Let NamesCon Treat Your Tweet!

We're narrowing in on the final weeks of our Early-Bird ticket phase for NamesCon Global 2019 coming up in January in Las Vegas, and as a treat, you can currently nab an extra 20% discount off your own ticket simply by sharing a link to our ticket purchase page!

Here's the deal:

  1. Share a Facebook, Instagram, and/or Twitter post that includes this shortlink (goo.gl/aWjD2s) and tag us in it, along with a comment about NamesCon. You can use one of our sample posts below, or make up your own! 
  2. Download the image above or even embed the event shortlink with the image URL: goo.gl/aWjD2s
  3. Be sure to tag us in your post so that we can DM you with a 20% discount code, valid for either Standard or VIP Early-Bird passes. Make sure you're following us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and that your profile is public so we can send you a DM!
  4. Your discount code will be valid for purchase until August 31, 2018, when our Early-Bird ticket phase closes.
  5. We love your likes, shares, and retweets, but only original posts will be valid for this discount.

Already have a ticket to NamesCon Global? If you were lucky enough to secure our Pre-Sale ticket or have already purchased your Early-Bird pass, you can still take part! If your post or tweet gets 10 or more likes and/or retweets, we'll upgrade you to VIP (email us when your tweet starts trending). If you are already VIP, you're pretty much set for success. We'll owe you a beer at the conference.

Our Phase 1 ticket type will take effect September 1, 2018, so get chirpin'!

Sample posts:

Can't wait for #NamesCon Global this January? Don't wait to purchase your Early-Bird tickets - $299 Standard / $499 VIP discount pricing ends this Aug! @NamesCon goo.gl/aWjD2s

Join me at #NamesCon in January 2019 for invigorating keynotes and prime networking opportunities and get your discounted ticket here: goo.gl/aWjD2s @NamesCon

I’ll be in Las Vegas for #NamesCon 2019! Join me and others from the domaining industry for keynotes, networking, and invaluable domaining knowledge, and buy your discounted ticket now: goo.gl/aWjD2s @NamesCon

5 Reasons Why Startups Should Attend NamesCon


These are exciting times because… you have decided to become an entrepreneur! You have your big, bright and shiny new idea and now you live, breathe, and sleep strategies on how to make your project come to life. Then, you get asked one of these questions:  

  • “What will you name your business?”
  • “Are you building your own website?”
  • “How are you going to get new users for your product or service?”
  • “How will you build your brand?”

These are just a few of the fun questions people will ask you when you first tell them that you are starting your own business. Overwhelmed yet? If you answered yes, then we have some answers for you. We can’t tell you what colour to pick for your logo or where to raise your first round of seed funding, but we can help if you:

1. Are not sure what to name your startup or online business:

It’s kind of in our name; NamesCon is all about domain names and how to build a successful brand online. You will be exposed to hundreds of elite professional domainers who make their living buying and selling domain names. They not only know a good name when they see it, but they know their value. At NamesCon, you could be picking a star name for your business and at the same time purchasing an asset. You will be able to consult with industry experts who can guide you in the right direction when it comes to the perfect brandable name. But wait, what about the extension?

2. Don’t know what domain name or extension to purchase for your new business:

.com, .io, .co, .xyz, .net, .club, .inc, .eco, .app, .health, .tech …. are you confused yet? And the list goes on and on! What do these all mean? They are what is called an ‘extension’. The bit to the right of the dot is an extension and it starts to matter when you find that the .com version of your ‘perfect’ name is already taken. But do not fret just yet. There are loads of fantastic options that are just as SEO friendly (please see the next point) as the .com equivalent. You could, for example, choose an extension that reflects your niche or industry such as .consulting, .boats or .fitness. Again, speaking to an expert might help, and you'll find plenty of experts at NamesCon.

3. Are not sure how to get to the top of the list: (SEO)

Search Engine Optimization is a marketing process which allows customers searching for your type of product or service to find you on a search engine like Google or Yahoo!. Many of the companies that partner with NamesCon have mastered this process and are ready to share their marketing secrets with you. Mastering SEO is only one of the steps to marketing your new business and generating traffic to your site. How will you convert that traffic into clients?

4. Are curious how to market your product or service and land new clients:

Every year we feature keynote speakers that specialize in branding and marketing strategies. They have mastered the art of selling their story and ultimately their business. They can help you do the same. This year, we will also feature a newcomer workshop day where you will be able to get the 101 on social media, domain investing and branding your business.

5. Are wondering how to build a brand:

The success of your new venture can really come down to your name and ultimately the domain name associated with your business. Does your domain name pass the radio test? Are you also purchasing a potential asset at the same time as branding yourself? Branding engineers who attend NamesCon are creative process pros and will guide you to find your branding niche and beyond.

Did you read a domaining term in this story that you didn’t quite understand? If so, stay tuned for our upcoming post on Domaining Lingo 101.


NamesCon Book Club: What the NamesCon Team is Reading Right Now


The NamesCon Book Club aims to share some of the domaining community's favorite reads. Whether they're non-fiction or science fiction, we hope that these books will inspire you to read more while also getting to know the community a little better!

Here's what the NamesCon team is currently reading.

Jordan Yerman, Writer
Currently reading: Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen & New York City in 1979 by Kathy Acker

"The Boss shares stories from his Dickensian upbringing to his meteoric rise. Recounting moments large and small, Springsteen's voice is unique and unmistakable. I really want to have a beer with this guy."

"A cult literary icon gives us a glimpse of a city of strange lights in the darkness, a city that still exists within the one you can visit today. Travel to a time before cronuts, a time before artisanal cheese shops on the Lower East Side."

Helga Neumer, Social Marketing Manager
Currently reading: A Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

"I liked it very much in German. A Girl on the Train is thrilling and emotional—a nice combination. You don't really know what to expect when you start with it as it takes some time to be able to follow the story. Normally, I do not really like crime thriller. But this one has kind of a different structure; it's written from different perspectives and time periods. I like her writing style, though I am curious if I would understand and like it in English..."

