Is 2012's Priciest URL, but the Real Money Is Still in Sin

In the Olympic marathon that is the world of online business, wins the 2012 gold medal as the most expensive domain name sold this year -- and one of the most expensive website names sold in the history of the Internet.

The news hit the wires Tuesday. Financial news company (referring to the trading of foreign currencies) has broadened its business model by shelling out $2.45 million to acquire the domain name.

According to the company, the website's new owners intend to use to offer "a complete and free resource for novice and semi-professional traders and investors." will offer real-time quotes and charts of stocks, bond, futures, commodities and currencies, as well as financial aid tools, calendars, and technical analysis in one virtual box.

All that will be offered to us at no charge. But it cost a pretty penny to wrap it all up neatly in that memorable URL.

Still,'s $2.45 million price tag may be this year's largest -- but it's by no means the largest ever. Which led us to wonder: Exactly what kinds of domain names do people value more than "investing"?

Vice Is Worth the Price

For the most part, it seems companies are paying top dollar for Internet access to vices. Riffling through the records at Internet domain names sales site, we find that if you go back to 1997 -- as far back as the records reach -- only 25 domain names have ever fetched a higher price than the one just sold for.

Among these popular 25, it appears the order of preference goes something like this: People are willing to pay up for alcohol first, followed by sex, gambling, and finally money.

Three of the top 25 prices ever paid for Internet domain names are sex sites -- has topped the list ever since selling for the ripe sum of $13 million in November 2010. and also paid their sellers well -- $9.5 million and $4 million respectively (if not respectably).

Gambling is also popular -- with and going for $5.5 million apiece (to different buyers).

But with four related sites making the list, the most popular domain name category of all is alcohol. So far, the hot 25 list includes sales of domain names for $7 million, for $3.3 million, for $2.9 million, and for $3 million -- this last sum paid by popular distiller Russian Standard.

Doesn't Anyone Like Money Anymore?

As for investing sites like itself, they tend to lag in popularity. Bank of America (BAC) shelled out $3 million to acquire more than a dozen years ago, in January 2000. That move probably inspired rival Citigroup's (C) own purchase of (No. 34 on the list) two months later. Someone going by the name "Philip Gentile" managed to snag for one Ulysses S. Grant shy of a $10 million purchase price back in March 2008 -- $9,999,950.

Even so, money may be making a comeback in popularity. So if you've snagged yourself a good deal on a nice financial domain name from and are looking to parlay that $9.99 purchase into some real bucks, take heart: The top two selling prices for domain names in 2012 were both financial sites:, for $1 million, and now for more than twice that. Looks like the prices are finally going up.

Motley contributor Rich Smith regrets to say... he has no domains to sell today. Nor does he own shares of any company named above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America and Citigroup.

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December 12 2012 at 4:31 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
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