Domain acquisition price was hiding in plain site!

Chess is an ancient board game enjoyed by millions of people around the world. It is often considered a game of intellect and strategy, as players must think ahead and anticipate their opponent’s moves.

The popularity of chess has led to the development of numerous variations and styles of play, as well as the organization of international competitions and tournaments. Chess is also increasingly played online, making it accessible to people of all ages and skill levels.

One of these online destinations dominates all others: The domain was registered in 1994, at a time when domain name registrations were still free.

The earliest capture of content from is from 1996. It was owned by a company called Aficionado, based in Berkeley, California, in order to sell a piece of chess tutoring software called “Chess Mentor.”

Aficionado went deep in debt in the early 2000’s and by 2005 its assets were being liquidated. Entrepreneur Erik Allebest and partner Jarom Severson teamed up and acquired the domain with the help of another friend, who had won the bankruptcy auction of the Aficionado assets.

Erik Allebest then bought out the assets and rolled it into one new, debt-free company with the three friends as partners.  Erik disclosed the price paid for in a blog post about that he published in 2019:

The total price at bankruptcy was $55,000 […]

I had the money to buy the domain name and start the new company from the money I earned selling the company (to a really awesome guy named Matt). I had sold the company because I had been (shockingly!) admitted to Stanford Business School.

So there you have it, an investment of $55,000 dollars in 2005 generated more than $100 million in revenue in 2022.

After all, domain investments are a game of strategy, just like chess.

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