Postdoctoral Fellow at MIT's Center for Real Estate

There are probably few places in the world that would even consider hosting a research project on Internet domain names as a form of virtual real estate. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is one of them. I will start a postdoctoral fellowship at MIT’s Center for Real Estate. Together with prof. Albert Saiz, I will be working on primary and secondary domain markets from an urban economics point of view.

New Research: Loss Aversion through Centuries and across Generations

In November, I presented my latest research at MIT’s Center for Real Estate: The paper provides empirical insights into the long-term nature of the loss aversion bias. Using a database of Amsterdam housing transactions spanning 324 years, Piet Eichholtz and I study the question whether loss aversion was present in centuries past, whether its effects were stable across these centuries, and whether the psychological effect of the purchase price on selling behavior eroded with time and through the occurrence of important events.

The purchase price of the house is found to have been a psychological anchor, below which home owners were reluctant to sell their home. This result holds for 17th and 18th century Dutch home owners as well as for those who followed in their wake, but loss aversion appears to get stronger over the centuries. The anchoring power of the purchase price was strong: it survived the death of the original owner when the house passed on to the heirs. It was however diminished by loss realizations in housing transactions in the direct vicinity, and even more so by the occurrence of wars involving foreign occupation. The aversion to a loss relative to the purchase price was also gradually reduced by the time passed since the purchase.

The full paper can be downloaded here.

Rembrandt: Shipbuilder Rijksens and Wife

Fashion has changed, but has investment decision making evolved as well?

It is bad style to pass a law in the middle of the night – and it stinks

Thursday night, after 11 p.m. (!), the German parliament will discuss an amendment of copyright laws that will harm the Internet as we know it. Some traditional news corporations and their friends in the current government want Internet news aggregators to pay licensing fees to ailing news providers. Making a long story short, they require Google to share some of its profits with them.

So far so bad.

The unintended consequence of this poorly designed policy are disastrous. It will kill one of my dearest projects.  Since 1999, my brother and I have been offering a free news service called NEWSTRAL.com, which displays the top headlines of  major and regional news sources. Since then, millions of readers have relied on this plain and easy service.

We play fair. Newstral.com gives users the clear overview they are looking for – and channels readers to the news provider’s websites, without any detour. If this isn’t a classical win-win situation, what is?

Apparently some editors are not content: They want the readers that the news aggregators provide – and money on top. We cannot do this. Our income is hardly covering the server costs, leaving no slack that can be passed on. So if this law really becomes reality, we will have to close down.

In a sense, Newstral.com will be collateral damage in a war between the old and new elites of the news business. It speaks for itself that this law will be on the parliament’s agenda in the wee hours. Shady business thrives at night.

More information here (in German)

Expert Witness on Internet Domain Name Valuation

Today, I appeared as an expert witness for domain values at a Dallas court. The judge invited me to share insights on the valuation of domains in general, domain valuation principles and methods, domains as an investment and on the link between secondary domain markets and the overall economy. Furthermore, the court inquired about a industry best practices in monetizing and a the portfolio consisting of more than 150,000 domains.

Quiet summer: Secondary market for domains slow in July

Trading at secondary domain markets is traditionally slower during the summer months than in the rest of the year. This July was not an exception, as the most recent update for the Internet Domain Name Index IDNX shows: Prices paid for domains decreased by 0.5% compared to June. Total trading volume was slightly lower than in earlier months as well.

Post on Financial Times Alphaville: Battlefield Internet – A Saga of the Year 2012

The piecemeal roll out of new virtual space is unfair, risky and detrimental to the user-acceptance of new space on the internet.

June 13 will host the next event in a sequence of steps that will eventually lead to a virtual Big Bang — the rapid expansion of virtual space, as envisioned by ICANN, the California based organisation overseeing the internet. Next week, this independent non-governmental organisation will publicly announce a list of applications for an estimated 2,000 new global domain extensions.

Read on why ICANN should rethink its batching process … [MORE]