Thursday, September 13, 2007

There's Something About Bill

A version of this article appears in this week's SFR.
Don't Know Cybersquat: Introducing the masters of Bill’s domain.

Three and three-quarter years ago, a Tennessee small-business owner built a Web site for his construction company. He registered the domain,, and thought nothing of it. That’s his given name, after all, and the name of his company.

His company operates exclusively in Memphis and only builds two or three $100 to $200,000 homes each year. The Web site’s not exactly Chocolate Rain. But six months ago, Clint’s hit counter started acting up. It was nothing server shaking but, in his words, “clicking pretty good.”

Then, a little more than a month ago, he received a call from Washington, DC, asking about the availability of the domain. Then another. A third call came from somewhere in Texas. It seems that Web investors are beginning to take a Hillary Clinton-Bill Richardson ticket seriously, and in a few months good ol’ Clint may have a good ol’ bidding war on his hands.

“They’re just talking. I think they want to hold on for some indication of what the ticket is going to be,” Clint tells SFR. “It’s a Web site that serves my construction company. But if the price is right, I’m certainly willing to consider selling it.”

Fittingly, as a homebuilder specializing in energy-efficient, environmentally conscious housing, Clint says he’s likely to support a Democratic candidate.

“I’m watching closely, and [Clinton-Richardson] is a ticket I’d actually support,” he says.

Clint isn’t the only one sitting on Richardson-related electronic property. Brian Wolk, a lawyer in Plantation, Fla., bought the domain in July 2007. He’s not talking about his motivation yet and, as a lawyer, that’s smart; publicly stating your profit-mindedness is the big trigger that sets off the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act.

Sponsored by US Sen. Trent Lott in 1999 (back when the minority whip from Mississippi, was the majority leader), the Act was designed to prevent the hoarding and ransoming of domain names. However, it hasn’t stopped the so-far anonymous company behind, which owns,,, and, though, is registered to an optometric physician named Todd Richardson from Vancouver, Wash.

But if Bill’s planning on a run in 13 years, he can rest assured that, according to his Web site, Dr. Richardson accepts Visa, MasterCard and Discover.

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