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The Top 10 Most Expensive Domain Names

ABC News, March 5, 2009

How much is the word "toys" worth on the Internet? Hundreds? Thousands? Try millions of dollars.

In a close bidding war, Toys 'R' Us last week bought the domain name Toys.com at auction for $5.1 million, placing it among the top 10 most expensive domain names on record. And industry watchers say that it was probably a bargain.

"Had it not been such a recession, I think it probably would have gone for a little bit more than that," Ron Jackson, editor and publisher of the Domain Name Journal, told ABCNews.com. In better economic times, he said it might have sold in the $7 to $8 million range.

The reason a generic word like "toys" has such value, he said, is because it's a massive key word. Hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of people type that word into search engines every day, generating an incredible flow of traffic to Toys.com. "It's like having a store in the middle of Times Square," Jackson said. "The name is really almost priceless."

Jackson's industry magazine has tracked domain name sales since 2003. Because transactions can take place privately and publicly, he said, it's difficult to record all sales. His magazine only records transactions that were pure cash sales. Others in the industry have speculated that Sex.com sold for $12.5 million, Business.com sold for $7.5 million, and Wine.com sold for $3 million. But as they were not pure cash sales, Jackson doesn't include them in his records.

Toys.com has not yet been added to his journal's records, but Jackson expects to add it once the name has been officially transferred to Toys 'R' Us. According to the Domain Name Journal's records, below is a list of the top 10 most expensive domain names.

  1. Fund.com, $9.99 million
  2. Porn.com, $9.5 million
  3. Diamonds.com, $7.5 million
  4. Toys.com, $5.1 million
  5. Vodka.com, $3 million
  6. CreditCards.com, $2.75 million
  7. Computers.com, $2.1 million
  8. Seniors.com, $1.8 million
  9. DataRecovery.com, $1.66 million
  10. Cameras.com, $1.5 million

Live Current Media Announces Sale of Two Domain Names for USD $1.65 Million

BusinessWire Published: Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Live Current Media Inc. (OTCBB:LIVC), a media company built around content and e-commerce destinations which owns more than 800 domain names, today announces it has entered agreements to sell two more of its non-core domain names for $1.65 million. Live Current previously announced in February the sale of one of its non-core domain name for CDN $500,000.

"We believe the recent sales of three of Live Current's non-core domain names for a total of over US $2 million is a testament to the inherent value of our domain name assets, especially in this challenging economic climate," said Live Current Chairman and CEO Geoff Hampson. "Together with the cost-cutting measures previously announced on February 5th, the proceeds from these sales should provide for Live Current's working capital needs without diluting current shareholdings. These sales form part of management's strategy to achieve the goal of cash flow positive operations by the end of 2009."

To this end, the Company further announces that CEO, Geoff Hampson, has agreed to defer all salary and other compensation indefinitely. The length of such deferral will be solely at the discretion of Mr. Hampson and the Board of Directors. Management is continuing to identify further cost-cutting and revenue generating opportunities and is considering various strategic alternatives for its cricket business.

Choose the Right Domain Name

Entrepreneur.com    Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Choosing a domain name is an extremely important part of designing your web site, as that becomes the name of your web site. Your domain name is the first part of the Uniform Resource Locator, or "URL." There are many things to keep in mind while choosing a suitable domain name.

If you haven't already done so, give some thought as to what your domain name is going to be. For those who are new to the internet, the domain name, also known as a website address, is a word or phrase that a website visitor has to type in to visit your site. It's preceded by http://www, although for modern-day browsers typing this portion in is optional. It ends with .com, .net, .biz, or a host of other extensions that you'll be exposed to when you're ready to sign up for your domain name.

Stuffing your domain name with keywords isn't going to help much, if at all, unless those keywords naturally make sense. For example, don't pick "peanutbutterandjelly.com" if you're planning to launch a site for fishing supplies. Also, avoid abbreviations. Using your whole site name will make your domain name easier to remember. Try to get a ".com" name, as those are the most popular and easiest for most users to remember. However, if this is impossible, don't use .com anywhere in the name if your site is under ".net". Doing so is tacky, and will only cause confusion to potential visitors. Remember to display your site name--prominently. Multiple domains can be a good idea but only when built as a complete strategy. Each domain also requires different content to avoid being penalized by search engines for duplicate content.

