Discuss the Domain King - Rick Schwartz (1 Viewing)


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Nov 4, 2020
Waterloo, ON
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He has some interesting things to say and I thought I would make a topic where we can post his tweets and musings and then discuss them.
If I had his portfolio, I personally would sell it all off and live a little. But to each their own I guess.

I guess it’s similar if someone won cash for life. Would you take the lump sum or the $1000 a week for life. I have a feeling Rick would take the $1000 a week for life.
I remember him talking about Properties.com and how he was going to make it a brand. But seems like nothing has been done about it. This is what happens when you have too many domains. Nothing gets developed. But some have a handful and have developed it so well making a fortune that way too.

Again, I echo Nafti's remark... "to each his own"

Rick would never sell everything off and retire, as then he would re realizing his greatest fear - he would become totally inconsequential in a field that he helped pioneer.

No more Domain King, no more screaming from the pulpit, no more fights and insults, no more nothing, just a long descent into obscurity. Which is why it would never happen.


I make millions selling domain names to big brands like CNN. Here's how I got into it and find new ones.

Ryan S. Gladwin
Aug 15, 2022, 10:56 AM


Rick Schwartz. Rick Schwartz.
  • Rick Schwartz, who calls himself "The Domain King," started registering domain names in the 1990s.
  • His sales include porno.com, for $8.9 million, and ireport.com, which CNN bought for $750,000.
  • Here's how he got into it and how he still finds unregistered domains, as told to Ryan S. Gladwin.

This as-told-to essay is based on a transcribed conversation with Rick Schwartz, a domain investor living in Florida. It has been edited for length and clarity.

Investing in domain names started in the 15 years I lived on the road, around 1973.

Every night I'd have to call information to find numbers for hotels. This would take a lot of time out of my day.

Eventually, I started only calling hotels that had a vanity 1-800 number because I didn't have to call information to get a room. If a company had a vanity 1-800 number, they had a better chance of getting my business.

In 1993, investing in these became a lot easier, so I started purchasing vanity numbers of company names. I eventually moved on to ones that the adult industry would like, such as 1-800-Make-Out and 1-800-Sir-Love.

I got into the vanity-number business quite late, but I realized that the people in that business hadn't figured out that a 1-800 number was the same as a domain name​

But I did. I started registering some of the top 1-800 numbers as domain addresses.

It'd only cost $100 to register a domain, but initially the service I used to register them with didn't actually have a way to pay them. So, in a sense, they were my angel investors; by the time they wanted payment, I'd already registered 1,000 domains and was a self-funding business.

Very early on, I registered dick.com. The way I'd make money was essentially renting the website out and linking it to someone selling a product, then I'd earn a commission.

My website wouldn't be anything flashy — literally just a black screen with two words: "Click here." And it'd take you to whoever was paying me for the link.

I'd give people traffic they'd never seen before. Prior to me coming along, the company was closing one deal in 10,000. Once I started pushing users to the website, they were closing one in 25 or one in 50.

This was because the people coming to that site were people who were curious about what was on dick.com. That type of person is a very specific individual, and that's why I was so much more likely to close a deal for them.

Porno.com was probably my most successful deal. I bought it for $42,000 in 1995. We were getting 33,000 unique visitors a day — that's a million a month — just from people searching for it directly. A guy bought the traffic from it exclusively for five years at $1.5 million a year.

What did I do with all this money I was getting? I registered more domain names​

I mostly focused on one-word adult domains, as well as high-value regular domain names such as property.com. It felt a bit like I was playing Monopoly, trying to buy all the important online property.

Originally, I planned to never sell a domain for 20 years, because that's how long I thought it'd take for the internet to reach its potential. Why would I want to sell diamonds before anyone knows how valuable a diamond is?

That being said, I made my first sale in 1999, only four years after I started investing in them. I got a call from a guy who wanted to buy eScore.com for $100,000.

Nowadays, I'd never sell a domain for that cheap. But at the time, people thought domains were worthless. So selling it proved my theory that they were actually worth something.

Often, I sell a domain to benchmark​

I'm like a pole vaulter, always trying to set a new world record. It's a way for me to make all the other domains more valuable.

