Michael Castello – How Domaining Has Changed

michaelcastello

I always value the opinions and experience of those who have done great things in the domain industry.  Hearing and learning from their experiences is a great way to save time and improve your chances for success.  It’s been years since I last asked the Castello brothers, founders of CCIN, for insight on the domain industry.  Years have gone by and Michael Castello recently gave me his views on the industry of today, how things have change and what opportunities lie ahead.

 

Sully: How has the industry changed since you began? What’s better, what is not?

Michael: When I started in 1994 the industry was non-existent. Most people believed the internet was a fad. There were some that believed the internet was going to be a virtual place for everyone to dwell in. With that thought, there had to be some insight into future technologies that were not available at the time. 23 years later, virtual reality has advanced along with the broadband that would be needed to deliver it. We now have far greater access to mechanical and electrical devices that are cost effective. With a greater public need, comes innovation and the money and investment needed to make those realities for the masses available.

I believe true destiny cannot be circumvented, only delayed. I feel just as strongly about personal empowerment with domain names as I did in the early 90s. There is so much opportunity for humankind with the evolving web, likewise there is the propensity of those, with power and money, to try to control that momentum. Several have taken control of that available technology like, Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook. While many see these tech titans as beneficial to their immediate livelihoods, the sacrifice for that control is undermining to the overall freedoms we should be preserving for our future growth into the web. There is a kind of technological communism taking hold which aligns those freedoms to be manifest in just a few companies. In my opinion, they wield it in unfair business practices. We may be happy with user friendly apps, cheaper prices and delivery, free traffic data, free analytics, free google maps, free translators, free music, but at what cost? Many small businesses and entrepreneurs are finding it too high of a hurdle to create a business without having a cost-effective return.

How can a business compete with a company like Amazon that can sell millions of items for billions of penny profits while it takes a smaller company thousands of quarters to survive? The answer is, they can’t.  America’s 26th President, Teddy Roosevelt, saw the heavy burden that the industrial titans of that era brought upon the working class and used the Sherman Anti-Trust laws to offer relief. I’m sure in the late 1800’s many people appreciated what Rockefeller offered America with oil, Carnegie with steel, Vanderbilt with his railroad, JP Morgan with banking and Edison with electricity. But at some point, they controlled such vast power and money that something and someone had to bring back balance to that burgeoning capitalistic system. I can see the same parallels of abuse with the growth and propagation of the today’s web and technology.

 

Sully: What is your opinion of the new TLDs. Do they add value to the industry or is it just additional clutter?

 

Michael: in 2014, I wrote this sentence in my Call to Action article on Rick Schwartz’s blog:

Domain Industry Call to Action

“The new gTLDs are here, and I have resigned myself to them while seeing a silver-lining, which I believe is going to be very helpful to our industry.”

I feel there is no way around the fact that when you produce a lot of something, it devalues it. For the new gTLDs to produce a similar phenomenon as .com, ICANN would have to allow for every word to become an extension, and further, each of those extensions would have to be developed and advertised to the tune of trillions of dollars. Most people, when they hear or see the .com extension, understand that its definition means “on the internet”. That is truly revolutionary and linguistic in its global banding and marketing. Any method that tries to reteach the masses that .com is something else, and a new (dot)something is better, is just not going to work and will be very confusing. The money, development and infrastructure of that logic, is just not there, nor it will be.

For the new nTLDs to succeed, there needs to be greater understanding that there is a hierarchy in the way people find each other. In terms of domain names, .com is the gold standard and global. The other extensions DO have a place in smaller circles. Those circles or niches have a lot more control over their believers in the name.game. Some of the new extensions will be successful. But until it is understood that a niche domain name can then elevate to a greater extension, there will be confusion. As an example; Whisky.de worked very well in Germany and parts of Europe. As the company grew, it wanted greater reach for its business and acquired Whisky.com. They still use both extensions. It works, and there is simple clarity.

The fact that ICANN is allowing for thousands of new extensions makes them important. How valuable, is up to the public.  They may not always propagate across software, email or browsers, but the fact anyone can type golf.club into a URL and reach a location; that is fantastic.

 

Sully: Back in 2010 I asked you the follow, and this was your answer. What is your reaction to that today?

Sully 2010: What is your vision of the internet and domaining industry in the next 5 – 10 years? What will it look like in 10 years from now?

