Google encountered the most unlikeliest of PR stories to its name this month as it was reported one of the company’s former employees acquired the domain name for just $12. However, this was only momentarily as the former employee contacted the now rebranded search engine’s security team to inform them of the breach.
This got us thinking of some of the most expensive web domains out there and whether there are other sites out there that may be acquired for hefty prices in the near future.
CarInsurance.com – $49 million
Acquired by Internet marketing services giants QuinStreet Inc. in 2010 as a media acquisition, insurance.com was initially run as an insurance agency, selling policies direct to customers. Despite facing some scrutiny over the purpose of the acquisition, QuinStreet insisted that the lucrative nature of the domain name and the opportunity to build on existing content was the key appeal of the domain.
VacationRentals.com – $35 million
Brian Sharples, founder & CEO of HomeAway, admitted that he bought this domain in 2007 to prevent one of his industry competitors, Expedia, from acquiring it. The purchase instead added to HomeAway’s catalogue of vacation rental sites with the organisation stating that VacationRentals.com was to be run as an independent brand with previous operations remaining the same.
PrivateJet.com – $30 million
Acquired by Nations Luxury Transportation in 2012 from intellectual property holding firm Don’t Look Media.com, this domain was bought with the intention of raising the profile of the buyer in the private aviation sector. Co-founder Randall Da Costa stated after the acquisition that the website was to include daily coverage of news and editorials related to private jets and high net worth lifestyles.
Internet.com – $18 million
iCloud.com – $4.5 million
Prior to setting up the cloud based service iCloud in 2011, Apple acquired the domain name from online storage business, XCerion, who chose to rebrand their name to CloudMe. The purchase of this domain emphasises the importance placed on branding by Apple, with the iCloud name sitting nicely alongside the rest of Apple’s digital services.
Insure.com – $16 million
Another QuinStreet purchase, this domain sold for ten times the original price it was bought for at a staggering $16 million. When it comes to services, the newly renamed Life Quotes focuses mainly on providing quotes for car, health and life insurance. Since renaming the domain in 2009, QuinStreet have been trying to recover the domain’s ranking positions and loss of backlinks, with Life Quotes now ranking on the second of Google’s SERP.
Beer.com – $7 million
Sold to domain management expert Thought Convergence for $7 million in 2007, beer.com was set up to provide site visitors with a mini search engine listing various types of beers and where they can be located. The 21 year old domain is now listed on igloo.com for a minimum price of $5 million with the number of search results for the website exceeding 500 million.
Hotels.com – $11 million
When the president of the Expedia Group, David Roche, was interviewed by the BBC in November 2012 about the purchase of this domain he could not remember the exact figure paid but stated that at the time that it was thought to be a significant sum of money. Two years after the initial acquisition in 2001, USA Interactive acquired the remaining shares of the domain for a stock swap of $1.1 billion having already owned 68 per cent of its stock. The next day, USA Interactive bought the remaining shares of Expedia.com in a deal amounting to $3.3 billion.
Toys.com – $5.1 million
The acquisition of this domain was a very close auction between retailer ToysRUs (the eventual winner) and National A-1 Advertising. The site was initially put up for sale after a bankruptcy court proceeding led to a re-auction after the initial auction was under publicised and only sold for $1.25 million. The purpose of the acquisition was to further establish the online presence of ToysRUs by improving the retailer’s ranking position and brand recognition.
Fb.com – $8.5 million
Despite having already purchased the Facebook.com domain in August 2005, the social media giants needed to purchase fb.com to ensure functionality of their messaging service. Remember the e-mails that you receive when you’ve missed an instant Facebook message from one of your friends? Well, this e-mail service requires a separate domain to the one used by Facebook’s staff for it to work, hence the purchase. However, costing 42.5 times as much as facebook.com, this particular domain acquisition did come at some cost.