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Epik acquires DevRich.com — Luke Webster joins Epik as SVP Operations

By May 26, 2010 8 Comments

I am pleased to announce the completed acquisition of DevRich.com — an innovator in the area of mass domain name development.  As part of the transaction, Luke Webster, President of DevRich will also become SVP Operations of Epik.  Luke will continue as President of DevRich, which will operate as a division of Epik.

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Automated website generation is not a sustainable practice
One of the things that we have learned at Epik over the last year is that automated website generation does not work over the long term.  The search engines are simply too smart and ultimately clients get what they paid for — not much. If you, or your vendor, produce a large number of sites without the benefit of human editing or original content, your sites will eventually be banned by the search engines.  In other words, the robo-content model does not scale and inevitably becomes a victim of its own (short-lived) success.

Another major challenge for the traditional providers of low-end content services is that there is usually no “migration path” beyond the “starter site”. If the site starts to get indexed and ranked, then what?  If the content is weak, the bounce rate will be 80+%, and the “online debut” will fail.  When a site starts to get ranked on a term with search volume, the site owner has a finite window — measured in days or weeks — to deliver a more compelling user experience.  To do that, there has to be an integrated plan for moving beyond the starter site once the site gets traction. That is the missing link for anyone operating a network of “farm sites”.

What about Custom sites?  Custom Product Portals, Minisites, and Directory Portals do work — done properly, they often work very well in fact.   However, they are not free. For example, at Epik, there is a $249 setup fee for a custom product portal like IceCreamMaker.com. There is a $999 setup fee for a Directory portal like Dining.com. This is the one-time cost to get a custom site designed, launched and ranked.  The investment is entirely justified but it is not for every domainer or for every domain.

What did Epik accomplish by acquiring DevRich?
First and foremost, we added a talent team, led by Luke Webster.  Epik is well known for responsive customer service. As the Epik business has grown, my personal capacity to be “traffic cop” on new projects will eventually hit a limit.  Luke is a strong candidate to run “air traffic control” for Epik, working closely with other team members like John Lawler who has done a tremendous job producing 100 custom product portals each week. DevRich also brings a call center operation that will play a key role not only in providing expanded inbound customer service for Epik, but also allows us to introduce inbound call processing for sites that are hosted by Epik.

Second, we added competency in the area of building out original sites on WordPress.  This fits with our own growing capability to use and extend WordPress as a content management system for site development.  Chathura Bandara, who leads the offshore team in Sri Lanka, will now report to Luke. For clients, this means onshore account management can be combined with the superior cost structure of a technology-enabled workflow that uses offshore fulfillment where it makes sense.

Third, we added project management capacity for expanded production of custom Minisites.   Sample sites being worked on this week, include Sushi-Menu.com, New-Homes.com, and Rental-cars.com.  In addition to using commercial WordPress modules, these Minisites are being equipped to adopt unifying components from the Epik platform such as Identity.net, Comments.com, Questions.com, as our next-generation Directory framework.


Why this deal made sense
With DevRich, a customer can efficiently take 100 domains out and see what hunts.    The track record for DevRich has been consistent and the customers who have embraced it are pleased with the result. While this is not a substitute for comprehensive development, it is a scalable and cost-effective place to start.   Here are some representative examples of what DevRich produces for its lowest cost solution:

legalaidattorneys.com
appeallawyers.org
dclawyer.net
hydrogencup.com
seejamaica.info
hhoelectricgenerator.com
denverlaborattorneys.com
bl.com
3gPhones.com
wannalead.com

From the above list, the site 3GPhones.com is a good example of one that should be built out since the potential is large due to the high number of related searches.

Getting Started with DevRich.com and Epik
If you have a portfolio of names that you want to develop, the easiest first step is to send us your portfolio. You can send it rob -at- epik.com or luke -at- DevRich.com.   At no cost to you, we’ll review the portfolio and recommend a capital efficient strategy for developing the portfolio.

Join the discussion 8 Comments

  • Todd says:

    Luke, congratulations on the acquisition.

    Rob – you are adding to an ever-growing business model. Congratulations on adding DevRich.com and continued success.

  • Congrats to you both.. will be in touch to develop out some of my portfolio.

    DomainBio.com

  • Gil says:

    Rob,

    Congrats on adding DevRich to the Epik network.

    I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment about taking sites beyond a single visit and engaging visitors to come back for more. Getting that traction is an illusive target. hopefully adding the human element will provide the “engagement” required for sustainable growth.

    Best of Luck!

    • Rob Monster says:

      @All – Thanks for the kind wishes. We are excited about what this brings to the table in terms of a cost-effective domain development option. It is a low risk way to dip the toe into the domain development world. For traditional domainers, there is a mental leap to go from parking (cashing checks) to development (investing for a larger outcome). The DevRich approach is a smaller leap, particularly for the uninitiated.

  • Congrats on a strategic addition to your service offering. Yes, most domainers cannot custom develop every domain in their portfolio but yet static minisites provide a poor user experience and are hard to rank consistently. It will be interesting to see what’s next…

  • Bill says:

    It just keeps getting more complicated, doesn’t it? That elusive balance that brings mass development and sufficiently engaging content together – the ability to produce custom content at scale. It’s the cold fusion of the domaining world.

    I don’t see anyone else addressing that issue as aggressively as you are, Rob. I think it’s possible with the right resources, management and cost controls, so I’m betting on you.

    BTW, I have a bounce rate of near 80% on one of my more successful sites, with all content written by me. I think I just discovered the problem…I put the full answer to their keyword query on the front page and visitors feel no need to click deeper into the site. That said, it recently moved after months at #2 up to #1 in the listings, so bounce rate may not be everything to Google.

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