MAC 2010 – Well, I lose in either way I express this. In ten years the world will probably look nothing like is does now. These are historical times. The upside is that everyone will be trying to survive using the most basic and effective means available to them. The internet will be much more like a virtual world with communities and niches that benefit those of like-mindedness. There will also be consolidation amongst those that moved early in the game foreseeing those social impulses that will emerge from people’s needs and empowerment. Domaining and the development therein is what will help empower many people and businesses alike.

Michael:   The world is far different than 2010 and the next year will be even crazier. When I wrote;

“There will also be consolidation amongst those that moved early in the game foreseeing those social impulses that will emerge from people’s needs and empowerment.” You only have to look at where Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook were 10 years ago and see that is now a reality.

When I wrote; “The upside is that everyone will be trying to survive using the most basic and effective means available to them.” Many who were thriving in the early 2000s are either dissolved, acquired or waging an attractional war to survive. Many more people are living week to week.

The caveat to my statement is this; The world has changed a great deal. Back in 2008 at NYC TRAFFIC, I spoke about the coming storm and that a great domain was your safe harbor. America has added 10 trillion to its debt since then, more then all debt combined since its creation. Since 2012, America has more debt than its Gross Domestic Product. https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/GFDEGDQ188S

That is one hell of a problem. The larger corporations may find that their underbelly is exposed to a collapse of consumer confidence. They need a stable consumer base to thrive. That may be an opportunity for those that need less to succeed.

I see the potential collapse of many country/state economies, a distrust among its citizens, and a sense of anarchy. If “all hell breaks loose” most people will be relying more on the internet than ever before. The ARPnet (the internet) was built to withstand nuclear war. It has a way of rerouting around a problem area to get information to its destination. That works well for the future. The Internet will survive and thrive and we will eventually immerse more into it for economic survival and our entertainment. Gaming will become a larger part of reality and virtual reality. It could take 5 years or 50 years, but it is going to happen.

 

Sully: Have you attended any domain conferences recently? Why or why not?

Michael:  OK, I’ll say it. I just don’t have as much passion with the business as I have had in the past. I’ve wanted others to replicate the successes I’ve had. I found over the years that people will do what they want anyways. I don’t need to speak at a conference to achieve that. Articles like this one will live on into the future. I’ve offered several articles, from the past in this article that I could just as well have written today. I find that people want to create their own success and legacy. Success is measured on an individual basis.

My happiness is in creating and selling domain names and businesses. When I sold Rate.com last year, I was ecstatic to see the way it was being used and advertised in national campaigns. Rate.com had the impact and reach that I had always felt it did. That is the best way to teach of a domain name’s effectiveness and success. That is reality.

At one of the conferences, I had a gentleman come to me as asked me for domain advice. He had paid $40k on the new extensions and his renewals were coming up. He couldn’t afford another $40k. He had not sold one domain name. He was in his 70s and all I could think of is why he was spending so much so late in life. Much of the business is not only investing in quality but also in being able to afford to hold on for many years. I didn’t like having to give him the advice I did.  It was painful but was also a lesson-learned on the reality of risk in this business.

The conferences these days seem to be more about the new extensions. No doubt, hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent promoting them. I have not bought one. I really don’t have much to offer at these gatherings.

 

Sully: What advice would you give to someone new to the domain industry today?

 

Michael:  In 2006, I wrote this.

“The domain name market is still a gold mine! Get a second mortgage, sell the family jewelry! If you can find a premium name that relates to your business for less than $100,000, buy it! With an hour’s work a day you could have an imprint on that market in two years. Be the master of your own universe.”

I still believe that today. Building a website that you enjoy with a source of income is still attainable. Create unique content daily, and offer what others can’t. That usually entails putting your time and energy into creating something of value. Your time, thought and energy are valuable and you have an endless amount of it. Convert it into something that is yours, and control your destiny.

A .com great name will retain and grow in value-that’s a no-brainer. Build a successful business on top of it. The sky is the limit. I see very little risk in a single word domain like Manicure.com or Nashville.com. I paid $100,000 for Nashville.com back in 2002. It was after the .com bust, but for me it was not a risk. I already had almost a decade of making money from domain names. $100k is a lot of money but many of us would buy a nice car or house for as much or more. Imagine buying a house that pays for itself. That is unique.

 

The new extensions are a market within a market. There is value but also risk. When I started in this business, domain names were free. A lot has changed since then but the fundamental strategies of success are still in place. Learn for those that have made a living from domain names. I can name ten people off the top of my head that are very successful in the domain name arena, and they most likely would give you their advice and attention if you asked for it. Listen to them.

