Mar 4 2008

Expiring Domain NamesOne of the more interesting discussions at DomainState is in a thread entitled “Feels like 2000 all over again.” The subject of the post is Stephen Webb who started a company called WeAre, LLC. Stephen says, “I was looking for a domain name for my business located in Charleston. I wanted to give the impression of ownership so I typed in WeAreMusic.com and it was available so was DVD, CD and IamCharleston.com. Now 13,000 domain names later we launched a new business.”

Why does this make it feel like the year 2000 all over again? Well, one of the most memorable and largest of these types of “Theme Portfolios” was created 7 or 8 years ago by Dr Lieven Van Neste, who eventually registered over 200,000 domains. He picked prefixes like “family” and then paired them with popular keywords (highschool, highway, import, etc.). Sometimes they made sense (familyminivan.com) but more often they did not (familyimport-export.com, familyhighway.com). While he may have had a few sales that helped hype his portfolio, high renewal fees forced him to let the names expire (after attempting to sell them at firesale prices at afternic and through brokers).

Likewise, I have read numerous interviews and press releases celebrating the “success” of Stephen Webb and WeAre, LLC., but I only remember reading about 3 reported sales or leases from the 13,000 domain portfolio. The portfolio also contains names like “WeAreTheAdultDiapers.com” and “WeAreClock.com” as well as more risky and possible trademark violation registrations like “WeAreTheArizonaWildcats.com”. While I certainly hope that the business works out for Mr. Webb, it is important to remember that more often than not these types of theme portfolios do not work. Anyone who scans drop lists will see theme portfolios expiring all the time, and just recently more than 5000 domains from Stephen’s portfolio have or are about to expire. Although these 5000 expiring names cost him at least $35,000 to register (at $7/name), letting these names expire shows that Stephen understands that he made some mistakes and some names in his portfolio are simply not worth renewing. For those just entering the market, the less expensive way to learn this lesson is to take some time to study the industry as much as you can before you register any domain names, read the forums and blogs, ask questions, and perhaps simply start slowly. 😉

One Response

  1. It’s Time To End Pattern Domaining : Domain Bits Says:

    […] What is pattern domaining?  It’s buying and selling domains simply on the basis that the domains fit a particular pattern.  The best examples are the buying and selling of “short” domains – like LLL.com, LLLL.com, and NNNNN.com.  But pattern domaining is not just about short domains.  It also includes buying domains because they are one word domains – despite the fact that the odds of an end user every choosing to brand themselves under that word are less than the odds of being struck by lightning.  It includes buying domains with an ”i” prefix simply because iReport.com sold for a large sum, or buying thousands of domains prefixed with “Iam.” […]

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