What to Expect at NamesCon 2015 (Networking, Education, Offers on Domains) – With Jothan Frakes

Jothan Frakes, co-founder and content producer of the NamesCon domain name industry conference, joins Michael Cyger to discuss NamesCon 2015 taking place January 11-15 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Questions answered include:

  • How many people to expect to meet at NamesCon this year; is more always better?
  • What can you expect to learn at this event?
  • Who are the keynote speakers (exclusive announcement made), and how will they motivate you to be more successful in 2015?
  • Will the live auction have great, single/dual word domain names at wholesale prices?
  • What unique activities and parties can you look forward to attend?
  • How to have your domain name reviewed — LIVE — and potentially have a cash offer made to you, on the spot, that you will have to accept or reject (see below)

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About Jothan Frakes

Jothan FrakesJothan Frakes is co-founder and content producer of the NamesCon conference.

Frakes has specialized in domain name technical operations and DNS since 1993, has worked on issues facing registries to registrars, maintains a personal domain name investing portfolio, and has one of the most comprehensive experience bases in the industry having worked with: Name Intelligence, Verisign, Oversee, Minds + Machines, Sedari and ICANN.

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About Special Discount to DomainSherpa Viewers

Jothan Frakes and NamesCon were gracious to provide a 50%-off discount on registrations between now and December 15th. Use code sherpa50 when registering at NamesCon.Vegas.

Want to Make Money at NamesCon?

On Monday, January 12th, at 3:15 will be the session entitled “DomainSherpa Review, Live @NamesCon”. It will be the same format as our regular DomainSherpa Review series, but LIVE. If you love the DomainSherpa Review, you’ll love it even more in person. PLUS, the Sherpas will have cash on them (it’s Vegas, right?) and will be making offers on the spot for names they want to buy.

Here’s how to be a part of the action:
1. Buy your ticket to NamesCon (use 50%-off discount code “sherpa50” until Dec 15)
2. Pick one name from your portfolio that you’d like to have reviewed live at NamesCon 2015.
3. Submit it using this form.
4. Attend the “DomainSherpa Review, Live @NamesCon” session on January 12th at 3:15pm.
5. Be ready to accept or reject a cash offer if presented!

Submit Your Domain for Review

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Interview Raw (Non-Edited) Transcript

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Michael Cyger: Hey everyone. My name is Michael Cyger, and I’m the Publisher of DomainSherpa.com – the website where you can learn how to become a successful domain name investor or entrepreneur directly from the experts. On this show, we are going to do something a little bit different. We are not going to be learning about a topic, but we are going to be learning about an upcoming event that has a lot of learning opportunities for you.

There is a new conference in the domain name industry that premiered in January 2014. First time, out of the gate, the event garnered more than six hundred attendees with accolades for both the educational program and the low registration fee, two things you do not normally see paired together. Next month, in January 2015, NamesCon will run their second annual event, again in Las Vegas, Nevada, and I want to know what is going to happen, what is going to be improved, and why I should attend. So, I invited one of the Co-Founders of the show on to tell us more about it.

I would like to welcome Jothan Frakes. Jothan is a domain name industry veteran, who understands everything from registry to registrar as well as the aftermarket. In the past, he has held positions at Name Intelligence, VeriSign, Oversee, Minds Machine, Sedari, and he is an active participant in ICANN. Jothan, welcome to the show.

Jothan Frakes: Hey Michael, thank you, and it is a privilege.

Michael: Great to have you, fellow Washingtonian. You know the storms we have been having recently. I have got a whole quarter-inch of snow on the ground.

Jothan: I know, and as much as we say this, our colleagues around the rest of the nation are getting just hammered with this cold front this year, but yeah, it is quite cold.

Michael: Yeah, it is quite cold. And I make light of it, but I actually lost cable at my home office, so I am back in my co-working facility here on Bainbridge Island, which is a little bit of the background. So, how many people are you expecting at NamesCon in January 2015?

Jothan: Sure, so we will jump right in. We are projecting. So, this is not my first conference. I have done tons. I started Round Table and Domain Fest, and, and, and, so I have some algorithms that I have worked out that trace back to day zero and you tie into different tiers. My optimistic projections put us over 13 hundred people. My pessimistic or, I would say, conservative put us at about eight hundred.

Michael: Wow.

Jothan: And so, yeah, it is going to be huge. It will be the largest domain conference of its kind that has happened.

