Is Squadhelp selling domains owned solely by Squadhelp in the marketplace?


#1

@Grant To my understanding SH is now also buying domains and listing them at the SH marketplace without the involvement of sellers. I hope SH can please comment about whether that’s indeed the case or not.

If that isn’t the case- then cool. If that is the case- sellers should know about it. This practice happens in at least one other brandable marketplace that I know of and is highly frowned upon and criticized by sellers because there’s an inherent conflict of interest when a marketplace has a vested interest in promoting its own domains to clients over domains of other sellers where the marketplace only gets a cut.

I hope you’ll be able to comment about this issue so sellers will know where things stand.

Thanks.


#2

As far as I know, we currently have one domain (across our entire marketplace catalog) which is listed on the SH marketplace without any direct seller involvement. Outside this single exception, every other name is listed with a SH creative or seller. Having said that, we may decide to add a handful of names in the future (especially to the ultra-premium, single english word category) which are acquired by SH. At this point, this is not expected to be SH business model, and the only reason to add such names would be fill any obvious and short term gaps in our Marketplace.

Our Marketplace platform does not promote or differentiate names based upon expected commissions by SH - the names are promoted based upon their overall fit with the customer’s needs, regardless of the underlying commission structure.


#3

Hey Grant. Thanks for the quick reply and explanation. That’s probably the domain I was referring to because I’ve seen that domain offered for sale elsewhere (I actually even inquired about buying it a couple of months ago) and was surprised to see it today listed at the marketplace under Squadhelp’s ownership.

Let’s put it this way- even if SH’s staff will treat names SH bought as an investment as equals to sellers’ domains, it’s bad optics when you’re the team that’s supposed to help clients decide which name to buy when there’s a clear incentive to prioritize some names over others. Competing against your own sellers isn’t a great move and caused the other marketplace I was mentioning to be attacked publicly repeatedly and by dozens of people with claims about the marketplace promoting its self owned domains at the expense of seller’s domains in search results and making money at the expense of sellers, a debate that still goes on till this day to some extent. It doesn’t matter how many times they say it isn’t true and that everything is above board- people always have that suspicion about the house rigging the system as you guys know well from the past. It also feels better for sellers to know that the sellers and SH are working together and not competing against each other. So I hope you guys will keep this practice to a minimum.

Thanks again.


#4

@grant From the very first moment Squadhelp added its owned domain to the marketplace it’s been at the top of the search results- both the ‘Relevance’ and the ‘Most Popular’ categories. Other names change, but it always stays there at the very top and it’s the first name all visitors to the marketplace see. I’ll also add that it got ahead of the logo line and got a logo in speed record time while other names are still waiting.

Now, let’s assume that this name is indeed the most popular at Sqaudhelp (and naturally now it probably is- because it’s the very first name people have been seeing ever since it arrived). Why is it also at the top of the ‘Relevance’ category which is the default category when entering the marketplace? This is exactly the reason why having 100% Squadhelp owned domains is a bad idea because at the moment your assurance that all names are equal… doesn’t seem like it correlates with the reality and whether it’s intentional or not- it just looks bad.

I’d appreciate a response regarding this matter. Thanks & Merry Xmas.


#5

The goal of Squadhelp Marketplace is to become the top destination for high-quality brand names. If that means that SH needs to acquire certain names to fill some obvious gaps in the marketplace, we will do it.

As stated previously, currently we have one such name in the marketplace (out of several thousand names). In the future, we may add a few additional names (especially in the $50K+ category), if we believe those names will allow us to offer a full breadth of names to our customers who are looking for such options.

The sorting of names takes into account several factors (including popularity). What displays on the first page is also influenced by whether that name helps us showcase the full breadth of our offering (from affordable names in the $1000 range to premium names in the $100K+ range).

As stated previously, we don’t differentiate names based upon expected SH commission; however, we do our best to ensure that the first page includes names that best convey the full breadth of our premium collection.


