Prevalence of NDA Deals on Domain Names

I hardly ever report purchase sales prices when I complete a transaction on a domain name. I know that many others prefer to keep their business dealings private, too.

It’s often cited that Ron Jackson’s weekly domain sales report is just the tip of the iceberg when you consider the number of sales that aren’t reported due to non-disclosure agreement (NDA). This “secrecy” is what some conspiracy theorists refer to when they state that unreported sales numbers are pretty much BS and perhaps non-existent.

I want to give you an idea of just how prevalent NDAs and private sales are, and it’s certainly something you can try out if you’d like to see for yourself.

Last week, I went through some old inquiry emails I made to acquire domain names in private. I sent about 15 follow ups to emails I had sent in the last 18 months. A few people replied, and two of those people told me their domain names were sold (I had offered $7k for one who came back with a $50k asking price, and I offered $33k for another who said she paid more for it).

Of those two people who sold their names, I asked what the sales price was. The person who had priced her name at $50k told me the price was private but it was for much more than she had offered it to me. The second person told me it was sold for an undisclosed amount that she couldn’t share.

Neither of these people are domain investors (both women coincidentally), and they have no reason to report the sale price. These types of transactions happen every day, and most are deals between people and/or companies that aren’t domain investors and don’t have any reason to report sales or even know who they would tell if they wanted to report the sale. They probably don’t even know why they would want the sale reported anyway since it’s most likely a somewhat straightforward business transaction.

If you want to see how prevalent private domain sales are, I recommend checking out the Whois History tool after you learn about a company’s rebranding or product launch on a newly acquired domain name and ask the former owner how much the sale was for. My bet is you’ll find almost all of them are private and unreported. I’ve tried to get sale prices for articles, and you’ll almost always find that sales prices are private.

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the 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. Good point E.

    I do think some people use NDA as a cover for their BS’ing.
    Eg – “Hey! Anyone who will listen! I sold a domain in a really big deal but I can’t tell you what the domain was or how much it was sold for. NDA, bro!”.
    This kind of reporting pisses me off. Why say anything at all?

    Also, I think it’s important to remember that NDAs aren’t solely exclusive to big money deals either so people shouldn’t try and infer cost justcl because an NDA was involved.

    • On my acquisitions, I have a built in confidentiality clause in the sales agreement. Many of my buyers don’t explicitly request confidentiality, but I have no interest in reporting sales prices so it doesn’t really matter.

      I often share the domain names I’ve sold, but not the prices.

  2. I rarely ask for a NDA buying or selling.

    The only sales that I make that are reported are basically on public venues like SEDO & Afternic.

    The vast majority of my sales are private and I don’t really see any benefit to report them even without a NDA.

    I think the percentage, volume and dollar wise, of sales that actually get reported is a small fraction of all sales.


  3. Greg, wouldn’t you see it as an invasion of privacy if there were a mandate to report all sales / purchases? I know I would. Many people (and companies) wouldn’t make what they might consider a risky purchase or branding move if they felt the whole world was standing at their back while they’re at the cash register, judging. I think that would stifle the market to a degree.

    The DNJournal reports are the best source of public data on domain sales out there. Without those charts, everybody would be in the dark — both buyers and sellers. Big marketplaces could track their own sales; but, apart from that, there would be no information to go on except gossip and boasts.

  4. I reported a couple of sales to Ron Jackson last year, but around 90% of my sales in both number and $ terms go unreported.

    The six-figure sales reported by Ron are the tip of the iceberg of the high-end market where it is rare that a transaction is publicly disclosed.

    For this reason, I think it is a mistake for Ron to make conclusions about the high-end market as he did in his recent 2012 year in review email:

    “Most of the year to year difference can be seen in just the top 20 sales of each year. In 2011, the 20 biggest sales totaled over $12.6 million. In 2012, the total for the top 20 alone slipped nearly $3 million to a little over $9.7 million.

    While people were reluctant to pull the trigger on high dollar sales in 2012…”

    (Source Ron Jackson, DNJournal)


    There is too little public information available to draw the conclusion that “people were reluctant to pull the trigger on high dollar sales in 2012”.

    The prevalence of confidentiality at the high end of the market is another reason why online appraisal tools are largely worthless. The publicly available sales data comes largely from liquidation auctions where the buyers are domain investors, while negotiated sales to end-users at far higher prices are kept private.

    It is as if the prices paid for cars at salvage auctions were used to value vintage cars held by private collectors.

  5. I never report sales, and 90% of my sales are done via escrow now, and it’s like they never even happend. That is why do not believe anything you read, especially if you read into a slowdown of sales.

    When you have half of sedo push over to IT, which is run pretty much, you have to put 2 and 2 together.


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