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o.com auction likely a damp squib after Overstock rebrand

Kevin Murphy, June 30, 2023, 12:26:08 (UTC), Domain Registries

Verisign’s long-planned auction of the single-character domain o.com is looking even less likely, with its most motivated bidder completely rebranding its company.

Overstock.com, which had been lobbying for Verisign to release the domain since at least 2004, said this week it’s bought the intellectual property assets of bankrupt rival furniture retailer Bed Bath & Beyond for $21.5 million, and will rebrand accordingly.

That means it will drop Overstock.com the brand and overstock.com the domain, in favor of bedbathandbeyond.com in the US. The rebrand of its equivalent Canadian sites under .ca will come first.

The domain switch will presumably be less chaotic than the company’s attempt to rebrand as O.co in 2011, which caused huge confusion in .com-loving North America and was quickly reversed.

The change of course means that Overstock now has no motivation to bid on o.com, should Verisign ever actually get around to exercising its hard-won right to sell off the domain for charity.

All but a handful of single-character .com domains have been reserved for decades, but Verisign was given permission to sell o.com by ICANN in 2018 after years of pleading by Overstock founder Patrick Byrne.

Byrne quit Overstock not long after ICANN gave the nod due to his involvement with Russian spy-turned-politician Maria Butina and evidently took his obsession with o.com with him.

Disclosure: over a decade ago, I provided consulting services to a third party in support of the release of o.com.

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Comments (4)

  1. O.com would be a great marketing visual on TV or screen but a buyer would also have to acquire Oh.com.

    There are several issues when passing the audio test. It would be confusing to have to tell people to go to O.com and then preface it with – TheLetterO.com.

    I have the same issue with my email address 1@nashville.com in which I have to forward one@nashville.com to it.

    Any single-letter .com is going to have this same issue. I wonder if Musk also acquired ex.com

  2. StrongestBrands says:

    The perfect name will of course pass the audio test without confusing alternate spellings. But single-character .com names are surely worth a bit of confusion (almost none of us will own one). IDN are much more likely to be mis-typed, but still make great links. The Latin ʜ.com is not the English H, but it could be a good link for Honda or Heineken or Hilton. Bonus address input xn--ppa.com

  3. StrongestBrands says:

    (in further support of IDN.com) Not all marketing must focus on lowest-level awareness. Imagine Hertz or Hilton advertising: “We like Geeks – 30% discount if booking through ʜ.com …”

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