Not all startup founders know that domain marketplaces exist


I recently sent an email around asking startup founders to name the domain name marketplaces they know. The top response was “What’s a domain marketplace?”

Some people confused registrars with marketplaces and gave answers like Go Daddy and 1&1. When I threw out names like Sedo, Afternic, and Uniregistry the vast majority of founders said they had no idea these existed.

If you’re in the domain industry you can probably name ten different places to buy domains, but for most people out there, buying a domain name means going to a registrar and registering a name. When a name is taken, there are usually two paths people take:

  1. Assume the domain is taken and search for another unregistered domain
  2. Look at the WHOIS and email the owner

Like I wrote about yesterday, if the WHOIS is private, most people assume the domain name is not for sale. The vast majority of people have no idea that those private WHOIS email addresses actually pass the email onto the owner.

Once I tell founders about domain marketplaces their eyes light up and they usually start browsing like crazy. When I talk about expired domain names I think I can sometimes hear heads exploding. I’ve heard a number of founders say, “isn’t buying an expired domain like stealing?”

Let’s be honest, if you’ve been buying and selling domain names you know a lot more than the average person. If you haven’t then you might not realize everything that’s going on around you. I recently got into an interesting discussion with a founder who told me they would only ever register a domain, their logic was, “if I can buy a domain for $10 why would I spend more to buy one from a squatter that paid $10 and now wants to sell it for more…”

My response was…”how do you know they paid $10?” to which they said, “because that’s what domain names cost!”

This was an incredibly educated entrepreneur who has raised millions of dollars, they haven’t been living under a rock, but they do represent a real disconnect that people in the domain name industry have with the founders of multi-million dollar startups around the world.

I can’t tell you how many startup founders I’ve exposed to places like the Uniregistry Market, Buy Domains, Flippa, BrandBucket, and the list goes on. It may sound ridiculous but it’s true…and the door swings both ways. I also know a ton of people in the domain world who have never heard of Mattermark, Crunchbase, and AngelList, sites that most startup founder knows like the back of their hand.

Conferences like NamesCon have done an excellent job bringing these world closer together but it’s important to remember that just because you’ve known about something for years, doesn’t mean everyone else has. I think there’s a lot we could do as a community to connect these worlds, it’s one of the reasons why I write this blog and why I’ve always enjoyed helping other founders understand the basics of the domain world.

Over the next few years, I think our two worlds will converge even more, new gTLDs, popular ccTLDs like .AI and .IO, and the growth of cloud-based companies has created the momentum we’re really starting to feel today. It’s just important to remember, if you’re a founder, don’t expect the domain people to know about sites like Crunchbase, and if you’re a domain person don’t expect startup founders to know about places like Sedo.

Just remember, we all have a lot more in common than you’d think, but it’s up to us to connect the two worlds faster because there is a LOT we can do with our powers combined!

Morgan Linton

Morgan Linton