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Domaining with cash: The incredible 100% true story of Select.com

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Mike Bahlitzanakis, founder of City.com

Mike Bahlitzanakis, co-founder of City.com

Six years ago, Michael Bahlitzanakis launched his domain media business, attracting a comment from Frank Schilling himself:

“I think Mike has some terrific domain names and is going to be very successful with this.  God has blessed domain names. Nice to see decent guys like this grow into real media concerns.”

The New York native with the unpronounceable Greek last name, is a low profile entrepreneur that has acquired and launched successful ventures, such as SEO.com, Prices.com and the heavyweight City.com.

Mike has been featured several times in DNJournal, regarding his acquisitions of premium domain names.

What’s so different about those acquisitions is Mike’s unique approach to domaining: quite often, he pays in cash.

In an exclusive interview, a teaser of which we published last week, Mike Bahlitzanakis told us the incredible story about how he acquired the top-tier domain name, Select.com – for a fistful of dollars. 😀

DomainGang: How does it all start, Mike?

Mike Bahlitzanakis: It starts with data research and analysis. I’m always perusing raw domain data, zone files and other resources, looking for disenfranchised domains managed by individuals or companies that might have gone under or lost interest in their domain assets.

DG: What happens next?

Mike: I communicate with them directly, by email or by calling them on the phone. Once I’ve established a connection with the right person, I make a cash offer.

DG: Does this usually work?

Mike: It worked for several domain acquisitions. Weblog.com and SEO.com were acquired this way, the first one for $75k. My biggest achievement would have to be the purchase of Select.com for $10,000.

DG: Mike, did you left out a zero? Ten thousand dollars?

Mike: Yep. After researching and locating this domain, it turned out the company it belonged to merged with or was acquired by another company. It was the right time between the change of leadership, and I consider my move very lucky.

DG: Very ballsy move, indeed. What was your approach like?

Mike: I emailed the owner and flat out sold them a story that I’m a database enthusiast and I want to use the domain for a SQL-themed web site. As you may know, “select” is a primary command for SQL and other databases. In retrospect, while my motives were different, none of the info was false; I love data and database queries. Soon, we will be launching a new domain product that aims to change the domain landscape and how data is analyzed and presented.

DG: What happened next?

Mike: My offer for the domain was for $10,000. I didn’t want to appear to be cash-loaded, I could have offered much more to begin with. But I was being conservative with my initial offer. Asked them if they wanted to part with it, and once I piqued their interest, I talked to them on the phone and came to an agreement to meet in person for the exchange. That happened in early 2012.

DG: So you took $10,000 from the bank and then met them in person?

Mike: Correct. Took ten grand from the bank, an even split with a friend/associate of mine so we both invested $5k in Select.com. I took an early morning train from New York to Massachusetts, not believing that I was about to close such an incredible deal. Their response was so unexpected that I was still drafting the agreement on a piece of paper on the train.

DG: How did it go when the train reached Westwood?

Mike: I called the guy on the phone, he was waiting in his car, parked nearby. It was rather casual and although it felt like a strange way to perform business, it went very smoothly. After checking his id, I gave him the envelope with the cash and he logged into his registrar account and transferred the domain to mine. I verified it was a done deal and was on my way back to NY soon after.

DG: I bet this felt very surreal?

Mike: The rush was incredible, it felt like a huge achievement, I had done it before but this time around the domain and amount involved were incredible. It felt like winning the lottery jackpot.

DG: Amazing story. So what about the current state of the domain?

Mike: I can’t keep secrets from you, the domain is in escrow currently and the sale was in the low six figure range. The ROI was excellent, I received an offer I could not refuse and we’re hoping to finalize the sale this week.

DG: Incredible deal, both the acquisition and the sale. Thank you, Mike, looking forward to hearing more stories of success from you in the future!

Mike: Anytime.


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Comments

15 Responses to “Domaining with cash: The incredible 100% true story of Select.com”
  1. Ms Domainer says:

    *

    I love stories like this.

    The story of Select.com belongs in the domaining hall of fame.

    *

  2. DomainGang says:

    Ms Domainer – As they say, no guts, no glory. 😀

  3. Bill Kara says:

    Great story, pretty crazy 🙂

    Mike has some great domains and nice guy all around.

  4. Konstantinos Zournas says:

    10k for Select.com in 2012.
    Now that is what I call a deal! 🙂

  5. Stu says:

    Tbh i would not have paid much for it,i would say the sale was out of this world rather than the domain itself and tbh i have had better stories but it seems a few like the fame and glory,i would rather act under the radar rather than giving the jonny big which a few of the domainers do,there are guys who have generics who you will never heard of as they like to stay under the radar,they are the guys i admire most rather than people who broadcast,its kinda like bragging.,

  6. DomainGang says:

    Stu – Here’s a fiver, buy yourself a period or two!

  7. Rod says:

    Stu – there’s nothing more exciting and gratifying than sharing your success with your colleagues – those who don’t must be pretty boring people to me.

    I’ll give you an example – if I (myself) had 1/100th of the success that some of other domainers have had, I can assure you the WHOLE WORLD would have known about me – so don’t forget about the excitement element of a business – it shouldn’t be all about money.

  8. Kokot says:

    So guy is basically a liar and is bragging about it. Hm.

  9. DomainGang says:

    Kokot – Don’t hate, bro.

  10. andrew says:

    Sure hope the guy who did the cash deal was authorized to sell it!

  11. DomainGang says:

    Andrew – The seller was the owner and his id was presented during the exchange.

  12. Logan Flatt says:

    Mr. Bahlitzanakis should alert his buyer, Select Staffing, that the domain name currently is registered not in the name of Select Staffing the corporation, but in the name of an employee, Vadim Zhukov, who upon some future employment separation from Select Staffing, would still remain the legal registrant of Select.com, not Select Staffing the corporation. Should they not realize this until after the separation, it could get tricky. As they say, possession is 9/10s of the law. To protect its ‘low six figure’ investment in the domain name, Select Staffing is best to put Select.com in the name of Select Staffing, not the name of an employee.

  13. DomainGang says:

    Logan – Thanks for the info, I passed it on to Mike. You raise a valid point.

  14. Logan Flatt says:

    Select.com is still not registered in Select Staffing’s name four months later.

  15. DomainGang says:

    Logan – I’m sure that’s an issue that you are free to raise with the company itself; if they were worried, they would have changed it.

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