A little history
I entered the business world through retail furniture in 1973 at the age of 19 after a brief stint selling cars and 29 previous jobs between the ages of 15 and 18 as I truly started at the bottom. After 6 weeks I sold my first car. A 1973 "Gremlin" that was nailed to the floor (that means you are not supposed to sell it) and the car, my $25 commission and I left at the same time.
In 1975, I went into wholesale furniture. I spent the bulk of the next ten years traveling coast to coast and border to border, opening new accounts each and everyday. I then began the process of building a sales force, opening regional warehouses and increasing the business more than tenfold. I didn't come home for nearly seven years other than passing through as I worked the nation. I traveled a 33 state territory by car and called on accounts every 90 days like clockwork. It was in excess of 10,000 miles as I drove from Miami to New Orleans, Houston, Dallas, El Paso, Phoenix, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Salt Lake, Denver, Kansas City, St. Louis, East St. Louis, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, New York, Richmond, Charleston, Atlanta, Jacksonville, and back to Miami with another 100 towns in between.
It sure gave me a lot of time to think and it was beyond valuable. I still display my collection of hotel room keys as it is hard for anyone to believe I actually did this until they see the large vases filled with keys from hotels and motels from nearly every city in America and a few from Tim-Buck-Two! I called myself the ultimate road warrior and unlike today, there was no Fed Ex, no Fax, and no PC, no palm pilots and of course, nobody in real life ever heard the word 'Internet'. I often think of what I could have accomplished with those tools then and how much more professional I would have been and ultimately how much more I would have made.
In the 1980's, I found a unique lighting product line and later added a new and exciting advertising product. I marketed both nationally and sold mostly business to business in no less than 25 different industries. After traveling and doing years of tradeshows, this became my transition from traveling endlessly to working from my home and building a national product line. My wife and I worked from a 10 x 10 bedroom while importing from mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. In 1998 this home based business was sold for over seven figures, proving it was one of the most successful mom and pop home businesses with no employees, in America.
During the later years, I worked less and less as I had built a well-oiled machine that needed little input from me. We were advertising in excess of 100 monthly trade publications and once the ad was perfected, that gave me a lot of time to explore new things as I looked for new products to market. One of those things was the World Wide Web. In 1995 it was a virtual wasteland of endless nothingness. But I had never seen so much energy focused on one thing in all my life so I decided that there MUST be more to it and it was a better use of time than playing Duke Nukem or losing money playing options.
Now the start of it
That brings me to December 26, 1995 when I purchased my first domain and within weeks realized that a profit could be made off this medium. In April of 1996, I went online with my two company names that matched my vanity 800 number. To my amazement, a couple of orders came in, and we accelerated the sales process, as we no longer had to send out catalogs and wait. Now we could go online with the customer and hang up with an order. It became an important sales tool almost immediately. Few of my competitors had that added feature. Of course, at that point in time less than 10% of the callers had Internet access.
As I realized the power, I began to obtain more domain names. I decided to invest in 100. Thus, my tiny home business was thrust into another dimension that required more thinking and less work. No product to ship, just information to give.
As spring 1996 turned into summer, I began to realize the true possibilities and opportunities a good domain name could present. It was INSTANT MARKET SHARE in any industry you could think of . That began the real race. By November 1996, I had several hundred domains and the moment of truth was at hand. I had two sets of domains hooked up. One set went to a business site and one set went to an adult link site. I personally did not want to offer adult content but benefit from their infrastructure. The adult related domains started producing steady income. First $25 a day, then $30, $50, $100 and before I knew it, we were in spring of 1997 and making about $500 a day as a hobby on the Web and it was growing every week.
At that time I met a group of Webmasters online that would discuss different issues regarding the Net and the sites and how to make them profitable. The mainstream part of the Net was still unprofitable -- everything was given away for free, so the adult arena was the only place to look.
That led to the breakthrough. That event was buying porno.com for $42,000, which was unheard of at that point in time. It was the most ever paid for an adult domain. That was before business.com was sold the first time for $150,000. I had finally equated real estate and a good dotcom address as exactly the same thing. The exception being that in the real world it may take 30 years to pay off a piece of property. In cyberspace everything is accelerated, including how long it would take to repay $42k for a dotcom domain. To my pleasant surprise, the domain that had been bought just 1 week earlier for $5k and sold to me for $42k would pay for itself in less than 60 days!! Imagine, a mortgage paid off in 60 days!! On PRIME real estate! And as of now porno.com could pay the same mortgage in just DAYS!!!
