Featured Attendee Profile: Don Ruiz

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01Don Ruiz
Head of BizDev — Knock Knock WhoIs There, LLC
Website | Twitter | LinkedIn


Location: Toronto, Canada
Number of years in the domain industry: I have been in or around hosting and hosting related industries for almost 20 years, with over 10 years directly in the domain industry.
Favourite extension: .blog
Domain name you wished you owned: I already own it: don.blog. Though as a Canadian, hockey.com comes a close second.
Now reading: I am an avid non-fiction reader. Right now I am reading “Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions”.
Now watching: My wife and I are hooked on Ray Donovan.
Best city for conferences: San Francisco is one of favourites. Boston is a close second.
Your mentor: Glen Day (former CEO of an encryption email company I co-founded). He is a highly technical person with a strong business acumen and an amazing communicator.


Describe your company and how long you have been there.

Knock Knock WhoIs There, LLC is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Automattic, Inc. It was formed specifically to launch and operate the .blog TLD. I have been with KKWT since March 2016, but have worked as a partner with Automattic prior to that.

Can you tell us about your last time at NamesCon and what you got out of it?

Last year I was with Tucows, a wholesale registrar. This year I will attend as a part of KKWT, a registry. I am curious to compare my experiences. Last year, like previous years, NamesCon afforded many opportunities to foster new and existing relationships, which is an integral part of how this industry operates.

NamesCon is all about business networking. Can you tell us a story about the success of a meeting at NamesCon?

Last year at NamesCon I had the opportunity to meet with Russell Haworth, the CEO of Nominet. It was serendipitous because shortly after NamseCon, I went from working for a large .uk registrar (Tucows) to working for KKWT, which partnered with Nominet as the registry backend for .blog.

Can you tell us about how your service or product helps deliver value to your customers?

Our new TLD (.blog) is the only TLD that specifically targets bloggers, companies with blogs, and all other types of content creators. There are over 150 million content creators actively publishing content to the web today. This is a growing segment of the internet, and now our clients, registrars and resellers of domains, have the ability to present a wonderful and relevant domain extension to their new and existing content creator clients in the form of .blog.

What are your thoughts on the new TLDs?

New TLDs are not going away. In fact, they will play a more integral role in how the internet is shaped moving forward. With over 7 billion people on the planet, and only a small fraction of them who actually have a website, the market and demand for new TLDs will continue to develop and grow, but it will take a collective effort by the industry to reach its full potential.

What kinds of changes do you foresee within the industry in the next year? 5 years?

The industry will continue to evolve, and with each passing year, new TLDs will play more of a role. Within such a crowded name space as .com, finding a relevant web address has not been easy. Until recently, traditional search and suggestion algorithms have not included new TLDs or right of the dot. We are now starting to see the impact of more relevant and targeted searches and suggestions on conversion rates, usage and renewals. On the registry level, we will see continued consolidation across the registries as many smaller registries struggle to compete against the larger ones. This consolidation will also continue with registrars and resellers for the same reasons. Finally, the success of this first round of new TLDs by ICANN is yet to be fully determined, though it is moving in the right direction. Depending on how, when and under what requirements ICANN launches their second round of new TLDs, the impact will hopefully complement and build on what we are seeing in the marketplace today.

What are you most looking forward to at the upcoming NamesCon?

NamesCon represents KKWT’s first B2B industry event since launching .blog to the general public on November 21, 2016. We are proud sponsors of NamesCon and WaterNight, and look forward to engaging with attendees throughout the event. It will also feature the second keynote appearance, since NamesCon’s inaugural event, by Automattic’s founder and CEO, Matt Mullenweg.

What industry trends or topics do you think will be at the forefront of panel and keynote discussions this year?

I think the main one will be the future of buying and selling domains as the industry evolves. It will also include a continuation of the conversation regarding the Chinese domain marketplace. We are now into the renewal cycles of that market and the recent approvals by China’s MIIT for several TLDs. Another topic will be VeriSign’s plan for .web, provided all current legal action regarding .web has been resolved. As always, there will be much debate around the next areas of innovation within the industry.

Who would you like to hear speak at NamesCon? Why?

Now that NamesCon is a part of the WHD family, I would like to see more international speakers, particularly from emerging markets to better understand the struggles we face in trying to reach the 99.5% of web users that do not own a website.

What fact about you would surprise people?

I was on a Canadian reality TV show in 2001/2002.

What was one of your biggest “Aha!” moments in life?

The first time I changed a diaper.

How does your career compare to what you envisioned in your youth?

Not even close. I thought I was going into the medical field like most of my family, but I somehow ended up in this wonderful industry.

How would you describe what you do in a single sentence to a stranger?

I am sure I am not alone, but an ongoing challenge I have is effectively describing what I do to people, friends and family outside of our industry. In our world, everyone knows what a domain is. Outside of our world, not many people do.

If you had fifteen extra minutes each day, what would you do with them?

Read with my family. With two small children, often reading time gets disrupted by “life” or the universal “nodding off” after another busy day.

What’s the most recent thing you learned (big or small)?

After attending a recent B2C event, I was surprised to learn how most people who are not directly involved in the domain or hosting industry cannot clearly define what a domain is.

Who has been the biggest influence on your life? What lessons did that person teach you?

My high school basketball coach (the late Les Campbell). Les was a wonderful father, teacher, coach, and friend who volunteered his time and viewed life through a different lens than most. He always took things in stride, the good with the bad, and demonstrated a level of dignity and integrity I have always admired.

What are you proudest of in your life?

My family, period.

Latest and g
reatest accomplishment in your career?

Working with an incredible team to successfully launch .blog to the world.

What was the best surprise you’ve experienced so far in life?

First meeting my future wife, very unexpectedly, at a conference in San Francisco.

Name 3 things you can’t travel without.

Something from my family, my cell phone and a battery pack charger (in that order).

Where is your favourite place to escape?

Anywhere I can put on my earphones and go for a run.

What was the best advice you were ever given?

Work hard. I witnessed it every day with my parents.

What object would you put in a time capsule that best represents who you are today?

A picture of my family playing outside in the snow.

Whether you’re the head of a large company or a one-woman operation, we want to hear and share your story! Fill out the Featured Attendee Profile form here.

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