#5. Making Millions by Grabbing the Right Web Domains
Websites are like women -- the best names were already gone by the mid-'90s. But unlike today's parents, who have turned to made-up words and geography in their search for good names, the Internet has turned to commerce. Domain names are a huge business, with professional investors and manuals and everything.
"Chapter One: Beginner Time Machining"
And holy shit you could have made some serious coin if you happened to jump on the train before anyone even realized there was a train. Take Chris Clark, the guy who registered the domain name Pizza.com in 1994, hoping this newfangled "Internet" thing would help his consulting company score a deal with a pizza business somehow. He ended up maintaining the domain for $20 a year for 14 years, using it as a small time advertising directory, until one day he realized that both pizza and Internet seem to be doing alright and someone might actually be interested in paying a buck or two for his domain. The second the domain name went up for auction, every pizza company in the world went apeshit and a bidding war ensued.
The man eventually netted $2.6 million.
We bet all you grad students out there are feeling pretty dumb.
That story is far from the only one. The whole reason Clark even thought to sell his domain was because a very similar chain of events took place with Vodka.com, for an even cooler $3 million. And man, we don't even want to go into the eight-figure lawsuit-riddled mess that is the history of Sex.com.
But although we're talking about a multimillion dollar business (think the gold rush, but quite a bit sadder), the biggest blows are dealt not to the wallet, but to the pride. This has been experienced by several countries, whose bureaucratic machinery has slowly figured out that they should probably have an online presence -- only to find out enterprising individuals have already registered domain names such as Russia.com, Brazil.com and Malaysia.com and are peddling them to the highest bidder.
It's probably best to claim countries that won't try to murder you in your sleep. Like Belgium.
Companies aren't any safer: A list of top-selling domain names shows us Facebook buying its shorthand fb.com for $8.5 million. That seller could have been you, if you'd thought to buy a bunch of two-letter combinations in the '90s.
#4. The $3 Million Bounce
Phil Ozersky, a longtime Cardinals fan, genetic researcher and caretaker of his paralyzed father, just happened to be sitting at Busch Stadium when Mark McGwire hit his 70th home run. Like everyone else who cared even vaguely about baseball at the time, he was caught up in the home run race between McGwire and Sammy Sosa, when bounce ... the ball that broke the record plopped from a coworker's hands into his own.
So, that's a nice souvenir, right? Maybe something to give the kids when they grow up? Ha, no. It turns out that sitting in that specific seat (out of 47,000) on that particular day meant he was about to get "You don't have to work again" money.
Which is probably just as well, because your colleague is going to poison your coffee.
Not that it was easy. At first, Ozersky was politely led into a meeting room after the game, where the Cardinals' officials (who recognized the ball's future value) tried to persuade him into handing it over. Just ... givin' it. And maaaaybe, if he was sweet, they'd give him some signed McGwire gear for his generosity. Phil Ozersky wasn't having it.