The blog post entitled Ka-ching was a popular one and continues to get reactions and comments. It described where I believe money is being made on the internet, and by inference, which types of domain names might be worth owning and monetizing through development. The Ka-Ching #1 post did not explain a key aspect of monetization, namely the exit, or sale, of a developed domain. Real estate development and nuclear power plants offer a possible template to follow.
The concept of “Build, Operate, Transfer” is one that I first came across in the context of large facility construction, such as nuclear power plants. The skills required to plan and build such a facility are far more specialized and expensive than the ones required to operate or maintain such facilities. The same logic could apply to homebuilding. Most people will never build their own home. Rather, most people will buy an existing home, or work with a builder, and then handle post-construction enhancements like landscaping, interior design, and general “curb appeal”.
So, since most people will never build their own home, it begs the question, why should domain development be any different? Why would a domainer, with little or no experience with building commercial websites, take on the risk of building a site, let alone hundreds or thousands of them. With the recent chatter about minisites, and all of their limitations, I believe the model of “Build, Operate, Transfer” may emerge as a superior alternative. Rather than speculate on whether or not a commissioned minisite will work, a buyer is acquiring a developed site that is ready for monetization and further development, preferably with an integrated content management system so that the entire site is turn-key for the new owner without further investment or technical work.
Anatomy of a Deal: TripodAdapter.com
On August 16, 2009, Epik acquired the domain name TripodAdapter.com on the drop. The name was acquired through the JustDropped.com backorder service which is now in full production using a network of registry connections. During October, Epik produced a site using the Wishpot comparison shopping platform. We are now producing sites like TripodAdapter.com by the dozens each week as turn-key businesses that are ready to scale.
In the meantime, TripodAdapter.com is now at auction. The auction ends on Saturday morning. The auction listing has now been viewed more than 1200 times. Since announcing that TripodAdapter.com is for sale, I fielded a few questions about the auction listing, so here are a few clarifying points about the TripodAdapter.com auction. After all, I believe we’ll be selling a lot more like this one:
- What are we selling? The auction listing is for both the domain and the operating website, which is hosted by Epik’s operating partner, Wishpot.com. This is a turn-key comparison shopping portal.
- What is the SEO status of the site? TripodAdapter.com is on the middle of page 1 of Google’s SERP for the term Tripod Adapter.
- Can the buyer use their own ad feeds? Yes, the buyer of the site can use their own feeds from Amazon.com, Shopping.com and Google. Epik/Wishpot can continue to host the site in order to provide cross-links and software updates.
- Can the buyer get the source code for the site? The buyer of TripodAdapter.com receives a license of the source code for operating the current site on the domain TripodAdapter.com.
In summary, the model of Build – Operate – Transfer can apply to domains. By using a platform-based approach to domain development, Epik aims to work with domain owners to quickly develop domains into commercially viable websites. In the coming months we aim to shorten the development cycle from acquisition to exit to an average of less than 90 days for the domain categories where we have a platform-based solution.