I am late to the game on this article - but it is a great long read on why Lisbon is the rising start of the European startup world. I knew Berlin was known for its thriving start-up eco-system. In fact, Weebly has an office in Berlin. But I was not aware of Lisbon - but now I can see why Web Summit moved to this city for its future conferences.
Its that time of year again! Getting ready for the annual trek to Rust, Germany for WHD.Global. Should be another great conference. Team Weebly will be in attendance. We are exhibiting and I have two speaking sessions:
The Strategic Rise of the Web Site Creator - Are you in the Game or on the Sidelines?
Room: Cinema 4D
Panel Session: Get More Revenue with Fewer Customers
Room: Cinema 4D
If you are attending, let me know. We plan to camp out in our Booth this year and want to make ourselves available to as many partners as possible. If we cannot connect during the day, there is always the Colosseo. As one attendee once told me -- Colosseo is where all the deals get done. :)
See you soon!
.Verisign published another edition of their Domain Name Industry Brief. I always enjoy reviewing the stats in this publication. The two stats I focus on are total domains worldwide and total COM/NET domains under management. As of Q4 2016:
329M Total domains
142M COM/NET domains
In short, the Domain business is still growing. Its interesting to read about the impact of the New TLDs as well. Verisign has a nice callout on the New TLD volume with .XYZ and .TOP leading at 1 and 2 respectively. As a side note, .XYZ is also ranked 9th overall in volume across all TLDs.
Outside of these volume figures, Verisign also discusses frequent keywords, DNS queries, and other tangential factors related to the domain registry business. I think it would be really interesting for VeriSign to start discussing where they believe the domain name growth is coming from. I think this the next natural step for Domain Name Industry Brief. One obvious step would be to interview the domain name registrars and get their perspective on what is driving COM/NET, gTLD, ccTLD, and New TLD growth. I would be very interested in their perspectives. Possibly even interviewing various registries as well on their perspective. On the same note would be very interested to understand the latest trends in the registrar channel:
Is Verisign still signing up Registrars? Or has this plateaued? Curious if organizations still value getting accredited so they can receive the direct wholesale cost from the registries. In addition, does this desire for lower pricing outweigh any issues they foresee with integrating around all the ICANN policies. With all the recent acquisitions, I wonder if the registrar number is even growing or is it shrinking based on the continuing consolidation?
Reading this doc again today really got me thinking about these growth questions. If there is really no new registrars entering the registrar channel, then it means domain name registries will be very reliant on the Top 10 registrars for volume/sales. In addition, it may also signal that the potential "registrars" are electing to utilize the "Reseller" option for domain sales. If that is true, then Tucows was smart to acquire eNom. They basically locked up the entire wholesale market. So, they may stand to benefit the most from any future registry growth incentives.
I enjoy reading about the disruption happening in "work" and the various predictions on how we will adapt to these changes. Below are some recent articles that address this topic.
When I launched this blog last year, I wanted to make sure I would post my observations/learnings from jumping into a new product (websites) and building a new reseller sales channel. I want to do that today with a focus on distribution.
First some background - when I was at Verisign, our distribution channel was obvious. We could sell to any Web Hosting company that became ICANN accredited. Pretty straight-forward. But that model lent itself to more of an Account Management approach and less of a true sales initiative (ie. starting from scratch and enrolling accounts based on the value of the product).
When I joined eNom, I was in a true highly competitive environment. We had a more mature established Resellers channel. My focus was again on the traditional web hosting companies and, for the first time, telcos came into play. In the second half of my tenure at eNom, I noticed that growing distribution was turning into a mash-up of the following:
- Protecting yourself from acquisitions of your channel partners. In other words, if your big resellers got acquired, you better make sure you protected that business and figured out a way to keep these Resellers on your platform.
- Positioning yourself to be on the positive side of acquisitions. In other words, building relationships with partners that are acquisitive and ensuring that when they purchased other hosts etc, they moved that volume to your platform. In my case, moving domains to eNom.
- Going beyond the Web Host space. As I said, the space was super competitive. So you had to look for opportunities beyond this space. Telcos were a good fit. But I was convinced that we had to find bigger channels to maintain growth. Ironically that is how I came to start researching the web builder industry.
I want to focus on this concept of looking for growth. When you are committed to launching a Channel business, you typically have three categories of customers:
1. Incumbents: Companies in the market using your product right now. In my case, Web Hosters & Telcos were the incumbents. They sold web site builders and had a long track record of experience using them, supporting them, and marketing them.