Michael: So, let me ask you, Jothan, because I go to large events in general in other industries, and everybody always likes to know how big is it going to be. How many people, but to be honest, I sort of get lost when there is too many people, like I cannot find the hundred people that I actually know at the conference and try and find them. Is bigger always better?

Jothan: You know, I totally agree with that and I do get lost. One of the things we have done is we are working with a new technology platform called Sched.org. Someone in the community turned me on to this. I look at it and, in fact, I used it for Bumbershoot last year, which is a huge music festival. It is a local version of like a Lollapalooza or something for people across the nation, but Labor Day Weekend shuts down and there are amazing concerts at Bumbershoot. Bumbershoot.org. So, anyway, I digress.

This has a great opportunity to go through and you can craft the schedule. You can select the sessions you are going to want to attend. You can create an attendee profile and as we get closer, we will be able to connect you with peers. But one of the neat things we do is even when I arrive at the conferences, you know, you are getting your hotel room. You are maybe adjusting to a time difference for folks coming from Asia and Australia and Europe. As you are getting used to those time differences, we have got a room that is kind of setup for that.

So, we have got what I called Bird of a Feather Tables. It is like a structured networking room. So, you can just mosey in, there will be a theme on a table, and there will be people sitting there, already talking about it. So, you can kind of make that day be what it wants. You are not deciding: “Do I push through and stay awake? Do I sleep? What do I do?” Additionally, we have created a lot of other content stuff. I will get into that later, but we really try to make people connect. It comes in philosophically. So, I am one of the Co-Founders. Richard Lau and Jodi (Unclear 4:42.5) also are industry veterans who are doing this, and they are just an amazing team. I mean this is the most delightful opportunity I have had to work on a conference ever.

I mean to have Richard is thinking about details to the ninths. I mean he has gone to conferences and he knows what he loves and does not love. Jodi is the same. And between the three of us, we have a really good way to kind of have a good intuition about what people want. We have designed the layout of the sessions, the layout of the overall activity. The vendors who are exhibiting are going to be in a primary expo hall, which will have couches and networking area in the middle of it. And then, to get to and from the different main sessions, you are walking through that space, and so you are constantly connecting with people you want to network with. You are crossing their paths as you move from room to room. Even though it is going to be an immense show – huge -, there is still going to be a good way to connect with people as you are crossing them in the hallways. We have designed it so that you do.

Michael: Yeah. You mentioned your Co-Founders, Jodi (Unclear 5:54.4) and Richard Lau. Jodi I of course know from past events. She is lovely. We have children that are named the same, so how can you not have a connection with Jodi? And Jodi is generally in charge of the activities of the event from what I have seen in the past. Like if I show up, Jodi knows everything that is happening, every place, and where people should be and when they should start, and all that sort of logistical stuff. Right?

Jothan: Well, she is like the magic behind the scenes. If you drew an organizational chart, she is like the white area on the organizational chart.

Michael: She is in everything.

Jothan: Serious Kung-Fu. Jodi and 32 events. She just does an amazing job.

Michael: And you mentioned that you were in charge of the educational content, and I love that. I want to go to a conference and I want to be educated, so all of the programs is educational content, but here is the question that I have for you. Past Sherpa, Richard Lau, what the heck does he do for the conference?

Jothan: Oh, Sherpa.

Michael: Richard is a past Sherpa. He has been on the show in the past.

Jothan: Oh, right, yeah, sure.

Michael: As an interviewee. What I want to know is what does he do with NamesCon. What is his role?

Jothan: Oh, well, Richard keeps us really practical and pragmatic. So, I mean I do not just blurt out the content. I pitch sessions. We have creative dialogue. So, it is not just the Federal Commission of this guy, who has proclaimeth what the sessions are going to be. He trusts my instincts and he trusts my intuitions, and he knows that my experience works towards this, but we also validate it internally. We say, “Okay, now, if we did this, would you sit it on that?” I mean does that sound interesting? And he will have ideas. We have a great culture amongst us at the domain conference that we are doing. We do not ever poop on each other’s ideas. We also plus up each other’s ideas. We say, “Okay, I like that, and if we built on it with this, it becomes truly amazing.” We are not a corporate culture, but we are good culture of how we move forward on things and resolve stuff like that.

