According to an ad… er, story that ran in the Wall Street Journal today, the domain name/business known as Business.com is on the block and could fetch as much as $400-million. Where did the paper come up with that number? Good question. The reporter says that it came from “people familiar with the matter,” which could mean anything from “the lawyer brokering the deal” to “my neighbour, who is in the domain-parking business.”
My friend Ashkan Karbasfrooshan at HipMojo, who knows a thing or two about advertising, argues that this isn’t just another dot-com bubblicious domain-name scam, since Business.com has actual revenues and has cash flow (or EBITDA, which is short for “earnings before bad stuff”) of $15-million. He even takes Adario Strange of Wired’s Epicenter blog to task in a comment for making it look like the domain itself is for sale at a price of $400-million. But really, would whoever buys the site (assuming Dow Jones or the NYT really want to) actually keep any of that pay-per-click, link-spam directory-scam business? I doubt it. And 25 times EBITDA is a heck of a multiple for any business like that, let alone a domain name.
If nothing else, the report — assuming it has even a shred of truth to it — makes Sky Dayton (founder of early ISP Earthlink as well as a mobile venture called Helio) and his partner Jake Winebaum, a former Disney executive, look like geniuses for buying the domain in 1999 for the whopping sum of $7.5-million and then hanging onto it until the market came back. Which (if this actually happens) it kind of looks like it has.