Former US President Barack Obama acquired the Obama.org domain name, and it is now being used for the Obama Foundation website. President Obama announced the news on his Twitter handle yesterday:
In the meantime, I want to hear what you’re thinking about the road ahead. So share your ideas with me here: https://t.co/GYkEOK8EuT
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) January 20, 2017
When researching the Whois records for this domain name, I noticed a domain name industry connection. Prior to the recent privatization of the Whois information for Obama.org, the owner of the domain name was listed as industry veteran Kellie Peterson. Kellie now works on the domain registrar side of Automattic, the parent company of WordPress.com.
According to NameBio, Obama.org was acquired via NameJet in 2011 for $2,800. Based on Historical Whois records from DomainTools, it looks to me like this was a privately held domain name that was auctioned instead of an expired domain auction. Kellie was the winning bidder in the auction, and she told me that she acquired the domain name on behalf of the President and his campaign.
In just a few short days, NamesCon 2017 will be taking place in Las Vegas! Domain industry professionals from around the world will be traveling to the Tropicana Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas for the biggest NamesCon event yet. Tickets are still on sale, so if you have not made plans yet, there is still time to come.
Today’s NamesCon Sponsor Spotlight is with George Hong of Guta, a domain brokerage firm with a focus on the Chinese domain name market.
What is your company’s mandate; what sets you apart?
Guta, a professional domain name brokerage firm, is a trusted bridge between the Western and Chinese domain communities. Founded by George Hong, a bicultural Chinese-American and a longtime veteran of the domain industry who is familiar with the key players on both sides of the Pacific, Guta is currently focused on helping Western investors and companies sell premium domain names to Chinese buyers. We are one of the most trusted brokerage firms in both the WEST and the EAST. We are an authority figure in the Chinese domain market and are very familiar with Chinese buyers.
Who benefits from your product or service?
If you are an owner of premium domains (such as short domain names, numeric domain names or pinyin .com domains) and plan to sell them, you should speak to us. There is an unprecedented demand for these types of domains from Chinese buyers. Many recent Chinese buyers are new to this industry. They don’t know English and/or have no experience buying domain names from overseas. We can help you sell your domains to Chinese buyers.
What factors have contributed to your company’s growth and success?
We are ethical. We represent either the buyer or the seller in a transaction but never both. We are transparent with our clients. In the rare case that we buy domains from our clients, we will let our clients know upfront that we are interested in buying their domains and we don’t charge them a brokerage fee. We are professional. We help bridge the gap between the buyer and seller to overcome the barriers between them such as the communication and language barrier, valuation difference barrier, as well as the cultural barrier and purchasing barrier. We perform proactive research to give our clients professional opinions backed by data. We focus on premium domains and offer personalized service and attention that our clients deserve. We are well connected. We know and have worked with many key players in the global domain name industry.
What’s the story behind how your company was founded?
Our founder, George Hong, first entered the domain industry as an investor a decade ago. George holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Xiamen University of China as well as a Master’s degree in Mathematics and a Master’s degree in Computer and Information Science from Temple University in the US. His mathematics background is one of the main reasons that he is so fascinated with numeric domains. Prior to founding Guta, George held leadership roles in internet startups as well as a Fortune 500 company based in the greater Philadelphia, PA area, USA. Additionally, he has actively participated in global domain conferences. For the past 7 years, George has unreservedly shared his insights on numeric domains, pinyin domains, Chinese culture, the Chinese domain market, etc. to Western domain investors. He is considered by many in the West as the go-to person and trusted advisor for anything related to the Chinese domain market. Therefore, Western investors will ask for his advice and help in regards to selling domains to Chinese buyers. On the other hand, as the owner of some of the super premium pinyin domain names and numeric domain names like 797.com, mama.com, zuqiu.com (soccer in Chinese pinyin), and ruanjian.com (software in Chinese pinyin), George is widely considered to be one of the most successful Chinese domain investors. Gradually, more and more Chinese investors have come to him asking for his help on overseas domain business like hiring UDRP lawyers, getting back stolen domains and buying domains. As a famous Chinese saying goes, “When water flows, a channel is formed.” With his passion for domain names and status being so widely trusted in the EAST & WEST, it was a natural next step for George to start a professional brokerage firm focusing on bridging the gap between China and the international domain community. That was how Guta was founded.
What major milestones has your company accomplished?
We have successfully brokered the sales of some super premium domain names. Below are some notable publicly reported sales:
Beijing.com, DD.com, WG.com, CV.com, MW.com;
PPP.com and over 100 other LLL.com domains;
08.com, 1999.com, 989.com.
The first full year we were officially in business, our total sales reached nine figures, CNY.
How will your company engage attendees at the upcoming NamesCon?
Please come by our booth and speak to us! Also, our Founder and CEO, George Hong, will be speaking at the “China Master Class” panel on Jan 24th, 12:00-12:45pm. We look forward to reconnecting with our old friends, business partners, and clients in person. We are also very keen on making some new friends there too!
How has (or will) NamesCon helped your company achieve its goals?
