Democracy(.com) Is Up For Sale

Many have said something along the lines that “democracy is for sale to the highest bidder”. And now it is. Well, democracy.com is. Heritage Auctions is auctioning the domain name and will go to the highest bidder over $300,000 (plus a 15% buyer’s premium).

Bidders must submit a sealed bid by 17:00 (US Eastern Time) on
1 November 2019.

The sale of democracy, or rather democracy.com, has gained the interest of the New York Times.

“I’m bummed that we’re selling it,” Talmage Cooley, who used
the domain name for years to host a social platform where politicians and
civics groups could communicate their positions on the issues, collect
donations, announce events and otherwise connect with supporters told The Times.

According to The Times, “Cooley, an entrepreneur, started
making payments on the domain name in 2012 and quickly put it to use,
attracting users, press coverage and accolades, with the goal of eventually
converting the civics-minded project into a business.”

“The start-up raised $4.5 million, much of it from friends
and family, but struggled in recent years to line up more substantial,
institutional investment. A large crowdfunding campaign was planned for April,
Mr. Cooley said, but the site ran out of money in February.”

“We just had to call it off and that was that,” he said.

Speaking on the value of single word domain names, Aron
Meystedt, who left Heritage Auctions a year ago but still consulted on the sale
of Democracy.com, told The Times that ‘companies once fought over domains that
described the services or products they sold, like shoes, but such literal
names proved limiting as businesses sought to expand.’

“Now, the trend is get a killer one-word name, and the
reason is that you can pivot into anything you want,” said Mr. Meystedt, who
has traded domain names for years and owns Symbolics.com, which became the
first public dot-com address when it was registered in 1985.

The Times gives a history of democracy.com and the first
registrant they note back in 1990 was “Intraactive, an online business in
Washington, D.C., that claimed the name on behalf of the Democratic National
Committee, according to a 1997 article in the magazine In These Times.”

“Back then, Intraactive was struggling to get rid of the
domain, which the D.N.C. had never used, according to the article. But the
business eventually found a buyer in John Carrieri, who said in an interview
that his personal records indicated he had bought the domain name from
Intraactive and that he believed the sale likely took place in or around 1998.”

“I wanted to spread democracy,” said Mr. Carrieri, who
majored in history and political science in college and had planned to turn the
domain into an educational resource.

“Ultimately, Mr. Carrieri was never able to give the project
the time and resources it demanded, so he sold the domain a little more than a
decade after buying it. He declined to name the buyer, citing a nondisclosure
agreement that was part of the sale, but a domain name reseller announced
auctions that included Democracy.com in both 2010 and 2012, the same year that
Mr. Cooley said he began licensing Democracy.com from a domain name broker.”

“Mr. Cooley soon began using it for his project, and
eventually convinced an investor in the site to buy the domain outright. The
investor, whom he declined to name, still owns Democracy.com and will receive a
cut of the profits from this month’s auction.”

To read the full report in The New York Times, go to: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/08/us/democracy-for-sale.html

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