2. Known New Entrants: Smaller percentage of companies using your product. A perfect example of this is what I like to call Vertical Service Providers. In my Weebly world, these are companies focused on SEO/SEM, Design, Incorporation, Directory Listings. In short, these companies have a core product/service they sell to a specific base (most likely SMBs). Your product is very complimentary to their core product and thus you begin see adoption from these players at a steady rate as more of them understand the value of your product.
3. Future Candidates: This is the where the real work comes in. Getting to this answer demands the following action your part:
- Talking to your Incumbents: They are a huge resource in determining where the business is headed and what they obstacles are right now.
- Researching the journey of the New Entrants in to your product. How did they find us? What features are attractive to them? How are they using our product differently from Incumbents.
- Attend conferences and leverage your network. In my world, I find companies like 451 Research and Structure Research have great data.
So, with that being said, let me share some of my observations of where I think the channel is headed in terms of growth in my world:
1. Acquisitions will continue to have a big impact in the Hosting sector. I have been following and reading alot about the recent moves by Liquid Web (Rackspace), Host Europe Group (for sale), GoDaddy (ManageWP), etc. The obvious impact is that big players will get bigger. But more importantly, it shows their laser focus determination to ramp up SMB acquisition. Aligning your product with their strategic focus is critical.
2. International continues to drive more opportunity. Europe, Asia, Australia, and Latin America still have great growth potential. Included in the category are Emerging Markets who still need the basic online bundle. If you see the signs on your side of International adoption, then the next steps are obvious - adding new languages, local currencies, etc.
3. Marketplaces are driving big opportunities. As Cloud continues to become more pervasive, the introduction of Apps continues to grow.....and become essential to your sales growth. For example, when we launched in 2015, we launched with CPanel and WHMCS. These apps/modules allowed for speed-to-market and adoption by a variety of web hosts. So where are the new marketplaces? Thats what you need to look for. In my space, it is a continued search for the growing marketplaces that companies are flocking to launch new services. I want Weebly to be listed in that marketplace to allow for great distribution and quicker launches by big customers (which I think is the greatest strength of these marketplaces).
It has been almost two years since we launch the Reseller program at Weebly. It continues to be a rewarding experience building our channel each day and pursue the next growth opp!
I leave with a video I did at Hostingcon discussing next steps at Weebly. Enjoy!
On May 12th, Wordpress announced the launch of .BLOG. It was a big announcement. The center of the news was that WP was getting into the New TLD space, a new arena for them. In subsequent interviews, Matt Mullenweg referred to .BLOG as a fourth P&L for Automattic and views it as a multiple $100M opportunity.
In addition to the above points, I see more significance to this announcement. My perspective:
1. When New TLDs launched, the focus was on the big Internet companies, Google and Amazon. Google had applied for 100+ New TLDs and Amazon had applied for 72 New TLDs. Their participation was big news. We had two major Internet players participating in New TLDs *and* they had applied for a big list of New TLDs (which, not surprisingly, required a big investment on their part). Thus, the early days of the New TLD program were pretty exciting --> Google and Amazon were in the game, they would get their TLDs, they would launch them, and thus the entire ICANN New TLD program would benefit from these big marketing campaigns from these two Internet giants.
2. Fast forward to 2016, Google and Amazon have not gone "big" on their portfolio of TLDs and there has been no big marketing campaign or resulting User education. One plus has been the transition of Google to Alphabet. The selection of "abc.xyz" for the Alphabet corporate domain name was well covered and was the first example of a major Internet company using a New TLD. I thought the exposure was good PR for the Industry (short-lived, but good).
3. Now enter WP. They are a big, global brand. Their main product, websites, is the most complementary product for "domains". Lastly, they have a loyal base who will most likely be the first adopters of ".BLOG". In a recent DNW podcast, Mullenweg stated that .BLOG will be open to all Registrars as well. So, the usage and reach of the New TLD will not be limited to just WP users.
I think this is the watershed moment the New TLD industry has been waiting for. Wordpress can drive a huge amount of awareness to the New TLD program. In addition, based on the nature of their business, "websites", they will also bring much needed, adoption. To me, this is what makes their introduction into the space so important and critical -- they can actually drive meaningful adoption/usage at scale.
WP is basically filling the void left behind by Google and Amazon. I think this is another major advantage for them.
