12
Mar

ICA Member Profile: Andrew Rosener

Andrew Rosener is an industry leading Domain Broker and is currently acting as CEO of MediaOptions.com, a boutique domain acquisition & brokerage firm. Media Options started off as a one-man operation and has grown to become one of the best know domain brokerages in the industry, completing tens of millions in domain names sales for startups and Fortune 500 companies alike. Andrew himself has been among Escrow.com’s Master of Domains top 3 brokers since the award originated. Andrew also owns domainsherpa.com, a leading educational media company dedicated to the domain name industry, which provides the latest domain name news, people, events and trends that shape the practice of domain name investing.

Profile Questions

Name: Andrew Rosener
Company: MediaOptions
Favorite Domain: X.com (which we helped Elon Musk acquire from PayPal)
Favorite Industry Conference: NamesCon Europe! Home team advantage!
Favorite Industry Blog(s): DomainNameWire.com – Andrew just keeps elevating industry journalism. DomainSherpa.com for education.

Tell us a little bit about your background and your personal story.
I studied Management Information Systems in college and started a very small software business with a friend of mine while we were Seniors. The dean of our school was on our payroll. It was an interesting time. But I realized that it was NOT what I wanted to do with my life. So after graduating, I took a job in the seafood commodities industry because, heck, there were worse places to spend the summer than Newport, Rhode Island. Anyhow, I was the so called “Mini-me” to the owner of the company and ultimately took over nearly all aspects of the business over the next 3 years and grew the business by about 300% in the 8 years I worked there. Eventually, I started making more money from our domain names than from selling dead fish, and the rest is history!

I’m married to my wife Anna, who is really the big boss at Media Options behind the scenes, for 14 years and we have two young kids. We recently moved our family from Panama to Europe where we are splitting our time between Lisbon, Portugal and Duesseldorf, Germany.

How did you get involved in the domain industry?
I had started buying domain names in College in the mid to late 1990s. Mostly garbage although I could have been buying great names at that time! After a failed attempt at importing “Pata Negra” ham into the USA from Spain, the domain names I owned related to that idea turned out to be valuable to the guy who eventually managed to get FDA approval and we sold them to him in exchange for a whole leg, of what was at that time the most valuable meat in the World, plus $5,000 or so. This is when it clicked for me that EVERYONE is going to want their business name and related industry domain names. I was already late at this point so I decided to launch MediaOptions as a domain brokerage business in order to create the cash flow needed to build our own domain portfolio. That’s quite literally all we’ve been doing ever since. Today the brokerage business represents the majority of the business although we, through other companies, do own a reasonably good portfolio of domain names including things like: EM.com, Quilt.com, Beacon.com, Flawless.com & many others like this. In total, I believe the various companies own around 5,000 – 6,000 domain names.

What is your current role?
My role is CEO of MediaOptions. I act as an advisor to several of the other related portfolio companies. My primary focus is closing on tough negotiations, maintaining our top tier relationships & bringing in new business. The most difficult part is staying focused but maintaining momentum and increasing our footprint without getting too far outside our lane.

At the same time, I am also CEO & Founder of Ganjapreneur.com, an industry leading B2B media company in the legal cannabis market. That is a business that we have bootstrapped for the last 4 years and is now profitable and growing. We have one of the leading podcasts as well as a booming lead generation business in the cannabis space. The primary operations are managed and executed by my COO, Noel Abbott.

Oh and I almost forgot that I’m also CEO of DomainSherpa.com! Although that is almost like volunteer work at this point! We don’t earn a profit from DomainSherpa, but I do think that its a critical and extremely valuable tool for our entire industry. Heck, we have even used it to support the ICA and that message. It’s a very effective and popular soapbox with an incredible and rapidly growing audience. Although most of the credit for DomainSherpa’s success since we took it over from Michael Cyger at the end of 2017 goes to Tess Diaz, who has been working with me at MediaOptions since 2012 or so I believe. She is partially responsible for getting me full time into the domain business in fact, back from her time at GoDaddy where she was my executive account manager.

Why did you choose to support the ICA?
We have millions of dollars invested in domain names! Domain names have been good to us. the ICA is the only thing standing between us and damaging policies pushed by overly aggressive trademark and business lobbyists as well as the ever-growing threat/tensions around Verisign.

Can you share a prediction about the future of the domain industry?
I believe we have reached a tipping point in digital commerce and media where companies are finally realizing the value of domain names and their necessity. Not just to have a domain but to have the best version .com domain name for their brand, product and/or service. I think premium domain names are on the cusp of a renaissance with tons of new use cases and value propositions emerging on the horizon. Virtually every mega macro trend out there right now supports the argument for increased demand and increased value of the top tier domain names. I think we are in the early stages of a new wave of demand.

