Rick Schwartz answers a multitude of questions on topics such as new gtlds, the future of domaining, valuation and a host of other things. I hope you enjoy the interview and thanks to Rick for taking the time.
Q1) You have been doing this a long time, are you still excited by domain investing and if so why?
I would say I’m more excited than ever. I’ve seen domains since they were basically worthless to where they are today where it’s not uncommon for a domain to sell for 7 and 8 figures.
I’m very excited because I’ve been doing my homework for more than a quarter of a century now.
Collecting domains one by one. One domain at a time. And sometimes it even amazes me what I own. So I have never been more excited about domain investing than I am today.
When I compare domains to other assets on the planet there is not another single asset that I’d rather own and feel more comfortable and independent owning. None!
The beauty of an asset like a domain name is before domains, you could take a limited amount of gold with you or you could take a limited amount of cash with you but you couldn’t take a lot of either.
When it comes to domain names, they are with me all the time no matter where I am at.
What better sense of security is there than that? Domains follow you and gives you true independence, autonomy, and always a way to make a living.
Q2) You always say to focus on quality and buy the best name you can that meets requirements that you have laid out in various posts. What do you say to newcomers who only want or can afford to hand register .coms? Should they find a different online endeavor?
Absolutely not! Hand registrations are still a great way to make money with domains. New phrases and news come out all the time.
So I never Pooh Pooh hand registrations as long as you don’t register pigeon shit. A hand registration should consist of 2 or 3 words.
Meaningful words. Words that go in in the proper order. If you don’t do that then you’re wasting your time and money.
If you follow the rules, you listen to breaking news, you do research on new sectors, you don’t go too crazy and you don’t go too deep you could make your fortune.
But again, it will always come down to knowing what constitutes a great domain name. Two or three words slapped together means nothing, and nothing is worth nothing.
Q3) What do you say to those who believe they can no longer compete at expired auction houses like GoDaddy. Between closeout sniping through API’s and what many perceive as end-user prices in the wholesale market, do they just need to exit the business?
The only reason anyone should exit the domain game is that they have no clue about picking great domain names. It has nothing to do with anything else. If you know what to look for you’re not gonna piss away your money on garbage.
So the only ones that should exit are the ones that pick pigeon shit for a living. And while it is not obvious to them, it’s usually obvious to anyone that knows anything about domains. Worthless is worthless.
People learn what they want to learn. But if you’re gonna be in the real estate business you better learn to pick good real estate. And if you were an NFL coach you better learn to pick good players.
And if you are a domainer, you have to pick good domain names. So if you’re not good at picking domain names it becomes obvious to those that look at your portfolio.
If a customer can’t build their dream on your domain name, what the hell are you buying it for?
I have laid out the precise attributes that I use to pick any domain name. It’s the reason I buy so few domains.
So few meet those standards. So save money and buy quality. Instead of taking the $5000 vacation go buy five $1000 domain names. Names of value. Now how do you know what the domain value is?
Why the hell are you asking me? You should know yourself as a domain investor!!
Q4) Can any business operate on a new gtld domain with no plans or possibility to get the matching .com?
Most new businesses that try new GTLD’s go out of business in short order because they go into it blind. If you start on a new gTLD you have to know the headwinds that you’re going to incur. And anyone that tells you there are no headwinds is a goddamn liar! That’s all I can tell you. They are lying to you.
Call them out!! Don’t be weak. Don’t be fed crap, swallow it and have a pile of crap and be happy about it.
So the point is what are you gonna do to overcome those issues and how much is it going to cost? If you ignore those two things I don’t care what business you are in or what you’re doing or anything else, you’re going to go broke.
You can’t ignore big things. If you ignore big things like that then you ignore everything.
I will go toe to toe with any new GTLD person on this planet and I did. All people have to do was watch Schwartz versus Schilling part one and part two from October 2013. Going on eight years.
Who got it right? New GTLD’s are full of pitfalls. Ignoring those pitfalls is absolutely the dumbest thing a businessman can do.
And my issue with all the new GTLD operators out there is they don’t explain that to their potential “Stool Pigeons” I mean customers.
