Peter Maxymych of Spills the Beans

August 27, 2009

It has been a few months since I last blogged and the economy and domaining world has changed dramatically since then.  I’ll be getting back into blogging again and share some of my thoughts about all these changes.  I’m happy to kick things off with an interview of Peter Maxymych, the founder and President of – one of the largest and most successful dot ca domaining companies.

I was fortunate enough to meet Harold Simpkins, Emall’s Vice President of Marketing, at a luncheon here in Ottawa last year and he kindly put me in touch with Peter for an interview.  The interview contains lots of interesting insights into domaining, whether you are Canadian or not.  So, let’s get started:

1. Please provide a brief biography so that my readers know who you are.

I’m from Montreal, Canada and this remains the city of my primary residence. During the colder months, I spend time in Florida. Since earning my Bachelor of Arts degree from Sir George Williams University (now Concordia University), my career has focused primarily on real estate acquisition, management and partnership formation in Canada, the US and Europe. In 1998, I started Inc. and since then, I’ve been spending an increasing amount of time building, managing and monetizing the company’s domain portfolio.

2. How did you get into domaining? Why did you choose to invest in dot CA domains?

In 1998, I read about the sale of to Bank of America for something in the order of $1.7 million and was initially blown away by the price that was paid for the domain. But then it hit me: top-level, premium domains are like prime undeveloped real estate with memorable, brandable addresses. It became crystal clear clear: Bank of America didn’t merely buy a domain; they bought what might be the most valuable address in their industry and with their resources could develop a website around this domain which could generate enormous returns on their investment. In my mind, domains were and are like raw land waiting to be developed. The better the address, the more valuable the property.

My next thought was to assemble a land bank of top-level, premium domains like But as everyone in the domain industry knows, by 1998, all of the great dot-com domains were already registered. For me the next logical step was to see if their dot-ca equivalents were available and they were. One of the very first domains that I registered was

3. Most Canadian domainers know about Emall’s sale of nearly four hundred generic dot CA domain names to the Yellow Pages Group for $2.5 Million. Can you provide my readers with some colour about the deal? E.g. Who approached whom? How did negotiations go? How long did negotiations take? What did you learn from the deal? Do you have any regrets about the deal?

Actually, we approached YPG through our advisors, Price Waterhouse Coopers Corporate Finance. Shortly after PWC made contact with them, YPG expressed strong interest in buying 389 of our domains and we then met with four of their senior people. The meeting allowed both parties to get to know each other and it was very cordial and professional. After YPG made their initial offer, negotiations proceeded quickly and within two weeks we came to an agreement.

The YPG and PWC people were a delight to work with. I think everyone was pleased with how the sale worked and there are certainly no regrets on my part. This sale was the biggest in the history of dot-ca domains and the publicity that it generated for – on CBC Television’s Venture, on the front page in the Toronto Star and through mentions and interviews in a host of other major domestic and international media – put the company on the map.

4. How many dot ca domains does Emall currently own? What are your 3 favourite ones?

We now have more than 11,000 domains in our portfolio. My personal three favourites are, and, because it was the domain for’s very first website, By the way, is now a co-branded site with FragranceNet providing the back end.

5. Why do you think Canadian companies are lagging behind American companies in their use of quality generic domains, and what do you think can be done to change this?

If we knew the definitive answers to these questions, we’d have the key to taking dot-ca domains to their next level of value. Compared to their US counterparts, many Canadian companies have been slow to adopt and integrate the Internet as a business and communications platform. They may be a bit more conservative and some have taken a ‘wait and see’ attitude. That said, history shows that Canada always catches up to the US when it comes to innovations. Think of television. It was available in the US in 1948 but Canadians didn’t adopt it until 1951. And after they did, they became among the heaviest TV viewers in the world.

Last year, the Domain Owners Association of Canada (DOAC) was formed. An important part of its mission is to promote the use of dot-ca domains by Canadian companies and by foreign companies doing business in Canada. As this organization grows in size and influence, I’m confident that it will increase the awareness of the benefits of using dot-ca domains and, in the process, accelerate their usage by corporations.

6. Most Canadian and American domainers know about Emall’s case. What are your thoughts about how well the CDRP works and is it fair to domainers? Do you think the court decision in this case provides sufficient protection to owners of generic dot CA domains?

This was a long drawn-out and expensive affair. We prevailed with the CDRP and were obviously pleased with that. In federal court, we had the Cheaptickets trademark that the complainant had registered expunged. Attorney Zak Muscovitch’s counsel and work on our behalf was extraordinary.