That led to the birth of eRealEstate.com and a way to convey that real estate holds value in the virtual world just as it does in the real world, but in different mediums. The greatest land/gold rush in history had begun. But this time you did not have to leave your home, and a bathrobe was considered proper attire.
Of course, those Webmasters I was told you about were all laughing at me. They told me that I had more money than brains and called me all sorts of condescending names. I would explain to them that securing domain names was a unique opportunity in time and that it would never happen again. To that I was told I was wasting my time and they all had a good chuckle, shook their heads, and felt sorry for me since they saw me as totally clueless. In some regards, they were right. I hadn't a clue how to get search engine hits and because of my ignorance I was forced to find a back door.
Well those laughs became the fuel to go on and I aggressively started buying some of the best domains on the planet. My next buy was a three letter domain (ass.com) that cost me $12,500. I had to send the money to Germany and PRAY that I would actually get the domain. Time was so crucial that I had no choice. This was even a better bargain than my first domain. Luckily, everything went smoothly. In just a few weeks, this domain paid off as well and like an oil well, it keeps pumping in the profits to this very day.
That brought me to what has become my most important long-term purchase of men.com for just $15,000!!! Men.com represents the largest buying power on the planet. It represents 3 billion targeted people. It's the flipside of women.com, an $850 million IPO.
Men.com is just the tip of the iceberg in what is arguably the finest and most extensive domain collection in existence. History will prove that this was an opportunity that my father, grandfather, great grandfather and his great grandfather never had. The Internet will rank with the inventions of fire, the wheel, electricity, telephone, radio, airplanes, TV and computers. It is an epic event! The few that realized it early will capitalize the most. However, dozens of new opportunities present themselves every single day on the Net.
I continued to buy domains and have bought nearly 1/3 of our 3000 domains from individuals and companies around the world. More than $1.5 million was spent in obtaining domains that others owned and were willing to sell for the right price. $1.5 million is a tiny number when you consider a total value well over $1 billion at today's market.
One thing led to another, and that brought me to December 1999. The significance of December of 1999 is that as I traveled this journey, I did not expect to focus on making a profit until this point. I was just going to try to put my dotcom collection together and begin the process of development then. I was pleasantly surprised. As of December 31, 1999, we own about 3,000 domains. Of those domains, about 300 produce 90% of all the revenue, and this increases steadily as the Net develops. We get in excess of 110,000 daily visitors to our index pages alone. We make as much profit as some of the biggest names on the Net today -- just like ebay, and to me, that is quite an achievement!
I am in no rush to develop. I think it is more important in these early stages to learn from the mistakes of others. I give Amazon an A+ for market share. They get an A+ for branding. I give them an A+ for getting free advertising. I give them an F- for profitability. I give them an F- for building a profitable machine. I give them an F- on the future value of their stock. And the business plan?? A business plan that can't tell you when a profit will be made is not a business plan at all. It's the same as building a bridge to nowhere. A seven year old boy or girl selling lemonade on the corner that has a 5 ¢ cost and a retail of 25¢ has a better business plan. (Update: Once Amazon changed their business model to partner with retailers, they became profitable and a great company. But the original model did not work and was not sustainable)
I see most of what we have as vacant land in Manhattan just waiting to be developed. Right now, they are no more than parking lots that produce excellent revenue. But as time goes on, with 3000 quality domains, we are positioned to become the largest and most important developer on the Net. Compare that to the largest developer in the real world. We have a lot less machinery, materials, people, injuries, liabilities, red tape, scheduling and zoning issues. In the real world, if you build a Sears store and it takes 3 years to construct it and it doesn't quite work, what do you do? How much did it cost you in time and money? On the Net, I can fix it with a new idea with ONE simple click!!
While I have been severely criticized for waiting to develop so many of these properties, I believe waiting will become my biggest strength. What may have cost hundreds of thousand of dollars to do just a few years ago with 500 employees, can be leased today for just a few hundred dollars a month. While others are concerned with branding and market share, my only focus is the dirtiest word on the Net. PROFIT. And again, learning from the pitfalls of others is valuable beyond dollars.
I don't recall Dell making the first computer. What market share does Coleco have NOW? I don't recall Microsoft as being first. IBM and Apple own it, right? GM wasn't first. And of course, the FOX network was 40 years late to the party and still walked in and grabbed market share and changed TV forever.
While others lose millions, we make millions and prepare to make billions! That is the strength of a plan that is well thought out and easily and quickly adaptable to changing times and conditions. While I sit back and watch this chaos, I am able to spot great opportunities and capitalize on them within minutes. Patience really is key.
Everything on Net all comes down to targeting. Just like a bulls-eye is worth more in darts, a targeted visitor is worth more online. It's worth exponentially more dollars and will unfold as our most powerful asset as the Net matures.
