Archive for October, 2006

Oversee.net Is Domain Giant

Oversee.net, a closely held Internet marketing company based in Los Angeles, has been buying up the portfolios of domain investors. It now has a whopping 500,000 domains, a figure first reported in this New York Times article. That would put the six-year-old company in the very upper echelon of domain-portfolio owners in terms of size. See the chart of big domain owners I’m in the midst of compiling below … It should be noted that Oversee does a lot of things, including search-engine optimization and domain “monetization” for clients. In the latter effort, it acts as a middleman between domain owners and Web-advertising giants like Google and Yahoo, steering ads sold by the giants to the domain owners’ sites and then divvying up the revenue three ways. The company’s annual revenue now tops $100 million, and it is reportedly getting a lot of attention from investors. However, the company has not taken outside capital yet and has been able to grow rapidly on its own. Oversee’s domains include Degrees.com, DreamVacations.com, Low.com and CareerSeeker.com.

Here’s my work-in-progress list of big domain owners (This list is not complete because many domain owners are individuals or privately held businesses that don’t publish their size):

  • NameMedia/BuyDomains.com, 675,000
  • Dark Blue Sea Ltd., 545,000
  • Oversee.net, 500,000
  • Internet REIT, more than 400,000
  • Name Administration Inc. BVI, 350,000
  • Marchex Inc., more than 200,000

Sources: Company Web sites, investor presentations, interviews

To Whom It May Concern: Sorry

The Wall Street Journal’s Pui-Wing Tam shares many interesting details today in a front-page story about Hewlett-Packard Co.’s investigation of her as part of its probe into leaks by board members. One noteworthy nugget: When H-P’s now-former chairman, Patricia Dunn, sent emailed apologies to journalists who came under scrutiny in the probe, the email to Tam had her name in a different font than the rest of the message. (Reminds me of some of the PR pitches I get.) Yesterday, Tam got a face-to-face apology from Cathy Lyons, H-P’s chief marketing officer. But Tam writes that there’s still a lot she doesn’t know about the look into her private life, at least in part because H-P is not getting cooperation from security firms it hired to conduct investigations.

Ever Been to Disnayland?

“Typosquatting” — the act of registering domain names that are misspellings of corporate brands — is alive and well on the Web, as researchers at Microsoft Corp. have documented . I’m constantly amazed at how brazen these typosquatters are. Lately I’ve been observing several domains that tDisnayland.comake advantage of misspellings of Disney — you know, the company that gave us Mickey Mouse and “The Lion King,” heard of it? The domains I’ve looked at include Disnayland.com, Dissney.com and Disneny.com. Walt Disney Co. is preparing a response to a general inquiry I’ve made for my book. In the meantime, I did some research on Disnayland.com, a screenshot of which I’ve posted. When I clicked on the ads shown on this page, it became clear that the ads were placed through Yahoo Inc.’s search-advertising network, formerly known as Overture. The system works like this: Advertisers bid on keywords at Yahoo, and Yahoo distributes the keyword-based ads on thousands of sites that participate in its network. Yahoo shares the ad revenue with the partner sites.
A Yahoo spokeswoman said in an email that Disnayland.com violated the company’s guidelines and that the site would be removed from its ad network within 24 hours. One of Yahoo’s guidelines is that a domain can’t “contain trademarks or typos of trademarks terms.” It’s unclear how long Disnayland.com has used the Yahoo system. The ads on Disnayland.com have been travel-related ads for companies like Expedia, Travelocity and Sheraton.
It’s not clear who owns Disnayland.com. I sent a message to the email address listed on the Whois registration file for the domain, but haven’t heard back. The same contact information, which shows a P.O. Box in Hong Kong, is listed in the registration file for Disneny.com. It’s important to note that Whois information is unreliable; the information provided by registrants is not verified.
I also called Nameview, the Vancouver, British Columbia-based firm that appears to be hosting Disnayland.com and Disneny.com, according to this site. I’m waiting on a response. I’ll be posting more information on this case and other typosquatting issues in the coming weeks and months.

