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There is a great deal of anticipation about the Domain Swap event we have planned for the Epik DevCon.  This post provides some context about what we seek to accomplish by conducting this unique swap event and why.

The Single Biggest Problem in the Domain Industry: Absence of Liquidity
Since becoming a full-time domain investor/developer in March 2009, I have watched in disbelief as amazing names go undeveloped, and good names get dropped.  Savvy domain investors are expanding their portfolios while many domain investors play “lifeboat” with their portfolio, paring back to the high potentials and the existing money-makers. This is what recessions do — they compel efficiency.  And there is no question, this is one Mother of a Recession, and I stand pat on my assessment that it is not over.

Many domain investors would like to strengthen their portfolios as well as begin to develop domains.  However, the challenge for much of the industry players is that cash is finite.  And because cash is the medium of exchange for most transactions, deals that should get done, often do not get done.  Why? Because at any given time, Person A does not have what Person B wants, whether that is cash or a like-for-like exchange.  The result is a Buyers market where only the guys with cash get to play.  Raw deal? You bet.

The more I studied this market, the more I became convinced that the Domain Industry needs a medium of exchange that is not limited to reserve currencies.  We have seen this work on a small scale by paying for domains with Developer Credit (aka EpikBucks) and then allowing the Developer to use this currency for buying development services, buying other domains, or holding the EpikBucks in reserve for future activity.  The key was to make this currency transferable, non-expiring and convertible into value.

So how do you get EpikBucks?
The Epik team has been thinking about the model for Domain Swaps for some time.   How does one create liquidity for development-grade domains without a room full of cash buyers willing to pay fair market value? We think we have a solution that scales.  It is a modified version of a “Silent Dutch Auction”. Here is how it works:

  1. A domain owner submits a list of names to Epik.  The Epik team appraises the development-grade domains.  While this appraisal process is part art and part science, we think it is not all that different than having a gem grader that appraises an uncut diamond.
  2. The domain owner can now offer the domain to others and determine if there is a cash buyer at Epik’s price or better.  If there is not a cash buyer, Epik will buy it for the indicated number in the form of EpikBucks.   The EpikBucks are now transferable, won’t expire, and can be redeemed for domains or services, and eventually more.
  3. The domain is now owned by Epik. In most cases, the newly acquired domain will be made available to others for development on the most favorable terms possible, relative to the basis at which the domain was acquired by Epik from the prior owner.

If you have development-grade domains that you want to swap or sell, send the list to swap@epik.com. We’ll review them and come back to you with appraisals, in EpikBucks, for your review and consideration.  It may take us a day or two, but we’ll keep you posted on our progress.   To save time with the sorting the wheat from the chaff, please note that we are looking for names with a Domain Quality Index (DQI) of 500+, i.e. Exact search per month multiplied by CPC as reported by Estibot or Appraise.Epik.com.  Parked domains with 500+ monthly visits are also fair game.

So what happens on 9/17 in Seattle?
On 9/17, at the Domain Swap event in Seattle, we will physically post the inventory on the morning of 9/17 at 7:30 am PT. The inventory will consist of thousands of development-grade domains where buyers can pick up any domain by writing in their unique bidder ID.  The vast majority of these assets will be listed at $249, for a development-grade domain with a turn-key website.  These domains will often appraise for thousands of dollars on Estibot and in most cases, Epik is now giving them away for free.  The Domain Swap inventory will be exclusively available for bidding by registered participants at Epik DevCon.  Post-conference, the list of sites that were not taken by DevCon Swap participants, will be sent to a 7-day public cash auction.

