DN.com is thrilled to have Richard Lau to do this interview. In this interview, Richard gives his insightful views on company naming, domain disputation, domain hijacking etc.. He also shares with us his original purpose of founding Namescon and how he miraculously recovered from a deadly cancer. His experience and insightful views over domain industry are really beneficial to us.
Richard, being one of the most respected domainers, is the founder of NamesCon, and Resume.com. For all these years, He devoted himself to NamesCon, Waterschool charity, Domain Name Consulting, ICANN Registrar Consulting, Domain Name Hijacking Recovery and Domain Name Monetization.
He is described by customers and colleagues as “a true professional”, and he is recognized for his integrity, creativity and tenacity.
DN.com: First of all, you’re known as the founder of the most famous influential domain conference NamesCon, why did you start arranging the conference at first place?
Richard: I have been involved in a charity called WaterSchool for almost a decade, and have been organizing “WaterNight” events with others since 2010. We had planned to raise funds for WaterSchool at a WaterNight in Jan 2013 to be held at WebFest, but when we realized that WebFest was going to be delayed or cancelled I decided to create a conference that I would be able to host a WaterNight at. Many people would assume that WaterNight is an addition to NamesCon, when in reality, it is the other way around. NamesCon was created for WaterNight.
DN.com: What would you say is the best lesson learned in the process of arranging NamesCon?
Richard: I had taken a fairly low-profile in the industry for a few years and so some people who didn’t know me very well very publicly doubted that I would be able to put together a conference in 90 days. On the internet, all you have is your reputation, so it made me determined to make NamesCon a success. It really is amazing what you can achieve when you put 100% of your mind and time into it.
DN.com: How do you evaluate the achievements of NamesCon in the last a few years? Have they achieved your goal?
Richard: The achievements of the team behind NamesCon has more than achieved my original goals. At each of the WaterNight events at NamesCon we have raised in excess of $100,000 in pledges for WaterSchool. The attendance numbers for NamesCon have broken records of all domain conferences and we have had keynote speakers that I would never have imagined possible.
DN.com: What do you do besides NamesCon?
Richard: I keep myself busy with advising, WaterSchool work, and building out some of our premium domain holdings such as Resume.com into real businesses. If you look at Resume.com, we now have almost one and a half million members, each of whom has invested time interacting with the business model we have built. It’s quite an amazing concept.
DN.com: Since you’re half Chinese, would you ever consider doing NamesCon in mainland China, i.e. Hangzhou?
Richard: We will have to see where DomainFest.asia (DFA) grows into. This September it will be held in Hong Kong and we are keeping an eye on the logistics of what it would take to run DFA in mainland China. NamesCon itself is a Las Vegas based show held annually every January. It is a global show bringing in attendees from around the globe. DomainFest.asia is a regional show focused on Asia. We are toying with the idea of a European based show also.
DN.com: As you are the specialist in company naming, could you share some principles of it?
Richard: I don’t think I have anything earth-shattering to add. But I am definitely surprised by the number of naming mistakes that companies make — startups and large corporations alike. Keep it short, and feel free to go with a non-.com domain BUT if you do, then don’t do a hack, don’t drop a vowel, and have it pass the radio test.For example, if you go with .com you can drop a vowel, like Flickr.com did. But if they were to launch using a .co or .io domain, they would need to use Flicker.co or Flicker.io. Using Flickr.co is two degrees of newness and that is too much for most users. And large companies make the mistake of not going short. I have recently seen a large financial institution change its name and use <brand>Financial.com. The domain <brand>.com is owned by another business but that business would sell their domain for low six-figures. While this bank spends almost $2m a year in advertising, they are blowing an opportunity to spend less than 10% of that on an exponentially better domain name that is 9 characters shorter. I don’t know what to say. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.
DN.com: Is there any advice of avoiding disputation that may occur in the future?
Richard: Stay away from trademarks. If you do stumble into a dispute, really weigh the cost of drama. Manoj Bhargava (founder of 5-Hour Energy) says to avoid drama in life, in business and in relationships. Choose your battles carefully as they have a personal cost. I can attest to this, and I avoid most disputes, but if it is a fight I believe in, I’ll pour more money, time and resources into the battle than the item being fought over. In those cases, I am fighting for principle and reputation, and those are priceless.
DN.com: I have read in an article you wrote that you put in the countless hours cold-calling, cold-emailing and making offers and learned to dig the information. What do you think are the most important qualities and skills of domainer?
Richard: Tenacity, creativity, and self-motivation. Opportunity and luck are most likely to visit those who work hard and are prepared.
