Series - Busting dot IN myths!


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Foreword -

After the recent rant of mine via a post in the Lounge section I was surprised to see that as a mere coincidence 4-5 days later another self styled "KING" made of course very famous by an enviable record of investing in COMs and selling them for 8 figures (unless I cannot count zeros) post similar messages on his blog...I never followed him ever and as a webmaster he started out in this space a good 6-7 years after me...but made a killing and is rightfully the holder of the crown, which is even trade marked.

Background -

My education and experience led me up a corporate path with very little time flying between Fortune 50 clients managing and advising them on Enterprise Transformation, New Product Introduction (NPI) and Go to Market (GTM) strategies. Domain investing was something I stumbled upon moonlighting and building e-businesses way before was even registered. Domain speculation was less than 1% of my profession or income stream and my vested time was proportionate to the same.

As I exit my core portfolio and churn some others for quick profits in my sunset years I am still learning something everyday.

I will share my thoughts in a series of posts, some of my thoughts except calling a top on the entire market are shockingly similar to the other "KING" who loves to spray the phrase "pigeon shit" all over which I will avoid. Mine will be more IN specific with examples with the hope that some young/other speculators here on this forum can benefit.

Facts -

Markets and pricing are a matter of supply and demand - that is basic economics, then there is fear and greed analogy as well. Now let me start by stating that for the domain name industry there are two market segments (Domain name speculators selling to other domain name speculators and end user sales which has been my focus).

For a ccTLD like IN currently the market size (by sales dollars and quantity as well) is relatively very small, it is even lower for end user sales albeit with higher sales dollars.

Supply Demand Imbalance -

Just today I was simply able to review lists, do my own research and read posts online which are everywhere now and hand register what I perceive are quality names some with potential end user demand below. Due to some technical glitches I missed out on a few (example went late in the morning to DNRoom) however I still left quite a few good names for others to pick up on those lists. (Tuition is a India specific epidemic and Online tuition via Skype is on) (Emerging Trend in Tech) (Several apps) (Videos are the future online LOL) (Payday loans in India is nascent and payday is not used) (Healthcare is hot) (Perfect for a service company) (Comes with risk however worth defending)

None of the above names except two might elicit an end user sales lead however there is my thinking laid bare on why these were picked with a commerce business application angle over others. These are "quality" names in my view and we can debate that and their worth money wise till cows come home.

Do note this is several hours after a drop or even days in some cases that I have hand regged great domain names. The point is these were just there in ether waiting for someone to take at less than 4 USD a year to review and assess if they can monetize it in the future. Now try the same in the COM extension - good luck. I did get my hands on, yesterday and a few more good COMs similarly but not in the same class. No demand squeeze no pricing power. So supply is plenty out there if you want to pick good names in dot IN is my contention.

Copycat -

Yesterday I noticed how some of the single word location based names were quickly taken up...unrelated to India whatsoever. There is this misplaced view by those that have observed too much COM based sales/investing that the same formula applied to INs will lead to huge profits perhaps or even parking revenue - who cares about - really in Gurugram? - IT DOES NOT is my second contention.

Trends -

Generic keyword names (MicrowaveRepair, HairTransplant), patterns, numbers, Chinese specials, some trend noise like cryptos are all worth only what one Domain Speculator will pay another in most cases "...sucker born every minute.." When it comes to these in ccTLDs and dot IN these are also worthless in my view. Of course there is the USD 10-50 market one can sell a 1000 of these and claim to be a "know all" in the industry. The future of these trades are dying because these speculators cannot hold out any longer and keep paying higher renewal fees. Several live in denial even now. This is my third contention.

Growth -

The most often referenced metrics on India's internet penetration, the billion plus population, SMEs increasing the potential market size etc. have been thrown around since the 90s in most cases and do not influence the namespace in my view. This has only driven speculators outside India to "believe" they have discovered a new growth market, as someone said over 60% of IN regs show address of the registrant outside India. Barely 10 percent of the names I speculate are developed sites. There is NO GROWTH MARKET here even if we get that 100 Gbps next year and reach every village. That is my fourth and final contention for this post.

So may a thousand flowers bloom.
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Very informative. You have placed a lot of thought into this article. I will be following these posts!
Opportunity Does Not Knock - Surely Not Twice

There is no magic formula to determine the value of a domain. However the wisdom from experience teaches that when a buyer is engaged and interested in a domain you own, it would be best to listen and be reasonable. I set myself a threshold below which I was never going to do a deal and stuck to it (this may not apply to all - who need cash flows or have other motives to sell). No regrets and this suited me fine, however it is worth acknowledging to you that I did this and live with it. You may make your own choices.