Buying a Domain NameTo buy a domain name, you can do so directly from your web hosting provider, or through a separate domain name service (a recommended option for those who are using their own servers). If you're using a separate domain name service for your server, make sure you choose one such as no-IP.com, which assigns you a static IP address, the numerical address that identifies your computer. If this address is ever-changing (as it is with some internet service providers), you won't be able to successfully assign a domain name to your server. I personally use register.com and godaddy.com. I like the independence that register.com or similar services provide. Another good strategy is to choose and register your domain in advance of building your site. You then have the comfort of knowing that the name belongs to you. When you register a domain without having a site, typing the name into the browser will bring up a page indicating that it's parked. This means the name is owned by someone but a website has not yet been launched.

The process for signing up for a domain name works the same way whether it's through a hosting provider or through a separate domain name service. You'll be asked to enter into a text box the domain name you want to register. The service shows you the extensions you can choose. Generally, you always want to go with .com, since this is the most popular domain name extension. In terms of what domain name to use, this is where keyword optimization comes into play. That's right--even your domain name should be keyword optimized. Don't fall into the temptation that many webmasters do and use something catchy and creative for your website. It might be more memorable to potential visitors, especially if you use a lot of offline marketing, but it won't get your site ranked high in search engines. Ultimately, you will want to use keywords to create a domain name that is both memorable and likely to be ranked in the first 10 listings of search engine results.However, keywords in the domain are useful for reasons outside of just ranking by its words. How people link to you and what the description reads in the incoming "backlink," or anchor text, plays a key role. So if you have realestate-mortgage-loans.com it's better than simply remloans.com. The latter is shorter, but the former yields a better link popularity strategy.

If your desired domain name is taken, the domain name service recommends other selections you could use. This can be helpful, since sometimes they can come up with suggestions that might rank better than your original choice. Or, they could be terrible, especially in terms of their length. Generally, the best domain names are short, contain no hyphens, and offer an excellent one-, two-, or three-word summary of what the site is about. An example of an excellent domain name could be cheapknives.com. It's short, contains no hyphens, and, if it's pointing to a website selling affordable knives, perfectly summarizes the main point of the site.

Another alternative when it comes to domain names is buying one that's already established or expiring. This is a popular tactic used by internet marketers to generate traffic for their websites. You can find these types of domain names anywhere, from eBay to specialized services selling them (they can be found through a general Google search). You could use snapnames.com to bid on a name that's already taken. On this site you enter your contact and billing information, the domain name of interest, and your bid price. When the name becomes available, snapnames.com will purchase it for you. This eliminates watching and waiting for the name. This is also helpful after you launch your business if you want to snap up similar domain names.

There are auctions specifically for expired domain names. To find the best deals on expired domain names, don't be afraid to use a shopping comparison site, such as froogle.com. I've purchased domains both on eBay and the SitePoint Marketplace. If you get an admin e-mail account and read on the membership site SitePoint--you can transfer a domain over without losing page rank and traffic.

Most folks who sell a website/domain will show you traffic charts and money charts (example: AdSense). Make sure that it's not inflated, and that you can look at it over time. One month is simply not good enough. Make sure you also ask about how traffic has been coming to the site, and ask to see server logs.

Get It RegisteredOnce you've selected your domain name, you need to register it. Be careful of whom you select to handle your domain registrations, as losing your domain name could put you out of business. You may want to choose a hosting company before registering your domain name. Many hosting companies will register the name for you when you set up your hosting account.

A little over a decade ago, Network Solutions dominated the domain registration field, charging $100 annually for service. Today, hundreds of registrars exist, which can cause difficulty in choosing one. Use a tool such as RegSelect, which can help you compare prices and options of domain registration companies. All registrars require the name of the company or individual who owns the domain (the registrant), the individual authorized to handle daily matters (the administrative contact), and the person who handles all things technical (the technical contact).

Most registrars have rules against using false names, and you'll run the risk of not receiving important notices if you do so. Whoever possesses the registrar username and password is essentially in control of the domain, despite the fact that the legal owner is the registrant, so be careful. Choose a complex password, as this could protect you from being hacked. Hackers could have the opportunity to change ownership or servers associated with your account. Try to find a registrar that allows you to "lock" your accounts. Finally, avoid registering your domain name with your web hosting service. This could complicate a domain transfer, should you decide to change hosting companies later.

Domain name nets dad £1.3m

The Sun UK    Apr 8 2008

A MILLION quid is a lot to pay for a slice of pizza, but Chris Clark isn't complaining. That's how much the dad-of-three got when he flogged the internet domain name www.pizza.com. Speculator Chris, 43, bought the name 20 years ago and has paid just £10 a year to keep it for himself.

The American finally decided to auction it and within a week an anonymous bidder bagged the site for just over a million quid - £1.3million, to be precise.

