Flabbergasted, someone asked “why would anyone let their valuable domain name expire?” It’s a good question, and there are many reasons for why this happens. Based on my own research over the years, I thought I would share 10 reasons for why people and companies let valuable domain names expire and sell for a lot of money at auction venues like NameJet and GoDaddy.
10 reasons why valuable domain names expire:
- Whois and/or contact email address is not updated. The registrant misses the renewal and expiry emails so the domain name expires. This issue can be exacerbated by inaccurate phone number and/or contact details preventing investors from getting in touch with the registrant to try and buy it before auction.
- Death. Morbidly, I have won domain names in auction that had been owned by someone who died. Their family may not have known about the domain names or may not have cared about them,
- Corporate acquisition. When a company acquires another company, it might lose track of domain names owned by the company it is buying.
- Bankruptcy. When a company goes out of business, they may not be able to pay for renewals, or the domain names may get overlooked.
- Company shuts down. When a company closes up shop, the owners may not look at the domain names as valuable assets and simply let them expire.
- Litigation. There may be some type of litigation that either prevents the domain name from being renewed or disincentivizes someone from renewing it. I recently asked someone about a domain name that was heading to auction, and the former registrant told me he had no idea what was going on with the domain name because it was lost due to a corporate lawsuit.
- Domain manager was fired or quit. This may relate to the first reason, but if the person responsible for domain name renewals or management leaves the company, the domain name renewals may be overlooked.
- Ignored renewal emails. We are all bombarded with marketing and/or spam emails. Some people don’t do a great job of catching up with their emails, and their renewal emails may be lost or overlooked.
- Don’t want to make the effort. This seems silly, but sometimes there are hoops to jump through for a renewal to happen and the company doesn’t feel like making any effort to renew the domain name, especially if it is in some sort of redemption period.
- Do not need the domain name anymore. This is probably a large company issue, but some companies let their domain names expire when they are no longer needed, and there is nobody to quarterback the sale of a domain name (either by choice or by default). If I want to buy a one word .com from a massive company that has many divisions, there is very little incentive (or none) for an employee to try and facilitate the sale. Even if I would pay $25,000 for a domain name, the employee gets nothing and has no P&L that would benefit. They don’t need the name either, so it just expires.
For many years, registrants of valuable domain names have been contacted by domain investors to try and buy their expired domain names before auction. I wrote about this a while ago. This means there are typically mitigating reasons for why a valuable domain name can make it through the expiry cycle and end up selling in auction.
I am sure there are other reasons for why domain names expire and get auctioned for a lot of money. I invite you to share some of the reasons you have heard about over the years. I am sure there are plenty of interesting stories.