Michael Berkens of Most Wanted Domains / Worldwide Media sold the domain name Stuff.com in March 2015 for an undisclosed amount as reported by DotWeekly at the time of the sale, according to whois records.
Publicly traded company Blucora, Inc. were the buyers and the domain name began forwarding (redirecting) to HowStuffWorks.com. Blucora Inc. was InfoSpace.com until switching names to Blucora Inc. in 2012 and InfoSpace became a subsidiary of Blucora. Blucora had recently acquired How Stuff Works from Discovery Channel for $45M and then acquired Stuff.com.
Fast forward to August 2016 and Blucora sells its “internet search and content business” to OpenMail.com for $45.2M, which included How Stuff Works plus many other websites and domain names.
I had noticed that Stuff.com changed registrant email in whois to OpenMail, which brought the sale to my attention again. So this sparked a bulb in my head about the Stuff.com sale and my new hobby of playing around in SEC filings. So I set out to see if I could find the sales price for Stuff.com that took place in March 2015 since the sales price was never disclosed.
A Q1 2015 filing for Blucora Inc. does fire off some domain name related information and here is what this publicly available data states:
Q-10 for Blucora for April 2015, page 8 there is a line indicating Internet Domain Names with “Gross Carrying Amount” from the past quarter of $0 and a “Gross Carrying Amount” of $696 for the current quarter as displayed in the chart below.
Two things to translate the above.
1.) It states internet domain names, which will often reflect more than one, aka plural. If only one number is given, there is no way to guess on how to break it down if you were to even find out what domain names they were. The next question: would Blucora just word it that way even if it were only one domain purchased?
I researched all the filings for Blucora, and of my findings, the same terminology is used every time when a domain is mentioned. So I would consider that line “standard” for them, no matter if it’s 1 or 10 internet domain names they purchased specifically (not considered an asset from another company).
2.) 696 is displayed in Thousands and is $696,000.00, a pretty close estimate of around where I thought Stuff.com may have sold for. Here is my quote from my Stuff.com sale article to note:
Knowing Michael Berkens, owner of Worldwide Media Inc. and his past sales, this is very likely a substantial domain name sale and I wouldn’t be shy to say very high six figure sale or maybe even seven figures?
The burning question?
Did Blucora Inc. make more than 1 large domain name purchase in Q1 2015? If they didn’t, then Stuff.com sold for $696,000
In Q1 2015, what kind of “in” activity did Blucora have? The one we know for sure, is Stuff.com, because I reported it and whois history records show it. March 22, 2015 Blucora shows up in whois records on Stuff.com from Worldwide Media. But was there any more?
I have not seen Blucora “hide” domain names they have purchased in the past. Once they purchased Stuff.com, whois data showed the company in whois and it didn’t go behind whois privacy for an example. This is a common pattern and I wouldn’t expect them to hide any domains under whois privacy, because it doesn’t fit the pattern of what they do.
1.) I did several internet searches that relate to Blucora, InfoSpace, Monoprice etc about domain names being purchased by any of those companies. I set date ranges for this quarter (Q1 2015) and did not see anything besides my article about Stuff.com.
2.) Use Whoisology.com and using “Change Log” compare the whois database by Q4 2014 to Q1 2015. I didn’t see anything that would reflect any other individual large domain name purchase that solely took place.
3.) Start looking at the portfolio and go through domain names in it, 1 by 1. Whois history each and see when they took ownership and if the domain was an “asset” of another company they acquired. This is going to take awhile….
I reached out to Investor Relations for Blucora Inc. and simply asked them.
Based on my research, I am only seeing 1 domain name purchase during Q1 2015. Did Blucora only purchase 1 domain name relating to page 8 and the line item “Internet Domain Names”?
If it was only 1 domain name, as I’m expecting, was this 1 domain name Stuff.com?
Wait for Stacy Ybarra to write me back. Stacy writes back and states:
I’m sorry I cannot disclose that information because it is not public.
But it is technically public information because whois records are public. My research is only showing the one domain. So I press on with my question to get an answer directly because her statement is not true:
It’s public that Blucora acquired Stuff.com (public whois records show this).
Simpler question: Can you confirm that only 1 domain name was acquired during Q1 2015?
Again, during my research, I am only seeing 1 domain name purchase during that time. Again, this is public information via whois records, just looking for the clarification it was just 1 domain.
This time Stacy ties in VP of legal for Blucora, Laura Baumann, so I fill her in with my question and get the reply:
I am curious as to why you are looking for this information?
I again explain that I am looking for clarification that the line 8 statement of “Internet Domain Names” was really “Internet Domain Name” and Stuff.com was acquired for $696,000 in March 2015 based on my research.
Laura viewed my reply which I further explained my clarification on December 16, 2016 but did not reply to my follow-up question. I always consider a no reply to a question as verification that my question results in a Yes answer, yet they didn’t want to say that, so they don’t reply!
Conclusion: After extensive research that only points to the one domain name, directly speaking with Blucora and the fact that they choose not to answer my question if they purchased more than 1 domain name during Q1 2015, I am 98% confident that Blucora paid $696,000 for the Stuff.com domain name in March 2015. The domain name is now owned by OpenMail.com, along with How Stuff Works and other assets.
Considering that Blucora paid $45M for just How Stuff Works, add in another $696,000 for Stuff.com, and pile in all the rest of the “internet and search business”, OpenMail got a pretty good deal! Some of the domains included: Zoo.com, Dogpile.com, MetaCrawler.com, MetaSpy.com, FetchLocal.com and InfoSpace.com to mention a few.