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How We Got Sal (KhanAcademy.org) His Dot Com

Update 6/22… It’s 12 years later and I just recently was able to get KhanAcademy.net and KhanAcademy.us to the folks at Khan Academy! It’s great to be able to support my favorite non-profits in a meaningful way.  If you’re into domains and watching the drop, add a few of your favorite non-profits to your monitor list and keep an eye out for domains you think they should have.

Andrew Warner & Sal Khan
Andrew Warner & Sal Khan

I was already a big fan of Sal and KhanAcademy.org after I heard him interviewed by Jon Udell on IT Conversations. Here was a guy really making a difference. I could relate too, because if I’d had such a resource when I was a kid (Sal has hundreds of short-form math and science instructional videos online) I might have had a workaround for some horrible teachers that completely turned me off math.

A few months later Andrew Warner interviewed Sal for Mixergy (an awesome collection of interviews with entrepreneurs) and I heard this exchange as the interview came to a close…

Andrew: All right. Well, thanks guys. If you have any feedback, any suggestions, want to be part of this in any way, xxxxx@khanacademy.org, right? But you also have the dotcom.
Sal: No, I don’t. Somebody claimed the dotcom. I don’t own the dotcom.
Andrew: Who is the evil son of a bitch who has the dot com, who does not…
Sal: Well, I don’t know. I was almost able to get it, and someone got it. I don’t know. There are people more sophisticated at squatting domain names than I am.
Andrew: I guess so. Somebody get that domain name back for him. If anyone out there is listening, get that domain back. All right. Thank you…

I think it was the part about ‘almost getting it’ that really piqued my curiosity. So I began to look into it.
I discovered that KhanAcademy.com was registered with Enom. It was parked (the schoolgirl photo with lots of ads) with a link to ‘buy this domain’. That link took me to a site called AcquireThisName.com where I was presented with a ‘make an offer’ form. I did. My offer led to a brief exchange part of which was…

John,
To be honest, I’m not sure if the registrant is motivated to sell this domain. At this time, he is only asking for solid 6 figure offers for consideration. Please let me know if you have a offer you would like to be presented. Appreciate your interest.
Kind Regards,
Bxxxxx | AcquireThisName.com

Hmm, a ‘solid 6 figure’ offer for a domain whose value derives from the fact that Sal’s Khan Academy gets a lot of traffic? That made me mad. I started looking around the net. There were plenty of people mad at AcquireThisName.com. They had also been involved in numerous trademark suits, (see also). I found that Acquire This Name was incorporated in Nevada and that two of its board members, Michael Blend, and Matthew Polesetsky were also on the board of Demand Media. Demand Media owns Enom and a LOT of other domain related companies.

I checked to see if Sal had a trademark. If he had I would have suggested a WIPO action. It would have been a slam dunk. But Sal, busy teaching kids trigonometry for free, hadn’t gotten one yet.

A couple of months later I got an email from Acquire This Name informing me that KhanAcademy.com was about to go to auction at Namejet. Huh? Great! I signed in to Namejet and placed the $69 minimum bid. You HAVE to have placed the minimal bid before the auction starts in order to participate in the auction. I was able to contact Sal through Andrew Warner and Sal was happy to have me bid on his behalf. The morning the auction opens I log in and discover there are 30 people in the auction! The first two days the bidding stays well below our budget but on the morning of the last day I wake up to discover the price has shot up to $1600. I get on the phone to Sal and he gives me the go ahead to keep bidding. We’re down to 4 bidders now as the auction winds down to those last few nail-biting minutes but finally the clock runs out and we have it – for $5000.

So who was bidding against us? KhanAcademy.org is up to (by Compete’s numbers even) @250k visitors a month. Googling a couple of the bidder’s handles suggested Asian game site owners, probably looking to siphon off the .com type-ins. But who knows-   a shady domainer after a higher end-user sale to Sal down the road? A shill bidder from AcquireThisName?

Interestingly, about a week after the auction closed Namejet informs me that they had detected fraudulent bidding in the auction (bad credit card), and were refunding me $2012,   so in fact we got KhanAcademy.com for $2,988 (my highest bid before the fraudster bid it higher).

