I'm back in Chicago after a really interesting World Series of Poker. The 2011 WSOP will always be memorable to me because there was NO FREAKING ONLINE POKER IN THE USA. This one fact had such a gigantic impact on the entire WSOP that it really made for a unique experience. Per usual, I shared a home with ~6 other poker players as we attempted to make money playing poker while acting like children. I sincerely wish I could post some examples of our childish escapades, but I'd lose what little dignity I managed to bring back home to Chicago. Sorry, I'd probably hate me too if I read a tease like that.
I had a pretty meh summer at the tables. I played some cash games at the Bellagio and a few tournaments in the WSOP. My best performance was in the 10k Main Event, where I made Day 4 and finished agonizingly close to the money (top 690) by finishing ~770th out of 6900. I felt really great about my play for this tournament so while I am frustrated that I didn't cash, there's nothing else I can do. Maybe next life.
This post isn't really about poker, though. It's frustrating, but I just don't have a lot to say about poker right now. I'm sitting here wondering when the hell our government is going to let me play online poker and I'm wondering what is going to happen with the money that is locked up online at FTP (and to a lesser extent, UB). I wish I had some answers but I know just as much as everyone else. This whole situation has decimated the online poker economy and it's really hurt the businesses I've built. Not much left to say about that besides I'll be doing my best to wait this out like everyone else.
For the foreseeable future, I just don't have that much poker related stuff to blog about. I'll keep whatever poker thoughts I have on this blog but I am likely going to start a new blog for general business related stuff. I'll keep you guys updated on that and may just crosspost everything here. The main reason for a move is that I want to build out a section of my blog to keep people updated about the different projects I am working on, a bio for me, and contact information so that people can get in touch with me. The thinking is that I need to do everything I can to foster new opportunities through serendipitous encounters with people who find my blog. Over the past few years I have spent so much time learning about things outside of poker, I'm really looking forward to seeing what I can do outside of the poker industry.
The rest of this blog post will be dedicated to a new venture I'm a part of, Terran Marketing. Recently I've joined this company as an investor. My partners are Mike Jackness (successful former poker affiliate, his blog is a great read for people learning about affiliate marketing), Jim Varnon (founder of Stoxpoker and CEO of Hold'em Manager) and Cole South (general badass). Mike has been working outside of the poker industry and on this project for over a year now. Recently, he started working with Jim on this project and then asked Cole and me to join as investors.
Terran Marketing specializes in buying high value, keyword domains (eg "RedApples.com" for a "Red Apples" search) that are under-developed/monetized and turning them into profitable websites. In laymen's terms, our goal is to buy low-ranking (in google) domains that are likely to attract valuable search traffic but are not currently realizing their potential.
We will consider buying a domain if it is all of the below:
1) Underpriced - There are too many deals out there to buy something that is an "Okay" deal. Plus, internet search is changing so fast that we need to achieve a healthy ROI within 12-24 months. We don't want to be left hanging if ranking highly in google isn't as valuable in a few years as it is now or if google changes their algorithms in a way that makes it harder for us to get high rankings.
2) Not difficult to monetize - There are examples of search terms out there that get tons of traffic but it may be logistically difficult to monetize once you get the traffic. Dealing directly with customers, for example, makes for a much more logistically difficult business to manage. So basically we are looking for niches that are relatively easy to manage once we get the traffic. A good example of this is our site where you can buy WordPress Themes.
3) Relatively uncompetitive - There are lots of industries that pay amazing rates for clicks and signups. These industries can be extremely competitive. If there's not a good chance for us to rank in the top 3 on google for a term, we're likely not going to get involved.
Some of the domains we have purchased so far are: WordpressThemes.com, GraphicDesign.com, OnlineStorage.com, and OnlineDegree.com. It's not too hard to figure out what we are doing with all of these domains, but only WordPressThemes is actually developed at the moment. If you'd like to read about some of the press our purchases have received, you can read articles here and here, and here is a post by Mike about OnlineStorage.com. If you are interested in more reading, I highly recommend checking out Mike's blog here or following him on twitter @MJackness.
Anybody that knows me understands I'm an extremely forward thinking person. I try to spot trends and get into things before they get popular. I live my day to day life this way because I enjoy it, and try to get involved in industries that are relatively uncompetitive and have high growth potential. I have a good track record at doing this with Online Poker (got lucky), CardRunners (lucky), and Hold'em Manager (Smart).
Considering what I normally look for in an investment, this type of company is something that I would stay very far away from because of my opinion about the "domaining" industry is that it's a bit bubbly right now and in for a bumpy ride going forward. There is so much speculating, buying and holding with no revenue, that the prices are a little out of whack IMO. Furthermore, there is a lot of uncertainty about how things like social media and new domain extensions will have an impact on domain name values. What changed my mind about this investment is that we are buying only on the basis of expected future cash flows and then building turnkey businesses that are most definitely exitable. Mike and Jim have built some extremely useful models that are surprisingly accurate at predicting the cashflows of an affiliate business based on their projected google rank, number of google searches, CPC (cost per click) & CPA (cost per acquisition). If you have those numbers accurately pegged, it's just a matter of getting yourself ranked highly in google, and Mike is just fantastic at search engine optimization so that is the least of my concerns. Finally, I'm forcing myself to learn a lot about this industry just to try to keep up with everything Mike and Jim are doing. The things I am learning about Search Engine Optimization and affiliate marketing should help me in future endeavors.
To be clear, my role is VERY part time in this business, but I'm trying to stay on top of the domain / affiliate industry as best I can. I'm particularly interested in how search is changing with the rise in popularity of Facebook and Twitter. If I was a betting man, my guess is that Terran Marketing will be one of the more progressive affiliate marketing companies when it comes to incorporating social media into its overall strategy.
Another point I should mention is that since Terran has received some great press in the domain industry, some people who hold high-value but under monetized domains have approached us looking to partner on developing these domains. This is extremely encouraging and we have some pretty big deals in the works that should be posted to Terran's website over the coming weeks. It's always nice to get access to good deals that don't require much or any cash out of pocket, or the business equivalent to a freeroll.
Last thing, I read a book last night that I thought was fantastic, it's only 80 pages long and I think you guys should all read it: 'A Gift to My Children' by Jim Rogers. Jim Rogers is an extremely successful investor who wrote this book giving life and investing advice to his young daughters. Read it if you like good information. http://www.amazon.com/Gift-My-Children-Fathers-Investing/dp/1400067545/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_1
Hope everyone's summer is going well. As always, let me know if you have any questions or comments, I will try to respond. You can also follow me on twitter @taylorcaby.
PS - Update from my last blog. My favorite Twitter guy, @jonbischke, sent me an email and is now following me on Twitter! I told you guys I am a persistent m'fer and that I would get him to follow me. I got the email from him at like 2am while I was out a bar and was super freaking pumped up about it...ahh, life.