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Google acquires StreetView.com

Kevin Murphy, August 12, 2011, Domain Sales

Google has got its hands on the domain name StreetView.com, four years after first launching its occasionally controversial street-level maps service.

The domain switched to Google’s contact information and name servers this week, according to Whois records.

It was first acquired quite recently from its original owner, who registered it in 2001, by an outfit called Brand Certified Inc, ostensibly based at a strip mall in Nevada.

A bit of digging shows that Brand Certified appears to be a front, a shell company operated by MarkMonitor for the purpose of quietly obtaining domain names for its clients.

There’s no UDRP record for the name – it would have been a far from straightforward case – so I guess it was acquired either by being purchased or through some other means.

The domain does not currently resolve from where I’m sitting.

Sedo launches domain pricing index

Kevin Murphy, July 13, 2011, Domain Sales

Sedo has launched Internet Domain Name Index, a research project that shows long-term domain pricing trends and compares the data to larger economic trends.

Using January 2006 prices as a baseline, the IDNX index will be updated monthly showing how much, relatively, domains are selling for on the secondary market.

Currently, domains are valued at 183% of January 2006 prices, for example.

The index uses something called a “hedonic repeat sales methodology” to come up with its numbers. No, I don’t know what that means either.

However the numbers are arrived at, the conclusions are quite interesting, showing that domain prices rise and fall in lockstep with the financial markets.

In this graph, the green line is the IDNX number and the blue one represents the value of the Nasdaq 100.

Sedo Domain Index

“The strong correlation shows that domain name buyers and sellers make economically motivated price decisions,” researcher Thies Lindenthal concludes. “Domain markets are not a cloud-cuckoo-land where dreamers trade esoteric goods at imaginary prices.”

Sedo expects domainers to use the index to adjust their portfolios’ changing values over time.

Salesforce.com pays over $1.5m for data.com

Kevin Murphy, June 7, 2011, Domain Sales

Salesforce.com has bought the domain name data.com for “an amount that significantly exceeds the $1.5 million reserve”, according to Oversee.net.

The domain had been due to be auctioned during the company’s DOMAINFest in Barcelona tomorrow, but was taken out of contention early with the private sale.

While Oversee did not disclose the buyer or final sales price, the Whois record already shows Salesforce.com as the new owner. It was previously owned by United Business Media.

Oversee said the deal brings its year-to-date sales to $11 million.

Who owns Osama Bin Laden domains?

Kevin Murphy, May 2, 2011, Domain Sales

With the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death reverberating throughout the world today, I wonder if the price of domain names matching his name just went up or down?

Doubtless, traffic to such domains will go up in the near term.

In terms of resale, I expect the domains may become slightly less “untouchable” now the guy’s been put out of business.

Before too long, he could be a figure of mainly historical interest, a Big Bad from the past, like Adolf Hitler or Pol Pot.

On the other hand, how many people really want to risk raising the ire of terrorists (or risk encouraging them) by buying and developing a web site at a Bin Laden-related domain name?

It’s too early to say for sure, but it’s quite possible Bin Laden’s name may acquire some kind of legend/martyr status in certain parts of the world, making it even more untouchable.

osamabinladen.com was originally registered in 2000 and belongs to a Karachi, Pakistan-based company called Computer Reflexes International. It resolves to a “for sale” notice.

usamabinladen.com and usamabinladin.com, alternate spellings used by some in the media and US government, are parked and have been registered to Frank Schilling’s Name Administration since 2003.

binladen.com is also parked, owned by “Pool.com In Trust”, apparently one of a bunch of domains it was awarded in a lawsuit against a former partner registrar.

osama.com belongs to an Italian pen company actually called Osama.

Schilling also owns polpot.com, incidentally, while adolfhitler.com belongs to Rick Latona.

Did Apple buy iCloud.com for $4.5m?