They hide the facts. They dispute the facts. They ignore the facts. They have to say dotcom is dead to even sell any of their crap.
If they were honest, strong, and articulate in the way they sold and explained how they can benefit and what they can do in the future to possibly secure the. dotcom and how to bridge the gap until they do, they would have my respect and support.
But they never did that. They hoodwinked their clients. That’s how I look at it, they hoodwinked them!! They fooled them!
Q5) You don’t like the automated appraisal systems like GoDaddy and Esibot, do you ignore those or think less of those who quote those prices? Do they have any saving grace?
This is a deep and personal subject. I have written extensively recently on my blog about it. So while I will give a short answer here, my detailed answer is on Ricksblog.com.
When it comes to automated appraisal tools the quickest way for me to disengage with anyone that even mentions it, is to mention it. If it’s an end-user and they bring it up, they never get a response from me again.
If it’s a domainer who brings it up, I know they are rookies that are wet behind the ears and don’t have a fucking clue what they’re doing!
Domainers should be outraged that those tools are out there and that they are that inaccurate and that they are hurting the values of their assets.
Instead, they quote them like the Bible! They’re all fools. Absolute fools. Any domain investor that has an Estibot or GoDaddy appraisal come off their lips is a disqualified businessman to me!!
Q6) Do decentralized/blockchain domain names have any future for a domain investor in your opinion?
Decentralization is something I am learning about and investigating. It’s too early to predict any potential or non-potential.
There have been many schemes over the years and they were all fails. How they control distribution and trademarks may be key.
Remember, success or failure usually happens at the beginning. Acceptance is also a key factor. Domain investors don’t get to decide. We will see.
Q7) You talk about not replying to offers with a quote or counter offer but rather ask a question. Many want to emulate you, I have had people use the exact quote, “I want to be like Rick” I know some of these people well and they don’t have your finances or portfolio quality, are these people potentially screwing themselves up as they need to make some money every month or two from domaining to stay afloat?
It’s flattering that they want to follow my lead but remember they must have the quality of domains or it’s all folly.
The main reason I can demand the prices I get is because of quality and truly not because of my finances. My finances got strong because my portfolio and my sales ability were strong.
You can’t do what I do unless you have quality domains that are in demand. If you’re out there listing your domains on every platform on earth you can’t do what I do. Desperate people get desperate prices and results to match.
If your domain is in demand they will find you. Trying to find them is a difficult road.
Domain investing is about buying targeted digital intersections. Then waiting for the right prospect.
When you have successfully targeted enough digital intersections you will have a constant flow of inquiries.
Q8) A popular question on forums and Twitter is what does domaining look like 5 years from now? What does it look like to you?
Domaining five years from now is hard for me to fathom. I think what we are in the midst of is about understanding and acceptance.
People think I am against bitcoin because I compare those two assets. I compare domains to bitcoin because I see a common synergy.
One should fuel the other. But when it comes right down to it the way I look at the world, a great and meaningful domain name has more dimension than a bitcoin. I can’t control a bitcoin. It’s a market.
The value goes up and down and I have no control of that whatsoever. I can have a bitcoin and it’s a savings account. And I do own bitcoin. But I bought bitcoin from my profits on domain names.
And that’s my point when I sell domains I can buy bitcoin. And when bitcoin goes up people might want to think about liquidating some of their holdings and buy domains and I will explain why.
As I stated bitcoin goes up and down. But with the domain name, which is the foundation of the Internet to begin with, it’s not only a name.
It’s not only an asset. It is something that every dream in the world in the future is and will be built on. It has many dimensions.
Domains have power. Domains can be built and rebuilt. Invented and reinvented. Moved from one part of the world to another part of the world in a split second.
The two have Synergy but domains are so much more interesting! With domains and earnings, I can buy bitcoin. With bitcoin I can save. That’s the difference!
And my point is that I believe domains will overtake bitcoin within the next five years as the single biggest prize on earth. It’s been the biggest prize for decades already but it has never truly been discovered for the value and power and future and remaking abilities that it has.
There is simply no other investment on earth I’d rather be holding than domain names. That said they’re not liquid. Domains are far from liquid if you want to get top dollar.
