Now that the BBC has revealed that they paid US$375,000 to bump out a small
American competitor with the domain name bbc.com at the height of the
dot com boom, Crikey thought it was a good time to assess whether the
domain name trade could ever get back up to the feverish heights of the
late 90s. And following the tech crash that sent internet providers,
software companies and start-up websites to the wall, there’s a new
wave of demand for short and to-the-point internet domain names popping
up.

Bruce Tonkin, chief technology officer at domain name
registrar Melbourne IT, told Crikey that although the market has
substantially changed since the tech crash, the trade in easily
searchable domain names with advertising appeal will see prices
continue to go through the roof. “The trade in internet domain names
has increased substantially,” Tonkin told Crikey, and it’s no longer
about buying attractive domain names and sitting on them until a
company pays you thousands, but instead trading them for an optimal price.

“It’s
not much different to real estate or shares,” Tonkin said. And just
like the stock or real estate market, companies are now trading in
already existing popular domain names and leasing them to sucking in
advertising revenue. “Location location location… now the
domain name space is just like the commercial property market.”

In
2000 a collective of internet backers paid US$7.5 million for the
business.com domain name, while this year’s record rests with British
company Leisure and Gaming, who paid $1.4 million for the rights to use
vip.com. Our own name sake at Crikey.com is still offering the address
for US$45,000, and claims to have received bids of US$22,500, which was
no doubt aided by a picture of croc hunter Steve Irwin on the site.

Tonkin
said that most of the names with value are already being used, so we
won’t see people paying millions for brand new domain names, but he has
no doubt the trade in popular existing addresses will push prices into
tens of millions of dollars in the near future.

But even
though the domain trade is bustling, Tonkin added, most auctions are
kept out of the public eye because the buyer fears that any publicity
could push the price up.

But if you’re interested in picking up
a bargain, then maybe try rupertmurdoch.com.au and bring our Rupert
back to Australia. Rupertmurdoch.com has been taken by a loving fan,
and there’s a pretty good chance the site comes out of New York, and not
Adelaide.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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