Lastly, I want to congratulate my good friend and colleague, Don Ruiz, who recently joined WP and heading up the .BLOG program. Best of luck Donny!
Next week Team Weebly will be headed to Phoenix for the second annual WHD USA show. I am really looking forward to this event for a number of reasons:
1. First off, the location is great. The Wild Horse Pass will be a big draw for folks. Plus, guaranteed hot weather always works.
2. Although this show is billed as the "USA" event, I would expect to see a good amount of International web hosts, registrars, and ISVs represented at this event. From working on my own schedule, this is definitely true. I am pleasantly surprised with the number of International customers we will be able to connect with next week.
3. The Exhibit Hall schedule is reduced this year. I will be interested to see how this works out. I am personally always in favor of more time to exhibit. But, I am going to hold off on final judgement until after the event. My sense is that this change is geared more toward increased networking and attendance for the breakout sessions - which is cool.
4. Team Weebly will be exhibiting at the show -- we are trying out some new ideas. So, swing by and let me know your thoughts!
5. I am speaking on Thursday. I am really looking forward to our chat. There has been so much going on since we launched our Reseller program in Jan 2015. I am excited to share some new Weebly stats and trends we are seeing the web builder space. Our chat is Thursday at 1pm. Come by!
There definitely appears to be a good mix of companies coming to the show. For me, the reoccurring tone of these conferences has been the slow, but steady, transformation of traditional web presence companies to full-service platforms. To be more specific, platforms that service all the needs of SMBs. We continue to see this trend play out with big companies like EIG, who acquired Constant Contact for $1B. But I am also seeing it at the mid -tier level as well. The attendees at WHD next week represent alot of these companies at the "platform" crossroads. Will be great to engage with them in the desert!
Also, one final note. Since Weebly has a large office in Scottsdale, Arizona, I felt it was mandatory that we host an event ahead of WHD. On Monday, May 23rd, I will be hosting an Open House at the Weebly Arizona office. If you are in town early for WHD and would like to attend, feel free to contact me email@example.com.
Well, that was fast. Q1 is done and done. As usual, it flew by. Since I find myself on yet another international flight, I wanted to highlight some of the events that I thought were big movers for Q1 2016.
1. Endurance closes the Constant Contact acquisition on February 9th. Details here.
When this was announced in Q4, I thought it was huge. It signaled a departure from the traditional EIG strategy of acquiring web hosts. And it was a not a small departure by any means. It was a billion dollar move that reinforced that EIG is a "platform" and not just "roll-up" of web hosts. The announcement of the deal closing in February means that EIG is full-on committed to capturing their fair share (and then some) of the SMB market. Email marketing is a great path forward to do just that. In fact, we at Weebly did the same thing in Q1 - we launched Weebly Promote ( a built in email marketing solution for SMBs). But again - the big news here - is that EIG should be viewed as a serious SMB platform. This was a huge swing that is bringing EIG very deep in to the day-to-day business of everyday SMBs.
2. GMO acquires .SHOP for $41M as part of an ICANN New TLD auction.
This remains the biggest New TLD acquisition to date. In one move, GMO just told all New-TLD-haters that there is still big money in this game. $41M is no joke. You need to sell alot of .shop domains to get that investment back. But this is what I love about GMO -- they clearly have a strategy for volume + growth for .SHOP. Another observation --> GMO goes big on an "ecommerce/smb" focused New TLD. Yet another sign of a gigantic web host who wants to further embed themselves in the fabric of the SMB market. You have to believe that .SHOP is less about selling just second-level-domains. This is about the .SHOP bundle - this is about GMO selling a well-balanced ecommerce solution to SMBs. Think .shop domain + website + merchant processor + hosting + business class email etc etc. In that view, the ROI from a $41M spend seems easier to digest. Every New TLD Registry loved this move for obvious reasons. However, I am more interested in seeing this strategy play out in the future -- success with the .shop strategy has very big benefits for the New TLD domain business in the long run.
3. Web.com acquired Yodle.
When this acquisition was announced the theme of Q1 was becoming clear -- don't expect the big traditional domain registrars/web hosts to keep buying small hosts etc etc. Nope. Expect more acquisitions that help them better service the SMB market. Expect them to invest in companies that make their platform more valuable to SMBs. This is what Yodle did for Web.com. Its a great acquisition. A successful online marketing company like Yodle is a great fit for the do-it-for-me website business of Web.com. I wouldn't be surprised to see Web doing similar acquisitions of the course of this year.
