The Sales Roundup is a sporadic feature that I write, delving into a select few recent domain sales to see why certain domains sold for the prices they did. In this edition, I’m looking at the recent sales of SelfMade.com, Exclusive.com, FSM.com, LinkTree.com, and Meta.io to see why these domain names may have achieved the prices they did, and what we can learn from these sales.
Table of Contents
SelfMade.com – $977,500
We start this edition with SelfMade.com, a domain sale facilitated by GoDaddy for $977,500. The sale occurred in October 2020, but the price was only revealed in March 2021. A sale like SelfMade.com, which ranks as one of the 10 largest two-word domain sales ever according to NameBio, usually only occurs with a motivated buyer and an unmotivated seller.
In this case, the seller was listed as Mars Callahan. Callahan, who looks to have acquired the domain in 2013, owned a company called SelfMade.com LLC, registered in Louisiana in 2013. That company is now inactive. Callahan also seems to have successfully filed for a patent for SelfMade.com with the idea of using SelfMade.com as a digital media platform (patent link). With a deep connection and history with the name, Callahan was likely reluctant to sell.
The motivated buyer was Stoff & Stil, a Danish international fabric retailer that runs 29 stores mostly across Scandinavia. The company also sells online in 13 countries.
Stoff & Stil acquired SelfMade.com because the company is rebranding to Selfmade (as stylized by Stoff & Stil). According to a page on the rebrand, the move to Selfmade is part of a conscious effort to expand business internationally to the rest of Europe. Beyond that, the company hopes that Selfmade will become a hub of creativity and artistry. Stoff & Stil as an international brand name is restrictive, and I don’t think the name would allow the company to launch other products, projects, or even pivot. Stoff & Stil is a fabric brand. Selfmade can transition to whatever the company needs it to be.
Naturally, the company bought SelfMade.com ahead of the rebrand.
Exclusive.com – $350,000
Another sale facilitated by GoDaddy is that of Exclusive.com for $350,000. Sold in November 2020, this sale was announced in late March 2021. Some thought that the sales price was low in comparison to other one-word .COM sales at the moment, but regardless, it’s another solid six-figure sale that both buyer and seller must’ve been happy with.
Exclusive.com was acquired by Weesie Holdings BV, a Dutch company owned and operated by entrepreneur Robin Weesie. In 2010, Weesie launched Recharge.com, a payment service solution that has raised $36.8 million in funding to date.
It seems that Weesie is looking for another challenge and again, he’s using a premium .COM domain to launch. As of writing, Exclusive.com resolves to a coming soon page, but from what I’ve found, there are two conflicting usage profiles for Exclusive.com. Exclusive.com will either be used as a platform to access exclusive content, online classes, and digital content from creators, or it will be used as a payment service, allowing creatives to sell exclusive content. Bearing in mind Weesie’s entrepreneurial history, a payment service seems more likely.
The domain was sold by Merlin Kauffman’s True Magic LLC. Kauffman is a successful entrepreneur that runs Soothe.com, a wellness company that has raised $78.3 million. Before this, Kauffman was a domain investor and his True Magic LLC operation still owns several thousand premium domains, typically one- and two-word .COM.
FSM.com – $161,719
FSM.com is one of a number of recent domain sales announced by investor Greg Ricks. Ricks also sold Cope.com for $138,000, CandyShop.com for $112,000, and Felt.com for $74,750. The sale of FSM.com is yet another three-letter .COM that has sold for a six-figure fee. According to NameBio, there have been 6 sales of a three-letter .COM over $100,000 this year alone. In the whole of 2020, NameBio listed 11 sales of a three-letter .COM at $100,000 or more. In 2019 there were just 8.
Six-figures for a three-letter .COM is, then, not unusual, but who buys a three-letter .COM for that amount of money? In the case of FSM.com, it is an end-user looking to shorten its domain name. FSM.com was acquired by Fort Scott Munitions (FSM), a tactical store selling guns, knives, and apparel.
Despite being founded in 2016, FSM has built a successful, thriving business with over 12,000 Facebook followers and some of its YouTube videos reaching 200,000+ views.
Aside from the fact that FSM.com is shorter than FortScottMunitions.com, it’s not immediately obvious what strategic advantage the company would get by owning FSM.com to simply redirect the domain to its main website. The company is known as Fort Scott Munitions on social media and doesn’t seem to actively use the initialism FSM. Could the domain have been acquired for an advertising campaign, in the same way that mattress maker Tuft & Needle acquired TN.com primarily for use on billboards?
LinkTree.com – $138,000
Linktree is a notable online content discovery platform that is used by 8 million people and companies, according to Wikipedia. The Australian startup, founded in 2016, has always existed on the domain hack Linktr.ee, using the Estonian .EE extension. Why did it take such a seemingly successful company 5 years to acquire LinkTree.com?
The acquisition of LinkTree.com was made possible by GoDaddy, which helped Linktree acquire the domain from Dynamo, a setup that owns a valuable portfolio of domain names that includes Dynamo.com, Lucid.com, and Ambient.com to name just three. Dynamo doesn’t seem to sell its domains cheaply. In 2006, for example, DNJournal revealed that Dynamo agreed to sell the domain name Wiki.com for $2,860,000.
It should come as no surprise, then, that it took a six-figure sum for Linktree to prise LinkTree.com from Dynamo’s hands. In October 2020, Linktree announced a $10.7 million funding round, followed up with a $45 million Series B funding round announced in March 2021. With a total of $55.7 million in funding, it was a sensible decision to use a portion of the funds to acquire the company’s exact-match .COM.
Meta.io – $100,000
Finally, we’re going to examine the $100,000 sale of Meta.io. The .IO extension has been popular in the startup, tech, and crypto industries for several years, but this year prices have boomed. In 2021 so far, we know of 11 .IO domain names that have sold for $25,000 or more. In comparison, just 6 .IO names achieved that feat in the whole of 2020.
Of the 11 domain sales mentioned this year, 3 have sold for $100,000 or more. One of those domains is Meta.io, which sold for exactly $100,000 in a deal brokered by Media Options. Media Options was also responsible for the largest publicly-disclosed .IO domain sale, MetaVerse.io for $175,000.
Meta.io was sold by Media Options on behalf of Mike Carson, the founder of backordering and auction site Park.io. Carson maintains a portfolio packed with premium .IO names, many of which Carson hand-registered. Carson featured in an IndieHackers.com podcast in 2017, revealing that his income was $125,000 per month at the time. With .IO names now even more popular, thanks in part to the popularity of .IO among the lucrative crypto industry, Carson’s income from Park.io has likely increased.
Meta, a dictionary word described as “self-referential,” is a word widely used in tech circles, particularly in cryptocurrency and blockchain. Product and service names in that space include MetaMask, Metacoin, Ethereum Meta, and many more. Meta.io wasn’t acquired by any of those companies or product owners, though. It was acquired by Meta Network, a social token platform.
Meta Network is “building a native value network for the Web3 era, combining several Web3 technologies including DeFi and decentralized storage.” As far as I can tell, Meta Network is owned and operated by Singapore-based Andoromeda, a Blockchain technology company that also owns Matataki.io
“Meta” fits the .IO extension well, and the six-figure price represents that fit.
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