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Domain Names Are the Stars of Tinseltown Conference

Last week I was in Hollywood, California attending and speaking at DOMAINfest 2008, one of the domain industry’s two big conferences. Attendance was up this year with nearly 700 people attending from more than 25 countries. Many of the attendees were domainers (domain name investors) looking to buy, sell, and network.

I attended a number of sessions over the course of the event and thought I’d share a few highlights:

"Domain Names and the Law"

Domain name legal expert John Berryhill cautioned domain owners to be wary of vaguely worded purchase inquiries that don’t explicitly offer to buy the domain; they could be lawyers representing trademark holders who are trolling with a different agenda (e.g. gathering info for a future legal claim against the unsuspecting domain owner).

Berryhill says, "The best trademark search tool is Google," as opposed to relying on official trademark databases.

"Domainers Town Hall with Frank Schilling"

This session was a Q&A with Frank Schilling, one the most famous and successful domainers in the world. Here are some choice quotes from Frank:

  • "Domain names ARE the Internet."
  • "There’s no shelf life on domain names…domains are like Cognac" – on domain names as assets.
  • Owners of even just ten domains will be the media companies of the future."

When asked, Frank said he owns about 370,000 domain names that are managed as a business by a small team of five, including himself and his wife.

"Understanding the Big Picture"

Monty Cahn from Moniker provided some insights into the overall strength of the domain industry. Cahn says 70% of Internet users are using direct navigation (typing a domain into the browser address window) to get to a site. He also predicts that aftermarket (previously-owned) domain name sales will be a $1 billion business in 2010. Cahn estimates that also by 2010, 240 million domain names will have been registered. For reference, that’s about double the amount that are registered today.

(My Tucows colleague James Koole helped with this report.)