In the days leading up till the New Year, I will be rebroadcasting some of the more interesting content within 9000 pages of buried treasure that lives on FragerFactor.com. Since Howard Neu has resurfaced as one of our choices for Domaining's Most fascinating People for 2013, I thought you'd enjoy this 2010 interview from Domain Success as Danny Pryor interviews Howard and then surprise, Rick Schwartz calls in. Then Howard's wife Barbara and me and Tia Wood. It's priceless. SO enjoy!
Howard Neu was one of the first guys I met when I came to Florida 10 years ago. I used to read about him in the paper, and I wanted to meet him. He became my attorney, and he helped me actually through a rough time. I'll always be grateful to him. He has represented some amazing people in the legal business, from the most notorious domains back in the days when he was one of the few people around that was such a thing as a domain attorney. And so we hope that he'll share those stories tonight. Then of course he got into TRAFFIC, as the co-founder TRAFFIC, something we all know about. Tonight he'll share some stories about how that started and where it's going.
So, the question tonight is, why is Howard baring it all? We said Neu was baring it all. And that's because he's quietly been lurking behind the scenes, kind of the Orville to Rick Schwartz's Wilbur. While Rick has the high profile and the left-brained ideas, Howard does a lot of the right brain work to execute the ideas. And every left brain needs a right brain, and that's something I know very well myself. And TRAFFIC of course, it was the original conference I think to me. It was a major event in the history of domains. When they write the book about history, it will be TRAFFIC that moved the industry forward.
A lot of people don't know, but a lot of deals were made there. A lot of companies were formed there, by domains or by acquisitions what it is today and all the companies that got acquired. And of the companies like that, those discussions start over coffee, over drinks. At TRAFFIC, if you ever traced it or someone wrote a book about it, you would see that it's more than just going there and listening to seminars and looking at events. It's the value of the networking. You never know when your left-brained person can meet the right-brained person that you've always been looking for. And chances are if you go to that show and you're really serious about doing business, you're going to get access to people who could help you.
Of course the TRAFFIC show has sparked a tidal wave of imitators and competitors in a good way that makes a difference for all of us each and every day. So Howard will tell us about that soon, and we're going to see. And then we know the other guys are out there with Playboy bunnies, and we're going to see how we can top that tonight.
So, if you're ready, we'll dive right in, and I'm going to introduce Danny, and Danny, I'm going to let you pose the first questions to Howard.
Danny: All right. Well, thank you very much Owen. Howard, thanks for joining us for this wonderful little roundtable we've got going here. For those of you who are in Australia, good morning. For those of you in Europe, good evening. And for those of you in Hawaii, good afternoon. So, Howard, you've done this lots of times before. Any nervousness today before you get started, or are you ready to come online and go on the air?
Howard Neu: No, Danny. Actually, Owen just gave my whole speech, so I don't have to do anything here except sit back and relax.
Danny: Okay. Good. We'll just grab some old recordings and let those things go. There was something that I was absolutely fascinated with, and I rolled off the chair laughing. And that was, if we can pull it up there. This is from DomainGang earlier today: Howard Neu Bares All. When you saw this, what went through your head?
Howard: I should look so good. I figured maybe Barbara gave him that picture. That's a recent picture, but I've put on a few pounds since.
Danny: The thing that struck me was the leaf painted carefully on there. I just couldn't resist. Well I want to start with a little bit of history. Of course, you're an attorney, and you've been a politician, but let's start with the attorney side of things. Your first exposure to online, I guess would have been with handling domain defense and UDRP and ACPA cases, cyber squatting cases. Tell us a little bit about how you started getting involved in those and when that started happening.
Howard: Well, up until I guess about 10 years ago, around 2000, my law practice consisted primarily of corporate litigation, estate planning, wills, trusts, real estate and that type of thing. I managed to do some trust and estate planning for a fellow that was in the website business. He had some very successful adult websites, and he got me involved in the legal end of it to give me an idea of what's involved.
Basically, Rick gave me the beginning of my UDRP practice, because right around 1999, 2000, the law changed. The Clinton administration passed the ACPA. I was introduced to a fellow named John Zuccarini, and I ended up doing a lot of litigation on his behalf, and under the ACPA, made some new laws doing it. And then the UDRP came into action, and I guess because of my involvement in online forums, like Deann forum and Rick's private chat board, I picked up client after client after client and was able to do a lot of domain litigations, to the point where I just changed by practice altogether and just practiced either in WIPO, NAF, or federal court. And it really completely changed my life.
Danny: What is the most successful case you ever handled? I guess it's all federal stuff, so what is the most successful case you've handled there?
Howard: Well, there have been a number of cases, and I wouldn't say that one is more successful than the other. Anytime you win, you're successful.
Danny: I guess that's true.
Howard: I think one of the successful early on was in New York Federal Court, where I was defending a client against Maxim Magazine, and we won the one, and that worked our pretty good. My early successes were with Rick's domains, where he got C&D letters and lawsuits, and we won those. We kind of bonded together at that point. I'm going to ask Rick to say a few words. I see he's on the line, but I'll hold that for a minute. Basically, it just went from there, because Rick and I hit it off real well, and I was really involved in his chat board, primarily in a legal sense and contributed regularly.
Danny: So that was how you met Rick was defending him. That was where it all began?
