It’s Friday evening in Austin, Texas and I just finished attending my very first NamesCon. I’m going take a few minutes to share my experiences, insights, and observations of NamesCon Global 2020 from the perspective of a domain investor.
To be clear, I’m not wealthy – I make nearly all of my money at my day job. Like many other domainers, I work part-time to build a portfolio and attempt to sell a few domains through the course of the year to earn some additional income. To attend NamesCon 2020, I took a few days off of work, rented a car, reserved a hotel room and purchased my ticket to NamesCon. On top of this, there were obvious travelling expenses. For a regular guy like me, this trip was a luxury. However, I justified it to myself by bringing along my oldest son, Jackson (15), so we could spend some good bonding time together. More, I love buying and selling domain names, it’s a passion I intend to continue to grow, this trip was an investment in the future.
As a side note, I am not a social butterfly. To the contrary, I am quite the introvert, and this conference provided me the opportunity to push my boundaries a bit. More, it gave me an opportunity to see some of the great personalities that I only get to read about or listen to during the year. As part of the preparation for NameCon 2020, I made some goals I want to share:
- Learn – I wanted to soak up as much as I could without injecting my personality in the equation. This wasn’t about advertising my website, podcast and personality. I wanted to quietly observe the Domaining community at work in an almost invisible way.
- Inspect – what do leaders in the community really feel? How do they act? What the general feeling around the industry?
- Have Fun – as my oldest son, Jackson has been at the fore-front of me learning how to be a dad. Since he has 3 younger brothers, spending extended alone time with dad is a precious commodity, and one we haven’t indulged in for some time.
NameCon kicked off in Austin on Wednesday at 10am. I worked my day job both Monday and Tuesday. Tuesday evening I packed our gear and we hit the road. After pushing through until around 12:30, we stopped somewhere in Louisiana. After a few precious hours of sleep, we hit the road again at 5:30 in the morning and arrived in Austin, Texas around noon. Since I couldn’t check-in to the hotel first, we headed over to The Omni to get our name tags. It was here where I got my badge and was given the unfortunate news that I had to purchase a ticket for my son if he wanted to attend the event. The folks from NamesCon were gracious enough to give me a steep discount for his ticket, even though I was certain that it said he could attend for free. Unfortunately, the good folks at NamesCon have updated their FAQ on the website since I pointed out the flaw, but I captured a screen shot for posterity.
After paying the additional fee, because I couldn’t find the FAQ in time – and since I was running late and eager to get started, we moved onto the conference. Jackson and I jumped head first into attending the first two events we could this day. I was still adjusting my introversion and was highly observant on day 1. I didn’t interact much and was anxious to get back to the hotel, rest up and eat dinner. Needless to say, we skipped the .vip reception to end day one as I was already maxed-out with my people-intake for the day. We had a great meal at Stubb’s Barbecue, which was in walking distance to the hotel. Highly recommend this to anyone seeking an affordable meal in a good environment. The services was outstanding and the food was really good!
Day two of NamesCon Global 2020 kicked off at 10am Thursday morning – this was the best day for me for a variety of reasons. As a guy who works in the tech industry during the day (and as a hobby), I sought out a few people to talk about some of the technical aspects of domaining, earned some swag from the sponsors, and got to listen to a great keynote from GoDaddy CEO Aman Bhutani. As with most CEOs, Aman was very charismatic and hit on all the key points you might expect. He talked about aligning GoDaddy with it’s customers, and took many questions. This day I also got to hear from my favorite Domain Name podcaster Andrew Alleman. All those smooth vocals, perfect for radio. I also observed other domaining celebrities like Shane Cultra, Tess Diaz, among many others. I got to talk with the amazing Alvin Brown and Josh E., a contributor for DSAD.com.
Jackson and I left the conference a bit early on Thursday and made the drive and subsequent hike up Enchanted Rock. Located in Fredericksburg, Texas, this rock is beautiful. Since it’s a couple hours outside of Austin we arrived at dusk, and made the summit right at dark. I’d like to tell you the story ended here, but like all good adventures, this one goes on. Armed with flashlights (and not much else), we made our way down the rock only to get completely and utterly lost. Until, that is, we ran into 3 more hikers, also lost, also off the trail. For about an hour and half, we pushed through cactus’s until we finally found our way back to the safety of our rental car. Exhausted, we made the drive back to Austin and went to sleep pretty easily.
Friday was a fun day, and I was sad to see it end. This day had the feel of being lightly attended, but I still soaked up as much as I could muster. Since I have to return home early tomorrow morning, I cannot take in to the NamesCon Fun Day planned at Banger’s Sausage House and Beer Garden. However, I think my first trip to NamesCon was a successful one, and I’m looking forward to hopefully attending next year. Next year, I’ll know what to expect, know a few more people, and perhaps own some better domains. Lastly, I scored some awesome swag from the sponsors, shown below! Good night from Austin, it’s been an amazing trip.