Internet REIT, the domain-name giant backed by large private-equity players, has stopped displaying ads on more than 200 domains that are “typos” of major brands following two news reports over the weekend on this blog. But it is still running pay-per-click ads on many other sites that are typographical variations of large American companies. Among them: The Walt Disney Co. A list of more than 60 iREIT-owned Disney-related domains is posted below.
The Houston-based company owns and runs ads on scores of typos of generic words, too, in addition to those that raise potential legal risks. One of its generic typos happens to be dislexsia.com, a misspelling of dyslexia, the learning disorder.
Ironically, one of iREIT’s founders, Marc Ostrofsky, a domain-industry legend who sits on the company’s board, has battled dyslexia, according to this 1999 article in the Houston Business Journal (see clarification below).
iREIT’s financial backers include Maveron, co-founded by Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz and former investment banker Dan Levitan. In an article last year in the Puget Sound Business Journal, Levitan, a member of iREIT’s board, expressed his enthusiasm for the domain market, saying: “Step one in the development of this industry was the realization of the value of the traffic and the aggregation of names and portfolios.” The second step: Creating “a relevance, so instead of just landing on these pages, there’s some compelling reason to stay and perhaps come back.” I’m seeking an interview with Levitan and Schultz to see if they’ll discuss iREIT’s ownership of thousands of typos of major brands, including Starbucks.
iREIT CEO Bob Martin and President and Chief Operating Officer Craig Snyder told me in a joint interview over the weekend that the company still has a lot of work to do to figure out how to effectively identify and remove “legally sensitive” domains. The company has owned many of its typos for months. Said Martin: “We are confident that in a short time we’ll have a good handle on these issues. I’ll never say we’re going to be 100 percent perfect.” In a January email interview, Martin said: “We take a very strict policy against holding vice or potentially legally sensitive assets in our portfolio.”
Here are some of the Disney-related domains it has purchased:
Clarification: This entry originally said Marc Ostrofsky has battled dyslexia. Ostrofsky had dyslexia only while a young boy.