This **Looks** Like Front Running at GoDaddy

At least a couple of times a year, I am either emailed by someone who thinks GoDaddy is front running their attempted domain name registrations or I am sent a link to this type of accusation on social media. While front running was an issue many years ago, I am pretty confident it doesn’t happen any longer at any sort of scale, particularly at large domain registrars like GoDaddy. There are too many reasons why registrar front running doesn’t make sense.

I want to highlight something I just experienced that could easily look like front running to someone without domain name industry knowledge. It is definitely not front running, but it could appear that way to someone who just wants to buy a single domain name at GoDaddy.

I have been keeping an eye on .AI domain name sales. It’s quite remarkable to see so many reported sales in different places. Namebio has recorded $5.5 million worth of .AI aftermarket sales year to date.

I do not own a single .AI domain name, although I have been casually looking. I was curious to see if I could find any available interesting keyword .AI domain names via GoDaddy’s search tool. I started with 1,000 keywords and searched for the top 500 on the list – the most names I could search for via GoDaddy’s bulk tool.

To my surprise, 112 interesting keyword names showed as available out of the 500 I searched:

This was literally unbelievable.

Domain names like Lyric.ai, Wren.ai, Azalea.ai, and many other great domain names were showing up as available to hand register. I quickly looked at ten of these domain names, and they all were registered. Some of these had what appeared to be full-blown AI-related businesses operating on them.

I put a bunch of these names into my shopping cart to see what would happen. My total was more than $2,000 in registration fees:

Knowing that I shouldn’t be able to register these names, but happy if the registrations went through for some reason, I clicked the Complete Purchase button. Instead of being taken to the usual receipt page, I was shown an empty shopping cart error page, likely because GoDaddy saw these names were unavailable when it re-pinged the .AI domain registry to secure them for me.

What I imagine happened is there was a connection error between GoDaddy and the .AI registry when I searched for these domain names. When GoDaddy attempted to register the domain names on my behalf, they were unable to do so because someone else owned them.

If I didn’t have extensive domain industry experience, this could have looked like domain name front running. One minute the domain name is available and when I decide to make the purchase, it is not available. To someone searching for a single domain name at GoDaddy, this could be compounded if the desired domain name is registered at GoDaddy and the registrant uses GoDaddy’s Domains By Proxy proxy service.

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

6 COMMENTS

  1. I ran into this as well, albeit at another resgistrar. Rop keywords were shown as available in AI until I tried make payment.

    When dealing with ccTLDs, especially from small countries, the availability should be taken with a grain of salt.

  2. What am I missing after over 20 years of being both a domainer and an end user buyer whose favorite thing to say now is “not for sale” vs. how I started?

    “Domain names like Lyric.ai, Wren.ai, Azalea.ai, and many other great domain names were showing up as available”

    “Other great”?

    How on earth could anyone think domains like “Lyric.ai, Wren.ai, Azalea.ai” are “great” or worth even a first or second look? Okay, perhaps if you want to publish a site where people can go to have AI write a song for them and see how that turns out, maybe worth a little something, but otherwise…

    And if you think any .ai domains are “great” as you put it, Elliot, then why on earth at least not have one or two? Even I bought one that people missed, and it really does have the potential to be considered “great” and be put to valuable commercial use. My intent was to do it myself, no thought whatsoever of offering for sale, though it’s on the back burner now with everything else more immediately underway. But had to secure before others as you know.

    There would definitely not be many I would even begin to entertain the possibility of calling great, and examples like this are *far* from it. Even Lyric.com and Lyric.ai are a very big “if” in terms of successful monetization despite Lyric.ai being passable, even somewhat brandable and not just awful.

    • I think Lyric.ai would sell for at least low 5 figures in today’s market. That is my opinion as an observer, but not an investor in .AI domain names. I still do not own any nor have I ever owned any .AI domain names.

      For what it’s worth, I offered 6 figures to buy Lyric.com last year. I would buy it today for what I offered the owner then. I see Lyric.com as a brand name completely unrelated to music lyrics. I don’t give a hoot about “monetization.” I care about what I think an end user buyer would pay for it to own as a brand matching domain name.

      That’s the same reason I spent a lot of money to acquire Logical.com this month. There are thousands upon thousands of companies with Logical in their branding, and one of those existing company or a hot new startup is going to want to pay a premium to call themselves “Logical” with the matching Logical.com domain name.

  3. This same thing has happened to me numerous times at GoDaddy over the last 10 years. It’s not just .ai domains it happens on. It’s happened on numerous different extensions. Even happens on .com sometimes.

    I know a name like “keyword”.com wouldn’t be available, but it’ll show it is, so I’ll click on buy just to “make 100% sure, and then same exact steps as you took. GoDaddy will show the domain available. I’ll put it in my cart, then go to check out and it’ll show an empty cart. I also chalked this up to be a temporary connectivity blip between GoDaddy and the DNS.

  4. This also happens to me all the time with many extensions. I have seen my own domains available for hand registration. Quite a blip. And often.

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