 

Anyone can buy a domain name, that doesn’t make you a successful entrepreneur until you and your family can live off that domain name year after year.

Follow up on my experience with Efty

Here is a follow up on my experience with Efty, the domain management platform.  Shortly after interviewing Doron, I started my free trial on the site.  I added just one domain name to my account there.  It was a hand registered name that I purchased within the past year, and admittedly, it was a pretty good name.  There are at least two books that share the same title and it’s a name I’m considering using to launch another blog.  The interesting point is, within a week, I received a serious inquiry, generated by my Efty landing page, from one of the book authors that shares the name.

She was very interested in the name.  We went back and forth a few times and I had a minimum value in mind that we just couldn’t agree on.  It’s a name that I decided I wasn’t going to let go of easily because I have a vision for it.  Will I ever act on that vision?  I don’t know, but I see more value in it than I was being offered.  The deal didn’t happen.  But it gave me some excitement around the potential for Efty.

Based on my single experience with one name (and a good name at that), I decided to add about 50 other hand registered names to Efty.  I went in knowing that the first name I listed was the best of the lot, but I wanted to see what type of results I got with even more names listed.  I quickly added the names and went about my business.  About three weeks passed with no activity.  I wasn’t surprised or disappointed.   I wasn’t expecting miracles.

Then I received another offer sent via my landing page for a domain I hand registered just three months earlier.  It was a name I registered based on an idea I was kicking around with some friends.  One I wasn’t as attached to.  After some back and forth, we agreed on $1,500.  The buyer paid me through PayPal and I transferred the domain through GoDaddy.  Transaction took all of 30 minutes to complete.

Another week goes by and a new offer comes in on a name I registered a couple years back.  I’m still in negotiations on this name so I won’t go into too much detail.  The offer came in through my Efty landing page.

My luck has pretty good in the short time that I’ve been using Efty.  The service paid for itself, and then some, with that first sale.  It’s easy to use, easy to update, and has some great features.  In fact I’m not even using all of the features yet.   I attribute the activity to the visually pleasing landing pages that allow for communication between the buyer and seller.  There are no annoying links to suggested sites based on your domain name.  It’s clean and simple.

I’ll continue to report on my progress with Efty over the coming months.  If you have any experiences to share, please leave a comment to share with the rest of us.

 

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.Legal vs .Law

dotlaw

Paul Saputo is an accomplished Texas criminal defense lawyer, currently representing clients in Dallas, Houston, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Austin and many other Texas locations. As the Saputo Law Firm’s principal criminal lawyer, he leads the Saputo Law Firm’s lawyers in providing high-level state and federal criminal defense and trial representation with client-focused, one-on-one customer service.

You may recall an interview I posted a couple of weeks ago with an attorney who chose to use the dot legal TLD for his website.  Well, Paul has chosen the shorter, dot law TLD and has shared some thoughts with me about his decision.  His site can be found at saputo.law.

 

Mike: What made you decide to choose a dot law name over a dot com?

Paul: There were several reasons I chose a dot law domain. First of all, my desired dot com was unavailable. I wanted an easy-to-brand domain name, and the dot law was much more brand-friendly. Secondly, I thought having the dot law would add credibility to my domain since it would make it obvious that I was a lawyer. And lastly, I felt that the dot law would force people to stop and think about it since it’s unusual. And that extra thought might make them more likely to remember me.

 

Mike: Have your clients taken to the domain name? Has there been any confusions on if the domain is saputolaw.com which appears to be in use by another law firm?

Paul: Everyone seems to like the dot law TLD, and I have not had anyone tell me they were confused. I have, however, had difficulty with some web forms that don’t recognize the dot law as a valid TLD when I enter my email or domain name.

 

Mike: As a criminal defense attorney, what is one piece of advice or law that you think all Americans should be aware of?

Paul: Everyone can be accused of any crime at any time. You don’t have to do anything wrong. Even for that reason alone, we should all care much more than we currently do about the criminal defendant. It is not, despite clever marketing campaigns, the job of the police to “protect and serve.” The job of the police is to investigate reports of criminal activity and then to make arrests. The police are in the business of arresting you. Your criminal defense lawyer is in the business of protecting and serving you.

 

Mike: How has your domain name been treated by Google?

Paul: Google has treated me very well – no problems at all. It’s hard to compare the performance to a dot com since I’m focusing on my one website, but I certainly haven’t noticed any problems.

