Saturday, July 07, 2007

How To Make Millions Buying And Selling Domains

It's another victory for Miller and Zapolin. Through their company, Internet Real Estate Group, they've made a career of buying underappreciated domain names on the cheap and turning them into multimillion-dollar properties. Instead of flooding a site with pay-per-click ads and flipping the domain for a quick profit, they're trying to develop real businesses that will sell for much more. They own 17 domains, ranging from to, with a closely guarded list of several others they would like to buy—if the price is right.

They work out of a brownstone on Boston's tony Newbury Street but prefer doing business at their local Brigham's ice cream shop. Miller describes himself as the aggressive one who's always hunting for the next big deal. Zapolin is more laid back and focuses on creatively expanding the sites. They met in the late 1980s as sales trainees at the ill-fated junk-bond house Drexel Burnham Lambert, getting together for gambling trips to Atlantic City and later teaming up to produce infomercials. One of their clients, The Grateful Dead, inspired them to get into the domain game with its success in using to sell merchandise and bring together fans.

They bought control of for $80,000 in 1998 and built an audience for the site by giving out free e-mail addresses and having fans rate different brews. Less than a year later, they sold it for $7 million to Interbrew, a beer company. The pair then bought for $100,000 in 2003, created a comparison site for credit-card offers, and sold it to a private equity buyer for $2.8 million in 2004. Now that it's valued by some at several hundred million dollars, they admit to selling too soon.

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