Since the very first NamesCon was held in 2014, Guta has participated in it every single year. As the biggest domain name industry event in the world, NamesCon is a great platform for communicating with industry peers from all over the world. It is like a huge gathering party of the domain industry where we can meet old friends and industry legends that rarely appear at other conferences. It offers us a great opportunity to learn and exchange knowledge. The business opportunities that came up for us during our past conference trips pay for the price of admission and sponsor fees many times over. We expect our participation in this conference will yield a similar result.
I just received some breaking news from Enom that I want to share with you. According to the email I received, Tucows has acquired Enom from Rightside. Both Tucows (TCX on NASDAQ) and Rightside (NAME on NASDAQ) are publicly traded companies. A press release published by Tucows reports that “Tucows will pay $83.5 million and the transaction is expected to be immediately accretive to earnings.” As noted in the press release, this deal will make the combined company the second largest domain registrar in the world behind GoDaddy.
I have not yet had time to think about the implications of this (or rationale for this deal). I am curious about why Rightside decided to sell Enom and what will happen with Rightside’s other domain registrar, Name.com, which it acquired in 2013 when Rightside was part of Demand Media. I am curious what will come of the relationship with NameJet, both on the buy and sell side since Tucows has a relationship with GoDaddy on its expiring inventory. I am also curious about how the Enom customer support and account management will change under new ownership. These things will become more clear in the coming days.
Here is the announcement I received this morning: → Read More
NamesCon 2017 is less than a week away! In just a few days, domain industry professionals from throughout the world will be converging on the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas for this year’s conference. The agenda is packed with interesting content, and tickets are still on sale for those who have waited for the final moments to make plans. NamesCon takes place from January 22-25, 2017.
This morning’s NamesCon Sponsor Spotlight interview is with domain industry (and intellectual property) lawyer Zak Muscovitch. These interviews introduce or reacquaint industry professionals with sponsors of this year’s conference.
What is your company’s mandate; what sets you apart?
I have been assisting domain name investors with domain name disputes and transactions since I was called to the bar in 1999. I recall that back in 1999, when I said that I practiced “Internet law” and handled “domain name disputes”, I would be met with a lot of blank faces. Back then, the Internet was fairly “new” to the average person. It was also a very exciting time as everything was “new”. When a domain name dispute or transaction arose, we were basically starting from “scratch” with very little to guide us. So, I think that my relatively lengthy experience is one of the things that allows me to help clients effectively. Chances are that I have dealt with something similar or at least comparable at some point in the past, and can accordingly contribute that experience and expertise.
What’s the story behind how your company was founded?
Back in law school in 1996, I had written a paper entitled, “Taxation of Internet Commerce”, and it was subsequently picked up by a peer reviewed journal because it dealt with such new and interesting issues. That was what gave me my first taste of the exciting field of “Internet Law”. When I was called to the bar in 1999, I had wanted to practice ‘Internet Law”, but there was really no such thing, as law firms were just beginning to get into Internet law. But as it turned out, I started practicing personal injury law, and began taking on domain name dispute cases on my own. I got to take on the largest companies in the world and take on the most prominent lawyers in the world, which was pretty cool for a recent graduate. I took on a pro bono federal court case and learned how to litigate domain name disputes in court from that. I also took on UDRP cases and acted for respondents in what were the first batch of such cases to ever be heard. From there, I found a few more cases here and there, and then opened up my own firm 3 1/2 years after graduation. It was tough at first, and I had to handle a broken leg or dog bite case to pay the bills, but I gradually gained more experience and got more clients. Now a very large part of my practice is Internet law related work, with a focus on domain name disputes and transactions.
What major milestones has your company accomplished? → Read More
There are just a handful of tickets left for the Internet Commerce Association’s exclusive dinner at NamesCon. The dinner is on Monday, January 23, at The Foundation Room at the House of Blues, located in the Mandalay Bay Hotel. It starts at 6:45 pm, before Uniregistry’s After Hours Party at Hakkasan nightclub, at the MGM. The Foundation Room looks like a pretty incredible place and there will be lots of good food and an open bar.
The Internet Commerce Association is the lobby and industry association for the Domain Name investment community. Only 100 tickets were available, and ICA members were offered them first, but non-members can still get the remaining handful of tickets by signing up and paying the ticket price of $100, here via EventBrite.
Moreover, anyone who joins the ICA from now until the dinner, will get the dinner entirely for free, subject to ticket availability. Just contact the ICA’s Operations Manager, Kamila Sekiewicz to make arrangements, or join the ICA as a member and the ICA will contact you.
In addition to supporting the ICA, → Read More
I think the .Club registry is one of the most successful new gTLD registries. I want to share an interview NamePros conducted with Colin Campbell, CEO of the .Club registry. The interview took place at NamesCon last year, so it is interesting to watch it one year later. Kevin Fink conducted the interview.
The NamePros team conducted quite a few interviews with other industry executives, and you can catch them on its YouTube channel. It’s neat to witness the growth of NamePros over the last couple of years as it expands beyond a standard forum format and adds videos, interviews, auctions, and other features. I am not an active participant, but I enjoy visiting regularly.