Blast from Past Forbes.com Article talking about premium domains 13 Years Ago.

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Blast from Past Forbes.com Story talking about premium domains 13 Years Ago.

I came across this article yesterday and this is one I think many should read it covers two of the internet’s early premium domain investors Gerald Gorman and Gary Millin, These two banking executives turned domain entrepreneurs have been investing in domain names since 1995 and still continue to this day building out there incredible premium domain portfolio over at WorldAccelerator.com nearly 20 years in the business and still going strong, thanks to their smart domain investment strategy.

Mail.com one of their early businesses which was valued at over $1 Billion Dollars but unfortunately with the Dot Com Bubble the business model wasn’t working as planned and Mail.com was eventually sold to another party.

Since then Gerry and Gary have went on to build out some great businesses and I think this the key, “Businesses”, They are not just throwing a website up they are actually building an independent business on these domain names..

Look at these companies they operate under below from their selection of over 1000+ Premium Generic domain names.

Lawyer.com – Visit Lawyer.com to find a lawyer.  This team has built a rich comprehensive directory and offers the fastest and easiest was to find the right lawyer online.  Search over 400,000 lawyers in 138 practice areas.   Thousands of lawyers have signed up for premium placement and more join every day.  When you need a lawyer most, Lawyer.com is there for you.

Doctor.com – The Doctor.com team’s mission is to connect you with care.  Every day the team enhances the experience for users searching for a doctor at Doctor.com.  The team has already provided numerous innovations to the search experience making better and faster matches for users to their care.  At the same time with over a million listed doctors and thousands actively registered, the team has been able to use their understanding of doctor search to deploy high value services for doctors looking to improve their presence online and provide better communication and scheduling with their patients.   Thousands of appointments are scheduled through Doctor.com.  The Doctor.com brand is proud to be improving the health of all Americans one search at a time.

Techie.com – Are you a ‘Techie’?   The answer for all generations and demographics is unequivocally becoming ‘Yes’.  As the world evolves, our simplest to most complex daily tasks and routines now all revolve around technology.  Finding deals, buying groceries, monitoring our health, interacting with others and everything else in our lives are all underpinned by a deep and entrenched technology.  Techie.com’s experienced and talented team is committed to building Techie.com into the premier website offering education, culture, reviews and entertainment on global technology trends and how these trends affect and connect us as humans.

They have also developed Asia.com, London.com, USA.com, India.com, Paris.com, PopStar.com

The article below is in full but something that is interesting back in 2000 – Yes 13 years ago, Forbes.com asked two experts about domain names that the Mail.com were acquiring and developing the so called experts of the day back then made these comments to Forbes.

 “one prominent Asian Internet executive says that if the company were to put some of the names on the market today, strong returns would be unlikely. “Given today’s sentiment, I think people are less willing to pay a big sum for a domain name,” says Kee-Lock Chua, president and CEO of Singapore-based MediaRing.

Other factors to consider: The introduction of new top level domain names (new addresses that end in suffixes other than .com, .net, .gov, etc.), possibly later this year, could threaten the value of existing cyberrealty. Also, smarter Web browsers–which will find what you are looking for without the user having to tap in a cumbersome URL–mean that dot-com names won’t be as attractive as they once were.

Says Canadian Internet guru Don Tapscott: “URLs are going to become less important as addresses. Today’s and tomorrow’s search engines make sites easily findable to the average Net user.”

They seen new TLD at the time as a threat to the Dot Com and think now with the new GTLD’s being launched we know that Dot Com shall survive.

It was a good thing Gary and Gerry didn’t listen to these so called experts back in 2000 – I would value their premium domain portfolio today to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars just in the resale value of the domain names alone never mind the profitability of the actual businesses they have built onto them.

Mail.com Shouldn’t Stay Master Of Its Domains

Since the mid-1990s, Gerald Gorman and Gary Millin have been quietly amassing a collection of domain names that would make the most cynical cyberrealtor tremble with envy.

World.com, Asia.com, USA.com and Japan.com are just a few of the marquee names the former investment bankers have snapped up. At last count the two owned more than 1,000 URLs, many representing geographical areas (Singapore.com, Europe.com) or professions (Lawyer.com, Scientist.com).

With the dot-com craze still blowing strong, this portfolio of names is worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Just the top 16 URLs, if sold on the open market, could fetch nearly $45 million, according to Forbes.com estimates. Not bad, considering that some were purchased for just a few bucks.

Says Millin: “We registered, traded, bought as we worked our way to a dominant position. Some names were bought in the thousands and some for $5 (million) to $10 million apiece, but we believe they can be billion-dollar properties.”

