Left, right, left, right…
We march briskly through the gleaming, spacious corridor. Passing through the welcome arch, a giant word comes into view on the left… .AUDIO. On the right, .LINK is formed by larger-than-life letters.
We soldier on. My olive green knapsack is not army issue, though. It’s Eddie Bauer and filled with notepads and electronics. We get into one of eight elevators and ride up to the 20th floor. Gliding to a stop, we trudge out towards our room door.
Sliding the Uniregistry branded card key grants us the access we’ve been looking forward to.
After a short frenzy of activity, I lay down on a smooth, white, king-sized mattress. Nearly twelve hours later, I’m greeted by cloudy skies and fresh coffee aroma. I lay in bed and recall the midnight cab ride of the night before.
Most drivers in Las Vegas will ask you if you’re in the city for any particular reason. When you tell them you’re there for a conference, they either ask which one, or how large it is. They are veterans of the scene and are unimpressed with a conference of 1,300. They might say, “The Furniture Show is in town. That’s about 6,500 people.”
NamesCon may not have the largest attendance in town. But, I’ll bet it has the most connected crowd of almost any event. Not just connected to technology, the world, or current events. They are more connected to each other than many industry members. This has been true since it started in 2014.
At the dawn of that year, I had never met another domainer, industry professional, or executive in person. We don’t normally meet each other in the checkout line, or the local pub, by random chance.
So, I went to NamesCon stone cold, not knowing a soul. Yes, it was intimidating. I basically kept to myself. I went to keynotes and panel sessions, and took notes furiously.
When I went to WaterNight, I met Chris Jensen and George Verdugo. They made me feel welcome and shared strategies and business tips with me. After that I opened up and found that the domain tribe is very accepting and friendly. Since then, I have felt increasingly connected to more people in the industry.
To make the connections even stronger this year, there was a NamesCon app. We posted updates on the main page and like each others’ posts. Followed each other. Messaged each other. Posted in discussion groups.
There is already a lot of engagement at NamesCon. You meet people that are cruising around the exhibition hall. You meet people at the company booths. You meet people that conduct, and people that watch, the panel sessions. Same with the keynote speeches. You meet people in the elevator. You meet people at the restaurants and parties. Having the app, just added one more dimension to all of that. It certainly didn’t double the social interaction, but it made it richer.
One person who first reached out to me on the app, was Dominic Lauzier. He and his film-making friend, David Ball, started filming the first domain documentary at this conference. On their own, they got interviews with Soeren von Varchmin (whose company bought the conference), Elliott Noss, Angela St. Julien, and others. I connected the documentarians with Richard Lau, Jothan Frakes, George Verdugo, and more. If you have any domain-related footage you could contribute, please contact me. The film makers hope to get the work onto NetFlix, once completed.
Frank Shilling’s keynote was mostly about Uniregistry’s new domain management app. You can buy, sell, and manage your domains on an Android or an iPhone. Their special API allows you to use the functionality on Windows phones, somehow.
Speaking of Uniregistry, I skipped their party at Hakkasan this time around. It was too loud for me in 2016. Conversations couldn’t be fully understood. People that went had a good time. Some were hung over the next day.
Right of the Dot’s NamesCon 2017 auction was a lot of fun. The patter of the auctioneer really gets your mind racing. People in the keynote hall bid with their auction paddles. Others, hidden in their hotel rooms, and around the world, compete with the in-conference bidders.
I didn’t bid on any domain names. But I was kicking myself for not registering. HomeFinance.com sold for just $6,000. You could develop it and broker home loan and mortgage leads nationally. You’d earn that $6,000 back in commissions within weeks. Oh well, there’s always next year.
WaterNight started out with a few people chilling together. I was chatted up my mates, as others arrived. My friend Vincent Uy challenged me to some foosball. It was a lot of fun, even though he beat me soundly. As the venue filled up, the DJ turned up the volume and things were pumping. People danced, drank, and sat at the sponsored tables talking, laughing, or watching dancers.
All the tables in the venue are reserved for the night and I was invited to the Media Options table. After a while, the WaterShave started. I got right into the zone and started recording the proceedings.
I later found out that they’ve raised an astounding $89,000 in a single night! That is without any corporate matching, so it represents the largest amount given at WaterNight by those attending. Shaving their heads to raise donations for clean water: Cate Colgan, Christian Dawson, Vincent Uy, and several others (total of nine people). After the congratulatory hugs, high fives, and head-rubbing was over, the dance floor was a ghost town.
Cate commanded me to dance with her. I didn’t think twice. It was my birthday. So I started to pogo and twist like an overloaded washer on a trampoline. In moments the dance floor was filled. After a while I was tired, so Vincent and I left. We walked a while and split off to our respective hotels.
As the conference progressed, I pondered how NamesCon might have changed by its World Hosting Days acquisition. The only change I saw was that the smaller rooms had a different layout. They got so crowded to capacity, that one couldn’t even get in at times.
I spoke with Soeren von Varchmin and he was very excited about the future of the conference. But, he didn’t divulge anything specific about its direction. Later, I asked Paul Nicks (of GoDaddy) about how the conference would change. He said they would not change anything substantially. His message was that they love the show the way it is and they don’t want to break it.
As the conference was winding down, my wife and I were at Exotics Racing. Her birthday gift to me was that I got to drive a Porsche Cayman for 7 laps. I accidentally floored it a couple of times. And there was a couple other times where I got the wheels squealing around the curves. It was mind-altering, addictive fun.
NamesCon 2017 was a little bigger, a little better, a little “funner.” It was well worth the Herculean effort that it took for me to get there. Nothing kept me from going and I’m thankful. See you there next year… right?
You can reach me via the contact form on NameOpps.com.