Sal has been so busy we haven’t had time to even transfer the name over yet. He’s just won a Google prize and recently Bill Gates declared Sal his favorite teacher.

So there’s the story. But I’m left with a lot of unanswered questions.
Who got Sal’s money? Was it Namejet? They call themselves a partner of eNom. So is Namejet also owned by Demand?
And why the change of heart? Why sell now if you know how much traffic KhanAcademy is getting?
Does it have something to do with the attic cleaning going on at Demand around their IPO?
And who is Mark Barker Incorporated? They show up on the Whois as registrar now (it was Enom). They’re also owned by Demand.

My hunch is that Enom retains some domains that drop even when they don’t   have any generic value. If you look through the domains available through AcquireThisName.com there’s all kinds of names that look like they once belonged to a real business. For example, I found existing exact match companies for domains like BankOfElgin.com KentuckyHomeBank.com BudapestBank.com MichiganTalentBank.com FraminghamCoopBank.com ClevelandFurnitureBank.com. For what other reason could Enom own these domains except to sell them (though Acquire This Name) to the companies that are building value into their brands? No wonder people hate the domain industry. That’s sleaze!

I’m glad we were able to help Sal get his .com. In fact all it took, in this case, was Andrew’s information, my attention, and Sal’s checkbook! It’s not the first time I’ve been able to help someone out, but it’s the first time I’ve written about it. Usually it’s as easy as buying the name and putting up a “This is a present.” page. I call it Good Will Domaining.

See Also:
Hey just discovered a TechDirt article about this post. Interesting comments as well.
Michael Berkens: Here We Go Again: Now Enom Has A Site To Sell Its Own Domain Inventory: Where Did These Domains Come From?

Back In Fashion – BackInFashion.com

Secondhand clothes are big business. You can read all about it here:
How Wearloom simplifies secondhand shopping I like the name Wearloom, a nice portmanteau combining wear and heirloom. It’s the kind of name you might be lucky enough to find available. Though I see that it’s been registered on and off since 2011.

But you know what a great name for a secondhand clothing startup would be? Back In Fashion. BackInFashion.com It’s got all the gravitas of a phrase that goes back a hundred years, and it perfectly matches the use case in a classy way.

I have it listed at Dan.com at $21k.

Goodwill Domaining – Payineer

How It Started

How It’s Going


A few weeks after I nabbed Payineer.com, I noticed that Payoneer(correct spelling).co was picked up on the drop. A few weeks later I followed that link to a SafeNames.net landing page. From there I filled out a contact form and was contacted shortly thereafter by friendly staff who were happy to receive the domain.

Urin8.com – Why John, Why?

Because this revolutionary process/product needs a great name!
Our family has a cabin with a compost toilet. Urine is diverted to separate 5 gallon tanks and later discarded. The poop is mixed with peat and 2 years after composting in 45 gallon drums, it is the best potting soil you can imagine. But human urine contains a ton of nitrogen. Somehow, in the West, we are only now becoming aware of its value and how we can put it to use. Are you the startup bringing this to market? You need a name and Urin8 is perfect. Let’s talk!

We found a way to turn urine into solid fertiliser – it could make farming more sustainable

Zlikovec/Shutterstock

Prithvi Simha, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences; Björn Vinnerås, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, and Jenna Senecal, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

It’s likely that most of the food you’ll eat today was not farmed sustainably.

The global system of food production is the largest human influence on the planet’s natural cycles of nitrogen and phosphorus. How much crops can grow is limited by the amount of these two elements in the soil, so they’re applied as fertilisers.

But the majority of fertilisers are either made by converting nitrogen in the air to ammonia, which alone consumes 2% of the world’s energy and relies heavily on fossil fuels, or by mining finite resources, like phosphate rock.

A solution to this problem could be much closer than people realise. Most of the nutrients we consume in food are passed in our urine, because our bodies already have enough. But instead of being recaptured, these nutrients are flushed, diluted, and sent to wastewater treatment plants where they’re scrubbed out, leaving effluents that can be safely released into the environment.