Howard: Well actually, I met him at a seminar. He liked what I had to say. The fact of the matter is that I'm a very practical lawyer. I don't believe in litigation for litigation's sake or for getting fees. I believe in doing the best for the client, and sometimes I tell the client the truth, and Rick is the kind of guy who likes to hear the truth. So if I tell him, you're going to lose this one, give up the domain, he'll agree. On the other hand, if I say, forget about it. Throw the C&D letter in the garbage, because they're not going to do anything about it, he'll agree with that, too. And so it worked out pretty well, and gave me a pretty good start in the domain defense litigation business, where it turns out there's only a handful of us doing it.
Danny: You handed me a note online earlier, sending me the cases you handled for Rick. Any specific case you want to mention that you handled that sticks out?
Howard: Well, the first case that we did, I'm going to let Rick chime in if he wishes if I can figure out how to work this thing.
Danny: I think I just unmuted him, so he should be able to . . . Rick, are you there?
Rick: I think so. Am I there?
Danny: Yes, you are.
Howard: Yeah, you're there Rick. Anyway, he asked me about the first case, and with your permission, because it's attorney client privilege, I'll be glad to tell him.
Rick: Only if you enhance it and make it better than it really is.
Howard: Well, the first case was Godiva.org, and really wasn't a case so much as it was a C&D letter, even before the ACPA came on and before UDRP. It was early on, and Rick owned Godiva.org, as you can see on the screen right now, and it goes a website. And he got a C&D letter from the Campbell Soup company that owns Godiva Chocolatiers, telling him to give it up and give it to them, or they're going to take action, blah blah blah. And I said, forget about it, because there's no way that they can get it. So I wrote them a letter, and I said, "Look. Lady Godiva was a naked lady on a horse. We're pointed to naked ladies, whether on a horse or not, and we have a legitimate business interest, and go fly a kite." And they did.
Rick: And that was mmm, mmm, good, too, right?
Howard: Right. So, that was the start of it, and shortly thereafter we got another cease and desist letter from Libby Industries, because Rick had a domain called GoofOff.com. I don't know if you have a picture of that one. GoofOff.com, which was a travel and leisure site, and Libby Industries . . . there it is, GoofOff.com. Libby Industries has a trademark for GoofOff paint remover.
So they sent the cease and desist letter. At that time, it was before UDRP. It was even actually before ACPA. In order to protect the domain, when a cease and desist letter was issued, you'd have to notify the registrar. The registrar would lock the domain, and then the domain owner would have to take some action in order to free up the domain. So, we told Libby Industries that we had a legitimate business interest for GoofOff.com. They filed a lawsuit. The bottom line is we ended up not only winning it, but they paid our attorney's fees. So we did very good with that one. Then we had another one. What was that lipstick one, Rick?
Rick: We have LipService, I think.
Howard: LipService. Yeah, LipService.com. There was a French clothing line that had the trademark on LipService.
Danny: That's interesting.
Howard: Of course, ours, as you can see, was an adult site. And again, we had good business reasons to use it as an adult site, and this one we were on UDRP. It was one of the first UDRP cases.
Danny: That's a question I've got for you, because the legitimate business interests versus the generic, factor that comes into play. Because here in the US, if I'm paying a person lip service, I'm just kind of blowing them off, saying abadabada. It's kind of like the old Seinfeld yada, yada, yada thing. That to me would soon be a generic term. You just have to have a legitimate business interest?
Howard: Yeah, and it wasn't in use at the time. But the fact of the matter is it was pointed to an adult site, and it made sense. There was a lot of lip service going on, on the adult site.
Danny: Well let me ask you a question. You said one of these domains was before UDRP and ACPA. Have those policies, administrative policies and those laws since they were instituted made it more difficult or easier for the domainer to be able to defend his domain property? Or both?
Howard: Well, UDRP made it easier. Simply we would respond to the UDRP action. And this is the key, and I will repeat this over and over again, if he had a legitimate business interest for the domain, or if it was a generic domain that can be used in any way, in spite of the fact that there was a trademark or maybe there was a trademark to something similar, you could win, and you could win very cheaply.
On the other hand, then Federal Court, if was a big risk, and it still is to this very day. A big risk for domainers, because not only do you stand to lose the domains because federal judges are not interested in what happens online so much as they are interested in enforcing trademark law. But you could also end up spending, number one, a lot of money in attorney fees. Number two, a lot of time defending the action. And number three, you could end up paying $100,000 per domain for every domain that's in violation of the act. So to that extent, ACPA is no friend of domainers.
Danny: That's interesting. One of the things that you mentioned is the spending of hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend a domain or having to pay the 100,000 for a fine if you're found to be in violation of the act. One of the elements of a successful UDRP, I guess is to demonstrate that person registering the domain acted in bad faith. What about bad faith claims against the domainer? How much does that play into all of these legal procedures?
Howard: Well, from a realistic standpoint, it really doesn't matter. Yeah, there's such a thing as reverse domain hijacking, and yeah, you can say, 'Well, they're guilty of reverse domain hijacking' and slap their hand, but it means nothing, absolutely nothing. It has no effect on any future activity. It has no financial effect. It means nothing.
So, the only place that there is some meaning is in US Federal Court. I had a case in Baltimore on a domain, I can't remember the name of it offhand, but we filed a counterclaim in that one, against the complainant. And we were successful in the counterclaim, so it ended up costing the complainant a lot of money. So, in effect, the ACPA does provide for going against the complainant if there's a legitimate basis for doing so.
Danny: Very cool. Now, you started talking about a lot of the stuff on your blog, which went online on your birthday back in March.
Howard: Yeah, thank you [inaudible 16:56]. Thank you very much.
