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Cutter
09-29-2005, 05:56 PM
I recently did an interview with Ron Jackson, the editor of DNJournal.com (a really good domain news site) for my blog. Here is the complete, and very long, copy:

Andrew: What first got you interested in domains?

Ron: The first domain I registered was MusicParadise.com in 1997. I knew nothing about the domain business then (I sure WISH I knew then what I know now!), I just wanted to set up a website for the mail order division or a retail music store (CDís, records & tapes) I owned at the time. The website worked out very well and allowed us to expand our business while cutting our advertising costs dramatically.

Prior to having the website option we had to buy expensive ads in national magazines to promote our business. However, a few years later, the internet and new technology started taking a BIG bite out of the music business as buyers would download free music files or burn copies of CDís rather than buy them from their local stores. By the end of 2000, several thousand independent music stores had gone out of business, including mine.

In early 2002 I was reading a computer magazine that had a full page ad for the new .US registry, Neustar. Having seen the power of the internet through our original music site, the ad interested me and I decided to register a couple of .US domains that I thought I might be able to make use of. As a new extension, there were a lot of great names available that were long gone in .com.

In the course of researching available domains and learning more about .US I stumbled upon some domain forums in the web. I starting reading the posts and learned that there was a fascinating domain business out that there that I had never been aware of. The rest, as they say, is history, though I view it more as the BEGINNING of a new history in an entirely new field.

Andrew: What is your background? (previous businesses, education, etc.)

Ron: I had two separate careers before coming into domains. I guess this is strike three for me so Iíd better not miss!

Coming out of high school I wanted to be a radio DJ or a sportscaster. I went to a broadcasting school in Columbus, Ohio and after graduating got a job at a small radio station in my home town. I was called the News Director but I did everything, including sports play by play and a DJ shift, so it was great experience even though the money was lousy.

I had only been working for a year when I was drafted by the U.S. Army (this was in the Viet Nam era). Thanks to my radio experience the Army made me a broadcast specialist. When my tour of duty was up I decided to use my GI Bill benefits to go to Ohio State.

After college I went back into broadcasting, moving to Florida where I joined a company that had both radio and television stations. I started on their main radio station but weaseled my way into the TV station and eventually became the Sports Director of that ABC-TV affiliate (in Sarasota, Florida). I later moved to a larger market, doing sports for the CBS station in Tampa.

After 20 years in Radio-TV I decided I wanted to run my own business, so having been a DJ and a longtime music fan, I opened a record store. I did very well and grew into a sizeable business over the next 12 years before the internet intervened and caused me to change course again!

Andrew: Do you consider yourself an investor, a journalist, or both?

Ron: I came into this business strictly ad a domain buyer/seller/investor. However, having been a journalist, I soon recognized that despite this being a business where tens of millions of dollars were changing hands annually, it had no trade magazine. As far as I could tell, I was the only one around who had the professional background to provide one for the industry, so I put DNJournal.com online New Yearís Day 2003.

It took off very quickly so now I am a full-time journalist again. I am still a domainer as well, so I guess I am 50% domainer and 50% journalist - a real mutant!

Andrew: Are you involved in any internet publishing beyond DNJournal?

I do have a number of other sites up. Most are related to the domain business, but I am just now starting to build a network of microsites on some of the 6,000+ domains I have on a wide variety of topics.

Iíve just about finished the first one at HoodiaHere.com. I have to add some more content, but if I would like to explore this concept and see if small electronic pamphlets like this will perform better than a PPC page on the same domain.

I also have some ideas for additional major content sites, like DNJournal, but time is always the big issue there. Iíve always liked doing things myself so delegating out the responsibilities involved is something I have avoided even though I recognize that may not be a paticularly smart way to do things!

Andrew: There has been speculation and allegations of domain investors doing transactions solely to drive up the domain market. Do you believe this is true and if so what impact do you think it has on the industry?

No I donít believe it. No individual transaction or even a handful of transactions is going to change the overall market - it is far too big for that. Iím sure these are the same folks who believe in UFOís and the tooth fairy!

Andrew: Do you see the price of premium domains peaking anytime soon?

No I donít. I think the current rebound still has a long way to run. Major mainstream advertisers are just now coming to realize how powerful the internet is. As a result, they are shifting their ad dollars away from traditional media, like radio, TV and print to the internet. That can only drive bid rates on ads up which will further increase the value of good domains.

Andrew: Many people have compared domain names to real estate. Because domains exist on an informational plane rather than the limited physical one like real estate, some people believe that they may not be around 100 or perhaps even 30 years from now. Do you think this uncertainty is realistic?

I donít expect anything to replace the current Domain Name System in our lifetime. It works too well. No reason to fix what isnít broke and it perfectly mirrors the way we find locations in the real world (by an address).

My daughter is a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. The school was founded by Benjamin Franklin and all incoming freshman were required to read his autobiography over the summer. I picked up my daughterís copy and read it.
Franklin mentioned the street address of his home on Market Street in Philadelphia. This was in the early 1700ís.

When I took her to school earlier this month to get moved in, we went down to the site of Franklinís home and, 300 years later, it is still there at the same address. I have no reason to believe there is a need to change internet addressing either.

Andrew: If I was to say I have a really great premium domain, and Iím looking for someone to develop it for me, who would you recommend me to?

As I do my own site developing I havenít used outside sources so I canít advise on that. One approach might be to look at other sites you think are really great and contact them to see who did their development work - then hire them. Iím sure it will be very expensive, but if you had enough money to buy a great premium domain to begin with, then you can afford it!