So, Richard actually pitches session ideas. The conference is all about the Water Knight and making sure that that charity gets donations, and that is a big thing to Richard. And I mean it is not words. It is how he operates. So, he is trying to give back a lot of his success to people, but Richard is actively involved in the conference. Content. Behind the scenes, I mean I am trying to think of a good example. So, we went to go walk through the Tropicana and he actually was taking photos of the actual couches and how they are going to place, and things like that. He said, “If I am a sponsor, how am I going to get the most value? Where am I going to put my banners and things? How are we going to lay out these rooms? He is actively involved.

Michael: Yeah.

Jothan: He is very actively involved. And another name you do not hear very often is a gentleman by the name of James (Unclear 8:56.6), who is like a great business acumen. He is kind of like our fourth wheel to make it a whole car. And people do not know him yet, but they will meet him at the conference. But those of you who do know him in the industry, you really like and respect him. He is a good guy. And so, there is kind of a core team of four people.

Michael: Excellent. Yeah, James is a sharp guy. I remember meeting him at, I believe, Domain Fest three or four years ago and remember thinking he was sharp right from the beginning. So, what can people expect? Besides the networking opportunities, you have the lounge in the center of the entire thing. You have your Birds of a Feather room. Clearly I can network with people. What else can attendees expect if they are going to plunk down their cash and be away from their family and be out of the office for a few days in January?

Jothan: Sure. So, one thing that I would say is: “Do you have an hour?” We have so much going on. We have started off with a variety of I would say Ted Talk length keynotes. I will back up. Day zero, the networking day, there are classrooms.

Michael: What is that, Sunday or is that Saturday?

Jothan: Sunday.

Michael: Sunday, the 11th.

Jothan: Yeah, it is the arrival day. People come in when they come in. It all culminates kind of in a cocktail party that is sort of the welcome reception. But there is a lot of people, CES is a massive electronics show. I think most folks have heard of the Consumer Electronics Show put on by the Consumer Electronics Association, and it is where people who love gadgets and gizmos and the latest bleeding edge technology go to learn about what has been launched or revealed. That show goes from the 6th until the 9th of January, and then our conference starts on the 11th and goes until the 15th, followed by the Affiliate Summit.

So, you have got new technology that can be revealed, can take advantage of a use of a domain name to market it, and then use the affiliate learning and Affiliate Summit to really build. So, you have got a real marketing trifecta for new product launches and things like that. But everybody that might listen to your show are probably more familiar than most about domain names. Probably at least a red belt in Kung-Fu terms, but there is going to be folks who come in, who do not know the domain space, so Sunday has sessions that are kind of introductory, so sort of an on ramp.

So, Sunday, I call it day zero, but it is really a full day of conference events, and the folks at TLD Registry have put aside and have actually got a room, where they are teaching people about Chinese domain registration and accessing the next billion customers. And so, the session schedule has lots before the conference even really kicks in on Monday morning. On Monday morning, we have keynotes from Jennifer Wolfe, who is back once again to talk about how brands are benefiting from new TLDs, followed by (Unclear 12:06.7), who is the President of the Global Domains Division at ICANN. Now, he comes from the business world and he has done a lot of transformation at ICANN, and unfortunately that is something that is opaque to most people.

I mean I had the benefit from when I did application evaluation to get to see all of the transformational change inside of ICANN, but I think folks will really be impressed to hear what he has done structurally, organizationally, and how ICANN is poising itself for what is ahead.

Michael: Are we going to get to ask him questions, like why has ICANN not put forth a game plan to spend the 30 million dollars in auction proceeds? Can we ask him questions like that?

Jothan: You probably can, and the best way to get real specific answers. Look, folks, I really want to make sure that it is a positive experience for the folks who are participating from ICANN, and they get potshots all the time. I do not want it to be a piñata experience for any attendee or speaker. I want it to be a good, positive experience. So, I would ask the audience to be really receptive and listen and hear what is going on with them because there is a lot of good things that are ahead. I would also say you are going to get to hear from Fiona Alexander, from the Department of Commerce. You will hear from Kirk (Unclear 13:34.6) from the Domain Name Association. He used to be at ICANN and now he is helping with the Trade Industry Association.

And then (Unclear 13:43.5), who is going to talk about another big group of the next billion customers, which is the Arabic-speaking world and people doing internationalized domains. So, we are not stopping there at all. There is another 12 sessions, just breakouts that day, followed by a keynote by Jay Scott Evans, who is the President elect of INTA, but as he takes the stage, he will be the President of INTA. The International Trademark Association represents people in the trademark world, and I think it will be really helpful to hear what he has to say to the audience, to learn about what INTA is and what they do. It kind of follows up on something that I did at one of the first domain Round Tables; was to take and pull in people from the intellectual property realm and to bring in domain investors and entrepreneurs, and to bring in people from the aftermarket and the registries and registrars.

