Sunny

Interview with Frank Schilling, the Man Who Once Had the Largest Domain Portfolio

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By Sunny, Jun 28, 2016
  1. DN.com

    DN.com Active Member DN.com Staff VIP

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    Frank Schilling is the founder of InternetTraffic.com, DomainNameSales.com, and Uniregistry. In this interview, Schilling shares his insights on new gTLDs, the Chinese market, the relationship between Bitcoin and domain names, and more. He even shares a domain name sale experience that would be nearly every domainer's dream.

    We’d like to express our sincere gratitude to @Frank.Schilling for taking his precious time to do this interview.


    DN.com: You didn’t start domaining until 2001. At that point, nearly all of the premium domains were already registered, but you still succeeded as an investor and built a great business. Some speculated that you must have come into the business with a lot of money to begin with. Can you tell us the true story of how you started domaining?

    Schilling: I bought one name, then 2, then 10, then 100, and then 1000. Then I sold 10. Then 100. It was accidental, but it just grew over time because I was passionate for naming.


    DN.com: Can you remember a remarkable day when you made a considerable amount of money through domaining? Can you tell us the story and what did you do with that money?

    Schilling: I had acquired 10 related names over time and started cold-calling construction material suppliers. I came to an agreement with the Webmaster at James Hardie, an Australian company for $10k:
    • buildingproduct.com
    • buildingproducts.com
    • constructionsupply.com
    • constructionsupplies.com
    • buildingmaterial.com
    • buildingmaterials.com
    • buildingsupply.com
    • buildingsupplies.com
    There were two others. I’m sure some of those are right. The others were along the same vein, and the sale was for $10,000. I transferred the names first, and when the wire came in, it was for $100k. I called to tell them the amount was wrong, and they replied telling me that they had agreed to “$10k per name and wouldn't pay anymore.”

    I thanked them and apologized for the confusion. It was a massive leg-up for me.


    DN.com: I learned that in order to run your own online casino, you sold your house and moved to the Cayman Islands, and you still live there. Why did you and your wife choose to stay in the Cayman Islands even after you moved on from trying to open the casino?

    Schilling: Cayman is a very beautiful but relaxed place with low taxes and easy to operate an internet business from. The people are friendly and there is excellent wifi.


    DN.com: Your blog Sevenmile.com has helped many domainers with their businesses and lives. What is the most important thing that you want to convey to the public through this blog?

    Schilling: I do not blog anymore. Today you are more likely to find me on Twitter. I just don't have time [to blog]. Back in the days when I wrote my blog, 2007-2008, I was less busy with new gTLDs, and I had more time. My primary goal as with this interview and blog comments where I comment is to show people the value in acquiring better generic domain names.


    DN.com: You know that you’ve got a great reputation. You are regarded as one of the nicest people in the business. What do you want to say to such a compliment?

    Schilling: That is very flattering. A reputation is the only thing that takes a lifetime to build, which can be torn down in moments if you carry yourself poorly. I always try to be helpful and altruistic and that has reflected well on me.


    DN.com: Could you please share your favorite domains in your portfolio, and why they are your favorite?

    Schilling: I honestly have so many, and I like them for different reasons. So much that picking any few would be counterproductive. The best names are those you most recently acquired or those which make you smile.


    DN.com: Over 46% of registered new gTLD domains are owned by Chinese people. What significance do you see in this statistic?

    Schilling: China is a progressive Country. I admire China because the people are ambitious dreamers who take calculated risks. The Chinese people work hard and love life and each other and can often see opportunity before others and so I am not surprised to see so many great names going to China. I think this is helpful for the industry and a normal evolution.


    DN.com: What impact do you think the Chinese market has on the Western domain industry?

    Schilling: I think the Chinese market has caused everyone to try to work harder to compete and co-operate with China.


    DN.com: You have achieved much success in the domain business. Is there an icon in the industry that you admire most? Why?

