Let’s Talk About Sex (.com)

Sex.com SaleI’m sure you’ve read the news that Sex.com is the subject of a foreclosure auction next month in New York City. Sex.com reportedly sold for $14 million back in 2006, but there was never any confirmation of the dollar amount for that sale and was only speculation. I am not privy to any information about Sex.com (or the sale other than what was posted), but I want to discuss some things about the domain name itself.

Without a doubt, Sex.com is one of the best pure domain names a company could own. Without it ever really being fully developed into a brand, Sex.com is one of those rare domain names that is already a brand known throughout the world.   Based on the Compete score, it gets decent traffic, and it’s a name that has the WOW factor most others don’t have. This is the name many people would love to have the chance to own if they could choose just one domain name.

There are some downsides to the name though. How does a company monetize it enough to earn a good ROI? Parking the domain name hasn’t seemed to work. Maybe that’s because people who want sex or porn can find that in plenty of other places online. The small portal that is on the site now is presumably not earning enough of a return right now either.

It’s likely the people who are visiting Sex.com don’t really want to find sex per se, but they are looking for porn. Porn is still a taboo word for many, so Sex.com is more of a “comfortable” name to own for some than Porn.com, although Porn.com certainly gets much more traffic and would probably make much more money on PPC. It’s just like a home with a pool. Some people would love to have a pool, but there are many who wouldn’t even consider a home that has a pool. Sex.com is more of a benign name than Porn.com.

According to an anonymous investor that was quoted on TechCrunch, there may be some litigation that could hold up the auction. Additionally, the amount of the debt on the loan is also unknown, and if it’s too high, the reserve price or minimum opening bid may temper bidding or cause people to not bid at all. As the auctioneer commented to me via email, “opening bid will be determined sometime prior to the auction,” and I believe this detail is the most important.

If the auction goes forth as planned, and the reserve price/opening bid is *reasonable,* I believe we are going to see strong bidding from more than one party. If the auction has participants from some of the leading adult companies outside of the domain industry, we could see a record result. In the market today, as Mike pointed out, it might be tough for a company to justify a record setting price. A name like this doesn’t come up for sale often, and this is a great opportunity that more than one company is salivating over.

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of DomainInvesting.com. Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the DomainInvesting.com Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn


  1. “it might be tough for a company to justify a record setting price”

    Hey, I’d like to see Johnson and Johnson or Pfizer get in on the bidding. Legit companies with tons of money and lawyers that can handle most legal issues that may be involved. They spend more than what the purchase price would be on those K-Y.com and Viagra commercials in a year.
    Is it possible?
    Toys r Us “got it.” Maybe one of them will, too.

  2. I hadn’t considered the pharmaceutical companies.

    They spend millions advertising the drugs listed below.

    Viagra – Pfizer
    Cialis – Lilly
    K-Y Intense – McNeil

    I couldn’t easily locate the advertising budgets for the above products.
    One site stated Pfizer spent $ 440. million advertising Viagra last year.

  3. Domain names are going to be worthless in the future…as more and more people just type whatever they are looking for in the search engines such as google. Next time you see someone using a computer, watch what they do…if they are looking for something, they will not type in the domain name itself…they will most likely just goto google and type in whatever they are looking for and click on the top three results…sex.com is a great domain name, but with all the free sex stuff on the net…sex.com traffic is not worth that much at all.
    If i am looking for porn videos, i am not going to type in pornvideos.com, i would rather goto google just type in porn videos and click search…and click on pornhub.com which is ranked number one..and its all free…why would i even goto porn.com, when pornhub.com is free and better…just like sex.com..sorry, i am drunk…but thats how i feel.

  4. Elliot – I have debated this board before about other high profile names that people have overpaid for. I now read your blog a lot because you allow dissenting opinion – and your information is valuable.

    That being said I have to agree with Anunt – to an extent – there is a possibility that domains will become worthless someday – maybe that or much less valuable – you have to consider this…

  5. @ Red

    You may be right about domain value, but I was pointing out the irony that someone who seems sure they will lose value spends a lot of time on domain websites.

    BTW, thanks for coming back to my blog. I enjoy the discussion as much as anyone else and would think its boring and a less useful website if I only posted comments that were in agreement with me.

  6. IMO, sex.com is not worth $14 million dollars. Why? Even though the name allows for a lot of branding, but there is so much free stuff in the pron industry now (some of these sites that are free are made from the paying companies to drive traffic to their site to get more paying members) that sex.com is not as valued as it once was. If I were to search for some xxx stuff, I would type in the type of stuff I wanted to see (i.e., nurse roles).

    Is sex.com worth at least a couple of million dollars? Yes. But the buyer needs to do a better job of branding the name.

    When was the last time I heard about sex.com? I can’t even remember. When was the last time I heard about Brazzers? Last night when I was out at a house party with a few friends.

  7. Anunt, domains might becoming worth less. But don’t forget that domains like sex.com and pornvideos.com contain keywords that can give them a big ranking advantage.
    So, even if people wouldn’t directly type in the domain in the browser, these names still hold large values.

  8. @Anunt @Red

    Response to domains to become worthless someday.

    Google is today’s search, tomorrow it maybe Facebook or another site.
    Search is only good for your company when you are on page result 1 -3 but the next month your company maybe on page 10. For that reason you need an easy to remember and spell domain name. For example I go to Google and do a search, if I find three or four websites that have the products or information that I am interested in I will sometimes bookmark them. But I have so many bookmarks I have a hard time finding the bookmarks after some time. I have noticed that the easy to remember domain with a great product or information that I just type in the website address and go direct to the site.

    For example I like to plant seeds, there are many great seed suppliers but I keep going back to ParkSeeds.com.

    Does anyone know of any body doing a search to go to YouTube, facebook, espn.com, msnbc.com, foxnews.com, cnn.com, not me!! I go direct. They all have great domains with great products. If you want to build a new brand and are going to spend millions on your product you better spend some money on your domain name because facebook.com did not become as big as it is today from search, it became this big because of the product that everyone likes and the domain name is very easy domain to remember and spell!!!

  9. I worked with Del Anthony on sex.com. It never had a chance with him at the helm. I tried to engage advertisers such as Johnson and johnson, trojan and other obvious choices. They wouldn’t touch it and until someone re brands this domain the brand will be tarnished. And as someone said earlier people go to Google and type in what they want, type ins dont have the value they once did. Also this domain doesnt get alot of traffic anymore. And the traffic it gets is junk, they are dorks looking for free porn on the web, it doesn’t convert to anything. not even porn. It is no doubt a great name but needs to start from ground zero and be completely mainstream. Sex sells but the word sex is tricky for both marketers and advertisers. With so many choices for advertisers why take a risk on sex.com ?


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