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.
Name: Andrew Rosener
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.