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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

* Shia Kapos

Josh Metnick, who buys and sells internet domain names the way a real estate broker handles land deals, has put on the market.

Metnick has owned the domain name since 2005 but decided to sell now because he sees interest peaking. China is buying up more domain names these days, and there are a few Illinois gubernatorial candidates who might find an attractive property.

Metnick is referring all calls on the deal to Lou Weisbach, a Chicago entrepreneur who’s overseeing the sale. Weisbach is CEO of Merch Time LLC, a marketing services and promotional products startup.

“I’ve known Josh for a long time. He’s brilliant in this space,” Weisbach tells me. “Given the confluence of interest overseas and in Illinois and given the gubernatorial race, in which you have three high net worth individuals leading the pack, it seems like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Considering that half of the state’s residents want to leave, our largest city has a well-publicized crime problem and the state government hasn’t had a budget in over two years, etc., etc., etc., I’m not sure how valuable the domain name really is.

* From the press release…

“ is an asset that can be kept in perpetuity as it continues to appreciate in the years to come,” continued Weisbach. “The site’s purchaser can realize strong cash flows from the investment, as the site can be valued against an escalating and recurring revenue model. All in all, this is a significant opportunity to secure a prized geodomain.”

A “geodomain” is a domain name identical to a geographic location such as a city, state, or country. Often, geodomain sales are kept confidential via private transactions, similar to private sales of other types of domain names. There are some geodomain sales figures, however, that have been publicly disclosed:

    * sold for $90 million in 2005. Las Vegas, Nevada drew approximately 42.9 million visitors in 2016 (source: Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority).
    * sold for $6.5 million in 2010. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina drew approximately 16.1 million visitors in 2013 (source: Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, 2015).

By comparison, Illinois welcomed approximately 110 million domestic visitors in 2016 (source: Illinois Department of Commerce), with an additional 1.7 million overseas visitors (source: U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel and Tourism Office, 2015).

“There are endless possibilities when it comes to how could be strategically leveraged and monetized,” said Dan Pulcrano, a domain name industry expert and CEO of Silicon Valley-based media holding company New SV Media, Inc. “It could be the home page for a media outlet, corporation, or political candidate, or used to redirect traffic to a third-party site or for the selling of customized email addresses. Whatever an investor chooses to do with, I expect this domain name to be well-trafficked and successful.”

Any thoughts how somebody could use the domain name?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Ron - Wednesday, May 17, 17 @ 9:16 am:

    Virtually every single one of those overseas visitors were in Chicago.

  2. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, May 17, 17 @ 9:16 am:

    Media title…

    Book, film, television, a title… “Illinois”… in any of those mediums that you plan to title a work “Illinois”… it would be very valuable.

  3. - weary - Wednesday, May 17, 17 @ 9:23 am:

    The only non-snarky thing that comes to mind would be for University of Illinois to purchase it, for the school as a whole, and in particular for their sports programs.

  4. - lake county democrat - Wednesday, May 17, 17 @ 9:25 am:

    Start a classic rock band named after the state, make it the homepage.

  5. - The Captain - Wednesday, May 17, 17 @ 9:43 am:

    In the Google era I don’t see the value in this virtual real estate. Who is going to type “” in their browser hoping to find something in particular rather than just Googling whatever it is that they’re looking for? You can find almost anything on Amazon which is found at a URL whose name has virtually nothing to do with whatever it is you’re looking for. Anyone paying a premium for a vanity domain name is overpaying.

  6. - cdog - Wednesday, May 17, 17 @ 9:43 am:

    Since “Illinois” has become synonymous with “incompetence,” the website could be a consolidator that is focused on stories of govt policy incompetence., your destination to learn all things wrong, with the goal of preventing history from repeating itself.


  7. - Spliff - Wednesday, May 17, 17 @ 9:45 am:

    I should have leased that from Josh 2 years ago when I met with him.