Tania Kabantsov, Event Manager
Currently reading: On Trails by Robert Moor

"I picked this up at the airport while traveling to Europe this year. The author discusses his obsession with hiking and discovering new and old trails. How do trails form? Why do some improve while others fade and what makes us follow or strike off on our own? The author studies all types of trails from small ant trails to large and ancient urban networks. He also discusses master trails like the Appalachian Trail and trail builders like the Cherokee and traces the origins of the Internet. It's hiking meets philosophy and science. Well written with wit and humour."

Terri Potratz, Marketing and Events Director
Currently reading: Trauma Farm by Brian Brett

"I recently moved to Salt Spring Island in British Columbia, and picked this up at a local bookstore without having any idea it was written by an author who owns a farm right here on the island. I started to clue in when I read a passage that describes the house and cottage we just bought - crazy! This book is a hilarious and educational read about the trials of a small West Coast farm, with brief stories of farming practices and history from around the world."

Joyce Ng, Social Media
Currently reading: His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet

"A friend recommended His Bloody Project, a winner of the 2016 Man Booker Prize. The narrative follows the true story of the 1869 case of Roderick Macrae, who mercilessly slaughtered three people in a small community in the Scottish Highlands—and fully admits to it. Incorporating court documents, statements, newspaper articles, medical reports, and most importantly, Roderick's memoir, the novel weaves together an unforgettable and bizarre tale. An unreliable narrator describing a murder mystery—what's not to love?"

"ICE.com" Has Been Sold for $3.5 Million in a Private Sale

"ICE.com," a super-premium domain name, has been sold in a private and confidential transaction for $3.5 million, making it one of the most valuable publicly-known, single-domain transaction of 2018.

The entire transaction lasted from June 28 to July 6, which is when it was officially completed, though it only took the client two hours to decide to purchase the domain. For now, the client wishes to remain anonymous.

Single- and double-word domains have become increasingly popular over the years thanks to their branding and marketing potential, simultaneously increasing their value as well. Shorter domains such as ICE.com are even more valuable.

Brian Harbin of Grit Brokerage represented the seller and David Clements of Brannans.com represented the buyer in the transaction, which was facilitated by Escrow.com. Harbin and Clements first met through NamesCon. 

“Everything came together smoothly it was amazing to work together," said Clements of the deal. “For less than the cost of a single, 30-second Super Bowl ad, we were able to acquire a powerful, single-word domain name with significant long-term value for our client.

"Major enterprises are recognizing the value and competitive advantages these premium domains deliver.”

Harbin, owner of Grit Brokerage, added, “I’m enthusiastic that my client was able to fully monetize the digital asset they’d developed over 19 years – realizing significant gains over the previous sale price. I’m grateful and humbled to be part of a deal that was a win-win-win for everyone involved. And I’m honored to be a small part of the initiative to advance the domain industry by educating consumers on the value of digital assets.”

Screen Shot 2018-07-17 at 10.32.36 AM.png

Ice Cream, Roller Skates, and Gen Z with Lisa Box


NamesCon 2018 saw over 1,100 attendees over three invigorating days of keynotes, talks, and workshops. Here, we revisit one of our keynote sessions.

Lisa Box, Vice President at Strategic Alliances and Business Development at WP Engine, introduced the NamesCon audience to a very mysterious species… The post-Millenials. Today’s teens and tweens. Generation Z. 

In partnership with the Center for Generational Kinetics, WP Engine studied this up-and-coming demographic. Generation Z are currently 21 and younger. They’ve never really known a life without the internet. Their defining moments so far would include 9/11 and the invention of the iPhone. “They only look at the world through the eyes of full connectivity, full freedom on the internet,” said Box. 

The study found that 27% of Gen Z couldn’t comfortably go more than one hour without internet access. They would actually present symptoms of anxiety if disconnected for such a brief amount of time. (The same percentage of Baby Boomers could go two days or more unplugged with no problem.) They don’t just love tech, though—they believe in it: Gen Z is also more optimistic than their generational adjacents about the internet being able to bring the world together. Nearly a quarter of the surveyed cohort see great advertising as key to building a brand. 

Gen Z controls 93% of household buying decisions, with more disposable income at their fingertips than Millennials, said Box: this is a high-stakes market to engage. Overall, Box identified four key thematic takeaways from the survey, which you’ll find below.

But First, Entertain Me

72% of Gen Z access the internet for entertainment. (Boomers and Millennials tend to use the internet more for information.) For this generation, there’s no real difference between a computer and a smartphone: they’re both gateways to the internet that permeates their lives.

Emotion vs. Function

Every morning, Box’s son plugs in his headphones on the way to school and plays video games with his cousin, who lives in a different city. He and his younger sister tear through trends at what seems like a breakneck pace to their mom. They want to love the apps they use, and that love can be fickle.

Gen Z prizes authenticity. They want social-networking and dating sites to guarantee the people they’re talking to are really the people they’re talking to. They prefer online reviews to celebrity endorsement. 

Predictive Personalization

Gen Z want experiences crafted to their own needs and wants, and they’re willing to give you more personal information in order to help you help them. Perceptions around tech are evolving, added Box: Gen Z is cool with the Internet of Things operating their household appliances. A full quarter of the surveyed cohort are predicting that the internet will be able to predict what they want.

Gen Z doesn’t interface with the internet in the same way their seniors do: they’re less about typing and more about voice control. They believe that typing on a keyboard will become a thing of the past, replaced by gestures and voice; all helped along by the predictive work done by the companies with which they interact.

Fear to Fearless

For authenticity to happen, Gen Z understands that they need to be open with personal information. While all generations agree that security concerns are the most important part of life online, except for Gen Z, who are more concerned with bad advertisements. “Fear is “just table stakes,” said Box: “This is truly a generational switch… they just view things very differently.” 