#6

Thanks. Squadhelp is free to do what it pleases of course. Buy more names, by all means. But if I see indications that more domains you 100% own are getting preferential treatment, I won’t keep any of my higher priced domains here and will also have to consider letting other domainers know about what I think is happening here.

You guys made sure your domain got a logo instantly ahead of other domains, some waiting for a long time and your one domain out of thousands just happened to instantly become the most relevant domain at Squadhelp (whatever that category is based on) as well as the most popular domain from the moment it appeared until now for over two weeks. Coincidence? Maybe. It’s a good domain, but there are better domains here that didn’t do that (I’m not referring to mine. There are better domains here than mine). Coincidences like that present very bad optics.

Squadhelp’s attempts to improve its own position at the expense of sellers- such as when you guys imported high end domains from another site and offered them for licensing while other domains didn’t have that option (and not notifying sellers you were doing it), when you dropped all the sellers’ commissions to ridiculously low amounts and now with buying a domain and inserting it into the marketplace without letting sellers know you’re doing it- aren’t practices I support. Two of these policies I spoke against and you guys amended- which I certainly appreciated. I don’t like being the one who keeps having to call you guys out on practices that are hurting or potentially hurting sellers but since I’m one of a handful of sellers who’s more experienced in domaining, I took on this role of being more vocal and defending sellers’ interests (mine included, of course).

I just closed a 7K sale for a domain SH rejected a few months ago. $0 commission on my own landing page. Squadhelp will do great without me and I’ll continue to do well without it, in my own smaller way. I’m making mid $XX,XXX annually from domaining and in the coming years- that will likely become $XXX,XXX. I love Sqaudhelp and want to work together but not under any circumstances. I placed some good domains with you guys early, helping you improve your inventory. In fact, to my estimate- around 25% and possibly more of your higher priced domains are currently still mine. If you guys want to attract domainers and keep them here- be totally transparent about what you’re doing from the get go and not after being called out on it. And try to avoid practices that look bad. Sellers here are your partners so treat them like partners and don’t try to sneak in things through the backdoor.

I hope you’ll consider this feedback. I really do hope we can continue to work together and make a lot of sales. Thanks.


#7

Thanks for your feedback. One of the benefits of SH marketplace is that you can remove your owned domains at any time if you believe your names are not getting the right level of visibility to justify the commission. There are no fees to list the names, or to remove them, despite the upfront investment made by SH in logo design and advertising your names. The reason we offer this flexibility to sellers is because we believe at the end of the day, the true barometer of success is the actual domain sales. If you are able to achieve a relatively higher sell through of your names on the SH marketplace compared to other alternatives, there is a good reason to stay with us. On the other hand, if other options provide a better sell through, then the sellers should be free to move to those options.

While we would love to have you continue to list your names, it seems like you are fairly successful in being able to sell your names directly to the buyers - this is of course the best outcome for sellers and eliminates any commissions to marketplaces such as SH.

We have a portfolio of several thousand domains listed on our marketplace and we are equally happy if any of those name sells. Our goal is to maximize the number of domain sales in the marketplace - rather than maximizing SH commission. Our sorting algorithm takes into account several factors however the domain ownership or SH expected commission is not one of those factors. If our goal was to maximize SH commissions, you would only see SH registered names at the top of marketplace - and not those that are owned by creatives (where SH commissions are lower). Having said that, we will make every effort to make sure that the domains that are displayed on the front page of marketplace represent a full breadth of what we have to offer and this may include names that are sourced by SH.


#8

I was going to add around five thousand names to basic, but as not one of the 250 names I’d already listed got onto a shortlist, I removed them last week because I could see they were not getting any promotion. Actually, I did sell one, but I contacted an end user and pointed them to the domain for sale so really… I sold that name, and I can do that elsewhere without commission.

Basic Plus and Premium is doing great, and I’d like to add more names. I just wanted to check there will be no repercussions for removing basic names? (I’m sure you said somewhere there could be limitations for people that regularly remove premium names).

I’d rather know the answer to this upfront, so I can either remove all of my names or build a solid Basic Plus/Premium portfolio at SH.

Many thanks.

