Mike Berkens Sells “Vast Majority” of Domain Portfolio to GoDaddy

38

I just saw a tweet from Mike Berkens announcing that his company sold the “vast majority of domain names in the Worldwide Media, Inc. domain name portfolio” to GoDaddy. The tweet linked to a press release with the entire announcement.

I am somewhat surprised about this news, although the acquisition makes sense. From what I understand, GoDaddy’s Afternic team has been doing very well with the portfolio of domain names it acquired from Marchex earlier this year. I presume the acquisition was for a hefty sum of money, and to be able to sell an entire portfolio in one large deal has many advantages.

Because GoDaddy is a publicly traded company and this deal is likely very large, I would not be surprised if the deal terms are reported in a SEC filing. If I had to guess, I would say the size of the deal is close to the Marchex deal and perhaps even more, despite the fact that the Marchex deal was for more names. I know Mike handpicked many (if not all) of the domain names, and he has owned many exceptional domain names.

It remains to be seen what Mike is going to do now that he has sold the majority of his portfolio. Selfishly, I hope he stays active in the business, but I would understand if he wants to step away and enjoy more free time with his wife Judi and their family. I understand he is going to share more shortly in a blog post.

Congratulations to Mike and Judi on the deal and to GoDaddy.

Update: Mike wrote a blog post with details about the sale.

38 COMMENTS

  1. Something is up just as of recent he was getting outbid the auctions by all the Chinese top dogs, but not like he wasn’t active, a so trying, Even commenting on how he was getting crazy offers on Chinese type domains, yet was looking for more. Now all of the sudden sells in a bulk deal to godaddy?

    Let’s hope they blight those premium gtld laggers also, probably not though.

  2. Gpdaddy said they weren’t going down this route, but guess they see value here.

    In a past Sherpa episode the mideratir asked the Sherpas if they had an exit number to sell their entire portfolio, I know Page said $7M, not sure what Mike said, but this might hold a clue.

    At his age, he made the right move, he could pretty much leave it to brokers, and golf all day considering owning all those 3L.com, but I guess he just got sick of 1000 low ball offers all day, especially India which has ramped up with low balls as of late.

  3. About 5 years ago, Mike Berkens posted a comment on his blog to the effect that he wasn’t sure he’d even be around in 5 years. At the time, he had turned 50 or so and I remember it well because I found it pretty shocking as that is still a relatively young age. I replied asking why he said that and of course did not get an answer. Hopefully, this sale is not for health reasons.

    • At 55 sitting in front of the computer all day selling domains, when you have millions banked already probably just gets boring. Look at Ricks passion for domainjng, he walked away also, young mans game, these guys conquered it, they have nothing left to prove.

    • 2007 is considered the golden era of domain investing, and AdSense revenue. I believe the cutoff year is 2008 . . . what do you say?

  4. The Marchex deal was 28 million for 200,000 domains of which there was tons of category killers. Berkens had 75,000 domains of no where near the quality of the Marchex portfolio. 6-8 million for Berkens portfolio would be my guess.

    • Mike said he had “over 100 LLL.com, 58 of them which are those Favorited by Chinese domain investors.” Let’s say he could liquidate those at an average price of $50k/each, that is $5m right there. Theoretically, it might be less than $5m if liquidating on the market at once because the supply could cause a dip in value. However, I would think it could be close, especially in today’s market.

      That said, I don’t think it would make sense to sell an entire portfolio of 70k names for your $6-8m guess when just 100 of those would likely liquidate today for more than half of your guessed sale price.

      http://www.thedomains.com/2015/11/09/im-calling-it-the-new-wholesale-on-chinese-lll-com-is-around-50k/

    • I didn’t realize he had so many LLL.coms. I still don’t think the total sale is as much as most would think though.

      Berkens has pretty close ties to the GTLD market and probably has some of the best knowledge when it comes to them. After watching Rick start to cash out and now Berkens I’m starting to wonder if they see the .com market taking a much different turn then most domain investors see and have decided to cash out.

    • Depending on the 10,000 domains he’s keeping but I agree the quality and quantity of the Marchex portfolio makes it worth much more than Berkens. However, Berkens is a much better negotiator than anyone on Marchex and they were probably more motivated to sell theirs. I would be falling-off-my-chair shocked if Berkens sold out for just 7-figures. That’s just one sale for the Domain King.