Overall, anonymity is less important to Gen Z than the convenience that comes with a predictive internet, said Box, a dynamic driven by younger users and impacting users of all ages. Website functionality will change dramatically in the next five years, especially how advertising is done. 62% of Gen Z respondents believe that websites will know what you are looking for before you tell them—in fact, 41% said they would not buy from a website that couldn’t anticipate their needs and wants. 

Your internet usage will be equivalent to your credit score, according to Gen Z, who are fine with putting personal information online; as long as that information is properly protected. Gen Z is demanding a human experience from the internet, for everything from shopping to entertainment to knowledge. This presents both a challenge and an opportunity to advertisers and websites alike: a rich prize awaits those who can best engage an increasingly oversharing audience. 

The value of a domain name will be different for younger generations: social media is more important to them than web destinations, but those web destinations are still where shared content comes from, so brandability of a domain and owning a strong domain name remain important. Interoperability will be the order of the day going forward: your content and commerce will have to play nice with other technologies, and you’ll have to stay abreast of what’s new out there. As Box said, “It’ll be a hard one for us to wrap our head around.”

Key Concepts

  • Market research
  • Curiosity for new technology

Take Action

  • Know your audience: study the profound behavioral differences between generations.
  • Make sure your service feels human at every step of the conversion funnel

Lisa Box serves as VP of Strategic Alliances at WP Engine focused expanding the company’s partner ecosystem. Lisa has an extensive background in program development, marketing and channel incentive design from her more than 15 years in the domain and hosting industry in leadership roles.
Twitter: @lboxtexas
Web: wpengine.com

DNS, Digital Identity, Blockchain and Smart GeoFences with Tim Favia, Justin Newton, and Sean Eilers


NamesCon 2018 saw over 1,100 attendees over three invigorating days of keynotes, talks, and workshops. Here, we revisit one of our keynote sessions.

Tim Favia, Senior Vice-President of Corporate Development at Donuts; Justin Newton, co-founder and CEO of Netki; and Sean Eilers, co-founder and CEO of GeoNetwork, met up to discuss how domaining, blockchain, and geo-technology converge. Netki and GeoNet are startups working at the edges of emerging tech, and in which Donuts saw exciting opportunities.

Flavia said that Donuts looked at investing in companies with tangential relationships to the DNS business: “We gotta invest in innovation.” Newton has over 20 years’ experience in the internet space, and a lot of the original goals of access and inclusivity have already come to pass. Now the world is looking to blockchain as the transformative technology of the day: Newton and his partners are looking to DNS as a way to unlock marketability in blockchain. Something like a Bitcoin wallet is impossible to memorize: a long, single-use string of letters and numbers. If you get it wrong, you could instantly and irretrievably lose your cryptocurrency. The robustness of the DNS could be applied to these wallets in the same way we memorize web addresses and not numeric IP addresses.

Meanwhile, Netki is creating a global registry for geofences, based on a coordinate system that matches longitude and latitude measurements to IPV6 addresses—the resulting information is sent out for digestion by locally-relevant devices. “Geofence is only as good as the application or device that follows it,” Eilers said. The novel part, added Flavia, is how devices will require many simultaneously-defined geofences for a given device; and the DNS can carry that geofencing information without taking up all the onboard memory of, say, your smartphone.

A sizable chunk of the world’s population has no street address, and that will be a bit less relevant in the future. Imagine scheduling location-based drone delivery from Amazon: this isn’t science fiction, but the application of existing technologies in creative ways.

Donuts is the largest holder of top-level domains, which made them an ideal partner for GeoNetwork. Some of the nTLDs will be more appropriate to some of these new use cases, said Flavia, while most of us have been trained to associate .com with a traditional web experience.

“You have these two infrastructural concepts that are good for different things,” said Flavia, which makes them relevant together at NamesCon. Newton added that blockchain and the DNS play well together. Blockchain can be an arbiter of truth in data, he said, but it’s not an ideal place to store all of your records. The limiting factor in the scalability of the blockchain is the rights of participation, and it’s currently significantly slower than more traditional hosted databases. “There are also legal issues that come up when there’s value in having central authority at certain parts of the chain,” he said—for example, blockchain is useless for trademark disputes between rights-holders.

We’re already seeing geofencing become relevant in cryptocurrency, where the generators of a coin don’t want it traded outside their own country. “There’s a huge opportunity around your addressing point to create a more modern version of what we know as ‘title’,” said Flavia. Contracts can be carried on the blockchain to help redefine how we deal with property, and how we manage who has the right to set the rules around a particular physical space. The FAA says no supersonic flight over your house, and you say that big, friendly dogs are welcome.

The idea that you can cache content on the DNS is the basis for the internet as we know it, said Eiler. So a self-driving car driving through Las Vegas will get the info for Nevada traffic rules and where to park, but won’t have to worry about Golden Gate Bridge traffic unless it takes a bit of a road trip. The car doesn’t have to know everything all the time, but some of the things at specific times; and that depends on where on the planet the car is driving.

Leveraging DNS allowed Newton and his team, over a hackathon weekend, to build a minimum viable product with a scalability model that eclipsed blockchain at the time. With 700% growth over the past 12 months, Newton said, “I’ve had to put exactly zero engineering effort into the scalability of the product.”

How do wallet names and identity relate to risk and compliance? Cryptocurrency has value, and is subject to a given country’s rules around money-laundering and terror financing. A wallet name is like a DNS name—it can be whatever you imagine. Newton said that Netki matches real-world identity to those wallets, so that cryptocurrency professionals can avoid breaking the law. Flavia clarified that cryptocurrencies haven’t been illegitimate per se until now, only that they didn’t yet fit into the world defined by, say, the SEC: there are regulatory standards around “know your customer”!

