Before looking at the GoDaddy Domain Buy Service, here are some key facts. GoDaddy is a market leader in the domain name space. Since forming in 1997, the company has grown exponentially to become the largest domain registrar in the world.
According to Wikipedia, GoDaddy passed 20 million customers in June 2020. Impressive.
Alongside this, GoDaddy also has 93,250,441 domains under management (source) as of November 10th, 2020. That’s a 7.54% market share.
We get it, GoDaddy is a major player in the domain industry. But what about the GoDaddy domain buy service?
GoDaddy’s Domain Buy Service
The GoDaddy Domain Buy Service, now called the GoDaddy Domain Broker Service, was introduced several years ago with one clear purpose: help customers to acquire domain names that are already registered.
How do they do that? GoDaddy employs a vast team of domain name brokers and “aftermarket specialists” that have been trained up to help GoDaddy customers buy domains from existing owners.
What does a typical GoDaddy domain buy service acquisition look like? What are the steps involved? Here is a roadmap that will help to explain the process:
Submit your domain name
Set your budget
Pay for the domain
Transfer the domain
GoDaddy Domain Buy Service’s Brokerage Fee
How much does GoDaddy charge for their domain buy service? According to their website, GoDaddy charges $119.99, plus a 20% commission. That can work out to be expensive, especially compared to other brokerage companies.
Let’s say that you are looking to acquire the domain RedRocket.com (as a random example). Your budget is $25,000, and GoDaddy manages to negotiate with the current owner, who agrees to sell the domain name to you for a price of $25,000.
On top of this, GoDaddy charges a 20% fee as the facilitator of this transaction. This would equate to $5,000. Plus your initial $119.99 fee and your total acquisition price would be $30,119.99. That’s without considering potential escrow fees, which are not made clear on GoDaddy’s website.
$5,119.99 in fees on a $25,000 purchase is expensive in comparison to other services, and the more expensive the domain, the more commission you’ll enevitably pay. Here are a few direct comparisons using the same scenario. This is based on publicly available data:
- DomainAgents: Initial fee – $19.95. Commission fee – 10%, plus escrow fees. Total in this scenario: $27,519.95, plus escrow fees (usually around 1%).
- Sedo: Initial fee – $69. Commission fee 15%. Total in this scenario: $28,819.
There are also independent domain name brokers who will offer a similar service. Most domain buyer brokers do not disclose details of their fees, but two buyer brokers that would be recommended for larger purchases are NameNinja, MediaOptions, and NameCorp.
GoDaddy’s Price Increase
Without much fanfare, GoDaddy increased the price of its domain buy service at the end of 2020. The initial fee paid to GoDaddy, regardless of whether you acquire the domain name or not, has now risen to $119.99.
This is up from $69.99. Do you get anything extra for the $50 added fee? Does the success rate of a domain acquisition increase with this $50 increase? No, not at all.
GoDaddy will have its reasons for the increase, but it hasn’t made those publicly known.
From 2015 to 2020, GoDaddy didn’t disclose sales figures for domain name sales that the company had brokered.
In October 2020, GoDaddy made the decision to start sharing some of their sales data again. We only have limited sales data available, but it does prove that GoDaddy is active at all levels when it comes to domain name brokerage.
These sales, straight from GoDaddy, covers just a handful of the sales they have closed:
- Bullish.com – $1,080,000
- Ingles.com – $400,000
- Lendable.com – $125,000
- HFM.com – $90,000
- Makey.com – $50,000
- Variable.com – $36,000
Privacy Protection: The Game Changer
The GoDaddy Domain Buy Service may become more popular thanks to changes in privacy protection laws.
Thanks to Europe’s GDPR, and now the CCPA, many domain name registrars have taken the decision to limit the amount of data shown in the WHOIS database.
The WHOIS database is a real-time searchable database containing the identity of every domain name owner. Now, GoDaddy and many other domain registrars have reduced the amount of visible data, meaning that in some cases it’s impossible to know who owns a certain domain.
Take this image as an example. Here is an example of what the domain name WHOIS database used to offer, versus what is offers now in many cases:
As you can see, the WHOIS database has been severely limited, so now it’s not always possible to know who owns a domain name.
That’s a big problem for trying to acquire a domain name.
Their domain buyer brokerage service, like others, will probably become more popular now since it’s far more difficult to know just who owns a domain name.
The privacy protection laws are a game-changer and will mean that we will start to rely on services such as “GoDaddy Domain Buy Service” more and more.
Is the GoDaddy Domain Buy Service Always Successful?
In short, no. GoDaddy’s domain buy service isn’t always successful. It would be nice to know specific statistics to determine just how successful the service is, but sensibly, GoDaddy doesn’t release that information.
GoDaddy does state on its website, however:
While we cannot guarantee the acquisition of a domain name, we will attempt to contact the current registrant and negotiate a deal for you.
A successful domain name acquisition depends on a number of important factors. These include, but are not limited to:
- Your budget – will your budget realistically be enough to acquire the domain you want? For example a two-letter .COM such as TM.com would likely cost over $1 million to acquire. If you have a budget of $50,000, unfortunately, you’re very unlikely to be successful.
- The seller’s valuation – the seller may value the domain name higher than you. You can’t do much about that unless you’re prepared to potentially exceed your budget and match their expectations.
