Here’s a hint that you’re dealing with Microsoft (or another big company).
Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) has snapped up more generic domain names, this time buying SearchPerks.com from a California man to promote its “search sweepstakes”. In May Microsoft bought Cashback.com, although it hasn’t promoted the domain for its cashback search program.
Try as I might, I haven’t been able to get details about the CashBack.com deal nor the latest deal, despite interviewing Microsoft and reaching out to the sellers. But based on my analysis of the historical whois records and cold responses from the sellers, here’s what I believe happens when Microsoft wants to buy a domain from you:
1. Someone calls/e-mails inquiring about the domain. This person doesn’t identify that they work for Microsoft. Indeed, perhaps it is an outside broker or someone who isn’t directly employed by the company.
2. Agree on price, with condition that you must sign a mutual non-disclosure agreement. It’s unclear if you are requested to sign the NDA before negotiating price or after. The NDA may include the broker’s name rather than Microsoft. This is the key point: if you’re asked to sign an NDA, you’re probably dealing with someone with deep pockets. Microsoft (or the broker) may agree on a price and then request that you sign an NDA. That seems sneaky, since I’d want to know about the NDA as a condition of sale. But perhaps the NDA discussion happens up front.
3. Domain gets transferred to broker or a Microsoft employee using a non-Microsoft e-mail address (even a (gasp!) gmail address), and then it’s transferred to Microsoft.