In October 2015, Google bought abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz.com for its parent company, Alphabet Inc. A few weeks later, ID Africa, a Lagos-based digital agency bought the .ng and .com.ng extensions to the same domain name.

It was revealed that Google had acquired the domain name, abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz.com, from an anonymous owner who had held it since 1999.

Google operates in most countries by a customized domain name. For example, its domain name in Nigeria, google.com.ng, differs from its domain name in South Africa, google.co.za. So the fact that the aforementioned Nigerian extensions have been snapped up by that digital agency means they are making a bet on Google’s future need to acquire the extensions. This practice is not new on the internet.

In times past, online businesses have had to pay hefty sums of money to acquire domain names that they care about from the owners. This act of buying domains names at minimal prices and saving them for the future when businesses will come looking for you has helped make a couple of people rich.

There’s Rick Schwartz, a college dropout who started “collecting” domain names in 1995. He currently owns more than 6,000 domain names. Over the years, Rick has sold more than 20 domain names, raking in several millions of dollars which have allowed him own luxuries. Rick owns five houses and seven luxury cars – mortgage free. He sold eBet.com in 2013, for $1.35 million; a website he purchased for $100.

Rick is not alone in this. Here is a list of some of the biggest domain name buys in history:

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Coming to America (strikethrough) Nigeria, Globacom, one of the major telcos in Nigeria, also paid a large sum to acquire its official domain name. The same goes for Naij.com which was originally owned by a music blogger before it was bought over by the media company.

With the growing popularity of alternate domain name extensions such as .biz, .net, .info, etc (not .etc), the domain name ‘gold rush’ has subsided. For example, a lot of potential domain names for Linda Ikeji’s blog were snapped up, with hopes that she would need to approach the holders to buy her domain names. But this gamble didn’t pay off as she got around to getting her own domain name without buying it off anyone.

Will ID Africa find themselves in a negotiation with Alphabet for this domain name or not?  Time will tell.

Photo Credit: Marcie Casas via Compfight cc

David Adeleke Author

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