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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.)

How will new TLDs affect your portfolio?

Kevin Murphy, March 3, 2011, Domain Sales

(Editor’s Note: this is a guest post by Shane Cultra, author of the popular domain investment blog DomainShane. I was interested in hearing new perspectives on new top-level domains, and Shane was good enough to provide his thoughts.)

It was inevitable. The growth of the internet and the ever increasing number of people using the web, was going to cause a shortage in domain names.

As the big three – .com, .net, and .org – reached the point that available domains were merely comprised of unpronounceable and hard-to-spell leftovers, internet users began looking for more.

Countries began to market their own ccTLDs as generics, trying to appeal to both local and international users alike. Domain name registries saw the dollar signs and began clamoring to introduce alternatives.

So now that they’re on their way, how will new TLDs affect the value of your domains? Will .web, .car, .love and all the other endless possible TLD options impact the value of your portfolio?

My answer to this question is simple: yes.

There is no doubt all the new TLDs will impact your portfolio’s value. If you own anything other than .com, I think the value of your domains will fall. I feel that .net and .org will fall the least.

The real answer comes down to how the search engines rank the new TLDs. The TLDs that hold the most value will be able to compete in both the US and the international search market.

If Google treats them well, then they will be in the upper tier. The problem is the more TLDs that Google ranks, the more choices a domain owner will have.

As we know, the more choices the lesser the value and chance of a sale. If there are only three shoes on the shelf from which to choose it bodes better for the seller than a shelf with 100 shoes.

In my opinion, the real money being made is by the companies selling these new TLDs. The new releases will leave the domain investing community and domain buyers in general “holding the bag”.

The .travel and .mobi TLDs showed early what will happen as people shy away from a TLD after a short period of time. Speculators were left with worthless domains.

In order for a new TLD to work it takes massive adoption. The local geographic community, the domain investing community, business, and the general public must be a part for it to succeed.

The new .co TLD has come as close as any in the last five years to getting over this hump; .tv, and .me, have also found their place.

A profitable endeavor for the companies managing the release , but only profitable for a handful of people that hold the best of the names.

So back to the original question, will this hurt the value of my portfolio? My second response to my “yes” answer is I think it will increase the value of your .coms.

Dot-com domains are king and will always be the king. They are scarce , wanted and all those that hold the same keyword in alternative TLDs wish they held the .com. Those that tell you different are either naïve or lying.

Domains are often compared to real estate and .com to beachfront property, and I think it’s a good analogy. Beachfront has continued to be considered the most-wanted and highest-priced real estate.

I would throw in big city real estate in this comparison too. You can still buy homes and land outside the cities and away from the beach. Homes just as nice or nicer. Areas of land that are twice as big but still don’t have the value of the beach and city.

When people think of the internet they immediately think .com. When they think of high priced real estate they think of the beach and city. Along with beach and city property, I believe people will always perceive the .com as the highest value.

This is how I am approaching my investment in newer TLDs. I am treading lightly. I continue to invest heavily in .com with a 10% investment in other TLDs. That 10% is invested in super high-quality keywords.

I have no plans to invest in lesser domains, as I think the only possible way to make a profit on my investment is development and I don’t feel comfortable developing domains outside of my field or keywords from random categories.

When I buy outside of .com, I tend to buy in my niche (the names of plants) as they are in my “comfort zone”. For example, I purchased hosta.me because hosta.com is taken and would cost me a ton of money.

I have all the photos and information to develop a site and with hosta being a very collectable plant I thought hosta.me would work. I also can target US Internet users using my webmaster tools – the audience I am trying to reach.

That same domain was a hand-register which tells me that although that has value to me, I would have very little chance of reselling that domain. In short, a bad investment for a flip. In my opinion, this will be the case with 98% percent of all the new TLDs so be very dot-careful.

99 super-short .uk domains registered

Kevin Murphy, February 8, 2011, Domain Sales

Nominet, the .uk registry, has allocated 99 one and two-letter .uk domain names to trademark holders including the Financial Times and Manchester United.

Most of the companies successfully applying for short .co.uk, .org.uk and .net.uk domains under Nominet’s recently closed sunrise period are household names.

Most also chose to acquire both .org.uk and .co.uk variants of their trademark. Only ten of the single-letter and two of the single-number options were claimed. Yahoo managed to get y.co.uk.

Overstock.com, which is currently branding itself as o.co, did not receive o.co.uk, despite having a trademark on the term, possibly for the reasons I outlined here.

One of the big winners appears to be a domainer. Scott Jones acquired 3.org.uk, s.co.uk, s.org.uk, pc.co.uk and pc.org.uk.

Nominet said: “A small number of contested domains will be involved in an auction phase to determine the successful registrant.”

The first sunrise was for owners of UK registered trademarks. The next round, set to kick off February 14, is for owners of “unregistered” rights.

The full list of domains registered can be downloaded here.