I spent the morning searching for a domain for a upcoming venture of mine. This is probably the five hundredth time I have searched for a domain for one reason or another and my favorite tool for searching is the "whois" look-up on www.domaintools.com. I have come to the conclusion that domain squatters are some of the lowest of the low.
These people snap up thousands of the best domains and then use them for nothing other than to try to make a quick buck. Now…obviously I am not against capitalism. I own several businesses myself, so hear me out.
Starting a business is hard and getting exposure for your business is even harder. Finding the perfect domain for your business can be a godsend and finding out someone else owns that domain, who is not even using that domain and has no intention to other than to charge you an exorbitant fee to acquire it, is a nightmare. So the wary entrepreneur goes and looks for another similar domain and winds up with something full of dashes, dreadfully long, and/or full of uncommonly used words.
The argument on domain squatters side is that the Internet is like uncharted real estate of the pioneering days. I would like to suggest that it is not the same in many different ways. Land requires maintenance, other than the nominal annual renewal fee domains do not. The land in the pioneer days was used to cultivate something of greater value, parked domains just clutter up search engine results. Finally, land is taxed making it less than desirable as an investment if you are not going to utilize it. Maybe we should start taxing parked domains (it hurts me to even type those words).
I guess what bugs me the most is that success for some small businesses may be one simple $6.95 domain registration fee away…but because of domain squatters that opportunity will now cost 100 or 1000 times more. And most of you entrepreneurs know, when starting a business extra cash is not something that is just laying around.
As a side note: This months Inc. has an excellent article about a sole proprietor whos business was shuttered by the IRS for nonpayment of taxes. It is actually a common story amongst small business (probably the number 3 cause of failure in my experience). In a lot of ways I feel this partially redeems them from the judgements of my last post on Inc. et all, in that at least it was about a main street business…a failing one…but main street no less.
Norm Brodsky still has his head in the clouds but I am glad the sale of his multimillion dollar business worked out and he still gets to hang around the company (probably causing daily occurrences of the phrase "Oh Norm!").