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

Fallout From the DN.com Disaster

Fallout From the DN.com Disaster

One of the most important things that any escrow business needs to do is keep up and running for its customers. The whole essence of being an escrow company is that you are the trusted partner between two or more organisations that don’t really know each other. Providing an escrow service is all about doing trusted transactions.

It just so happens Thursday last week the Chinese escrow company DN.COM was taken off the air by the Chinese government. Clients who were midway through escrow transactions had no way of finding out what was going on and large sums of money were left in limbo.

Eventually, DN.com sent out an email that indicated the problem was caused by a change in the entity of the business.

dn.com email

I must admit that there is a frightening chain of events that really strike at the heart of being an escrow business. For a start, escrow is all about being really careful with other people’s money….and as I said in the opening paragraph, it’s about trust. It’s all about being very detailed, focused and losing sleep over a rounding error in a transaction.

To have the business effectively shutdown by the government shows that it's everything but focused on the details. It makes you wonder what else is being forgotten along the way in any escrow transactions….which brings up another point.

How do you become an escrow agent in some of these jurisdictions? In most western economies, escrow is a serious business that is highly regulated by the government to ensure that all parties are protected, even in the situation where there is a failure of the business.

My understanding (and I could be corrected) is that these types of controls are not in effect in the Chinese market. What this means is that funds transferred to a Chinese escrow agent may be used for working capital, rather than being held in trust. If for any reason the business struggles, then the funds used to pay for goods may also be used to prop it up. The business may choose not to do this but there is no governing body that they are accountable to as an escrow agent. This effectively means the business is actually NOT providing any escrow but IS just a middleman swapping money between parties.

There’s a really good reason why Escrow.com spends an absolute fortune on compliance. As well as being legal, this process provides buyers and sellers with the confidence and trust that their chosen escrow service is looking after their transactions.

Now here’s where the whole DN.com business gets really nasty. It just so happens that a scam website dnd.com created a mirror of the DN.com website (prior to it going down). Google indexed the pages and when it came up in the search listings customers could mistakenly click on dnd.com and think that it was DN.com. They would then enter their username and password into the scam system…..I think you get the rest.

dnd.com scam

So whatever you do right now, if you are a customer of DN.com…..update your password! Also, if you use the same password elsewhere, first of all hit your head on your desk a number of times and repeat, “I’m an idiot” each time. Then go and update all of your passwords at any financial institutions so they are different.

To be very clear....I don't have anything against DN.com and I find that it's terrible that a disreputable organisation decided to take advantage of their predicament. At the same time, DN.com's problems were ultimately of their own making.....hopefully they've learned a few lessons so this doesn't happen in the future.

As a side note, I’m very selective about who I let sponsor my blog. The reason why I’m proud to have Escrow.com as one of my sponsors is because they’ve developed a high level of trust over many years by making sure they are compliant to all governmental authorities. I know who I use for my escrow….

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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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mgilmour
Hi Echo/DN.com, I do appreciate your comment. It is valued, respected and more than welcome. It's never a good thing for any busin... Read More
18 March 2016
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Domainers Meet Dubai

Domainers Meet Dubai

On April 23 & 24, Domainers Meet, will be held in Dubai. It’s really shaping up to be a great event with speakers flying in from all over the world to share their intimate knowledge of the domain industry.

Escrow.com

I have the pleasure speaking on, “Domain Name Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow”. It’s a really broad topic and provides a huge amount of scope to really take a look at the history of domain investing and what the future is likely to look like. I must admit that I’m really excited about the conference and I’m looking forward to meeting a lot of new domain investors from that area of the world.

DomainersMeet Dubai

The conference is being held at the prestigious Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek. Dubai is noted for its incredible modern architecture and some of the pictures on the Radisson’s website look absolutely stunning.

If you haven’t booked your ticket to Domainers Meeting in Dubai then I would encourage you to do so. I think that it will be a great event that, like DomainFest Macau, will provide a refreshingly new perspective for domain investors. You can book tickets at http://domainersmeet.com

I will keep you abreast of new announcements from DomainerMeet as get closer to the event. In the meantime, I hop to see you there!

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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.

Recent Comments
mgilmour
Awesome! I look forward to seeing you there :-)
07 March 2016
whizzbang
I plan to attend this conference and hope to meet you in person.
07 March 2016
dnalogic
Thanks to easy air travel from Singapore and cheap/good hotels, this seems like a no-brainer visit. Looking forward to it.
07 March 2016
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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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