Insider bidding at domain name provider GoDaddy
What has a person got to do to keep a domain name? Apparently you have to bid against VP Alan Dicker, an executive of Domain Name Aftermarket (TDNAM). A couple hours ago, the insider bidding story appeared on slashdot and has since spread to blogs and diggnation. Damage control by GoDaddy.com's PR was at the source and posting comments in the related forums.
Who is this Alan Dicker that we speak of?
Adam Dicker, the owner of HighImpactSites and DNForum has joined GoDaddy as the new VP of Domain Name Aftermarket (TDNAM). The announcement was mentioned in Godaddy’s email blast. Adam Dicker (read Adam’s story here), previously with iReit, is one of the world’s top domainers in terms of both ownership and understanding of the domain space. Adam is also the owner of the popular domain board site DNForum.com. Adam’s new job at Godaddy is VP of Domain Name Aftermarket.
The story began with an alert user in a discussion on namepros.com. The user had noticed that the winner in an auction of an expiring domain was one Adam Dicker, "VP of Domain Name Aftermarket (TDNAM)" at GoDaddy. Like many registrars, GoDaddy holds domain auctions, including those of expiring domains. Domain Name Wire looked into the story further and discovered, unsurprisingly, that GoDaddy has no policy against this sort of thing. The potential is there, of course, for employees to bid up auctions simply to get the prices higher for the company's benefit. As the reader on Namepros put it: These employees may or may not have access to more information than the rest of us, and they may or may not have to pay full price for the domains they win. This is particularly insidious at GoDaddy since they are one of very few auction sites which don't show you who you are bidding against. So I have no idea if any of the names I won that day were inflated in price due to TDNam executives bidding against me.
The DomainNameWire article about auction service employees bidding up the prices of their own auctions notes that NameJet may allow the practice juts as GoDaddy (TDNam) does. However, the phone rep Andrew spoke to may have been wrong. According to a DomainNameNews entry, Enom Sr. VP Taryn Naidu says: "I have no idea how anyone got the ‘information’ that Namejet allows employees to bid but I can tell you that it not the case. We definitely do NOT let employees compete in auctions. Even if controlled, that practice has bad news written all over it." So apparently SnapNames, Moniker, and NameJet ban executives from logging on and inflating bid prices. GoDaddy (TDNam) allows the practice. I'm interested in hearing the policies at Sedo and Pool. I wish GoDaddy would add more transparency to their auctions by at least showing which users I'm bidding against, as Pool, SnapNames, and NameJet all do. Now that I know GD employees are bidding against me, I'm wary of trusting them with private bid information such as proxy bids and adding names to my watch list. I respect Adam Dicker and don't think he would abuse the insider information he has access to. But I still think he should choose between running TDNam, and participating as a bidder there. He can still bid on SnapNames, NameJet, Pool, and all the others.
Official Go Daddy Statement - (from Go Daddy General Counsel Christine Jones): "Go Daddy has reviewed the auction and found nothing improper. Adam Dicker's knowledge on the auction was no different from what any customer coming to our TDNAM site would have had. To ensure customer confidence and to avoid any possible future questions of impropriety all GD employees are now and in the future prohibited from participating in TDNAM auctions, purchasing, sales & back orders." - Christine Jones, Go Daddy General Counsel & Corporate Secretary