A hot new Web destination? Hell.com

It's a heck of a Web site and it carries a heckuva price tag.26 April 2000 - The Internet domain address Hell.

It's a heck of a Web site and it carries a heckuva price tag.

26 April 2000 - The Internet domain address Hell.com has hit the auction block with a starting bid price of US$8 million, but the owner of the Web name expects the final sale price to climb much higher.

The auction is being hosted by HitDomains.com, one of several domain-name brokerages that help owners of some of the most popular Internet addresses on the market sell their virtual real estate for millions of dollars.

Earlier this year, Business.com sold for $7.5 million, Loans.com sold for $3 million and Autos.com sold for $2.2 million -- hefty price tags for Web names that costs as little as $35 a year to register.

A new premiere portal?
Eric Harrington, chief operating officer of HitDomains.com, said he suspects Hell.com could become one of the premiere portals on the Web, competing with the likes of Yahoo! Inc., especially considering the possibilities for marketing slogans -- "Go to Hell.com."

"The concept of Hell.com was always the antithesis of the Web," said Kenneth Aronson. "You can build a whole business around this name," Harrington said.

"As Internet businesses evolve, the cost of marketing and building brand recognition has become one of the most expensive," he added.

Hell.com was registered back in 1995 by Kenneth Aronson, a member of The Final.org, an enigmatic collective of digital artists and creative visionaries who had been using Hell.com as a private destination for their work.

"The concept of Hell.com was always the antithesis of the Web," Aronson told Reuters.

"We knew that the Internet was destined to become just disgustingly commercial where every place was sickly sweet, overly friendly and self-promotional," he said. "And Hell.com was the one site you could not get into."

Too much traffic
"When they typed Hell.com into their browser, they were looking for the unknown," he said. "They wanted to know what's there. They want to go to Hell and they don't even know why."

Eventually Hell.com generated so much traffic, more than 1 million hits per month, The Final.org was unable to handle the volume despite the private nature of the site.

And since The Final.org sustains itself with private funds, the next logical step was to sell it, no matter how heartbreaking -- or "disgustingly commercial."