Kieren McCarthy’s entertaining chronicle about the Sex.com theft is an engaging read.
Sex.com – the domain name – is perhaps the most valuable domain name in the world. Each day, thousands of people type the domain into their browser, creating a cyber mint for its owner. Sex.com – the book – is the gripping tale of the biggest theft the domain name world has ever seen.
If you’ve followed the domain name industry for more than a year then you probably know a bit about the Sex.com story. The domain, registered in 1994, was stolen by Stephen Cohen a year later. For years, rightful owner Gary Kremen fought to get the domain back. The story has all of the elements of your typical fiction thriller — theft, sex, fugitives, and violence. But this isn’t fiction.
Author Keiren McCarthy has occasionally written about the Sex.com saga over the years, and earlier this year released Sex.com: One Domain, Two Men, Twelve Years and the Brutal Battle for the Jewel in the Internet’s Crown. The book is an exhilarating and entertaining read that educates and entertains. Each short chapter tells a new story in the saga. When you’re about ready to put the book down, McCarthy forshadows what crazy event will happen next, making it impossible to not dive right into the next chapter. You’ll be turning pages as fast as when you read Harry Potter.
Here are some of the crazier parts of the saga:
-When Cohen stole the domain from Kremen, he sent supporting documentation to Network Solutions (which was the registry at the time) that was a forgery supposedly from Kremen’s company. It read, “Because we do not have a direct connection to the internet, we request that you…delete our domain name sex.com [sic]”. The name of Kremen’s company, which was shown at the top of the forged letter, was Online Classifieds, Inc.
-After Cohen was forced to give up his $3M house to Kremen, Cohen ordered his thugs to tear everything out of the house including toilets, light fixtures, and door knobs. The police showed up but it was too late.
-Kremen was the victim, but wasn’t exactly perfect. His drug habit spiraled out of control during the saga. One of his lawyers had a drug habit of his own. When both Kremen and his lawyer were high on cocaine, they signed an agreement to hand over 15% of sex.com to the lawyer. (The agreement was later nullified.)
-Cohen tried to register the trademark to Sex.com. While it sat in limbo at the US trademark office, he sued anyone who owned a domain with “sex” in it, such as sexsex.com. Amazingly, the courts repeatedly ruled in Cohen’s favor and handed a number of domains to him. Imagine someone filing a trademark for money.com and then going after everyone with ‘money’ in their names – such as easymoney.com and freemoney.com.
-A few hours after Cohen was let out of jail, his attorney in Mexico was ambushed. It’s unclear if Cohen ordered the hit. What we do know is that Cohen’s fable of a bloody battle at his Mexican house was just that — a fable.
Those are just a few of the crazier substories in this exciting book. It’s a must read even if you are not in the domain name industry.
The only downside to the Sex.com book is it’s hard to get your hands on (hence my delay in reviewing it). It was only published by a UK company. Ordering it direct from Amazon.com will take about 4-6 weeks for delivery. However, you can order it from Amazon sellers and get it delivered within a week. Hopefully a U.S. publisher will pick this great book up soon.
Postscript: Sex.com sold for a rumored $12M in cash and stock last year. Sex.net also sold for $450,000 last year. An auction for Sex.info has met its reserve at Sedo and will sell this Monday for at least $202,000.