But if like Chris you think you can try your luck finding the next big domain name, then think again. There are more than 150million registered world-wide and the number is growing every day. A few canny pioneers have already got in there.

Here we look at the web addresses that have made, or are set to make, their owners a huge www.wedge - and some that haven't been so successful. Incidentally, Chris can now buy himself roughly 1.3million slices of pizza.

Business.com: This proved to be a good bit of business for Texan entrepreneur Marc Ostrofsky, who bought it for £75,000. He sold the name in 1999 for £4.6million, setting a new record at the time. It now lists small businesses across the world.

Vodka.com: American carpet salesman Roy Edward Messer was in high spirits after he sold vodka.com to a Russian billionaire for £1.5million. Roustam Tariko, chairman and owner of the parent company that owns Russian Standard Vodka - the brand favoured by Russian president Vladimir Putin - probably needed a stiff drink after shelling out for the name. The company planned to use the domain name for colourful marketing aimed at US drinkers. But the site isn't even operating yet. It simply displays the message Spring 2008 - Everything There Is To Know About Vodka.

Recycle.co.uk: This domain name proved to be anything but rubbish when it was snapped up for £150,000 last year. It was bought by venture capitalists ASAP Ventures, who planned to cash in on Brits going green by launching a company providing UK consumers with information on recycling. It was the highest ever price paid for a UK domain name until it was overtaken by cruises.co.uk

Fund.com: This was bought on March 11 by Clek Media for £4.8million in an all-cash transaction. It provides information to the financial sector on various investment funds.

Cruises.co.uk: This is the British record holder and sold for £560,000 in February of this year.Businessman Seamus Conlon bought it from German travel company Nees Reisen despite already owning the address cruise.co.uk. He wanted his firm to be the first that flashed up on Google when people looked for cruise ship hols on the search engine.

Trumpgolfclub.co.uk: Quick-thinking mum Hayley Cook snapped up this site when she heard American tycoon Donald Trump was planning to build a luxury golf resort in Balmedie, Aberdeenshire. But the businessman's lawyers swiftly fired off an email to Hayley branding her a "cyber-squatter" and a web "criminal". They claim Hayley infringed Trump's trademark and warned her not to sell the domain. But gutsy Hayley, 22, from Mossend, Lanarkshire, has vowed to fight them all the way.

Waynerooney.com: The footballer won a legal battle with a former fan over the right to use his own name as a website address. The footballer took over the site from actor Huw Marshall, who bought it in 2002 before the player shot to fame. Marshall was ordered to hand over the site because it infringed one of the star's trademarks.

Domain names: 21st century real estate

USA Today    7/22/2007

NEW YORK - Inside a midtown hotel, Larry Fischer is on his cell phone with a financial backer as his partner Ari Goldberger does quick research on a laptop computer. They are bidding furiously at this auction of Internet domain names, with hopes of snagging megayachts.com. The duo won't be deterred. They want this name.

"$110,000, yes or no? Quick," Fischer barks at Eli, the investor at the end of the phone. Someone else makes a bid for $120,000. Fischer and Goldberger up the ante, and then again. Going once, going twice ... sold to Fischer and Goldberger for $150,000. "You got it," a smiling Fischer tells Eli. Mazel tovs are exchanged.

These are boom times in an estimated $2 billion industry that involves the buying and selling of domain names. When people type the generic names into their Web browser's address field, sites that generate pay-per-click advertising revenue appear. Such "direct navigation" bypasses search engines.

"This industry is like the wild, wild West right now and people have no idea how fast it's growing," said Jerry Nolte, managing partner of Domainer's Magazine, a new trade publication devoted to this little-known world.

Some believe the industry's market value could reach $4 billion by 2010 as people continue to purchase approximately 90,000 names a day and the number of domain registrars swells.

At the end of first quarter 2007, at least 128 million domain names had been registered worldwide, a 31 percent increase over the previous year, according to VeriSign Inc., which runs some of the core domain name directories for the Internet.

"It's not about words," said Monte Cahn, founder and CEO of Moniker.com, a company that specializes in domain asset management and held the Manhattan auction. "It's like real estate. This industry is only about a decade old. People looked at domain names as a commodity. It's a piece of real estate on the Web that can't be replaced. It's your stake in the ground, your stake in the Internet."

At the Manhattan auction, Fischer and Goldberger snatched up four names for more than $1.2 million and a fifth for a client, representing only a handful of the names sold for a total of $12.4 million during both the live and silent auction. The auctions were held during a domain conference in June that attracts some of the biggest players in this niche business.