 

Mike: In your opinion are the new TLDs such as .law helpful to consumers and business as a whole? Why or why not?

Paul: I think the new TLDs are helpful to everyone. The new TLDs make it easier to establish a brand identity, and this is helpful to everyone. Trademark protection was created for this very reason – allowing consumers to easily identify the source of a product or service creates an opportunity to build trust between business and consumers, which is helpful for both at the same time.

 

Mike: Being a lawyer, how important is it for you to have an online presence?

Paul: Having a good online presence is more important to some practice areas than others. If your practice is consumer-focused, then you have to give consumers a reliable source of information about yourself. If your practice is based more on referrals from other lawyers or from businesses, then chances are those people are not searching the internet for you. Those people already know who to ask.

 

Mike:  Why did you choose .law over .legal? Any advantage to one over the other?

Paul: The dot legal domain adds two characters. There is no added benefit to the two characters, so I think it’s a waste.

 

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What is everyone around me doing right now?

dot social

Mack Hasz is a 22 year old raised in Malvern, PA. He’s a recent Virginia Tech graduate who had an idea for an app. As a freelance Software Developer living in Arlington, VA, he decided to put his idea into action and created OutHere. His website is OutHere.social

 

Mike: What inspired you to create the app?

Mack: OutHere is an idea I conceived when I was a sophomore in college spending the summer in Blacksburg, Virginia. Life moves pretty slow in a college town in the summer and I kept thinking “What is everyone around me doing right now?”. I wanted to be able to get a general snapshot of what was happening at this very moment. There are other services out that tried to do that, but none to my liking. The problem is that these services allow any ‘ol picture to be upload, usually resulting in meme like being shared. I wanted to see what was happening in real life. The closest thing to what I wanted was Snapchat city stories, where this app draws heavy inspiration. I enjoyed seeing what the community was doing and it was cool to see my posts be a part of the story. However, it didn’t do enough of what I wanted and I saw many ways to improve upon the idea.

 

Mike: Tell me about the app. What makes it unique?

Mack: OutHere is a public social network. Your typical social app is inherently private, allowing you to connect with family and friends. OutHere, you connect with the world. There is no direct interaction with other users. You don’t send send anyone anything. You simply take a picture or video and put it “OutHere” for the world to see. All media is taken straight from the phone’s camera. Arbitrary uploads are not allowed. This guarantees authenticity. That moment you are viewing wasn’t photoshopped or edited, it was real and it happened. Furthermore all posts are tagged by geolocation with the city they were taken in. This results in you being able to search and discover places that interest you most.

 

Mike: You selected the name outhere.social as opposed to a traditional dot com name. Tell me why you chose a non dot com and specifically the social TLD.

Mack: I’m a big fan of the non dot com domains. They are alluring and for sure stand out more than a normal .com would. I went with .social to be different, hoping to attract more visitors. I specifically chose .social because it fits my app pretty well and it sounds inviting and friendly, like a “come hangout” vibe.

 

Mike: Did you write the app yourself? How hard is it to code something like this?

Mack: Yes, I wrote the front and backend which came out to nearly 25,000 lines of code. The level of difficulty depends on how experienced you are as a programmer. I was lucky to start this project with 4 years of university under my belt. If I were a beginner programmer and learning coding from scratch, this would be quite an ambitious project. I already knew good coding practices so all I had to pick up was the Swift programming language syntax and come to understand the iOS UIKit API. There are a ton of great resources available for free online which I was able to use to my benefit. All in all the app wasn’t too challenging and I reckon most seasoned iOS developers will be able to implement something like this rather quickly.

 

Mike: What is the first thing a person should do when they have an idea for an app?

Mack: It’s important to look at the competition. What’s already out there? Why are they successful? What do you do differently? You can see where your app fits into the ecosystem. Either there is a killer shark waiting to eat you up or you’ve discovered a new species.

 

Mike: Do you anticipate any challenges with a dot social name? Customer confusion, people not knowing what dot social is?

Mack: I am not sure how knowledgable the public is of other domain names. They have only recently come out and I know most of my non-tech friends don’t know what they are. Regardless of wether they know it or not, they do not that text in blue and underlined are links that take them to other websites. As long as that holds true I should be OK. Over time consumers will become more aware and I should observe a long term benefit.

 

Mike: What means can one use to promote a new app and get the word out about it?