Now I have, like, 45 sales that I can point to — many of them are multimillion-dollar sales, and the rest of them are six figures.

The best way that I can value a domain is by linking the value with the real world. How much does it cost to open a store in the real world? You've got to rent a space, furnish it, get insurance, pay for garbage, employees, et cetera. What I do is gather all of these costs and multiply them by 10 to 30 years to see what the real-world store for this time would be, then use that to come to value for the site.

One of my biggest sales early on that moved the needle was ireport.com to CNN for $750,000​

At the time, no one could believe it.

It taught me a lot about selling domains to large companies. They have a budget, a time frame, and a lot of meetings. You have to learn it is their time frame and not yours. Whether you don't hear from them for three weeks or a month, it doesn't mean anything. Be patient, and let it reveal itself.

Then in 2015, 20 years after I started investing in domains, I sold porno.com for $8.88 million in cash.

I still register domains, but at a slower rate than I did back then — I've registered about eight in the last month.

It's hard to find English words that haven't been registered already, so I listen to the news and try to find new phrases. I go on Urban Dictionary and look for phrases that could be something for a company in the future.

You just have to be in front of it. I always say you've got to be at the beach before they figure out where the beach is. Your job is to sit there with your chair and your piña colada and then sell to them.

I make millions selling domain names to big brands like CNN. Here's how I got into it and find new ones.
Domain King indeed.
He's a blowhard. And his advice doesn't exactly apply to everyone or every domain. But, he makes valid points and has indeed helped the industry, including starting the first domain conference back in 2004. That conference was invaluable to go to, to make contacts and really helped me to commit to this line of business. So blowhard or not, I definitely respect him for everything he's accomplished.
I think everyone has a love/hate relationship with him.

Personally he has helped me a lot over the years and I look at him much like my grandpa, he is ornery but I still love him.
I love the stories of the people who were doing this in the 90's and had already figured out the value of domains.
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I find him to be a bit of a blowhard
I think most would agree but we mostly all enjoy him too since we can't deny he's legendary. I'd love to have the chance to have some drinks with him someday lol.

The song “Cocky” by Kid Rock should be his theme song… “it ain’t bragging motherf*cka if ya back it up” lol

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As many of you already said, I also don't always agree with Rick, but I admire his success and I got many things to thank him for:

a) The TRAFFIC conference series, which brought me together with many others in the domain industry.
b) The private Targeted Traffic Forum which introduced me to many other domainers and helped me build many friendships and business relationships.
I love the stories of the people who were doing this in the 90's and had already figured out the value of domains.

A lot of people knew the value, I know I did, but the industry was totally different then and helluva lot scarier.

It was $90 USD to register a domain and Netsol was the only game in town, and they kept warning early adopters that if a domain was not hosted, it could be taken back. I was in school and just didn't have the money to plop down $90 a name and I literally had no idea what hosting was or how to set it up. And yes, hosting was extremely expensive back then.

Plus, as Rick says, there was no sales or payment infrastructure and buying/selling domains was on a trust basis - you would literally mail out a check and hope someone transferred you the domain - like early eBay. You needed to be the right age, have a FT job or some other income, be a part of the online world, and live in the USA to have any shot of "being a Rick" in 1993.

Once Netsol lost its monopoly on .COM and prices dropped while parking took off and sales venues started cropping up, that was the time (1999-2000) to get involved in domaining as there was at least a thin infrastructure to work with and some consistent money to be made.
as Rick mentioned in that article, in the 90's it was $100 to register a domain, but there was no way to pay online and you had to wait for an invoice. the domain registrar was so busy they didn't have time to send out invoices in a timely matter, so you could have your domains for months without ever paying. hard to imagine that today. anyone who was active back then and caught on to that loophole could have really taken advantage.

another favorite 90's story of mine is about Garry Chernoff in Canada, who had a day job but had also caught on to domains like Rick and had built up a good portfolio, and was already fielding regular inquiries to buy his domains. One day he found a cheque for a domain he'd sold under his keyboard that I think was in the 10's of thousands of dollars, which he had forgotten about, that was the moment he realized he should just do domaining full time. lol