  8. - Responsa - Wednesday, May 17, 17 @ 9:55 am:

    I agree with weary. A general concern should be that someone could buy the domain with the specific intent of using it for nefarious purposes–such as convincing gullible people that it is an official site of some sort or at least is affiliated with the state. The quoted marketing message to potential investors which includes the words “strong cash-flow” and the industry guru’s suggestion that the domain (could be) “used to direct traffic to a third-party site” surely opens that door.

  9. - Lance Mannion - Wednesday, May 17, 17 @ 9:58 am:

    I’ll take that liability off of their hands in exchange for their payment of $300,000.

  10. - CivicWhitaker - Wednesday, May 17, 17 @ 9:59 am:

    Initially, my thought was that should go to the state and redirect to the main website, but I imagine that they want an arm and a leg for the domain. (Something that’s not worth the trouble.)

    The other thought would be to hand it over to a community foundation like the Chicago Community Trust for safekeeping. (Which is what they did for

    I also really dislike this kind buisness model. Geodomains should belong to the actual place it’s named for - but I’m an idealist.

  11. - A Jack - Wednesday, May 17, 17 @ 10:02 am:

    They have opened up those extensions quite a bit. You can look at IANA’s root zone database to see all the possibilities. I believe you can request new ones also, like Illinois.ILL At one time .com’s were about your limit which made them more valuable. Anyway .com is traditionally a business designation and when I see it misused for a college or government entity, I tend to think the people in charge of that organization are a bit goofy.

  12. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, May 17, 17 @ 10:17 am:

    Today it’s just Soon the whole state will be for sale.

  13. - Six Degrees of Separation - Wednesday, May 17, 17 @ 10:27 am:

    There is an international organization that adjucates web domain disputes ( If a business has a trademarked name and some Chinese outfit is trying to squat on a website to squeeze an exorbitant price, the Uniform Domain Policy has often been used to extract the domain from the squatter and offer it to the challenger for somewhere around $1000 plus any additional attorney work on the challenger’s part. Not sure how the policy would work in regard to a unit of government if they were to issue a UDP challenge.

  14. - Six Degrees of Separation - Wednesday, May 17, 17 @ 10:34 am:

    To the post, I also think would be worth a whole lot more than on the open market.

  15. - DuPage Saint - Wednesday, May 17, 17 @ 10:35 am:

    I want the domain name

  16. - Texas Red - Wednesday, May 17, 17 @ 10:51 am: should be forwarded to MJM’s website with his daily schedule. After 40 years in leadership he calls the shots so let’s give him credit.

  17. - The Captain - Wednesday, May 17, 17 @ 11:07 am:

    Having said all that, if the Illinois Department of Tourism could get for a reasonable price it would make sense to have the state’s tourism information at that domain. That would probably be the only example where I would be willing to pay a premium for that domain, but only a small premium.

  18. - Levois - Wednesday, May 17, 17 @ 11:11 am:

    if this is being treated like real estate, I can only imagine how much this is going to cost. It’ll be almost an arm and a leg. If not I could be interested although what would I do with it. Someone out there would probably use it for their agenda.

  19. - Donald - Wednesday, May 17, 17 @ 11:26 am:

    It seems the obvious value in the domain is ROI against marketing $. It is simply a very intuitive and easy to remember domain name that means the state of Illinois on the internet. The state tourism board should just consider this a marketing expense they can amortize. Frankly taking a couple million from their TV budget and slapping this domain on all of their advertising will see far higher return then the same $ in more commercials telling people to visit “Visit what?!”

  20. - Not It - Wednesday, May 17, 17 @ 12:43 pm:

    Ron, you underestimate the draw of the Giant Catsup Bottle in Collinsville. It’s responsible for a good chunk of those visitors!

    Also wasn’t there a famous president that has a bunch of tourist stuff downstate?

  21. - blue dog dem - Wednesday, May 17, 17 @ 12:45 pm:


  22. - NorthsideNoMore - Wednesday, May 17, 17 @ 2:46 pm:

    Is the value tied to Illinois bond rating ? Just asking ?

  23. - Huh? - Wednesday, May 17, 17 @ 3:19 pm:

    You mean 1.4% hasn’t purchased it yet?!?!? He’s bought the governor’s office.

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