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The many lives of a domain name
Kristina Misic access_time 5 min read

When you think about a domain name, what is the first word that pops into your head? Some that come to mind are website, company, brand, .com (technically not a word but you get the point), IP address, top-level domain, identity, and the internet, to name a few. 

But what about the word “asset“? Probably not the obvious choice, but if we think about it, it should be in the top spots along with the others mentioned above. Here is why.

If an asset is an item of value that can generate a benefit, or a profit, tangible or intangible, then domain names are assets. They have a value from their inception, even after they expire. Domain names can be transferred, reactivated, redirected, repurposed, and repeat their life cycle, while simultaneously accruing reputation, memory value, and authority.

Using this graphic from ICANN, let’s take a deeper look at the life cycle of domain names and assess the value of domain names as business assets.

Life Cycle of a Typical gTLD Domain Name

Availability

This is the starting point when a domain name is not even registered. It exists, and depending on the word -or words- that composed it, it has a value that will probably not be as expensive -since many of the most coveted domains are already registered and/or active. Nevertheless, the possibilities of a domain name becoming extremely valuable at this stage are endless, depending on the strategy applied for its use during the activation stage. 

Activation

A registrant has successfully pay for a domain name, which becomes active and can be leased from one and up to ten years (with renewal options after that period). For companies, this is the stage where they usually build up brands, set up websites, and with the right strategy, not only they can make their business succeed, their domain name will accumulate references, links, authority, and reputation, building up its value. Let’s not forget that sometimes domains are also bought and activated to be monetized and accumulate traffic but they are not used, as their registrars have them as dormant assets because of the attractiveness or popularity represented by their names, waiting to be sold to the highest and right bidder. 

Expiration

As the expiration date of a domain name approaches, registrars receive renewal notices to continue the use of the domain name. If no action is taken in 45 days, the domain is deactivated. 

Redemption Grace Period

After the domain has been deactivated, the registrar has 30 additional days to recover it, paying the customary redemptions fees.

Pending Deletion

When the domain reaches this stage, it is impossible to recover it. After five days, the domain is deleted. 

Released

After the deletion stage, the domain is finally released and it’s once again available to be taken by the first person or company that completes the registration process. Once a domain is released, its life cycle starts again, going back to the availability stage, but with the significant difference that, if it was a domain that belonged to a business and it was active, all the traffic, reputation, links, and references that accumulated through its active period leave a worthy digital footprint that confers and additional value to that expired domain. 

Let’s check out some examples of the lives of some domain names using archive.org:

Homerun.com

According to the site data, the domain shows activity from September 1997.

A look into the year 2000 indicates that the domain redirected to a page named Realty Times, a website offering news and advice related to real estate.

The domain name Homerun.com

In 2002, Homerun.com was a website used by users looking for baseball tickets and merchandising related to the MLB. 

By 2004, the domain was parked and for sale.

In 2010, Homerun.com was a local business directory that offered users different deals, membership services, and rewards to enjoy products and services in the United States. In 2017, the domain was up for sale again.

Homerun.com

A final look in 2018 shows that the domain was repurposed one more time. Currently, it is a real estate service platform to share, sell, and buy properties.

Zoom.com

The first beat of Zoom.com goes back to 1996 when it first was a San Francisco Internet Service Provider providing consulting and software development services.

The domain name Zoom.com

By 1999 and until 2013, the domain belonged to Zoom Telephonics, a manufacturer of networking equipment.  

By October 2018, the domain was acquired by Media Options who sold it to the now worldwide famous video conferencing service Zoom. The domain currently redirects to Zoom.us

FB.com

Initially leased and used by the American Farm Bureau Federation since April 1997, the domain was sold in 2010 to Facebook. It currently redirects to Facebook.com, while the domain FB.com is also used to host the company’s email system.

FB.com

As we can see, domains not only can outlive businesses, products, and services. They can have new lives, and purposes, bringing new value to existing or new brands.

If you want to say hi or have any questions about naming, branding, and domain names get in touch, we’re always happy to hear from you.

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