In what is perhaps the most indelible scene in the movie The Social Network, Justin Timberlake’s character, Sean Parker, meets Mark Zuckerberg in a fancy restaurant and schmoozes him with tales of his Napster days.
Yet most interestingly, before he leaves, he makes what is described as his “greatest contribution.” He advises Zuck to drop the “the” and change it to just “Facebook.”
And this is the part where I come in, for my memory can sometimes be shady, but I do remember perusing the listings on Ebay and coming across kind of a cool domain name for sale, Facebook.com.
I hadn’t heard of “The Facebook” at the time, I simply liked the domain – it had my usual wishlist of attributes: generic, brandable, positive.
But it was listed for $50,000, too high in my opinion, and I did not bid. Nobody did.
So after the auction I contacted the owner and offered him about half…which he accepted.
We moved along to escrow but just before depositing the funds, I got an email from the seller explaining that he had an offer well beyond the initial fifty thousand.
Wouldn’t tell me what that offer was but from what I gathered, I guesstimate it was between $150-$250k. All I knew at the time was that $50k was already too much and I bowed out without a counter offer.
Of course, wouldn’t be too long before Facebook came roaring along and I realized what had happened: I had witnessed the moment ‘TheFacebook.com” became “Facebook.com.”
Few weeks, even days sooner, and I might have grabbed the name and the windfall – and more perhaps.
But it didn’t happen, owner sold it to them and history became what it is today.
So that’s it, I have no consolation for my role, only this story and the hope that someday Justin Timberlake will call, take me to dinner.
Looking back over my non-illustrious but lengthy and yet to be heralded career, I couldn’t help but take a moment to note some significant ‘firsts’ along the way, along the crooked road so many domainers have taken and periled from. This is, in part, homage to them.
- First domain registration: 1997
- First website built: 1998, SmokinCaddy.com for a line of golf cigars.
- First aftermarket sale: 2000, sold the site Pfiles.com, an enlargement site for $5,000.
- First aftermarket domain sale: 2000, sold AdultSearch.com for $15,000.
- First Domain Conference: Deanfest 2002
- First TRAFFIC Conference: Del Ray, 2004
- First forum: Rick’s Board, I was member #4
- First BIG purchase: HappyBirthday.com for $20,001
- First Domainer I Met in Person: Sahar
- First Domainer I Worked For: Don Ham
- First Domainer I Worked With: Roy Messer
- First Female Recruited into the Female Domainer Outreach Program (FDOP): Your name here!
- First Domainer which I tried to stuff a pirate statue into their hotel bed: Richard K.
- First live auction: Moniker, TRAFFIC 2004
- First Parking Sponsor: Sedo
- First Marketplace: Afternic
- First Claim to Fame: I designed some of the first online stores for MLB, 3m, Motorola and more and the work I did for NatGeo won them a Webby. Still waiting on that check!!
- First Official Domain Appraisal: Philadelphia.com, 2007
- First Live Auction held: Domain Roundtable, San Francisco, 2006.
- First Live Auction run entirely by DC: Domain Madness 1, 2009
- First Auction using our own technology/platform: Domain Madness 2, 2010
- First Public Auction platform: Boxcar, 2010
- First Boxcar Sale: AroundTheHorn.com
As a company, especially in the auction arena, we’ve had many firsts. We were the first to hold a ‘No Reserve’ Auction, offer 0% Financing, hold themed auctions like ‘No Names Over $100k’ and the first to offer ‘pre-bidding’ – a common staple for live auctions today.
We are also the first to create and offer a multi-lot auction platform for brokers and owners, Boxcar.
Truth is we like being first. Means there’s more to come. Stay tuned…
For those with historical domain knowledge, you’ll note that many of today’s giants in the industry became successes not by being the early worm so much as the second mouse who got the cheese. And maybe the havarti is back.
See, by the late 1990′s many of the great names were long gone and the price to buy them from the owner was out of whack. I recently bought a domain for $25k that I tried to get back in the day but was quoted $1m on a consistent basis.
Because when the dot-com crash came about, a great many gave up on domains, thought the ride was over and sold their wares cheap or mostly, just let them expire.
And thus came the second mice, who gobbled up the cheese, amassing huge tranches of property and relishing the benefits of all the traffic they brought forth.
Still others, like myself, found gold in the liquidation bonanza that followed, buying up quality property at low rates. Inbox.com for $2,000 comes to mind circa 2002.
So what is the lesson, the point?
Last night I took a stroll down hand-registration lane, checking in on inventory, intent on playing the ‘what if I started fresh today’ game.
Long a registrant and lover of ‘state’ names (only 100 of them for each keyword), I did searches on high value keywords I knew, in the past, were unavailable.
And it didn’t take long for me to feel like Tom. Or is it Jerry? I forget which one is the mouse.
What I found were many instances where, for some reason, one or two states in several outstanding niches had become available and missed by the drop masses.
They were not there two even five years ago but because of the economy, the times, the owner may have gone out of business. And these are high-dollar click terms and areas that, sure, while they won’t boom in traffic, a couple clicks a year makes a nice profit. And sometimes they do get good traffic and make plenty more. They also resell well because the buyer really has only one alternative, the state abbreviation – which was my second option.
For your reference, here is a sampling of the provolone registered…
- FLtrips.com (WTF?)
Hope that helps some of you out there searching for your own mozzarella or cheddar or brick. I’ll try and update the progress of names registered last night, over 50 in all, as an experiment, a test of the current state of unregistered inventory.
Have a nice weekend…
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