NamesCon 2023

Attending First NamesCon Event

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Reflecting on NamesCon 2023: A Fusion of Web2 and Web3 Domains

Embarking on my first domain industry conference, I ventured to Austin, Texas, to immerse myself in the world of domain naming at NamesCon 2023. This event stood out as a blend of traditional web2 domains and the emerging web3 space, offering a unique opportunity to delve into the latest trends and connect with the Handshake community in person.

Motivations for Attendance

My journey to NamesCon was driven by three primary goals:

1) Exploring Web2 Trends: With the domain industry continually evolving, I sought to grasp the current “hot topics” in the traditional web2 domain market, gathering insights, and spotting emerging trends.

2) Community Connection: The Handshake community has always been a virtual hub of collaboration and innovation. The chance to meet fellow enthusiasts in person was invaluable for strengthening these bonds.

3) Discovering Austin: Renowned for its vibrant culture and tech scene, Austin was a city on my must-visit list. NamesCon offered the perfect excuse to explore its offerings.


A Dual-Themed Conference

NamesCon 2023 broke new ground by running alongside CloudFest USA, creating a dual focus on domain names and cloud technologies. This synergy provided a comprehensive overview of the digital landscape, from the foundations of domain naming to the latest in cloud solutions.

The Evergreen Importance of Domain Names

In a digital era where presence is paramount, domain names remain at the heart of online identity, serving as the cornerstone for email addresses and websites alike. Despite the rise of AI and its attempts to innovate in this space, the true value lies in quality, timeless domain names like or, which continue to command attention and respect.

AI and Domain Naming: A Double-Edged Sword

The conference shed light on AI’s role in generating “brandable” domain names. However, it became apparent that while AI can offer quantity, the quality often falls short. The consensus reinforced the value of succinct, meaningful domain names that convey immediate clarity and brand identity.

Bridging Worlds: The .art Extension

The .art domain extension emerged as a fascinating hybrid, integrating web2 and web3 domains. It stands as a testament to the innovative approaches being explored within the domain industry, blending traditional naming conventions with the dynamic rewards and engagement models of web3.

Networking Highlights: Lunch with the Namers!

A personal highlight was connecting with key figures in the Handshake community, including Alex “Migs”, Marcus from IHeartDomains, and AOX, the CTO of Namebase. The conversations and insights shared over lunch. We also visit the famous Terry Black’s with its unforgettable barbecue, were invaluable.

Terry Black's

The Acquisition Tale

A standout session revolved around Dharmesh Shah of HubSpot and his acquisition of for a staggering $10 million. This story, especially relevant in the wake of ChatGPT’s rise, provided a fascinating glimpse into the high-stakes world of domain trading. More information about acquistion here.

Insights from the Chinese Market

Yue Dai, fron, talked about the Chinese domain market and highlighted the cultural and economic significance of two-letter .com domains in China. His analogy comparing domain names to luxury cars versus economy models underscored the status symbol that premium domains represent in the Chinese market.

Web3 Panels and the Handshake Presence

The conference featured insightful panels on Web3, with a notable presence from the Handshake community. It is important to mention that Freename and Unstoppable Domains were also present. Discussions were professional and forward-looking, reflecting the collaborative spirit of the domain industry.

The Thrill of the Live Auction!

Experiencing a live domain auction was a highlight, with the palpable excitement and competitive atmosphere showcasing the high value placed on premium domain names. Names auction included: (sold for $345k),,,,,,,, and some first names like,

Opportunities for Improvement

Despite the overall positive experience, there were areas that could enhance future conferences:

1) CloudFest USA’s Limited Appeal: While I cannot speak for the global CloudFest event that takes place in Germany, the CloudFest USA side event focused too heavily on hardware, overshadowing the potential innovations in cloud software. A more balanced and engaging approach could broaden its appeal.

2) Coffee Availability: The limited coffee service times were a notable drawback, affecting attendee comfort and networking opportunities. Continuous availability would be a welcome improvement.

3) Launching In a similar fashion to launching during EthDenver, I had plan to launch, a Whois website for Handshake domains, during NamesCon. My personal goal to launch a Whois service for Handshake domains during this conference was not met due to planning oversights. The HNSCanada Node was not set up properly, the API needed some work, and the frontend was not there at all. This was a missed opportunity to contribute a valuable tool to the community in the context of a domain-focused event.

Looking Forward: Engaging the Community Post-NamesCon

Reflecting on the conference, several initiatives could enhance community engagement and visibility for Handshake:

1) Hosting X Space Discussions: We had an X Space during the conference, but we discussed the Handshake hard and soft fork proposals. We did not host any Space to talk about Handshake at NamesCon. The focus was more on the soft and hard fork and none of us who attended the event planned any Space. In-conference discussions could provide a platform for sharing insights and engaging with those unable to attend.

2) Live Streams and AMAs: A debrief session could offer an inclusive space for community Q&A, ensuring broader participation.

3) Gifting Handshake Names: My understanding is that .tx and Dott Domains gave away some names back in 2022, but they didn’t come in 2023. Building on previous giveaways could foster community growth and visibility. Maybe even hold some demo sessions on how to use Handshake.

4) Enhancing HNS Booth Presence: A more strategic placement and design for the Namebase booth could improve engagement (it was awkwardly places near the badge pickup section and looked detached from the other booths).

5) Satellite HNS Party: Another idea is to host a Handshake satellite party. The problem with hosting a more general “Web3” satellite event is that we do not get along the Freename and Unstoppable people. Planning a party or gathering event would definely require funding and additional logistics for those who attend and organize the event.

6) Showcasing Handshake Merchandise: Only Migs had Handshake merch: a hat and the HNS rug. Wearing Handshake merchandise could strengthen community identity and presence at the event.


NamesCon 2023 was a collection of ideas, innovations, and community spirit, bridging the gap between traditional web2 domains and the emerging web3 landscape. While the conference offered valuable insights and networking opportunities, there remains room for improvement in organization and community engagement strategies. As we look to the future, these experiences pave the way for a more inclusive, dynamic, and engaging domain industry ecosystem.

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