Edited to add, I’ve since found your comment here: Updates to Basic Plus Marketplace Listings

Due to the significant time and financial investment we make in each name listed in the Squadhelp marketplace, frequent delisting of your names may result in a reduced ability to submit domains into the Marketplace.

Also, it is important to note that Squadhelp Owned domains cannot be delisted.


#9

Thanks @grant. Your answer rings true so I’m willing to accept that this is indeed a coincidence but I hope that in the future, you guys will be upfront about changes you make to the marketplace that can impact sellers and not do things without sellers knowing. And yes, I think the ‘Relevant’ category is obscure and that names on the front page should be rotated. When no search has been done yet- what is considered ‘Relevant’ and why is that the default category? Should a name be there at the top at all times? Consider rotating all the names people see when they get to the marketplace so all the names will get a shot to be seen by customers.

Some names sell regardless of marketplaces and some can sell only thanks to exposure in marketplaces since no one would likely search for them otherwise. Squahdelp is currently still geared towards lower end names for up till $2000 and mostly under $1500. For that purpose- it’s great. But it places Squdhelp as the brandable marketplace with the least amount of profit per sale out of the other options. The two abnormal sales you guys had up till now are the exception. One would have happened anyway and anywhere the domain was listed at because it was an existing company upgrading from the .co extension. The second one is a 4L word which is a category that attracts a lot of interest by itself. But… if it was an actual client that came to SH to find a name (and not that specific name necessarily) and then ended up with it- then that’s a good start.

Up till now, I have no proof that you guys can sell a domain that’s priced over $2000 to an actual customer who came to search for a name. Putting faith in an exclusive marketplace that has little to no track record selling high end names for the long run is a problem. When I see you guys messing with the high end domains by importing licensing only domains from other sites like you tried to do in the past or starting to insert your own 100% owned inventory… and not even being upfront about what you’re doing for names that are directly competing with my domains… it doesn’t help. Ultimately it’s all about results. I have a lot of good domains on landing pages and in other marketplaces. When I feel a domain might do better elsewhere- I switch. I’ll eventually have to withdraw my names if sales for higher priced domains don’t come. These higher priced sales take time and I’m giving you that. But eventually, if sales continue to be only in the lower end then I’ll have to start removing inventory. Note that one of your brandable marketplace competitors recently integrated additional exposure via one of the largest non-brandable marketplaces and its extended network of sites/registrars so that’s a huge boost to the domains exposure and also can make sellers feel better about exclusivity since the domain is being exposed to a very large audience outside the main site itself.

On a final note- the fact that you guys are saying you penalize people who withdraw names… well… that’s not a very friendly thing to do. You’re already limiting submissions and the fact that someone wants to withdraw a name… doesn’t mean that they did something wrong to SH that warrants punishment (I do understand that you invest in the names… but if a name doesn’t sell after a long time- why should a seller who gave you exclusivity be punished if they want to try another option?).

Anyway… thanks again for taking the time to reply and we’ll see what the future will bring.


#10

@AbleBrands You can remove your basic listings at any time as long as there is no active buyer interest (e.g. a CH makes a comment that they are interested in buying a name).

The comment you shared applies to creative owned premium listings. While creatives are free to remove their premium marketplace listings without paying any termination fees, if someone is engaging in frequent delistings, it is possible that we may decide to limit the acceptance of future listings from them. At this point, unlike other marketplaces, we do not charge any listing fees or logo design fees, and we make a significant time and financial investment in good faith to promote the names. Therefore, as a business it is not prudent for us to continue to accept additional listings from those creatives who are engaging in frequent delistings of their names.


#11

Understood. Appreciate the response @grant, thank you.


#12

Grant, we have no way of knowing this. We can’t even see shortlists on Basic listings. (Only Basic Plus and Premium). The dashboard doesn’t show SLs on Basics… can that be fixed because it is really important info and I would rather NOT de-list! (But I may have to with basics just to keep my budget under control!)

PS: I always just assumed you guys did that on purpose! Maybe that is just an oversight? Also, how would we know a CH has commented?