Hint: It's not beach front property or prime mountain real estate in the Carolinas. Nope, it's domain names.
Pizza.com was auctioned off recently for 2.6 million dollars. The seller, who snapped it up for 20 bucks more than a decade ago, brokered it through Sedo.com, a kind of Century 21 online broker site for domain names. 20 dollars to 2.6 million dollars in 14 years; that's one h-e-double toothpicks of a return.
Other addresses currently on the block include:
- fbi.info (hey, I thought they were gathering data on us; not the other way around!)
- mylingerie.org (.org usually means a non-profit. I'm trying to imagine an organization that sells teddies and fishnet hose as a public service and not for commerical gain).
- carsnatcher.com (co-owned by 20withoutparole.pen, no doubt)
All kidding aside, Sedo is just one of countless domain name broker sites. It's easy for me to imagine there is a whole subculture of entrepreneurs who "day trade" domain names, The bidding on blu-ray.net is currently sitting at 12,500 euros. What will that address be worth a year from now?
p.s. Happy birthday to my favorite entrepreneur, Zelda C.
Zelda is an old school small business owner who should be writing business books and teaching B school classes. Instead she chooses to quietly run a full-time cattle & horse ranch/oil and gas business.
Zelda runs her business by the old adage "if ain't broke, don't fix it,"
Along those lines, she:
- Still uses a dot matrix printer for internal printing that costs her a whopping seven dollars a ribbon.
- Has been using Peachtree Accounting since it was a mere sapling of a program back in the 80s and just keeps updating as needed. Talk about loyalty!
- Is comfortable with technology; but doesn't invest in anything that doesn't earn its keep when it comes to her bottomline (thus $7 dot matrix ribbons, rather than $40 ink jet cartridges).
- isn't someone who will ever need an executive coach to help her organize her work flow, manage her e-mail, lower her stress level or better finesse her business contacts.
- allows technology to free up her time, not so she can over extend herself to more business commitments, but rather so she can knock off at 5pm and have a life.
- Even with 20 years of experience in her line of work, is still humble enough to quickly tell anyone that she's still learning the business and is grateful for every new nugget that comes her way.
Moral to the story: many of us in the business world often mistake technology as the panacea of fixing all that is dysfunctional in getting things done. It's not. Technology is a tool. Sometimes - SOMETIMES - it solves a problem, streamlines a business process, facilitates faster communication, even helps us find whole new revenue streams and sales channels.
What it doesn't do is instill discipline, common sense when it comes to making critical decisions, common courtesy and integrety when we conduct our dealings or fiscal responsibility that makes a business last long enough to pass from one generation to the next (Zelda learned at the knee of her father and is a fourth generation independent oil executive. She won't be the last of the line).
Happy Birthday, Zelda. Please write that book! We need it more than software as a service or the latest killer app, version of Mozilla or open source solution.
Last updated: Apr 8, 2008
RENEE ORICCHIO is a technology writer and former supervising news producer for CNN Financial News. She has been covering the computer industry since 1987. @oricchio