Gorman, 45, and Millin, 30, met while working at the investment banking division of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette. They began acquiring URLs back in 1995, with the acquisition of e-mail services company Vanity Mail Services. Vanity Mail had registered 544 names–mostly for free or $50 a pop–but didn’t have the cash on hand to pay off the $50 annual charge for so many names.

Gorman and Millin began by offering expanded e-mail services under the brand name iName. The idea was that certain corporations and individuals would want an e-mail address such as johndoe@journalist.com. Initial reaction was so positive the two began investing in additional names, acquiring email.com, Asia.com, Singapore.com and Europe.com.

In January 1999 the firm, backed by venture capital firms Cleveland-based Primus and Princeton, N.J.-based Sycamore, changed its name to Mail.com    mail   . Mail.com currently comprises 14.6 million e-mail boxes, more than 8,500 corporate customers and outsourced e-mail services of some 50 Web and ISP partner sites such as Bell Atlantic    bel   , CNet    cnet   and iWon.com. The company has also provided programs for over 300 advertisers to reach targeted audiences.

Sounds impressive, but Mail.com’s services come pretty cheap and the company remains a long way from profitability. In the most recent quarter ended March 2000, Mail.com lost more than $23 million on sales of just $10 million.

This of course makes one wonder why Mail.com execs don’t simply liquidate their domain name portfolio and pass the proceeds on to their suffering shareholders. (Mail.com closed on Thursday night at $5.69, more than 80% off its 52-week high of $29.) Amazingly, despite receiving offers as high as $30 million for domains like India.com, Mail.com insists that its online realty is not for sale.

“We could have taken the path of least resistance. But we decided to do it the hard way,” says the Australian-educated Gorman. “Our core competency is to develop these properties quickly and in turn create shareholder wealth.”

He likens the strategy to owning a vacant lot in midtown Manhattan: Each would be worth more as developed properties. “You can either sit on it or develop it,” he says.

Beginning with World.com and Asia.com, Mail.com is building its properties into standalone properties that focus on content and services in the areas of business-to-business, business-to-consumer and e-commerce. Over the past few months, senior Mail.com executives have been scouring the Asia-Pacific region, looking for incumbent firms with which to add some fat to the domain names.

Eventually, the hope is to spin off the individual sites as independent public companies. Millin says the firm plans initial public offerings before the end of the year for several of its overseas properties, among them Asia.com and India.com. While Millin says that the firm hasn’t made a final decision on which markets would be approached, he doesn’t rule out a dual listing on Nasdaq and Hong Kong’s new Growth Enterprise Market (GEM).

Some observers endorse Mail.com’s approach of building up its Internet realty.

“URLs are going to become less important as addresses. Today’s and tomorrow’s search engines make sites easily findable to the average Net user.”“They are obviously very valuable,” says Jon Whelan, co-chief executive of AFTERnic.com, a New York-based domain name marketplace. “A developed site is more valuable than an underdeveloped property.”

Undoubtedly. But turning even a handful of Mail.com’s successful e-businesses will require heaps of time, money and commitment. Clearly the firm should consider selling some of its major domain names and concentrate on developing maybe five properties.

But Mail.com may have already missed the boat. With tech stocks still in the tank and the IPO market as dead as disco, one prominent Asian Internet executive says that if the company were to put some of the names on the market today, strong returns would be unlikely. “Given today’s sentiment, I think people are less willing to pay a big sum for a domain name,” says Kee-Lock Chua, president and CEO of Singapore-based MediaRing.

Other factors to consider: The introduction of new top level domain names (new addresses that end in suffixes other than .com, .net, .gov, etc.), possibly later this year, could threaten the value of existing cyberrealty. Also, smarter Web browsers–which will find what you are looking for without the user having to tap in a cumbersome URL–mean that dot-com names won’t be as attractive as they once were.

Says Canadian Internet guru Don Tapscott: “URLs are going to become less important as addresses. Today’s and tomorrow’s search engines make sites easily findable to the average Net user.”

Some believe Mail.com has been slow on the switch in terms of entering the Asian market. Incumbents crowding its space include such powerhouses as Singapore-based Pacific Internet    pcntf   , which, using its acquired ISPs in the region, has launched ambitious plans to create B2C and B2B Web portals in many of the markets Mail.com is eyeing.

About the Author

Robbie
Robbie Ferguson is an Internet Entrepreneur, Domain Investor, Domain Broker, Blogger and founder of various websites and eCommerce businesses such as ScreenProtectors.co.uk

1 Comment on "Blast from Past Forbes.com Article talking about premium domains 13 Years Ago."

  1. Just shows that there was a time in the past that URL was the keyword, and the future of .com was not certain. This uncertainty always exists and we must deal with it.

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