Blogs about the domain industry and the various players and companies within it.

Freddy Schiwek Launches KeywordDomains

Freddy Schiwek Launches KeywordDomains

Freddy Schiwek, the CEO of Luxembourg based Domain Invest, just showed me his new website keyworddomains.com. It’s an impressive, simple to use marketplace that allows domain names to be bought and sold without any commissions.

Freddy has been involved in the domain industry for over a decade and I have the privilege of counting him as a good friend. Several years ago he took the bold step to raise a considerable amount of venture funding to build a substantial domain portfolio under the Domain Invest brand.

The portfolio now includes single word domains such as jewel.com and short domains like jdm.com….both of which are highly valuable. Whiskey.com is one example of a number of particularly high end brandable domains in the portfolio.

I asked Freddy why he built keyworddomains.com and he replied, “I wanted a website where it was really easy to buy and sell domains and where good quality domains didn’t get lost in the masses of sub-quality domains. The problem with many of the marketplaces is buyers find it difficult to find the high quality domains and this results in the good domains not getting the exposure they need to get sold.”

Since Keyword Domains doesn’t take a commission on sales then in my opinion there is very little downside to setting up and account and adding your own domains to the platform. Although don’t be surprised if any low quality domains are rejected……Freddy does seem to be focused on providing value to potential buyers.

Check out Keyword Domains at keyworddomains.com.

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Michael Gilmour has been in business for over 32 years and has both a BSC in Electronics and Computer Science and an MBA. He was the former vice-chairman of the Internet Industry Association in Australia and is in demand as a speaker at Internet conferences the world over. He has also recently published his first science fiction book, Battleframe.

Michael is passionate about working with online entrepreneurs to help them navigate their new ventures around the many pitfalls that all businesses face. Due to demands on his time, Michael may be contacted by clicking here for limited consulting assignments.

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Rightside - Quarterly Results are Ho-Hum...

Rightside - Quarterly Results are Ho-Hum...

I just listened to the Rightside quarterly reporting results webcast by CEO, Taryn Naidu. To summarise, there’s been some cost cutting and quarter on quarter growth is the same for the registrar business and declining for the registry and aftermarket.

Escrow.com

To be fair to the Aftermarket business it’s off a bumper third quarter and so the revenue of $9.3m isn’t a bad result when you consider it grew at 9% compared to Q3.

Verisign reported on 17 Dec 2015 that the number of domains registered worldwide across all TLDs has grown 5.2% year over year. The Rightside registrar business unit is growing at a sluggish 1.9% (up from 16m to 16.3m domains) by number of domains. Some questions need to be asked why the registrars are not even close to keeping pace with the natural global growth rate.

Rightside by Business unit

In terms of revenue, the registrar business grew by 2% in Q4 and overall for the year by 9%. It can be inferred that the increase has largely been off the back of TLD price hikes (eg. .net by 10% in Q1) which has resulted in an overall 3.7% increase in the average revenue per domain.

Rightside Growth Rates

The registry business revenue of $2.5m is still not having a large impact on the overall revenue and is unlikely to in the near future. It’s still early days but the decline in the quarter on quarter growth rate from a high of 45% in Q1 to 5% in Q4 must be concerning.

It was pointed out on the webcast that the benefits from the recent layoffs and some of the marketing efforts were not evident as yet. The jury is still out on the marketing initiatives but I believe the layoffs, although sad for those impacted, were a move in the right direction by the company.

During the webcast there seemed to be a large emphasis on China and how Rightside is poised to move aggressively into that market. Given the decline in growth in the new gTLDs it almost feels like Rightside is looking for the Chinese market to provide some of the sizzle to get investors interested in the capital valuation game again.

It will be interesting to see how this strategy will impact the bottom line. There’s a lot happening in the Chinese market but I’m unsure of the long-term sustainability of some of the numbers being reported.

Some people have suggested that I'm somehow against Rightside. This couldn't be further from the truth. It's a really good solid business that over the long-term will perform well. In my opinion, the challenge Rightside is facing is how to move from putting all their hopes in the new gTLD basket, that's not paying off fast enough, to something else.

