Today I am interviewing Rob Monster, founder and CEO of Epik
1) How are you Rob, thanks for taking the time for this interview, first off how are things going at Epik? You seem to have a lot of projects starting up?
Rob) Thank you Raymond.
I would say the future is bright for Epik. We know that we are in a climate where much of the world is facing some very real challenges. Unlike many companies in our category, we were built from the ground up with an emphasis on resiliency. We have a team of highly motivated people from around the world, working together remotely.
It may come as a surprise to some, that this decentralized team is capable of outpacing the output of most traditional workplace environments. It has been a privilege to be able to see that group of people work together every day, especially on such a purely organic basis, where we can point our combined experience to tackle some important issues that empower people to achieve their potential in the Digital age.
With respect to the range of businesses and projects, we are certainly setting a high pace for innovation.
Our so-called “Epik Labs” has brought together some remarkable talent from around the world. We are working to solve problems. At the same time, we seek to leverage the unique strengths and passions of each individual.
This combination allows us to accelerate development cycles drastically. In the coming weeks, we hope to reveal a fuller extent of our ecosystem thinking, through initiatives such as single sign-on and integrated payments.
We have a vast and expanding universe of new initiatives that are being built in a way that should show a lot more people how important it is to own great domain names!
2) Tell us more about NameLiquidate, it seems to be getting some traction, how do I make money with the platform?
Rob) We are really excited about NameLiquidate. Like you, many of us have watched the market for domains, in particular, the extractive position of GoDaddy with regards to monetizing a vast expiry stream in a way that benefits a very limited pool of stakeholders, most notably GoDaddy and Huge Domains.
If the goal is empowerment, this hyper-concentration of domain wealth is clearly not sustainable. Even before the recent shock to the offline economy, we were already working on the NameLiquidate platform with the goal of empowering domain investors with an alternative route to achieve liquidity from their domain names.
Our goal was to provide a new marketplace where anyone could list verified names for rapid sale. The approach gives buyers clear title to reasonably priced domains. At the same time, gives sellers that need fast liquidity a way to sell names with a very low commission rate of just 9%.
At the time, we had no way of anticipating an economic shock that might cause increased urgency among some sellers to liquidate quickly. I would say that this product is in the right place at the right time.
Buyers can find great deals knowing that they may be giving sellers some much-needed liquidity.
The system itself works on what is known as a “Dutch Auction”, where the price ticks down over seven days, starting at $998, and dropping gradually to the lowest minimum reserve price of $9.
The Seller can choose to set a reserve price at whatever point they want. The price will not go lower than this price during the auction process.
Currently, the default reserve is set at a recommended price of $69, as we know that most domain owners will hope to generate some level of value from a transaction. We are working diligently to build a critical mass of buyers and sellers to this rapidly evolving platform, as they come together for the benefit of everyone involved. In the meantime, NameLiquidate is already facilitating some great deals and connecting people every day, as names are finding new homes. There has already been the occasional gem go through it.
Like anything new, it will take time for widespread adoption. That said, the early response has been great, and I see a tipping point arriving soon where we see a real convergence of stakeholder interests.
3) As a .tv fan I was interested to see your announcement on Hi.tv, how does it differ from everyone’s new favorite toy Zoom?
Rob) Great question Raymond. The idea was conceived very quickly in response to a world where much of humanity is under quarantine and/or working from home. We rolled out a software platform that allows anyone with a webcam to go online, type in a room name, and have instant video conferencing in two seconds.
With no downloads, no surveillance, and no logins. The moderator can choose to set some basic preferences, such as password protection, muting participants by default, and other settings.
Just start your room, tell your co-workers, friends or family members the URL, and you are both connected within seconds, scaling up to more than 1000 participants.
Although it is still early days, Hi.Tv is already an exciting application. We have the ability to provide fully turnkey branded solutions, around any individual market sector or organization, and give full functionality on any custom domains. We can create a video conferencing platform, and brand it to help a multitude of service sectors work even from home.
Voice coaches and music teachers as but two of many examples, giving them the ability to stay in touch with their students.
We could build out a fully functional platform for TLD Investors or NamePros literally overnight, and every member of the community could have their own individual room and access to use for their own work or family use at their leisure.
In the case of PrayerMeeting.com, it is one example where we deployed a philanthropy-focused strategy to help congregations and worship leaders help one another in their communities during this time of both uncertainty and hardship. The applications are endless.
4) You recently won Best registrar for 2020 at Namepros, what does the win mean to Epik?
Rob) I would hope that your readers would know by now how deeply appreciative and thankful I am both for their vote of approval, as well as for their words of encouragement over the last few days.
These kudos extend to our staff, as well as those that support them. After all, Epik is made up of many people who work insanely hard to push the envelope every day to align what is possible with what is needed.
So it is a very high honor. At the same time, it is also humbling, as this recognition sets the bar very high to stay on pace with innovation and to ensure that our commitment to operating excellence never wavers. As you well know, this is not an industry where companies are allowed to rest on their laurels.
5) You have been a polarizing figure in the industry over the last couple years, there is no NamePros thread like an Epik thread. Why do you think there are such strong opinions about Epik on both sides?
Rob) Although some people may find this peculiar, I have faith in an all-knowing, all-present and all-powerful Creator that has arranged for me to work on audacious things that the world needed, and/or might need in the foreseeable future.
In particular, I have been passionate about empowering humanity to be sovereign, notably (1) the freedom to provide for themselves, their families and their communities, and (2) the freedom to ask questions and seek answers, all within the bounds of the law. These ideas are about as American as Apple Pie.
As much as I would be delighted to be friends with everyone, I made a decision a while back to be content to be loved by a few rather than tolerated by all.
Some people might prefer a world where free speech has very strict limits, or where the right to trade is tightly regulated. I have a bit more faith in humanity. Sometimes this means empowering content, community or commerce that others find objectionable.
There is always someone who is willing to bow down to political correctness, while, perhaps unwittingly, sliding down the slippery slope away from universal empowerment and closer to willful enslavement.
For example, most recently there has been a hearty debate on NamePros about the right to buy and sell domains related to Corona Virus or COVID.
My view is that the sale of these domains should be allowed, but that the people who buy or lease these domains must be required to use them lawfully and responsibly.
All finger-pointing aside, I believe the evidence will show that the domainers who rounded up most of the best Corona-related domains may have prevented a lot of actual scammers from getting too many of these domains cheaply.
The other thing that is perhaps unique is that I have been highly transparent with regards to my personal worldviews. This was never by design as I am naturally very much an introvert and private.
However, when the world decided to shine a spotlight on me, I was left with a choice of being a recluse that would be cast as a villain through a coordinated media effort to unperson me, or to be transparent and engage directly in the court of public opinion through direct encounters. This made for a very busy 12 months but the results are apparent.
We turned lemons into lemonade, and continue to do so, while also maintaining humility in recognizing that we are only as good as our last customer experience.
Thank you for your time Rob