- The seller’s willingness to make a deal – sometimes, a seller will just not be interested in selling.
- GoDaddy’s ability to successfully contact the owner – in a small number of cases, it may not be possible to track down the domain registrant.
GoDaddy’s brokers dedicate a maximum of 30 days to negotiate a sale with the domain’s owner. Sometimes, it can take far longer than this (plus multiple follow-ups) to acquire a domain.
Take Elon Musk and Tesla.com. It took him a decade, and $11 million to acquire Tesla.com:
Buying Tesla.com took over a decade, $11M & amazing amount of effort. – Elon Musk
Note that GoDaddy doesn’t offer a refund on its domain buy service.
The Advantages of Using the GoDaddy Domain Buy Service
Are there any advantages to using GoDaddy’s Domain Buy Service? Of course, there are! Here are some of the advantages that may make a $69 fee and a 20% commission worth it:
You use GoDaddy’s name
GoDaddy is a world-renowned company that trades on the NYSE. There is an inherent trust in the GoDaddy name. That makes a domain owner more likely to trust an email from GoDaddy, and possibly enter into negotiations.
You stay anonymous
This is true of any domain buyer brokerage service, really. The advantage of having someone else to approach the domain owner on your behalf will enable you, the buyer, to stay anonymous. This has advantages in many situations and can often help to keep the domain’s purchase price down.
They are experts
GoDaddy domain brokers are part of an industry-leading company that has been operating for more than 20 years. They are experts when it comes to domain names, and they have tried and tested systems and negotiating tactics that are taught to their domain brokers.
Another advantage of GoDaddy’s size is the resources GoDaddy employees have available in order to find domain name owners. They will have access to information and tools that may not be publicly available.
GoDaddy’s network of contacts
Since GoDaddy is such a large organization, it will have existing relationships with many owners of large domain portfolios as well as relationships with company representatives in the corporate world. GoDaddy can leverage these contacts in certain scenarios to help with acquisitions.
How Much Should I Expect to Pay For a Domain?
That very much depends on the type of domain name you’re planning on buying. Here are some rough guides, but each domain is entirely different. Your buyer broker will be able to help with more specific valuations:
- A two-letter .COM (like NA.com): These are an exclusive band of domains, and will likely cost upwards of $600,000. Some domains will cost far more. Facebook, for example, paid $8.5 million for FB.com.
- A three-letter .COM (like NAM.com): Typically between $30,000 and $200,000. In some cases, they may cost more.
- A one-word .COM (like Name.com): You should expect to pay at least $50,000, with many highly desirable one-word .COM’s reaching six-figures, with some at $1 million or more.
- A two-word .COM (like BlueName.com): These are usually a lower cost, but will still typically carry prices of anywhere from $1,000 to $35,000 in most cases.
- A “brandable” .COM (like BluNa.com): Brandable domains are invented words. They are usually an amalgamation of two words or a play on one word, such as Namez.com. Some of these may be available to register, whereas some will command aftermarket prices. Expect to pay anywhere from $10 to $15,000 for one of these.
If you’re looking for domain name data to base your own purchase on, you can consult two leading data resources. The first is DNJournal, a leading resource that has been featured and referenced in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and more. DNJournal (available at DNJournal.com) offers a weekly sales column and keeps track of the top 100 sales of every year. The DNJournal archives date back to 2003.
The other resource is NameBio, a free searchable database filled with sales data from leading domain name marketplaces, as well as thousands of private transactions that have been publicly disclosed. NameBio contains data on around $1.9 billion worth of domain sales across more than 800,000 domain sales.
If you’re not interested in using the GoDaddy domain buy service, what are the alternative service providers? I have three recommendations below.
Often cited as one of the leading domain brokerages, and for good reason. Founded in 2005 by Andrew Rosener, Media Options has brokered well into the eight-figures worth of domains including X.com to Elon Musk, and other names including Zoom.com, Cut.com, and Author.com. Media Options’s Andrew Rosener has ranked as #1 in Escrow.com’s master of domains chart for both 2019 and 2020.
Name Ninja is a dedicated buyer broker service, working purely with startups and entrepreneurs on domain name purchases. Founded by Bill Sweetman, Name Ninja has a track record of working on acquiring valuable domain names. Most of Sweetman’s acquisitions are entirely under the radar, but he has publicly disclosed buys such as Carrot.com and Files.com.
Founded by domain industry veteran Alan Dunn, NameCorp is another top option to consider. With over 20 years of experience and over $100 million in sales, NameCorp lists previous clients including Swarm, Facebook, and Discord. Alan Dunn has written about domain names for Business Insider, Quartz, and TechCrunch.
The Do It Yourself Option
You may be thinking of attempting the whole process yourself. That’s certainly something that many people end up doing. They’re sometimes successful, and often save several thousand dollars in commission fees.
If you are looking to get educated about domain names and the domain name acquisition process before you start to negotiate, I’d recommend checking out DNAcademy.
DNAcademy is an accelerated learning program for anyone from domain investors to startup founders. The program, taught by industry leader Michael Cyger, has even been chosen by GoDaddy to help train its new brokers.
Why give GoDaddy your money when you can access a similar program that their brokers use?
DNAcademy also offers over 160 SOPs (standard operating practices) to help you through some potentially complicated processes.