Brian Gilbert works equally well behind the scenes negotiating domain deals, or in the front lines along with other professional domainers.
His long, happy marriage to Charlotte Gilbert, the Domain Queen, makes him the Royal Consort of domaining!
We had a rare opportunity to interview Brian, as he was taking a break from his busy work schedule.
DomainGang: Hello Brian, and welcome to DomainGang.com. What motivated you to become a domainer, versus a domain registrant?
Brian Gilbert: Obviously for the chicks. Back in 96ish when I was in the Air Force and stationed right outside of Waikiki, family would come and visit. My dad asked me to go down to one of the hotels where he and his wife had stayed to buy something from their gift shop for a Christmas present. I started thinking. What if these hotels could sell their stuff online?
I had no clue how to code in html or anything else for that matter but a friend of mine did. My friend was going to school full time and didn’t have spare time to build websites. So I started learning on my own. Besides working on airplanes full time, on my off days, I built/repaired computers and MS Access databases. That kept me busy enough that building a website took a back seat. In early 2001, I got out of the Air Force and went to TN to visit my family.
Anytime I went home, I’d always stop over at my friend’s house to see what he was up to. He showed me a database he had built in MySQL to manage a bunch of domains. He gave me the run down and I was hooked. I told him what I had been learning, etc. He was managing the Innovation HQ, portfolio using the database he had built. He and I kept in touch over the years. I’d email long questions, he’d email back with long answers. I was managing networks at the time for the Air Force and the National Park Service.
In 2005 Innovation HQ bought WhatIsMyIP.com and they needed help running/building/growing the site. Since I was familiar with that realm of computing and loved doing it, he asked if I’d help in a part time capacity. Innovation HQ continued to grow which means more employees were needed. After several lengthy emails Jim was able to pull me away from my government job where I worked in a cubicle every day. I didn’t realize it then, but I realize it now more than ever that freedom is the reason I joined the domain industry. It allows me to work from anywhere. My job goes with me no matter where I want to live. As long as I’m not on a dial up connection, I’m good.
DomainGang: Did you receive plenty of support as a beginner, in the form of educational information? How did that happen and where did you find it?
Brian Gilbert: Yes. Luckily when I came along, the guys had already done tons of research. Being new and outside the box, I was naturally inquisitive. If they didn’t already know the answer to my questions they’d research the forums online.
DomainNameWire, DnJournal, and TheDomains have been some of the most useful resources.
DomainGang: How was your first experience interacting with other domain investors?
Brian Gilbert: One of the reasons I was hired was to be the front man. The pretty face of the company if you will.
My first experience was at the TRAFFIC conference in Orlando in 2008. I met a lot of great people that have been extremely helpful over the years. A lot of the folks I met have become very close friends and some have even become extended family. That hospitality motivates me to pay it forward when I meet someone who is new in the industry.
DomainGang: What are you investing in, long term? Do you have a preference in holding domains long versus short term or flipping?
Brian Gilbert: Long term, our eyes are on the new gtlds. We’re not just buying random names in the new extensions. Our buying model is extremely focused. Because we’ve got an established portfolio, we prefer to hold unless the right buyer comes along.
DomainGang: Please share with us some of your best domains, and what makes them special.
Brian Gilbert: My favorite is whatismyip.com because that’s been my baby for almost 10 years. We’ve taken it from a single page site to a site that provides a full blown API at the Gold membership level. Other domains in the portfolio include Earth.com, Robot.com, Grants.com, Promdresses.com, Fishtanks.com, Unemployment.com and many other premium names.
DomainGang: Many thanks, Brian and our best wishes for lots of success in your ventures.
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