Blogging from Florida

As discussed here, I’m going to be blogging on another site, Domain Name Wire, next week. Hundreds of investors in domain names will be congregating at “Traffic,” a trade show for the domain business, in Hollywood Beach, Fla. I’ll be posting news from the conference while enjoying a break from the dreary weather here in Chicago.

The Latest in Hip Reporting Gigs

Of all the odd beats for news reporters, this one may take the cake: Second Life reporter. That’s Adam Pasick’s new job at Reuters. Second Life is an online virtual world where characters do real-world stuff like building houses and conversing for hours at a time. The role-playing world — I hesitate to call it a game, because its creators once stressed to me that it is not a game — has more than 850,000 players.

The New York Times says:

In preparing to open a Reuters bureau on a bustling island, Adam Pasick has been introducing himself to residents and interviewing entrepreneurs. After finishing such interviews, Mr. Pasick often levitates for a moment, then flies over buildings.

Mr. Pasick, a Reuters technology reporter who was formerly earthbound with the news agency, is heading up Reuters’ first virtual news bureau inside the online role-playing game Second Life. While many independent journalists and bloggers have published inside such virtual worlds, Reuters is the first established news agency to dispatch a full-time reporter to do so.

For any journalist interested in social behavior online, this certainly ranks as one of the more appealing beats at Reuters. But for how long will the subject matter remain interesting for the London-based Pasick? Will Reuters be able to expand its audience with this new coverage arena? Techdirt might have a point when it says covering the Second Life economy, where users buy and sell real estate, clothing and other stuff, “really seems secondary to the publicity aims of this move.”

I used to cover online adult entertainment for WSJ.com. I wonder if Pasick will investigate the adult side of Second Life, described here.

Hawaiians Blog on Quake

I went searching for bloggers in Hawaii in the wake of today’s earthquake. After a search on Feedster’s blog-search tool failed to immediately yield any results, I went to Technorati’s blog-search tool and found a few moderately interesting posts. (Many people apparently don’t have power, so blogging isn’t a simple undertaking.) A woman named Sharon declared her family safe with a dispatch that began: “Shake, rattle and roll, baby!” She went on to say, “I didn’t realize how serious it was until people who have been through them before said they never felt one like this!”

Another blogger says “books were falling, papers and files sliding, bulletin boards falling, copier and printers shifting to the side and you wondered if they would bounce all the way off.” The blogger, who added that “my doggie Patty was shaking and stayed under my desk,” has the pictures to prove it.

The quake, which registered 6.6, is the biggest to hit the Hawaiian islands since 1983, according to a New York Times report. Many injuries have been reported, but no deaths. I’ve been trying to see what the Honolulu papers’ Web sites are saying, but I’m having trouble getting on them. They’re no doubt being flooded with traffic. The NBC television affiliate in Honolulu, KHNL/Channel 8, posted a note at the top of its Web site asking users to “email us your pictures of the damage.”

Meanwhile, another blogger, who doesn’t live in Hawaii and whom I won’t link to, takes time to assert that CNN weatherman Rob Marciano is the “hottest weatherman to hit the news.”

WSJ: Media Companies Pressure YouTube

In my haste in drafting the previous post, I failed to point out a nice scoop about YouTube in the Journal yesterday by Matthew Karnitschnig and Kevin Delaney. The lead of the article says: “In an apparent display of saber-rattling aimed at nudging video Web site YouTube Inc. into cutting favorable licensing deals, a number of major media companies have banded together to explore the legal implications of the video site’s unauthorized use of copyright material, people familiar with the matter say.” Lawyers for the companies, which include News Corp. and Viacom Inc., think YouTube “could be liable to copyright penalties of $150,000 per unauthorized video,” according to the reporters’ sources.  This is a significant development. As is pointed out in the story, media companies are on the fence about YouTube. They don’t want to see their content displayed on the site without getting compensated, but they also acknowledge the power YouTube has in attracting a huge audience of video-watchers and see it as a potentially key distribution partner.