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Interview with Aaron Oxborrow, founder Domain.io


During NamesCon I saw the mention of the $50,000 sale of Domain.io, Aaron had mentioned it sold in 2020 and they were announcing it now. I wanted to see what Domain.io was all about. Aaron was kind enough to answer some questions in the interview below.

Q1) Domain.io was recently reported as sold for $50,000. When did you actually purchase it?

I actually purchased the domain in 2020 from Mark Ghoriafi at MrPremium.com. I knew it was a top 5 .IO sale at the time but didn’t want to publicize it until I had the business more solidified and a landing page up to capture interest. Of course Mark being the true gentleman that he is, agreed to wait until I was ready so we could both benefit from the publicity of the sale.

Q2) What made you decide to build your website on a .io?

I have been a huge fan of .IO domains for a long time. As a developer the term I/O is very familiar to me and actually makes perfect sense for many web applications. (It’s also easy to type!)

I have seen so many cool startups, side projects, and experiments launch on .IO domains over the years, many of them from reading Hacker News (https://news.ycombinator.com/).

I think the early adoption by developers and overall high quality level of sites has given .IO a unique niche among tech-savvy startups, along with many crypto projects.

The .IO extension has been fully embraced by the hackers-turned-entrepreneurs that are building profitable businesses (mostly SaaS) without the need (or budget) for an expensive .COM.

For me, I had already built two domain-related projects on .IO (DomainHolder.io and Slug.io) with small but encouraging success.

This was before I had much experience in domain investing or portfolio to speak of. By the middle of 2020 I started looking for a new domain to rebuild and pivot DomainHolder.

I was mostly focused on short .IOs but was considering some .COMs as well. I also had the crazy idea of building a new domain registrar on .IO, since so many registrars seem to be stuck in the 90’s with their UI/UX.

This is when I heard that Domain.io was for sale, and I saw it as the perfect opportunity for me to build on.

Q3) Can you tell us what Domain.io is all about and the benefits it provides to domain investors?

First some quick background on how it all started. As I started buying domains more frequently and my portfolio grew in size, I noticed how much annoying busywork was required in order to manage my domains across multiple aftermarkets and registrars.

I was spending a lot of time logging into registrars to juggle nameservers and set TXT records for ownership verification. Inevitably some domains wouldn’t get verified or I would just plain forget to list them somewhere. So each of the aftermarkets would only have a subset of my full portfolio, never quite up to date.

And I mostly gave up on setting consistent BIN pricing, even though I know it increases sales.

I keep my prices on Afternic updated, but the other markets are mostly set to “make offer” because honestly who has the time? I am not even a full time domainer and I am tired of logging into 6 different sites every time I buy or sell a domain.

Domain.io is a single interface to track your entire domain portfolio. It actively monitors your listings on all top marketplaces like Afternic, Sedo, Dan.com, GoDaddy, Squadhelp, BrandBucket, etc.

It helps you ensure accurate and consistent pricing while taking into account varying platform commissions. With full API integrations you can create, update, and delete listings directly from within Domain.io.

If you choose to use Domain.io nameservers, you can set TXT records for all your domains in one place and get automatic ownership verification. Domain.io also gives you a detailed financial dashboard with accurate renewal spend forecasts across all your registrars.

You can optionally choose to use Domain.io’s modern landing pages with SSL and pay no commissions. Add logos, BIN buttons, accept offers, or negotiate directly with interested buyers and only pay the low escrow transaction fees for DAN or Escrow.com.

You can also choose to redirect your domains to any other URL while retaining the advantages of automatic TXT verification. Domain.io is the all-in-one tool that saves you time, replaces your outdated spreadsheets, and gets your portfolio maximum exposure.

Q4) What got you interested in the domain industry?

I’ve always loved the raw potential and possibility that a domain represents, and although I have some personal domains from as early as 2000 I never really considered investing in them until I started collecting .IOs a few years ago.

At that time I was just getting into the IndieHacker/Bootstrapper community and had a million startup ideas, and went through a period of trying to build and validate a bunch of little side projects.

One of them was Slug.io, which helps you find available domains and compare registration costs including renewals. Building that taught me a lot about domains and registrars — and also that I never wanted to rely on registrar affiliate programs!

I realized that there might be other opportunities in the domain industry and it was something I was really interested in. Soon after that I ended up randomly buying an .IO domain from Kevin Fink, and we got to chatting about Slug.io and Flippa and the domain industry in general.

I think I ran about 300 startup ideas by him and he patiently let me know why each one was terrible. So I credit him a lot for helping me better understand the industry and getting up to speed so quickly.

Q5) Where do you see domaining 5 years from now?

Well, I’m pretty confident this internet thing has staying power. The value of good domains will continue to increase.

I think as the domain market increases in size, the money will naturally spread across more extensions and be less concentrated in .COM. There can only be one Cars.com, but there is lots of room in the world for many online car shopping portals.

I think we’ll see that as the younger generations who are more tech savvy grow up, they’ll have a greater comfort level with a variety of extensions (e.g. Twitch.tv). At some point, owning the ultra premium .COM won’t be seen as necessary as it is now — it literally won’t be possible for many companies in the future.

Now that everyone is probably angrily writing comments, I’ll just say I feel confident that .IOs and .COs will continue to rise in value, those are no-brainers. I think .APP is a pretty great TLD in an app-driven world.

I think niche-specific TLDs like .GG will continue to see adoption. On an industry level, my hope is that between DAN’s upcoming DomainPool and GoDaddy’s hints at improvements to Afternic, we’ll finally see some progress, collaboration, and innovation in the aftermarket.

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