“Evil is selfishness to the point of destruction” says the intro to The Diary of an Immortal (1945-1959), a historical-fiction novel written by David J Castello, the COO and Editor-in-Chief of the Castello Cities Internet Network, and co-founder with his brother Michael of CastelloBrothers.com, one of the best domain portfolios in the industry. The book is an epic tale set during World War II and full of spiritual references, from the Akashic record to following omens. And, in fact, the circumstances in which I first met David, seem almost magical.
On the occasion of a small industry gathering at the mansion of John Ferber in South Florida, the entrepreneur who sold Advertising.com to AOL for $500M, I saw David plunging in the swimming pool. I briefly introduced myself and what happened a few minutes later was amazing: David proceeded to join his wife Bree on an improvised stage, and gave a rock concert! One of the songs I recall was called “Whisky“. This was 2012. The song was an auspicious omen, as only two years later Michael and David sold their domain name Whisky.com for $3.1M, in what became one of the top domain sales of the year.
From published author to recording artist (he is the drummer and manager for his singer-guitarist-songwriter wife, Bree) to co-owner of a domain network which has generated over $15M in revenue in 10 years, David seems to hold a rare combination of business and artistic skills, while still looking half his age. What’s David’s secret? Read on and find out…
Where do you live and why?
I recently bought a beach house in Flagler Beach, thirty miles south of Saint Augustine. With baby Venus Victoria on the way and my mother suffering from advanced cancer, I was looking for a 4 bedroom/4 bath with a pool close to the beach and I couldn’t find anything in Palm Beach County that appealed to me. Then I remembered this adorable little beach community two hundred miles north where Bree and I had stopped to eat on our way to pick up our cat, Ivan. I did a real estate search for Flagler Beach and there it was. Everything I wanted. It even had an elevator for mom. I drove up and sat down with the owner. She had gone through a divorce and needed to sell, but the pandemic was in full swing and everyone was acting like Chicken Little. In other words, it was the perfect time to buy.
We cut a deal that made us both happy and closed escrow on September 15th, exactly a week before Venus was born. We have wonderful neighbors and I love watching the sun rise over the ocean in the morning, but the seller showed everyone our music videos, so now the cat’s out of the bag.
You and your wife form an acclaimed rock band. What has music taught you over the years?
I was never the musician in our family – Michael was. He was the child prodigy who could play over twenty instruments while I was the nerd scientist who wrote his first newspaper article when he was twelve. I started playing percussion to accompany him and our father (Aldo) while they played accordion. Everything progressed from there until I was playing a full set of drums in our high school rock band. Music has taught me to prefer thinking outside the box, which is a rare commodity in corporate America.
Music has taught me to prefer thinking outside the box.
You had a successful career in music before joining your brother Michael to work PalmSprings.com. How did that transition come about?
Before PalmSprings.com, we hadn’t performed together in years, but Michael had become a pioneer in random access recording as well as the #1 requested live sound engineer on the Sunset Strip, while my music production company had broken the attendance records at the Roxy and Whisky-a-Go-Go. Interestingly, all of those experiences would play a role in the success of the Castello Cities Internet Network.
In the summer of 1997, I had just lost my shirt in a business deal and broken up with my girlfriend. I was in a bad place, but I knew whatever I did next I would give 110%. I was visiting our parents in Florida and they told me what Michael was doing. I initially had no interest, but my parents persisted because they wanted to see Michael and me working together again. I took another look and thought to myself, “What if these generic and geodomain names are really worldwide brands?“
I met with some webmasters to get their take and quickly realized that, while webmasters were totally controlling the game, they knew absolutely nothing about sales and marketing. They didn’t understand the value or potential of a domain name. To them, it was simply a word that was easier to remember than a numerical IP address. I saw a new world of opportunity and hit the ground running. I asked Michael which of our names had the most direct navigation traffic because I wanted to start this adventure with the most wind in my sails. He told me PalmSprings.com. I thought, “Palm Springs? The desert? God’s waiting room? Golf? I hate golf!“
Regardless, I hopped in my T-bird and drove across the country to California. I worked harder than I ever have, but instead of writing about history this time I was making it. We made a ton of money and proved, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the value of these names.
Michael once said that he created the Frankenstein and I gave it life. I’d say that’s an accurate assessment.
You started working on PalmSprings.com in 1998. 20+ years later, what do you think has changed in running a geodomain site? Is it easier or harder for someone starting out?
Both. It’s easier because guys like us proved that it could be done. Before us, it was all theoretical. It’s also somewhat harder now because there’s more competition, but it still comes down to three basic elements: 1) the domain name, 2) the content and 3) your vision to monetize it.
When you started working on PalmSprings.com, you set an ambitious goal of signing up 90 advertisers in 90 days, which you completed in 88 days going door to door. If you owned a geo-domain today and wanted to sign up advertisers, would you still use the same method?
The terrain is different, but one thing still holds fast: the name matters. I believe now, as I did then, that PalmSprings.com is the intuitive worldwide brand for Palm Springs. You can build a bigger site and you can have better SEO, but you’ll never get around the advantage of that brand and that makes all the difference. Otherwise, you’re just another web site fighting to get to the top of Google.
