Posted on April 29, 2016 by Jeff Reifman

My Experience with Domain Investing

Domain investing has been a profitable side project for me. It began back in 2007 when I sold a .org domain for nearly a year’s salary. It was an eye-opening experience and inspired me to invest further. Since then, I’ve grossed $35,126 in sales; this year has begun surprisingly well, as I’ve sold two domains for more than $5,000 already. But of course, annual registration renewals reduce the net profit moderately.

I thought I’d openly share historical sales from my domains (aside from the initial .org sale which has a confidentiality agreement associated with it) so you can see the types of returns domain investing can create. I created a for sale landing page for my domains which links to a full inventory listing. You can see it here at PopCloud.com. And, I wrote a how to park, list and sell domains tutorial earlier. But, certainly I’m not the best example. I’d encourage you to browse elsewhere on the web as well for other stories and expertise.

Check out my StarWars.io domain auction closing Monday

Here’s a history of sales for me since 2008:

domain investing

Historical Sales from my Domain Investing

You can acquire domains for $10 – $30 if they’re not yet registered, and back then, there was still availability in the market. Over time, my inventory of domains grew to 100. These days, it seems like almost no .com’s are available anymore. The expansion of the domain extension industry with generic top level domains (gTLDs) has opened up new opportunities in some areas without slowing the .com domain inventory very much.

Honestly, as my life has progressed, I’ve stopped buying many new domains and I’m actually trying to gradually liquidate my domain inventory. I’ve dropped renewals on a number of less valuable domains and selling at lower prices occasionally, when opportunities arise. Some of my more valuable domains, like popcloud.com and newscloud.com, I’ll hold for a long time to get the best price.

My most valuable domains aside from the .org sale have been WhistlerPlaces.com, MsGreen.com, MedNotes.com, CustomLife.com, WarmGun.com, Reorder.us and Snowboard.io. I’ve turned down an offer of $16,000 for popcloud.com which would have been my second most valuable sale.

I’ve definitely had the most return from that .org and generally .com domains but .io domains have proven profitable, and I think they are cool! E.g. I think marriage.io (currently for auction at Flippa), cycling.io and gardening.io may turn out to be highly valuable for me.

Here’s a summary of my domain sales to date. It’s turned out to be a nice background investing project that takes only a small to modest amount of time.

2008
mednotes.com: $5,400

2010
warmgun.com: $1,750
reorder.us: $1,350
totaloasis.com: $750

2012
whistlerplaces.com: $7,500

2013
churchbase.com: $250

2014
Snowboard.io: $1,000
Therapy.io: $500
SonicPlanet.com: $499
ZenEye.com: $339
UnitedKids.com: $299
Lead1.com: $275
ActiveChristian.com: $250
Newscloud.net: $239
bitsurf.com: $199
fwb.io: $199
identitycircle.com: $190
surplusretail.com: $190
RadioDna.com: $69

2015
CommonRoad.com: $749
MainStory.com: $719
Acupuncture.io: $479
MaryJane.io: $299
herbs.io: $175
Cloudmail.io: $158

2016
msgreen.com: $6,549
customlife.com: $5,000

Often, people reach me directly via my domain landing pages. But, I’ve also sold domains via Afternic, SEDO and Flippa.

By the way, the most I’ve ever spent on a domain name myself is $1,800 for Geogram.com which I was using for a startup at the time.

I hope you’ve found this useful and intriguing. If you decide to begin domain investing, start slow and best wishes to you!

AmazonFresh Truck Crash
Posted on April 27, 2016 by Jeff Reifman

AmazonFresh Out of Washington State License Plates

amazon fresh california plates

AmazonFresh Delivery Truck with California Plates in Seattle’s FirstHill Neighborhood

When this AmazonFresh truck crashed into a Seattle building in January, one thing that was not a problem was its California state license plates.

Certainly, corporations like Amazon are people but if you’re actually a person and don’t register your personal vehicle within 30 days of moving to Washington State, you face up to a year in jail and more than $1,500 in fines. No such problem for corporate people.

As Seattle residents gear up to vote on a 25 year, $50 billion transportation package to address traffic problems largely driven by Amazon’s recent growth, they may be asking whether it’s fair that they be asked to pay $400 (or as much as $1,000 dollars annually) in indefinite sales, property and vehicle tax increases without commensurate participation by local corporations.

