Giuseppe Graziano is the founder and CEO at LXME – Lisbon Media, the company that operates the investor-only domain trading platform LMX.com and GGRG Brokerage & Consulting.
Name: Giuseppe Graziano
Company: LXME – Lisbon Media
Favorite Domain: Lisbon.com
Favorite Industry Conference: NamesCon Europe (formerly Domaining Europe)
Favorite Industry Blog(s): There are many great blogs out there, but the DnJournal by Ron Jackson, the first industry blog I read, has a special place in my heart.
Tell us a little bit about your background and your personal story.
I grew up in Southern Italy and started traveling the world when 16. I went to the US first, then to France and Spain as an exchange student. I then moved to Shanghai for my master’s degree.
Upon returning to Europe, I stumbled upon Lisbon in 2011. I fell in love with the city, and intuitively decided it would be my home. I then started to work in the industry around 2012. After some back and forth between Italy, the US, and Lithuania, I finally settled in Lisbon, and I am still here in 2020.
Lisbon is quickly becoming a capital of the domaining world, with more and more industry people relocating here. I can see why. There are great tax benefits; there is an amazing quality of life, but, to me, it’s not only that. The light that reflects from the Atlantic and the Tagus onto the city’s limestone is incredible. You can get a glimpse of the Lisbon light and the water through the video of the LXME Sunset Cruise we organized last year on the occasion of NamesCon Europe (credit: Jeff Sass of .club).
I could write a book about why Lisbon is so special, but I’ll leave that to another occasion.
How did you get involved in the domain industry?
During a trip to Los Angeles, I decided to start a blog about productivity and, to my surprise, I found out that you can actually buy and sell domain names. On the connecting flight back to Europe, I bought in the airport the book “Get Rich Click” (great title, right?); a couple of months later, I was obsessed with domain names, and I was on my way to my first domain conference in Valencia.
What is your current role?
CEO at LXME – Lisbon Media, which is the company that operates the domain trading platform LMX.com and GGRG Brokerage & Consulting. We also publish the Liquid Market Report, a quarterly publication about the aftermarket in collaboration with Intelium, Escrow.com and ShortNames.com.
Why did you choose to support the ICA?
As soon as I started to enjoy success, I felt it was my duty to support the organization that looks after the interests of domain investors.
Can you share a prediction about the future of the domain industry?
A quote I like is: “An oracle gives predictions but does not provide probabilities”. I have always been wary of giving predictions, as it often comes with discounting other probable scenarios. The world we live in is such a complex system where completely unforeseen events can and will shift the future.
This being said, there are easy-to-spot trends that we can deduct by looking at other industries:
At a macro level, we are seeing a typical feature of an industry reaching maturity: consolidation.
The domain industry has always been relatively small in size and was therefore sheltered from large capitals, which do not see the domain industry as large enough to be attractive. Because of the dominant position of the large companies and the relatively small size of the market, this prevented smaller companies from within the industry to build enough firepower and become a serious threat to the larger ones. Rather, the threats to the major companies are more likely to come from players of adjoining industries suddenly wanting to enter the industry and get a share of the market.
The obvious consequence of these dynamics is that small companies are being swallowed by larger ones. This is forcing many small industry players to grow, merge, or fade into domain oblivion.
At a micro level, on the domain investing side of things, there has never been a visible barrier to entry. Anyone with $10 can start to “invest” in domain names or become a broker. With more and more players looking to enter the investing/brokering game, there will be more people looking at unrealized niches and investing opportunities. Because of the increased number of players, the aftermarket will become more efficient, cutting into the domain investors’s profitability. Another consequence of a more efficient market could be disintermediation and possibly fewer brokers.
To recap: as an investor, it is easier than ever to start but harder to make meaningful margins. As a service provider, it is easy to start a company but, because of the vertical integration of the leading domain companies, it is harder to become a dominant player. To make an analogy with e-commerce, it is easier to buy or sell a product online, but harder to become the new Amazon. All this being said, we live in times of rapid change, so the only certainty is that we are in for quite a few surprises.
What do you like most about the domain industry?
An obvious answer is the physical freedom to work from everywhere. But what I came to value the most are the people. The industry attracts smart, open-minded people who live life on their own terms. I feel like I have friends everywhere I go in the world. Many of these people enriched my life.
If you could change one thing about the domain industry what would it be?
I would like to see the value of domain names defined by clear, objective metrics and less as the result of a bargaining process. Less bombastic marketing and more data. This is ultimately the only way for domain names to become a legitimate asset class and for the industry to outgrow its status.
What do you wish other people knew about the ICA?
The tireless work that Zak, Nat, Kamila, and everyone else at the ICA is doing behind the scenes.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about joining the ICA?
I would ask them – what would make you join the ICA? If reasonable, implement those changes.
What unexpected doors opened for you because of your involvement in the domain industry?
The domain industry opened so many doors for me. Thanks to some of its people, I managed to:
– Attend a gala ball at the Hofburg Imperial Palace in Vienna. (Credit: Monika Pink-Rank/ Nic.at).
– Being invited for lunch at the GMO building in Shibuya, Tokyo. I have always been curious about visiting the HQ of a large Japanese company. (Credit: Hiro Takahara/GMO).
– Received amazing recommendations about little known places to visit in Australia. (Credit: David Goldstein/GoldsteinReport).
Last year, I accomplished my lifelong dream of living in Kyoto for a few months before Covid hit.
Which other industry allows you to have such experiences?
What’s the best advice ever received (domain related or otherwise)?
I went to my first domain conference – Domaining Spain in Valencia – with the idea of learning how to become a domain investor. Because I studied in China, I thought that investing in Chinese IDN domains (this was 2012) was a great idea and a niche I could have an edge on and be successful.
Someone – I don’t remember exactly who – suggested that, rather than starting to invest on my own, I could first work in an established domain company so I could learn the ropes from the experts.
I followed the advice and was blessed to spend my apprenticeship under the wing of industry leaders, many who are also ICA members: Joe Uddeme, Alan Dunn, Mark Daniels and so many others. Without their generous help and guidance, my learning curve would have been much longer.
For the record, Chinese IDNs and the domains I bought before that, did not amount to anything.
What are your main interests outside of the domain industry?
I am naturally curious about history, economics, and geopolitics and read a lot about such topics. I feel it is particularly important now to look back at the history of the past century and realize that, if we are not careful, it can easily repeat itself. The work of Hannah Arendt, who incidentally lived in Lisbon as a refugee during WW2, comes to mind.
In recent times I have become more interested in real estate. Just like domain names, it’s a largely inefficient market. I am curious to understand how the intangible components that make a space or location attractive are valued and how they affect people’s lives.
Sport wise, I play tennis, martial arts (from capoeira to MMA – although it is not worth the injuries), and I love everything that revolves around water.
Favorite place to get away:
I have traveled all over the world, but my favorite getaway is the region of Salento, the land of my ancestors. It’s a peninsula in the South of Italy, located at the heel of the boot. It includes cities like Lecce and Otranto. The light and the seawater have a quality that can’t be explained with words.
Anything else you’d like to share:
This is a tough time for a lot of people. To help investors, we extended the August no fee promotion on LMX.com until the 18th of September, meaning that users will be able to sell domains at no cost.
The views expressed here are the personal views of the member and do not necessarily reflect the views of the ICA.