I would suggest that rather than hope China dramatically impacts the bottom line that innovation is what tech-companies really do. This suggests, the investment community is looking for Rightside to announce something "interesting" that has a lot of growth potential.....time will only tell whether my thinking is right or not.

As always, before making any investment decisions please seek your own professional advice.

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Michael Gilmour has been in business for over 32 years and has both a BSC in Electronics and Computer Science and an MBA. He was the former vice-chairman of the Internet Industry Association in Australia and is in demand as a speaker at Internet conferences the world over. He has also recently published his first science fiction book, Battleframe.

Michael is passionate about working with online entrepreneurs to help them navigate their new ventures around the many pitfalls that all businesses face. Due to demands on his time, Michael may be contacted by clicking here for limited consulting assignments.

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Escow.com Launches New Website

Escow.com Launches New Website

A couple of days ago I was speaking with Jackson Elsegood (General manager of Escrow.com) and he indicated that the company was just about to release a completely revamped website and user interface. The wait is over as it's just hit the production servers.

I noticed a few things immediately. The first is that it really looks slick and stylishly modern. Secondly, I pulled my cell phone out and was pleasantly surprised to find that it's completely mobile friendly via a responsive template (see PC and iPhone capture below). I'm sure that this will make a number of people very happy!

Escrow.com

Escrow.com mobile

As soon as I logged in I was faced with what appeared to be an older style web interface that I'm sure will be further revamped over time. What is new is that there is a "type of transaction" field that once selected will streamline the transaction and make it a lot easier to manage....this is a BIG improvement.

For those of us that are doing business with Chinese buyers and sellers the entire website has now been translated into Chinese. What's even better is Chinese speaking support staff are available as well to help speed transactions through.

This appears to be the beginning of a lot of changes at Escrow.com that will really benefit end users. Escrow.com provides a vital service to the domain community and helps facilitate secure transactions between the buyer and seller. I'm looking forward to seeing future updates at the company as it cements it role in the domain eco-system.

Escrow.com is inviting feedback on the design changes. I'm sure they would welcome any comments or suggestions.

(Full disclosure - Escrow.com is a sponsor of whizzbangsblog)

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Michael Gilmour has been in business for over 32 years and has both a BSC in Electronics and Computer Science and an MBA. He was the former vice-chairman of the Internet Industry Association in Australia and is in demand as a speaker at Internet conferences the world over. He has also recently published his first science fiction book, Battleframe.

Michael is passionate about working with online entrepreneurs to help them navigate their new ventures around the many pitfalls that all businesses face. Due to demands on his time, Michael may be contacted by clicking here for limited consulting assignments.

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Fix the Problem Enom!

Fix the Problem Enom!

There are a number of basics to business. The first is that you remember to collect the money and the second is to never forget the customer. It just so happens that for quite some time registrar, Enom, has forgotten both of these.

Escrow.com

You'll have to excuse the little rant.......About 2 weeks ago I went to top up my account for my domain renewals. It’s a regular thing that I do and I wasn’t expecting any surprises. After clicking the “submit” button I was presented with the server error page below.

Enom Error

I’ve been around technology for a long time so although the error was annoying I wasn’t that phased by it. A couple of weeks later I decided to try adding money to my account again and I received exactly the same error. You would think that after a couple of weeks (at least) that any problems with the payment system would have been resolved.

Sighing to myself I dialled the help desk number and after pressing a series of buttons to select technical support I waited on the international call for around 15 minutes until I finally gave up. I then recalled the number and selected the options for sales support……20+ minutes later I was finally speaking to a support desk person.

They were actually quite helpful and indicated that my credit card had expired and that I needed to add the date to the profile part of the Enom system. I was a little confused by this as I said that each time I added my credit card for the payment I put in the correct expirey date and received the error page.

The person said they have known about the problem for a long time and that for some reason the expiry date for the credit card is pulled from the profile and not from the form you just filled in for payment……go figure?

I politely suggested that someone should really fix an error that crashes the website and the support person became…how shall I say…..less than helpful. Maybe he was just a little frustrated with the tech-teams lack of bug fixing....who knows? I suggested that I blog about my experience and point out to other Enom customers how to get around the problem and the support person thought that was a great idea.