Over the last 5 years I did not close several deals in the 2K-5K USD range for IN domains having let these opportunity pass and later even dropped the names because of lack of attention and the 1-2 potential buyers per name picked alternate names and moved on ,,for most of these years I carried a significant inventory of IN names, well over 20000 names (more on that later) which came at a significant cost.

Some Examples -
  • a stock broker firm now fairly well known and successful was looking to brand it based on the domain - Dropped the "valuable" name
  • a Payments firm that was operating under the same brand (we both lead parallel lives now - my domain I mean is with me)
  • a Travel Co for Youth with a Global Brand - Dropped the "valuable" name
  • a Hotel Search co from Europe (we both lead parallel lives now - my domain I mean is with me)
  • Online Store Builder (we both lead parallel lives now - my domain I mean is with me)
  • Hundreds more like this ......
So time and tide waits for no one, call yourself an investor, a speculator or a trader - the art of making a deal does matter. Research the subject, the potential buyer and the industry and strike it when it is hot.

Comparable sales can be a guide, but if I disclose the IN name I sold for a RECORD PRICE earlier this year you will never believe me and say it is not worth more than USD 200 and USD 500 max if buyer was punch drunk, point is, even that reference may not help in total. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

Lot of speculators register a domain, park it with a for sale sign across marketplaces and wait - well it is not as simple as Fish and Bait. Like someone recently said most of the domains a domain speculator buys will never ever sell - and rarely ever to an end user. So when opportunity does not knock you need to do all the hard work. Marketing a domain is 90% work, identifying a good name and securing it is perhaps the other 10%.

The Lesson - The trick is create buckets of domain investments one super premium, premium and good names - now this is subjective and you need to perhaps crowd source neutral peer views or research the heck out of the name/industry etc. to bucket it. Then flip the good names for small premiums and generate cash flow, be flexible when you get leads for premium names and close the deal, with super premiums hold out, just wait till the right one comes with a life partner.

I wasn't and still am not smart about this I kept waiting for the one endlessly - however may the force be with you!

PS - I wrote this triggered by recent low ball sales - it is sad that some sellers recently have given away the domains - just the last 2-3 sales listed on the forum for example are worth at least 3-5K USD each in my view. Also remember end user sales is a different game than a speculator to a speculator sale. So these clearly were give aways in my view.
What’s good for the goose is NOT good for the gander

Several drop lists and tools highlight stats on previously owned domains. These stats help domain investors determine the domains potential to a great extent. Parking revenues which were once a source of significant income to keep the domain renewed over the years while awaiting a buyer have now dried up or down to a trickle.

A word of caution to dot IN domain speculators and investors here - those metrics you see for GMS or Search Volume, CPC etc. DO NOT APPLY to a dot IN. So publishing those on premium domain lists or buying based on those metrics would be a terrible mistake IMO. I would even argue that unlike COMs where an aged domain supposedly is of value - GOOGLE DENIES IT DOES IN ITS SEARCH RANKINGS - ABY and WBY are not factors for a dot IN at all.

Best Wishes.

PS - I welcome your specific topics to discuss, queries and other comments where I could share my viewpoint

Thanks for liking my posts everyone! CHEERS
What’s good for the goose is NOT good for the gander

A word of caution to dot IN domain speculators and investors here - those metrics you see for GMS or Search Volume, CPC etc. DO NOT APPLY to a dot IN.

Not only does the metric not apply to .IN, it also does not apply to several other extensions that many novice investors are spending their hard earned money on. A word of caution for all investors when looking at the metrics! Thanks CyberKing for again pointing this out!
What goes around...comes around !

In 2012 when I was looking for a corporate name and related domain while visiting India, I was shocked when I found so many great brandable names in the IN extensions were available. So I began securing a ton of them without researching the supply/demand and market conditions frankly was ignorant of ccTLD market conditions overall and nuances around dot INs.

This post is to highlight a key learning, "Greed is NOT GOOD" in case of dot IN domain names and a domain investor (more so speculators and traders) should keep a limited inventory, ensure your sales efforts are exhausted on those first before securing more "great names". The point being there is always a great name available as stated with examples earlier. After scanning recent drop lists I refrained from securing any additional names for the past week and that took some effort. It is so addictive and I suddenly had invested over USD 5000 in 100 names in the previous month (Aug/Sep) for a dot IN experiment which I will discuss later. It can be a quicksand situation and one needs to invest or secure names one can manage to upkeep and maintain with renewal costs, marketing costs and legal costs in mind etc.

The other thing about some of these great names is domain speculators, traders drop them often after a feeble attempt at selling them or parking them or for other just when you thought you missed out, a great name often comes back to being available for you to secure after a year or two..this has happened to me several times.

This is because a lot of domain selling especially to end users has to do with timing and luck.

Best Wishes!


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