Danny: You're very welcome. Happy birthday. Ray, your son had worked to get everything set up for you, and he came to me and asked me if I could help him with it. I said sure, and we put it together. We were hoping to have you type your first blog from your birthday party, but you typed it the next morning, I guess when you were able to focus a little bit more. How has this helped you to express yourself?
Howard: Well, sometimes it's not that easy to blog on a regular basis. Mike Berkens has it down cold. Andrew Alleman does a really great job. Rick does a terrific job, although he's not as frequent as the others. And there are so many others, like Elliott and Shane, and so on and so forth. It's not easy, particularly if you need to stick to one subject, which is domains. So, it takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of effort. It takes a lot of time researching, but I enjoy it, because I really get a chance to say what's on my mind.
Like the day before yesterday, I was talking about everyone and his brother selling domains, but who's buying? Because you get all of these sales lists from Ron Jackson at DNJournal and from Seato and so on, but they rarely tell you who's buying it, and more importantly, why they're buying it, and what are they doing with it. Because that certainly is really valuable information to getting the best value. In fact Rick just did a post on it recently on the difference between a good domain and a bad domain. I don't know if you can pull up that particular blog that Rick did. I tried to unmute him by the way, and for some reason it's not unmuting.
Owen: I'll take care of it. I'll take care of it.
Howard: It's posted on May 25th, on working smarter and you will live. But even before that, he's been talking a lot about knowing this difference between a good domain and not a good domain. In fact, to be honest with you, one thing that we haven't discussed is that I took all of his blogs from 2007 through 2009. And I'm compiling them into a book that we hope will be up and running and published in time for our October TRAFFIC.
Danny: Wow. Really? What is that going to be titled?
Howard: It was originally titled "Rick's Blog" something. Now it's "Numbers Don't Lie, People Do". It's still subject to change.
Danny: Interesting. Almost like a paint by numbers or live by numbers thing. That's one of the things that Rick has always said that I find fascinating. As much you can repeat it, it has to be repeated for people to be reminded that that is true. One thing you mentioned just recently is that when all of these sales are released on DNJournal or when a company announces that it's made a big sale, is that they don't tell you who bought it what the purpose of the purchase was. How critical is that?
Howard: Probably because the information is not available. I would assume that the information as to who bought it is available, certainly not the doing of the buyers and what motivated them to buy. I've sat in on some auctions at TRAFFIC. In fact, I've sat in on all the auctions, and usually we spend a lot of my money, but not as much as Rick does. When you sit in on an auction, you see people bidding on domains, you wonder what's motivating them. And I've talked to Mike Berkens and to Steve Sachs, and the Hams about what motivates them to buy particular domains, and it's really, like Rick likes it, it's a gut instinct.
Danny: Let me ask you think. One of the things that Rick mentioned in one of his blogs, and one of the things that I've observed, and I think you've observed as well, is that the industry tends to be, or at least up until very recently, a lot of the big domain sales were happening just within the domain industry itself. Now, that has changed, most notably with the sale of Candy.com. Of course everybody knows about the Toys.com sale to ToysRUs. But how much is that going to have to continue to change, in order for the industry itself to survive?
Howard: Probably a lot. I think that in order to get the big sales, certainly you need end users. There's no question about that. I know that for the auction that we're going to be having in South Beach in October, we are working with Rick Latona to try to get as many end users as possible to attend the auction. I know that Domainfest did something similar to that last week in Fort Lauderdale. That's where the big money is obviously.
If you can get two or three persons that are interested in the domain to bid, then you've got a successful auction. I think that you've got to look at it from the standpoint of retail versus wholesale, because you're going to sell to domainers on a wholesale basis, whereas you're going to sell to end users on a retail basis, and that makes a big difference in the amount that you're going to get for the domain.
Danny: Have you heard anybody come with any ideas about how to reach more end users, particularly at the small business level?
Howard: I've heard a lot of different ideas, none of which have really succeeded to any great extent yet. Certainly advertising and trade publications for a particular domain that would interest that trade. Making personal contact, obviously, is the best way, either by phone or in person, not as well by email, because you usually can't get to the right person. Again it's a lot of work, but the rewards are certainly there if you're willing to put in the work to do it.
Danny: One of the things I've seen are these postcards they're now sending in the mail with the domain name on them.
Howard: Yeah, I saw that.
Danny: Yeah. They've got these single postcards coming in the mail.
Howard: I wonder how many of those actually get looked at, and how many just get ditched in the garbage.
Owen: I actually spoke to a guy. I actually spoke to that guy, and he said it hasn't worked so far. And I was wondering, who's behind it. It's just a private guy, and I don't know if he compiled the list himself, but he said he hadn't generated results. He tried a second one I guess.
Danny: I'll tell you which two I got for sale, which were, let me see here. We had blogsearch.com, and then other one was FeatherPad.com that came in the mail here. Attractive cards. It costs a lot to buy mail lists or to compile your own and send them out in bulk. I know, because I've done that. Not any time recently, but it does cost a lot of money.
Howard: Elliott in his blog a couple of months ago gave a whole big thing on how to reach the end user by sending snail mail and so on and so forth. And I tried that with a few domains. I went to end users that I saw were either advertising on Google or that I had access to. And I got absolutely zero response. So I'm not sure that the snail mail, postcards, letters, I don't know that that does anything.
Danny: I have to wonder, if they don't recognize... it's one of those cases where they still don't get it. I think it really probably comes down to that. What do you think?
Owen: Well Howard knows, 10 years ago when I came to him with two 10-inch thick binders. I took two years off and ran around and contacted every corporation. I had letters from Bloomingdales saying why would want boys department, girls department, furniture department? We're Bloomingdales.
