Frager Factor

Friday, March 25, 2011

For John Ferber, Domaining Started as a Joke

If you are wondering "John Ferber, where have I heard that name before?" Chances are you haven't (because your only news source is domain forums and news) but you will hear a lot more of this name in domain circles the next few days owing to an increased profile and media attention from his appearance on ABC's Secret Millionaire on Sunday night.

John is a partner in an emerging domain development company called Domain Holdings. Domain Holdings had a soft launch at T.R.A.F.F.I.C from which they've completed some impressive and expensive work for affluent domainers. When I sat on a panel at T.R.A.F.F.I.C with one of those affluent domainers, my friend Zappy, he showcased Silver.com as the first of many high end domains that he was developing with DH. "IF you spend a million on a name, advised Zappy at the conference, expect to spend a 1/4 that much on development and another 1/4 again on marketing, content and promotion to make it a success."

Where John and his partners will go with Domain Holdings is yet to be seen as is an offering for the least affluent domainers (to be revealed at South Florida Domainers meeting Sunday night.)

But I can tell you how he started out.

John is one of those entrepreneurs with the Midas touch, who can churn through a never ending thread of new ideas in his head, filter down to a few that fail and many that don't just succeed, but succeed big. Such was the case with a previous venture which started out as TechnoSurf.com but ended up selling out to AOL for $500 million as Advertising.com. Truthfully you'd never see the headline "AOL Acquires TechnoSurf for $500 Million." But "AOL acquires Advertising.com for $500 Million" YES! Although John, having invested the blood, sweat, tears and personal fortunes to get the company to profitability, would probably credit the $100,000 domain name purchase as one of the smaller factors of that success.

And that's the point. "Domainers have a psychological barrier that the fastest road to riches is to keep buying more names," John argues over a Herbie Chicken, his daily staple from our neighborhood bagel place. But it's been proven by the case of Advertising.com, Quin Street and others that development will take a category-killing domain names and increase the value at least ten fold. "Because with the affordable, scalable development options available today," adds John, "you really can't tell the difference in size and perception from Citibank's Mortgage.com to Mortgage.co, which we made."

Which leads me back to the headline which you are probably thinking was just a cheap trick to suck you in again (aka as high in-demand copywriting skill). It's not.

It's because our Midas man, John, got a start in domaining by buying a rinky dink homemade site full of comedy called Joke.com for $15,000. It didn't take long to flip that to domain investor Scott Day for a whopping $60K profit. Scott stripped the content and shifted it in to park where it's remained for a number of years. "I don't know what he makes on parking," John told me, "but I can guaranty the sellers remorse I have and that he could have is nothing compared to what we'll be thinking when someone someday will get for Joke.com developed into a business with a revenue stream like drugstore.com (that just sold for over $400 million)."

When he bought Joke.com just for the fun of it who'd know that he'd be one of the resources to develop it a decade later.

The point: The underlying value in a domain is through development. If you don't develop and let that potential slip away, the joke will be on you.

Don't forget to watch on Sunday night and see you at John's house next Thursday night.

And btw, don't expect miracles from Domain Holdings or any other developer. I read complaints on Andrew's blog that Octane 360 didn't return domainers calls. Could it be that they can't make gold from tin cans, as Charlie Sheen says. No one can save pigeon shit.


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About The Author: Owen Frager is an Internet marketing expert ready to help take your company to the next level.

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