04 March, 2009

Buy My Domain, Episode 3

The story so far: I had a domain for almost two years, didn’t use it, and decided to try and sell it. The auction failed, so I kept it listed at GoDaddy’s aftermarket sales site, and waited. And waited. And waited.

The time: Last year
The scene: My e-mail inbox.

Dear Matt Lake,

You have received an offer for Item Number 1XX2O27 in the amount of $250.00. Log in to your account to view the offer.

It took me a couple of seconds to understand what this email was all about. I nearly trash-canned it. Then I cast my mind back 14 months and remembered: I’d put an old domain up for sale. And now, someone was trying to buy it from me. Well, there was a turn-up for the books.

I scrambled to look through my notes and noticed that the bid was considerably lower than GoDaddy’s estimate ($622 or higher). But it was higher than Afternic’s estimate of $200. And it was more than three times more than the $79.95 I’d sunk into the project.

So on one hand, I wasn’t an online entrepreneur of the order of Filo and Yang, Jeff Bezos, or Steve Case. But on the other hand, I’d made out better than if I’d stuck the cash in a money-market, or just spent it on outsized latte drinks at Clusterbucks. So I decided to take the money.

I had 72 hours to respond, so I hied myself over to GoDaddy’s Domain Name Aftermarket and started in on the process. Little did I know, it would take a month of waiting around and responding to various emails, and frankly, it was a bit irritating.

Day 1
I accepted the bid. Within the hour, I got the delightful message “Congratulations! The domain name Item Number 1XX2O27 has sold! Please do not accept any transfer requests of this domain at this time!”

I am told to wait and let GoDaddy handle the transaction. They’ll act as an escrow agent to ensure everything goes smoothly. This sounds good to me, so I wait.

Day 3
GoDaddy is pleased to inform me that they have received the proceeds for the sale of my domain. I am to log on and contact the buyer to begin the domain transfer process.

To do this, I must first unlock the domain to allow the domain transfer to proceed. Then I must collect the buyer’s account information to enter into a form somewhere on the site. This I do.

Day 5
GoDaddy sends email to tell me that I have initiated a change of registrant for my domain. I already knew this--I was there after all--but at least they're acknowledging the fact. Two days late, true, but they're acknowledging it.

Day 12
GoDaddy sends me another email with slightly different phrasing to tell me that I have initiated a change of registrant on my domain. If I meant to do this, I don’t need to do anything more. Yep, I did it alright. Nine days ago.

Day 18
GoDaddy tells me that the change of registrant went through. A second email dated one second after the first one tells me I have cancelled my account for the domain. I do a double-take on this one, and then realize that it’s a good thing. So I wait for the next dispatch--and my money.

Day 19
GoDaddy sends me a courtesy note to tell me that the whole transaction will be completed on a date ten days in the future.

Day 24
GoDaddy sends me the exact same courtesy note to tell me that the whole transaction will be completed on a date five days in the future.

Day 29
GoDaddy tells me that the transaction is completed. That’s great.

Now…where’s the money?

Day 34
GoDaddy PayPals me the money.

So there we have it. Nearly sixteen months after I started this process, a polite entrepreneur in Pune, India, paid me $250 for my domain. It wasn’t a coup like the sale of business.com to RH Donnelly in 2007 (that netted more than $300 million), but it was good enough for me.

The question was: Was it good enough for my buyer? What did he want to do with the domain now that he acquired it?

This all happened more than a year ago, so I’ve been tracking the domain ever since. So I know exactly what he did with it. And I’ll share that information with you. A little more promptly than GoDaddy shared the revenue for the sale all those moons ago.


My balance sheet:

Expenditures: $29 in registration fees; $39.95 in appraisal fees; $10 in membership fees; $12.50 in Godaddy sales commission; various state, federal, and business taxes.

Total expenditures: $91.45 total plus tax

Total revenues: $250

Net gain: $118 minus tax

Total hours expended…who knows? But I’m sure that divided up, I earned roughly minimum wage out of the deal.

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