Howard: Yeah, I remember the thing with the shoe department, Owen.
Danny: Although Rick's example of Hotel.com or Hotels.com. I wish we had an engineer where we could play that clip from the 2006 TRAFFIC where you stood up and called all the geniuses at Westin and Marriott and Hotels.com.
Howard: That was a great moment.
Danny: That's the greatest example in the world really.
Howard: Yeah, it really is. That really says it all. Of course there are other examples, but there are those corporations that do get it. I don't know who bought Dating.com for 1.75 million, because again we hear about the sale, but you don't hear that much about the buyer. But I'm surprised that it was even available at auction at this time, with all the dating websites that are out there.
Owen: What they are buying is corporations, and this is what I mostly, 100% cover in my blog, are these call to action domains. I think that SunTrust here in Florida has LiveSolid. The rumor was that they paid $95,000 for that. You don't hear about these sales, but if you watch TV, there's not a commercial that doesn't have a call to action domain now.
Danny: And that's certainly a category I think that's going to be growing. What do you think, Howard?
Howard: Yeah, I agree with Owen. That is a growing area and certainly worth pursuing if you can get to the right people. That's the important thing.
Danny: Who owns CruiseShips.com?
Howard: I don't know.
Danny: Well you sing on cruise ships. You do stuff on cruise ships.
Howard: I do, but I don't know who owns CruiseShips.com.
Danny: We should look that up real quickly while you're telling us what you do on cruise ships.
Howard: What do I do? Actually, I started out lecturing on domains and how they can make you wealthy, but nobody wanted to get wealthy from domains, because it was very lightly attended. On two or three cruises a year, give my regards to Broadway. The history of the Broadway musical. I do four 45-minute lectures with videos of Broadway shows that go back to the 20s up to the current day, and they are well received.
Danny: Interesting. Just for the record, it looks like it's probably registered at Fabulous, because it's got WhoIs privacy protection on it out of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, and name service for the domain on Hip Farm. But let's get back to the Give my Regards to Broadway presentations you do. How did you fall into that one?
Howard: I've been involved in musicals for a long time. I've not appears on Broadway, but I have appeared locally here in south Florida in various musicals. I have a musical background, so I've always loved musicals. Every time I go to New York, I make sure that I see two or three shows Barbara and I picked that we would like. There are some duds, but most of them we like. What's that?
Barbara: We took Rick.
Howard: Yeah, we took Rick to his first show. I don't think Rick's on anymore. I think he gave up.
Rick: I'm here.
Owen: Hi Rick.
Howard: You're there. OK. I couldn't see your name on the list, Rick. But yeah, we took Rick to his first show. We saw "Wedding Singer" and he loved it. It was a great show. So, we've had a lot of experience with it, so I decided to do some research on it, because it's a subject that I love. Because I do sing, that's part of the presentation. And I get the whole audience to sing, and we all have a great time.
Danny: I've got on the screen if you can see, Ron Jackson's article from DNJournal last year, April 2009.
Howard: Yeah, I sang with my dad. He was the cantor before he passed, and he was very well-respected in the cantorial community throughout the country. And the picture you see below is from the very first TRAFFIC, where I teamed up with a friend to do a duet from Grease. By the way, I don't know if you noticed or not, but Grease is coming back this summer in July. It's sing along with Grease. They're coming out with follow the bouncing ball type thing, where everybody can sing along with all the songs in Grease.
Danny: Wow, that is fantastic.
Owen: I have a question. I never saw this article before. I don't know why. But tell me about how your dad owned a gas station and became the cantor. How did he become the cantor?
Howard: Good question. I grew up in Chicago, and in Chicago he sang in a choir with the renowned cantor Joshua Lind. He sang with the Lind brothers, who were quite famous on their own in the 40s. And so he was steeped in the tradition and in the cantorial, and when we moved to Daytona Beach in 1950, of course he had to make a living. So he bought a gas station. He operated a gas station, but they also were looking for a cantor. And he applied for the job, and he became the cantor of Daytona Beach, and we were there for four years before we moved to south Florida.
Danny: Here's another picture of you and Emily Ann. If I recall, she's from Clicker Z doing some singing. Singing is a big part of your life. When did you start singing? As a child?
Howard: Yeah, pretty much. I sang in a junior choir, and I sang... in fact, I sang on the radio when I was 11 years old in Daytona Beach. I sang "Lucky Lucky Me" on the radio.
Howard: So yeah, I sang all through high school. I was the soloist for the high school chorus and soloist for the men's glee club at the University of Florida. So I've been singing all my life. I'm a baritone.
Owen: Tia Woods wants you to give us an example.
Howard: I don't know. What would you like me... how about... gee, I'm trying to think of a Tia Woods song.
Danny: A Tia Woods song.
Howard: How about, [singing] I've got you under my skin. I've got you deep in the heart of me. So deep in my heart, you're really a part of me. I've got you under my skin.
Danny: Wow. Fantastic. I'm sorry we didn't have our applause track ready to go on that one.
Owen: Do you think there's something genetic about that, that your father has the voice, and you have the voice? Many singers, their children become singers also.
Howard: Well, yeah, to some extent that's true. I have a brother and a sister, and my sister is also a singer. She sang professionally in New York and in California. My brother, however, can't hold a note. So, it's an interesting thing as to what passes down and what doesn't. Now I have two daughters who both have perfect pitch. Carol and Wendy have perfect pitch. They both are concert pianists. They were both concert flautists, and actually the older one, Carol, is still playing piano regularly. Wendy not so much. But they are very talented when it comes to music. There's something to be said about that.
