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Bob Hawkes

Domainer Interview: Jason Sheppard, the Kingpin

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By Bob Hawkes, Aug 4, 2020
  1. Bob Hawkes

    Bob Hawkes Top Member NameTalent VIP Gold Account Trusted Blogger

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    In the first half of 2020 I noticed significant sales being regularly announced by Jason Sheppard. Then, a couple of weeks ago, on successive days he announced sales of two .vc extension domain names, each at a retail price of $4999. The name basic.vc sold July 23, while fuse.vc sold less than 24 hours later. These sales were significant because they came from a relatively small .vc portfolio, were acquired for modest amounts, and the hold time was just a few months in both cases.
    JasonSheppardCoverGraphic.png
    I reached out to Jason, both to learn more about his domain portfolio and his .vc ‘experiment’, but also his personal story in domain investing, and his plans for the future. Jason has been a NamePros member since July 2018, and his handle is Kingpin1966, which is based on his DJ nickname. He is also active on Twitter, and reports many of his retail sales there.


    Interview

    How long have you have been in domain investing, and how did you get started?

    My very first domain sale came in 2005. I got an offer on a western horse related name I owned for a business idea and offered up a number of my other domain names to the prospective buyer. He ended up buying out my small portfolio of 5-7 names, none of which had been bought as investments. I made a small profit, but in retrospect realize he might have been a domain investor himself. I wish I had taken the hint with those sales and gotten into the business then, but I didn't. Years later, in 2017, I was doing some internet marketing for a Realtor™ friend and stumbled upon GoDaddy auctions. I bought a few names and got my first couple of sales a few months later. After that I rapidly got more involved, using online resources to increase my knowledge base. I also expanded my domain portfolio, mainly through auction acquisitions. I tested the waters with a business partner on some gambling-related names starting in May 2018, and in December of that year we expanded the partnership. We ended up buying 6 names at the 2019 NamesCon auction and continued to grow that portfolio throughout the year.

    You regularly share significant sales. It seems that you have been on a roll in 2020. Is that how you perceive it?

    Yes, 2020 has definitely been good so far and I have high hopes for the remaining five months. I wasn't as involved with the domain community on social media last year, so many of the 2019 sales were not shared publicly, but it was a good year as well. Unless things stall completely, 2020 should easily eclipse 2019 though.

    Your profile refers to being an open format DJ, as well as a domain investor. What fraction of your time is spent these days in domain investing?

    There is not much DJing going on in my area at the moment, but even before the coronavirus shutdowns, domain investing had moved from being a side hustle to being the thing I spend the most time on. I still do some internet marketing and provide ticketing support for a couple of comedy clubs. None of these other activities take more than a few hours a week, freeing me up to spend 30+ hours a week on domains. Domain investing suits me the best of anything I have tried over the years, including a 7 year stint with IBM in various roles, including IT Architect. I fully intend to stick with domaining as long as I can.

    The back-to-back $4999 sales of the .vc names certainly caught the attention of the domain community, especially given your short hold time. One of these you picked up on backorder, and the other was hand registered. Can you tell us a little bit about what prompted you to get into .vc names?

    I recall coming out of NamesCon in Austin with a sense that .gg and .vc names were being talked up. I looked and saw there were quite a few names available for hand registration that I thought were a good fit for .vc and venture capital clients. So I picked up 23 .vc domain names. I also grabbed 5 .gg as part of the experiment.

    Did you add to your .vc portfolio after the recent sales?

    On the day of the first sale, I thought that I might just ride out my initial purchases and take the profits on the TLD, but I have picked up a few more names since, notably ethical and crave.

    I note that you are now trying a slightly higher price point on some of your .vc names, but can you share how you decided to price them originally?

    I felt that the $4999 price point would well work as a test. It was large enough that I didn't feel I would be leaving too much money on the table and I could see it being a sale price that a business would not have trouble accepting. From a profit expectation perspective, the ROI on a hand registration or backorder selling for $4999 was acceptable to me as well.

    What advice do you have for those considering investing in .vc names?

    Proceed with caution. Don't assume that these recent sales will be duplicated with just any single word or multi-word combination. The ones I sold were short one word names that arguably make sense for a venture capital firm to brand on. The list of available one word .vc names has been combed through by a lot of investors. The chances of finding something left is slim. A good rule of thumb is that if the .com version of the name you are considering is not a six figure name, the .vc might not be a good investment.

