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The 10 most expensive internet domains in history

EC
Elisa Campaci

4 min

Internet domains: the 10 most expensive in history

Who is ready to shell out millions for a name on the Internet? Here are the most expensive domains ever and their owners

How is it possible that Internet domains, virtual properties that can be bought for as little as a few dozen dollars, come to cost millions and millions? Some are more valuable than others, and despite the fact that more than twenty years have passed since they were first traded, this market is still very active today. The rarest, and therefore most desirable, domains are those defined by unique, meaningful words. Those words that can describe a precise field or sector such as “cars”, “internet” or “sex” (as in the case of Sex.com, the domain that took everyone to court). The ranking of the most expensive domains in history is all made up of the TDL .com, the one with the most international scope.

1.    Cars.com – 872 million

The most expensive internet domain in history? Cars.com, which had a valuation of $872,000,000 in 2017. It is currently owned by the Chicago-based car company of the same name. Its value was estimated on the basis of balance sheet documents of parent company Gannet Co., Inc. 

2.    LasVegas.com – 90 million

This domain was purchased by Vegas.com, a travel, tourism and entertainment site linked to the city in Nevada. The agreement, which came in 2005, provided for a payment of $12,000,000 at the time of signing and monthly payments scheduled until 2040, when the domain will be officially transferred to Vegas.com (assuming it does not want to terminate the contract).

3.    CarInsurance.com – 49.7 million

CarInsurance.com hosts a car insurance website and since 2010 it has been owned by QuinStreet, a marketing and advertising company that is very active in domain, website and media buying and selling.

4.    Insurance.com – 35.6 million

Prior to CarInsurance.com, QuinStreet had already purchased Insure.com (for $16 million) and Insurance.com in 2009 to strengthen its online presence and identity in the field of insurance. The former was owned by a broker, while Insurance.com was bought for $35.6 million by an insurance agency.

5.    VacationRentals.com – 35 million

In fifth place in the ranking of the most expensive internet domains ever is VacationRentals.com. In 2013 it was bought for $35 million by Brian Sharples, CEO of HomeAway (now Vrbo, Vacation Rentals by Owner), a company that offers holiday rental accommodation. The purchase had a ‘defensive’ purpose at the time, Sharples explained: ‘the only reason we bought it was because Expedia couldn’t have that url’. Fun fact: marking territory did not help, Expedia acquired Vrbo in 2015.

6.    PrivateJet.com – 30.2 million

PrivateJet.com since 2012 has been owned by Nations, a platform that offers private aviation services such as buying and selling jets around the world. Nations purchased the domain from Don’t Look Media for $30.2 million.

7.    Voice.com – 30 million

You may not know that Micheal Saylor‘s MicroStrategy is also involved in trading valuable internet domains. On 30 May 2019, it sold the Voice.com domain to Block.one for $30 million to launch its blockchain-based social media platform called Voice. The word ‘voice’ in English is clear and recognisable, it immediately links to a project and the associated domain is worth so much.

8.    Internet.com – 18 million

Internet.com was bought in 2009 for $18 million by QuinStreet. However, it may have secretly climbed the ranking of the most expensive internet domains ever… In fact, an auction was organised in 2021 with a minimum auction base of 35 million. Unfortunately, there is no information on the outcome and the eventual new owner.

9.    360.com – 17 million

The owner of 360.com is Qihoo 360, a Chinese company specialising in security software. The domain, which previously belonged to Vodafone, was acquired to improve brand perception. Compared to ‘qihoo’, ‘360’ is a more immediate and easy-to-remember name due to the technical term ‘360 degree’.

10. NFTs.com – 15 million

This crypto-themed domain closes the top 10, NFTs.com was bought for $15 million on 3 August 2022. Although the buyer has remained anonymous, it is known to have links to Web3 projects such as the Digital Artist platform. It is one of the most expensive crypto word domains (Eth.com was sold for ‘only’ 2 million).

Crypto.com, Stake.com and Bitcoin.com also seem to fall into the category of the most expensive internet domains in history. In these cases, however, negotiations remained confidential.

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