Danny: I would love to see all of you performing together. That would be a neat little get together to see some time. I want to dovetail into the acting thing, because you've also done the acting, and I've never seen any of the Porky's movies, but I've got a shot of you up.
Howard: Yeah, the shot on the bottom, that's when I was a teacher in Porky's and Porky's 2. The shot on the top with John Saxon was a movie called "Welcome to Spring Break" which got pretty good reviews actually. I was a cop in that one.
Danny: You were a cop in that one. Were you a supervisor cop or no?
Howard: I was a cop in a couple scenes at a cemetery. Of course, I was a teacher in Porky's. I was a TV interviewer, a TV newsman for Ernest Borgnine in a movie called "The Opponent". I've got my union card, my SAG card. I haven't worked in a while, but it was fun while it lasted. Here you see some of my credits. American, whatever the hell that was. I'm forgetting.
Danny: Riscio, yeah. I'm noticing, now I understand why we got you on the air tonight, because your star meter is down this week, for whatever reason. For those of you who want to find out, you can join that website, the Internet Movie Database. The acting, how did you will find your way into acting? Was that because of your singing that led you there?
Howard: No, not really. It's because I was mayor of North Miami, and the Ivan Tour Studios were located in North Miami. They're the only movie studios in the southeast United States, at least at that time in the 70s and 80s. I promoted the studios and promoted the film industry and got really involved with casting directors to get them to bring in project into the area to use our police station, our city hall, and certainly using our studios.
In fact, Miami Vice was filed in the North Miami Ivan Tour Studios. That's why I was the judge on Miami Vice. But they would ask me to help them out getting locations and that type of thing and helping them set up, and then they would give me a role. I was in Absence of Malice with Paul Newman. I was in The Bandit 2 with Burt Reynolds. So I've been in a few.
Danny: You played with Paul Newman. Wow. What was that like?
Howard: Paul Newman was a really cool guy. But more importantly, Sally Fields was in that movie, and Sally Fields was a wonderful, wonderful lady. She was terrific. I loved her.
Danny: Well, our diabolically clever segue is now in full swing here. Since you were mayor and that's how you got the acting roles, tell us about how you got to be mayor. What prompted you to pursue politics?
Howard: Well, I had been in politics since I can remember. This kind of betrays my age, but I first got involved with I was at the University of Florida. Hubert Humphrey came through. He had just gone on his Russian trip. He was Vice President at the time, in '66 I think it was. No, it was before that. I'm sorry, it was '62. Yeah, there's Hubert. And he and I hit it off. I got to know him and Muriel. He's probably one of the sharpest individuals, if not the sharpest man I've ever met. The man was just unbelievably intelligent. So we became friendly, and I ended up running his Florida campaign for president, which he won in Florida, but of course he lost the election.
And got involved in other political campaigns, a little bit with Lyndon Johnson, although I really didn't like LBJ, so I really didn't get too involved. And then got involved in local politics. Got two judges elected to the Florida Supreme Court. I was the only attorney in the state of Florida to enrobe two justices in the Supreme Court. The second one that I got elected, he got elected earlier than we thought in the primaries, and he had a bunch of billboards left over.
And he said, "Now that you've run my campaign successfully, you know I've got all these billboards. There's an opening in the County Commission. Why don't you run for that?" I said, okay. And I ran for the County Commission. There were five of us running. I came in third, but I got 27,000 votes. It was pretty respectable. I won every black precinct in the county by the way, interestingly enough. And I did a run for the city council and got elected there for a four year term. Then decided that I needed to move up. Got elected for mayor for two two-year terms. Couldn't run again, because you couldn't run for more than two terms, so my hand-picked successor ran and got elected for two terms.
They wanted me to come back, and I said, I really don't want to raise money and campaign. They said, how about if we make sure you have no opposition? I said, okay, fine with me. So, I got elected with no opposition. So I served three terms as mayor. [inaudible 37:35] The very first thing I did when I was mayor was form the North Miami Mayor's Economics Taskforce, because there was no organization that would be an activist organization other than the Chamber of Commerce, and that was strictly for promoting businesses. So we got a lot of things done, like building a stadium, putting money into the schools, helping build a new police station, starting the city newsletter. And we just had our 31st annual awards banquet, and we handed out close to a million dollars in college scholarships over the 31 years.
Danny: That's fantastic. I remember talking to you that morning briefly, as a matter of fact, and you had told me about that. In addition to having the need to promote more economy, I like what you said about the college scholarships. How involved in education are you, and what other activities do you have outside of politics that are more socially oriented?
Howard: Well, like I said, I get very involved when it comes to the scholarships, so that we can get the young people that don't have the opportunity to go to college, give them that opportunity. We work closely with FIU, Barry University, and Johnson and Wales University so that they, each year, gave $10,000 worth of scholarships to... of course, my own son Ray just went through FIU. He's still there, and hopefully he'll graduate one of these days soon.
Howard: And if I can get him off of mute, but I can't. I guess you're controlling that Danny. I can't control it.
Danny: Yeah. I can get Ray off of mute here. Let's get Ray off of mute and just say hello to Ray, bring him into the conversation. Ray, are you there? I think we've just surprised someone. Ray? Hello?
Howard: He's sleeping.
Ray Neu: I've been listening. You start talking about me, I perk up.
