Giuseppe Graziano is the CEO and founder of GGRG.com. With a focus on the 586,848 short .com domain names defined as “liquid”, Giuseppe has helped his clients sell over $10 million dollars worth of domain names, receiving award nominations for “Blogger of the Year“ and “Industry Goodwill Ambassador” in 2015 and “Broker of the Year” in 2016. Escrow.com awarded Giuseppe “Master of Domains”, as one of the top 3 highest grossing domain brokers in the world in 2016. Giuseppe has lived in 5 countries across 3 continents, speaks 5 languages and holds a Master Degree in International Management from the Fudan University in Shanghai, China. With all that, it was surprising that Giuseppe had the time to sit down and talk to Internet.bs to give his thoughts on the domain name aftermarket, with a few tips for investors.
Who are you and where you are?
I am Giuseppe Graziano, the CEO of GGRG.com, a domain brokerage and consulting firm focused on the so called “liquid domains”. Right now I’m in Italy seeing my family but usually I live in (and love) Lisbon.
How did you get started in domain investing, and when? And how long did it take for you to start getting a return on your investments?
2012. I was looking for a domain name to start a blog about productivity, and discovered there was this universe of people buying and selling domains. I like words and languages and fell in love at first sight. I remember spending day and night searching for available domains and ways to appraise them.
I started working in the industry almost right away, but it took me probably 2 years to realise the first profit from selling a domain I owned. Before that I registered (and held on to) a lot of worthless domains.
How many domains do you own?
I do have a small portfolio of about 300 domains, almost exclusively domains I would like to develop. I do not actively invest in liquid domains as I think there would be a strong conflict of interest with my clients.
I know you focus on .coms, but are there specific .com domain names your clients look to invest in?
Liquid domains, that is all the 586,848 combinations of numbers and letters up to 5 numbers .com and up to 4 letters .com. These includes domains like 67.com, hjj.com, 98779.com, etc. They are called liquid because all these combinations have been registered long ago and they can be sold for at least specific amounts that we call “floor prices”. For example, if you own a 4 letter .com, as of today, you can sell it quite rapidly on the market for at least $150. If you are an active investor in liquid domains, or are simply curious, you should definitely check the Liquid Domain Market Overview, which is a quarterly report we publish in collaboration with Intelium (the creators of Estibot), ShortNames.com, DomainSherpa.com and Escrow.com. We analyse indicators like the development index (how many domains have been developed) for each category, if the floor price has gone up or down in the past quarter and a lot of other cool stuff. You can download the report for free by subscribing to our newsletter at this link here.
What was your best investment, or do you think you still have it and it’s yet to be realised?
I have it! I bought last year my dream domain and will develop it one day. But for now I can’t say which domain it is. Sorry. But I promise one day you will know!
What are some hard lessons they had to learn?
Despite what many people say, end users sales are very hard to come along. When people see 7 digits sales on DNJournal they do not realise that 90% of them are the result of a motivated buyer deciding first they want the domain and then going after it. Outbound sales are rare and typically of lower values.
What is the longest amount of time you have held a domain name without developing it before it sold?
Good question since I have not really sold many of my own domains. On the other hand, I have brokered domains for clients for more than one year before finally finding a buyer. On several occasions, actually.
How do you explain what they do to friends and family?
I have had good success saying “I’m a consultant”. At least I think that’s what I said when I met my girlfriend and it worked! I don’t know if we would have started dating if I said “I’m a domain name broker”. Now she knows and actually surprises me how much she understands about the industry.
What is your favourite online source for industry news/investments?
DomainSherpa.com is a fantastic place to start if you want to learn the ins and outs of domain name investing. This being said, I also love Ron Jackson and the DNJournal. He is such a legend.
What advice would you give to people looking to start out domain investing? How much money do you think they should start with, the types of domain names they should look for?
Thierry Francois, a well-known Canadian domainer that I met at my first domain conference, gave me this great advice which I will pass on to newbies like I was: “When starting out, rather than registering a bunch of domains, do your market research and buy only one good domain under market value.”
This seems like a simplistic advice, but it is actually great in all its nuances. If you think about it, if your goal is to buy just one domain, it sets you on a path of right actions: you have to decide in which category you want to invest, you have to do market research on which is the best venue to buy and at what price you have to buy if you want to make a profit. It gives you budget constraints (therefore avoiding that you make an emotional decision), it makes you familiar with the process of buying and using an escrow service - overall it is an accelerated course in domain investing that costs you only the price of the domain you bought. If you go through all the steps, you will get a much better understanding of the industry and you will be on the path to become a successful investor.
You don’t invest in new gTLDs, but do you think they’re worth looking at? And what about ccTLDs and other gTLDs?
If you are an investor, I think you want to stay focused on .com because that’s where the largest number of buyers are. End users will always pay more for a .com. They would rarely pay a decent sum of money for an alternative TLD - especially when there are so many options available. Of course .com is a crowded, competitive space, so you could also try to master another niche such as ccTLDs or new gTLDs. If you do that, I would stay focused on the best of the best and again avoid registering a bunch of worthless domains.
Have you seen people fail, and if so, what do you think the reasons were for their failure?
I think everyone fails at one point - domain investing is a learning process. That being said I think the biggest mistake why people fail (for the third time, hope it sticks with you) is because they register a bunch of domains with the hope that someone will come along and buy them. A very smart (and wildly successful) investor once said to me: “Domains are not assets. They are $10/year liabilities”. I would treat domain names as any other investment. If you bought $10 worth of a stock that would take $10 a year out of your pocket in exchange of a small chance of a $x,xxx pay out, would you consider it a sound investment? That is to me equal to playing the lottery, plus more time consuming and less fun. I can say this for experience because I lost myself a bunch of money when starting out by registering bad domains.
Giuseppe Graziano is the CEO and founder of GGRG.com, you can find out more about his business by visiting his website at http://ggrg.com/