I actually first began to notice the plethora of AmazonFresh delivery trucks with California plates last fall. The company has a history of aggressive tax avoidance and I wondered if this was just one more aspect of this.

AmazonFresh California Out of State Plates

AmazonFresh Trucks in Seattle with California License Plates

It turned out to be quite difficult and time consuming to find out whether Amazon is breaking the law. As commonplace, Amazon’s media relations team ignored my request for a simple explanation — another way it neglects its civic role in Seattle.

The state’s Department of Licensing didn’t know and referred me to the Department of Transportation which also didn’t know. They referred me to the state’s Department of Utilities and Transportation which oversees commercial transportation. They didn’t know either and referred me to the Washington State Patrol, who also didn’t know.

I’m told the plates on U-Haul trucks are often out of state because they are part of federal programs for interstate commerce, but AmazonFresh trucks perform local grocery deliveries. Every local FedEx and UPS truck I’ve seen here has in state registrations as did this Safeway home delivery truck. But all the AmazonFresh neighborhood delivery trucks I’ve seen use California plates.

California does offer what it calls an International Registration Program (IRP) which allows interstate trucks to register with them and it shares the proceeds with other states.

California’s Department of Motor Vehicles eventually released documents to me showing that the four AmazonFresh license plates I had at the time were actually Ryder rental trucks, but it replied, “While it’s possible there’s an Amazon IRP fleet, we are not aware of one and these plates are not in one. In IRP, there are limited circumstances where a vehicle that operates in one jurisdiction is allowed to operate as part of an IRP fleet, but that’s not apparently relevant to this…”

Ryder may own these trucks, but they are clearly branded for long term AmazonFresh use and spend the majority, if not all of their time in Washington State. Local home delivery trucks wouldn’t qualify for IRP.

I made a number of calls and e-mail requests to Ryder’s media relations team. They also chose not to respond.

Ultimately, Trooper Chris Webb of the Washington State Patrol looked into the issue and responded, “…the only answer that I can give you is that the trucks are leased from Ryder. Since the business is run through Amazon, they are still responsible for any fees, taxes and other payments to run the business. Ryder is only responsible for the ownership of the vehicle. There are many variables connected to leases and rentals. Since a corporation owns the lease, the trucks are able to use out-of-state plates because the vehicle may end-up in another state as part of the rental or lease agreement.” He later added that the party responsible for registering the vehicle is determined between Ryder and Amazon in their lease agreement.

Last week, I asked the Department of Licensing again why Amazon’s not at least required to register with California’s IRP. They replied, “If you want to talk to someone about enforcement of commercial vehicle licensing, you can contact the Washington State Patrol.” When I asked Trooper Webb why, he replied, “That would fall under the department of licensing. The [state patrol] is only a law enforcement agency and would not have the authority to force businesses to register.”

So, if you’re a corporate person, and not a real one, go ahead and use whatever plates you wish. Having a variety of out of state plates on our highways might restore some of the local diversity we’ve lost with Amazon’s largely white male workforce. Just don’t do this if you’re an actual person, then you might go to jail.

Perhaps Amazon could use some of the money from AmazonFresh’s new $299 annual fee to register its vehicles in our state as its customers are required to.

Honestly, I don’t really care much about vehicle registration or licensing infractions. It’s not really a huge deal in itself for the state or a company the scale of Amazon. But, it’s representative of Amazon’s philosophy towards Seattle and its own employees. Get as much as we can, spend as little as we can — and don’t worry about the impact e.g. massive traffic without any funding for solutions.

(If you’re interested in checking out alternatives to Amazon, I’ve helped set up Flee the Jungle as a categorized directory to other online providers.)

Posted on April 24, 2016 by Jeff Reifman

New Seattle: Cyclists Cussing at the Elderly

With Seattle’s rapid growth, formerly sleepy Greenwood Ave has turned into a busy highway. The city has slowed the responsiveness of pedestrian walk buttons to maintain traffic speeds.

This morning, I noticed an elderly woman crossing the street immediately after pressing the Walk button. She seemed to realize halfway across that something was wrong as a car and cyclist were coming towards her. The car slowed, the cyclist did not.

Stopped in the middle of the street, she raised her fist in the air, “Bicyclists!” To which the bearded male on the bike responded loudly to the elderly woman, “The light is fucking green!”