Howard: Yeah, there you go, there you go. Ray, by the way, has done a tremendous job working with Rick and I and Barbara and Helena and TRAFFIC. We couldn't do the program without him. And now, of course, he's indispensable to the Latona Group, going to Vancouver shortly, next week Ray?
Ray: In two weeks.
Howard: Two weeks. OK. But meanwhile, he's got to ship all the equipment. He keeps Barbara busy helping him do that. And we're real proud of the direction that he's going in.
Danny: Barbara is busy always at TRAFFIC. She is the, aside from Ron Jackson, the official photographer, I think, for TRAFFIC, isn't she just about?
Owen: She does a great job. Absolutely great job.
Howard: Barbara says, that's great, how many pictures? [laughs]
Danny: Tens of thousands would be my guess. I want to go to a couple of questions we've gotten from some of the people that are online here, because we've kind of been ignoring them. I apologize to all of you who are online listening. Here's one that I think is perfect for you to answer, Howard. And that is from Dave, I hope I'm pronouncing the name correctly, Dave Batea, [SP] who asks why it's so difficult to sell legal domains to lawyers.
Howard: That is an excellent question, and it's because lawyers just don't get it. Lawyers think that they have to have their whole name. WayneSchusterandAlbum, and so on and so forth, LLP.com. They have to have the whole thing. Otherwise, they don't understand that they can have a generic domain that will do it all for them. There are a few that do get it, like SueYourWife or something like that. I don't know what it is. But most of them, like you and I both know Danny, that we have MalpracticeAttorneys.com, and getting attorneys to understand that this can be a great leader for their business is just like pulling teeth.
And I've heard so many other people, like Mike Berkens, who has a lot of legal domains. There it is MalpracticeAttorneys.com. We try to get attorneys to understand that this can give them lots of business. They just don't get it. I'm not sure I know why. Maybe they're just like other professions, but I do think that docs for some reason don't.
Danny: That's very interesting.
Owen: I just posted a link to David Carter, who we all know from Rick's board, in England. He just sent me today a page that he made, a sales page to sell to lawyers. And he's got a little video in there, and I think it's very interesting. So, if you want to look at it, you can.
Howard: Yeah. We'll take a look at it.
Danny: Actually, he just pulled it up. I've got it showing to the audience.
Owen: He's talking about YouTube removes the hyperlink from the end of the video. However, the links from within the video description works and counts as a better back link in terms of page rank.
Danny: That's interesting. We'll have to...
Howard: He says it's better to embed the thing on the site. You put a video on the site, what he's saying, is you get better search traction than on YouTube. OK, well while we're trying to get this video up, I see it's coming up, I'm seeing a question from Kate Colgan [SP]. She says, I owned OpenForum.tv before AmEx bought OpenForum.com. Now it shows, can I sell the name?
The answer is, sure you can sell the name. No question that you can sell it. If somebody wants to buy a .tv, that's fine. It's certainly better than .tel, but just because they bought OpenForum.com doesn't mean that they have any rights to the name, unless they've also trademarked it, and I don't know that they've trademarked it, because I haven't looked it up. I just see the question. But sure, you can sell it at any time.
Danny: Let's talk a little bit about the whole TRAFFIC deal, because we haven't really discussed how that actually got started. You've shared at the show itself about Rick's board, 2003, 2004 was the actual first TRAFFIC. I'm going to start just a little bit of an iPhoto slideshow here in a second. But you and Rick had already been doing business as attorney, client, and then became friends, and then business partners in TRAFFIC.
Howard: Well what happened, Danny, to make it easy, is that on Rick's board, which was a private chat board, which all of the then professional domainers were members of, but you had to be invited to join. One of the persons that Rick was friendly with and did a lot of business with was Dean Shannon, who was the founder of Fabulous. And Dean had a new product for Fabulous that he asked Rick if he could get some people from his board to Los Angeles to see the product that they were opening up. So Rick asked me, and we were friendly, more than just attorney client. We were friends at that point.
He said, "How do we get people there?" and I said, "I'm sure if you put it on your board, you asked people to go, I'll contact some restaurants in Los Angeles and see if we can't but a function together." And I was able to get a hold of McCormick and Schmick on Rodeo Drive and Wilshire Boulevard, and we invited the board members who were going to go to attend a Rick's Board Lunch. And we had 40 people there for Rick's Board Lunch.
So we looked at it later in retrospect, about a year later. We said, you know, there's really a need for domainers to get together and network with each other and, more importantly, to meet their sponsors. Meet the guys that are paying them the money. DomainSponsor and TrafficZ and all of the parking companies that at that time were prevalent companies. Sol we decided that... in fact, Rick, if you're still on, you can kind of chime in here if you want, but we were talking about a Bocafest at Rick's house.
Rick: It was supposed to be in my kitchen.
Howard: Right. But we figured, if we have 40 in Los Angeles, we maybe have a little too many for Rick's kitchen. So we started looking around for a venue. And we looked at a lot of places, I've got to tell you. How many places would you say? A dozen places Rick?
Rick: It was horrible. That was the worth part of it, looking for a place. Our entire reputations were on the line, because we never did anything like this before. And if the hotel made us look like fools, then we were going to be fools in front of everyone in the entire industry. So, we really had to make sure that whoever we hooked up with made us look good, because our careers were on the line.
Howard: Right. So we ended up . . . Danny, can you let me share my screen for a moment?
Danny: Sure, go for it.
Howard: Because what I want to do is I want to do is, I don't know how I found this thing, but I think I got it through Archive.org. It seems to be a snippet of Rick's board in 2000, before all this stuff happened with the same discussions about is my .tv worth anything? I think it's just interesting to take a look at it if you've never seen Rick's board, for all those who missed. This is actually when there were a lot of troublemakers.
