The rumor is that Yahoo has been looking for a bit of spare cash recently, with some interesting possible acquisitions in mind. It was therefore real luck that led it to discover a treasure trove of domain names it owned but had forgotten about, bought long ago and set aside. This week these names are up for sale in an event it has named Domainapalooza, a worldwide auction that will give marketers and business owners a thrill. There is some great stuff on the list – and some awful stuff –and it is bound to be inspiring.
“As we discussed what to do with them, it became obvious that it was time to set them free… back into the wild of the internet,” said the company’s deputy general counsel, Kevin Kramer. “Surely, creative people, businesses and entrepreneurs could come up with something great to do with them. They could even spark some brand new ideas or companies.”
The prices of the domains on offer vary, with bids already as high as $1.5m for some; others are still under $300. With around 500 domains in the collection, Yahoo set itself an initial target of $4m, which it will now comfortably beat. Word is that more names will be added over the course of the week, with bidding closing on Thursday.
The best names on sale are, of course, the simplest ones – the sort of domains that no amount of ordinary marketing can match and that are made to get to the top of search engine rankings. Names such as sandwich.com, energy.com and pleasure.com are an advertiser’s dream. It is probable that the contest will not be over when Yahoo’s auction hammer falls but that some of these domains will continue to be traded for a long time before they are finally put to use.
Of course, not all the domains look as appealing today as they might have done when they were first acquired; for instance, totalmaps.com might be an appealing choice for a cartographer selling archaic paper wares, but it is unlikely that a new contender could now make progress in the crowded and very high-cost online maps market. Similarly, webphones.com looks a little obsolete in light of the technological developments of the past few years. That said, there is plenty for the discerning buyer to choose from and it will be interesting to see what impact this sale has on the wider business community.