    Proceed with caution. Don't assume that these recent sales will be duplicated with just any single word or multi-word combination. A good rule of thumb is that if the .com version of the name you are considering is not a six figure name, the .vc might not be a good investment.

    Now while the recent .vc sales prompted this interview, as I measure your overall portfolio, it looks like about 87% of your names are in .com. Is that about right overall?

    Yes, I would rather it be closer to 90-92% .com though - that's the goal. Despite these recent sales, I am actively moving away from some of the other TLDs that I feel are overrepresented in my portfolio when compared to their sell-through rate. I overbought .org last year - they represent around 4% of my portfolio and don't think I have yet had a single .org sell at retail.

    It seems that your current portfolio is about 4500 names, at least the portion at DAN. How has that changed over the past year?

    Other than paying for renewals, all of my profits have been put back into the portfolio in the past year, so it easily doubled in size. Lately though, I have been trying to upgrade the top end of the portfolio through purchase of higher priced names. FreshFood.com, which I bought at the NamesCon auction, is a good example and the most expensive name in my personal portfolio.

    The other big change is the 350 or so names I have listed at BrandBucket and BrandPa in the past 6 months - those are not listed on DAN. That DAN number also includes at least 100 names that are destined to be dropped if my liquidation efforts are not successful. Although I am still buying, I am also trying to get my portfolio downsized a bit through liquidating a lot of the names I purchased in my early days in the industry.

    It seems that you offer monthly payment plans on many of your names. Do you see that as a growing trend? Are many of your sales on monthly plans?

    The DAN lease to own plan has been fantastic for me. I have 6 names currently on installment plans with them, and one at BrandPa. The stability of having recurring income is a game changer. I do think if the number of financed names gets into double digits I might temporarily switch the option off for the whole portfolio. The recurring income is nice, but I can see where having too many going at once would result in some wasted time. Even though DAN handles everything with the customer, the process does generate several emails each month, and then there is the payment audit process. I do think that the innovation will spread to other marketplaces. I would not be surprised to see GoDaddy/Afternic and/or BrandBucket testing the waters with a similar feature.

    While you mainly hold .com, I see that you do have a fairly broad number of different extensions, at least compared to some investors, with .com, .net, .org, .info and a number of different country codes. What changes are you making in the balance between TLDs?

    Like many new investors, when I started out I was convinced that when I heard folks talk about their .com successes that those same principles would translate to other extensions. Unfortunately, that is not the case, and many of the names I bought early are now being liquidated. I plan to focus on .com names - single word when I find them in my budget, as well as two word and select phrases. I also keep my eye out for deals on good .net names. I do consider .io to be a primary extension as well, although I have not had great success with it yet. I still need to get my .io name picking refined. I will likely maintain a few .org and .co and possibly buy the occasional too-good-to-pass-up deal in those TLDs. I consider .vc, .gg and .us to be active experiments. I'm cautiously long on those three extensions.

    There is also quite a bit of variety in the type of names, with your portfolio including short acronyms, numerics, alphanumerics, exact match keywords, brandables, and more. Any reflections on how you see your portfolio changing with respect to the type of names?

    My plan is to focus on getting all of the brandables listed at BrandBucket, Brandpa or SquadHelp. I will probably ditch the numerics and alphanumerics. I doubt I will get there any time soon, but my vision is a large brandable marketplace portfolio with a small non-brandable portfolio of exact matches, one word generics and a few phrases.

    Most of us make mistakes along our domain journey. Would you like to share both one mistake you made, and an insight that has been particularly valuable for guiding your domain journey?

    I think the main mistake I’m guilty of is not being patient enough. I mentioned some gambling names bought as part of a partnership earlier. That was a failed experiment to be sure, but largely because we ditched those names far too soon. After no action and renewals looming, we found buyers for the best of them but ended up taking a loss on the batch. In retrospect, we should have culled the worst of the lot, because looking back, in today’s market, a number of the names would be worth almost as much as cost of all of them.

    What is the favorite name in your portfolio?

    That's actually not as hard as it would have been 8 months ago. FreshFood.com is the hands down favorite now. I just think it has a ton of potential and I can't wait to put it with the right buyer.

    I really like a quote you shared not long ago “I am so grateful to have stumbled on this crazy biz.” Want to elaborate on this a little?

