Domain matters (or do they?)

March 28, 2010

I’ve worked in domain names for around 9 years now. In October 2001 I moved to London and started working with them at that time, initially just monitoring them and reporting names which had been registered for various corporations who wanted to protect their brand. Eventually I moved into the actual management side of them registering names globally and finding out about the technical side of how they work.

However, as little as I knew 9 years ago, it was just before I moved to London when I first became aware of the fact they were more than just something that other people had and used on-line, and were something that I could actually own myself. Nowadays everybody has a domain name, but back then it wasn’t as common, though I was a very slow starter with it.

The first name I registered was on the 27th July 2001. I was working as a recruitment consultant and IT trainer and we were introducing a Dreamweaver course so I needed to learn how to use that particular piece of software, and this made me learn HTML. I decided to buy my own domain name back then and so did a search, probably not via Google at that time, to find a domain name provider. I used a company called Freeola at that time, who were rubbish it turned out, but very cheap – as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. It was around this time I had just upgraded my PC for the first time since 1997 and now had a modem so could connect online – it’s fair to say that I gave up reading books in the evening at this time and started my new life on the Internet.

I knew most places used .com domain names and that many UK places used .co.uk names; at that time I had no idea all of the other ccTLDs existed so never contemplated them for a second. I think I firstly attempted to secure my surname ‘murphy’ under .com and .co.uk, but found them both to be taken. I had a similar problem when I was setting up my internet connection in that my name was already being used as a username by someone else.

My solution was not very imaginative, I just added the letter Z to my surname.

murphyz was born.

So I did a search for murphyz.com and found that this one was also taken, annoyingly just 6 months prior to my wanting it. And so I settled for murphyz.co.uk, the current home of my forum which was set up about a year later and the domain used for my primary email.

The fact that murphyz wasn’t very common, but murphyz.com was taken would have lit a spark inside someone smarter than myself. They would have thought ‘If not so common names are already being taken on this here internet, I wonder what gems might still be available to me to register as an investment?’

Not me. I was as dumb as they come and it would take me a couple of more years before I realise a $10 registration could have netted me quite a nice profit; it still can if you pay attention to companies that are merging and don’t mind dabbling in that kind of thing. As a moral person and the fact I work with so many law firms and brand owners I stay out of this area, though have seen the potential.

So I settled for murphyz.co.uk and was happy with this; and have since added new domain names to my portfolio along the way.

I always kinda wanted that .com though.

Through my years of working in domain names I spent some time working on domain name acquisitions, where you approach a holder of a name and negotiate to purchase it. Though this process isn’t one I really enjoy compared to other aspects of my work I was quite good at it, and it did often allow me to perform my favourite part of investigating a domain name owner to find out who they are, how much they know about domain names and what kind of life they lead in order to make the right approach and give them the right price. I like to think of it as being a web detective rather than an on-line stalker. Oh yes, if you did not arrive at this page naturally then the chances are I have Googled you.

I approached the owner of murphyz.com many years ago, and did so straight up. I told him my circumstances and that I had an interest in murphyz.com and asked that he be in touch should he wish to sell it. He was pretty certain of himself when he stated he had plans for the name and did not want to sell at any time.

Now some people have plans for the names they own, and some people have ‘plans’. Pretty much anyone you approach to buy a name has ‘plans’ for it, as these ‘plans’ lead to pleas for additional cash when they do sell the name and have to go through the inconvenience of changing these ‘plans’.

I believed this guy though, as not only was the site serving content on older generations of people with the name Murphy, he had also written a book on the subject.

I have many plans for (most of) my names but have never written a book. It takes me all of my time to write a blog post.

I was surprised then when I found out last a few weeks ago that murphyz.com was about to be deleted.

My first thought, of course, was to the best way to secure the name. I knew the registrar it was with so knew which snapback service they would push the name to which meant I was in the best place to get myself in with a chance to either register it once it dropped or at least be in an auction to purchase it so that was step number one.

My second thought was towards the former registrant of the name. Why had he allowed it to drop? Was it recession based, did his plans just change or was he injured or dead? I hope that he is alive and well, and just decided that he had no plans for the name anymore, or that he simply ignored any renewal reminders or forget to get it renewed. I noted another of the names he had registered also lapsed around the same time, this one with a different provider.

Craig, if you ever read this, do let me know.

So, murphyz.com was suddenly about to be deleted and I placed an interest in the name with snapnames.com who was the preferred company that would get this name. On the evening of Thursday 25th March the name dropped and, as expected, was registered by snapnames.

Unfortunately, another person had stated their interest in the name. A ‘maria_jose’ had also placed an order with snapnames, and it was now up to an auction to sort us out.

I knew nothing of maria_jose, and so didn’t know their betting patterns. I was used to facing a guy called Halvarez whenever a name went to auction, but when it was found out last year that Halvarez was an employee of snapnames pushing the price of domain names up most snapnames purchases since have been uncontested – but at least with Halvarez I knew how much I would be expected to contest a 7 letter .com name for. With maria_jose I knew nothing! There were a few things online that showed the person has been around for a good few years but nothing to tie them down to purchases. What I did see looked promising as they appeared to be someone who didn’t really bid more than the base price. As in poker, I enjoy playing against people who don’t want to raise me – a situation like that here would be perfect.

So I was of course left with a decision of how much to bid? Did I really want to spend $1,000 on a name I have lived without and have no real attachment to? Did I want to bid $100 and miss out to someone who was going to bid $110.

I asked myself the questions I ask clients who are wondering how much they should bid for their names. How much can you afford to pay for it? How would you feel if someone else had the name and you couldn’t use it? How much does it mean to include this name in your portfolio? Can you use this name to save costs on the registrations of others name in your portfolio?

I had no answers to any of these questions. I do, however, have a history of bidding on things and ‘winning’ them when winning is a very loose term due to the fact I’ve paid more than I should have just because I like to win. I didn’t want to enter a bidding war here, knowing that I have a very competitive streak and a credit card that sits unused and, therefore, has max credit available. That would just get me into trouble.

The last domain name I was in an auction with ended up with me paying around £300 to win it, so that seemed reasonable enough here for one that is less brandable. I slapped on a max bid of $530 and waited for the auction to kick in – 2days 19hours and 57minutes to go before I would find out if it was mine.

‘maria_jose’ stayed silent for those two days, right up until 5 minutes before the auction was due to end and at the time when I thought I may be lucky and get it for $60.

She came in with a bid of $65, I automatically countered with $70 – automatic as the bid, much like eBay, goes up as long as you have a max amount listed.

Then she came in with a bid of $80, I automatically countered with $85.

Her third bid came in at $110, my automatic counter was $120.

With less than a minute to go she came in at $130, my counter was $140.

Auction extended back to 5 minutes. Sigh. I guess it prevents snipers…right?

No action though, during the 5 minutes, and the auction ended at my winning it for $140.


Finally, I have the .com of the name I’ve been using for nearly a decade.

I have no idea what I’m going to do with it!


5 Responses to “Domain matters (or do they?)”

  1. Wavatar Tweets that mention Domain matters (or do they?) : murphyzVille -- Topsy.com on March 28th, 2010 7:32 pm

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by murphyz, murphyz. murphyz said: Domain matters (or do they?) http://bit.ly/aSVUu8 […]

  2. Wavatar tenderhooligan on June 16th, 2010 7:09 pm

    AW MAN! I read this on the edge of my seat. SO GLAD you got it. And for a reasonable price too!

  3. Wavatar murphyz on June 19th, 2010 9:03 am

    Indeed, I was most pleased with it also 🙂


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