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Kevin Ham: The $300 Million Domain Man
The man behind HitFarm is the topic of a CNN Story
Webwork




msg:3346489
 2:45 pm on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

Article entitled "The Man Who Owns the Internet" [money.cnn.com]
Kevin Ham is the most powerful dotcom mogul you've never heard of, reports Business 2.0 Magazine. Here's how the master of Web domains built a $300 million empire.

 

Brett_Tabke




msg:3346521
 3:17 pm on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

I think the thing most interesting about the article is Ham downgrades domain owning, while upgrading search engine owning:

Much of that effort is going into developing search tools based more on meaning and less on keywords. "Google is only so useful," Ham says.

The aim is to apply a meaning-based, or "semantic," system across swaths of sites, luring customers from direct navigation and search engines alike. Religion.com would then become an anchor to which scores of other sites would be tied.

"It's time to build out the virtual real estate," Ham says. "There's so much more value in these names than pay-per-click." Seeman's patent application even mentions the possibility of turning Web traffic from Cameroon and other future foreign partners into full-fledged portals.


Frank_Rizzo




msg:3346542
 3:40 pm on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

Some of the figures do not add up.

Since 2000 he has quietly cobbled together a portfolio of some 300,000 domains that, combined with several other ventures, generate an estimated $70 million a year in revenue

$233.33 per domain per year....Factor in that he's paid hundreds of thousands for some of them and it just doesn't seem right.

rarethings55




msg:3346548
 3:44 pm on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

Indeed. The numbers don't fully add up. But he didn't confirm the 70M.

LifeinAsia




msg:3346555
 3:56 pm on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

You missed a key part of that quote:
... combined with several other ventures, generate an estimated $70 million a year in revenue

creepychris




msg:3346557
 3:57 pm on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

I wonder if the trademark issue is going to bite him in the pants, now that his name has been leaked for the '.cm' scam. That article is an eye opener for sure.

dakuma




msg:3346605
 4:37 pm on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

At one point I had 20 domains or so.. and I thought that was something lol

Frank_Rizzo




msg:3346619
 4:50 pm on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

LifeinAsia I deliberately chose not to mention that as it I could not work out how much those other ventures generated.

His revenue per domain is therefore < $233.33.

walkman




msg:3346624
 4:52 pm on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

>> Bitter domainers are one thing, lawyers another. And at the moment, Ham's biggest concern is that corporate counsels will come after him claiming that the Cameroon typo scheme is an abuse of their trademarks. He may be right, since this is the first time he's been identified as the orchestrator.

Better to be lucky than smart proven once again. You think now people will know him? What a moron. Usually a handover will suffice for big brands, but only because there no deep pockets to go after.

stef25




msg:3346630
 4:55 pm on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

i admire how far he has gotten and would certainly love that kind of cash, but at the same time see this as "low". domain names are not there to serve ads. ive thought of some really cool domain names, only to find they are just there to serve ads and for sale for way more than i can afford. these sites deliver no more value to surfers than arbitrage sites do - very very little

Helpinghand




msg:3346653
 5:09 pm on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

ive thought of some really cool domain names, only to find they are just there to serve ads and for sale for way more than i can afford. these sites deliver no more value to surfers than arbitrage sites do - very very little

Can't agree more. I recently gave up 2 domains, including one that had 60'000 links attached to it - only to find the new owner slapped a ton of ads on a perfectly good domain name.

Wish I kept it now - jeeze.

chicagohh




msg:3346706
 5:46 pm on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

The TM argument may not hold up since he does not actually register any .cm domains. The traffic is redirected, but he doesn't own a name and he is not targeting any TMs.

ukwebmaster




msg:3346708
 5:49 pm on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

It reads like self promotion to me - and Business 2.0 bought it.

sonny




msg:3346835
 8:10 pm on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

Geez!, I have 2 LLL.com's and a LLL.org and I thought I was pretty cool!

ispy




msg:3346875
 9:06 pm on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

Some of that may be snatching.

kool002




msg:3346901
 9:36 pm on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

"
recently gave up 2 domains
"

I had 200 domains in 1999 and some good ones too. but then I think using domains like that do not serve any purpose.
so never monitized them and do not regret also.

Webwork




msg:3347000
 12:17 am on May 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

From the Domain Forum Charter:

Comments Disparaging Domainers or Their Practices; Public Airing of Grievances About Unavailable Domains: There are many roles in the domain name industry: Industry oversight, domain registrars, drop catching services, domain parking services, aftermarket domain resellers and others. While some practices, such as typosquatting of famous marks, will never gain legitimacy others have firmly established their legitimacy and viability, despite the absence of universal acceptance or universal praise. Posting generalized disparaging comments about any domain industry constituency or their practices is to be avoided as such posts are little more than unproductive flame bait in a Domain Name Forum. Disparaging posts will be removed or edited.