Flavia is excited to expand DNS’ use cases into this new territory, and sees the potential for hyper-growth. Newton is focused this year on product refinement, including moving artificial intelligence out to the user’s smartphone to verify identity. Eiler is working with a nTLD to build rules around name availability based on where the buyer is—he envisions a future where the Address field on a form will mean something much different, and much more specific. These new hybridized platforms will in turn become the test-beds for future generations of innovation.

Newton anticipates a multi-chain world, as it were; where no one cryptocurrency rules supreme, which highlights the value of DNS in managing all those insanely-long wallet addresses painlessly and behind the scenes. Eiler reminded us that there’s much more to blockchain than cryptocurrency, though cryptocurrency will invite geographically-relevant rules as it matures.

Key Concepts

  • Blockchain
  • Geofencing
  • DNS
  • Curiosity in new technology

Take Action

  • Learn how blockchain works beyond just cryptocurrency.
  • Think outside the box when planning strategic partnerships.

Timothy Favia has over 25 years of experience in building venture-backed technology companies from inception through initial public offering. A former partner at Fair Chase Advisors, Favia is also the former CEO of mSnap, Inc., where he built the country’s largest broadcast-based mobile ad network, and Mediaplex, where as co-founder and EVP for business and corporate development, he helped guide the company to a market capitalization in excess of $4 billion. Tim has been involved in the funding, development and operation of numerous other venture-backed technology companies. Tim currently sits on the boards of several early-stage companies, including Donuts-backed startups GeoNet and Netki.
Web: donuts.domains

Justin Newton is an early Internet pioneer and technology startup veteran. His last four companies (Blackline Systems, Demand Media, NetZero and AboveNet) all exited with $1B+ IPOs. He was responsible for architecting each company’s platform for global scale and preparing their data systems for Sarbox compliance. Justin also founded The Internet Service Providers’ Consortium (the first trade association for ISPs), and was its public policy director. Justin serves on the board of Adra Software and has been an advisor to more than a dozen startups, including Alcatel, Citrix and Juniper Networks. Justin holds a BS in Computer Science from Northwestern University.
Web: netki.com

Sean Eilers is a technology investor and entrepreneur. As CEO of GeoNetwork, Sean oversees day-to-day operations, fundraising and contributes to the company's innovation, product development and market direction. Sean has co-founded and served as CEO for multiple companies including Bonivo Technologies and Tiburon Media Group. Prior to Tiburon Media, Sean served as vice president, US Media Sales for Terra Lycos / Lycos, where he led media sales, direct marketing and subscription sales, monetizing properties like Lycos, Wired, Gamesville, Quote, Raging Bull, Tripod, Angelfire and HotBot. Sean holds a B.S. in Economics from the University of California, Davis.
Web: geo.network

Using Survival Psychology to Build a Resilient Brand with Jonathan David Lewis


NamesCon 2018 saw over 1,100 attendees over three invigorating days of keynotes, talks, and workshops. Here, we revisit one of our keynote sessions.

Jonathan David Lewis, Partner, VP, Strategy Director at McKee Wallwork + Co, took to the NamesCon 2018 keynote hall to discuss survival psychology, and its place in building a resilient brand in these turbulent times.

A rugby team flying from Uruguay to Chile in 1972 found themselves in a horrific plane crash. Survivors reacted to the aftermath in different ways. Some wandered out into the snow—and certain death. Some just shut down, unable to function. Others realized that they had to stay focused on staying alive, even if just for the night.

They had to stay alive for two months, bringing back one of the most harrowing tales of survival ever. There’s no difference between these crash survivors and you: we all have predictable reactions to unexpected challenges and disasters. However, most won’t make it. This is...

The 10-80-10 rule.

Ten percent of us can deal with disaster and help others deal with it. Eighty percent will be deer in the headlights. The other ten percent will do precisely the wrong thing. The tech industry is moving and changing so quickly that it’s hard to know what to do. “Uncertainty is just a lack of information,” said Lewis. “On the other hand, there’s a mountain of ambiguous information.”

Seven factors affect growth in business, the last four of which are internal to that business, said Lewis, “but we learned the hard way.” Here they are:

  1. Economy

  2. Industry disruption

  3. Competition

  4. Lack of alignment

  5. Loss of focus

  6. Loss of nerve

  7. Inconsistency

The Harvard Business life cycle starts at inception, moving forward to survival, growth, and expansion; and ultimately to maturity. Each of these steps is also a goal, and achieving those goals triggers internal crisis opportunities. Lewis pointed to Apple, which foundered for years when Steve Jobs left. After the the iPhone took over the world, Apple grew to a position of dominance.

Resilience can be savage

When Jobs passed away and Tim Cook took over, Apple struggled in the maturity phase: slowing down older phones, selling loads of dongles, basically not living up to the “Think Different” credo that the Cupertino company popularized. (Lewis’ unofficial advice is that Apple stock is about to fall as they reach this new tipping point.)

Jon Krakauer’s “Into Thin Air” also deals with hardship and one group’s attempt to climb a summit. Shortly after getting rescued by another climbing team, Krakauer’s group chose not to help a similarly-imperiled team further toward the peak. Journalists weren’t impressed with that decision, but Krakauer argued that above 8000 meters is not a place that people can afford morality. Lewis broke it down thusly:

“The resilient survive.”

The internal health of your company will allow you to face the ever-changing chaos out there, said Lewis: “You and I have all these preconceived notions of success,” he said, based on assembly-line thinking. Below are three new principles for success as outlined by Lewis, and they are rooted in resilience.

Uncertainty beats security. In today’s stormy seas, what if the answer isn’t to get better at bailing out water? What if the answer is to get out of the boat and learn to swim? “Companies and people look at the pace of change as a challenge, an obstacle, a hurdle… We like to look at it as opportunity: Get on the offense. - Mark Parker, CEO, Nike

You have to make room for healthy conflict in your organization. “You have to be willing to get awkward, to get weird,” said Lewis, adding that the key to making that weirdness work is to approach it with kind truth and institutionalize permission to fail.

