Based on events and announcements throughout the domain industry during the last couple of years, as well as declining PPC earnings trends and harsh economic conditions, I believe there must be considerable pressure on Oversee.net. Here’s a quick third party view of things that have transpired.
Oversee.net purchased Snapnames, which was the leading platform to purchase expired and deleting domain names. They had many exclusive drop catching deals in place with some of the leading registrars.
A few months later, Enom launched Namejet, a direct competitor to Snapnames. Some of the exclusive registrars later shifted from Snapnames to Enom, costing Snapnames some of the better dropping domain names.
Oversee purchased Moniker a leading domain registrar and auction house that primarily held its live auctions at TRAFFIC shows during the year, grossing millions of dollars. TechCrunch reported the purchase price at $65 million.
Oversee announced staff layoffs.
Oversee holds a great annual domain conference in January, DomainFest, which is held in Hollywood, California with considerable fanfare and high praise from industry professionals.
Crowd favorite and Director of Business Development, Ron Sheridan departs from Oversee’s DomainSponsor.
Rick Latona enters live auction business directly competing with Moniker auctions at some TRAFFIC shows.
Rick Latona signs exclusive deal with Rick Schwartz and Howard Neu to partner on the TRAFFIC shows, leaving Moniker on the outside. In 2009-2010 TRAFFIC will expand to 6+ domain conferences annually, and it doesn’t appear that Moniker will be the auctioneer.
Fabulous announces free security feature which will compete with Moniker’s expensive Max Lock program ($19.99/domain or $124.99/portfolio), and Fabulous also announced a free privacy protection service that will compete with Moniker’s privacy, which costs $4.00 per year.
I know Oversee.net is managed by some smart people, but it seems that many deals they’ve made haven’t worked out as well as they wanted them to work out, and in other cases, competitors are offering better products/services at better prices. Oversee companies were the best of breed in some categories, but now it seems that’s being chipped away rapidly by nimble competitors. Oversee is a well funded company with big time VC backer Oak Hill Capital Partners, but who knows how much of that investment remains and how much previous investments are currently worth.
The people that make up the company are a primary reason why I do business with more than one Oversee company. However, with tough economic times, there are difficult business decisions that have to be made. The pressure seems to be on Oversee, and it will be interesting to see their next move.
I received an email from Fabulous this morning containing some great news for domain investors who use Fabulous as their domain registrar. Fabulous announced that they are offering two new features and additions that will benefit domain investors, one of which I had requested on my blog a number of months ago. Let’s discuss the two new features available to Fabulous clients:
1) Whois Privacy
Over the years, a number of people have asked Fabulous to provide privacy protection on their Whois data. While Fabulous allowed just a few domain names to have privacy in the past, they are now giving everyone privacy – for FREE. While the cost of privacy protection various from a few cents per domain name to several dollars at other registrars, there is no cost at Fabulous.
Every domain using the Fabulous Whois Privacy Service will be given a unique identifier, and all email and phone messages related to domain names will be automatically redirected to the domain owner. This is surely going to either cause other registrars to lower their prices considerably or risk losing domain registrations.
To show how popular this is elsewhere, just have a look at DomainTools’ Registrant Search Tool for “Whois Privacy Protection Service, Inc” which was found in about 2,131,377 domain names. Also, a search of Moniker’s “Moniker, Privacy Services” was found in 527,369 domain names. They are laying down the gauntlet with a popular added value service.
2) Fabulous Security Key
Basically the way the key works is that you will log into your account as per normal, using username and password. To activate the Security Key, you will go to the Manage > Security page, select “Fabulous Security Key”, then insert the USB device and click the button.
You can then select what areas of the account you want to protect with the Security Key. Once this has been setup, to gain access to those sections of your account (Sales, Transfers, Name Servers, Pushes) that are protected, you will need to insert the Fabulous Security Key, and click the button. The Fabulous system will verify that you are authorized to visit that section of the account and allow you to make the necessary changes.
With domain theft seemingly at an all-time high and reported on domain forums and elsewhere daily, this will give domain owners added protection over their portfolios. I don’t believe another company is offering a security system that is as comprehensive as Fabulous. (UPDATE: Name.com was first to market with this, and they have been offering a security key fob for the past several months). Not only will a hacker need to steal someone’s login and passcode, but they will also need to have the security key fob, making domain theft virtually impossible.
Incidentally, In December of 2007, I wrote a post called Registrar Security: A Call to Action, where I requested security key fobs at registrars. From my post:
I think a security key fob with a changing passcode (similar to what Paypal offers) could help secure a domain registrar account. I would pay a premium for this service, and I am sure others would as well. Having good security is a unique selling point that distinguishes some registrars from others. Having the best security system in place before competitors would certainly give one registrar a major competitive advantage. Most registrants wouldn’t want multiple security key fobs, so consolidating all domain names at the most secure registrar would be the most likely outcome.
This is great news from Fabulous, and domain owners will benefit.