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Friday, June 22, 2007

Is Business.com Worth $400 Million?

Wow! WSJ is reporting business.com is for sale with a price tag as high as $400 million (via TechCrunch). From the article:
Entrepreneurs Jake Winebaum and Sky Dayton were widely mocked for lavishing $7.5 million on a single Internet domain name -- business.com -- back in 1999. It was the single highest price paid for a domain name at the time.

Now look who is having the last laugh.

The company that grew out of business.com -- a search engine used by businesses to find products and services -- is now on the auction block, and could fetch anywhere between $300 million and $400 million, according to people familiar with the matter.
I wonder what the domain name, business.com, alone is worth? It must have a phenomenal amount of direct navigation traffic (free and not reliant on search engine whims). How can you tell? Look at the Overture (now Yahoo! Search Marketing) keyword suggestion tool:

business.com searches

That's probably ~9000 searches per month on Google. Noting that Direct Navigation via Search Box is a Trend, I wonder how this translates into direct navigation traffic. Does anybody have a rough idea as to what percentage of people type domains into search boxes versus a browser's address bar? I'd guess it's a small subset. Even if it's a high number like 10% then we're talking ~90,000 people per month navigating directly to business.com and bypassing search engines altogether. How much is that traffic worth? Is business.com more valuable to a domainer or, as the WSJ article puts it:
Closely held business.com is expected to attract a host of interest from the likes of media companies such as Dow Jones & Co. and New York Times Co., these people said. Requests for comment from Business.com and the New York Times were not returned yesterday evening. Dow Jones, publisher of The Wall Street Journal, declined to comment.
If the price really is in the $300-$400 million range, will it be out of reach of the domain companies that are actively seeking to develop their properties (rather than park them)? I wonder if any of these companies will be interested in business.com: Reinvent Technology, Marchex, Demand Media, Internet REIT (iREIT).

I'll be curious what Paul Sloan (of Business 2.0) thinks about the value of the business.com domain and/or underlying business.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Scottie News editor said...

I've been doing some research on direct navigation/type-in traffic lately.

And it's my feeling that people are typing name.com into google because typing it directly into the address bar seldom works any more if you're a firefox user like me.

I honestly don't get why domainers and and firms lke Jupiter research keep insisting that this is a growing market when it seems to me the opposite is obvious.

Address bars are turning into search engines themselves or am I missing something?

Tue Jun 26, 02:26:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Richard said...

Keep in mind that type-in traffic is a subset of direct navigation. Many people get confused and include bookmarked traffic with direct navigation stats and think that means type-in traffic. Read my post, Domain Parking Traffic Conversion Myth, for a full explanation.

Not sure what flavors of direct navigation the Jupiter report actually deals with. Interesting thoughts on that report on this blog.

Wed Jun 27, 07:54:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is Geosign, Inc. Worth $160 Million?

Ann Brocklehurst has the answer:

Would you spend $160 milion on thefart.com?

Fri Jun 29, 04:07:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous steven emery said...

certain things stick out on this planet and the generic term business.com is one of the greatest. You can compare it to the sun. A huge mass that needs no explanation and is seen in the minds of the world on a daily basis. what is the value of the sun if you could put your ad sign on it. Your absolutely right. Priceless.

Sat Jun 30, 03:49:00 PM EDT  

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