You are passionate about history and an expert on World War II. How does that knowledge affect your view about the times we are living today?
Because of the intimacy and immediacy of the Internet, everything today is in your face and people are getting hammered. There is a psychological health risk in being bombarded around the clock with fear. Information is vital, but the Internet can be a double-edged sword where it can be difficult to separate fact from fiction. We just need to keep things in perspective and listen to the scientists. Stay calm and ride out the storm. Previous generations have been through far worse.
You wrote a historical fiction novel called The Diary of an Immortal 1945-1959, which is a spiritual tale of a young American soldier who finds immortality pills during the Third Reich and then goes on to travel around the world in search of its origin. Where did the inspiration for the book come from?
I’ve done a lot of things in my life. I’ve been a touring and recording musician, actor, concert promoter and businessman, but my first love has always been writing. It surprises people because they think it’s something recent, but it’s always been there. I’ve written over a thousand articles for our sites. Even in the Boy Scouts, I only had one merit badge – for Journalism – and in high school I visited the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with the intention of majoring there in Journalism.
But as Hemingway said, “Let the pressure build.“
One day, the idea for The Diary of an Immortal popped in my head and I started writing. I didn’t try to write a novel. I just went on a journey to see where it would take me because I was getting inundated with these bizarre thoughts that seemed to interconnect. Then, the most unexpected thing happened. I became really close to the characters in my novel. Really close. They became my alternate universe family. Every morning, I couldn’t wait to write and be mentally transported to see them again. There are tragic parts in that book that are almost impossible for me to revisit. I’m too emotionally invested. I was there.
I became really close to the characters in my novel. Really close. They became my alternate universe family. Every morning, I couldn’t wait to write and be mentally transported to see them again.
In your book, you often talk about following your intuition. In your life, on which occasions did you go with your gut against common sense?
My intuition has never collided with common sense because I trust both. However, my intuition has overridden my five senses many times. I believe that your five senses can blind you. Your intuition, some people call it your gut, is much more powerful because its cosmic tentacles reach far beyond what our five senses can comprehend, but it takes a while for people to trust it. Unfortunately, most never do because they feel more secure with what they can touch, see, smell, hear and taste. But think how many times you’ve had a quick intuition about something or someone, but your mind talked you out of it and you later thought, “I knew I should’ve gone with my gut!“
You wrote: “You can make all the money in the world and you will still be mortal, but the arts will make you immortal.” You are both a writer and a musician but also a successful businessman. How does one influence the other?
I would say that one protects the other. One of my all time favorite bands was Badfinger. Just the beginning of their song No Matter What still gives me goosebumps. Read what their manager Stan Polley did to them. Two of those tender souls committed suicide. There are a lot of sharks in those waters and my business side has protected my artistic side more than once.
My business side has protected my artistic side more than once.
What are your favorite non-domain related books?
Even though I write historical fiction, I only feed my head with historical non-fiction because it inspires me to write fiction. My current favorites are:
- A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of World War lI (Adam Makos)
- Joe DiMaggio: The Hero’s Life (Ben Cramer)
- Flyboys: A True Story of Courage (James Bradley)
How does your average day look like these days?
I’m up at sunrise (6:30am) to walk our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Sophia, to the beach. Then I watch Venus from 7-10:30am in my office while Bree gets some much needed non-baby sleep.
After Bree awakens, I make her and mom breakfast and then – it’s David Time. I check our developed names like Nashville.com, PalmSprings.com, WestPalmBeach.com and Kennel.com, write content/articles, check offers for our undeveloped names for sale like Traveler.com, Cost.com, Sample.com, etc, and monitor Bree’s music synchronization deals (she’s up for two movie soundtracks). My new novel, The Witch, is currently being shopped and when that gets signed I’ll focus on promoting it.
It looks from the pictures that you and your brother Michael are defying age. What is your secret?
As a child, I was bedridden with severe asthma. It was horrible. I felt like I was suffocating to death while I watched the world pass me by. I read as many books about vitamins and supplements I could get my hands on, which was fairly weird for a nine-year-old. Eventually, my health improved and I credited the customized cocktail of vitamins and supplements I created. It became a lifelong habit that’s evolved as new discoveries have come down the pike.
I didn’t really notice anything until I was in my late thirties/early forties when people began misjudging my age. I met Bree on her 21st birthday in Palm Springs. When she asked my age, I told her and she replied, “Don’t be a jerk.” I handed her my driver’s license and she did a double-take. Luckily, she still went out with me. LOL
Originally, I started my regimen because I was simply sick and tired of being sick and tired. Health is more valuable than wealth. There was never any vanity involved, but now I stick with the program because I want to see Venus grow up.
My daily regimen revolves around supplements such as Niagen, Pterostilbene, Ubiquinol, PQQ, Fisetin, etc.
How can people find you?
Any parting notes or comments?
Always do something that invokes your passion and you will never work a day in your life.