Rick: There you are. There you go.
Howard: WIPO complained, and this is what it looked like, and there were a lot of smart people on there. It was really a great time. Here's [inaudible 47:14]. He's done a TV show of his own. A lot of this was about .tv. And Frank was on this. This is Frank, .tv king, remember him? Interesting stuff. Here's Argentina. This is the first one about CCTLDs. It was first introduced on Rick's board here by whoever that guy is, December 9th, 2000. So it's come a long way.
Rick: Sure. Just continuing, we found the Del Rey Beach Marriott. Nor I had any experience whatsoever in putting a conference together. And they just did a tremendous job. They were terrific. We had 132 people come for the first show. We had Google sponsoring. We had Yahoo sponsoring and Pool, a domain sponsor. We had just all the great sponsors there. We had 132 domainers.
It was really wonderful. And we went back again the second year, but it kind of grew from there. One day, Rick and I were having lunch and we said, 'What are we going to call this? We need a name for this. We can't be just Domainer Conference or something like that.' So I came up with Targeted Redirects and Financial Fulfillment Internet Conference, because traffic rules the web. If you don't have traffic, you don't have traffic, you have no sales. If you have no sales, you have no money.
Howard: Wait a second. Wait a second. That isn't exactly what happened. Let me set the record straight. First of all, he came up with part of it. I came up with TRAFFIC, and he had to figure out with TRAFFIC stood for.
Rick: Yeah, you're right. You're right. I agree. You're absolutely right.
Howard: And it took me about three or four years to actually remember what T-R-A-F-F-I-C stood for.
Rick: Yeah, he couldn't remember that to save his life. [laughs] In any event, that's where it came from, and it obviously is an important acronym, because it really says it all about domains and why they are so important. Because they are the ones that present the TRAFFIC for the web, so it works well for us.
Danny: What is your most . . . I'm sorry, go ahead.
Howard: I was just going to say that I just got a note put in front of me that we also did our first auction at TRAFFIC with, it wasn't a chalkboard, it was a board that we posted names on the board and gave everybody an opportunity to big on those names.
Rick: And we had I think a grand total of about 50,000, of which I had the number one domain of Banker.com for 41,000 of the 50. [laughs]
Danny: That is hilarious. Did you expect at the time that that would touch off so many other domain shows? Obviously you . . .
Howard: Well no, not at the time. Actually what happened was, as a factual set-up. After the first year, well actually after the first conference, DomainSponsor came in and said, we want to be your overall sponsor. We want to be the headline sponsor. We said, OK great. And they were until 2006, well through 2005. In January of 2006, they said you know what? We're going on our own. We're going to start competing with you.
Rick: Maybe 2007.
Howard: Is it 2007?
Howard: All right, I lose track of time. That's what happens when you're getting old, Rick.
Rick: You're pushing 120, you know. [laughs]
Danny: 120. There we go. So now we know the correct age of Howard. What are your most fond memories of the TRAFFIC shows? I've got some different slideshows to show. This is from 2008 if I recall correctly, early '08 in Las Vegas. Jim McCann from Flowers.com, or 1800Flowers.com.
Howard: 1800Flowers.com. We've been very fortunate. We've had some really great speakers. Jim of course is one of them. The biggest and probably the best was Steve Forbes. We had the Motley Fool, Barbara Corcoran. She was terrific.
Rick: And Steve Forbes said, when gold gets to $500 an ounce, it's like being on a rollercoaster.
Danny: You know, he said something else, and I just have to interject this. He said, when he was making that address, he said if the Fed did not tighten monetary policy, that within a year there would be a blood bath.
Howard: I see you in the picture.
Danny: And oh yes, there I am. I look so goofy with my hair. My hair is nowhere near that color, but that was out of a bottle. But that's almost like the evil Spock in mirror, mirror. There's evil Howard with the goatee.
Howard: That's right. Yeah, that was my goatee days. I figured if Rick could do it, I could, too. But I decided it looked better on him.
Danny: There we are. There's Roy. In fact I want to say this, it was Roy that got me introduced to all of you, and I've got to thank he and Kay for that, because if it wasn't for them, we certainly would not have gotten together. This is an award. What aware were you giving him? I forget.
Rick: The We Get It award.
Howard: Yeah, the We Get It award.
Danny: Okay. There we go.
Howard: Yeah, that was the We Get It award, because of Forbes.com, that he did get it. He did understand the value of a domain.
Danny: I want to talk about something that you started doing for some of the different shows, and that was starting to go out on the street and interview people. This is a shock from Fort Lauderdale about a year ago. Was this a year ago, or was this about nine months ago?
Howard: Yeah. No, it was for the Santa Clara show a year ago, yes. Right.
Danny: These are the man on the street interviews. Tell me what these have done. This is not just fun. You're doing a little bit of mission discovery here.
Howard: First of all, it gives us an opportunity to find the people who are not in our conferences, in our cliques, in our everyday life, what they think about us, and what they think about the web, and think about search and direct navigation and so on. So it gives us a good idea of what the public is thinking, not the least of which is, we saw lots of bikinis. By the way, we're going to have to do this again for South Beach, no question about it.
Danny: I dread that. Here's a shot from the beach. Here's a Steve Forbes slide. There's a great picture of Ray, by the way, with Roy and Kay when they were getting ready for the New York speaker, Terry Jones when he was up there. And you are introducing him. What kind of a preview can you give us for the coming shows? Anything you want to let loose?