What do you like most about the domain industry?
No question about it, FREEDOM. Freedom to live where and how I want. Freedom to make as much or as little as I want based on the work I do and the risk I take. Freedom to live one of the most sovereign lifestyles of anyone I know. I know lots of folks with a lot more money, but I know very few folks with more freedom that we in the domain industry enjoy.

If you could change one thing about the domain industry what would it be?
If the industry had a consensus on domain valuation and a tool to objectively value premium domain names, it would be game-changing.

What do you think are some of the biggest challenges the domain industry is faced with?
I think the biggest challenge the domain industry will face over the next 5 – 10 years is Verisign. Not price increases on domain registrations, but I suspect they want to come for our margins. They want to control the inventory and allow “premium registrations” of domain names directly to end users with premium pricing that has been “normalized” by the new gTLD program. Verisign is a dangerous animal because as .com domain registrations peak as they are, Verisign has to look for growth outside of new registrations. Dot Web is not going to provide that growth. Their approved price increases will give them some relief but won’t exactly set the world on fire for their investors. I think Verisign will try and turn the .com domain aftermarket into a Registry Product. Just my 2 cents…

What do you wish other people knew about the ICA?
If you are a serious domain investor, you would be silly not to support the ICA, it’s your only insurance policy against your investment. Would you buy an apartment building without home owner’s insurance?

What unexpected doors opened for you because of your involvement in the domain industry?
I always say that all roads lead back to domain names. That has been the most rewarding thing about my career in domain names. I have met, spoken with & negotiated with some of the most interesting, successful & iconic people & companies of our generation or lifetime. I believe that my entire sense of perspective has been shaped by the vast reaches of the universe that domain names touch. Domain names are never boring, I wouldn’t change it for the World…

What’s the best advice ever received (domain related or otherwise)?
The first piece of advice is from my high school wrestling coach: “Pain is temporary. Pride is forever.” The second piece of advice is from my ex-boss in the seafood business: “Always do what you say you are going to do.”

What are your main interests outside of the domain industry?
My primary interests are learning (about everything), food, travel & sunglasses.

Favorite place to get away:
My favorite place to travel is probably Greece. But having just arrived in Portugal, I must say that I’m blown away at the number of incredible and diverse places this country has to offer. We canceled our plans to go to Greece this summer just to explore more of Portugal. I hope everyone comes to Lisbon in June for the NamesCon Europe event. I think it’s going to be amazing and take it from me, Portugal is a country made for domain investors!

The views expressed here are the personal views of the member and do not necessarily reflect the views of the ICA.
25
Sep

ICA Member Profile: Brian Harbin

Brian Harbin has been an independent domain broker with GritBrokerage for over 4 years. He is also the Director of Sales for NamePros for the past 3 1/2 years. Brian has been in sales since he was 18 (about 20 years now) when he started selling educational books door to door as a freshman at the University of Georgia. He then transitioned to building an insurance agency which he ran for 14 years. About 4.5 years ago a friend introduced him to brokerage in the domain name industry, which turned out to be a perfect fit based on his background in sales and it allowed him to work from home, which was important at that time.

Brian has been married to his wife Jen for almost 13 years. They have 3 boys Stone (10), Max (6), and Charles (2). They have lived in Jacksonville, Florida now for 12 years.

Profile Questions

Name: Brian Harbin
Company: GritBrokerage
Favorite Industry Blog(s): NamePros

Tell us a little bit about your background and your personal story.
I’ve been married to my wife Jen for almost 13 years. We have 3 boys Stone (10), Max (6), and Charles (2). We have lived in Jacksonville, Florida now for 12 years. I have been in sales since I was 18 (about 20 years now) when I started selling educational books door to door as a freshman at the University of Georga, and then I transitioned to building an insurance agency which I ran for 14 years

How did you get involved in the domain industry?
About 4.5 years ago a friend introduced me to the industry and it was a perfect fit based on my background in sales and needing to work from home more at that time in my life

What is your current role?
Domain Broker/Owner (GritBrokerage) and NamePros (Director of Sales)

Why did you choose to support the ICA?
I believe in what the organization stands for.

Can you share a prediction about the future of the domain industry?
The best is yet to come.

What do you like most about the domain industry?
It’s exciting to be a part of an industry where the best is yet to come. I think there is more and more awareness of the value of domain/internet assets, and I think we are all positioned well for when the demand becomes even greater.