The most nutrient-rich part of wastewater is human urine, which makes up less than 1% of the total volume but contains 80% of the nitrogen and 50% of the phosphorus. We discovered how to recycle this urine into valuable – and sustainable – farmland fertiliser.

A pair of gloved hands hold a pot containing a urine sample.
Urine is surprisingly rich in the nutrients needed for growing food.
Tati9/Shutterstock

How to recycle urine

You can capture urine with special toilets that separate it from faeces after you flush. But because urine is mostly water, farmers would have to spread 15,000kg of it just to fertilise a hectare of land. If there was a way to remove the water and extract just the nutrients, farmers would only need to apply 400kg of it for the same effect.

Evaporating the water from urine is surprisingly difficult, as urine is a complex chemical solution. Almost all of the valuable nitrogen in urine is in the form of urea, a chemical that is used as the world’s most commonly applied nitrogen fertiliser.

But a fast-acting enzyme called urease is invariably present inside wastewater pipes and converts urea to ammonia. When exposed to air, the ammonia quickly evaporates, taking the nitrogen from the urine with it and giving off a very pungent odour – think the stale urine smell of public toilets.

Fortunately, we’ve discovered that increasing the pH of urine to make it alkaline ensures the urea doesn’t break down or end up smelling really bad. Using this technique, we’ve developed a process that can reduce the volume of urine and transform it into a solid fertiliser. We call this process alkaline urine dehydration.

A petri dish full of a dry, soil-like powder.
Some of the fertiliser produced by drying human urine.
Prithvi Simha, Author provided

The idea behind it is rather simple. Fresh urine is collected from urinals or specially designed toilets and channelled into a dryer, where an alkalising agent, such as calcium or magnesium hydroxide, raises its pH. Any water in the now alkaline urine is evaporated and only the nutrients are left behind. We can even condense the evaporated water and reuse it for flushing toilets or washing hands.

A circular pee-conomy

Doing this is quite easy: you just fill a urine dryer with an alkalising agent, connect it to your toilet, pee as usual and the urine is converted into dried fertiliser. A smart design could even make the dryer fit below the toilet so it doesn’t take up a lot of bathroom space. While electricity would be needed for evaporating the water, the dryer could be coupled with solar energy to take its energy use off the grid.

We estimate that it would cost just US$5 ( £4.20) to supply an average family of four with a year’s supply of alkalising agent. The output from the dryer is a solid fertiliser containing 10% nitrogen, 1% phosphorus and 4% potassium – a similar combination to blended mineral fertilisers.

Left: a scientist spreads fertiliser on soil. Right: the same area with short, green crops growing.
Field trials on farmland outside Paris revealed that dried urine works as well as synthetic crop fertilisers.
Tristan Martin, Author provided

The first flush toilet, invented by Alexander Cummings in 1775, revolutionised sanitation. Drying urine could kickstart a second revolution in how we manage wastewater. If implemented worldwide, recycled urine could replace nearly a quarter of all the synthetic nitrogen fertiliser used in agriculture.

But that would require a service chain capable of supplying homes with alkalising agent, collecting the dried urine and processing it into fertiliser for farmers to use. A similar service chain already exists for the recycling of plastics, metals, paper and glass – dried urine could simply be another component.

A world map highlighted to show where urine could replace more synthetic fertiliser use.
Countries with large populations and low rates of fertiliser use are most suitable for replacing synthetic fertilisers with urine.
Prithvi Simha/Datawrapper and FAOSTAT, Author provided

Research suggests that people are open to the idea of recycling urine. A survey of nearly 3,800 people across 16 countries even revealed that people would buy and eat food grown using human urine. With technology like this, ordinary people would have a safe and convenient way to make modern life more sustainable every time they go to the bathroom.The Conversation

Prithvi Simha, PhD Candidate in Environmental Engineering, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences; Björn Vinnerås, Professor of Environmental Engineering, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, and Jenna Senecal, Postdoctoral Researcher in Environmental Engineering, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Paul English Talks Domains With Andrew Warner

Great insights from Paul English, (Kayak.com, Lola.com) on domains and branding. Interviewed by Andrew Warner on his always excellent Mixergy .
Full interview here.


