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Domain Name Sold for Millions 141

Luke PiWalker writes "The infamous and controversial domain Sex.com has officially been sold to Boston-based Escom LLC for a reported $14 million. Sex.com owner Gary Kremen was unavailable for comment, but a source from Kremen's company, Grant Media, told XBiz that sales for the famous domain name will still be handled through Grant Media's San Francisco offices. While other terms of the acquisition remain unknown, XBiz was able to locate information on the deal through a company called InternetRealEstate.com, which shares office space in Boston with Domain Name Acquisition Group (DNAG), a company that was involved in a lawsuit surrounding the Sex.com domain in September."
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Domain Name Sold for Millions

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  • Sex Sells (Score:5, Funny)

    by Joebert ( 946227 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @09:05AM (#14508472) Homepage
    I've heard the saying "Sex Sells" but this is ridiculous.
  • $14 million (Score:5, Funny)

    by yobjob ( 942868 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @09:06AM (#14508473) Homepage
    Definitely goes in my great big "wish I thought of it first" list.
    • When did sex.com get gobbled up originally? There was an article a few years back that talked about the history of the sex.com domain that was rather interesting I thought.
    • Re:$14 million (Score:3, Interesting)

      by RobinH ( 124750 )
      Definitely goes in my great big "wish I thought of it first" list.

      I just have a feeling that someone would have stolen the domain name, had you registered it originally. I was at a bar years ago in Ottawa, Canada talking to an employee who said that a bar with the same name in New Zealand stole their internet domain name just by sending a letter to the domain registrar asking for the admin contact and details to be changed. There was nothing they could do to get it back.
      • Actually, I believe that very thing happened here as well, and they sued to get it back.
      • Re:$14 million (Score:3, Informative)

        by joepeg ( 87984 )
        That is called Domain Hijacking. It is actually a common practice. It even happened to Sex.com [wired.com]

        A guy named Gary Kremen was apparently one of the first cybersquatters in the early 90's when domains were free. A guy named Stephen Cohen then hijacked Sex.com, and Kremens sued him:

        "In November 2000, at the end of a three-year legal battle, a federal judge ruled that Stephen Cohen had stolen the domain by forging a letter from Kremen's company to Network Solutions. Cohen was ordered to return Sex.com to Kremen an
        • Kremen's attorney, Timoth Dillon, is opposing me in a case I have against a porn spammer. The sex.com case (Kremen v. Cohen) established that a domain name is property, or at least in California. But, Tim has tracked down some of his money and Cohen is currently sitting in jail claiming that he "doesn't have the money to buy toilet paper to wipe his ass."


          Harry Mudd: Norman, I always lie.
          Norman: Yes, Harry Mudd always lie.
          Harry Mudd: I am lying to you now.
          Norman: If you are lying to me now, and you
    • Along with the paper clip, post-its and Page Rank.
    • Didn't whitehouse.com sell for $3 million a while ago?
  • by nordelius ( 947186 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @09:06AM (#14508475) Homepage Journal
    Are domain names really that valuable anymore? Given recent stories on the way that search engines are leaching value from web resources, doesn't the default action of yer average mom-and-dad browser involve typing a company name into google rather than typing an url into the address bar? Er - first post (both EVAR and on this article). Guess I was just that lucky :-)
    • by Anonymous Coward
      You are forgetting that Google uses domain names as one of the key factors of their search algorithm.
    • You have a definite point, but you also underestimate the power of branding.

      For some businesses, marketing is what gets the word out. Your name/brand is tied to that, making it valuable. Nike isn't a shoe company, it's a branding company. Most people don't go to the store and ask for sneakers, they go in and ask for Nikes.

      The majority of search engine traffic for some of my clients' websites are name searches - "MyCompanyName" or "Smith and Associates." It's part of the online marketing battle. Not just so
    • The thing is that a concise and unique domain name could add a whole lot of credibility to your site. "That's not just some porn site you're browsing, that's THE sex.com!"
    • Just typing the name of the company did NOT work so great for me when looking up Dick's (Sporting Goods) from work.
      • But the name of the company IS "Dick's Sporting Goods", not "Dick's". "Dick's sporting goods" and even dick's sporting goods sans quotes both had the correct company at the top of the list.

        You woudn't search for University of North Carolina by googling "University" would you?

