WDD.2014 [Recap]

[The following coverage was written by one of our attendees, Anil Kumar, who also happens to be a blogger.]



The first ever World Domain Day – the goings and rewards

WDD [World Domain Day TM], organised by IDOA [Indian Domain Owners Association], an India based consortium of web entrepreneurs, domain owners and service providers, was held on 24th August 2014 for the first time ever, in Hyderabad, was a runaway success.

I was a party to it and knew that the primary objective of organising the WDD was to promote domain names, educate the participants on online entrepreneurship. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find the amount of knowledge on offer in the form of great camaraderie of networking and had the good fortune of meeting many venture capitalists, domain investors, start-ups and many web professionals and service providers. The atmosphere was quite upbeat and chirpy.


With over 325 professionals attending, of which, about 50 odd from the academic community, the average age indicated that online entrepreneurship is the future for at least a decade or more and is taking off quite well. It was quite pleasing and surprising to see people from various spheres of life – industrialists, doctors, lawyers and even tattoo artists coming forth to learn about taking their practice or business online and participating with a lot of vigour. Not to mention, the talks were quite awesome and fully informative.



The largest domain marketplace

The day began with participant registration and a lot of prelim material being distributed for pre-read. The talks began with Patricja Krol and Dildeep Singh from SEDO, a Germany based domain marketplace, world’s largest. This pair of business and technology builders kept the audience spell-bound for over 20 minutes and mainly dealt with the importance of domain names in building a successful international business online. This discussion, albeit, not so much in detail, embedded a spark of confidence in the minds of the young would be entrepreneurs attending the WDD.


Patricja is a seasoned professional with domaining experience of over seven years, is capable of negotiating in English, German and Polish and is credited with many a 7 figure domain name sales. Dildeep Singh is a UK based Punjabi professional based in Germany and is a B2B solution builder.


The most successful domainer

Next came, the video conference with Mike Mann, the most successful domain investors ever. He is the founder and chairman of Grassroots.org (501c3). Mike, as far as I know is more of a idolised name in domaining and is known to have founded successful and active, for-profit online businesses like Phone.com, SEO.com, Skateboards.com, DomainMarket.com, Yield Software, BrowserMedia, Graphics.net, and countless others.

Mike gave a very insightful commentary on his evolution as a successful domain investor and how he turned into one, creating a few successful businesses on the way to becoming the most successful domainer ever. He stressed on the investment point of view of owning and nurturing domains for future use and how a generic domain can come in handy for a business on a lookout for it. He was bang-on with keyword based domains and stressed on sticking to .com domains only to maximise value. All in all, he was a hit with the audience who hit him hard with questions.

Despite several suggestions, Mike remained focussed on his partiality to the .COM domains, presumably because he made his fortune with them and .COM did have a 20 year head start in the domaining business. Although, many have argued the same with Mike as well as other successful domainers, .COMmercial still seems to have preference over other domain extensions, one, owing to its universal popularity and appeal, two, because the thinner the keywords get, the greater the margin for a domainer in terms of profits.


The Indian Governmental efforts and the future

Now, the stage was set for the Chief Guest, Dr. Govind. This brought on the discussion to a leadership level where a lot of technology was involved as far as domain names and their registry’s and registrars were concerned. Out of it, Dr. Govind spoke about the initiative of GOI to introduce Indian language domain names and the new extension of .bharat in seven Indian languages. While the discussion was spot-on and quite interesting several questions cropped from the audience about the software rendering for Indian languages, hardware compatibility with 7 Indian languages and visitor’s distress in typing the name in and how relevant it will be for international business to have an Indian language domain name. All questions were taken care of by Dr. Govind on either side of a sumptuous buffet lunch that set a new gastronomical standard, tickled the tongues and ignited even greater discussions and interaction in the networking lounge.


Keeping aside the discussions, the slides were kind of fast-forwarded, probably owing to too much technical jargon involved and entrepreneurs, as young the participants were, were not there to learn technology but to learn the generic environment in which they would be facing challenges in. The appeal for Indian domain names was quite average owing to certain doubts and conditions which did not have a proper answer since the developmental stage has just began.

