I have just returned from Namescon, an annual event organised by Richard Lau and Jothan Frakes in Las Vegas. This event is described as a conference for the domain name industry, which covers many participants. There was a strong presence from many registrars, domain investors and also from other companies providing a full range of services such as escrow, financing, monetising domain names and also industry representatives such as the Domain Name Association, Internet Commerce Association and of course ICANN. All four days were packed with a variety of sessions providing multiple alternatives depending on the interest of the participants. I participated first on Sunday with a panel session on engaging with ICANN together with Stephane Van Gelder and Angie Graves, both of whom have extensive experience in the GNSO, and it was a well attended discussion, with helpful questions and some useful guidance.
Jothan Frakes provided recaps for each day and I have relied (and used, I am sure he wont mind) on his work to help compile my own summary.
Monday actually began with NamesCon co-founder Jothan Frakes making us welcome, and sharing with us that there were 1200 people registerde, a new record. There was for the whole of the conference a
Network Lane with over 30 exhibitors including eName, Wiz-LocIQ, Greenbery & Lieberman, Hexonet, HasTraffic, Inov8v, RightOfTheDot, Verified.domains, DNAttorney, Donuts, WaterNight, Park Logic, DropCatch.com/NameBright.com, Domain Pros, Undeveloped.com, NameConnect.com, Whoisology, Top Level Design, Handshakin’ Video Series, ICANNWiki, Punto2012/simulating.life, Brand.bar, i2C, Efty, DomainAgents, ICA, DomainSponsor, NameBio.com, Pressed.net, DOMAINFest Asia, LLLL.domains, The DNA and Data Provider.
We heard about domain name security, and when to hide certain information, and when to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and just to have eyes on the back of your head. At Domain Aftermarket 101, attendees were told about the domaining world where people make a living at this and were told some of the ins and outs of leveraging the value of a name. Donuts provided an open bar to promote .wine and .vin, a feature welcomed by many! Topic tables included a number of presentations by domain name lawyers who discussed many diverse issues such as the interplay between trademarks and domain names, some of the recent law affecting domain names and generously shared their views on a range of topics and entertained us with Legendary legal tales
On Tuesday there were many great sessions also. Jennifer Wolfe invited Cecilia Smith and Stacey King, two women from some of the biggest content providers in the world, to provide a glimpse at what some huge brands have up their sleeves in Top Brands and their TLD Strategy.Frank Schilling explained new tools from Uniregistry in his keynote address and gave away a few domains as well. Elliot Noss’ keynote was more like a rallying cry for decentralizing technology, which may very well change the way we conceive of the Internet. The highlight for many was the domain name auction with some amazing prices paid for both old and new top level domain names. the day finished with a great fundraiser for WaterNight, a project which raises funds for clean water projects in Africa, a well supported and fun night.
Wednesday had many highnotes including GoDaddy unveiling a mobile app for domain-name investors. Paul McGrady, well knowen for writing on domaining law, spoke briefly about the new forces shaping the Internet marketplace. Pat Kane from Verisign delivered a keynote on the continued growth of .com and .net, and! what is shaping the development of new registrations. Matt Barrie, CEO of Freelancer.com and Escrow.com, showed off some new tools for domain-name leasing, as well as dropping a few freebies for NamesCon attendees.
This is but a brief summary of a rich and complex series of presentations. To me, the most exciting presentations were those who were actively seeking to develop the domain name with all of the additional services, and not just the speculation in names . But of course what was happening in the corridors was probably as important as the presentations. The networking opportunities were eagerly seized by many participants, and I am sure that many new ideas and businesses will be founded upon the relationships built. For me as the ombudsman, it is important to recognise the domain industry as one of my constituencies, and to help raise awareness of my office and availability if there are issues within the ICANN community which affect the domain name industry. I met a number of significant people, some of whom do not have real awareness of how I could help, with the informal and confidential nature of an ombudsman investigation. I was grateful that I had the opportunity to participate, and to share the values and experience of my office as ombudsman. I hope I have raised awareness with some who now know about where I can help in future.