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Tell me a little bit about yourself and your project.
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.
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, firstname.lastname@example.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…
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.
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).
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.
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?
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.
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.
Wow, love this one for fashion, skateboard, snowboard… Has a great ‘outsider’ vibe. SKULZ.com
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!
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.
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.
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!
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. 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.
No doubt there is a lot of shady stuff that goes on around domain names. And a lot of hate generated as a result. Occasionally I’ll see a domain dropping or in the auctions I think should rightfully belong to someone and rather than let it fall back into the endless churn I’ll nab it and try to get it to its ‘rightful owner’. I’ve also reached out to non-profits and startups with their namesake dropping to let them know it’s heading for auction or available to register. I call this ‘goodwill domaining’.
An extreme example was helping Sal Khan get KhanAcademy.com ( How We Got Sal (KhanAcademy.org) His Dot Com) and then subsequently helped clean up their brand with domains like ConAcademy.org and ConAcademy.com, How We Got Sal (KhanAcademy.org) ConAcademy.com
In this case I saw that BruceSpringstein.com was winding down in the Godaddy auctions. It had a bid against it and to keep track of it I placed a bid as well and was later surprised to see I’d won the domain. Looking for a channel by which to communicate I ran across this WIPO case for the domain BruceSpringsteen.com where Bruce and his legal team LOST a dispute against notorious (Canadian I’m embarrassed to say) cybersquatter Jeff Burgar. Bruce hosts his site at BruceSpringsteen.net as a result.
I researched the lawyer’s names and available info in the WIPO case and didn’t find an obvious way to connect. The WHOIS for BruceSpringsteen.net shows the domain is handled by MarkMonitor. I’ve sent a couple of emails their way but what usually leads to being contacted is forwarding the domain to a contact splash page where I’m clear about the domain being a gift and how to contact me. I’ll forward the domain to this post. I encourage the domainers among you to keep an eye out for the opportunity to help out a non-profit, Mom & Pop business, or someone you’re a fan of. It might only cost you a few bucks and you know how much the right domain can mean to someone.
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.