If you could change one thing about the domain industry what would it be?
That people relied less on email and utilized more phone and face to face interaction.

What do you think are some of the biggest challenges the domain industry is faced with?
Credibility and integrity. I think groups like the ICA will help put a face to the internet/domain industry which is needed. Certain people are drawn to our industry by being able to work behind a computer, and even though they sometimes can/do add value to our industry, others exploit that ability and there remains the issue of maintaining a level of ethics that this industry will need in order to garner a wider respect for exponential growth.

What do you wish other people knew about the ICA?
The need for organizations like this one and the greater initiative they are serving.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about joining the ICA?
For me, it just made sense to support the overall industry.

What unexpected doors opened for you because of your involvement in the domain industry?
The sale of ICE.com earlier this year.

What’s the best advice ever received (domain related or otherwise)?
Don’t heavily invest in domains when you first jump into the industry. Use the time to study and learn from those that are successful before you spend your hard earned money.

What are your main interests outside of the domain industry?
I buy, renovate, rent, sell homes and properties locally. I also have coached both of my sons’ flag football teams the past few years

Favorite place to get away:
Hotel at the beach with my wife.

The views expressed here are the personal views of the member and do not necessarily reflect the views of the ICA.
6
Sep

ICA Member Profile: Kate Buckley

Kate is CEO and Founder of Buckley Media. She has 23 years of experience in integrated marketing and business development, with deep experience in global domains, brand development, naming, creative strategy, storytelling, and social media. Kate’s background includes big agencies (Gray and Landor) as well as 20 years experience with premium domains (CCIN/The Castello Brothers). She is an expert at premium domain consulting and representation, specializing in ultra-premium .COMs. Kate has three publicly recorded domain sales in the Top 15 Global Sales for 2018 (DNJournal.com)—the only individual or company to do so.

She graduated with honors from the University of Kentucky with a BA in Advertising/PR/Communications. Kate also holds an MFA in Creative Writing (Spalding University), and is a Certified Professional Life Coach and Corporate Trainer (LCIOC), Public Speaker (AMA), and accomplished artist, award-winning poet and author. She is Poet Laureate Emerita of Laguna Beach, California. Kate’s a strong believer in supporting communities; apart from her involvement in a personal capacity—volunteering and providing pro bono branding services, she also ensures that Buckley Media donates a considerable portion of the proceeds of each domain sale to worthy charities such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, WaterSchool, and With My Own Two Hands Foundation.

Profile Questions

Name: Kate Buckley
Company: Buckley Media
Favorite Domain: Translate.com (currently under exclusive brokerage)
Favorite Industry Conference: NamesCon
Favorite Industry Blog(s): DN Journal, DomainSherpa, Elliot’s blog, DNW.com

Tell us a little bit about your background and your personal story.
I’m a peripatetic Kentuckian who somehow ended up in Southern California. I’ve been in branding and marketing since 1995 and premium domains since 1998. I’m also a poet, writer and visual artist (KateBuckley.com), and an avid supporter of a variety of causes including Big Brothers Big Sisters. I live with my boyfriend, Todd Henderson (CEO of InkAgency.com) and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Murphy, in Laguna Beach.

How did you get involved in the domain industry?
David and Michael Castello recruited me in 1998 to help them launch, monetize, and run PalmSprings.com. David and I had PalmSprings.com grossing $1M annually just between the two of us. It was a tremendous learning experience! I went on to work with them on LagunaBeach.com (which I later sold for them for $600,000) and Nashville.com, as well as a variety of other CCIN brands. I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to the world of ultra-premium domains.

What is your current role?
I founded Buckley Media in 2013 as a branding and domains agency. I’d just sold LagunaBeach.com for the Castello Brothers, along with a marketing plan and site redevelopment blueprint I’d created. The new owners hired me on to implement my plans, thus the formation of Buckley Media. Since that time, I’ve had the pleasure of branding a number of exciting companies (both startups and established companies) and brokering (on both the buy and sell side) some amazing domains including my recent sale of Sleeping.com and Snoring.com for over $1M. I work on an ongoing basis with both the Castello Brothers and Roy Messer on their amazing portfolios, as well as a select number of other domain investors on their valuable ultra-premium domains: https://www.buckleymedia.com/featured-premium-domains.html

Why did you choose to support the ICA?
I believe in the ICA’s mission and tactics, and want to be part of helping move things forward in a coordinated, elegant, intelligent and transparent fashion. I also very much appreciate the ICA’s advocacy and aims.