But I’ve been around since four-figure sales were rare. Then five-figure sales were rare. Then 6-figure sales were rare. Then seven-figure sales were rare. And now we are having eight-figure sales and guess what…
They’re not so rare anymore! That’s what’s coming!
The value of my domains lived in value in 2020 higher and further than any other. My prices are as much as five times higher than they were one year ago.
I test and I test and I am aware of changes. ANY changes. I am patient enough to wait for a result.
The one test I am still waiting for a result on is Bitcoin vs the stock market. If the stock market were to crash would bitcoin? Would btc also crash because folks might be forced to sell bitcoin to cover their market losses and margin calls??
To be honest, bitcoin has not responded favorably in the past. So I’m waiting for the results of this current test. The market went from 18,000 to 31,500.
If it goes back to 18,000 does bitcoin go up, down sideways, and by how much? Those are the answers I am still waiting for.
Just because I have unanswered questions does not mean I am against something. But I have the patience to wait for a true and accurate result.
I am also looking at things like how much does investing in bitcoin take out of the stock market?
Remember, the majority of dollars sitting in bitcoin would have been going into the stock market and banks. It’s not!
Will it be enough to affect the markets? I don’t know, but I would be a fool not to ask that question and keep an eye on it.
Bitcoin is a threat to the Federal Reserve and directly competes with local currency. Bitcoin is a threat. No 2-ways about it and we don’t know what they will do to thwart the threat.
Q9) What do you tell the company that wants a one word domain name but can’t get the .com? Are they always making a mistake if they choose another extension? An example would be Pandora.com vs Pandora.net vs Pandora.TV
As I have stated for over 25 years .net is an orphan extension. It has no identity and never really has.
That said it’s a stronger choice than many of the others out there. And of course, I’m talking about the new gTLD‘s. I will take the .net over any new gTLD without hesitation.
Now of course I would always recommend a dotcom and if there’s any way you can do it, you get the.com. It makes your journey simpler and easier and more profitable.
But I would never ignore .tv if it makes sense. In other words, it has to be television-related. If it’s directly television or video or podcast related, I think in today’s ecosystem, .tv is a much stronger alternative than hundreds of other much weaker and less intuitive choices.
Extensions like .io and .co have gained steam over the last couple of years. But once they gain steam they do everything they can to get a dotcom upgrade.
Why? They know it is stunting their growth. They know they look weak. They know .com is the way to grow and be taken more seriously.
Anyone that believes they don’t lose traffic in business because they have a non-dotcom is simply a fool in my book. A FOOL!! BLIND! In denial!!
Now we can debate about how much is lost. We can debate about the confusion factor and if there’s a way to fix it.
We can debate a lot of the issues. But to think that it doesn’t come with the cost is a dereliction of duty.
You’re being blind to it and that means you’re not doing your job. So when you get a non-dotcom you have to figure out how to overcome those leaks and losses.
Anyone that ignores it, is a fool in my book and of course I AM NEVER AFRAID TO TELL THEM!
It’s a number. It can be anywhere from 10% to 100%. And that number whatever it is has to be factored in.
How do you run a business without factoring in all your expenses? If you have a retail store you have to factor in shrinkage.
You have to factor in security. You have to factor in returns. You have to factor in overhead. You don’t choose what to factor in but you do choose what to ignore.
Any business person that ignores any expense or any overhead is a fool. It’s a recipe for disaster. So until you put a REAL number on that loss, you have a gushing leak!!
That number should be a minimum 15% and from my experience and the experience of others, it’s easily 25%-50%. Can you run a successful business losing 25%-50% of customers to confusion??? NOPE! Nobody can!
And my biggest point of contention with GTLD operators is they don’t point out the pitfalls that end-users will have to deal with and that is weak and does a disservice to your potential customer.
That hurts your credibility and your future and it hurts all domain investors!
If you want to use a non-dotcom extension it’s wonderful. But you better damn well on the .com version of it so you don’t leak any of the traffic.
For those that own both, they know the number that leaks. They know! It’s the reason they upgrade.