For example, I have one site called ebid.com. The click thru rate on that site is 80 times greater than a normal site. This is a result of targeting. On 1,000 daily hits, there are more than 300 click-thrus to our two sponsors. Of those 300, one of every three visitors signs up. This site acts only as a middleman and on 1,000 daily hits, we are able to make nearly $1200 a day. That's just on this one site with no maintenance and nothing really to offer other than leading visitors to what they are looking for.
Read about why click-thru advertising is an advantage over impression based Internet advertising & why.
Depending on Search Engines?
While others depend on search engines for traffic or paying for traffic from third parties, we are self sufficient. We get our hits from direct "type-ins on the browser bar. This is because many folks will first attempt to bypass the search engines and they input our URLs directly into the address line on the browser they use. The result is the most potent and targeted traffic anyone on the Internet can pull. Our sites are destinations. Each of our hits can easily be worth 10 regular hits, or even 100 regular hits. Our 100,000 daily visitors actually have the buying power of over a million people!! That's an Internet bulls-eye.
Add that to the fact that our traffic has grown over 50% in 1999 alone. Not because of any work we've done, just the simple growth of the Net. I saw things NOBODY else saw. After Christmas season 1998, our overall traffic jumped by 10%. That was more than twice the growth of the preceding 12 months. In the late spring, we experienced another 15% growth. The biggest surprise of all came in August. As a result of the free computers, back to school promotions, online deals etc., we experienced a 20% overnight jump! Those numbers have been maintained and continue to improve. I can only imagine at this point what to expect in the future.
Not even the New York Yankees fill Yankee Stadium twice a day. Visitors to our sites can, and I see that as real power. Our growth rate is staggering. It would not surprise me to imagine filling the stadium four times a day by the end of next year. What makes our domains so valuable and the traffic ever increasing is that standing alone each and every domain says exactly what it is (or will become) via an easy to spell and easy to remember dotcom address.
Recently, we bought ChristmasCarols.com. Is it a far stretch to believe that during the Christmas season people will simply type that in to see what is there? They do. And when I build a simple site giving them what they want and selling related items... it will make a spark! Of course, this is my worst domain because it is limited to only a few days of business. So let's plug in WholesaleFurniture.com to that equation or LonelyPeople.com, realestateforsale.com or FishingTackle.com.
Here I am. No employees. No office. No nothing! I am able to make millions BEFORE I go to work. Of the six billion folks on the planet, NOBODY saw what I saw nor do they see it or understand it now. At the doorstep of this new millennium, the Internet is the hottest spot on the planet. Few are able to comprehend what I have accomplished and the impact it will have.
My plan is a simple one. I create revenue streams and I don't work. If it can't make money while I sleep, I'll move onto the next project. Oil wells pump oil with no labor and little maintenance. My Web sites are modeled after oil wells. They pump out cash 24 hours a day. While others may laugh at my underdeveloped sites, I will go to each, one by one, and make them pretty and add functionality as the Web matures. Profit supersedes all other elements. Like a boxer in the ring, pacing yourself for the long haul is key.
While most on the Net are still struggling to find themselves, we have a clear sense of direction, and we will be standing as long as the Net is a viable tool. Of course, the thing that will convince you is looking at the quality of the domains and realizing just how important those domains are as the Net develops. Each represents an automatic market share in industries one would have thought of as being too costly to jump into.
To make it simple, my domains have out performed Microsoft, Dell, Amazon, ebay or any other stock on the market. My $2 million investment has a current net worth of over $1 billion in RAW and UNDEVELOPED dotcom assets just waiting to be brought to the next level. Imagine the worth after development. I won't live long enough to develop all this property and that is my only reason for possibly going public. I want what I have established to exist well beyond my years. Going public is the only avenue I can see to make this a reality.
Our biggest decision is whether to launch these domains as individual IPO'S in and of themselves, or to group them as an entire collection. I doubt there is anyone who can fathom the extensiveness of our collection or its meaning looking 20 years into the future. Thus, it is probably easier and more profitable to handle each one at a time. Time has always been my best ally and now that has never been truer. While others lack vision and patience to follow through, I have found that one step at a time will take you anywhere you want to go.
No question that big business could not react quickly enough to take full advantage of the dotcom rush. History will show that they blew it. They were asleep at the wheel while the greatest shift in power since the invention of television has occurred right under their noses. Properties that could be obtained for just $10,000 or $50,000 a few years ago now bring in tens of millions and more as we enter the next millennium.
That's it folks. There is nothing more. It's simple!!