        As a joke: lame. As a serious comment: sad.
        • Not a serious comment. As a joke, lame? Perhaps. As something that really happened (because yes this really DID happen to me)? Everyone around here calls it just plain Dick's. And I didn't google. I typed in the URL, wasn't this thread about typing URLs directly?
        • "You woudn't search for University of North Carolina by googling 'University' would you?"

          The search term you are looking for is "tarhole." :P

          GO DUKE!

  • by digitaldc ( 879047 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @09:06AM (#14508477)
    Sex.com has officially been sold to Boston-based Escom LLC for a reported $14 million.

    Anagram 'Escom' and you get 'Comes' - now we know why they wanted it so bad.
  • by Random_Goblin ( 781985 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @09:07AM (#14508481)
    $14, million!

    is that the most money paid for sex ever?
  • That must be a nice domain to have! What are the stats for "sex" in Google?
  • by broothal ( 186066 ) <christian@fabel.dk> on Thursday January 19, 2006 @09:09AM (#14508487) Homepage Journal
    I wonder how many of these sites [google.com] they could get for $14 million
    • by shon ( 20200 )
      While these domains have nice search result rankings, there is a dependency on Google's ranking algorithm that decreases their value. They could just as easily be blasted to page 5 next month, who knows?

      What you're overlooking is the type-in traffic that "sex.com" gets. You'd be surprised at how many people just type in random URLs into their browser. What's even more interesting is that most of the "search results" at parked domains are handled through Google, Yahoo, and smaller outfits like sedo.com. Havi
      • Yeah, it's amazing the number of people who just type in URLs. But, I think they get a lot of wasted bandwidth because of it. They probably get a lot of traffic from people who don't bring them any revenue. Seriously, I don't know how porn makes any money with the amount of free stuff available.
        • You and I (well, at least just you :-) know where the good free porn is, but what about people in lesser developed countries or those coming online now? Seems to me that typing in sex.com into your URL bar is less risky to prying eyes and repressive governments. Just delete history/cookies and you're somewhat safe.

          Search engines store way too much information about their users anyway.
        • Seriously, I don't know how porn makes any money with the amount of free stuff available.

          The same way most Open Source projects do: consulting fees! Who wouldn't pay Nicole from WeLiveTogether.com to do some "one-on-one consulting"?
    • Is it really worth it?

      Today they will think so. In a few days, when the /. traffic declines, they might reconsider.

    • $14 million? Is that all?

      If beer.com sold for $7 million, then sex.com is worth at least $14 million. Sure, more people drink more beer than have sex, but these guys will be selling selling online -- you can't delivery beer through a browser.
  • Too easy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Billosaur ( 927319 ) * <wgrother@oEINSTE ... minus physicist> on Thursday January 19, 2006 @09:16AM (#14508515) Journal
    There are a plethora of jokes to be made at this point... I'll refrain. It's just amazing how much money there is to be made in the domain name game. When you think about it, what is a domain name? On the technical level, it's just something plugged into DNS servers so people don't have to remember IPv4 codes. But on the media side of things, your domain name is an attribute, you're billboard on the information superhighway. And when you think about it, how smart were some people when they registered the more obvious domains back at the start? And now they're reaping the rewards. Sex.com was just too obvious to pass up, and now it's worth $14 million. That's easy money.
    • Two reasons why it fetched so high a price:

      Most net users think along these lines - the shorter and snappier the domain name, the more it costs to buy. So surfers conclude that sites with short names (and a .com tag) are more likely to be half-decent professional operations than those with long domain names. It's a symbol of prestige.

      They're buying traffic. Thousands of people looking for sex will type in www.sex.com every day (strange but true). They're buying traffic, no advertising required.
  • by gd23ka ( 324741 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @09:17AM (#14508517) Homepage
    .. a few years ago. I wish I had registered shit,com, it wouldn't be worth crap today :-)
  • Wikipedia article (Score:5, Informative)

    by SecState ( 667211 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @09:22AM (#14508538)
    There's some background on the domain name here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex.com [wikipedia.org]
  • just wait (Score:5, Funny)

    by circletimessquare ( 444983 ) <circletimessquare&gmail,com> on Thursday January 19, 2006 @09:23AM (#14508540) Homepage Journal
    as soon as they open up the *.sex domain, i'm buying


  • The funny thing is it totally makes sense for it to cost that amount... Think of how many 14 year old males and idiot computer users must type in sex.com. A part of business not many people like to admit but really does sell is selling to idiots. The sex industry is a billion dollar industry and while most of it is very legit the people making the big money is the damn reseller sites that don't even host their own adult content. They just link to others so by owning a site like sex.com you could make milli
    • You have to realize that most of the people who pay for porn are the vast, unwashed, naive people. You and I know how much free porn there is out there, whether torrents of DVD rips or whatever else. The people who pay for it are... AOL users, for example.

