EDGAR, the SEC’s electronic database of securities filings, has revamped its full text search, now allowing searches of filings since 2000. The legacy full text search (which will only be available until September 2020) only indexed the previous 4 years (although I’ve been checking weekly for new filings for longer than that).
Due to this new capability, I discovered that the Delta.com domain name was acquired in July 2000 by Delta Airlines, for $2,125,000. This was reported on page 5 of the SEC filing of Delta Financial, its prior owner:
In July 2000, the Company also sold a domain name for $2.125 million.
AdAge had reported about the transaction in September 2000, but the exact price had gone unreported. They wrote:
In a move that shows how important the Internet has become in the travel industry, Delta Air Lines has shifted its Web address to the easy-to-remember (delta.com) and launched an ad campaign trumpeting the new URL.
The campaign from Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, launched last week and includes TV, print and radio. Print tells customers the simpler URL will save them “an extra 0.73 seconds,” TV features the delta-air.com URL morphing into the new delta.com, while radio asks, “Why oh why wasn’t delta.com our Web address all along?”
That’s probably a campaign slogan that could be emulated by numerous other companies who’ve upgraded their domain names. “Why oh why wasn’t ________ our Web address all along?”
Help Discover More Big Deals
For those who are keen to help uncover other unreported domain name transactions, feel free to search at EDGAR using terms such as:
“bought the domain”
“sold the domain”
“acquired the domain”
“bought a domain”
“sold a domain”
“acquired a domain”
In my experience, variations such as “web address” or “URL” are sometimes used, too, by companies reporting domain name transactions.
The legacy search engine produced results in reverse chronological order, which was very convenient. It also featured “stemming” (see FAQ #26) which automatically captured variations of terms. I hope the new search engine will prove equally powerful. The new search engine limits the results to 10,000, but one can change the date range to get fewer results. For example, if one is checking every week like I’ve been doing, one need only search the past 7 days, as one would have already researched the prior results. [of course, this strategy doesn’t apply now to the much older results, that I’d never poured through]
Going through the individual matching results can be time-consuming if you don’t know what you’re doing. Ctrl-F is definitely your friend, to “find” words in the document (e.g. “domain”), rather than reading the entire filing. I’d say only about 1 in 500 matches actually results in anything worth reporting (i.e. many companies mention the term “domain name” somewhere in their filings, but nearly all of those are not reporting a domain name transaction – it’s often just boilerplate text in the intellectual property section, for example). Even if one does discover a domain name transaction, often the exact domain name won’t be mentioned (for example, in the Delta Financial SEC filing noted above, it merely said “a domain name”), so one will have to do further research using tools such as DomainTools.com and/or Archive.org before being able to narrow things down. Redacted WHOIS is definitely making things harder for researchers and journalists.
Once you’re confident about your research, do blog or tweet about it, and send it off to Ron Jackson at DNJournal. Of course, make sure that the transaction hasn’t already been reported, e.g. by checking NameBio.com, searching in Google for other reports, or searching DNJournal specifically for that domain name, e.g. a search in Google of
(changing “example.com” to the relevant domain name, but retaining the quotation marks)
Since I first published the article earlier today (morning of July 11, 2020), I’ve already uncovered additional previously unreported transactions, including:
- gold.ca – CAD $15,000 in 2008, as per the SEC filing
- weekend.com – USD $200,000 in December 2000, as per the SEC filing
- passwords.com – USD $115,900 in 2001, as per footnote 4 on page 4 of the SEC filing
- elections.com – USD $100,000 in July 2000, as per the SEC filing
- headhunter.com – USD $35,000 in July 1998, as per the SEC filing
There are likely many other previously unreported domain name transactions just waiting to be found….