Sometimes I Feel Guilty About Being a Domain Investor

18

Yesterday afternoon, I spent a couple of hours at a family event. For part of that time, I was chatting with a friend of the family who is Rabbi. I had not spoken with this Rabbi for quite some time, and of course he asked what I do for a living. I told him about my business.

The Rabbi knew a bit about domain names because of an experience he had. He told me he owned Rabbi[Name].com for several years but accidentally let it expire. By the time he realized what happened to the domain name, it was too late to recover it. The domain name is now owned by a large domain investment company and is listed for sale for a little under $3k. The Rabbi couldn’t understand why it would be worth that much money to someone, and he opted to register the .net domain name instead. I briefly explained to him about the business of domain name investing, and he understood the basics.

The Rabbi didn’t pass any judgement about domain name investing, but I felt a bit guilty about what I do. I am sure I buy domain names at expiry auctions that were the result of an accidental expiration. On a rare occasion, I will hear from a former owner, but many who realize they let a domain name expire probably do what the Rabbi did and move on with something else. There is nothing wrong with investing in generic domain names (like his would be considered), but for every name we buy at an expiry auction, it means someone else once owned it. I have no idea how often domain names expire in error, but I am sure the figure would be fairly high.

I am very comfortable with investing in domain names. Last November marked 10 years of being a full time domain name investor, and buying expired and expiring domain names is a big part of running a successful investment business. People need to be responsible for their domain registrations, but I still felt a bit guilty about this aspect of the business.

18 COMMENTS

  1. I think our guilty feelings are going away just we forget our valuable names to renew for next year and it will be taken by somebody.
    After one-two times I have experienced myself to be in such sutuations I started to count the domain names only like goods/property and do not have any nostalgy about any lost domains by anybody. If name was not stolen then new owner has all rights to do anything with his new property.

  2. in my 20 years of domain investing, i’ve only had one person actually contact me about a domain i acquired which they “accidentally” dropped. i asked for a few hundred dollars for my effort in acquiring the domain, but they refused. i eventually let the domain expire and it was acquired by another domain investor. go figure. in retrospect, i wish i had offered the domain back to them for my own cost instead of inflating the price a bit to make a profit.

    since then, i’ve begun actively notifying interested parties of domains they own that are expiring possibly on accident. i’ve also acquired domains on the drop, only to re-sell them to the original owner for the price i paid, with no profit involved. losing a domain on accident would be awful, so i have empathy for people in that situation.

    furthermore, i’ve also been contacting potential new owners of dropping domains that match their business. if it’s a very small business or even a non-profit, i offer to help them acquire the dropped domain at auction, with no profit. good domain karma!

  3. I have picked up a few dropped names for religious organizations. Given a few away. Some organizations using .net .org didn’t reply back by email for the .com which is unfortunate since I spent registration money for no purpose. Seems like the majority are not interested in improving their domain name presence.

  4. Do a full-time domainer make money month to month or is it basically yearly? How much do the average full-time domainer usually make per month?

  5. Elliot, could have used tikkunolam.org as an example for the ‘value proposition’ as a positive social impact fostering, financially self sustainable business model domain

    Disclosure; I own it, and a savvy domain industry member once offered to buy it for his son’s bar mitzvah present

    Waiting to develop it with the right party as active operating collaborator / or as a mission investor

  6. Out of genuine curiosity, Elliot, if this friend had been a layman would you have felt the same? I’m wondering if there’s some specific principle of Judaism that made you feel guilty. Or did you feel bad for him because just because he’s a good guy who doesn’t deserve to be treated badly?

    • He is a good guy, but I definitely I don’t think he was treated badly. He should have renewed his domain name. It was his fault from what I understood.

      Religion had nothing to do with it though. His oversight cost him a lot of time changing links and revising his website. Had he needed the domain name, he would have had to pay a lot of money to “recover” the domain name. I felt badly because I am sure I have made people choose between paying a large premium or finding something else due to human error.

      I have worked out favorable deals with people who accidentally let a name expire that I bought at auction.

      There is nothing wrong with buying expired domain names, but I don’t always feel good about it when I learn I bought something that someone accidentally let expire and it has meaning to them.

  7. I have felt guilty a few times. One time I sold the domain back for the same amount it cost me to win at auction.

    But one thing that helps to have in mind, I think, is that nobody is really a domain owner. We are simply registrants for a certain period of time. So we are not taking something away from a previous “owner”.

  8. My recent learning about selling .com domain to an existing multiple country presence company which has .es domain , they wasn’t interested to upgrade the domain nor realised the value of .com simply he told

    one domain cost $20 or $50 dollars and we don’t need to have .com to get customers. We are so far away.

    I was like that cost not ever cover my auction expenses

Leave a Reply