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Domain buyer to be acquired

June 01, 2007|Joseph Menn | Times Staff Writer, which manages more than 2.5 million bare-bones websites, plans to acquire a company that specializes in buying Web domain names the second they become available.

Los Angeles-based Oversee expects the deal for Portland, Ore.-based SnapNames to close later this month, Oversee Chief Executive Lawrence Ng said. He declined to disclose the price.

Many domain-name speculators use SnapNames' service to bid for expiring Web addresses. Now Oversee will offer those services in addition to filling investors' empty websites with ads that earn money when visitors click on them.

"We cater toward 'domainers' or other portfolio holders, and a key activity is buying and selling in the aftermarket," Ng said.

Companies and individual investors often buy domain names with ordinary words or phrases, such as, with the hope that Web surfers looking for information will type addresses into their browsers instead of using search engines. Many buyers also hope to resell the names to companies whose businesses relate to the addresses.

In the meantime, Oversee and its rivals get paid to stock the sites with ads that could bring in money from people who stumble onto the pages.

More than $100 million was spent on domain names last year.

Oversee has more than 600,000 of its own Web addresses. The 160-employee company also earns money by generating leads for clients; for example, it provides mortgage brokers with referrals to loan seekers who were attracted by keyword advertising to

The SnapNames deal is another in a series of consolidations among big holders of website names and the firms that service them.

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