    Sure. I have tried my hand at a number of solo endeavours, things such as day trading, cryptocurrency mining and raising horses. None have come as naturally to me as domain investing. It took me a little while to start to make connections but it has really snowballed this year. The domain community has shown a level of support for me that I don't recall ever having outside my family. I am now trying to figure out a good way for me to return the favor and make some of the newer investors feel just as welcome.

    The domain community has shown a level of support for me that I don't recall ever having outside my family. I am now trying to figure out a good way for me to return the favor.

    Some Facts and Figures on .VC

    While .vc is the country-code domain extension for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the extension finds it’s main use within the venture capital sector.

    According to Dofo statistics, .vc is the 298th most registered domain extension. There are just over 13,300 .vc domains registered, with approximately 1700 currently for sale on marketplaces.

    At time of writing, in NameBio there are 173 sales of .vc domain names listed, although the highest-value was just $10,000 for the name vs.vc. Only 69 of the sales are at prices of $1000 and more. The majority of aftermarket sales are short acronyms and single words that make sense for venture capital branding. The .vc sales reported on NameBio clearly include many domainer wholesale acquisitions, so be cautious in making assumptions from average prices.

    The first domain name in the extension was registered in 2001. As well as .vc domains, .com.vc is in use, although there has only been a single aftermarket sale in .com.vc, back in 2008.

    There is evidence of increasing interest in the .vc extension, with 42 sales so far in 2020, compared to 27 in all of 2019 and 23 in 2018. The two sales from this article are not yet in the NameBio database, but I have seen the sales confirmation for them. If they were reported in NameBio, they would become the fifth and sixth highest sales reported in the .vc extension.

    As far as I could see, no single .vc website has a particularly high global use ranking, but hundreds or thousands of .vc extension names are in use for active websites. Here are a few samples to provide an indication of the types of names that get used in the extension. 500.vc (redirects to the .co), butterfly.vc, DCP.vc, differential.vc, flashpoint.vc (redirects to matching .com), hive.vc, inovia.vc, karma.vc, loyal.vc, luge.vc, vanedge.vc (redirects to .com) and visible.vc.

    Registration and renewal costs for .vc domain names are in the $30 to $35 per year range at various registrars.


    The domainer interview series introduces readers to domain investors who have enjoyed recent success. The goal is to introduce the people behind the sales, and to share their insights and approaches.

    Sincere thanks to Jason for this interview, and so openly sharing his domain investing journey.

    I also wish to thank NameBio and Dofo for data used in this article.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2020
    The views expressed on this page by users and staff are their own, not those of NamePros.
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  4. Bob Hawkes

    About The Author — Bob Hawkes

    Domain analyst, writer and informal educator, with particular interests in domain name phrases and non-business uses for domain names. I am a risk averse domain investor who only invests modest amounts in a variety of extensions and niches. Don't hesitate to contact me - I like to help!

    This is Bob Hawkes's 51st blog post on NamePros. View all blog posts

    Home Page:
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  5. Comments (25)

  6. TauseefKhan

    TauseefKhan Upgraded Member Blue Account

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    Thanks, @Bob Hawkes for sharing this interesting interview. Nice to see a two-word domain being the favorite in his list. New gTLD sales are like a ray of hope for such a category of investors.
     
  7. CraigD

    CraigD 360promo.com VIP

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    The comment that impressed me the most was "Unless things stall completely, 2020 should easily eclipse 2019 though".

    It's a good sign when the experts are confident.

    Thanks @Bob Hawkes for an insightful interview.
     
  8. Kingpin1966

    Kingpin1966 Upgraded Member Gold Account

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    Thank you so much for this great article @Bob Hawkes .

    I am honored that you approached me about doing this.
     
  9. Spex

    Spex Established Member

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  10. unmark

    unmark Established Member ★★★★★★★★★★

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  12. Ariff BD

    Ariff BD Established Member

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    Can someone ask him how to find broker for .vc and .gg? I need broker for vaccine (vc ) and wrestling(gg)
     
  13. Digizoom

    Digizoom New Member

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  14. Hitesh Wadhwa

    Hitesh Wadhwa Established Member

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  15. sound

    sound Established Member ★★★★★★★★★★

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    Thank you @Bob Hawkes and @Kingpin1966.

    I recently reached out to Jason on a Sunday via Twitter about a one word domain and got some great advice and a quick reply.

