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Google OUTBID on g.co.uk at auction

Speculator mows Chocolate Factory's grass

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Google may have spent an estimated $1.5m on the Colombian domain name g.co earlier this year, but it was outbid on g.co.uk in a recent auction by a domain investor.

The desirable address sold for £76,000 at a Nominet auction, according to a list of sales compiled by domain names guru Ty Hancocks and reported by the FT today.

The buyer was ANY-Web, a well-known domain speculator. It also bought o.co.uk for £65,000 at the same auction, despite the fact that Overstock.com is known for its interest in "o" addresses: it spent $350,000 on o.co, which it is in the process of re-branding itself around, last year.

ANY-Web also spent tens of thousands on dozens of other domains, such as p.co.uk and w.co.uk, racking up a bill reportedly over £500,000 in total.

Speculators find one-letter and two-letter domains attractive because of their potential resale value. Short domains are particularly sought-after in the age of Twitter due to their possible use as URL shorteners.

Nominet in total sold or allocated 2,831 short .uk addresses, raising over £3m for the charitable Nominet Trust, the FT reported.

While domainers dominate the list of known sales, some big brands also saw success at the auction.

Facebook acquired fb.co.uk for £19,500, according to Hancocks' list, and Mercedes-Benz picked up mb.co.uk for £12,000.

In a previous phase of the short domain allocation process, companies including Yahoo! and B&Q exercised their trademark rights to get their hands on domains such as y.co.uk and bq.co.uk. ®

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