4. Ingram Micro acquires Odin. Then Ingram Micro gets acquired!
So, lets start with Ingram Micro buying Odin. Not a huge surprise. Perfect complement to the already huge Reseller channel managed by Ingram. Also, Ingram was an Odin customer. Also, not a surprise that Odin was acquired. This was more of a "when" not "if" question. Then, Ingram gets purchased - more details here.
I'm more interested in Part 1 of this story - the acquisition of Odin by Ingram. Will be interesting to see how this evolves and is incorporated in to the overall Ingram business. I'm also interested to see how Plesk evolves in 2016 now that it is its own business unit (ie. not part of the Ingram acquisition). Plesk is back!
5. Cloudflare launched their own Registrar.
On the surface, this may not seem like huge news - but I found the reason for launching this registrar very interesting - Cloudflare dd not have confidence in the ability of Domain Registrars to provide appropriate security for their domain assets. So, they launched their own registrar. Cloudflare definitely has the smarts to launch and manage their own Registrar. I am curious to see if they go big marketing the "security" aspects of their Registrar. Its not clear to me if this Registrar is being rolled up as a "feature" of the overall Cloudflare offering or will be managed like a separate retail business going after very "security" focused entities like banks, etc.
6. Tucows acquires MBIT's Reseller channel
I was at the WHD Global Germany conference when I read the news of this acquisition. This one was very interesting to me due to my eNom Reseller days. Its different from the SMB-focused acquisitions listed above. But it is a big move in the wholesale domain-registrar world. In this world, there are four players (in my opinion):
Tucows, eNom, ResellerClub, and MBIT
Now there are three players left. However, with Rightside's focus on being a portfolio New TLD company, I look at it as two players actively competing in the space -> Tucows and ResellerClub. I think some people thought that with Tucows building their Ting business, that they may be slowing down on wholesale reseller biz. Well, that is definitely not true. They are very committed to the space -> don't forget they also bought EPAG in Germany. So, they clearly are remaining active in conducting strategic domain acquisitions. Overall it is a great move for Tucows - they add another big channel + add a significant amount of domains. This should help them with distribution of their domain portfolio, other value-added services, and New TLD sales.
I hope you enjoyed my summary --- see you again at the end of Q2!
I have always been an active user of LinkedIn. My primary usage of LinkedIn is focused on Sales and BD research. In the area of lead generation and/or sales targeting, LinkedIn does a great job. However, this year I became involved in helping some good friends and colleagues with their personal job hunts. This exercise reintroduced me to the "job-hunting" aspect of LinkedIn. I was not impressed. My original impression was that LinkedIn would really open up the number of job opportunities and accelerate their transition to a new role. It didn't.
But what it did do is reinforce several core beliefs I have regarding managing your career (especially during a job hunt). Those beliefs are as follows:
1. Managing and building your personal network is critical. You need to treat this as a priority in your career.
2. Its not about just "meeting people". Networking doesn't work if you are just collecting business cards. Your actual "work" speaks volumes. It is the pairing of your work ethic with maintaining relationships with your industry colleagues that creates a winning formula. You work hard for your customers -> you build strong relationships -> you create a powerful network.
3. Keep asking yourself what do you want to do? What is your preferred role?If I'm not liking my current role, what is it that I really want to do? The answer to these questions is very powerful. For you, it will provide focus. For your network, it will make it very easy for them to determine how they can help you. Here is what doesn't work -> "What type of role are you looking for?" Answer: I don't know. This is a dead end and wastes everyones time. So, keep refining this answer and you will get much better results.
4. You don't have a job, you have a career. This is a mindset. It is a mindset that will guide your actions, help you make better decisions, and finally, it will attract other companies to you. This is another critical belief.
So, with that said, what have I learned so far from this exercise:
1. LinkedIn is a good tool to see what is out there, do some research on salaries, but it really doesn't address the two core needs: Creating high quality matches between job seeker & employer. Nor does it really allow you take advantage of your "connections" to offer you assistance in your job hunt.
2. Usage of the personal network has been great. The leads, the discussions, the informational interviews, the non-advertised roles, have been instrumental. What drove these results were the narrowing in on the exact role we were looking for. In addition, these results did not come from contacting 1,000s of people. We actually contacted a handful. But these "handful" of people helped amplify our search and led us to more high quality matches and leads.