Kevin Murphy, April 28, 2011, Domain Sales

Apple is rumored to have spent $4.5 million on the domain name icloud.com.

If it’s true, and domain-only sale, the deal, first reported by GigaOm today, would be in the top 15 most-expensive reported domain name transactions of all time, according to my records.

The Whois for icloud.com currently shows Xcerion, a Swedish company, as the registrant, mostly behind Network Solutions’ privacy service.

According to GigaOm, Xcerion recently rebranded its iCloud service as CloudMe, which is a useful indicator that it doesn’t plan on using the domain for much longer.

Some Kate Middleton domains still available

Kevin Murphy, April 27, 2011, Domain Sales

Apparently there’s a royal wedding happening this week.

I know this because a bunch of news stories have popped up in my RSS reader relating the story of how a Canadian couple dropped $2,500 on the domain name katemiddleton.com.

It struck me as an unusual purchase, not only because it could very easily be lost to a UDRP complaint, but also because the woman is getting married on Friday.

In a few days, her name won’t be Kate (or, strictly speaking, Catherine) Middleton. This is a domain name with a seriously limited shelf life.

It then struck me that I had no idea what her name would be after she gets married.

This is what Wikipedia is for.

William’s family name, it turns out, is not what I thought it was either. While the British royal family is known as the Windsors, his last name is officially Mountbatten-Windsor.

katemountbattenwindsor.com – Parked since April 22
katemountbatten-windsor.com – Parked since April 22
catherinemountbattenwindsor.com – Available!
catherinemountbatten-windsor.com – Available!

Amazingly, given the level of interest and speculation in Middleton, her actual married name is still available, with and without the hyphen.

But William actually goes by the surname Wales, on account of his father being the Prince of Wales. In the RAF, for example, he’s known as Flight Lieutenant Wales.

katewales.com – parked since November
kateofwales.com – For sale at $7,311 since April 22.
catherinewales.com – parked since 2008
catherineofwales – For sale since November

Of course, Middleton won’t be known popularly by any of those names. I expect most people will refer to her as “Princess Kate” or something.

But she won’t be a Princess, of course. Oh, no.

Apparently, you only get to call yourself Princess Whatever if you’re born royal, which Middleton was not. William’s mother, Diana, was Diana, Princess of Wales, not Princess Diana.

So, while the owners of princesskate.com (tribute site) and princesskate.co.uk (parked) may have the best-sounding domains, they’re not strictly accurate.

Middleton’s official title after she joins the Windsors is going to be Duchess of Something, depending on what Duchy is given to William by his grandmother as a wedding present.

The speculation is that William will become Duke of one of the following open spots: Albany, Connaught, Clarence, Sussex, Strathearn, Kendal, Avondale or Cambridge.

Domain speculators have already hit most, but not all, of these.

duchessofalbany.com – Parked since November 2010.
duchessofconnaught.com – Parked since November 2010.
duchessofclarence.com – Parked since March 2010.
duchessofsussex.com – For sale since November 2010.
duchessofstrathearn.com – Available!
duchessofkendal.com – Bounces to herroyalhighnesscatherine.com
duchessofavondale.com – Available!
duchessofcambridge.com – Parked since November 2006.

I expect there’s plenty of related names available in the .uk space too, but I didn’t check.

The one official title she will definitely be granted is Princess William of Wales, to differentiate her from Camilla, her future step-mother-in-law (I think), who is Princess of Wales.

The domain princesswilliam.com, registered in December last year, is currently parked.

Honestly, you’d have to be American to care about any of this stuff.

It makes ICANN look sensible.

Six short .uk domains sold for $40,000

Kevin Murphy, April 15, 2011, Domain Sales

Nominet has auctioned off six one and two-letter .uk domain names for a total of almost £24,000 ($40,000).

The domains were all sold to trademark holders, for an average of £4,000 ($6,500) each, according to the auction house, NFPAS Auctions.

