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Rook Media acquires DomainSponsor

Kevin Murphy, April 22, 2014, Domain Services

Oversee.net surprised many in the domainer community yesterday when it announced the sale of its flagship parking service, DomainSponsor, to upstart rival Rook Media.

The deal, for an undisclosed sum, means Oversee, once the parent to brands such as Moniker and SnapNames, now barely has a presence in the domain name industry at all.

Switzerland-based Rook Media, describing itself as “Europe’s largest domain monetization platform”, was formed three years ago by former NameDrive and Sedo executives.

US-based DomainSponsor, on the other hand, has been around since 2002.

Rook CEO Ash Rahimi told Domain Name Wire yesterday that both platforms will operate independently for the foreseeable future.

Oversee said in a press release that it will “now focus on more aggressively developing its growth businesses” which comprise web sites in travel, consumer finance and retail.

The company sold off Moniker and SnapNames to KeyDrive in 2012. KeyDrive has since sold on SnapNames to Web.com.

Oversee still has the DomainFest conference listed as one of its brands on its web site. Other than that, there seems to be little left of its presence in the domain industry.

Moniker and SnapNames join Key-Systems stable

Kevin Murphy, February 1, 2012, Domain Registrars

KeyDrive has acquired rival registrar Moniker and rival aftermarket player SnapNames from Oversee.net, according to a statement on the company’s web site.

The deal, which closed in January, would make the combined company the sixth-largest ICANN-accredited registrar, with over 5.4 million domains under management, KeyDrive said.

KeyDrive formed with the merger of German registrar Key-Systems and aftermarket services provider NameDrive last July. It’s based in NameDrive’s native Luxembourg.

The deal gives the primarily European company an additional footprint in the US market. Moniker is based in Florida, SnapNames in Oregon.

It’s a not-too-soon exit for Moniker, which had a disappointing 2011 largely defined by the super-fast churning of domains under management and the regular canning of staff.

I’ve been hearing rumors that the two Oversee units were on the auction block for months.

It’s the fifth significant piece of M&A in the registrar market in the last six months, following the sale of Go Daddy and Group NBT to private investors, Tucows’ acquisition of EPAG and NetSol’s move to Web.com

Terms of the acquisition have not been disclosed. Indeed, there does not appear to have been an official announcement yet, beyond the KeyDrive home page.

The deal was first reported by DomainNameNews.

More details as they come in.

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.

SnapNames settles shill-bidder class action

Kevin Murphy, October 26, 2010, Domain Sales

Domain name auctioneer SnapNames said that it has settled the class action lawsuit filed against it by disgruntled domainers after one of its employees was found to be a shill bidder.

It seems to have had a bit of a result, too. Class members will receive exactly the same amount they would have had they accepted its rebate offer, according to a statement released by the company today.

The case was filed almost a year ago, after it emerged that Nelson Brady, a SnapNames employee, had been posing as a bidder in domain name auctions in order to bump up the final sale price.

Posing as “Hank Alvarez” or “halverez”, Brady stood to gain bonuses based on performance targets as a result of SnapNames’ acquisition by Oversee.net, its current owner.

After the abuse was discovered, SnapNames offered affected customers a rebate equivalent to the money they would have saved on a winning bid had “halvarez” not outbid them.

SnapNames said today:

Class members (which are United States residents who were extended the rebate offer but have not yet accepted) have been or shortly will be notified of the settlement terms and amounts (which are identical to the amounts affected bidders were offered in the rebate offer we extended last November).

This seems to mean that anybody who was holding out for a bigger settlement is out of luck.

The deadline for accepting the rebate expires November 4, but the deadline to become part of the class action is not until December 17.

SnapNames will have paid out $2 million to customers in total.

(I wonder how much the class action attorneys are to receive).

More info can be found at snapsettlement.com.

SnapNames has also settled its lawsuit against Brady for an undisclosed amount. The company sued him for $33 million in May.

Oversee said it “believes the financial penalty is appropriate considering the seriousness of the improper activity”.

Slots.com bidding starts at $4 million

Kevin Murphy, May 6, 2010, Domain Sales

The week-long auction of slots.com is underway, and the two first bidders have already pushed the price over $4 million.

It was announced yesterday that SnapNames had grabbed the rights to auction the domain. A reserve price of more than $5 million has been set.

Given that online gambling is basically a license to print money, it’s no surprise that many of the biggest domain sales every have been in this market.

Casino.com reported sold for $5.5 million, while Poker.org went for $1 million last year, the highest-ever price for a .org domain name.

The slots.com auction has a little over six days left on the clock.

SnapNames lawsuit: “halvarez” was chasing $1.5 million bonus

Howard Nelson Brady, the former SnapNames VP and alleged shill-bidder known as “halvarez”, was chasing a $1.5 million performance-related bonus, according to a lawsuit filed yesterday.

SnapNames and its parent, Oversee.net, have sued Brady for $33 million, claiming he used the pseudonym “Hank Alvarez” and his privileged access to SnapNames’ auction platform to artificially inflate the sale prices of auctioned domain names.

According to the complaint, Brady started his alleged shill-bidding in order to boost SnapNames’ revenues and boost his potential “earn-out” from the June 2007 acquisition of SnapNames by Oversee.

“The purchase of the SnapNames business was based almost entirely on projections extrapolated from past revenues of SnapNames, which had been artificially inflated by Defendant Brady’s shill-bidding,” the complaint says.

Oversee further claims that, following the acquisition, Brady set about embezzling money from the company by buying domains using his “halvarez” account and then refunding himself some of the purchase price.

The company alleges he made $175,000 that way, before suspicious activity was noticed on his account.

“Hank Alvarez” had a mail drop, a Paypal account, and sometimes sent emails to Brady, which were then forwarded to other members of staff, the lawsuit claims.

The lawsuit is seeking a mountain of cash. Clearly, Oversee and SnapNames are not pulling any punches when it comes to attempting to restore their reputation.

The bulk of the $33 million is made up of punitive damages, but Oversee also wants Brady’s entire salary and other compensation for the period while the alleged activities were taking place.

You can read the complaint in PDF format here.