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Posted on April 16, 2016 by Jeff Reifman

Amazon Will House 200 Seattle Homeless for a Year

Amazon announced this week that it will commit one of its buildings to housing 200 Seattle homeless for the next year allowing a nonprofit organization to oversee the facilities. The former Travelodge motel faces demolition as part of the company’s tremendous growth in the city’s South Lake Union neighborhood.

Let’s Commend Amazon

It’s important to applaud the company and CEO Jeff Bezos, traditionally a libertarian, for stepping up to help address this enormous problem facing more than 4,500 Seattle citizens. This is a huge step, unprecedented in the company’s history and worthy of genuine appreciation and recognition.

Amazon’s amazing expansion has transformed Seattle in just the last five years. It’s sustained the economic stability of the city through the 2008 banking crash and led the dramatic growth that most could never have imagined. The rapid changes are truly incredible. However, one of the greatest consequences of this has been the rising cost of housing and dramatically increasing homelessness. The Seattle Times recently reported that 86% of the homelessness are from here.

How fast is this happening? Here’s a recent flyover of the buildings built and planned in South Lake Union by 2020:


Here you can see before and after slide-over images of many blocks in the neighborhood.

Zillow says, “the median rental price in Seattle climbed 7.22 percent to $1,946 a month.” Last week two houses across from mine sold in less than seven days, one for $105,000 over list. The region’s transportation agency, Sound Transit, reports our region added 52,000 people and 41,000 cars last year. Basically, many longtime Seattle residents are being forced out of their homes, either to move north or south or in some cases, into the streets.

You may remember last month’s Seattle #manintree who gained national notoriety — he was homeless. The mayor has declared a homelessness emergency. More than 45 people died on the streets in 2015. Half of last year’s six female homicide victims were also homeless. Heroine related deaths in King County are at a 20 year high. Neighborhoods are up in arms about homeless drug use, crime and people living in cars (here’s one Seattle woman who moved into an RV to cut expenses):


John Schoettler, Amazon’s director of global real estate and facilities said, “We had a building that’s not being utilized and we had a crisis in our city. It’s an opportunity for Amazon to be a good neighbor and do the right thing.”

Let’s celebrate Amazon’s sudden engagement but also ask it to join the conversation local residents are all having. Why do we have such a large and growing homeless problem? What role will taking 200 homeless (.04 percent) off the streets play? And, what will the company do when it begins demolishing the shelter?

The Driving Forces Behind Seattle’s Homelessness

Essentially, there are three key aspects to the rise in homelessness in Seattle:Become a WP Engine Affiliate

  1. There’s no rent control which would allow thousands of residents to remain where they are, limit the supply of available rental units and force technology firms to more carefully measure the pace of new hires here. Instead the demographics of the city are being quickly turned upside down.
  2. There’s no regulation requiring developers to apportion a considerable percentage of new units to lower and middle income families. City and state officials have no political appetite for this. All the options are voluntary and completely insufficient to date.
  3. There’s limited funding for the government to supply affordable units because Washington State has the most regressive tax system in the country. And, there’s not enough money to house the homeless let alone offer them sufficient humanitarian care.

I want to commend Bezos and Amazon for this incredibly unique offering and a step forward in the right direction. However, I have to ask, will you now help us lead the conversation towards policy changes?

Corporate titans such as Microsoft, Boeing and Amazon that traditionally have dodged state taxes and hold revenue offshore could pay more tax here. The construction that continues at record pace to house their newly arrived employees could be required to include a portion of affordable units. And, emergency rent control could stem the tide of current residents being forced to leave and move further away or into the streets.

The Seattle Times reports the company “…hopes it can offer another site for a shelter” when construction on the motel begins. Kudos for what you’ve done here Amazon. Please consider doing more.

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Posted on April 12, 2016 by Jeff Reifman

Seattle News is Gruesome Lately

The news in Seattle is Gruesome lately. Today’s front page at the Seattle Times included the following headlines we really never want to see ever (and definitely not on the same day):

  • Body parts found in a recycling bin were those of a mother of a three murdered Friday evening
  • Body of a slain man found in Everett swamp were identified
  • A woman was attacked while walking home with boyfriend and child
  • Man arrested for killing and raping a dog
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