have on board.
Thanks to Namrata at Radix, Leanne at GMO Registry, Annie at Escrow.com, Brandon at Payoneer, Christina at 101Domain, the guys at DomainsGuide, Michael Sumner at Namebio, Ron Jackson at DNJournal and Brandon at Rack Geek.
Thanks to all our advertisers and readers, may you all have a happy and healthy 2018.