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Most expensive domain names

Most expensive domain names

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Probably not in the case of these domain names which were sold for millions of dollars. Why? That’s also something we shall look into at the end of the post. Anyway, as you can understand, the list of the most expensive domain names is only of those whose sales were made public; there would be others that exchanged hands in private deals.

Also, I’ll tell you some interesting facts about these domain names. For instance, the most expensive domain name, at least the one on paper, has been valued 20+ times more than the top one on the list.

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First, let’s first have a look at the list. All prices are in US dollars.

Domain name Value
(USD million)
Buyer Year
Cars.com $872 Gannett Company, Inc. 2014
CarInsurance.com $49.7 QuinStreet 2010
Insurance.com $35.6 QuinStreet 2010
VacationRentals.com $35 HomeAway 2007
PrivateJet.com $30.2 Nations Luxury Transportation 2012
Internet.com $18 QuinStreet 2009
360.com $17 Qihoo 2015
Insure.com $16 QuinStreet 2009
Sex.com $13 Clover Holdings Limited 2010
IRS.com $12.5 Intersearch 2007
Sex.com $11.5 Escom LLC 2006
Hotels.com $11 Hotels.com Worldwide 2001
Fund.com $9.99 Meade Technologies Inc. 2008
Porn.com $9.5 MXN Ltd. 2007
Porno.com $8.89 Prague based company 2015
FB.com $8.5 Facebook 2010

Some take home messages from the list

QuinStreet, a publicly traded digital and performance marketing company, owns four of the 10 most expensive domain names!

“Sex” sells… literally. It figures two times on the list because it changed hands twice (as far as we know). Two more adult themes domain names, Porn.com and Porno.com, also make their appearance.

Cars.com – the most expensive domain name till date

The most expensive domain name till date is Cars.com and is worth 17 times more than the one below it!

Cars.com had previously been owned by Classified Ventures, a joint venture of several companies. In 2014, Gannett who belonged to this group, bought out the remaining shake for $1.8 billion. This meant that the company was now worth $2.5 billion and the domain name, referred to as indefinite-lived trade name, was valued at $872 million.

Why are these domain names so expensive?

Which brings us to the questions – Why are these domain names so expensive? Why are companies ready to pay so much money for just a domain name?
The answer is kind of convoluted because it all depends on the domain name and the industry it is associated with. Here are my guesses. Let me know your opinions by posting a comment below.

For instance, we all know that the porn business is huge. So it is natural that domain names catering to this industry will be priced high.
But why would anyone spend so much money when Jeff Bezos could start off a online books store with Amazon.com, a domain name that had nothing to do with books?

That’s because a lot of web users are, ahem, not very intelligent! I’m sure you’ve come across someone who searched for amazon.com on Google and clicked on the first result instead of directly going to the Amazon.com web site. Well the same kind of person would go to hotels.com instead of searching for hotels.

And smart companies know this. That’s why a lot of the expensive domain names in the list are generic words/phrases – CarInsurance.com, Hotels.com, Fund.com. It seems, the “not-very-intelligent web user” segment comes bundled for free with the super-expensive domain name!

Compete, an online research company, once estimated that even without a functional web site, CarInsurance.com got about 200,000 unique visitors per month! Now imagine if the owners put up a simple form at CarInsurance.com, wouldn’t they make a whole lot of money selling leads of prospects? And this is only from visitors who would be coming directly to the page by typing the domain name.

I also feel that a generic domain name seems more credible. For instance, if you were looking for “widgets” wouldn’t you trust widgets.com more than any other domain name?

Recovering the cost of the domain name

Will these domain names ever be able to recover their costs? Let’s hear it from the horse’s mouth.

Way back in 2001, Hotels.com domain name was bought by Hotels.com Worldwide for a staggering $11 million. Years later, when questioned about the purchase, David Roche, President of the company, replied that the price seems like “a crazy sum of money… Now we look back and think, what a bargain“.

Obviously, not all businesses are equal. I feel that these expensive domain names are of businesses which:

  • are searched frequently on the web [sex.com, porn.com],
  • have products and/or services of high value [PrivateJet.com, VacationRentals.com] and/or
  • cater to the majority [carinsurance.com, Insure.com].

And then there are domain names like FB.com and 360.com which are picked up by rich companies just to protect or extend their brand.

Hope you enjoyed the list. Let us know your thoughts at opinions.

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Your comments
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  • Gautama on November 8th, 2016 11:28 pm

    Good list. I would have been a millionaire if I had registered one of these.

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