Funny, because mp3.com was sold for around $400 million back in the dot-bomb bubble.
Of course, Vivendi purchased the broader ‘business’ as well, which all went poof a long time ago. Fast-forward to 2013, and the withered warrior of a domain name is retailing for a couple million, according to an overture extended to original founder Michael Robertson. “Presumably since I was the founder and CEO of the original MP3.com, CBS called me asking if I would buy it to preempt an auction,” Robertson blogged.
“They suggested they believed it was worth multiple millions of dollars.”
Robertson was smart enough to mint hundreds of millions off mp3.com, thanks to the $400 million sale and a bubble-happy IPO. But this time around, Robertson is also smart enough not to buy it back. “There’s no denying it’s a memorable and historic domain name,” Robertson continued. “Many people think all it takes for business success is to secure a desirable domain name. They’re wrong.”
So what’s in a name, anymore? The most successful players today have ‘made-up’ names like Spotify, YouTube, and Pandora, while seemingly-superb names like music.com or tunes.com are largely unknown. In fact, Robertson argues that spending millions on an url can impair the chances of success, simply because it siphons so much money away from the actual business.
Beyond that, successes like Spotify go way beyond the .com and into apps, Sonos systems, whatever. Which is why nobody refers to Spotify as spotify.com; that’s a 90s/early-2000s construction.
But there’s another reason why Robertson is turning this down: MP3s are on the way out. “The world has dramatically changed,” Robertson noted. “If you doubt this, look at the world’s largest music service YouTube, which is 100 percent streaming. The competitive landscape today looks far different as does the opportunity around the audio business.”
CBS claims to have already received an offer ‘in the 7 figures’ for the domain.