It was the beginning of an incredibly good area of resolution to some of the, I would say, thorny sort of friction areas that we have in the space. I think folks, inside of each of their shells, get an opportunity to vilify, or the other side. Sometime the most amazing things happen when you are sitting and sketching out solutions over a cocktail or something, networking between a domain investor and somebody who is in the intellectual property space.

Michael: Sure, it is easy to vilify them if you do not understand the other side, where they are coming from, so I can understand why understanding how ICANN is transitioning itself or how trademarks are changing over time might impact a domain investor and help them become a better investor by understanding the marketplace and how regulations are changing. So, those make sense. Is there anybody that you have lined up as a keynote that is going to motivate me? Often times, I like to come to events and I like to think, “You know, I need another revenue stream or I need to think bigger in my business opportunities, or I need to think bigger in my sales opportunities.” Who should I not miss that is going to be a great motivator for me?

Jothan: Well, Frank Schilling is going to be back, and I was just so impressed with how we filled the room. There was not a spare seat open. No people standing to watch Frank Schilling speak. He is going to be joined with an introduction by probably one of the most amazing guys in our space that nobody has gotten an opportunity to meet, which is (Unclear 16:32.9), who is Future Media Architects and he is going to introduce Frank. (Unclear 16:39.2) is a real treat to get to know. He is really somebody who has made quite a mark. He owns one of the single-character domain names that are out there that are in the generic space that he has had for a very long time.

I would also say do not miss (Unclear 16:59.2), who I hope I am saying his last name right. He is with Sedo, and he is just an amazing, energetic speaker. We are going to have this. I do not know if I will have it on the schedule yet, so this is kind of a Sherpa announcement. A Sherpa leak.

Michael: Yes!

Jothan: Yeah, baby. We are going to have Mike McLaughlin, who is a Seattlean, who is the Senior Vice President of Domains at GoDaddy, talking about what they have seen and what is ahead, and he is a really good speaker. He is a person who helped build eBay’s automobile divison into a multi-billion-dollar business and he understand what he is doing, and you will get an opportunity to hear him talk about some of the ways that they have helped to really transform their business and what their state of the industry is from their perspective as the market leader.

Michael: Yeah, awesome. If nothing else, I am going to hit him up for some advice. I am on eBay autos almost daily, looking for my ’63 Corvette split-window, so I will hit him up for some tips.

Jothan: I thought you had four of those.

Michael: I wish, from your lips. Live domain auctions had their hay day back in 2007, before I was in the industry. You were definitely in the industry. I think TRAFFIC Conference that year sold 12 million dollars worth of domain names. Let me ask you this. You have a live auction planned. Right of the Dot, Mike Berkens, Monte Cahn will be running it at the conference on Tuesday, January 13th, from 5:40PM to 7:40PM. Will the auction have great single and dual-word domain names at wholesale prices or are they all going to be retail?

Jothan: I know for a fact that there are going to be some really good no-reserve names. I cannot say what. It is really something that the folks are Right of the Dot have been doing, so Mike and Monte. Everybody knows Monte.

Michael: Yeah.

Jothan: Right of the Dot. We went through and we evaluated a number of different people, had pitched us doing an auction at the NamesCon. We did not want to do an auction honestly because there is a lot of times that that spills over into the perception. How the auction does can completely spill out into how the rest of the conference goes. So, with some reticence we actually took and reviewed some folks, and people gave us presentations. We had a lot of different attributes that we would look and we ultimately chose Right of the Dot, their proposal over a number of others, and the reason we liked it was that they were including the new domains as well as the existing generics and CCTLDs, so they were not necessarily choosy about which were going to be in there. However, the quality of the names has been something that they have been able to pick over the years.

It will be brief. They are including a lot of different TLDs in it. So, I had seen what they had accomplished in London at the ICANN meeting in London with the .GLOBAL auction. It was impressive, and I thought let’s see what will happen, and so the second day, Tuesday, right after Frank Schilling’s keynote and there will be a panel on different TLDs that are participating in the auction, and then there will be a live domain auction.

Michael: Excellent. Well, I love auctions. I love getting that paddle and feeling like I might hold it up, so you know, get your paddle and it should be fun. Tell me, Jothan. What is the one educational session – not keynotes, but one of the other educational sessions – that you have planned in the multi-track program that you got a submission for and you guys approved it or you came up with the idea and you found somebody to deliver it? What is the one that you personally are going to attend that you are totally stoked on lining up?