Flexibility beats efficiency. We should embrace our creativity, our humanity more, said Lewis.  “Ambiguity is… not something to be feared but something that is a given… We never have complete and perfect information. The best way to succeed is to revel in ambiguity.” - Grant Hammond, ‘The Mind of War: John Boyd and American Security’

There’s harmony and conflict in a jazz band as it plays. Jazz revels in ambiguity—indeed, jazz cannot survive without ambiguity. Today’s tech companies are more like orchestras, which have a very different dynamic. Orchestras are about efficiency, while jazz bands can improvise. Permission to fail is built into that.

Connection beats craft. Trying to comprehend new models in marketing can lead to internal chaos, and nobody is immune to that. “How do you create something of value when it feels like nothing makes sense,” said Lewis. Successful business leaders will be the ones who can merge some of these apparently-clashing paradigms into new and useful entities.

Maybe your company needs an anthropologist or an architect. Maybe it’s sabbatical time.

Getting that new expertise can be brought in by new hires, or unlocked from within your own team. Meanwhile, document what you and your team is doing so that all the institutional knowledge you earn is itself resilient.

“This new economy, it isn’t about size anymore,” said Lewis, noting that the biggest companies are the most vulnerable. The survivors will be the ones who can innovate from within—parking and stoking the passion to create is key. “Connect the dots between what feels like a pain point now to ‘We’re gonna be the next Uber’.”

Key Concepts

  • Leadership
  • Curiosity in new technology

Take Action

  • Make sure your team feels safe in experimenting. You may not yet know what you don’t know.
  • Think beyond product and deeply define your company’s identity.

As partner and strategy director at McKee Wallwork + Company, Jonathan David Lewis led his firm to be recognized by Advertising Age as a national leader in branding and marketing, winning the Southwest Small Agency of the Year, national B2B Campaign of the Year, and national Best Places to Work awards.

Twitter: @JonathanD_Lewis
Web: jonathandavidlewis.com

Building a Band Brand Using Social Media with David Ellefson


NamesCon 2018 saw over 1,100 attendees over three invigorating days of keynotes, talks, and workshops. Here, we revisit one of our keynote sessions.

NamesCon 2018 opened with a bang: David Ellefson, Grammy-winning bassist and co-founder of legendary thrash-metal band Megadeth, shared his journey through rock’n’roll, entrepreneurship, and parenthood, a journey fundamentally shaped by the internet.

The rocking started early. “I was playing semi-professionally,” said Ellefson, “meaning someone paid us at least 50 bucks to play, by the time I was 13.” In 1983, Ellefson formed Megadeth with his then-neighbor Dave Mustaine, releasing their first record on Combat Records. 35 years later, Ellefson has relaunched the label.

Ellefson recalled a Capitol Records staffer suggesting that Megadeth launch something called a “website”, the first of its kind for a band. “This thing was pages deep,” mused Ellefson, lamenting the now-mesozoic user interface. Megadeth threw a chatroom party for an album launch in 1994, when the web was still a novelty to most people. The band became associated with high-tech at that point, and it’s a label Ellefson wears proudly: “That thinking has always carried through in everything we do.” In being addicted to the chaos of emerging tech, Megadeth managed an as-yet-unheard-of feat: mixing geekiness with heavy metal. “Those were the building days of the band, the building days of the brand,” he said. The band owned its name and imagery, which gave them tremendous freedom in changing record contracts. 

That first “Welcome to Megadeth, Arizona” website has evolved into #35YearsofMegadeth, a hashtag whose very existence would have been unimaginable in the mid-Nineties. “More than anything, in our world [the fans] like to see us being engaged,” said Ellefson, which reflects Megadeth’s brand as “everyman’s heavy metal.”

After experimenting with MySpace, Megadeth tried out a new thing called Facebook. “With Twitter, I had to use @ellefsondavid, because another Dave Ellefson had already started tweeting under @davidellefson. (Apparently the other Dave isn’t a very metal guy.) 

  Photo by Natalia Stupnikova

Photo by Natalia Stupnikova

Social media branding starts with the name, said Ellefson, noting that he hardly ever visits his own website. That’s because, today, the web has become home to social media sites, which are worlds within worlds of their own. 

“Probably the biggest thing you want is engagement,” said Ellefson. “I think the trick is to have a very organic feel to it.” It’s not just about getting big follower numbers, but authenticity. 

“I go and grab domain names all the time,” said Ellison, briefly lamenting his GoDaddy bill. “My motto is, if you can dream it, secure it!” He sees potential in the nTLDs such as .music. He particularly looks at food-and-beverage domain names, as he runs a coffee business of his own: “All of a sudden my world has opened up—coffee isn’t just for breakfast anymore.”

The Download Era means that there’s far less money in selling music than would have been the case in previous decades. 130,000 plays on Spotify netted Ellefson a cool $1.03: “Spotify is making all the money, we certainly aren’t; we’re the ones who helped them build their business!” This means brand maintenance is even more important: touring is where the money is, so it’s key to keep relevance with your longtime fans while earning new ones: “I guess we are now ‘classic rock’, if you can believe that!” Technology has not changed the love we have for live music experiences.

(Still, Ellefson reckons “Steve Jobs saved the music business” when launching the iPod and its attendant iTunes Music Store. This set the world afire in creating a legal alternative to Napster, the big download portal at the time.)

Ellefson signed a young all-female band called Dollskin, setting them up in the studio to record an EP. During that process, he kept the public up to speed through social media. Dollskin were quite savvy as well, securing permutations of their domain name and pumping up excitement before a show. “Often times it’s about asking a question, so people will engage with you,” he said, especially on Twitter. Then you learn about your audience: “You can see who’s a lover and who’s maybe a hater, because not everyone’s gonna like you!” You want to push out a band and grow a rock band, but—especially working with a female band while having a daughter of his own— “you also want to keep the creepy people off to the sides.”