    Schilling: I admire my own mentor Garry Chernoff because through his guidance, he helped me get in this business in 2001. To this day, when I am having a hard day at work I picture him flying in his private helicopter or tinkering around his palatial mansion. Garry reminds me I already have more than enough and that I have exceeded my wildest dreams in this business.


    DN.com: What are your favorite domain investing tools and resources?

    Schilling: I use the Uniregistry Market, Dailychanges.com, and Registrarstats.com these days.


    DN.com: Do you have any comment on the relationship between Bitcoin and domain names?

    Schilling: We are working to unlock the value of domain names. Bitcoin may not be the answer but we are playing with some concepts that you will see in the fall of 2016.


    DN.com: There is a debate in China about whether the new gTLDs will someday take off and deliver profits for those who invested in them. What do you think?

    Schilling: Many of the domain names inside new gTLDs will be successful in the future, but the market is too early at the moment to cast a judgement. We need further evolution, utilization, and passage of time for these new names to thrive.


    DN.com: You have acquired fantastic extensions such as .car, .gift, .game and more. Among those, which one is your personal favorite?

    Schilling: I am an automotive enthusiast so .car/.cars/.auto are my favorite.


    DN.com: DN.com is devoted to educating Chinese domainers and companies about domain name security issues and general domain name knowledge. We also want to help Western domainers learn more about the Chinese market. Do you have any suggestions? What do Western investors want to know about the Chinese market?

    Schilling: I think most western investors do not yet have the patience or cultural sensitivity to properly embrace all China has to offer or to understand the name market there. It will come with the passage of time.


    DN.com: You’ve amassed a sizable fortune at this point in your career, yet you’re still very passionate about domaining business. What drives you to keep working in the domain industry?

    Schilling: I want to build great infrastructure that makes domain names more valuable. At Uniregistry our people are doing some of the best work of their careers and creating some of the most profound products in the history of the domain name business. I am so proud of that effort, and I want to see it through.
     
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    About The Author — Sunny

    Sunny has been a registered member of NamePros since Feb 27, 2015 with 39 followers and 444 posts. From those posts, 181 members have been thankful for them and 276 members have liked them.

    This is Sunny's 2nd blog post on NamePros. View all blog posts

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  5. Comments (36)

  6. Arpit131

    Arpit131 Active Member VIP

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    Wow...$100k for a deal of $10k..

    Btw..excellent questions!
     
  7. London555

    London555 Active Member VIP

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    Cynthia-excellent and informative article. So thank you. I like Mr Schilling's comment re" Chinese being risk takers" etc. We now own most of the best pinyin names in the .ch extension re caifu.ch fangdai.ch etc etc with exactly that in mind-we'll see if it pays off.
     
  8. Yong1

    Yong1 Established Member

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    @Frank.Schilling - Thanks for your insight! It is always appreciated !

    If u dont mind me asking.. do you think that a new gTLD domain will have value based mostly on how the Registry performs? Ie. based on how many End users use that extension or it might be a case by case?

    As in if the words make sense from both sides of the dot from a branding perspective then it doesn't matter if that new gTLD has very few registrations.
     
  9. CamMK27

    CamMK27 Top Member VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    Thank you for sharing.

    So the title says " who once had the largest domain portfolio". Does he not have the largest portfolio anymore?
     
  10. james haw

    james haw Active Member VIP

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    I guess he's got what it takes to make it work, clearly, but getting $100K for 10 names when it was an agreed $10K most certainly helps :)
    I bet he struggled to contain himself when the call progressed "er, cough, splutter, sure sure, yes, thanks, yes, bye"

    Falls in a barrel of manure and comes out smelling of roses...
     
  11. Joseph Green

    Joseph Green Established Member ★★★★★★★★★★

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    No, he does not. HugeDomains.com has significantly more domains in their portfolio. GoDaddy's portfolio is getting close or may have already exceeded Frank's. Other large portfolios that come to mind are BuyDomains.com, DomainMarket.com (Mike Mann's), etc.