      Search engine traffic is great for conversion ratios in the online porn industry. But sex.com isn't even in the first 100 results when I google the word sex. For it to be worth that, it's gotta be the type-ins. That, and the simple notoreity factor.
    • While you make a good point, how much profit are you going to make from 14 yr old males online? They usually don't have credit cards.
    • even if you type in sex you get 95% of the site returned to be heath sites.

      I think the reason you're seeing those results is that your google preferences have 'safe search' enabled. That's one mechanism they've implemented to achieve the effect you're describing.

  • Look at the front page! They have everything! Oh, wait. Except for links to other sites, there's just a page asking for your e-mail address with a statement that by giving them your address you're asking them to send you lots of e-mail.

    Guess they've got to pay for that domain name somehow.
  • At Last! (Score:3, Funny)

    by zmollusc ( 763634 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @09:41AM (#14508610)
    I hope they get their site up and running ASAP. I am desperate to find a supplier of those Viagra pills.
  • Alexa Rank...3,560 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by xoip ( 920266 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @09:44AM (#14508623) Homepage
    For what it's worth, the Alexa ranking [alexa.com] for Sex.com is 3,560.
    If this is a benchmark, think of the value of any top ranked site like Business.com [alexa.com]
  • No link? (Score:4, Informative)

    by SamSim ( 630795 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @09:45AM (#14508629) Homepage Journal
    ...And there's no link to sex.com [sex.com] in the story? Good grief.
  • by mzs ( 595629 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @09:46AM (#14508634)
    There is an long article about sex.com in the current February issue of Playboy. I have not finished it yet, but it so far it is well written and interesting. There is also an interview with Al Franken that is more insightful than humorous. So pick-up the issue or check playboy.com, sometimes they have portions of articles there with no charge.
  • I would have thought that the miss-spelt domain names of heavily used sites would be more valuable. But then, who miss-spells sex?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    sax.com, six.com, and sux.com? Oh, what the hell -- even syx.com? Somebody must be able to do something interesting with that one too. I expect Sox.com must be owned by Major League Baseball or the Red Sox. Hmmm...

    Sax.com is owned by a D. Miller in Malibu, California
    Six.com is owned by some company (Xedoc Holding) in Luxembourg
    sux.com is owned by ^!@#$@#$23! Damn. Almost spewed my drink over the computer monitor! ... Are you ready? Okay. The "Sydney UniX Club" of Sydney, Australia. That's ... rathe
  • by yellowstuff ( 142885 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:35AM (#14508993)
    Sex.com changes hands.
  • This is too '90's for words. I remember when the term "cybersquatting" was coined, and domains like "furniture.com" and "syndicatednews.com" were making millions for their housewife or cab driver owners.

    Really, though, what's the advantage of these generic names? Do you buy your books at books.com? I usually get mine at a place called Amazon. Do people (who actually pay for it) download their music from music.com, or iTunes? If, as another post pointed out, the importance of a domain is not in its use

  • pr0n.xxx (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Quiet_Desperation ( 858215 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:04AM (#14509239)
    I'm still suprised when the porn sites resist the .xxx domain. It seems to me it would put an end to the whining and moaning. Parents could just block *.xxx, and the porn companies could get on with their business and lay off a few of their legal staff. People could set up *.xxx only search engines. There's a world of possibilities here.
    • Not neccesarily. The porn industry thrives on not just those that know they want adult content, but those that accidentally happen upon it. [insert joke here]. I think that the porn industry is just as guilty as the tobacco industry of desire to infiltrate peoples' homes and expose them to erotic material--this means those under the age of 18. I have no beef with the .xxx domain being created, but I doubt that there will be this mass abondonment of .com, .net, etc. domain names to claim the newly created
      • I dunno... if people find a porn site accidently, are they someone who would normally seek it? Do the accidental porn tourists generally click away quickly? I'm not convinced of the value added there without some actual research data.
    • Re:pr0n.xxx (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sfjoe ( 470510 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @02:07PM (#14511137)

      That solution will neither help people find porn nor stop the christians from whining about it. The problem isn't about segregating porn, but determinig what porn is. Are 18th century impressionist nudes porn? What about Playboy? Is graphical information about vaginal yeast infections porn? If we set up a system where all "porn" goes in the .xxx domain, then someone has to decide what is and is not required to go there. That "someone" is likely to be a Republican so that means all sex education material and anything relating to birth control or LGBT issues will be classified as porn and forced into the ghetto.