While Dollskin is a Generation-Z band, Megadeth has a longer legacy of followers. Demographics and the dynamics of a social-media platform can—and should—shape the way you share a particular thought. As Ellefson said, “As you’re building your brand, building your name, you’re looking for nuances.” You also have to be ready to adjust your strategy on the fly, because response from fans is immediate, one way or the other. 

Social media is a tool for building awareness, engagement, and connection to a record- and merchandise-buying group. Ellefson considers Facebook to still be the industry standard for engagement: “It’s the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal of the celebrity arts.” Megadeth has to think global, making sure their posts will reach fans in the right time zones. While Mustaine loves Twitter and has a good feel for it, Ellefson isn’t as enamored of the little blue bird—he’s more of an Instagram guy. 

No matter how this next wave of tech breaks, nothing can replace people getting together and enjoying some music, said Ellefson: “Ones and zeros can’t do what the heart can do.”

Key Concepts

  • Social media
  • Personal branding
  • Curiosity in new technology

Take Action

  • Secure your own name on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
  • Be real, be you. Pandering for big follower numbers always looks like pandering for big follower numbers.
  • Don’t just be ready to talk on social media—also be ready to listen.

Grammy Award-winning Megadeth bassist and co-founder David Ellefson is the author of several books, including the autobiography "My Life With Deth" (Simon & Schuster)) and music business how-to book "Making Music Your Business… A Guide for Young Musicians" (Hal Leonard). He is also the owner of EMP Label Group/Combat Records and Ellefson Coffee Co.
Twitter: @ellefsondavid
Instagram: @davidellefsonbass
Web: davidellefson.com

Andrew Allemann is the founder and editor of Domain Name Wire, the longest-running blog covering the business of domain names.
Twitter: @domainnamewire
Facebook: Domain Name Wire
Web: domainnamewire.com


NamesCon Europe Charity Auction

Attendees generously donated 21 domain names that were made available for a live auction during NamesCon Europe today, with proceeds going to the Hope Children's Centre charity. We nearly reached the goal of 6500 EUR with a final auction sales tally of 4150 EUR raised. These funds will help to finish building a new secondary school, so that the charity may take in more children from the local area whose parents cannot afford to pay for their education.

charity auction.png

Special thanks to Shaun Wilkinson, COO at Nidoma, who organized the charity auction and solicited the domain name donations.

If you wish, you can still make a contribution towards this great cause!

Great Things Start With NamesCon: What to Expect from Erik Bergman and Great.com

Photo: Kurt Paris (http://www.kurtparis.com)

NamesCon is where ideas and domain names intersect and transform into reality. This is what happened when Erik Bergman decided to shop for the perfect domain name for his new venture using the NamesCon domain auction. 

We spoke with Erik to find out not only who he is and how his idea was born, but also what Great.com is all about, why this specific domain name was so important, and what the future holds for his exciting new project. This is the story of how an important idea requires a great name. Read our interview with Erik below.

What can we expect from Great.com?
Great.com is going to be my life purpose, that’s the main thing about it. I want to build on something for the rest of my days and feel that it’s really meaningful.

There are several things you can expect from it that are out of the ordinary. The first one is that all the profits will go to charity even though it will be a very commercial product. That’s because I want to make a difference and I would like everyone who gets involved to be able to use their talents in life to make a difference as well.

Secondly, I want to create a unique business environment. I want to build something that is completely transparent, from salaries to business terms. I want to do this because I believe it is the future. If the salary list is transparent it has to be 100% fair and the same goes for the business terms and everything else. There are no shortcuts if you put all info on the table. In my vision of this we will even create a system where the employees set their own salaries. There are already a couple of businesses out there that does this, and I think that’s the epitome of trust. I don’t know how to make that work yet but I know want to see it happen!

On top of those things we will create a fully remote workplace where everyone works whenever and wherever they want, a business with the aim that everyone should want to stay on the project for life and where they health and wellbeing of everyone is of top priority. Even here there are so many things that I have no idea how to solve, but I’m very sure of my intentions.

What would you like people to learn or take away from your project?
To me, nothing brings me better feelings than adding value to people. I believe that this is something deeply ingrained in our DNA. The more we care about others, the better we will feel.

I want to find every way possible to get this message out and hopefully influence people to do the same. We will do everything from blogging about business transparency to helping orphanages in Uganda. The goal is to inspire others to do similar things and from that create a ripple effect.

What's something most people don't know about you?
Something most people don’t know… Well… I love crying. I think crying is something amazing. As most men, or boys for that matter, I used to never cry and if I did I was ashamed of it and hid it the best I could.

About a year ago however I went through a very rough phase in my life and I decided to show my vulnerability to the people around me and tell them how I actually felt. I cried more in front of people in a couple of weeks than I done in all my adult life. It had this magical effect on everyone around me. For the first, I got all this love and support – but it also opened them up a lot and if felt like everyone got more vulnerable and at the same time stronger. Everything became more honest.

Today I feel that every time I cry, I’m showing people around me that it’s OK to be vulnerable and that crying is natural and wonderful. It might be weird, but it makes me proud to be that example.

How did you get your start in the industry?
My friend and I was starting a small web agency right after graduation. I think I was 19 at the time and our business idea was to help small businesses to get websites. We never managed to get the ball really rolling with this and soon realized that it wouldn’t work out. Instead we started buying domains and creating affiliate websites for ourselves and it became much more successful than the consultancy ever way.

What advice can you offer those who are just getting their start in the domain (or related) industry?
I would give them the same advice as I would for pretty much everything else – “Just begin!”. I believe that we overthink pretty much everything in life and the more we think the more reasons about, why not to do it, we will come up with. The idea they have now is probably not the perfect one and the next one won’t be either but if they just get started more and more opportunities will unfold. Start with the absolute smallest step you can come up with. Start today, not tomorrow!

