An Interview with Mike Mann

Mike Mann is a domaining legend.

Mann is the founder of BuyDomains.com (which he sold in 2005) and DomainMarket.com – his personal portfolio management company.

He owns approx. 335,751 domains.

I contacted Mann many months ago hoping to have a short chat about an academic study I was conducting into the domain market.

I was hoping to get an insight into what makes a domain valuable.

I let Mann know that the interview would be published but that the primary function of his answers was to provide a backbone for my research.

Since the interview I have conducted that research and I am publishing it regularly.

I got a lot from the interview but it’s focus was very narrow, hopefully you might glean some insight from the domaining legend too.

Me: I’ve heard many domain “experts” state that unregistered domains are not worth buying for investment purposes as they would have been snapped up if they were worth anything, yet it seems like many the domains you bought in your famous 14,962 domain splurge were unregistered.

How many were unregistered, what made up the rest of those domains? And in the months since that massive buying spree how many have you sold, at what kind of margins?

Mann: All were unregistered, we sell about 20 a day with 95% margin.

Me: How many domains are in your portfolio and what’s the breakdown by TLD, price and types of domains (geo, brand-able, exact match, high CPC, etc)?

Mann: 300K, can download excel from our home page and do analysis, 95% .com, mostly keyword English .com brandable, good for seo/google.

Note: I did in fact download the excel and conducted a massive study of the portfolio, I also used statistical analysis to reverse engineer their pricing algorithm.

Me: You seem to back yourself to purchase a lot of domains in a relatively low price range, differing from many other big domainers, what degree of automation is in the system?

Mann: Tons of automation.

Me: What tools do you use?

Mann: In house proprietary

Me: Have you built your own algorithms to value domains?

Mann: yes

Me: I know you use keyword lists to generate domain ideas, where do you get the lists from, do you just check if these domains are unregistered or do you monitor dropping lists and auctions for domains reaching a certain quality?

Mann: We do and try everything and anything using software tools built in house.

Me: After you sold BuyDomains.com you went through a period where you couldn’t compete in the domain aftermarket, so you tried other models such as developing big brands, how have they done and why have you returned to buying and selling domains?

Mann: They have done great, SEO.com and Phone.com for example are incredible corporations growing at a fast rate, very innovative, great people, top search positioning, Fortune 500 customers, smart investors.

Please see MikeMann.com for links to our great charities and companies and free book download MakeMillions.com.

Me: What kind of trends have you seen in type-in-traffic over the years and where do you expect it to go?

Mann: We mostly make money selling top domains, traffic and cheap domains.

Our other small cash streams are not profitable yet but we are testing lots of ideas to make them so.

Me: Do you think that domainers need to find better monetization models than parking for PPC or do you think domains are still cheap enough to earn reasonable returns through advertising revenue on parked domains?

Mann: They need to own the best names and test different ideas with the eyeballs, most names are useless and worthless.

Me: Are you still buying domains?

Mann: I register about 400 a day, 7 days a week. And I buy premium ones on closeout.

Me: I was reading an old article about you ( http://www.dnjournal.com/columns/coverstory8.htm) in it you said you were buying domains at prices only end users could justify in an attempt to in essence corner the market, force investors to drop out of the market and allow domain price to stabilise to levels you could earn a profit at.

Do you remember how that strategy worked and did you make a profit on those domains that you bought at end-user prices?

Mann: I am very assertive at this technique and attempting same thing today, I make my competitors go broke while I do and see who survives it. The last time it worked great selling BuyDomains.com.

Me: What would be your advice to new domainers?

Mann: Invest in $350 domains at DomainMarket.com because there are tens of thousands of gems and you cant find a better source.