What do you like most about the domain industry?
It’s entrepreneurial and ever-changing. In order to succeed, one must have a high risk-tolerance, good people skills, and be both a creative and strategic thinker. It’s never boring.

If you could change one thing about the domain industry what would it be?
Greater alignment on best practices. Greater transparency and an established code of ethics.

What do you think are some of the biggest challenges the domain industry is faced with?
We’re not regulated and are ever-changing, so we need to self-regulate and co-create best practices that serve to move the domain industry forward. We also need to better educate the public on the value and highest and best use of domains in a coordinated and cohesive manner.

What unexpected doors opened for you because of your involvement in the domain industry?
I’ve met some of the most fascinating people I know through the domain industry. It’s also allowed me to make a good living on my own terms, doing something I greatly enjoy.

What’s the best advice ever received (domain related or otherwise)?
Listen far more than you talk.

What are your main interests outside of the domain industry?
Writing, painting, reading, hiking, Stand Up Paddleboarding, cooking, wine tasting, travel.

Favorite place to get away:
Anywhere that my boyfriend and I can unplug from work for a bit and enjoy exploring the world together. Next up, Croatia!

The views expressed here are the personal views of the member and do not necessarily reflect the views of the ICA.
20
Jul

ICA Member Profile: Slade Michalec

Slade got his start in internet marketing, working on the affiliate marketing side of things where focus was on website optimization and user retention/recovery. After hearing Hobi speak of the domain industry for several years, Slade became more fascinated with domains. He eventually made the career jump and began brokering premium domain names at Domain Holdings. Since the beginning to where he is today as Co-Founder of Lumis, Slade has not looked back! Read more

20
Jul

ICA Member Profile: Hobi Michalec

Hobi Michalec graduated college at FAU with a Bachelor’s in Business Management and a focus on entrepreneurship. He discovered domaining by chance after meeting John Ferber and joining Domain Holdings for a number of years. He left the company after its acquisition to help Co-found Lumis.

Read more

26
Apr

ICA Member Profile: Mike Robertson

Mike Robertson is a domain name professional with over 15 years of experience specializing in buying, selling, managing and monetizing domain names, with total domain sales in excess of 8-figures. His work has been featured and quoted in various trade and industry publications as well as mainstream media such as The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg and News.com.au. He is currently the Director of Business for Fabulous.com and Directnic.com. In his spare time he enjoys attending concerts and playing sports. Read more

23
Jun

Surge in RDNH cases a legacy of the theory of Retroactive Bad Faith

What do these Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP) filings have in common? —

  • Dreamlines GmbH, a German cruise promoter, files a UDRP dispute on dreamlines.com, a domain registered 10 years before that company was formed. They do not allege any infringing use.
  • Cognate Nutritionals, Inc., a Connecticut beverage company, which sells a coconut oil brain supplement under the brand “Fuel for Thought”, files a UDRP dispute on fuelforthought.com. It alleges that the domain registrant is a cybersquatter even though the domain was registered five years before the launch of the beverage and did not target the complainant.
  • Chooze, a Texan manufacturer of vegan footwear, files a UDRP dispute on chooze.com, alleging that the domain was registered and used in bad faith despite the domain being registered more than ten years before the launch of the brand and inactive.

Read more

21
Jun

UDRP: Better Late than Never – ICA Applauds WIPO for Removing Misguided ‘Retroactive Bad Faith’

The Internet Commerce Association (ICA), a non-profit trade group representing the domain industry, applauds the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) for removing misleading guidance from the newly released updated version 3.0 of its Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions that in the previous version had granted undeserved legitimacy to a misconstruction of the UDRP commonly known as the Retroactive Bad Faith theory. Read more

19
Jun

The Rise and Fall of the UDRP Theory of ‘Retroactive Bad Faith’

Since its establishment in 1999, the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy has required complainants to prove inter alia, “bad faith registration”. In practice, this has meant that where a domain name was registered before a trademark came into existence, that “bad faith registration” would be considered chronologically impossible.

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19
Apr

ICA Member Profile: Edward Zeiden

Edward Zeiden is a business strategist and entrepreneur specializing in brick and mortar companies, start-ups, and the domain industry. After co-founding the startup, NameLayer (subsequently acquired by Techstars), he pursued a career in management consulting and web design.

He currently coordinates daily operations and fosters strategic partnerships at NamePros as Managing Director. He’s an avid investor in domains and the stock market. In his spare time, he still likes to help startups and local business as well as write about business strategy. Some of his most recent articles geared towards startups can be found on Morgan Linton’s blog. Read more