Only two questions went unanswered in this fruitful discussion. One, how can we expect an American or a Brazilian to visit an Indian Domain name unless he was clicking on a hyperlink, obviously he will not be interested to type it in [generic]. Second, why are .in domains not available for resale like almost all other domain extensions? [Asked by a renowned domainer from Hyderabad]. All in all, it was a great insight into how the domain eco-system works in India and what the future plans are?

Dr. Govind is the CEO, National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI), and the other member of ICANN-GAC from India.



Following up was the .CLUB classic domain name recommendation from Jeffrey Saas of the Barpoint.com* fame. He has worked very hard with the .CLUB domain and was the key to acquiring and marketing it worldwide. He spoke about the reasons of getting a .CLUB domain for entertainment themed companies and even having an additional .CLUB domain for regular businesses in order to have more participation from customers and involvement in various marketing schemes. All in all, a marketing effort to sell .CLUB domain with insights into its use and how it could shore goodwill bottom-line for an existing business.

*Jeffrey Saas, CMO, .CLUB Domains is credited with co-founding of several start-ups including the mobile commerce pioneer, Barpoint.com in 1999.

Jeffery gave the unique marketer’s presentation topped with figures and scalable future profitability using the .CLUB domain extension. His examples in quoting the possible domain names were top class. The only flipside as I see in this part was that he associated mostly with larger brands and using the .CLUB extension as more of an extra portal for customer-centric marketing and not as a lead domain extension for building and nurturing brands and businesses.

This was followed by a panel discussion on the new TLDs comprising of representatives from the largest stakeholders in the industry.


* Discussion on the new TLDs. On stage (from the left) Gajendra Upadhyay (of Afilias), Anand Vora (of Donuts), Jeffrey Sass (of .CLUB) and Karn Jajoo (of Radix)


Chinese Masterclass

Next was the amazing Chinese Masterclass, delivered by Simon Cousins (夏明) and Arto Isokoski. This was one hour of pure entertainment and knowledge in the right mix, alluring to the audience who did not know the “C” of Chinese. This session provided great insights into investing in Chinese IDN’s without actually knowing Chinese. The best part of the discussion revolved around having a domain name without an ASCII. The argument being that China is the biggest market in the world and most percentage of population does not understand English and even if they did, do not prefer to do business in English. Chinese IDN’s make more sense to Chinese than the English ones since the usage of the language out there is different [it is another fact that many find it funny], in fact starkly different than the use of other languages. With Cantonese and Mandarin, both Chinese languages following a different logic of usage, rendering the language can be quite difficult, believe me.


With over 20% of world’s population speaking one form of Chinese or the other, it is a super market out there, no wonder then, TLD registry has its registers ringing [just less than a million in USD] from over 52,000 Chinese language IDN’s sold in the first four months of opening to the public. TLD registry has just become the world’s leading IDN gTLDs by volume, Dot Chinese Online () and Dot Chinese Website (). Now that the Chinese government released a mandate to transition all government websites to Chinese IDNs is also a great reason to keep the Chinese IDN’s in the scope for many domainers.

Risk conscious entrepreneurs would not dip their fingers in unknown pies, especially in something as complicated as Chinese, however, if Simon and Arto are of the opinion the money is there to made in the Chinese IDN market, I may as well follow the leaders and risk it a little. As I have learnt, risk and profitability in this business are directly proportional.


Simon Cousins (夏明), CMO, TLD Registry, is responsible for the global and China branding, marketing and communications. Arto Isokoski, CEO and co-founder of TLD Registry Ltd. is also a partner in directory assistance innovator Suomen 16100 Ltd, and owner of Apila Media, a provider of mobile, internet and consulting related services.


Legal aspects

With so much confusion ruling the WDD masses, brains cluttered with information, adrenalin pumping for action and tongues twitching to meet and discuss possibilities, time has come to discuss some legal issues and confronting them with confidence. The legal session was conducted by Pavan Duggal, who gave a great insight into how the legal eco-system protects the interests of domainers and domain investors across the world. As expected, there was a lot of furore and questions and answers hurled on both sides of the tea session and Pavan was always up to the task of painstakingly explaining the issues and necessary safety precautions to be taken to protect intellectual property.


