Featured Attendee: Joe Alagna

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Joe Alagna
Director, Business Development — Afilias
Twitter: @joealagna


FAST FACTS

Location: California
Domain name you wish you owned: I have it already (alagna.com)
Favourite extension: .com, .org, and .info
Currently reading: I'm working on writing my own book (The Ten Percent Rule for Domain Names in Advertising). It's taking a long time but I'm making progress. For fun, I recently read Classical Music for Dummies.
Your mentor: Many throughout my life but I'd rather not list them here.

Q&A

Describe your company. How long have you been there and what led you to this career choice?
I've been a Director of Business Development at Afilias for five months. Afilias is a company that I've always respected who is the registry service provider for some of the most important top level domains in the world (.org, .info, and more). When the opportunity presented to work there I jumped on it and I don't regret it.  I see a great future for this company and am very happy to be part of it.

NamesCon is all about business networking. Can you tell us a story about the success of a meeting at NamesCon?
I've attended NamesCon every year since it began. It's one of the most useful trade shows in the domain name industry. It attracts participants from almost every sector. Most importantly, there is a vibe at NamesCon that can't be denied. People are excited to be there. The price of attending is reasonable and the sponsors are mostly well liked. While at 101domain we initiated and inked some great deals at NamesCon.

Can you tell us about how your service or product helps deliver value to your customers?
Afilias offers registry services. We can help ccTLD operators and new TLD operators as well. Our registry solution offers great scale, unequaled security, and good value. We are able to provide services for the largest TLDs and are capable of helping smaller ones grow. We also offer secondary DNS to help registries and large-traffic websites to improve speed, resiliency, and security.

How does your career compare to what you envisioned in your youth?
Domain names didn't exist in my youth but I've been able to adapt and learn about them and I was fortunate to learn about them early on.

How would you describe what you do in a single sentence to a stranger?
I help to run the Internet.

Describe the latest and greatest accomplishment in your career.
I've had success as part of a registry and a registrar. Both of the domain businesses I've worked with have grown exponentially. I've also had success as a domain investor. I feel that my experience is well rounded and valuable to anyone that wants to understand the domain name industry.

Describe a recent challenge that you overcame.
Making the move from wholesale (registry) to retail (registrar) over the past five years (and back now to registry) has been a serious challenge. One thing I've learned is that being a registrar is tougher. There are more things to manage (customers, vendors, technologies, etc.). I feel that I navigated the challenge successfully. I pretty much gave this my entire focus and it was necessary.

What are your thoughts on the new TLDs?
They are going to be fine over time. They're not new any longer.

What kinds of changes to you foresee within the industry in the next year? The next five years?
I believe we'll see changes in how WHOIS is done. There will be more compartmentalization and it will become more modular. Registrants will be allowed to have more control over their contact details. I believe that blockchain will likely play a role in changing how domain sales and WHOIS are managed as well.

What are the most innovative products or services that are currently impacting your business
I'm concerned that we are not being innovative enough as an industry. I'd like to see the domain industry interface more with companies that are building voice technologies and scanning technologies for mobile phones. I do believe that blockchain technologies are going to become a big part of the domain industry as well.

Who would you like to hear speak at NamesCon? Why?
I'd like to speak. I'm a Board Member of the Domain Name Association and I have some ideas I'd like to share.

What industry trends or topics do you think will be at the forefront of panel and keynote discussions this year?
Development of new gTLDs and ccTLDs
Blockchain as it relates to WHOIS and domain names?
DGPR - What Will it Mean?
How are domains interfacing with voice and scanning technologies?
What are we doing as an industry to innovate?

What are you most looking forward to at the upcoming NamesCon?
Networking. I hope to meet many operators of ccTLDs.

What fact about you would surprise people?
I have six grand-daughters.

What was one of your biggest "A-ha!" moments in life?
The Internet in 1996. Today: Bitcoin. Wow. Sheesh.

If you had 15 extra minutes each day, what would you do with them?
I would read and write and I'd probably spend a little more time with my kids and grandkids.

What's the most recent thing you learned, big or small?
I enjoyed learning a bit about classical music (from a Dummies book). I love the topic and the music and plan to listen to more of it.

Who has been the biggest influence on your life and what did they teach you?
Jesus—Can I say that? There's no more important lessons that I've learned than from the Bible. I've learned to put Him first, truth first, and other people first.

My mom and dad were great people and influenced me forever. My mom was not educated but she had great will and gave me an entrepreneurial spirit that I've never lost. My dad gave me most of the discipline I needed in my youth and I never forget it. He was an Army Sergeant and treated me and my three brothers like four mini Privates.

I've also had some great mentors throughout my life; a few in this business too. A book should be written about the man who taught me about selling but likely never will. He had more willpower and discipline than anyone I've ever met before or since knowing him. Guys like Dan Schindler, Paul Stahura, John Kane, Wolfgang Reile, and even my boss today, Steve Heflin, have been good to me and really influential to me as well. They have motivated me to this day (there are many others). I've had the privilege of working with and for some great people in this business.

What are you proudest of in your life?
My family. Great wife (I was lucky), two great sons, and six grand-daughters. I'm very proud of them.

What was the best surprise you've experienced so far in life?
The grand-daughters. I never expected to have six.

Name three things you can't travel without.
A book, my cellphone (duh), and basic toiletries (seems obvious but that's important to me).

What object would you put in a time capsule that best represents who you are today?
A picture of my family. Can you put domain names into a time capsule? I'm kind of a domain nut—very enthusiastic about this industry.

Where is your favourite place to escape?
Italy. More specifically, Sicily.

What was the best advice you were ever given?
An old mentor taught me the following: "The truth may not always help you, but it will never hurt you." I live by that. I've also learned to be less emotional about things; to be more objective.


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