A Japanese Internet business has just dropped $6.8 million on a domain – yes a domain, not an established website, a domain. But is this purchase just another example of how some online companies are seemingly frivolous with money or does it emphasise the phenomenal value that once-in-a-lifetime domain name sales command?
The purchase this month of Z.com by Japanese internet service provider GMO Internet, Inc represents one of the highest value domain name sales ever. In fact, its $6.8 million price tag places it at number seven in our top 10 domain sales of all time and makes it this year’s highest value sale by quite a margin.
But if an awesome sounding, one letter domain such as Z.com can only make it to number seven then that means there are six other domains which proved more valuable in the eyes of buyers.
Let’s countdown the biggest domain name sales of all time…
Note: The following list comprises domain-only sales. Any transactions that included an already established website/business do not feature.
For example, Insurance.com, VacationRentals.com and PrivateJet.com all sold for over $30 million apiece but they came with a host of other assets too.
10. Korea.com – $5 million – January 2000
The only domain in our top 10 that is named after a country, Korea.com was bought in the year 2000 by Korea.com Communications.
Don’t, however, make your way to Korea.com and expect to find the official website of the Republic of Korea or you’ll be disappointed. That site boasts a .net suffix and is very different to the $5 million Korea.com.
9. Toys.com – $5.1 million – March 2009
Back in 2009, the Toys.com domain was put up for sale following a bankruptcy court proceeding. The final selling price was $1.25 million (yes we know that’s significantly lower than the $5+ million stated above, but bear with us).
The reason for the difference in price was that the first Toy.com auction was under publicised and didn’t draw as much attention as it should have. The bankruptcy court ordered a re-auction and that was when Toys R Us and National A-1 Advertising went head-to-head.
Toys R Us eventually emerged victorious in an auction that went back and forth for hours.
8. Slots.com – $5.5 million – June 2010
Online gambling is an internet mega niche and so any one word domains that relate to it find themselves attracting a lot of interest when they come up for sale.
This was definitely the case back in June 2010 when Slots.com was bought by BodogBrand.
However, the sale wasn’t a foregone conclusion as the SnapNames auction it was being sold in ended without the reserve price being met. Registration firm Moniker was able to negotiate the $5.5 million deal behind the scenes and save the sale, but it raises the question of whether low reserve auctions are a better option.
7. Z.com – $6.8 million – November 2014
We’ve already talked about the recent Z.com sale above but what we haven’t mentioned is that the previous owner of the domain was Nissan. They originally used it to showcase their Z-series sports cars but it had been left dormant in more recent times.
Z.com is one of only three single-letter-dot-coms that were created before rules were put in place to restrict them. Maybe that explains the rockstar price tag.
6. Diamond.com – $7.5 million – May 2006
Diamonds might be a girl’s best friend but Diamond.com was certainly Odimo Inc’s best friend when it sold the domain for $7.5 million in 2006.
Online diamond and jewellery retailer Ice.com was the buyer and the site today sells – you’ve guessed it – diamonds and jewellery!
5. FB.com – $8.5 million – September 2010
No list involving multi-million dollar transactions would be complete without Facebook featuring somewhere and ours is no exception.
But you may be wondering who would own FB.com if it wasn’t already owned by Facebook? The American Farm Bureau Federation that’s who! They use FB.org as their primary domain and when you’re a non-profit organisation, $8.5 million for something you’ve effectively just got hanging around is an extremely attractive proposition.
Facebook paid around $200,000 for the Facebook.com domain back in 2005; a move that saw the social networking giant ditch its original ‘TheFacebook’ name.
4. Porn.com – $9.5 million – May 2007
It was inevitable right? A domain relating to porn? And how much more specific can you get than Porn.com – not much!
A quick visit to the domain reveals exactly what you’d expect, which is probably why it commanded a $9.5 million value in 2007.
In a previous attempt to sell the domain a few months prior its reserve price was not met, despite it receiving a bid close to $7 million. What did we say earlier about low reserve auctions…
3. Fund.com – $9.99995 million – March 2008
When you hand over $10 million and get $50 change you know you must have bought something epic. A house in a neighbourhood full of movie stars? A super yacht that you could live in all year round? Neither… a domain name.
Fund.com was apparently purchased by a financial services company in 2008 but at the time of writing it boasts very little in terms of a website.
Was it $10 million well spent? We’ll have to wait a little bit longer to find out.
2. Hotels.com – $11 million – September 2001
If you ever have to travel for business or pleasure then chances are you conduct an internet search to find a suitable place to stay. It’s no wonder then that Hotels.com would net its previous owner a cool $11 million when it was sold back in 2001.
Nowadays, Hotels.com is an Expedia Inc. brand and further highlights how the group has taken advantage of the unique opportunities that the Internet provides.
1. Sex.com – $13 million – November 2010
Don’t act surprised! If Porn.com can make it to number four then Sex.com was always going to be higher.
Clover Holdings Ltd purchased the domain from Escom LLC in 2010 and the sale is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the highest domain-only sale in history.
Sex.com was even the focus of a mid-90s legal battle that ended in a $65 million judgment and saw a man named Stephen Cohen end up in jail. He’d basically obtained the domain through deception and then proceeded to make an absolute fortune from advertising and click-throughs.
Who’d have thought that sex on the internet would be so lucrative!?