What's in a domain? $400 million if you're Business.com

Summary:We all know that a great domain name is critical. But is it $300 million to $400 million critical?

We all know that a great domain name is critical. But is it $300 million to $400 million critical?

That's the big question after The Wall Street Journal reported that Business.com could garner anywhere between $300 million to $400 million.

The domain was acquired by Jake Winebaum and Sky Dayton for $7.5 million in 1999. In hindsight, the Business.com purchase was one sign of the impending dot-com bust. This potential sale almost makes me wonder if Dayton and Winebaum are calling another top--at least in the interim.

In any case, it's unclear what Business.com is worth. Here's the ledger running around inside my noggin:

It's worth it:

  • Domains matter--I know because I work at a company that gobbled up a ton of domains in its early days. News.com, TV.com, Search.com--you get the idea.
  • There's potential in the URL. There are a host of potential bidders: Dow Jones, New York Times and News Corp. You couldn't find a better URL to pair with the Fox Business Channel than Business.com.

There's no way it's worth it:

  • Sex.com reportedly sold for $14 million. If sex is arguably the Internet's biggest industry it's impossible to argue Business.com is worth $400 million. Beer.com went for $7 million. Do you want sex and beer or business? It's a no brainer folks.
  • There's no there there. Business.com was one of the vertical search engines I had on my Life without Google lists. The problem: It's all sponsored and featured links. It's more yellow pages than a real search.
  • Business.com's goal, which is to drive readers to merchants for a bounty, doesn't sync with the reported buyers' models. If you're Dow Jones are you really going to waste a URL like business.com just to shuffle readers to merchants? No. Content is going to get involved and arguably screw up the current model.

In the end, it's a great payday for Winebaum and Dayton. But the 'winning' bidders may get buyer's remorse.

Topics: Enterprise Software


Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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