Rick Schwartz is the self-anointed "Domain King", who made millions off of domaining in the mid-90s, and continues to lead the pack of successful domainers. He purchased his first domain name in 1995; paying $100 for LipService.com. Eight years later, he made international news when he sold Men.com for $1.32 million. He is particularly known as a pioneer of direct navigation traffic, and more generally as an expert on domain names, traffic, website flow and valuation.
Mr. Schwartz dragged his feet through highschool and a few months of community college before discovering his passion for sales; as he began to truly excel in the sale sector he decided it was time to sell his own products rather than make someone else rich. He bean selling products produced in Asia at trade shows and in trade magazines. He immediately recognized the benefit of the Internet to a salesman, and claims the day that he learned about the File Transfer Protocol was the day that changed his life. He began putting his brochures and sales materials online, and around this time he discovered the monetary potential of domain names.
Rick credits much of his success to the countless other individuals and corporations that failed to recognize the value of domain names and act on the early domaining rush. His initial investment consisted of $1,800 dollars, but he was soon spending $42,000 on porno.com. To drum up more resources and focus his energy, Rick Schwartz sold his sales business for 7 figures in 1998. At this time he was purchasing domains such as candy.com, and men.com; he purchased the latter for $15,000. That domain is one of a very few number he has sold, others include escore.com, which was sold to the standardized test giant, Kaplan, for $100,000. He sees his parked pages and keyword-specific domains as the perfect advertising, a commercial that doesn't stop running, which allows for a constant sales-pitch.
Mr. Schwartz has over 4,300 domains that he claims bring in a combined traffic of 95,000 - 115,000 visitors each day. He's the first to admit that his sites tend to be "crappy"; in that they are mostly parked pages with revenue-producing links, and he's fine to see his hits come and go - and hopes that they choose to leave via one of those links. Schwartz's portfolio is managed by Moniker. Many of his sites, approximately half, are "adult" oriented domains; though he insists that none of these pages have any actual illicit content, beyond the name, and that they are merely parked advertising space.
Rick Schwartz has stated that he makes "a few million [dollars] a year" in revenue from his many parked pages.
Rick Schwartz does not usually buy domains to sell them, preferring to build up advertising revenues as opposed to one time profits. Those he has sold include:
- RoomDividers.com - $75,000
- OnlineCasinos.com - (Undisclosed)
- ChinaTours.com - $200,000
- TokyoHotels.com - $200,000+
- PartnerCash.com - $110,000
- SydneyHotels.com - $100,000
- eScore.com - $100,000
- 273.com - $50,000
- RockStars.com - $180,000
- 236.com to IAC - (Undisclosed)
- Candy.com - $3M+Equity
- Men.com - $1.3M
- iReport.com to CNN - $750K
- Punchbowl.com - (Undisclosed, 6-figure sum rumored)
Rick included i-report.com to CNN for free in order to more quickly finalize the deal for the more desirable, ireport.com.
Mr. Schwartz sold Property.com to Foreclosure.com in 2008; the actual sale price was never disclosed, although it is widely believed that the number is around or above $10 million; Rick initially purchased the domain 3 years prior for $750,000, a figure that many people believed was too high at the time.
On October 20 - 23, 2004, the first T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference took place in Delray Beach, Florida; it was the first major trade show specifically aimed at the domaining industry. Rick co-founded the event with his longtime lawyer, and domaining attorney, Howard Neu. The conferences provide domaining forums, workshops, and obvious networking opportunities. The inaugural event counted some 125 attendees, by the next year this number was more than doubled to 300. The conference has since been held in both an East coast and West coast format, wherein a meeting takes place on each U.S. coast during the same year. It has travelled the world, going to Amsterdam and Australia in addition to a U.S. event; and it continues to go new places and be held at least once a year. The shows are not intended for day-domainers, but aim to help those that consider domaining their profession a chance to learn and meet with other successful domainers. T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conferences are invitation only events, in an attempt to keep the show focused and not let it fall into the category of general trade shows.
The conferences have begun to incorporate live auctions of domain names, via a partnership with Moniker; those auctions accounted for 39 of the top 100 domain sales for 2007. That year's New York T.R.A.F.F.I.C. auction brought in some $12 million.
Mr. Schwartz became involved in a high-profile lawsuit and counter-suit when Lilly Industries Inc., claimed that his goofoff.com address violated their trademarked Goof Off paint remover. Rick was informed by Network Solutions that Lilly had filed a dispute on the namespace and that he would have to litigate or face his site being placed on hold. At that time, the site was running as a travel and entertainment portal. He saw this as another example of "Fortune 500 Bullies" using their financial resources to push small business owners away from legitimately acquired and retained domains. A visit to goofoff.com today shows that the site remains in Rick's hands, and that he bested a corporate giant. The settlement agreement allowed Rick to keep the site under certain restrictions, and Lilly Industries assumed all legal fees.
He says that he as received so many cease and desist letters that he owns ceaseanddesist.com.
Rick filed a suit against Afternic, Network Solutions, and Register.com in May, 2001. The alleged incident involved the illegal transfer of a domain he purchased, properties.com, from Afternic, back to its original owner via Network Solutions.
Rick's fleet of automobiles include a 2008 Black Mercedes CL600, a 2008 Mercedes CLK550 convertible, a 2001 Mercedes S600, 2003 Escalade and a 2006 Escalade EXT; he drives the 2006 Escalade the most.