Generalized disparaging remarks neither elevate the dialogue nor add to the community's insight or intelligence. At best they only serve to degrade the dialogue or analysis. Let's not rehash the "domainers are bad" dialogue. That issue was fully aired circa 2003-2004. Thank you.

werty




msg:3347007
 12:46 am on May 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

I think it was a great read. I am grateful for what I have accomplished in my business but what Kevin Ham has accomplished is amazing.

WANTED: Somebody to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. PO Box 322, Anytown, USA. You’ll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed. I have only done this once before.

Like the quote I made above, all it does is make me kick myself over and over again and want to go back. I still think there is lots of potential for mimicking his model on a smaller scale and going after niche after niche until you can move up to larger niches.

One of the biggest things I got out of the article is that there are some heavy hitting publishing companies in the works. They have more money, have more staff and have the best domains... need to be unique, need to add value, grab what I can now and start building.

"If you control all the domains," he says, "then you control the Internet."

eeek!

Olney




msg:3347046
 2:25 am on May 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

There's still international markets.
Many webmasters speak more than one language. Don't go back in time, use history to look at the potential in other markets.
There's IDN Domains, ccTLDs like .de, .fr, .es, co.uk domains in other languages like French, Spanish, Portuguese..

Rx Recruiters




msg:3347078
 4:08 am on May 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

>> Bitter domainers are one thing, lawyers another. And at the moment, Ham's biggest concern is that corporate counsels will come after him claiming that the Cameroon typo scheme is an abuse of their trademarks. He may be right, since this is the first time he's been identified as the orchestrator.<<

I wouldn't classify the Cameron business plan as a "typo scheme". What Ham is doing is no different than what both Mozilla, through FireFox, and Microsoft, through IE, (among many others, including most ISPs) do when you type in any other non-resolving domain name ... you get shuffled to their landing page full of advertisements and sponsored links. Whoever controls the browser behavior controls the internet to a large degree. Ham is just allowing the end user to bypass the browser based "misdirects" by resolving the unregistered .cm domains to his own landing pages. Personally, I don't see how anyone can claim trademark infringement.

How can anyone be critical of the .cm business plan, and not be critical of Microsoft's treatment, through IE, of non-resolving domain names? I think I read somewhere that the majority of MS Live Search traffic was from IE redirects of unresolved and mistyped domain names!

The .cm business is brilliant!

Congrats to Kevin Ham - I've heard of most of the big domainers, but hadn't heard of him until I read the article. I wonder how many other big domainers are out there who are still "unknowns" in the domain world? I imagine quite a few -

[edited by: Rx_Recruiters at 4:30 am (utc) on May 23, 2007]

Brett_Tabke




msg:3347482
 12:06 pm on May 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

> Like the quote I made above, all it does
> is make me kick myself over and over
> again and want to go back.

The past is the past. (hey, I said contexutal advertising would never work and deleted my working service from PureText.com in '01)

The challenge is to realize what you are not doing today that you will be kicking yourself over in 2-3 years time.

sonny




msg:3348105
 12:45 am on May 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

I save time.
Why wait 2-3 years.
I kick myself now for stuff I should be doing.;)

Jane_Doe




msg:3348112
 12:54 am on May 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

The .cm business is brilliant!

Very clever of him. I don't see why it would be illegal.

Hunter




msg:3348208
 3:18 am on May 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

I had 200 domains in 1999 and some good ones too. but then I think using domains like that do not serve any purpose. so never monitized them and do not regret also.

You probably would regret it if you saw the PPC or sales values today for those same domains :)

The challenge is to realize what you are not doing today that you will be kicking yourself over in 2-3 years time.

Brett summed it up IMHO.

[edited by: Hunter at 3:20 am (utc) on May 24, 2007]

callivert




msg:3349387
 4:36 am on May 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

I don't see why it would be illegal.

well, goggle.com is considered trademark infringement, so surely google.cm is also trademark infringement.
In fact, any existing monetised webpage could possibly claim some kind of trademark.
webmasterworld.cm as a legitimate domain? I don't think so.

Jane_Doe




msg:3349413
 5:21 am on May 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

so surely google.cm is also trademark infringement

But with the .cm traffic he isn't actually registering any domains.

spiritualseo




msg:3361931
 9:25 am on Jun 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

the registered .cm domains don't belong to him or anyone else. It blongs to the Cameroon govt. The govt. has only leased out the domains, so Kevin or anyone else involved is not legally responsible for these names.

The other .com domains that are not registered are automatically wildcarded to agoga.com which is Kevin's website.

Next in line, they are pitching for .co (Colombia), .om (Oman) and .ne (Niger).

What surprises me is the number of people who end up in agoga.com and actually click on the links. I mean, unless they are first time visitors, they sld know how the destination website looks, have a look at the address bar and try again?

I think the .cm profiting will surely reduce as more and more people get internet savvy.

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