Jothan: Yeah, there are three actually, because I have gotten all kinds of submissions. So, there is a big focus on cyber security this year. There is a big focus on developing and building out domain names. So, sessions where you do a deep dive on WordPress or sessions where you do a deep dive on how you leverage the Amazon platform, and plug things together and make a website. You are doing God’s work there with the domain stuff. I am really keen on one session that is about policy and governance. This is an audience that is: “I do not really care about policy stuff. I want to make money,” but there is some interesting stuff going on. We are at a weird point in time, where the (Unclear 22:06.1), which is basically they edit the root zone. That database has an opportunity to transition outside of oversight by the US Government and Department of Commerce through the NTIA.

That is pretty topical. And I think folks go: “Yeah, yeah, yeah, that stuff is going on,” but I do not think people are really paying attention to: “Okay, but how does that affect me?”

Michael: Right.

Jothan: How does that affect me? And there is other stuff like changes in WhoIS policy. There is this new registrar validation stuff that is turning off names, where people do not respond to click on a link to validate their registrar email stuff. So, I think there is stuff. To me, I want to hear about what is the changes coming up in WhoIS policy and this sort of stuff. The conference though is designed to be something that you make of it what you need to make of it. With all the concurrent tracks, you can decide: “Hey, I want to lawyer up a little bit or I want to understand how to negotiate a sale. I want to understand how I am going to lease a domain name.”

Zack Moscovitch just pitched a session on leasing a domain name or doing joint ventures, and I thought immediately. It was like yeah, absolutely. And in fact, going to the point where he would provide templates for it too.

Michael: Yeah, that is a great one. I know that I have personally never done a lease and I have just agreed to terms with somebody that may start in January, and so yeah, I would probably go to that one to be able to make sure I have got all of my vital elements covered. And heck, if he is giving away a template too, it is almost like free legal advice just for attending the session, so I love that. Great examples of what people can get out of it. So, NamesCon also threw some interesting parties and events last year. I remember the Ping-Pong tournament that pitted regular Sherpa, Andrew Rosener of Media Options against Yoni (Unclear 24:04.2) of Original Venture.

Jothan: Sure.

Michael: Ten thousand dollars was on the line. A stack of bills. And you know, Drew ended up walking away with the money. It was an exciting event. What can people expect this year?

Jothan: Well, the Parking Crew folks have got some cool activities setup. I believe we have got something called the Drop Zone, where there is branded Jenga. All kinds of fun social activities.

Michael: Oh, that massive Jenga thing you have.

Jothan: Massive Jenga, yeah.

Michael: I love that.

Jothan: So, in and throughout the conference is going to be all kinds of cool stuff going on that you will not want to miss. I think we will have some acoustic musicians come through. We will have some kind of cool things going on, so it is worth not missing it.

Michael: Yeah, that is great. And I want to point out that I am in introvert. Regardless of what anybody thinks, I am like on the border between introvert and extrovert, and I have trouble going up and meeting people. And when you have these types of events and you have seating in the center of the area, where you can sit down and start chatting and meet other people as they are walking by because they either know you or they know somebody you are with, those are the great kinds of opportunities that allow you to network, create connections, and then take those back to your office and use them as sounding boards when you are thinking about a buy or selling something, or you need a quick valuation of a domain name, or what have you. You are building out a business. So, yeah, I love those. Those are all great types of activities that you have, Jothan.

Jothan: Well, we are super excited.

Michael: Let me ask you about the logistics for a few minutes. Is there still availability to stay at the conference venue, which is the Tropicana hotel?

Jothan: Yeah, there is. Just a little though, and we are going to start running up against the deadline. So, I would encourage people, if you are going to go, go to the NamesCon.Vegas website. We have got a link to click on for the hotel so that you can get your hotel rate. It is Las Vegas, so hotel rates are pretty reasonable in general. I mean it designed for conventioning. However, there is a spillover, sort of a halo effect from the CES, so while you can get rooms, you may not get them right there in the venue hotel. We are staying in the same tower as the convention, so you literally get on your elevator and you are in the floor where you need to be.

