Topix.com Sells for $1M
Tuesday, March 13th, 2007
Topix.net buys .com domain from Canadian firm.
An article in today’s Wall Street Journal confirms that the domain name Topix.com was purchased for $1M in January. The new owner is Topix.net, which receives 10M visitors per month. The company understood the user confusion of not owning the .com version of the domain and negotiated the purchase.
Topix.com was owned by a Canadian computer graphics and animation facility that specialized in character animation, special effects, film titling, and type and broadcast design. The domain was originally registered in 1995. Terms of the deal, including if the $1M price was all cash or included stock, are not available.
The article in the Wall Street Journal discusses the challenges of changing a company’s domain name with regards to search engine rankings and saturation. Changing from .net to .com is a major shift for Topix and the company expects to experience a reduction in search engine traffic as it makes the change.
When entrepreneurs start a web site they frequently overlook the importance of a good domain. They think that if the site takes off they can always buy the more expensive domain they want. But Topix.net is a good example of why this is a bad strategy. Buying a good domain name from the get go pays off in the long run.
UPDATE 5:00PM CDT:
Topix’ CEO posted a blog entry about the Wall Street Journal article and reaction on the web, including this article on Domain Name Wire. You should read the insightful post, but here are a few choice paragraphs:
Back in 2003 when we were looking for a name, we came across Topix.net. The name ‘topix’ really fit what we were trying to do, it was a heck of a lot better than the other names we’d come up with. It turned out we could buy the name from a South Korean squatter for $800. So we took it.
Of course I knew we were breaking one of the rules of domain names, which is never get anything besides the .com. But I thought that advice might be outmoded. In the early days of the Netscape browser, if you typed a word into the URL bar, the browser would automatically append “.com” onto it if it wasn’t already a domain. But the browser doesn’t do that anymore.
Since those early day, there have also been a flurry of alternate top level domains released. .tv, .info, .fm, all of the country domains, and so forth. Surely, the advice that you had to have a .com wasn’t as relevant anymore?
Well, we got our answer when our very first press story came out. This was in March 2004 when we got a front page business section launch story in the Mercury News. They gave us sweet coverage since we were the only startup to come out of palo alto in months (this was just as the dot-com crash was beginning to thaw). Unfortunately, while the article clearly spelled “Topix.net”, the caption under our photo — the most visible part of the story after the headline — called us Topix.com. Someone had transcribed the name and mistakenly changed the .net to .com, out of habit, I suppose.