The Domain-Name Shakedown

Here’s an e-mail I received the other day:

I own a manufacturing company and have been a successful investor and equity trader for 20 years. I have an in-depth understanding of the current O.T.C. derivative crisis that is infecting the global financial system. This led me to the acquisition of [REDACTED] as I saw the developing theme. I currently do not have the time to monetize this domain via a blog or a book venture so I thought I would offer the domain to you as it seems like a natural progression or addition to your Freakonomics series. I believe the term [—–]-nomics will be a very valuable asset in two or three years once the mass public begins to understand that the last 30 years was one big [REDACTED] that our government orchestrated via Keynesian economics. I would be willing to transfer over the domain property for $5,000. If you do a Google search of the term [—–]-nomics you can see the term is growing in popularity at a very fast pace.

With your current Freakonomics brand, what a great way to expand with a book on an economy that was built on one big [REDACTED] … The term [—–]-nomics is going to start catching fire and I am confident somebody is going to write a book with the title [—–]-nomics. I have over 150 domain names within my own industry which is manufacturing so it does not make sense for me to focus my energies on this topic.

I appreciate your consideration and feel confident that this asset for $5,000 will be a bargain two to three years from now. You are the first person I have contacted with respect to the sale of this domain. I have a long list of potential buyers that should find this price more than reasonable considering the ever-growing use of this term.

1. While I appreciate this gentleman’s offer to get in on the ground floor of this fantastic deal, I did not reply. Perhaps this was rude.

2. The term in question currently generates fewer than 2,500 Google hits.

3. While the term itself is appealing enough, I wonder about its raw value absent a high-quality product associated with it.

4. This gentleman was probably wise to write to someone like me, in that the domain is worth far more to me than any sane person. Just like a New York City apartment that’s new to the market is far more valuable to the people living next door so they can expand. Was I wrong to reject his offer?


[redacted]=Bubble, no?

Seems like people will forget about the bubble soon enough. Sounds like a good pass.

Heavy D

SD, going by some sites which have done okay so far (Amazon, Monster, Google) it seems the business model, innovation and content are all that matter.

The syndrome was hot about ten years ago but it's too easy to throw in a dash or move words around and all of a sudden your million dollar name isn't that special.

I do notice that for almost every pop culture icon who comes on the scene (Think Governor Spitzer's friend) some bright person registers their name immediately. I supposed that's worth the $7 gamble.


I bet just one recipient of many that got SPAM peddling that domain.


@ #1 - Sounds more like ponzinomics to me.


Chappy, I think you missed the freaking point.

Now...substitute the curse word for "freaking" in the sentence above. That's what [redacted] equals.

And, Mr. Dubner, I think you made a good call in rejecting his offer. But you should have countered $50 for the poor guy's effort.


In the future I see context playing a bigger part than domain name. Domains are dying as they are becoming keyword addled real estate, when it's article content that will win over visitors.

Ben C

I remember hearing back in 1998 or thereabouts that a guy had bought up not just the domain names but the trademark to the name "21st Century Fox", on the assumption that Fox would pay him a fortune for it. I never heard from him again...

C. Larity

My guess is also "bubblenomics", and it fits all the clues: low hits on Google, established in 2005 (as shown here:, currently serving as a placeholder site. Plus, the guy mentions that he's been trading equities, so he seems like someone who would think that "bubblenomics" is somehow novel or about to catch on.

I'd opt with buying something with -gate at the end. Since the mass media hasn't realized that nearly half of America wasn't born during Watergate, they continue to add "-gate" to the end of scandals. Just buy up all the most likely scandals:,, and should give you a nice start.

Jeff Bladt

I own the domain

You can have it for a $50, or a nice bottle of scotch. Let me know if you are interested.

Oh, and for the record, I still have no understanding of the current O.T.C. derivative crisis that is infecting the global financial system. Just thought you would want to know.

C. Larity

Correction: It's ponzinomics. And the guy bought it in January. (


yeah, its pretty obvious that its ponzinomics.

I think I'll buy the domain from him, and sell it to two other clients for $5,000 each, on the condition that they each find someone to sell it to for more.


Now that you've publicized this, you've made both and more valuable (I'm assuming that more than a few of us looked them up...) Hm.


lol@ yc
you got the essence of the domain.


really? i thought it was "screw" because the guy is in manufacturing.

"screw-nomics" has 2,330 hits.


There is no discussion to be had here.

SEO matters way more than domain name. You could call your site "[redacted]-nomics1" and no one would know the difference as long as the content was good and you had good SEO.

Do you know the last time I completely typed out a web address longer than 5 letters (gmail) in the address bar as my method to get to/find the website? That's right, it was about 4 years ago.

Now, the first time I go to a site it's either a) from a google search or b) from another site (and you can call links whatever you want, as you know). Then I (if I like it) add it to my RSS feed, or (thanks to my web browser) just have to type the first few letters to get there. I couldn't tell you the whole web address for probably 95% of the sites I visit (including the freakonomics blog). Is nytimes.blogs? or blogs.nytimes? who knows? who cares?

So no, not wrong at all to reject the offer. It's a scam (no less so if it's a scam only because the scammer is behind the times).



I have a rock that keeps Tigers away.
I have owned this rock for some time now and have never been attacked by a Tiger.

I would be willing to sell you this rock for $5000.

Ask yourself this: What is the safety of your family worth?

Do you want to see them attacked by Tigers?

This rock can only increase in value and in these uncertain times you need a rock solid investment.


So how exactly was this a "shakedown"? He offered to sell a name, you didn't respond... what is the problem?


you know, I think this guy is totally missing out on a great opportunity. why look toward the past, when he could plan for the future? the market will be crowded (if it's not already) with people trying to explain what just happened. why not squat on a domain name that tries to predict what will happen?


or explore movie tie-ins like:

TheEndIsNigh-omics (cheated a little with the dash there)

really, just make up a word and put "nomics" on the back of it. it'll sell like hotcakes!


Really, how does it work?


What you could consider is to suggest to him that he auctions the name on Ebay - with a reserve. If it doesn't sell then (if you really want it) you buy it from him for a small multiplier of the average (mean?) bid. Free market activity, with an opportunity to gather some statistical data on the popularity of the name itself. Then of course, once you have purchased it, you should sell it on Ebay, and that may give you some interesting data on the value-add that your reputation brings in. Take that information, give it to your agent, and up your speaking fees.