    Of course, this is about the raw number of domains, not their value. I have no idea who has the most valuable portfolio among all of the largest domain portfolio holders.
     
  12. james haw

    james haw Active Member VIP

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    That's impossible to know to any degree of accuracy without them all actually selling every name and reporting the sales :)
     
  13. DomainVP

    DomainVP Domain Expert Business Account VIP

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  14. London555

    London555 Active Member VIP

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    There's one young fellow in Spain-im forgetting his name-he has only 75 names in his portfolio and is probably one of the most valuable portfolios out there. Every one is super premium.
     
  15. CamMK27

    CamMK27 Top Member VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    HugeDomains.com model is basically only selling domains to end users and I am sure they sell a ton of them every year. BuyDomains and DomainMarket have pretty much the same model as well.
    I remember Frank was making $20M plus a year from PPC revenue, I am not sure if he still does. His models seems to be a mix of PPC aand DN Sales, so it is possible that he may have one of the top most valuable portfolios if not the most valuable (factoring in the revenues).

    Kevin Ham also has some of the best super premium one word domains, so Kevin's portfolio might also be one of the most valuable potfolio out there.

    Does anyone have a portfolio worth a Billion $$$?
     
  16. CamMK27

    CamMK27 Top Member VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    Yep, exactly. Who wouldn't appreciate that kind of a deal. :$::$::$:

    Completely agree. 90K extra definitely helps and can give a jump start.
     
  17. Joseph Green

    Joseph Green Established Member ★★★★★★★★★★

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    That's incredible. What's your source of that information? A blog post or word of mouth?
     
  18. 80-20

    80-20 Established Member

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    Accidental is the word. Frank is humble enough to call it what it is.
    As is the case with everybody else in business and indeed in life...
     
  19. Impaler The Vlad

    Impaler The Vlad Established Member

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    This most expensive portfolio is probably owned by Scott Day. I like Frank, but he is not a domainer. He is a businessman that believes that everyone needs toilet paper (domain names) and he wants to sell it. He does not have a favorite domain name simply because he doesn't view them personally like we do. He is smart but I think he is smarting from the new gTLDs. That is why he is looking to the future for redemption. He may well get there, looking very good.
     
  20. Impaler The Vlad

    Impaler The Vlad Established Member

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    That was a much talked about number 10 years ago. It was also said that Kevin Ham was making $70mm a year with dot CM and typos.
     
  21. Kingsley Okpoh

    Kingsley Okpoh Established Member

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    A very inspiring post, I must say. Frank comes across as a truly frank person. Talk about having the right name from the word go.
     
  22. kollam003

    kollam003 Business Member Business Account

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  23. Mr. Deleted

    Mr. Deleted mrdeleted.com VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    A decade ago I spoke to @Frank.Schilling on email, and I told him about my background, I may have forgotten the exact words, but I do remember his surprise that a former Amish guy was in the industry.
     
  24. Mr. Deleted

    Mr. Deleted mrdeleted.com VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    And that 100K sale was interesting.
     
  25. CamMK27

    CamMK27 Top Member VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    No word of mouth. Do a google search and I believe a lot of blog posts or articles may come up where it was mentioned many times. This was 9-12 years ago and Frank became famous. It is not talked about anymore, at least for a few years now. He is probably still making that much or more possibly.
     
  26. dordomai

    dordomai Active Member VIP

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    Not in the current market I would guess. Some of the best portfolios were selling for arounds $30 million this year.
     
  27. Sumit Agrawal

    Sumit Agrawal Established Member

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  28. omelet

    omelet Active Member VIP

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    thanks Cynthia and Mr.Schilling for your sharing. I consider myself not a qualified domainer and business person. I never sold name with satisfied price. Plus, if I receive extra money from customer, I would very likely transfer back that $90,000. :)))
     
  29. nomen

    nomen Active Member VIP

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    Thanks for sharing! Frank's the man.
     
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