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GoldNames Profile

Financial Times

James Mackintosh

(Aug 15, 2000)

Cybersquatters are turning respectable. Goldnames, a Jerusalem-based dotcom, will unveil a marketmaking service for trading in internet addresses on Wednesday in an attempt to create an investment bank for website names.

Goldnames insists it is not merely a cybersquatter itself, despite having registered more than 35,000 website names in the hope of selling them at a profit. Internet addresses cost as little as $30 a year, and have become big business for some – the business.com address attracted a record $7.5m bid this year.

But domain name sales are mostly handled by individuals and small companies that register as many addresses as they can in the hope of selling some on.

Pure cybersquatting – registering the name of a company as a website and then trying to sell it to the company – has become more difficult following a crackdown by Wipo, the global trademarks watchdog. But new addresses continue to be lucrative, with Intelligent Finance, a new UK bank, paying $1m for if.com. Goldnames hopes to create a secondary market for web names by creating what it likens to an investment bank.

It will offer marketmaking and trading on its own account as well as advisory services for those seeking valuable addresses. The company has raised $2.25m from Israeli venture capitalist Yazam, and is in the process of raising another $10m. David Cohen, UK general manager for Goldnames, which employs 50 staff, said: “If we buy 250,000 names and 90 per cent of those are rubbish, we still have 25,000 – and at an average price of $2,000 that is $50m.”

Financial Times