Howard: First of all, I'd like to promote the Vancouver show that's coming up in a couple weeks. TRAFFIC Vancouver is the first time that we're in Canada. The Latona Group is putting that together. It looks like they're going to have a good agenda, and it's going to be very well attended. So I would recommend anybody who is thinking of going, you really should be going, registering now and getting it done.
Then in August, the Latona Group is doing a TRAFFIC in Dublin, Ireland. Then Rick and I take back the reins for the South Beach show in October, which is probably going to be... what we have up our sleeve and what you're hearing for the next two or three months is some fantastic stuff that has never been done before.
As you know, TRAFFIC means business, but we also are creative, and we also do things before anybody else does them, and you're going to see a lot of that coming up at the Loews Hotel in South Beach. Unfortunately, the picture that they're using there is not a good picture. I don't even know if it's Loews. It doesn't look like it, but the Loews is a fantastic hotel. Right on the middle of South Beach. It's a wonderful venue. There's going to be such great stuff going on at that TRAFFIC that I think it'll probably be the best attended show that we've ever had for TRAFFIC. Do you agree with me, Rick?
Rick: More than the best. It's going to be a monster, as I've been calling it.
Danny: Well, I'm not able to pull it up fast enough here unfortunately. I'm sorry. I should've had that one ready in advance.
Howard: That's okay, because I'm looking at a picture of it on a flyer that wasn't on the screen. The one on the screen, I'm not sure what it shows. In any event, we've come up with, as you can see, Test Track, which is going strong, and I know they're going to have it again in Vancouver. We're definitely going to have it in South Beach, where people will be able to tell investors what their program is and why people should be investing in their program, and in fact getting investors to do just that, modeled after Shark Tank on TV. We're really excited about this show that's coming up in October, and we think that it'll be the TRAFFIC of all TRAFFICs.
Danny: All right.
Howard: And then there will be a later show at the end of the year that the Lakota Group is doing in Hong Kong, the first time we're in Asia, which should also be very interesting and a great show.
Danny: Got Kate Colgan asking another question here. Do many end user developers attend TRAFFIC? What is the mix, what is the diversity of TRAFFIC, and how has that changed? I'll interject that addition to that question.
Howard: You know what, I think I'm going to let Rick answer that one.
Rick: As I've been saying, end users are going to come one project and one need at a time. That's true, but we got back to when we named TRAFFIC TRAFFIC, we also had visions, like, traffic fuels the net and is the one thread that would go beyond domain names. And eventually that'll be a little bit more seamless than it is now. But the end users, they are coming.
And just as you see on the TVs and as you see in the magazine ads, they're getting creative with their domain names, and sometimes they're getting it for registration fees, and sometimes they're buying it from a domainer. But as time goes on, and as it gets harder and harder to bust through the noise out there, the end user and domains will all be floating to the top where they belong.
Danny: Well, I will be certainly eager to watch as that trend continues. I just want to go back to some earlier segment of the show here. Owen's been doing a little bit of research here behind the scenes. I mentioned that, back to one of Kate's earlier questions about the OpenForum, what was it? OpenForum.tv, I believe she had. Anyway, I guess American Express has trademarked OpenForum. Now what? She had the domain before they did.
Howard: The answer to that is very simple. If she registered it before their trademark and is using it to do an open forum, then she has no problem.
Danny: Again it comes back to that legitimate business interest thing.
Owen: They're really leading the pack in these call to action domains. They have hundreds of them like this.
Danny: You know, it's funny, because one of the other questions this evening was about why it's so difficult to sell legal domains to lawyers. Talk about leading the pack on something. LexisNexis, which by the way, for those who don't know . . . Howard, of you course you know, but many people don't.
LexisNexis is a huge legal services company. They do a lot of publications, like Thomson West, which is Reuters, for publishing horn books and law books and everything else for the legal industry. LexisNexis owns about 22,000 domain names, including Lawyers.com. So there are some legal industry associations and legal industry vendor companies, I guess you'd call them, that do get, and I guess got it early on, because 22,000, that's an enviable portfolio I presume.
Howard: Right. Definitely, for sure. I noticed that it's after 10:00. I'm not sure how log we can run on this thing. I certainly want to thank the 29 people who have been listening and participating. I'm sorry we couldn't get to all the questions, because there's been a lot of good discussion here. And by the way, I wanted to mention one thing. You know, this Howard Neu Bares All that you're seeing on the screen. For those of you who were listening, I've got to tell you that Owen wanted it to be Howard Neu Comes Out of the Closet. OK? But I'm here to tell you that Howard Neu doesn't come out of the closet. So I figure Bares All is a much better name. There you go. There's picture.
Danny: We'll let it go with that.
Howard: That was my Halloween costume. What are you talking about?
Owen: Where was that? I didn't see a picture.
Howard: It was a private party, Owen.
Owen: I've got a picture of him dressed up as a cowboy. That's interesting.
Danny: We can show that at Loews down on South Beach.
Rick: Is he bareback? Is he bareback?
Howard: Oh, my god. I can't believe you asked that question.
Rick: Well this has been fun to Hell, isn't it?
Danny: If you want to just contact me at Danny@DannyPryor.com, the email will come to me, and of course, I'm on RodanMedia. I'm in Facebook as Daniel Thomas Pryor, because Danny Pryor was taken by someone else, but Twitter is DannyPryor. Howard, what are you on as?
Howard: I'm Howard Neu on Facebook. I don't fool with Twitter. Sorry. I don't tweet.