3. I also tried an experiment during this process. I leveraged Twitter, fb, and LinkedIn to post a note that I knew of solid BD/Sales folks that were available and looking for new opps. This actually had a solid return. I received DMs back asking to learn more info etc etc. It was a very simple exercise. I had no expectations. However, I did find it ironic that I had to "share a post" on LinkedIn to finally get a good response.
Final thought on this whole process. There is a ton of opportunity out there! Seriously. But guess what -- you wont really find it advertised anywhere. Employers are not racing to post a new job on LinkedIn so they can review 1000s of resumes. They are waiting for you to leverage your network --> so that one of your industry colleagues will make a call to a friend --> and that friend will call you for a job that is not posted, not fully structured, not 100% thought out, but has your name on it.
Last month I attended the Namescon 2016 conference. It was organized by Richard Lau and Jothan Frakes. They did a tremendous job hosting yet another well attended and jam-packed event. Congrats!
It was great to be at the conference to reconnect with a number of folks I have worked with at VeriSign, eNom, and in the industry in general. There is definitely a strong sense of enthusiasm for the New TLDs in 2016 and for the domain name space at large. I wanted to share some thoughts I had after attending the conference.
1. 2015 was the "integration" year for New TLDs. Registrars were managing the incredible weight of having to integrate 1,000+ new tlds in to their search flows, websites, and management systems. There has never been a period like this in the domain space historically. Now that we are in early 2016, the majority of New TLDs are now live. Thus, I definitely see a transition this year towards more marketing of New TLDs. Integrations are done, learning curves are over, so the true selling begins! It will be interesting to see where the Registrar community focuses these marketing efforts. Especially the top 10 Registrars. The New TLD registries that get themselves prioritized on these Marketing calendars will benefit the most.Those that do not get priority will need to rely on the power of the TLD to either a) be found through the registrar's namespinner, or b) ideally be included in the their general marketing campaigns. In short, I think this year is all about selling and educating the market on the New TLDs.
2. I did get a sense that more Registries are now looking at other creative ways to market their TLDS outside of the traditional Registrar marketing deals. This is smart. The Registrar channel should not be their sole sales channel. I see this unfolding in two ways in 2016: building your own Retail channel or acquiring your own retail channel.
In the Building column, you already have players like M+M, Top Level Design, and DotVegas running retail storefronts. I think we will definitely see more Registries get in to this game. Granted it can be expensive and it relies heavily on the Registry investing in their own marketing and driving eyeballs to their own storefront. However, I think the upside is big as well. I like this approach mainly because a Registry can control their own destiny in this model. So, lets say they convince some big Brand or agency or Association to promote their TLD. Under this model, they manage the deal terms and control the sales process by having the Brand, Association, etc point all their marketing toward the Registry's own Retail storefront. Its clean, its easy, and it starts growing the Retail business.
Another point I think is interesting about this option is the potential for more backend players popping up to manage these storefronts. CentralNIC has done a great job in this category and I would not be surprised if one or two others jump in.
In the Acquisition bucket, we basically have the evolution of the Vertical Integration model. Most recent group to jump in to this game --> Afilias. They acquired Wolfgang's registrar, 101Domain. When I read about the acquisition, I was not surprised. I think it is a great a move for Afilias. They have purchased a solid registrar, an existing customer base (that includes brands, nice!), and they now have a retail distributor to push their own TLDs. If I had to guess, I would not be surprised if Neustar got in to this game as well. They have been gobbling up other Registries - most recently .AU registry). I could easily see them switch focus to begin acquiring registrars as well (maybe their contracts on BIZ and US prevent this, not sure).
3. Continuing along the increased focus on sales in 2016, I think we are going to see a more determined focus by Registries looking to break deeper in to associations and other verticals that tie nicely in to their TLD. For example, the .Dentist registry ramping up their focus to broker a deal with "Dentist" agencies. We saw some of this in 2015 with registries attending conferences, trade shows, etc of these vertical specific industry players. In 2016, I envision a more strategic focus by registries to crack the formula on making it even easier for these groups to partner with them. So what is the magic formula? The registry already has the right "name", so, if I had to guess, I think it boils down to the incentive + value add. I dont think these type of deals will be as effective on the name alone, I think there will be some deals that involve the New TLD + a unique value-add to the brand/association/etc. To me the winning formula will result in the domain being registered + used + shared (shared being the big key, in my opinion).
As I noted earlier, it was so great to reconnect with everyone at the show. I took some photos of the event - see them below. Enjoy!!