    • I agree about him being a better negotiator but it seems like he approached them and not the other way around. When I’m the one starting the negotiation the ball is not in my court no matter how good of a negotiator I may be. I’m sure the details about the transaction will be leaked at some point.

    • Todd,

      I really do not see a reason to guess what it sold for, because what is the point. GD is a publicly traded company and it will likely come out in a SEC filing at some point. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t really matter.

      Anytime a bulk deal is done, it’s a different ball game. IMO, it becomes a happy number, not an individual number per domain per say.

      I haven’t spoke with Mike yet today, nor was I aware of the sale until I read about it this morning. Knowing Mike, this wasn’t a sale for any less than $xx Million. No way!

      It’s likely a structured sale. $x amount cash, maybe some stock or % of each domain sold etc. which can easily go way over $1XM or $2XM for an example. Keep in mind that Mike is a tax lawyer, so he understands that part and will use his knowledge to the fullest.

    • MWD.com doesn’t resolve to MostWantedDomains.com any longer – looks like that is one LLL.com which isn’t included in the sale!

    • Mr. Berkens commented all 105 of his LLL.com domains, including MWD.com, were included in the sale, on his blog post, My Sale to Godaddy. My previous comment with the link went to your spam folder.

    • After reading that I believe even more strongly that the portfolio didn’t sell for anywhere near what we think it did. You can show emotion and passion through words without releasing details and I didn’t read the emotions of a massive cash out. Just my opinion.

    • He’s been building his company for 20 years (give or take). It’s his baby. He just made a massive decision that is going to impact him and his family for the rest of their lives and maybe the lives of future generations. I am sure it is a huge emotional rollercoaster.

      BTW, I think Mike has already been incredibly successful/wealthy even without the sale, so aside from much less business stress and work, I doubt much is going to change aside from how he spends his time. I wouldn’t expect to see emotions of a massive cash out.

  5. I think gpdaddy have success with marchex was able to pay more, I don’t think Berkens would sell for less than $50M, or it could be he took shares.

  6. Mike is one of the smartest, nicest, and down to earth people in this business. No one knows this industry as well as Mike. I congratulate Mike and Judi. I’m sure Mike will stay a strong influence in the domain industry through his blog, auction and brokering services.

  7. To be honest anyone who has been I this business for 15 years, and has a publicly trusted company wanting to buy you out, you are walking away with 8 figures banked.

    You consider it, it has nothing to do with the .com market anyone holding quality is having a record year.

    Maybe he will buy the Patriots who knows, my guess is, he just wanted to be able to sleep in more.

    You got to ask yourself when enough is enough.

  8. One thing I’ve never liked about this industry is the way everyone is so obsessed about investigating and knowing every detail of everyone else’s deals.

    Give it a rest for someone like Mike who has shared so much of his knowledge, insight, wisdom, time and energy for the past 18 years. Come on guys, let him have some privacy instead of snooping into his portfolio and business affairs to find the price tag. LOL

  9. Looks like his past offer of $100K for RestaurantSupply.com probaby increased to 6 figures – $150k. It is now a developed website and registered company. That was a good sale for Mike. Another was VisitBerlin.com.

    It appears he has made great sales. IMO, sometimes you conquer all challenges and choose to enjoy life with your family. What more is there to do after posting many large domain sales? People identified Mike as a major player.

    The Marchex deal involved many premium domains. GD acquired a massive portfolio of generics. When we talk about 70,000 domain names, how many of these are actually premium. Not even all of Name Administration’s domain names are premium. We see a bunch of domains in portfolio above 50,000 domain names with little value.

    Domain Market features many domains from all price points. It is nearly impossible to go on a domain buying spree and expect all these newly acquired and/or hand registered domains to hold premium value.

    It would make more sense if such domains were acquired from a private owner selling their portfolio at a bargain price. Wouldn’t be surprised if this WWMI portfolio sold for much less than expected. Of course, this deal was in the multi-million dollar range. It probably didn’t sell at the price of the Marchex portfolio.

    To sell less than premium domains, you may have to throw in the good stuff. Bulk deals are not as appealing, but they give the seller access to a huge cash flow. We may actually see some good developed websites otherwise lost in the domain game. Good ideas and business models are awaiting the acquisition of these premium domains.

Leave a Reply