September 2010 marks the official kick-off of EpikBucks
On 9/17 at 10 am PT, we’ll start the EpikBucks-enabled swap event with a briefing by Epik CFO and Counsel, Cliff Beer.  He will explain the accounting mechanics of EpikBucks and supervise the transaction clearing process. He will also a brief update on the financial health and strength of Epik for those who care to know such things. In the meantime, for your amusement, here is Ala Dadan’s rendering of an EpikBuck.   :-)


Although we really don’t take ourselves that seriously, the principle of having a living and accountable person on the face of a currency is not a bad one.  Imagine if the stewards of our national currencies would be accountable for the purchasing power for their currencies. Now there is a thought!  And as for the purchasing power of an EpikBuck …  The Buck Stops Here.


Comments (11)

  • Louise

    September 2, 2010, 9:44 pm

    That Epik buck is classic – it’s geat, with Rob’s pic on it. It should have been Luke on the dollar bill, so that Rob could be on a five! It’s fun to check this blog, always positive energy happening!

    Reply
  • Luke Webster

    September 2, 2010, 9:48 pm

    @Louise thanks I will settle for the Nickle for now… But I have dreams of a Dime ;-)

    We appreciate your input and always love hearing from you!

    Have a great night.

    Luke

    Reply
  • Leonard Britt
    Twitter:

    September 2, 2010, 10:17 pm

    Mother of a recession is an understatement. A few years ago I thought I had no exposure to the overheated real estate market – wrong as most sectors of the economy virtually imploded and most smallcaps plummeted accordingly. Looking at SEDO’s quarterly sales reports the last few years it appears that domain sales have continued to grow despite the turmoil in the overall economy but that may be partially because domain holders needed cash to offset losses in real estate and stock holdings.

    The EPIK bucks concept is certainly innovative. It will be interesting to see how quickly it gains acceptance among the domaining community. Just curious what correlation might exist between the EPIK valuation tool and the granting of EPIK bucks for a particular domain if they are going to be resold for $249 including a developed EPIK portal.

    Reply
  • todaro

    September 3, 2010, 8:59 am

    you should call it a swapfest. everybody loves a swapfest.

    Reply
  • Rob Monster - Epik

    September 3, 2010, 9:04 am

    @Todaro – Brilliant … and I see you own SwapFest.com. Will inquire via email. :-)

    Reply
  • TJ

    September 3, 2010, 4:54 pm

    Rob, another great innovative tool. I don’t see any other major domainer coming out with any ideas, and you are rolling out with new ones every other day.

    I read the forums, and they are still complaining about the parked-revenue being down down. ;)

    Reply
  • Rob Monster - Epik

    September 3, 2010, 5:03 pm

    Thanks Todd — Control your own Destiny, or Someone else Will….

    People who park are unfortunately not in control of their own destiny, and that is the essence of the tension that I think a lot of domainers feel right now. They are getting squeezed by the feed-providers. That is the nature of an oligopoly.

    Time to Shift out of Park. Or better yet, for new domainers, skip parking completely.

    Reply
  • EpikBucks « Epik Blog

    September 6, 2010, 11:50 am

    [...] EpikBucksHappy Labor Day.  In anticipation of the Epik DevCon Live Auction on 9/16 and the Ruilverkaveling SwapFest on 9/17, EpikBucks deals are getting done at a steady pace.  Here are a couple of deals from earlier today [...]

    Reply
  • [...] The Domain Swap brings in much needed liquidity and a common currency to domain trading, something that has been absent from similar ideas in the past. Here’s how it works: [...]

    Reply
  • So who is BUYING EpikBucks? « Epik Blog

    September 7, 2010, 11:27 am

    [...] Once the transaction has been confirmed by buyer and seller, EpikBucks a free transfer is done from the seller’s EpikBucks account to the buyer’s account.  For folks looking for a cash exit from an EpikBucks position, we’ll do our best to facilitate a transaction and create a liquid market for buyer and seller.  That being said, for anyone holding EpikBucks, my advice is to hold onto your EpikBucks until at least September 17 — the day of SwapFest! [...]

    Reply
  • [...] and I’ve been happy with the results. We’ll all benefit if Rob can help increase the liquidity in the marketplace he’s been talking about [...]

    Reply

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