What was one of your biggest "Aha!" moments in life?
I would say that the realization about crying and vulnerability that I mentioned before comes very high up on that list.

Another big “Aha!” was the realization that everyone is too busy worrying what other people think of them to really care about you. Whenever I used to make a mistake I was so worried to be judged by others. However, I’ve now realized that I don’t care at all when someone else make a mistake, I’ve forgotten that 30 seconds later – so why would anyone care about my mistakes?

Nobody really cares what I wear, what I look like or if my dance moves make no sense. With this realization it becomes so much easier to just live my life my way and enjoy it!

If you had fifteen extra minutes each day, what would you do with them?
This is a really good question! I’ve been thinking about it for a while, just looking at the screen. My conclusion is that I don’t think I want 15 more minutes every day. I think my day is perfect as it is. I didn’t think this a couple of years ago, but I’ve spent the last few years really figuring out how I want to use my time.

I heard this quote from the YouTuber Jay Shetty:

The bad news is - time flies,

The good news is - you are the pilot.

I think it’s so brilliant! It is spot on. We own our time and we chose how to spend it.

A big part of what changed my perspective on time was the book Essentialism, by Greg McKeown. It is basically about how to focus on only doing the things you really like in life and cut out the crap.

One of my key takeaways from the book was “The 90-point rule”, a rule that I apply more or less every day. In short, it’s a rule to help you make decisions. Whenever you are faced with a decision of how to use your time, you should ask yourself: “On a scale from 0-100, how important is this to me?”. I your answer is anywhere below 90, you should walk away. If it is above 90, you should always do it! This means that you are following your heart and doing what you really value.

It’s easy to think that we should say yes to everything that is 51+, but it’s not. We face so many decisions that would be 51+ that we would end up doing nothing but things that are 50-60 points, leaving us no time to do our find the things that are 90+.

When I first found out about this rule my life was filled with 50-60-point stuff. Today, everything is 90+.

Who has been the biggest influence on your life? What lessons did that person teach you?
“The biggest influence” is very hard to say. I got a question about my role models some time back and I’ve answered it similar to how I would answer this.

My father has been a big role model when it comes to my values in life. Growing up I always thought of him as a cheap guy because he never wanted to buy fun stuff from himself or the family. Growing up I realized that the reason he didn’t want to do that was because he would rather give that money away to people who needed it more than we do. So, rather the opposite of being cheap.

My close friend Emil has been another very big role model. He has taught me so much about emotions and how to actually be in touch with yourself. How to feel what it is that you want from the inside and love whatever arises. He is passionately curious about more or less everything in the world and he is always eager to teach while I’ve been a happy student.

The third one I mentioned was the family of my fiancée. Their family is always hugging, always saying how much they love each other and always support any crazy idea some family member might have. Everything is joyful and caring. I had a great upbringing myself, but it was very different from this. It’s truly inspiring to be a part of both worlds and I’ve learned how to pick the best parts of both into my own life.

Describe a recent challenge, at work or in your personal life, that you overcame.
A challenge in my personal life has always been to keep up with exercising. I’ve always been very binary when it comes to workout. I’m either “all in” or “all out." Either working out every day and pushing myself to the limits or not working out at all.

The reason for this is simply that I want to be an over achiever. I push and push for a while, then I miss a few workouts and it feels like I failed, so my motivation crashes. Then I don’t work out for a while, before I start over and do the same thing all over again. My exercise has been driven by a feeling of “I want to impress people” and “I don’t want to fail” rather than “I want to be healthy” and “I just want to have fun."

The big shift with this has come in the last six months. I’ve changed my logic about what “a good exercise” is. From “it’s good when I push myself to almost throwing up” to “every exercise is good, even if I don’t sweat”. By making it so much easier to succeed it’s also much easier to keep going.

I don’t need quick impressive results because I have found a way where I can keep exercising regularly every week. My only focus is to actually do something, focus on what’s fun and keeping the routine. Whenever I do something, it counts as an exercise and I feel good about myself for taking care of my body.

What was the best advice you were ever given?
Once again, it’s very hard to pick “the best” advice, however I’ll give you a very good one. If I could go back in time and visit 18-year-old me, this is what I would tell him.

“Your life is like a movie, you are the star in it and everyone else are just extras. This goes for everyone else as well. They are the stars of their movies and you are just an extra in theirs.

What’s really amazing about this is that no one really bothers about the extras, what the extras wear, how they look or if they fail. Everyone is busy thinking about the star. You don’t care much if an extra is making a fool out of themselves, you forget that a minute later. The same goes for all the movies that you are just an extra in. They don’t really care if you screw up, they don’t care what you do or how you live your life.”

This advice was given to me some year or two ago and I just loved it. Nobody will remember if I stutter on stage or have a big stain on my shirt. It might mean the world to me, but I would care at all if it was someone else who did the same thing. With this realization I’ve been much better at living my life for me, not really caring about what I think that other people might think of me.

Where can we find out more about you? 
I will start publishing things regularly on Great.com moving forward and I also have a personal info with some general info on erikbergman.se. If you have any questions or you are curious about whatever, just send me an email and I’m happy to be of service!

Turn your domain dreams into reality and get inspired at NamesCon Europe, happening in Valencia, Spain from June 7 to 9. Learn more about the event here, and register below.


GDD Summitters: Be Our Guest!

 View of Science World and False Creek from Stamp's Landing

View of Science World and False Creek from Stamp's Landing

For those of you heading to beautiful British Columbia next week for the GDD Summit, you may want to carve out some time to experience a few of our favourite things in the city of Vancouver.

Both Tania and I are based in Vancouver and we thought, why not plan a little sightseeing day on Monday and showcase some of the best the city has to offer? Anyone who would like to join us would be most welcome!