So, it is a nice hotel. We picked a four-star hotel. We talked about conference price. We have tried to create an incredibly valuable conference. We decided between make it really expensive and elite and charge sponsors very little, or charge the sponsors a little more, use that to offset the cost of the tickets, and pick a venue that you do not really. It is nice. It is a four-star hotel. It is not a five-star hotel. The room rates, I think, are 79 dollars per night. The conference overall price started at a low price. Right now is it 599. Your listeners will get a special code, SHERPA50, for 50 percent of that, so instead of 599, it will be 299.

Michael: Wow, nice.

Jothan: Yeah, you are welcome. You are welcome, Sherpas and future Sherpas.

Michael: The Sherpa audience. That is awesome. That is very generous of you.

Jothan: That will work until December 15th.

Michael: Till December 15th. All right. And I should say, to be completely honest, I did not have high aspiration that this was going to be a great hotel when I showed up in January 2014 because of the price. I think it was only 79 dollars back then. I was very surprised. It is a beautiful hotel. Very nice. Very clean. You go straight downstairs. The conference is right there. I liked being that close to the event because I am introvert, and when I need like an hour just to myself, I can just zip back to my room. The other thing I like is when I hit the Craps table, I do not need to go searching across a million acres of Craps tables to find Domain Shane when I want to play Craps. There’s only like three Craps tables, so I just look across and find him. So, it is nice to have a smaller venue, where you can find your friends and colleagues.

All right, so we talked about the price. People fly into LAS for Last Vegas.

Jothan: That is right. It is called McCarran International.

Michael: McCarran International. What is the best way to get from the airport to the Tropicana?

Jothan: Taxis are very inexpensive. It is very close. I have not had a 15-dollar cab fare, including tip.

Michael: Okay, so it is pretty cheap. And I have got to say I am loving the fact that is 79 bucks per night for the hotel. I think I made my reservation. It came out to like three hundred dollars and change. I made my flight from Seattle two hundred dollars and change. You are offering half price to the Sherpa audience, so that is half of 599, using Sherpa code, SHERPA50, and all you have to do is buy food and drinks when you are at the event. Right?

Jothan: Right. Yeah, so to keep the cost low, we do not feed you. And that actually turns into kind of cool things because people venture off to do lunches and dinners and breakfasts. And there are some good restaurants inside the hotel. Just right across the Sky Bridge in either direction, there is the Luxor and the MGM Grand. And Vegas is known for amazing dinners. There are all kinds of great restaurants you can hit, all kinds of entertainment. Nightlife. Shopping. There is some of the best outlet malls ever. There are great golf courses if that is your flavor. Las Vegas is a wonderful destination. We chose Las Vegas for it is very accessible. It is not expensive to do this. The facilities are there for when we are 50-thousand-attendee conference. You know, if and when.

But I like Las Vegas. It is a great place. And we were really lucky. The URL for the conference. I love not having to explain what city it is in. The URL is NamesCon.Vegas. We were the very first pioneer under .VEGAS, and we just are absolutely grateful to them for that.

Michael: All right, I have got a follow-up question to the .VEGAS that I know the audience wants to know, but first, let me finish up. So, there are still rooms. People can still book their ticket using the code. Is there going to be a maximum number of people at the event? Are you limited by the biggest room that you have, and is 13 hundred going to be the max?

Jothan: So, capacity peak I think fire code at 24 hundred people.

Michael: Wow. Okay, so you have still got plenty of tickets, but they may not be able to stay at the Tropicana. They may have to pick. And if the Tropicana does sell out, will you have which hotel they should stay at next listed on your website?

Jothan: We certainly will once that expires. Look, there are people who are staying offsite. If you have champagne tastes, you can go to the Wynn or the Cosmopolitan. There is no absence of really, really nice hotels, but this is not a bad hotel.

Michael: Yeah. No, it is a very nice one. Let me ask you. I know a lot of companies watch this event. Is there still room for sponsors at the event, if they are listening and they were thinking about attending, but hey, why not get a booth and then you get two free tickets included? Is there still room for sponsors to attend?

Jothan: There is absolutely room for sponsors, although the exhibit space is completely sold through. I do not have any more of that. The show guide deadline is – I want to say – the middle of next week. This is airing Thursday, so yeah, there are basically three or four days to get something into the show guide. We have some sponsorships left. I would say contact [email protected] for that.

Michael: Okay, and that is [email protected]. Now, that brings me to my next question. The new gTLDs, God, love them or hate them, investors feels that way. NamesCon was launched on a .COM. Then you moved to the .VEGAS top-level domain, so it is NamesCon.Vegas. Both domain names resolve and display content. I was on your Facebook page earlier, where you say NamesCon.Vegas in the about section, but then every individual post lists NamesCon.com. You just mentioned Jodi’s email address at the .COM. What is the deal on it? Why is it so hard to pick a domain name for the event?