*Pavan Duggal is one of the top 10 Cyber Lawyers across the World. During his tenure as an Advocate at Supreme Court of India, he made an immense impact and created an international reputation as an expert and authority on Cyberlaw and E-Commerce law. He is empanelled as a consultant to UNCTAD [Cyberlaw] and UNESCAP [Cybercrime].

The grey shades in the domaining business have reduced greatly in the last decade, however, there are still some existing and I guess, will always be there to some extent. However, with people like Pavan around to consult, this aspect should not discourage use from doing business.

The tea interval left no impression on the participants since they were too engrossed in discussions and networking while contemplating on opportunities and issues that they could face.



Start-up showcase and venture capital

Following this was the start-up showcase featuring Sai Pola, who has over 2 decades of experience in the software industry which means he has been out there on both sides of the DOT.com bust along with Mahender Rao, a dynamic entrepreneur based out of USA, venture capitalist who has pledged full funding for YellowPages.in and is very optimistic to take it to the next level. Mahendar, on his part spoke about the importance of domain names in any business and the methods of tying ideas to execution using domain names. He spoke at length of how much a right domain contributes to business and said that he was open to any interesting domains that needed funding to be developed into realistic businesses.


*Mahender, one of the largest “new” investors in the domain names industry, with over $2 Million of committed capital to this field.

He then set and left the stage for Sai Pola, who then explained his successful start-up story on the strength of a domain name, duckeggs.com. The site belongs to Sai and he sells duck eggs [edible and hatching quality] in the continental United States. With drop-shipping and delivery agreements in place, the site made about a million dollars since inception. A success story that can be replicated with ease, if one sets mind to it.

I guess there is no need to mention that Mahender was mobbed once he finished his delivery and was seen in the networking area with no room to breathe. Youngsters surrounded him with ideas that he heard patiently and advised them on a course of action or future meetings, as he thought fit.


Domain valuation and pricing

Now, with excitement on offer and adrenalin pumping, the time was ripe for the final session by Prakhar Bindal, a serial entrepreneur, early stage investor and the CEO of Axsiom and WDD itself.Kudos for such excellent leadership and logistical organisation, the WDD was on its way to a professional close and what better time to deliver the jist and who better than Prakhar. Realising that the meeting was overshot a bit, Prakhar announced his 5 infographic session and explained more than what no one else could in the next 10 minutes. The session was on how to evaluate a domain price and when and which to invest in. The participants were in uproar and the great day ended in anticipation of greater things to come and opportunities to foresee. 

In addition to all the good things learnt, a small exhibition of profiles was on display by all sponsors and major participants. These stalls were mainly to dispense more information to people who were interested in particular services and some small mementos for participants to carry home from the WDD. The participants were all very happy with the arrangements and were all praise for the organisers and the manpower deployed.


TV Coverage

Major news channels covered World Domain Day 2014.

Lunch & Hi-Tea

Lunch was graciously sponsored by NeuStar while the Coffee Breaks and Hi-Tea was sponsored by GoDaddy.



InForum sponsored T-Shirts at World Domain Day. Fantastic quality Tees in blue color. Great branding for InForum at the conference, I must say. By the end of the conference, even the SEDO staff was in InForum Tees, which was a funny sight! 


People of All Ages


Experts Network

*Sanjeev Ji, CEO of Mitsu and Father of Indian Domaining Industry, speaking to Anurup Singhal, Director at GoDaddy India



I, being a participant was overly excited by the end of the day and actually was planning years ahead. A bit to add, I am not from the domaining industry but closely associated to it. I run a 20 day old startup that provides content to the industry in leaps and bounds. What astonished me was the fact that with so much excitement pumping inside me, what would a domainer, in action feel?

We need more such days, once in a while, probably once a quarter or so to ensure actions and growth of online entrepreneurship and bring more and more youngsters into the fold.


  1. […] Prakhar Bindal, CEO, AXSIOM had requested me write a recap on the same and he was kind enough to publish the same here. […]

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