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A NamePros member has purchased the Alter domain name marketplace. Alter will continue operations as a brandable marketplace under the new ownership.

I reached out to the new owner, Filip Erkic, who goes by the NamePros handle @F.E., to learn details of the sale, and his plans for Alter moving forward.

Domain investors with names listed on Alter had received a farewell email from founder Deven Patel on March 19, 2022. That email announced that third-party domain listings would be taken down on April 2, 2022. It also said that funds spent to purchase Alter logos would be refunded.

Almost immediately, several NamePros members expressed the wish to consider purchase of Alter – see the discussion in this NamePros thread.

Alter had grown to more than 40,000 domain listings.

Interview With New Owner

Clearly it was a big decision to step in to purchase Alter. What aspects of the existing Alter marketplace made you feel sure the investment was worthwhile?

I already had plans to step into a brandable marketplace with brand.buzz, but that would've taken some time to go from the ground up. Deven did a great job building Alter as a community-driven domain marketplace, which perfectly aligned with my vision. Therefore taking this step felt natural. Deven and the team did an amazing job on many aspects including design, search engine optimization, strong customer support and community engagement. It will be a really difficult task to make him proud by shaping an even better future for Alter, and especially partners (domain investors) and customers (buyers).

What are your plans, in both the short-term and long-term, for the Alter marketplace?

My short-term goals are to simplify the seller experience by automating tasks that previously required their interaction like payouts, and to some degree domain transfers. In the longer term, even though Alter grew substantially as a hybrid marketplace, I am not sure that there is something better to offer to domain investors in that space, considering what's already available within the market. Alter is going to slowly move back to it's original vision – becoming a game changer in the brandable naming space. We'll be gradually upgrading the current platform by adding features. Some that I can mention are highly customizable portfolio pages, free built-in logo creation, and more analytical views for sellers so they can understand traffic flow to their domains.

One aspect of Alter many of us admired was the interaction with the NamePros community, through its official thread. Do you plan to continue that?

Not only to continue, but try to bring it to an even higher level – shaping Alter's success together with this community. We will be working along with the amazing NamePros community to build a marketplace they want, a marketplace that makes sales happen. One of my main reasons for entering the marketplace industry, especially in the brandable naming space, is because I feel that current marketplaces have somewhat disconnected themselves from their partner sellers. We plan to innovate through a strong partnership.

I am not sure how much you are able to share about terms or the purchase price? Was it a straight cash transaction?

It was an all cash transaction. Instead of buying just assets, we've decided to buy 100% ownership in Alter.com Inc as a business.

Will you be the sole owner, or are you operating as part of an investment group?

There's actually two people involved in ownership, me and my partner. While we are owners, the future of Alter will be shaped by an amazing team that works with us.

What are your current thoughts on ways to improve Alter?

Returning Alter back to its origins as a brandable domain name marketplace would be the first and major step. From that point forward, we're going to slowly introduce new platform upgrades, invest more in marketing efforts, and deliver excellent customer support to both buyers and domain sellers.

If I asked you to in one sentence give your vision statement for Alter going forward, what would it be?

Naming the web.

I see that you have been a NamePros member since 2012. Can you please briefly summarize your background in domain-related activities.

My background in domaining industry was as a side-hustle for the most part. I started investing in domains in late 2009 mostly by hand registering keyword .coms and flipping them for quick bucks, low to mid 3-figure sales, doing direct outreach. My first encounter with buying high-ticket domains happened in 2016, when I bought a generic 4 letter .com which played a major part in rebranding of an SaaS company recently. From time to time, I also do buyer and seller brokerage, but due lack of time I usually forward those to fellow brokers.

Brief History of Alter

On Sept. 14, 2020 Deven Patel announced Alter to the NamePros community. While he discussed a number of aspects, an important one was that Alter would clearly focus on the experience of potential buyers.
Our goal is to prioritize buyers because I think they are the key to success in any industry. The domain industry is no exception. Without buyers, there’s no money. This is why we’ve made it our mission to help entrepreneurs succeed!

Domain investors were attracted by a low, compared to brandable marketplaces, commission of 10%. Initially, Alter operated much like the legacy brandable marketplaces, with strong selection criteria. Most submitted domain names were not accepted.

