Because I grew up in New England, right outside of Boston, the Boston Globe has always been a staple in my life. I can still picture it perfectly, folded up in its clear plastic bag, waiting at the end of the driveway to be picked up with the mail. To this day, whenever I go home to visit my family, I still sit in the kitchen with my parents and try to solve the Sunday crossword.
So, I was interested when I heard the Globe is up for sale, along with its Internet counterpart, Boston.com, a website providing 24-hour breaking news and sports with coverage from the Globe, and The Hive, a tech and innovation blog covering the Boston start-up, venture, and research communities
As Michael Morisy of Inside the Hive points out, most of the public focus has been on who the new owner may be and the value of the physical property the Globe occupies in Dorchester, MA. He raises the question of what the new owner might do with the domain names Boston.com, BostonGlobe.com, and Globe.com, which it will also come into possession of.
The Globe’s domain names are known as “keyword” domain names and can be extremely valuable, with estimated values reaching into the tens of millions. The domain name Sex.com was sold in 2010 for a record-breaking $13 million. While it is unlikely that the new owner will sell BostonGlobe.com, the other two domain names could be sold off for a nice profit.
Cameron Gordon from DigitalDNA, a domain name brokerage firm, estimates that Boston.com could easily be worth between $5-10 million, noting the elements of its value: “Boston.com garners over 2.5 million unique visitors per month and is a single word .COM and the succinct digital representation of a popular U.S. city with very loyal citizens.”
The backstory on how the Globe initially acquired the domain name is another story in and of itself. Morisy’s post describes how Au Bon Pain was the original owner of Boston.com, but struck a deal with the Globe’s then-executive vice president to hand over the domain name in exchange for “four quarter-page ads for charities of [its] choice and an agreement that Boston.com would produce and host the Au Bon Pain [website]”.
What Morisy doesn’t mention, is that the Globe was also one of a few hundred businesses to apply for a new generic top-level domain (gTLD) – in this case .BOSTON. While the application is still pending, the value of .BOSTON as a digital asset should be taken into consideration by the new owner.
The new owner could sell .BOSTON to another interested party or business. Or, it could bet on turning the new gTLD into a cash cow. The Globe applied for .BOSTON as an “open” registry, meaning anyone may purchase second-level domain names in .BOSTON. The Globe’s new owner could profit handsomely by selling a near limitless number of second-level domains – if the new gTLDs take off in popularity.
Regardless of what ends up happening, I do hope that the .BOSTON gTLD becomes active. I’m already imagining the possibilities – sending visitors to Tourism.BOSTON for the must see sights and vacation itineraries, typing in UnionOysterHouse.BOSTON to make a reservation, or of course navigating to RedSox.BOSTON for a season schedule.