Location: Oakland, California
Time spent in the domain industry: Almost 20 years
Favourite extension: .com
Tell us which domain you wish you owned: CarInsurance.com would help the bank account
Currently reading: "The Lessons of History" by Will & Ariel Durant
Your mentor: My father
Describe your company. How long have you been there, and what led you to this career choice?
Twenty years ago, I co-founded Catchword Branding, and it's become a leading, global naming firm. For me, it was the perfect blend of creative, strategy, playing with words, endlessly learning about new things, and having my own firm. A few years later, we launched a very natural offshoot, Just The Word, which is a marketplace of 1800 premium brandable domain names. I love the Wild West feel of domaining.
NamesCon is all about business networking. Can you tell us a story about the success of a meeting at NamesCon?
Because of NamesCon, my partner Mark and I have forged successful relationships with several domain brokers, with whom we've referred quite a bit of business from Catchword, and to whom we've sold domains from Just The Word.
Can you tell us about how your service or product helps deliver value to your customers?
Because Just The Word is part of Catchword (ranked as the #1 naming firm in the world), the domains we sell are truly creative and appropriate for startups and others interested in affordable brandables. Our names aren't a random bunch of gobbledegook letters. Twenty years of work on hundreds of projects for blue-chip clients has resulted in an unmatched pool of domain names.
How does your career compare to what you envisioned in your youth?
Ha! I didn't know this career existed. I think I gave the rote answers of "doctor or lawyer" when I was a kid, but in my heart I knew I'd be playing with words.
How would you describe what you do in a single sentence to a stranger?
I create company and product names.
Latest and greatest accomplishment in your career?
This past year marked two great milestones: celebrating our 20th anniversary and being ranked the #1 naming agency in the world by Clutch, the leading platform for ranking creative-services firms based on in-depth client reviews and other vetted metrics.
Describe a recent challenge that you overcame.
This has nothing to do with names or domains, but I am the lead singer in a cover band, and we recently did our first wedding. The thought of singing the "first dance song" had my knees wobbling—what if I screwed up the lyrics and messed up their first dance? But I practiced incessantly and tried to think positively. The night came and it was magical, and now my confidence has grown.
What are your thoughts on the new TLDs?
Certainly a handful of them have been successful in their respective niches, but we are very focused on dot-coms on both the naming side (what we recommend to Catchword clients) and the domain side (what we register and sell on Just The Word).
How has GDPR affected your business, if at all?
It hasn't affected us.
What kinds of changes to you foresee in this industry within the industry in the next year? The next five years?
There will be continued shakeout of the new gTLDs, with many of them falling by the wayside, but a few will take root and become known to the average person. But dot-com will still be king.
Who would you like to hear speak at NamesCon? Why?
I would love to hear more speakers talking about the nuts and bolts of building out a site and developing affiliate marketing relationships. Also of course love hearing more about brandables!
What are you most looking forward to at the upcoming NamesCon?
The fantastic combination of interesting speakers, useful info, networking and terrific social events. NamesCon is never dull for a minute!
What industry trends or topics do you think will be at the forefront of panel and keynote discussions this year?
Probably still gTLDs, blockchain, China sales, general pricing trends ...
What fact about you would surprise people?
I mentioned this earlier, but probably the fact that I sing with a cover band (and have been for close to 10 years).
What was one of your biggest “Aha!” moments in life?
It's trite, but people are people. I've lived in China and traveled all over the place, and last year I visited Russia. Sure, there are cultural differences, but, to paraphrase Sting, we share the same biology. When you really, truly get that (despite all the tribalism everywhere) it is an aha moment.
If you had fifteen extra minutes each day, what would you do with them?
15 minutes is nothing! They would instantly be absorbed into the madness of the day, and I'd still have no time.
What’s the most recent thing you learned (big or small)?
I read this morning that there are super friendly domesticated foxes (insanely cute; look online). Unfortunately, they don't make for great pets because they are nocturnal and hard to house-train. But adorable!
Who has been the biggest influence on your life, and what did they teach you?
My dad. His rare combination of brilliance and humility inspires me daily (I will never be anywhere close to as brilliant or as humble but I can keep trying).
What are you proudest of in your life?
It sounds cliched, but definitely my three daughters. They are kind, smart, and hilarious. :-)
What was the best surprise you’ve experienced so far in life?
That the crazy worlds of naming and domaining exist and are much needed.
Name 3 things you can’t travel without.
Flat iron, contact lens solution, and my dang phone.
What object would you put in a time capsule that best represents who you are today?
I suppose it might be a steering wheel, to symbolize always driving forward and being in control of my life (though still taking the scenic route at times).
Where is your favourite place to escape?
What was the best advice you were ever given?
People always seem to have an answer to this question, but I don't! That's the honest answer. I can't remember receiving a piece of be-all-end-all advice. Maybe I can give a piece of advice instead? Ask questions! Be endlessly curious and interested in the world and people around you.