I think we were treated fairly at both the CDRP and federal court levels. Both provide as much protection to domain owners as can be expected. But as is the case with all complex legal proceedings, costs can get into the tens of thousands of dollars very quickly. That said, I would encourage domainers whose rights to a domain are frivolously challenged to vigorously defend themselves. However, common sense should prevail give the high legal costs associated with this.

7. The Domain Owners Association of Canada has recently started. Can you tell us more about this organization, why it was started, what it does, and why domainers should join?

Last year, I proposed the idea of creating a domain owner’s association to a group of like-minded domainers including Rick Silver, Frank Michlik, and Zak Muscovitch at Domain Covergence in Niagara Falls. Tucows’ Bill Sweetman volunteered office space at Tucows where our initial meeting took place. One thing, among many, which we unanimously agreed on, was that members of the domain community in Canada and beyond – including domain owners, registrars, parking providers, lawyers, advertising agencies and the media – should have the ability to address the common domain-related issues they face with one collective voice. It was here that the Domain Owners Association of Canada was born. Over the next six month period, discussions and email exchanges concluded with a mission statement which, in bullet point form, includes:
· The promotion of the registration and use of dot-ca domains in Canada and globally
· The enhancement of the value of dot-ca domains
· Representation of DOAC members with governments and regulators
· The protection of its members from domain-related fraud
By joining the DOAC, members can take advantage of the following benefits:
· Staying up-to-date with the latest developments in the dot-ca domain industry
· Being among the first to know about sales of dot-ca domains
· Sharing of domain monetization strategies and tactics
· On-going contact with other dot-ca domain owners
· Representation with CIRA to encourage them to lower registration fees and invest in the promotion of dot-ca domains
Rick Silver did a great job designing and building the association’s website – Membership is free and there’s a sign-up form on the site.
By the way, within the next couple of months, from its membership, the DOAC will be appointing its board of directors and executive committee. So anyone interested in becoming a board member should join the association ASAP.

8. I haven’t seen many reported sales of French .ca domains. What are your thoughts about these? Does Emall invest in French .ca domains?

With French speakers representing 25% of the Canadian population, the market for French dot-ca domains is obviously much smaller than that for their English counterparts. But there are plenty of domain-related activities going on in Quebec. For example, has just concluded a joint venture agreement with, a French-language hockey ticket reseller. They will provide the back end for an English-language site using one of’s domains,

We do own a number of excellent French dot-ca domains including,,, and

9. What are your thoughts about Canadian ownership requirements for dot CA domains – should these be kept or removed, and why?

As is the case with any regulation or policy, I think that the requirements should be reviewed from time-to-time particularly in light of the blistering speed of change in the online sphere.

10. You are starting a new project at – can you tell us about it?

We’ve been working for six months on and the site is just about ready to go live. will provide leading-edge domain listing and transaction services to domain sellers and buyers from around the world. Wouldn’t it be great if could feature dot-ca domains for sale internationally as SEDO does for dot-de and dot-pl domains?

11. Many domainers are starting to get into development and Emall has developed several of its domain names. Can you tell us how you go about choosing which domains to develop and the development process you use?

Obviously market potential is our main selection criterion. The online travel market is valued in the tens of billions of dollars and that’s the key reason that we have invested in the development of Getting back to my real estate analogy, I see as more of a land bank or landlord than an operator of online businesses. So when deciding which domains to develop, we look for professional, qualified joint venture partners who can build and manage the websites that ultimately carry one of our domain names. That’s certainly been the case with who back end, FragranceNet who back end and who will back end We also have a joint venture agreement with’s Richard Douglas. In partnership with and, Richard will be building and managing a number of travel sites using our,,, and domains. Finally, we are working on a joint venture agreement with a content provider and media partner for

12. What are your predictions for the future of the dot CA market?

Dot-ca domains have a very bright future. Double-digit growth of business conducted online in Canada will continue for the foreseeable future. The Internet is only now coming into its own as a marketing communications and entertainment medium. In 2008 it displaced radio as Canada’s third-placed advertising revenue generator. In increasing numbers, consumers of traditional media are sourcing their news, sports and entertainment online. Broadcasting is being replaced by narrowcasting.

Whether it’s a business or an online media outlet trying to reach Canadians or Canadians trying to locate a business or online media outlet, a dot-ca address is crucial to making these connections happen. Research has clearly shown that Canadians prefer to deal with organizations which have websites with dot-ca domains. Plus Canada as a brand is one of the most respected and trusted of any country brand in the world. Consequently, the potential appeal of dot-ca domains extends beyond Canada’s borders.

Thanks so much Peter!  Good luck with all of your ventures.