A logo-style presentation was used for domain names. They provided logos for accepted names.

Like BrandBucket and SquadHelp, Alter invests in online advertising of specific domain names.

A bit later, Alter introduced a syndication feature where one could opt to have Alter-listed names automatically appear on Dan, Sedo and a number of registrar marketplaces. A surcharge was added to the domain price on those marketplaces, so the investor still received the Alter listing net amount.

Alter has a more wordy landing page than most other marketplaces. To assist, they use AI to automatically generate descriptions and to select categories and keywords. All of these could be overridden by the seller.

Along the way, Alter evolved to become what they called a hybrid marketplace. This allowed users to list whatever domains they wanted, like a general purpose marketplace, but the style of the marketplace, and advertising, remained similar to the brandable marketplaces.

Under the hybrid model, the number of Alter listings grew to more than 40,000. While this opened the platform to new types of domains some startups might consider, the downside is the possible dilution of quality names. Alter tried to control that impact through their search algorithm.

Professionally designed logos were no longer free after they switched to be a hybrid marketplace, but could be purchased. A basic text-only logo designed by user, or one uploaded. An AI created logo was generated for those who did not wish to invest time in optimizing the basic one.

Alter developed their own 6-factor brandable appraisal system, as well as a user-friendly initial trademark search tool.

What This Means For Those With Names At Alter

I asked Filip Erkic what the change will mean for existing users.
Domains will remain listed for the time being. There won't be any change up to the point when we initiate domain review, during which we'll communicate directly with each domain investor on Alter platform. That way, we'll be able to assist the investors directly in case some of them decide to move their entire Alter portfolio away, or in case domains get delisted during the domain review process.

In terms of the date for Alter ownership change, he said
Change of ownership is initiated, and I hope that full transition will be completed within the next 30 days.

Those with names listed at Alter will see when they log into their accounts that the notice about ceasing on April 2 has been taken down.

Final Thoughts

Let me first express appreciation to Alter founder Deven Patel. I admire what he and his team created in a relatively short time. He brought to Alter not only a lengthy experience acquiring domains for development purposes, but also as a founder of a number of startups in sectors including marketing, web hosting, social networking, blogging, and SaaS.

What I particularly appreciated was the way he interacted with the NamePros community. He was not always able to implement all ideas, but to a significant degree NamePros involvement informed many aspects of the development. By conducting this discussion in a promoted Alter official discussion thread, he was able to engage those members of the community that wanted to be involved, without pushback from those who wanted to avoid the discussion.

I am glad to see that Alter will continue, and thank the new owner for sharing some of his thoughts for future directions. It is good to have choice in the domain industry. Ultimately choice, innovation and competition will help drive improvements throughout the domain industry.

NamePros members who wish to make suggestions about Alter can continue to do so at the official sponsored Alter discussion thread.

A sincere thanks to Filip Erkic, @F.E., for being open to sharing information for a story announcing the sale of Alter.



This article is presented as domain industry news, and not promotion or recommendation of any particular service. The author reached out to the buyer at the negotiation stage to see if he would be willing to share details of a sale if it happened. The author has names at Alter, and many other marketplaces, but no other association with Alter.
 
The views expressed on this page by users and staff are their own, not those of NamePros.

Future Sensors

78% of human domainers will be replaced by robots
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I assume that @Deven Patel has some mixed feelings about it: Sad that Alter in the current setup did not succeed, but Glad that he could find a new, ambitious owner. Anyway @Deven Patel, congratulations with the outcome. Will you continue to advise the company in any form whatsoever? All the best :)
 

DotKing

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@F.E. Really great news and congrats for the nice acquisition. Alter is a great name for a marketplace, you should carefully chose its path :xf.wink:
Please consider stating some initial directions and plans for the future, maybe a new thread so interested members can follow.

I really liked Alter's initial idea of a properly curated brandable marketplace of high quality domain names.
Exactly! I sold a name in a few days back then, with only several names listed.
Delisted all after "weed583.work" kind of names kicked in.

Btw, just tried to re-list some of my quality names that were accepted in Alters early stage with logos, but submissions seem to be closed.

I wish you good luck and smart decisions!
 
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