What I would like to know is how long this problem has been going on for and why the heck the support people haven’t communicated to the development team about it? It’s clear that the support people have a work around….so the question has to be asked, why hasn’t Enom’s CTO fixed a problem that strikes at the heart of revenue collection?

Since Enom is holding the valuable assets of a lot of domainers…..what would happen if some of these domains began to drop because people couldn’t get onto the support team for the magic work around? My guess is there would be a lot of law suits flying around.

So Enom, my advice is to stop procrastinating and fix the problem rather than waiting around for a disaster to happen. It improves revenue, customer experience and stops potential legal issues.

In the meantime, if you are an Enom customer the work around is to update the date in your profile for your credit card before adding it again into the payments page.

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Michael Gilmour has been in business for over 32 years and has both a BSC in Electronics and Computer Science and an MBA. He was the former vice-chairman of the Internet Industry Association in Australia and is in demand as a speaker at Internet conferences the world over. He has also recently published his first science fiction book, Battleframe.

Michael is passionate about working with online entrepreneurs to help them navigate their new ventures around the many pitfalls that all businesses face. Due to demands on his time, Michael may be contacted by clicking here for limited consulting assignments.

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Rightside - What are you doing?

Rightside - What are you doing?

Due to being a publicly listed company, Rightside, is a really interesting case study of the entire domain industry and in particular the new gTLD space. The company has accumulated enough domains that it is a good representative sample of the domain space.

So back in November last year I conducted an analysis of Rightside wrote an article (click here) that predicted there would be layoffs. I stated:

Eventually, the investors will come in and hack the expense line to pieces (ie. fire lots of people) to get the profits up since their returns are unlikely to come from capital growth.

I really didn’t want to be a prophet of gloom and doom but several days ago Rightside downsized by 6%. I am deeply sorry to those people that lost their jobs….it’s never a fun experience to suddenly find yourself without a pay check.

Escrow.com

It’s clear that Rightside needed to get their costs under control and generate some profit for the investors. Sadly, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was another round of layoffs towards the middle of the year. The reason why I believe this is that fundamentally nothing has changed with the business.

The registry business is still a very small part of the overall revenue. nTLDstats shows that the new gTLD space is essentially following a linear line to the right and not exhibiting any sort of geometric growth. In fact, it could be argued that the Rightside registry has slowed down growth over the last few days…..but the data around this is inconclusive as yet.

It was originally hoped that the registry was where the company was going to get all of its sizzle from with the market. To get a good exit for some of the early investors Rightside really needed to move into playing the capital value game versus the incremental profit model to provide some sort of investor return.

The staff reduction is clearly an attempt for the management team to buy time for the cumulative effect of the registry business to ultimately have an impact on the bottom line. Such a move would have meant the board (which has a number of investors) is now resigned to play the long-term game prior to exiting their positions. This must of been quite disheartening.....

As I said in my previous post,Rightside needs some new technology that will rapidly scale. This means that any idea that involves either a long corporate sales cycle or a change in consumer mentality is out. The management team doesn’t have the time for the first nor the resources to tackle the second option.

I have a few ideas on how to do really scale but they would require a recognition that the current strategy is not delivering the results that are really required for big returns. Don’t get me wrong, in the long-term, Rightside will produce some great results….the challenge is whether the market will allow the company the time to continue moving forward in the same manner.

I should say that I do not own any shares in Rightside and would recommend that you seek professional advice prior to investing in any company.

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Michael Gilmour has been in business for over 32 years and has both a BSC in Electronics and Computer Science and an MBA. He was the former vice-chairman of the Internet Industry Association in Australia and is in demand as a speaker at Internet conferences the world over. He has also recently published his first science fiction book, Battleframe.

Michael is passionate about working with online entrepreneurs to help them navigate their new ventures around the many pitfalls that all businesses face. Due to demands on his time, Michael may be contacted by clicking here for limited consulting assignments.

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Recent Comments
nameopps
This is sobering, Michael, since Rightside are in my neck of the woods (no more layoffs). Your analysis lays bare the guts being s... Read More
28 January 2016
mgilmour
I agree with you completely.....the acceptance of the new gTLDs by general users has been grossly underestimated by the majority o... Read More
28 January 2016
mgilmour
That's a big challenge that will take a LOT of cash!
28 January 2016
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4 Comments