Jothan: Well, we have not had a problem picking a domain name for the event. I mean if you go to NamesCon.buzz, it goes directly to our news page. Different domain names have different utility and purpose. And it is not about saying this is domain or that domain is the right domain. I mean people know NamesCon as the conference. We started of on a .COM, and I think a .COM is still the gold standard. I am not here to try to talk people into something that they do not want to try or not try, but we absolutely love the .VEGAS extension. I mean I do not ever have to explain what city. I do not get asked that question as a follow-up. Oh, yeah, what city is it in, or maybe as a joke, but it is a great name.

And in fact, saying .VEGAS, when somebody hears Vegas, I love the response that they have because they are like: “Ooh, Vegas.” I mean it is a .COM. They know it is going to be commercial. It is going to be something about domains and the industry, but when they hear Vegas, they are like: “Ooh, yeah.”

Michael: Right, but as a business owner, have you chosen to keep the .COM because you may actually run a NamesCon in another city and you want to keep that option open? Why have you not switched off the .COM, redirecting all traffic to the .VEGAS?

Jothan: So, it is a combination of things, to be candid, and I will say it to you because you are the Sherpa and you would probably pluck it out of me anyway. You will extract it. You are Lord (Unclear 34:47.6) of the web inquisitors. But I will say this. So, .COM, if you start a website on a .COM and then you build up search engine juice, I mean if you listen to anything Matt (Unclear 35:00.1) says, who is kind of the Google guy, you listen to what he talks about. You do not transition. You do not just rip the Band-Aid off and shift everything over. There have been people who have done that and it has cost them, and you do not do that. You gradually trickle over your use, and so that is what we have been doing.

We trickle over the use. We advertise Vegas, and both work. It is interdependent. I think it is all about getting eyeballs to your website. .VEGAS is a very catchy domain name and I like that, and that is what we are using for the domain, but we also are using .COM and we are transitioning. We do our site on WordPress because it is a fantastic content management platform, and Matt Mullenweg came. The guy who started WordPress came and spoke as a keynote last year, so we want to support those who support us of course. But you have to actually go in and make changes to change the domain name of those links, and a lot of times those links have challenges to when you navigate.

So, there are all kinds of technical reasons, search reasons, other reasons that we have not entirely just ripped off and gone over to NamesCon.Vegas, but we are giving out business cards. We are talking about it. We see NamesCon.Vegas. Links, we sometimes are still linking back to our exiting content, and you are going to see this with other people. There was a brand. A lot of the brands are going to come and talk about what they are doing, or they are going to be there to learn. Some large movie studios. Some large electronic manufacturers. There are search engines. Let’s say people who make operating systems. Large companies that are going to be talking through what they do.

Michael: Excellent. Yeah.

Jothan: So, there was a large company though called The CITIC Group, which is in China. The only parallel I could think of in US terms and even get somebody to think about it would be Berkshire Hathaway. And so, they took and actually redirected CITIC.com to Limited.CITIC, and that was their primary web presence. They did that as an experiment, and they now are still using CITIC.com and then they have got individual divisions that are setup so that you go to Whatever.CITIC. And that is just something that you are going to have to determine how the traffic flows and what is the impact. Look at your web traffic. See if it affects how things go. Look at your search engine rankings.

You want to do a smart transition, and there are going to be sessions on SEO. There are going to be sessions on SEO impact. The Domain Name Association, Kirk (Unclear 37:46.6) is the Executive Director that they did a poll, actual survey to just John Q. public people. Not just us, who know and are familiar with the domain space, but just the average Joe and I will say a Gunter or Juan, because they did it in Mexico and in Germany and in – I want to say – Spain. They did it globally. They did not just do it in one country. And they gave them a survey. They said, “If you look at Buy.Shoes or Shoes.com, which of these instills different trust specters to you?” And they are going to be presenting the results of that, and it is actually kind of shocking what you would find from that.

Michael: Excellent.

Jothan: So, do not stop there. I mean yeah, you can twist my nipple a little about this .VEGAS thing. It is cool.

Michael: We will leave that for the after party. All right, if you have questions for Jothan, please post them in the comments below this video on DomainSherpa and I will ask Jothan to come back and answer as many as he can. Jothan, you convinced me. I am attending NamesCon. I am looking forward to it. If the audience needs one more reason to attend, I would love to meet them in person and chat with them. I have developed multiple sites. I am a Publisher by background. I serve over one million readers per month. We do advertising, we do lead generation, and I would love to share that information if anybody wants to come up and chat with me.

