Rob Grant Interview – I have asked various parties within the domain industry to take part some interviews to give us a little background about themselves, where they see the industry heading and how they feel the current market for domain names are our fourth interview is by Rob Grant.
Rob Grant is chairman & CEO of WebMediaProperties.com , a diversified online media and publishing company operating a global network of 8000 specialty web sites.
Grant is also CEO & President of Point Judith Properties, Inc., a real estate holding company located in New York State.
Considered one of the early pioneers and visionaries in the emerging field of direct search and the internet, Grant has been credited with building one of the largest online real estate networks in the world operating under the umbrella of RealEstateDirectory.com
Today, his various companies, including WebMediaProperties, control one of the largest online networks of consumer information portals and web sites covering a diverse spectrum of industries including Automotive www.FourWheelDrive.com , Music www.RecordingArtists.com , Travel www.CaribbeanResorts.com , Entertainment www.TalentAgents.com , Publishing www.BookPublishers.com , Winter Sports www.CrossCountrySkiing.com , Summer Sports www.Marathons.com , Education www.SpecialEducation.com , Hobbies www.TropicalFish.com , Law www.TradeMarkAttorneys.com , Business www.PRFirms.com , Construction www.PreFabHomes.com , Special Interest www.DietBooks.com , Retail www.DiscountDesignerApparel.com , Mail Order www.ChristmasWreaths.com and hundreds of other categories.
1) What are your current thoughts on the Domain Aftermarket? i.e. Sales and Enquiries etc – General Mood of Domainers / End users?
It’s important to remember that domains are still an emerging asset class with very limited exposure outside of our small domain industry.
However, like all assets, domain names and the domain aftermarket rise and fall with the ebb and flow of the global economy.
When these markets are depressed, or there is general anxiety about the direction of the economy (as is the case right now), we feel it on a micro level with domain sales.
Since the Great Recession first started, we have seen a very cautious investment environment for domain names.
I really don’t see this changing until the economy begins to recover, which could be several more years, barring any more shocks to the system.
As far as the mood of domainers go, they seem to be in sync with real world real estate agents.
Both groups seem to be living in quiet desperation and just praying that things are going to get better.
Domainers have had to endure the loss of their monthly PPC cash flow, which put a big squeeze on budgets and lifestyles (and on domain renewals).
Simultaneously, the aftermarket took a big hit (in tandem with real estate markets around the world).
Basically, its ‘Fear & Loathing in DomainVille’ right now.
2) Where do you see GTLDS in 3 years time?
As I’ve said repeatedly in other discussions, gtlds are the biggest trainwreck on the horizon.
Not only will they create massive confusion for the general public, but introducing thousands of new gtlds when the market is already glutted with useless extensions like .mobi, .biz, .info, etc seems redundant and stupid.
Get ready for general domain chaos and panic.. with companies scrambling to protect their brands with countless defensive registrations, UDRP’s and lawsuits.
The only upside to this mess is that it will attract a lot of new investment capital into the domain space.
But a lot of this money is going to be lost chasing these new fictional gtlds.
In 3 years time, as we pick through the general wreckage and carnage of fallen gtlds, a few isolated winners may still be breathing. But it won’t be pretty…
The only exception could be Google – If they put their weight behind a particular extension like .web and give it their endorsement (or a powerful brand like Apple).
3) What are you or your companies investing in? i.e. Dot Com only Domains – Typo – etc?
Dot Com Domains remain the Gold Standard for investing. And its been this way (for me) for 16 years.
The rest of the extensions floating around out there are like 3rd world curriencies…a few are strong, but most are worthless.
But dot com remains the benchmark for value.
4) Do you believe in Parking or Developing? What are your tips for either i.e. Top Parking Platform (What Do You Use) – Developing your thoughts on what to develop and how best achieve it?
Parking is still marginally viable for large portfolios that generate traffic – These portfolios still require scalable solutions, and parking remains the only efficient model. Parking platforms like Frank’s InternetTraffic are the most efficient at monetizing quality names.
But let’s face it, the party is over for most domainers.
When I look at Parking today, its like looking at a crime scene where you can still see the chalk outline of the victim (ie: domainers) on the sidewalk…
You need to move on now (and stop staring), and select a few great brandable domains to develop.
If not, you might want to think about a new career.
5) What is your favourite domain personally or company owned?
I have a lot of great domains that I really like. A lot of these I hand registered back in 96.
My portfolio is quite old and includes roughly 8000 domains
Here’s a few –
You can preview a sampling of the portfolio at www.WebMediaProperties.com
(the list goes on…)
6) If you were starting out in the domain space today what are your 3 top tips?
I only have one – Focus on one great domain.
Just make sure its a dot com, and give it your full attention.
If you execute properly, you can build a business that will generate cash flow and support you for a lifetime.
7) What’s the next big thing that your companies are working on?
We have a very powerful real estate platform that we’ve introduced in conjunction with our development partners – www.eDomainers.com out of San Diego.
A great example of this new platform is:
Since I own the world’s largest real estate vertical, its critical that we find a way to monetize these valuable names.
This new platform can be leased to real estate firms – or individual agents and brokers – and provides a turn-key solution with comprehensive SEO & everything else that a real estate business needs to compete successfully on the web.
It’s a very elegant solution and comes at a time when the real estate industry is being transformed and re-defined by the internet… Infact, 95% of all real estate searches now begin online – so we’re ideally positioned for this new industry.
8)Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
Honestly, I love what I do – So I’ll probably be right here!
9) What has been your biggest challenge in the domain business?
Waking up each morning and hoping that domain names are still viable assets – And not something that technology has rendered obsolete (like so many other industries).
The moment you become arrogant, or convinced that you’re right and everybody else is wrong…Its over.
So I try to stay diversified. That’s why I operate other businesses outside of the internet space, which are not tied to the fate and destiny of domains.
10) What do you feel has been your largest accomplishment in the Business / Personally?
Creating a program that has gifted over $1 million dollars in valuable education domain names to colleges and universities in the U.S.
I would like to say a big Thank You to Rob for taking part in this interview for RobbiesBlog.com – Please check out Rob’s sites and remember to check out Rob’s Sites – www.RobGrant.com & www.WebMediaProperties.com