The Fight for the Most Profitable Domain Names on Earth

If polled, off the top of your head, what domain names would you think are the most searched or the most profitable? In other words, what is on people’s minds? We won’t give much away yet, only that it’s not sex ‘n drugs ‘n rock’n roll but it comes close in places. And some people even beg, borrow or steal to get the domain name they want. Read on for more.

Though the dot com bubble burst a while ago and dot com dramas don’t reach the heights they used to, domain name fights still carry a big punch. Purely financially speaking of course.

‘Ah, I knew it,’ many readers might think when they hear that it’s Porn.com we’re starting our list with. The popular domain name sold for $9.5 million in 2007, the largest cash deal till then but not the last as we will see. The buyer was the internet media and investment firm MXN Ltd. Monte Cahn, co-founder and CEO of domain asset management services Moniker.com, said at the time: “Porn.com will prove to be a valuable asset for MXN Ltd. because of its significant number of daily visitors, established type-in traffic in addition to being the top domain in the adult industry.“ We’re sure it did.

The next domain name sale is less exciting than this. Fund.com was bought by Meade Technologies Inc. for $10 million in 2008. The company is now known as Fund.com and bought the domain name in an all-cash deal.

The U.S. Congress did get into fighting mode after the internet domain IRS.com was up for grabs in 2007. It considered legislation to ban the use of domain names that resemble government agencies. The sale of IRS.com to company Intersearch.com for $12.5 million was legal, however, as the financial services portal used none of the Treasury’s or IRS’s initials, logos or other symbols. So there wasn’t much even the IRS could do.

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One much publicized fight over a domain name was that over Sex.com. The battle between Gary Kremen, who registered the domain name in 1994, and Stephen M. Cohen, who managed to get it registered in his name through all kinds of trickery, had all the elements of good (or bad) drama: forgery, allegations, a five-year court battle, cyber lawyers, a flight to Mexico, some car chases somewhere we’re sure, jail and appeals. Phew! The case even inspired a book of the same name, written by journalist Kieren McCarthy after following the case. Sex.com was finally sold to Escom LLC for $14 million in 2006. Ka-ching, ka-ching. The question is for whom, as a domain name like Sex.com gets about 25 million hits a day.

Long the biggest sale of a domain name, the figure of $14 million was topped by a cool $2 million more when internet marketing firm Quin Street bought the domain name Insure.com for $16 million in 2009. Insure.com, after giving up its domain name, changed its name to Life Quotes. The company had purchased the domain name for $1.6 million in 2001.

But it doesn’t stop here. Domain name prices still keep going up (some at least) as our last and to-date most expensive domain name proves. Again, Quin Street was involved who this time bought the domain Internet.com for a cool $18 million in cash! To be fair, the sale by Alan Meckler of WebMediaBrands involved a whole network of sites such as Internet.com, InternetNews.com, DevX, Linux Today and others. Still, Internet.com is by far the most searched and most profitable domain name of the cluster.

So there you have it – what’s on our minds is porn and sex mixed with a dose of taxes, funds, insurance and the internet. Previous other big domain name sales have involved business, beer, diamonds, casino and toys. We’ll leave it up to you to decide if that combination should worry us.