Here's a rough schedule for the day - feel free to join at any one of these scheduled stops:

10am: Meet at JJ Bean cafe near English Bay, we will grab a coffee and walk along the seawall to Sunset Beach (10 min walk)

11am: Take the False Creek Ferry from Vancouver Aquatic Centre dock at Sunset Beach to Granville Island (6 min water taxi)

11am-2pm: Explore Granville Island, there are plenty of shops to peruse and places to eat

2pm: Take the Aquabus from Granville Island to Stamp's Landing (13 min water taxi)

2:30pm: Pull up a chair to enjoy the sunshine and a beer on the waterfront patio at Mahony & Sons. The first round is on NamesCon :)

From 4pm onwards, the night is yours! You will have plenty of time to make it back to Richmond for the GDD Cocktail Reception.

For the rest of your stay, Tania and I would be happy to make dinner or drink recommendations, but here's a few suggestions we narrowed down that are within a reasonable distance of Mahony & Sons:

Please note that all food, fare, beverage or other associated costs for this outing are your sole responsibility.

Contact us (producers@namescon.com) with any questions, otherwise we look forward to seeing you at JJ Bean on Monday morning!

Update Regarding NamesCon Global Venue

To our valued attendees and sponsors;

After feedback following the 2018 event in which attendees and sponsors expressed a desire for a new venue, the NamesCon team immediately began looking into the viability of an alternate property to host our group. Several things were top of mind as we embarked on this search:

  1. Maintaining affordability for both attendees and sponsors
  2. Improving the quality of our host hotel on every level including food options, guest room appointments, and other amenities
  3. Keeping our show dates of January 27-30, 2019 as scheduled
  4. Finding a property with ample conference space, but not so large that our group would become lost and disengaged

We did find a wonderful option that fit many of our needs for 2019, but this venue was 12 miles off the strip. After polling several sponsors and attendees, we learned that the sentiments around such a location change were incredibly mixed and most wanted to stay on or very near to the Las Vegas strip. As a result of this feedback, we made the decision to fulfill our contract obligations with the Tropicana and remain there for 2019.

The upcoming NamesCon Global flagship event will mark 6 years at the Tropicana, and we understand it is time for a change. We hear you and we are now on the search for a new home for 2020 and beyond! Knowing this is our final year at the Trop means we can send ourselves off in style: one last party at the Havana Club with that stunning chandelier; one (or several) last late-night drinks in the lobby bar, where you never know who you'll run into; one short cab ride to everything the bustling Las Vegas strip has to offer.

Aside from the venue change, we are able to address several other points of feedback we received this year. We will be making more detailed announcements in the coming weeks and months, but for now here's a few teasers of what you can look forward to for our last year at the Tropicana:

  • Separate Expert and Newcomer session tracks running all day Sunday
  • Opening Reception and WaterNight will join forces and take place as a single event at the Havana Club on Sunday evening: expect open bar, food service, live entertainment, and free entry for all attendees
  • Monday night will be a "free night" for private company events or group activities - Las Vegas is your oyster, go enjoy it!
  • Tuesday early evening we'll be putting a new "spin" on the much-loved Topic Tables
  • And later on Tuesday night, we'll be taking our closing party to a brand new venue, something we think will be right up your alley...
  • Wednesday will close out with the keynote brunch (and Bloody Mary bar!), which all attendees can enjoy as the exhibit hall will be open just Monday and Tuesday 

We are also considering options for scheduling group activities on Saturday January 26 and/or Wednesday January 30 in the afternoon: think golfing, Hoover Dam tour, hiking, speedway racing. If this would be of interest for you, please get back to us with your activity suggestions and we will investigate group bookings.

As always, we welcome your feedback, and if you have any city/venue suggestions you'd like to throw in the hat for NamesCon Global 2020, send them our way! Here's a hint to steer you in the right direction: we're looking to be leaving Las Vegas, and we'd love to sink our feet into a sandy beach somewhere...

Finally, the NamesCon team would like to thank all of you who have been so honest in sharing your opinions with us over the years. Your feedback continually motivates us to do better, think outside the box, reconsider our strategies, and above all else, work to provide the best experience possible for NamesCon attendees. We couldn't do this without you.

Domaining Europe Becomes NamesCon Europe


It is our pleasure to announce the transition of Domaining Europe into NamesCon Europe! This is an exciting new chapter for the NamesCon brand and we are really excited to expand into the European domaining market.

The agreement between Domaining Europe and NamesCon was confirmed at the beginning of 2018, shortly after our flagship NamesCon Global conference in Las Vegas. The rebranding of Domaining Europe to NamesCon Europe is in effect for the upcoming June 2018 event in Valencia.

Dietmar Stefitz, who founded Domaining Europe in 2008, will directly manage the 2018 event with the assistance of NamesCon producers, and then evolve into a brand ambassador position and continue to advise the NamesCon team to ensure the spirit and theme of the conference remains intact.

“After 10 years of hard work I am thrilled to find a new home for Domaining Europe. NamesCon is the only entity to carry on this conference in the spirit of all involved, be it attendees, sponsors, or speakers. I want to thank all participants of Domaining Europe in the last years and wish the team of NamesCon Europe all the best for the future.”
- Dietmar Stefitz, Domaining Europe

The NamesCon team is contributing top-level speakers and content, global attendee marketing efforts, and expanded sponsor outreach.  We hope you will join us in Valencia this June, where decision makers from the global domain industry will come together to share new ideas.

“We are very excited to contribute to a successful NamesCon Europe 2018 under the direction of founder Dietmar Stefitz. Europe is an important forum for NamesCon, and as we enter into the 10th year of Domaining Europe we look forward to honoring Dietmar’s legacy and bringing even more value to the event for both attendees and partners.”
-Soeren von Varchmin, NamesCon

Register now for an unforgettable conference! Sign up before March 16, 2018 to enjoy 50% off. Remember, your conference pass covers all catering including coffee breaks, lunches, a gala dinner, and a sightseeing tour.