They likely paid a lot less money than your renewal fee would have been.
If you track domain names in your portfolio even after you let domains expire, you probably notice that people register the domains you let go.
That can be an emotional feeling, especially if the next registrant is an end user. Would they have bought the domain if you’d held onto it just a bit longer?
You might get the same feeling even if another domain investor picks the domain up on a drop.
But when it comes to new TLDs, keep in mind that the calculus is very different. I’m speaking specifically about domain names that have cheap first-year prices that escalate upon renewal.
I’ve taken a flyer on many cheap domains that have first-year prices of $5 or less. They sometimes renew for $50 or more.
In these cases, when someone registers the domain after I let it expire, I have to remind myself that they are paying the low first-year price. They might be just like me, taking a chance with plans to let the domain expire after a year.