      • That "someone" is likely to be a Republican so that means all sex education material and anything relating to birth control or LGBT issues will be classified as porn and forced into the ghetto.
        Yeah, cuz Republicans, are like, stupid and stuff.
        • You heard it here first.

        • No, just repressed.
          Just because someone is conservative doesn't necessarily make them stupid. Stupid people, however, are nearly always conservative due to their limited abilities to envision change.
      • your example hints on another reason why .xxx is a terrible idea. With blocking software in place it's likely that that our future, the youth of the world, will grow up yanking it to "graphical information about vaginal yeast infections." Call me Freudian if you will, but such specimens will not likely exhibit prime mental health in their later years.
        • With blocking software in place it's likely that that our future, the youth of the world, will grow up yanking it to "graphical information about vaginal yeast infections."

          Could that be any worse than yanking to images of women who've had so much plastic surgery that they only vaguely resemble human beings? Hard to say.

      • That "someone" is likely to be a Republican so that means all sex education material and anything relating to birth control or LGBT issues will be classified as porn and forced into the ghetto.

        You've hit the nail on the head exactly.

        What's porn and what isn't porn is a completely subjective call subject to the social mores of a particular culture or subculture. So no matter where the line is drawn, you're going to get effusive self-righteous elists like this weighing in on all sides of the issue insisting
  • I had 19x.net and I couldn't even get $50 for it. Feh.
  • Link is NSFW (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nick of NSTime ( 597712 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:56AM (#14509753)
    Come on, even Fark lets you know when a link is NSFW. Please put some kind of indicator there. I didn't notice the naked pictures until I finished reading the article.

    Oh wait, there are two things wrong with that statement:

    1. I read the article.
    2. I read the article instead of looking at naked ladies.
  • I just spent the afternoon researching this one. If TCP packets have a color, I think it's pink.

    The odd things that strike me about this deal is that people have been 'Googlelized', in that the new Domain name registery is effectively the search engines. You just type what you are looking for into Google(!), even grandma does it (nice image eh?).

    What with also the impending .xxx thing meaning a devaluation of the sexy xyz.com's value, then this just makes it seem like a 'bragging rights' buy. Bad business.

  • While this deal is the biggest ever, there are plenty of top-dollar domain sales taking place these days. Check out the top sales of 2005 [dnjournal.com] over at Domain Name Journal and you'll find that at least 44 domains sold for more than $100,000 last year, including a blog domain (blogster.com) and even a typo (voyuer.com).

    The list of highest all-time domain sales [multireg.com] is also interesting reading.

  • Check out the wikipedia page from TFA. This Gary Kremen made around $65m from S M Cohen for fraud and another $20m from verisign for improperly transferring the domain. and now he's just got another $14m from Escom LLC. Not to mention all the revenue from the site itself.. this is one rich puppy...
  • wow what to do with 14 million dollars.
    1. retire and never have to lift a finger again.
    2. pay someone to do my job.
    3. buy a nice car that is even nice enough for a geek to pick up chicks.
    4. or buy one single small domain

    i think that was a smart buy. i mean who would rather never have to work again so you can stay home all day on your computer, when they could buy a domain name. hmmmm.
  • by humankind ( 704050 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @02:54PM (#14511656) Journal
    In the wake of the disaster of Hurricane Katrina, my company has decided to put a few old-school domains we've had up for sale. It will be interesting to see what we can get. We registered these domains in 1995 and never intended to sell them as property themselves, but we need resources now to rebuild our networks and business after the destruction of New Orleans.

    Among others, we're trying to determine what kind of price we might get for domains like: NERD.COM, FOLK.COM, IBL.COM, PROMARKETING.COM, and a few others.

    Ironically, I submitted an "Ask Slashdot" story on this issue with more details yesterday that was rejected. It is boggling the prices these domains are going for now. We sold WISDOM.COM for $475k around 2000 and at the time that was one of the top three highest cash sales of a domain name. Now it looks like nothing.

    So, if anyone thinks they can help us with the sale of some of these domains, there's a form on the site. The company who brokered the last sale we did walked away with $47,000 in commission. Can NERD or FOLK go for six figures?
  • Like the last time. Or Races.com.

Thufir's a Harkonnen now.