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01|03|2008 04:35 am EDT

2007 The Year In Domain Name News

by Adam Strong in Categories: Featured

June 2007 marked the debut of Domain Name News. So although we were not able to cover all the stories of 2007, we decided to put together our first annual recap of the past year in domain name news. What would you say the big stories in 2007 were? What news changed the space or made an impact ? We talked with a few dozen friends and associates active in the domain space to help solidify our ideas. What we found was that most of the top stories we had begun writing about were the same ones that resonated with them in recapping the year. Their help was much appreciated in solidifying our ideas. You all know who you are are, thanks for the help! Happy New Year and enjoy our “Year in Domain Name News

2007 The Year of the .MOBI
dot mobi 2007 marked some highs and lows for the .mobi domain name. Love it or hate it, .mobi made big moves in 2007 with record breaking auction prices at TRAFFIC conferences and on Sedo auctions. A bidder backing out of their TRAFFIC auction bids and the end of the year Sedo auction fiasco also marked all time lows for the registry and their premium domain sales. The story of .mobi will surely continue into 2008.

2007 The Year .com Prices Went Up Prices going up
The settlement between ICANN and Verisign dates back to 2005 and the DOC approval of the .com contract was in late 2006, but the agreement didn’t allow for price increases to go into effect until October of 2007. The agreement, which provided Verisign a perpetual and compounding escalation of prices, was vehemently opposed by many stakeholders. The price effects anyone with a .com domain name and lined the Verisign coffers with millions of guaranteed revenue in 2007 and years to come. The price change, while seemingly insignificant, could have an impact on many businesses, especially large portfolio holders with lesser quality domains. Regardless of the size of price increases, the decision to allow price increases at all and to give a presumptive contract renewal to a registry set many precedents with regards to the relationship between ICANN and the registries.

2007 The Year of the Cowboys The “sale/no-sale/sale” story was the biggest news that DomainNameNews broke in 2007 and deserves a special mention on our list. Whether the Dallas Cowboys “get it”, or whether domainers are the uber-geniuses, the story that played out with the domain sale will go down in the books as a classic. 2007 marked the year we were witness to the thought process of a major player with deep pockets and what they think about domain names. The Dallas Cowboys NFL team thought they were buying a domain for $275.00 and subsequently backed out of the $275,000 bill they racked up from bidding on the domain at the Moniker auction. After they pulled out, a new group of buyers saw an opportunity and ran the price up to $370,000 in the silent auction. The story will continue to develop as this new group of owners moves forward with their plans for the domain. The story crushed the many pipe dreams of newbie domainers set on selling out big and provided a dose of reality that the “most suited buyer” might not be interested in what you have for sale.

2007 The Year a Registrar Implodesregisterfly
The year marked the end of . As the company struggled with internal problems and left customers domains unaccessible and unmanaged, ICANN struggled to assert their role in the matter. The registrar was finally stripped of their accreditation and an estimated 1 million domains were moved in to the control of Godaddy. This case was a wake-up call for ICANN to investigate potential issues and problems with the current registrar system and their own role in issues such as this. A fact sheet from ICANN about the RegisterFly fiasco summed it up well “it is clear that there is a hole that needs to be plugged to provide the average Internet user with greater security and piece of mind over their domains.”

2007 The Rising Tide of Domain Auctions
gavel We’ve seen several years of Moniker/TRAFFIC auction success. From the very first live auctions until today, that partnership has dominated and raked in the lion-share of the live auction market. Naturally, this success was bound to eventually spring forth new competition and new concepts and 2007 can be said to be the year the live auction space evolved. Moniker continued to push into new niche auctions holding events at pubcon, internext, affiliate summit, geodomains, and casino affiliate events. Oversee purchased and announced live auctions on the Snap platform for their 2008 DomainFest. DomainTools added live video streams and online bidding to the Domain Roundtable auction event. Sedo’s purchase of brought in a wave of high profile sales and their launch of live auctions in European markets made significant strides for the company. NameMedia joined the expiring domain aftermarket with an agreement to sell MelbourneIT’s expiring domains at Afternic. Even GoDaddy made an attempt at auctioning premium domains. A relatively unknown company, even tried to compete toe to toe against the TRAFFIC auctions by holding a live auction in the same town during the conference. As one of the players in the space relayed to DomainNameNews, “everybody in the space with a swingin’ dick is having a domain auction.”

That quote provides a nice segue in to our next big story from 2007

2007 The Year Adult Domains Top the Charts sold last year for a reported $12-14 million and seemed to usher in a resurgence of interest in high profile adult domains. sold in the spring for a reported $9.5 million and was followed up later in the year by the sale of and for a rumored +$2m price tag. Near the end of the year, sold with a rumored $3m price tag. naturally maked the top of the sales chart from DNJournal for 2007 and even though the prices are rumored or speculative and the names are not on the DNJ chart, our sources in the adult industry put at the #2 highest sale for the year and and coming in strong likely in the top 10 of highest sales for the year. If these adult domain sales are any sign of the overall domain market, than the market would seems to be fairly active and healthy.

2007 The Year of the Domain Blogger
There were domain blogs long before 2007 and good ones such as and However, 2007 marked the year that even got rolling, and we weren’t alone in launching a site dedicated to domain oriented stories. Previously reclusive and veteran domainers like Frank Schilling, Sahar Sarid, Larry Fischer, Chris Stewart and Michael Berkins among many others came out of the woodwork to launch blogs dedicated to domain related topics and conversation. Many other notables like Rick Schwartz, Michael Gilmour and Elliot Silver threw their hats in the ring as well, too many in fact to list. Check out this site for a good list, keeping in mind most of these were started this year! If you are in the domain space and just now starting a blog, well that is sooooooooooooo 2007.

2007 The Year the Domain Business Hits Mainstream
Kevin HamSure the domain business had articles in Business 2.0 and other press mentions in the past, but Kevin Ham’s “coming out” in the cover story “The Man Who Owns the Internet” in Business 2.0 marked the biggest coverage from the domain space yet. The year also marked NameMedia’s IPO announcement, which spotlighted the domain name business model to the investment world. Other notable domain name “mainstreaming” topics include Forbes coverage of Richard Rosenblatt’s Demand Media, Lawrence Ng winning Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year and Sedo winning the same Ernst and Young award in Germany. This positive mainstream recognition and coverage in 2007 was much greater than ever and will help push the growth and interest in the domain space . . . however, with this mainstreaming comes more responsibility and naturally more scrutiny.

2007 The Year of Domain Legal Battles
Justice With the good (see above) comes the bad. 2007 also marked a year of trouble for the domain PR machine. With tasting and cybersquatting articles and federal lawsuits naming major domain companies as defendants, 2007 was not a year without controversy. The federal cases brought to court this year marked a major shift in the way corporations handled domain disputes. These weren’t cases brought before an NAF or WIPO arbitration to retrieve a domain, but rather these cases sought out recompense and charged defendants with conspiracy and trademark violations in federal court. Microsoft started the ball rolling in the spring with a suit against domain tasting operation Maltuzi which was followed by Verizon bringing similar charges against iREIT to federal court. Vulcan Golf then took a major swing at the industry by not just charging the “usual suspects,” but even adding Google as a defendant. Oversee, iREIT, Sedo, Dotster, and many individual domainers were named in US federal cases in 2007 battling against the likes of major corporations Verizon, Microsoft, Dell and Yahoo. At the tail end of the year, Verizon and iREIT settled their case, but other cases brought by Vulcan, Microsoft and Dell remain unresolved.



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