One name -- creditcheck.com -- went for $3 million but paled in comparison to the sale of sex.com, which sold for $12 million last year, according to Cahn, who knew the site's buyer and seller. Fischer, 44, of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Goldberger, 46, of Cherry Hill, N.J., figured there was money to be made early. Goldberger's entry into the business was unorthodox to say the least. In 1996, the Hearst Corp. sued him, alleging trademark infringement after Goldberger registered esqwire.com, which resembles one of the company's magazines.The two sides eventually settled and Goldberger, a lawyer, was allowed to keep the name. Word got out that Goldberger knew something about the thorny legal issues involving Internet domain names and people began approaching him for advice. Goldberger's fascination with the burgeoning industry was sealed.

"I was an entrepreneur strapped into this suit-and-tie job," Goldberger said. "Kind of a square peg in a round whole and this lawsuit just kind of changed everything for me." He eventually left the respected Philadelphia law firm where he worked in 1997 and joined a small startup in Manhattan called mail.com, which was buying up domain names.Goldberger began collaborating with Fischer in 2001, building their portfolio of domain names. Together, they became a formidable yet quirky team (imagine George Costanza and Jerry Seinfeld with the pioneering spirit of Lewis and Clark). Two years later, they created a company called smartname.com, which they sold earlier this year. The company took names and provided content and links for owners, getting a cut of the advertising revenue. At one point, smartname.com represented 150 owners with about 150,000 domain names, generating 50 million unique visitors a month.

Most the sites are lucrative for their advertising dollars. For example, megayachts.com isn't an actual yachting site, but it contains numerous ads and links for real yacht companies, boats and cruises. The owners of the site get paid each time a viewer clicks on one of those links. Goldberger and Fischer declined to say how much money they make from pay-per-click advertising.

Bob Parsons, CEO and founder of domain registration company GoDaddy.com, says this type of business is fairly straightforward. "They make their money in two ways," Parsons said. "One way is through the traffic they get and the other is the appreciation of the name." Parson didn't think there was anything wrong with the practice as long as those involved weren't using names trademarked by others. "Domain names are becoming 21st century real estate," Parsons said. "Just owning a domain name as an investment, I don't see a problem with that."

Anthony Malutta, a lawyer who specializes in trademark law at a San Francisco law firm, sees fewer trademark infringement cases thanks to improved laws. "Trademark law involving domain laws is much clearer and much easier to understand," he said. "It's pretty clear that registering a domain name that corresponds to somebody's trademark is actionable. As to generics, they're just hoping to capture traffic. You're just counting on people typing in generic names instead of using a search engine like Google."

Malutta said domainers like Goldberger and Fischer are not "gaming the system" which in his opinion would mean registering domain names and then cybersquatting -- driving revenue off somebody else's trademarked name like Coca-Cola. Over the years, Goldberger and Fischer have sharpened their formula for acquiring domain names and developing the sites using a fairly simple template, relying on research, savvy and plenty of instinct. "You either know it or don't by hearing the name," Fischer says.

They look for names that hit the "sweet spot" -- short words that describe a high-value product or services related to it. Words that allow them to own a category such as bald.com and cardiology.com, two of the domain names they bought at the auction. To help figure out a word's potential value, they see how many hits it will produce using Google. They also troll lists of names with domain registrations set to expire, enabling them to get a jump on buying it. They don't bother with dot-nets or the others.

"Dot-com is king," Goldberger said. "Dot-net is worthless." But there's a big divide between thinking of a good name and getting it. There's usually a chase, with Fischer trying to persuade owners to sell the names after he locates the owners unless it's up for auction.

"He's kind of like a rhinoceros," Goldberger says about Fischer. "He chases them up a tree and waits them out. He has patience and determination. You got to be aggressive. It's a tough game now. It's like the gold rush. The first guys did really well then it became more difficult."

And expensive. Five years ago, the duo could get a good name for $10,000. Now the minimum is more like $100,000 -- as the auction proved. The cheapest name they bought at the auction was blogging.com for $135,000. Other names sold for considerably less like irishwhiskey.com ($8,000) and Jewishdeli.com ($9,000).

At the moment, Fischer, Goldberger and Eli are sitting on their names. They've recently turned down million-dollar offers for stocks.com and home.com. But as white-hot as this business has been, it might not continue to mint millionaires.

"How long will this model last?" Malutta asked. "It's definitely a temporal piece of real estate. As technology evolves, maybe direct navigation will fall off the charts and there goes your property."


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