What’s the Deal? A Registrar Switch or a Bulk Domain Sale? ZD.com, Download.com, and Upload.com All Move

The ZD.com domain name has been synonymous with publisher ZDNet for many years, but now it has been sold.

Founded in 1991, ZDNet is one of the few online publications that can stake a claim to documenting the vast majority of the Internet’s lifespan so far. With 2.5 million page views per week by the mid-90s, ZDNet had become one of the most valuable sites online at the time.

CNET believed the site was valuable enough to acquire it for $1.6 billion in 2000, including ZD.com. CNET also amassed a portfolio of other premium names including Download.com, Search.com, and News.com.

By 2008, CBS had announced that it would acquire CNET, including ZDNet, for $1.8 billion, a sale that included CNET’s portfolio of ultra-premium domains.

In 2020, CNET was on the move again as CBS, now ViacomCBS thanks to a merger, offloaded CNET to Red Ventures for $500 million.

While Red Ventures is still operating ZDNet, it seems that something is happening with some of the domains that came with the CNET deal.

On January 14th, 2021, the following domains moved from MarkMonitor to Brandsight LLC, now known as GoDaddy Corporate Domains, under WHOIS privacy protection. The names that I detected that moved are:

  • ZD.com
  • Download.com
  • Downloads.com
  • Upload.com
  • VideoGames.com
  • Gizmos.com
  • Nuke.com
  • ZDTV.com

What’s odd is that most of the other domains under CNET’s control including Search.com, News.com, and MP3.com remain at MarkMonitor, as well as TV.com, which is another Red Ventures-controlled site. If this was a straight forward registrar or service switch, would all domain names be moved at once?

Red Ventures’ corporate domain, RedVentures.com, is registered at GoDaddy, but not under GoDaddy’s Corporate Domain management system, according to WHOIS.

Does the movement of these domain names signify a simple registrar switch with the likes of TV.com being moved in the future, or does it suggest that these names have sold in a bulk deal? If this were a bulk domain sale, it would certainly be in the seven-figure range at a minimum. If it’s a simple registrar switch, well that’s infinitely less exciting.

I reached out to representatives of MarkMonitor, GoDaddy Corporate Domains (GCD), and Red Ventures. All representatives declined to comment or had no information to offer.

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