Andrew mentions as an aside that he owned Grab.com ‘for a while’, and paid $125k for it. I wonder what he sold it for!

Leveraging Domain Names – John Legend, Kanye & Nabil Elderkin

John Legend tells Marc Maron on the WTF Podcast episode 1137 how a young Nabil Elderkin leveraged ‘squatting’ the KanyeWest.com domain into a career changing relationship. Meeting Nabil lead to John meeting his future wife Chrissy Teigen!

From wikipedia:

His big break came when he befriended the then relatively unknown rap artist Kanye West. Elderkin had heard a Kanye West mixtape and had tried to contact the rapper by looking up www.kanyewest.com. The website came up as unregistered but available for registration, so he bought the domain name on an impulse. Three weeks later an executive from Roc-A-Fella Records contacted Elderkin to tell him the label had just signed Kanye West to a multi-album deal and wanted to know how much he was asking for the domain name. Elderkin wasn’t interested in a payment for the domain and preferred to transfer the domain name provided he could meet the new artist and do a photoshoot with him, these images went on to be the artist’s first publicity photos.[1] John Legend also happened to be at the photoshoot which led to the two forming a relationship, and future video work together where Elderkin introduced Legend to his future wife, Chrissy Teigen.

Naming and Domains – Rev.com’s CEO Jason Chicola with Shaan Puri on the My First Million Podcast

Shaan Puri
Jason Chicola

Excerpt from the ‘Getting a Billion People Working From Home‘ episode of the My First Million podcast with Shaan Puri. The entire episode (linked to above) is great but I wanted to focus on what Jason Chicola shares about naming his company and acquiring the domain.   He demonstrates some hard-earned wisdom in his approach.

Chicola spent $400k to acquire Rev.com (a huge part of their assets at the time).

  • Started off with a funky (animal + keyword) $12 Godaddy domain to make clear and specific their initial product offering. Knew it was temporary. “Spend no time at the beginning thinking about a name because the odds that your business is going to work are not super high”.
  • Only later when the business was working and they’d found a good product/market fit did he prioritize naming the company.
  • “It’s really a two part problem. One is picking a name that you love, and then figuring out can you get the domain name”.
  • Hired two domain brokers to research his name list.
  • Used Mechanical Turk to evaluate names…”What three words does this name evoke?”

New Names For Startups

tidied
Get it tidied up! Tidied.com
rsslabs
Probably keeping this one for a project but let’s get to work! RSSLabs.com
kymal
Fighting, wrestling, super hero, game. KYMAL! Kymal.com
forevely
Because some things are Forevly.com!
genomicly
Impressive bio-sci startup name! Genomicly.com
spot on time
On time! SpotOnTime.com
aloudly
Say it for me! Aloudly.com
feriss
AI, Virtual Assistant Feriss.com
fockus
Fockus.com
lepinotnoir
Restaurant, winery! LePinotNoir.com
pursly
Pursly.com
voiceovr
Voiceovr.com
luverly
Wouldn’t it be Luverly.com!
slumberly
Slumberly.com
kavender
Classy! Kavender.com

First Names Make Great Brands!

For more information or to make an offer, email me.

alphonsos
Alphonsos.com

ridona
Ridona.com

klarisa
Klarisa.com

jemalyn
Jemalyn.com

caryna
Caryna.com

timly
Timoy.com

engilbert
Engilbert.com

fantina
Fantina.com

jalien
Jalien.com

jedrick
Jedrick.com

bobana
Bobana.com

johnio
Johnio.com

kidada
Kidada.com

ridona
Edmona.com

melisya
Melisya.com

presly
Presly.com

rodly
Rodly.com

apprazer
Ruzwana.com

shouko
Shouko.com

joberto
Joberto.com

ednan
Ednan.com

Most of my domains are priced low to mid 4 figures.
I’m up for creative deals.
Like the names but not your niche? I can find you a great name for a reasonable price.
Lots more elsewhere in the blog or email me!

Looking for some perspective? What is a First Name Domain Worth?