A year ago I bought the domain Yachts.com for $350,000 even though I know nothing about boats and had no specific plan for the site. I posted the crazy story to Reddit and got over 200 comments on it. Many people thought it was one of the stupidest business decisions ever, but a few people said they would have paid more money for the domain had they known it was available, so that was at least some comfort. My plan was to try to build a business on Yachts.com, and if that did not go well I would hopefully sell it for at least what I paid.
I spent 4 months working full-time testing out various business models such as being an online boat broker, a charter broker (luxury boat vacations), buying boats for cash, peer-to-peer boat rentals (like Airbnb), self-driving boats and electric boats, selling boat insurance, and turning the site into a metaverse. Amazingly, all of that went pretty well. Everybody I dealt with thought Yachts.com had huge potential and wanted to work with me, so it gave me instant credibility. None of it made any money though. I am pretty sure I could have spent years building up a business and eventually something would click, but to make it worthwhile (to tie up all that cash and spend my time on it), I would need to do something that makes at least $5,000/month profit and I was a long way from that. I couldn’t afford to invest so much in the domain and have no significant money coming in from it for longer than a year or two.
So, this week I sold Yachts.com for $600,000. I was hoping to eventually list it with a broker and sell it for millions (many people told me it should sell for that much), but out of the blue, I received an offer from the same Sedo broker that had the listing a year ago. A buyer he had previously tried to sell it to now wanted to buy it.
I of course tried to get as high a sale price as possible, but after some negotiations, $600,000 was enough to get the deal done. The funny thing is that the same thing happened with the 2nd largest domain I ever bought, which was Adventure.com for $200,000 in 2011. Six months later the broker for that deal approached me, acting as a buyer’s broker, with an offer even though the domain was not officially on the market. By that time I had tried various businesses on the site, none of which made any money, so I sold it for a small profit.
There is also another interesting part to this story. When I say “I sold Yachts.com for $600,000”, it was actually through the negotiations of domain investor/advisor @Andrew Miller. He did not find the buyer, I hired him only to get the best price from my existing Sedo buyer. Andrew has been involved in over $300 million in domain transactions such as the sale/acquisition of CreditCards.com, Home.com, Universal.com, and Candy.com, so I trusted he would know best how to handle it. I have negotiated hundreds of domain sales ($7 million+) myself but figured it couldn’t hurt to try something different this time. I have no way of knowing if he obtained a higher price than I would have, but I feel much better knowing I didn’t leave money on the table.
One reason I contacted Andrew was that his business partner purchased InsuranceQuotes.com from me in 2004 (I think my price was around $35,000) and they turned it into a multi-million dollar business. Also, he was in the news last week because he formed a big partnership with Hilco Global to sell digital assets, so I emailed him about Yachts.com to get his opinion on it. The next day I happened to get the offer from Sedo, so Andrew offered to negotiate the sale for me for a percentage fee over what the initial Sedo offer was. That meant I paid him nothing if he didn’t get me a higher price.
I would be happy to be forever known as the “Yachts.com Guy” (many people now know me that way), and I think eventually I could build some sort of business on the name, but it would be a risk financially. Having all that money tied up in the domain would prevent me from expanding other parts of my business. One reason I bought Yachts.com a year ago was that I wanted to focus on one big project because nothing else I was doing had a lot of money-making potential. But since then, I started working on creating NFT and metaverse projects, and that is going well, so I have other options now.
Yachts.com was an important and fun chapter in my life, but I want to move on to new adventures. I took a huge chance, learned a lot, and even though it did not turn out like I thought it would, it worked out in the end.