Mack: This is a good question and one I’m still trying to figure out! I am finding this the most difficult part of the process. How can I get the app into the hands of as many people as possible for as little as possible? So far I have done very little marketing, just a Facebook post to friends. I’m thinking I’ll have to pay for some sort of advertising, I just need to figure out what is most effective. This being a mobile app, it makes sense to advertise to mobile users. I’m working out all kinks, but I do know that blog entries certainly help!

 

Mike: How important is it to have a website supporting your app?

Mack: It’s crucial to have a website that goes along with your app. It’s what makes your idea shareable. Maybe you start showing up in some search engines, maybe your website gets shared on a forum somewhere, or maybe a coworker sends the link over the work list serve. Before you know it, your app has gone viral. This is not possible if you don’t have a website supporting your app. Another factor to consider is that any people, including myself, don’t want to download another app to add to their growing arsenal of already downloaded apps. It’s important to have a place on the web where they can easily check things out and learn more about the app. If the website is effective, then it should lead to more downloads. I have made my site a preview of what goes on in the app with the idea being that people will see some interesting posts, maybe think of some posts of their own to add, and then hit download.

 

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Is dot TV Normal?

dot tv

Ginny Scales Medeiros was raised in upstate New York and now resides in the San Francisco North Bay. Ginny is an entrepreneur with multiple patents/trademarks. Ginny’s product widely sold in World Class spa resorts and on QVC, made appearances on NBC, CBS, FOX News and written about in many national magazines. This is Ginny’s first novel. “What Is Normal?” made the 2012 top 40 most inspirational list in Gladys Magazine.

 

Mike: Your product is a book, and your domain has a TV tld. Tell me why you chose dot TV?

Ginny: I chose .TV on purpose because it gives a subliminal impression of Entertainment. I am selling my novel from www.whatisnormal.tv

FACT: .TV has nothing to do with television; it is the country code for the Tuvalu Islands, a series of nine slivers of earth in the middle of the South Pacific, with a population of about 10,000.

 

Mike: Tell me about the book, what is it about?

Ginny: Based on a true story about a girl, living in a trailer with her uneducated, teenage parents- in the backwoods who craves More!. Realizing the game her uncle plays with her and her sister is wrong, Sue, has to out smart him,to get out of the game. Moving out on her own at 15,making Headline News with record breaking car sales in a Man’s world, Sue must hang tuff, as the jealous men are sure she is sleeping with her customers in order to make so many sales, the office woman with college degrees, resent giving a high school drop out ,paychecks exceeding their own.. Sues quest to WIN, chasing the worlds idea of normal, she lands the guy all the other woman wants, invents and sells her own product on QVC, still there is a void… Now, with time running out, Sue Johnson has to completely stop drinking, or she will continue to mask her true feelings and repeat the infinite task of trying to “WIN” the worlds idea of success, missing the opportunity for real LOVE.

 

Mike: I see whatisnormal.com is owned by someone else and is for sale. Did you try contacting them for the name to see what the asking price was?

Ginny: I have been contacted many times by the owner of whatisnormal.com offering it to me, I am not interested… because .coms are NORMAL!

 

Mike: Has owning a TV domain caused any confusion as opposed to something like WhatisNormalBook.com?

Ginny: I have not received feedback about any confusion with my .tv versus the norm .com and in my case it is more than a book. It will also open the door for the MOVIE based on the book.

 

Mike: As an author, how important is it to have a domain name and website for your book?

Ginny: As an author it is imperative to have a website for my novel. Many an opportunity has manifested in a rushed setting and all I can get out is whatisnormal.tv. The prospect can read more about the book and contact me with just that little,yet very important information. I do get contacted for radio and TV appearances, as well as making book sales from this website.

 

Mike: I see you are also an entrepreneur and hold several patents. Can you tell me about some of your products? Anything I would be familiar with?

Ginny: I patented, pitched and sold “Flawless sunless tanning” on QVC and in World Class Spa Resorts. I am also in a documentary https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ginny_Scales-Medeiros and a co author with many celebrities of “What is The Electric car?”

*MY Laser focus now is turning the Screen Play for my novel into the MOVIE “WIN” the acronym for “What is Normal?” the project is ready for investors.. (I pitched WIN at the Napa Valley Film Festival a few months ago and it made the finals)

 

Mike: Any advice for aspiring writers out there?

Ginny: Every day plant a seed in the Garden of your dreams….. Quote by Ginny Scales Medeiros

MEANING: Do “something” daily to encourage another to manifest their dream, make that call to get advise on your dream, follow up on a lead, do some research , edify another author, promote a book for someone else.

 

 

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