$500K for Brand.com and $403M for MakerBot

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Bre Pettis, Founder, MakerBot

Years ago, I was part of a business community that would buy up domain names on the Internet as an investment. A domain name, for the purpose of this post, is the URL identification on the Internet, like www.digidame.com.

As recently as just ten years ago, people used to sit around and think of names others may someday want, buy them for a few bucks, and wait for someone to come calling. They would even purchase big brand names that weren’t taken in anticipation that someone at the company would be willing to pay big sums to get the URL back.

I used to think these folks were nuts. I came from the school of thought that if you didn’t put in a hard day’s work you weren’t entitled to make money. Boy, was I wrong. Friends made thousands upon thousands of dollars as companies started to line up to purchase their own names and other common-word names. The government finally stepped in and said outsiders could not buy company names. By that time, however, the hoarders had already collected hundreds of thousands of company and common-word names, put the paper work in their bank vaults, and were waiting for their payoffs.

In 2009, Americans got the shock of their lives when they saw www.insure.com purchased for $16 million, and then, some time after that, $14 million paid for Sex.com.

Just a few days ago, another big transaction took place that reminded everyone of the potential windfalls that are sitting in safe deposit boxes all over the U.S. Chuck Pettis, father of Bre Pettis, the founder of MakerBot, the 3D table-top printer company that I have written about here, sold Brand.com to Reputation Changer for half a million dollars. All the senior Pettis did was think to himself, “Hmmm, someday I bet someone will want Brand.com.” He then purchased the name for under $20 and sat patiently.

Here is the real killer. Reputation Changer believes the new name will pay for itself by leading to new business.

The sale of the Brand.com name comes on the heels of other super news for the Pettis family. MakerBot was just sold to Stratasys for $403 million. Bre founded his company in 2009. MakerBot is credited with making a 3D printer for the hobbyist market as well as for engineers and designers. MakerBot generated $11.5 million in revenue in the first quarter of this year. That is tremendous growth considering its sales for the entire last year was $15.7 million.

Stratasys manufacturers printers for prototyping. Together, they are perfect to help advance the industry for 3D desktop printers.

This is the type of success story that gives hope to many types of digital startups.

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