Reading Hacker News can make you a lot of money.
One obvious way is by spotting startups to invest in before they become huge. For example, dropbox posted to HN before they even launched.
You could have also bought bitcoin very early - the first post on BTC was way back on Fri, 08 May 2009 16:33:23 GMT - just a few months after the first bitcoin transaction on Jan 11 2009. This was before there was a published exchange rate, but months later in October 2009, the exchange rate was $1.00 USD = 1,309.03 BTC. If you would have put just $100 in BTC back then, it would be worth $31,416,720 at today’s price ($240/BTC).
There is also an endless amount of great tech and business advice from very smart and successful people.
From a domain investor’s point of view, it has been valuable to see the trends in startup TLDs. For example .io domains are exploding, and because of the demand, they are becoming more and more valuable. cloud.io recently sold in a public auction for $45,000, Domain Holdings reported a 6-figure .io sale in Q2 2015, and there have been other reports of similar sales.
.io - the most growth
The first .io post was soup.io on 30 Oct 2007, which is still one of the most popular .io websites. Back in 2007, there were only 2 posts for .io domains the entire year (out of 20126 total posts). So .io domains made up less than 0.01% of all posts. This year so far .io domains have been posted to HN 7321 times (out of 221,192) or 3.31%, which may not seem like a lot, but the chart shows how explosive the growth since 2007 has been:
Meanwhile, during the same time period .com posts have declined slowly but steadily from a high of around 90% to a low last month of less than 73%:
If you chart instead the number of votes to .io and .com domain posts, the difference is even more pronounced:
Recently up to 6% of all votes placed on Hacker News have been for .io domains, while .com reached a recent new low - in April 2015, only 63.66% of votes were for .com domains:
Other notable TLDs
Besides .com, the other most frequently posted TLDs are .org, .net, .uk and .edu. They have all stayed mostly flat throughout the years:
And although still only making up less than 1% of HN posts, and it probably won’t make domain investors any money, it is noteworthy to see that .gov domains are making slow but steady progress:
Probably as more local governments are opening up their data (e.g. like the city of Philadelphia).
.ly and .me - once favorites with the startup scene - showed nice growth into 2012, but have recently tapered off:
The only other TLD with similar strength to .io domains is .co:
There have been some high .co domain sales - o.co sold in 2010 for $350,000, and mobile.co in 2014 for $238,000, to name a few. You can see the top 100 .co sales on dnpric.es. But because of their relatively low registration fees, and their relatively higher popularity with domain investors, I have found it difficult to find good investments in this TLD.
One TLD I was surprised to see stand out was .re - .re is the Internet country code top-level domain (ccTLD) for Réunion (a French island located in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar). Although it is rarely posted to HN, this TLD is showing quick growth:
The interest in .re domains appears to be from the domain hacks. For example, domains posted to HN include atmos.phe.re, slidesha.re, jobsco.re, squ.re, etc.. But wikipedia says “in recent years, the .re TLD has been increasingly used for real estate-related domains (RE = Real Estate)…”, so maybe this is another reason (but I doubt it).
My take away from all of this is that interest in .co and .io domains are growing quickly, so they are probably a good investment. .com’s appear to be declining in value, although they are still by far the most widely used, and therefore the most valuable.
.re domains may be worth investment, but I would focus on the domain hacks.
There weren’t many posts with the new GTLDs - .club was the most with only 215 out of 1,834,090 total posts. Again, if I were to invest in the new GTLDs, I would focus on domain hacks.
.io domains started with a hack (input/output), and have grown into a culture. I think we will see more of this with some of the new GTLDs - they will become like neighborhoods on the internet - each having a different culture. And the culture is based on the sites built on the domains. Russell Beattie, in his post on .io domains in 2013 said:
“These new .io sites are almost artisanal in nature - small, well crafted and functional. It’s like a TLD for techies with taste.”
Domain hacks are cool because they are TLD-independent and have a culture all of their own. They are very memorable and cute, and because of their rarity, hold a lot of value. Google demonstrated this value by using abc.xyz as their domain for Alphabet, instead of something like alphabet.com or alphabet.io.