I will also be facilitating the Domain Sherpa Review live on stage with three Sherpas, Adam Dicker, Drew Rosener, and Page Howe. If you want your domain included in that review, where a Sherpa might even make you an offer to buy that domain on the spot and then you can decide if you want to accept it or not, you have to attend the event. We are going to open up submissions for domain names soon, so be sure to buy your ticket. Use that code. What was that code again for Sherpa audience?

Jothan: SHERPA50.

Michael: SHERPA50. All right. Excellent. Go to NamesCon.Vegas to register.

Jothan Frakes, Co-Founder of NamesCon. Thanks for coming on the show, telling us more about the event and what we can expect if we pay to attend the event. It sounds like a lot. Thanks for coming on the show.

Jothan: Thank you. It is a privilege. Take care, Michael.

Michael: Thank you all for watching. We’ll see you next time.

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21 Responses to “What to Expect at NamesCon 2015 (Networking, Education, Offers on Domains) – With Jothan Frakes”

  1. Ken O'Brien says:


    Another great show…

    We met briefly at last years NamesCon and I hope to get the opportunity to say hello this year.

    If you could email me what type of domains you are interested in for your live Domain Sherpa show I will see if I have any that fit your wants.

    Ken O’Brien

  2. Eric Jenkins says:


    Nice interview…..Good luck with the show Jothan, I know it will be great.

    Eric Jenkins

  3. albert says:

    Another great one Mike.
    I bought my ticket but I actually may not be able to attend.
    Heck, I even made my reservations at the Excalibur just right across the street.

    At any rate, it looks like it is going be great and I hope to see all there.

    1. Bummer. It would have been great to meet you in person, Albert. I hope your plans change and you can make it.

      1. Albert says:

        Thanks Mike.

  4. I look forward to seeing you again Michael! Jothan, thanks for the heads up as to what to expect! I’m really looking forward to it!

    1. Likewise, Vin. It’s been too long!

  5. Kassey says:

    I just looked at namescon.com, namescon.vegas, and namescon.buzz.

    It appeared namescon.vegas is just an exact copy of namescon.com contents, and namescon.buzz redircts to namescon.buzz.

    So my conclusion is: .com is still the cornerstone of any business, and net gTLDs can be used effectively for marketing. Any comments?


    1. Hi Kassey,

      Jothan explained this well in the video. It’s “in progress” and he gives good reasons why. Did you see that part of the video?


      1. Kassey says:

        Yes, I was just saying my conclusion from listening to the interview — that .com will remain as the cornerstone of the domain world, but others will flourish too but only playing a minor role.

        1. I think many people think that. I do in most cases.

          If NamesCon goes outside of Vegas, then NamesCon.com is the best domain name. If they, however, decide that they will only deliver their event in Las Vegas, then NamesCon.Vegas will likely be a better domain name.

          Thanks for commenting, Kassey.

          1. Kassey says:

            Very much agreed. New gTLDs can be very power and effective in advertising, as Namescon.vegas illustrates.

  6. Kassey says:

    For us that live far away outside the US, will we be able to read the result of the The Domain Name Association’s survey “If you look at Buy.Shoes or Shoes.com, which of these instills different trust specters to you?” on the Internet? Thanks.

  7. Pam T. says:

    Very useful overview. Without a full agenda, it’s often hard to judge if a conference is going to be useful to me until it’s too late for me to go. Thanks for this in-depth video.

    1. Thanks for watching and commenting, Pam. Hope to meet you there.


  8. Domain Shane says:


    We got the craps in last year but are we going to get in our 7 mile run as well? And thanks for another great interview. Really looking forward to this years’ Namescon.

    1. Shane!

      Yes, looking forward to it. Need to ping Steven and make sure he’s going too. The three amigos on the craps table again. :)

  9. Trev says:

    Sounds like an awesome event! I’m going to see if I can make it, and book by 12/15 to get the discount. Thanks Jothan and Michael for the discount code and show explanation. Great detail.

    1. Thanks for watching and commenting, Trev. Hope to see you there.

  10. Thanks for the great insight.
    Looking forward to being there and networking and learning.
    Last year was valuable and am confident this year will be as well.

    1. Thanks for commenting, James. I hope to meet you in person.

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