    Thank You Jason
     
  16. Kingpin1966

    Kingpin1966 Upgraded Member Gold Account

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    It was my pleasure!
     
  17. WatchDogue

    WatchDogue Top Contributor VIP

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    The Jason Sheppard interview was highly informative and quite insightful in regards to the .vc ext. and to Jason's overview of domain names and how he makes decisions re acquisitions and likely deletions from his portfolio.

    The interview reads well and gives the impression of two smart guys just sitting around and talking away about domain names, making for an easy yet informative read.

    Thanks Bob and Jason for this great and insightful interview.
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2020
  18. Kingpin1966

    Kingpin1966 Upgraded Member Gold Account

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    Thank you. I'm so glad you enjoyed it.
     
  19. diji04

    diji04 New Member

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    Wow that was educative I really enjoyed it and thanks man for the interview.
     
  20. Kingpin1966

    Kingpin1966 Upgraded Member Gold Account

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    Thank you. Glad you enjoyed it.
     
  21. Domaining Ocean

    Domaining Ocean Top Contributor VIP

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  22. jim h

    jim h Upgraded Member Gold Account

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    Thank you for your sharing, sir. @Bob Hawkes Your articles are as high quality as ever.
     
  23. Mytz.com

    Mytz.com ww.MYYM.com IEIE.com CUTU.com KKIK.com HRAD.com VIP Gold Account

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  25. 4better

    4better Established Domainer VIP

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    I've read the interview with interest and it's great. Certainly, you learn something from it. Thanks to Bob and Jason.
     
  26. Abhiram Bangaru

    Abhiram Bangaru Established Member

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    @Bob Hawkes Nice piece of insights in addition to that I would also like to add that .VC can also be a good acronym for Virtual Currency / Virtual Cards/ Visa cards.

    @Kingpin1966 Congrats once again on your sales and now we can see your sales listed on namebio after our little conversation on twitter and after you submitting them manually, and today I have took time to read this article and also to listen your podcast interview with @Josh R both have been valuable.
     
  27. Abhiram Bangaru

    Abhiram Bangaru Established Member

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    Last edited: Aug 11, 2020
  28. Bob Hawkes

    Bob Hawkes Top Member NameTalent VIP Gold Account Trusted Blogger

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    I don't have too informed an opinion on either, but here are my thoughts.

    While certainly domain investor interest is way up, and some adoption by global gaming community, it seems to me that it is not yet near where some other country code extensions are in adoption. Jason indicated he had 5 in his experiment, that have not yet sold, but with only a few months hold time that is to be expected. There have been 36 (of the 188 NameBio reported) sales in .gg during last three months. Many of these are domainer acquisitions, but cloud.gg sold for $12,000 and freedom.gg for $6700 within last few weeks. There have been $58k in sales so far in 2020, compared to just $25k in all of 2019. Still small volumes compared to many extensions. I would say be sure to get the best of the best, single words with branding applicability or exact match applicability to gaming. I do not hold any personally at this time. Here is the list of NameBio recorded .gg sales.

    With .live it seems to me best suited to television/video/videocast type use, and has found some use in the adult community. There have been some big sales in the past, with 8 at $15,000+. The total volume of sales in the extension (at least NameBio listed) is about $428k. As with any new extension, it seems that the names that will have significant value are almost exclusively single word with a great match between the SLD and TLD extension. I totally see why names like casino.live, church.live, Hollywood.live, and stream.live (along with some adult great matches) sell. I would definitely pick up names like that if they were available at reasonable acquisition and holding costs, but from searching I have done that seems really difficult. I might consider narrower but powerful terms that would be great branding for a service like online meetings, video conferencing, influencer channel, virtual events, online learning assistance, etc. I have only held only a handful of .live personally, and don't think I have any right at this moment. If you hold some, shop around as renewals vary a lot at some registrars.

    Thanks for your questions.

    Bob
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2020
  29. Abhiram Bangaru

    Abhiram Bangaru Established Member

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    Thanks for your insights! I have few domains in my radar in both .gg and .live, but what worries me are the renewal charges and also some premium costs involved buying domains especially with .live domains! They are costly, but one adult domain which is on my list is tempting me to buy .live domain, alternatively I have also seen lot of value for .live domain in sports industry like NBL, NFL etc. Few of the domains were already registered and active! I am in dilemma to take a call between .live domain or .gg domains!
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2020
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