Don’t be too cute with the masses. Simple is always the best way. Don’t invent the wheel.
They already tried square, triangular, rectangular, octagon, and every other thing that you can imagine. Round works!
Q10) Speaking of .tv as it’s an extension I have written about more than anyone on the planet, what are your thoughts on .TV?
Well, my thoughts on the TV are more positive today than they were in the past mostly because, One, it means something. Two, you’re not going to forget it. Three, And most importantly is the censorship on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and the like has been obscene and draconian.
They have forced literally millions of people off-line and when they come back, they are coming back with a domain name which gives them autonomy and independence with no mommy or daddy to put them out of business on a whim.
So anyone doing a podcast would certainly be safe using a.tv name. But again you still have to pick a good one. And when you go off script to a non .com domain you really have to go out of your way to stay with one word. Really have to go out of your way!
If I am looking at a keyword and the extension’s pop-up that are available, the ones I would most likely look at are .tv,.info,.co,.org, .io, and possibly .net.
Of the 1000 new gTLD’s there maybe one or two that emerges and embraced by consumers and business but it hasn’t happened yet and with the fog of fake registrations, account stuffing, penny registrations, and alike, it’s hard to even tell until the smoke clears if any will actually emerge.
8 YEARS and no clear leader?? NONE!!!! Really???
Let’s just look back and see for ourselves eight years ago .io meant nothing. 1000 new GTLD’s come along and none of them breakthrough but.io does?
That’s the takeaway. That’s the lesson! Follow the money. 1000 new gTLD’s got rejected and .io and .co emerged stronger than all of them combined!!!!
They are the stepping stones to success while the 1000 gTLD’s a re a stepping stone to failure!
There are diamonds, there are cubic zirconias, there’s Tanzanite, rubies, and emeralds and there are 200 other gemstones. But of the 200, only a few are “Precious”. Diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds.
Do you see a connection between these “Stones” and domains? You should. It’s pretty easy.
Diamonds lead the way. And then you have a handful of others that people like and are in demand.
But what happened to the hundreds of other stones? Little demand and little if any value. Millions of years have gone by and some have never appreciated it whatsoever.
It’s just another parallel that domains have. Dotcoms are the diamonds and those that trade the diamonds have always done the best. But of course, someone’s going to show me an example of one whatever stone, that was worth so much more than a diamond.
My answer to that is even a stopped clock is right twice a day. If you want to have the wind at your back, if you want to sleep well at night, if you want to invest in domains that will appreciate, be in demand, and have a greater and greater value, then don’t go too far off of the reservation.
Just because you started late doesn’t mean you have to start wrong!
.Com = Diamonds & Gold
.Co and .io, .tv, ccdld’s = Silver
.net = Bronze
.Whatever = Tin & Pot metal
“You build nightmares on gTLD Domains But there’s a solution… When you wake up from the nightmare, the dream is just a dot-Com away!”™ -Rick Schwartz
Domain investors need to stop complaining about WHEN they got in as an excuse for buying worthless pigeon shit regardless of the extension. Either you have a talent for picking domains of value or you don’t.
Plenty have come along in the past few years and made their mark while others have come and gone. Many have been around for decades and have portfolios with very little value.
So “When” is irrelevant. Knowing domains and where they are headed is what makes success.
Seizing opportunity by recognizing the opportunity is what creates success. If you don’t have those abilities, you could have gotten in domains in 1995 and you would have little to show.
Domaining is not about domains, it’s about business. It’s about understanding how business works.
Domains are a vehicle for sales. Sales are what run the planet.
A Good Domain Name is easy to remember. A GREAT Domain Name is hard to forget!
And yeah, just like the stock market or real estate investing you need MONEY!! But with domains, you need LESS money and get BIG rewards.
I focus on hand registered domains and aftermarket domains that cost under $2000. That’s my comfort level.
That’s where I see the best bargains with the biggest upside. It costs $8 to become a domain investor.
Not exactly a high bar! The high bar is not dollars, it’s recognizing domains of value vs domains with no value and no potential value. New words and terms are born daily. Keep your ears to the ground!
If they can’t build THEIR dream on YOUR domain name, don’t buy it!