The Domain Game is a great book by David Kesmodel that tells the stories of these early domain investors, I should read it again though it's kind of painful because it makes you realize how you missed out if you were around back then but had no clue what was going on. it was a period of opportunity that came and went, and we'll never see again. right time right place kind of stuff...
I paid USD $245 for a domain registration with Melbourne IT in 1996 and sold it for $975 and paid off my Creditcard.
Yes it was a lot scarier then, since it was the wild wild west and once when the Registrar charged me twice for the same registration, the CC company started asking questions as to why I had to deal with that entity. Not many knew about domains and the CC customer support was clueless.
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it's kind of painful because it makes you realize how you missed out if you were around back then but had no clue what was going on. it was a period of opportunity that came and went, and we'll never see again. right time right place kind of stuff...

Right time, right place, right age, right income, right country (being American made it far easier), right bank account size, right point in career, etc.

I was right in there developing sites and writing for online news/content companies in the mid-90's, but being in school I just didn't have the ready cash to lay down $90 USD per domain, and I don't think too many students did either. And to be honest, the Netsol warnings of "no hosting/resolving and we'll take back all your domains" put a far bigger damper on my domain investing than the price.

People forget that in the early days of domain registration (I bought a few for sites) Netsol would flash a warning message similar to "if your domain does not resolve we can take it back", which was pretty chilling stuff. Probably just a way to sell hosting packages, but with Netsol, you never know.

But even so, $90 USD in 1994 was a LOT more than $90 USD today and inflation doesn't come close - I have an old SNES I bought in NY state at around the same time and it still has a $135 USD sale price tag.

Just by "video game comparison economics", and taking into consideration consoles actually went on sale back then, it would be like having to lay down around $400 USD per domain today.
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I would almost add Canadian too, or maybe being Canadian gave you an advantage. even West Coast Canadians to be more specific.

Schilling, Chernoff, Lau, Ham, Yun Ye, are some well known domaining pioneers who were active in Canada.
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I would almost add Canadian too, or maybe being Canadian gave you an advantage. even West Coast Canadians to be more specific.

Schilling, Chernoff, Lau, Ham, Yun Ye, are some well known domaining pioneers who were active in Canada.

Canada is okay (and certainly better than foreign) but nothing like being in the US where the action is. It helped with payments, trust and bunch of other factors. It also depends on WHEN you're talking about, as by the time 1999/2000 rolled around, it was far easier, but in 1993 it certainly was not.

When eBay first started up (I was on there in 1996), I experimented with buying collectibles cheap (there were tons!) and then reselling those I didn't want, and while the "supply" part was easy, there were a lot of people that didn't want to deal with Canadians, shipping, checks, money orders, returns, etc. as well as just a basic lack-of-trust level. I remember keeping a big stack of USD in order to mail out to buy items.

So while I made a few bucks for sure, I would have made a LOT more if I lived in the US.
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I think when I started in 2000, Register.com was charging about $35/yr US per domain. I didn't have much clue before then, until I started seeing articles in newspapers about domain names selling for big prices. After being on the internet for a few years by then it made sense why a domain name could be a valuable thing.

On a related note, I remember reading about bitcoin early on and that a couple of pizzas had sold for 10,000 bitcoin. It was a fun thing but whatever, kept hearing about bitcoin over the years but really only started paying attention when it went over $1,000. I think there are always opportunities around but obviously most only become apparent in hindsight.

Today, I think the big opportunity in the coming months/years will be commodity producers - such as miners in gold, silver, copper, uranium, lithium, fertilizer, etc. There has been a lack of new mining investment in the last decade or two, and if you look back at charts there are times when commodity prices can really rip higher and stocks of miners can go up multifold. We could be soon entering a period like that, especially given the push for green energy which needs a lot of minerals to build. For example, an electric car takes 2 or 3 times as much copper as a regular car, and an energy grid of charging stations is not even close to being fully built out if more and more cars are going electric. The forecasted supply of copper and other minerals in coming years is nowhere close to where it needs to be to meet this demand, and developing new mines takes years. So there's my tip of the day.
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