The domain e.co.uk went to E! Entertainment Television, while u.co.uk was sold to Ubrands.

Of the contested two-letter domains, aa.co.uk was won by American Airlines, presumably beating out other qualified bidders such as the Automobile Association.

Oddly, aa.org.uk went to Andrews & Arnold, an ISP, which already owns aa.net.uk.

Finally, lv.co.uk went to the insurance company Liverpool Victoria, which already owns lv.com, and cc.co.uk went to Country Casuals, a women’s clothing retailer.

A second auction among brand owners, expected to be similarly small, will be held a month from now. The proceeds of both go to the Nominet Trust.

With only a couple hundred single and double character .uk names currently accounted for, hundreds remain for the next stage of the release: landrush.

Nominet plans to announce the details of that phase on Monday.

Nominet gives away 79 more super-short .uk names

Kevin Murphy, April 13, 2011, Domain Sales

Nominet has handed out more single and double-character .uk domain names to holders of intellectual property rights.

The 79 assignments include 4.co.uk, a.co.uk, c.co.uk, j.co.uk and u.co.uk, as well as dozens of two-letter combinations such as bt.org.uk and bq.co.uk.

The domains were given out as the latest stage of Nominet’s roll-out of short domains, to “unregistered rights holders”. Another 99 were assigned to registered rights holders in February.

Where the organization has received more than one application for a domain, it will go to auction, with the proceeds aiding the charitable Nominet Trust.

Nominet says only a “small number” of domains are heading to auction. Whatever remains will be released in a landrush, details of which will be announced on Monday.

Of the domains released so far, o.co.uk, which I previously speculated would go to Overstock, the retailer that recently rebranded as o.co, has not yet been claimed.

Two-letter domain bx.com for sale

Kevin Murphy, April 8, 2011, Domain Sales

BX.com, an e-commerce software vendor, is inviting offers for its domain name, bx.com.

The company said in a press release that it intends to rebrand itself around its main product, pureCommerce, and is soliciting offers for the domain via sealed bid.

Two-letter .com domains are obviously a scarce commodity. There are only 676 possible combinations, excluding numerals, and they’ve all been long registered.

Many have changed hands, typically with six-figure sums attached, such as li.com, which sold for $500,000 in 2007, and jf.com, which sold for $101,000 a few months ago.

Apparently trying to pump up the price, BX.com’s press release contains this statement:

Companies, both inside and outside of the US, have pursued the BX.COM domain over the years. Most recently, offers have come from the competitors of The Blackstone Group, whose stock symbol is BX, as well as from Chinese multinational corporations.

If the company did not have such well-established rights in the domain – it’s owned it since 1995 – that would look a lot like evidence of a bad-faith shakedown to many UDRP panelists.

dotMusic buys music.co

Kevin Murphy, March 9, 2011, Domain Sales

Constantine Roussos of dotMusic, which plans to apply for the .music top-level domain, has added to his collection of musical domain names with the purchase of music.co.

Roussos, who already owns music.us and music.biz, seems to have been the winning bidder, paying $30,000, when it was auctioned by Sedo late last month, but Whois records did not change until this Monday.

Remarkably, Music.co is already developed. It lets you play from a selection of godawful* music from an artist calling himself “Constantine”, including one track called “.music”.

The domain was previously owned by domainer Mike Mann, who snapped up dozens of premium generic terms in the .com.co namespace a few years ago in order to be grandfathered in when .co relaunched.

Roussos’ dotMusic initiative is currently the only applicant for the .music TLD to have gone public.

Of the other big sales from the Sedo auction, shop.co is now owned by a German search engine, Websuche, and pizza.co was sold to a California-based developer of discount codes web sites.

The domain download.co, which sold for $10,099, now redirects to what appears to be an affiliate marketing site for software called “Driver Detective”, which I was too scared to install.

Many of the other sales appear to have been made to other domainers.

(* I’m kidding. Probably.)