DN.com: Could you share with us some tips for the new domainers to do self-training?
Richard: Absolutely. There are so many more resources available now than when I started. Read all of the domain forums, blogs and business articles you can. Network like crazy on NamePros, Linkedin, Facebook, and in person. Give more than you receive in any way you can. Take courses that feed your curiosity. I recommend the DNAcademy course from Mike Cyger.
DN.com: Do you remember how many domain hijacking cases you have dealt with until now? Which case impresses you the most? How do you feel now reviewing the most impressive case?
Richard: I have worked on dozens of hijacking cases in the past but rarely do any longer. The most costly case was one that I became personally involved in as it was my personal initials: RL. The battle over RL.com was insane, and you can read about it here:http://www.domaininvesting.com/richard-lau-guest-post-rl-com/
Eventually justice won but it took us many years to win the battle.
DN.com: You have devoted to the domain hijacking and stolen disputations for more than a decade. How do you feel about the improvement of relevant law these years? Is the progress satisfying?
Richard: I have passed the torch on to more qualified domain hijacking recovery experts now. I am delighted to see the UDRP used to recover hijacked domains, and for courts to act more knowledgeably regarding domain names. We still have a ways to go but we are making progress.
DN.com: As a veteran domainer for many years, what do you think about the market downturn and recent recovering in Chinese domain market?
Richard: I have never taken a short term view of the market. Rightly or wrongly I look at domains in terms of 5 years from now, not 1 year from now. Like real estate, you can over pay in the short term and still look like a genius in the long term. Trading consistently will allow you to play the averages.
DN.com: We know that you are the Executive Director of WaterSchool.com. Can you share with us some details of your work at WaterSchool.com?
Richard: There are many people working tirelessly at WaterSchool and I am humbled to be able to serve on the Board. I personally support the charity and am fastidious about all donations going to work on the ground in Africa and not to Admin Expenses. To that end, our Board Members have committed to more than cover 100% of the Admin Expenses of WaterSchool. Our partners like Rome & Associates, and Muscovich Law provide probono services to WaterSchool. I am more of a cheerleader and the players on the field are the ones doing the hard work.
DN.com: Actually 4.cn and DN.com also have founded MaiLove, a commonweal organization aiming to help the underprivileged students in the remote mountainous areas in the southwest of China. Would you like to share some experience with us about the charity work?
Richard: It’s really quite simple. If you live your life for self-indulgence, you will die an empty worthless soul. If you live your life for something that is larger than yourself, your legacy will live on in others. I commend your work with MaiLove — it is amazing to know that you can have life-changing effects on so many people.
DN.com: I read that you miraculously recovered from a deadly cancer, that’s something quite rare to non-believers, could you share something with them?
Richard: I was misdiagnosed as having an ulcer and then a week later I again checked myself into the hospital and the Chief of Surgery came to my bedside and he personally took charge of my care. An emergency colonoscopy found a massive cancerous growth in my colon and I was released to go home for the weekend with surgery scheduled for Monday morning. The doctors didn’t think I would ever leave the hospital after the scheduled surgery. At 30 years of age, with my wife in a new country and our five month old son, I was given 3 to 6 months to live. After a series of miracles that strengthened my faith in God I was released from hospital with a short colon, but with the best diagnosis possible – no chemotherapy needed. The doctors couldn’t believe this was possible so I was sent to John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore for a second opinion and came through with a mixed blessing. I had an 80% chance of the colon cancer recurring in the next five years and if it did I had a 50% chance of survival. I believe in the power of prayer and the hand of God. Here I am today, 15 years later healthy and strong with no recurrence, a living example of a miracle.
DN.com: One last question, just to satisfy our curiosity. Your friend Kevin Ham, could tell us something about this mysterious legendary domainer? Is he still active in domaining?
Richard: Imagine… back in 1998 I saw Kevin Ham’s name connected with HostIndex.com. I was living less than 5 miles from his address. And what did I do? Nothing. I didn’t send and email, nor did I pick up the phone. Wow. I shake my head at my young self. I can only imagine what the path would have been for me if I had connected with Kevin in 1998. Instead I waited almost 10 years before connecting with him. Luckily I was able to invite him to a dinner at my house, and incredibly I had Frank Schilling, Yun Yee, Colin Yu and Kevin Ham dining with my family. All are amazing, humble, down-to-earth individuals. And all are incredibly smart.
Lastly, here below is a photo of Richard and his wife(married 25 years) and two teenage sons.