Your points of criticism aren't without merit. Afternic certainly wasn't perfect. But I've had this argument with you, or some other Anonymous, here a few months ago. While it may be in speculators' best interests to market their domains to relevant industries, I don't see that as a viable business model either. If I recall, I asked you, or some other Anonymous, for any evidence that anyone was having any success with that endeavor, and am still waiting.|
If I am Acme Hardware and can't understand how to buy a name on Afternic or, as you say, a registrar site, then getting an unsolicited email (or snailmail or fax or phonecall or visit) from from the likes of MyKewlNames@aol.com or firstname.lastname@example.org offering me acmehardware.com for $5000 is unlikely to trigger me into cluefulness. I am more likely to flush it as spam (or at least a scam, similar domain scams receiving about as much press as ICANN's new TLDs, with there being not inconsiderable overlap between the two!), or ask a nearby techie what it means (who will tell me to flush it), or get somewhat clued and find out I can register acme-hardware.biz for a small fraction of that cost and from a (somewhat) known entity, or get more clued and go after you as a squatter (your correspondence being entered as evidence).
And this isn't before the bloom came off the dotcom hype, that is well past. If I'm Acme Hardware I either already have an address (which means I or my techies somewhat understand the name market and will reject your offer out of hand), or I don't want one.
Or I may fire up a search engine and go looking to buy a name more cheaply. For much of its existence Afternic showed up first or at least above the fold, with a search on "buy domains" or "domains for sale" on most of the common search engines (this before google, which returns 500k and 50k hits respectively, try to market yourself through that). They did know how to market in that sense at least, and on the internet that makes very good sense. They no doubt got a considerable amount of any buyer traffic, but that still didn't help them. There simply isn't much buyer traffic and never has been, that was, and apparently remains, part of the hype. What few buyers still out there (and most who ever were) are small speculators looking to buy from larger ones, still deluded, still chasing a dream, still propping up the MLM pyramid with ICANN at the peak and hype for a foundation. You can allege that there is such a market out there but I simply don't believe you and I doubt anyone but a few remaining speculators do either. As to your last paragraph:
Register.com discovered it would actually take hard work to make Afternic successful, at which point the decision was made to dump it. After all, I cannot think of any registrar who really has to work that hard to make money.Afternic was at the peak of its game when Register.com bought them as the dotcom burnrate hadn't yet reached three alarm fire status (it has long since become an out of control conflagration). They had the eyeballs (admittedly almost entirely belonging to speculators, with most of the remainder being IP folks, one of the far smaller database of still remaining names up for auction is aolxrated.com), and they marketed to those eyeballs, offering what the wallets behind those eyeballs presumably wanted to buy. They didn't do that perfectly but they did it somewhat competently (better than most other sites, though I'm open to contrary examples). Unfortunately the market was already dying, the lightened wallets were what the eyeballs were seeing. I thought register.com was foolish to spend that kind of money on afternic, and they apparently were. But if you can't think of any registrar who really has to work that hard to make money that shows how little you understand the domain name industry. -g