Do You Care About Negative Press? | DomainInvesting.com
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Do You Care About Negative Press?

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A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the Ebola.com domain name going up for sale. Within the last few days, mainstream publications have also covered the story about Ebola.com, and several of those articles have been critical of the domain owner, who is reportedly seeking $150,000 for this domain name he acquired several years ago for a reported $13,500.

Konstantinos from OnlineDomain.com wrote about some of these critical articles this morning, and there seem to be additional articles being published. Some of the articles can be found on the following publications:

For my company, I have always steered clear of tragedy domain names. In my opinion, there isn’t really any commercial value to the vast majority of them, and I have felt it was tacky to profit off of the suffering of others. That being said, I don’t think that Ebola.com would qualify as a “tragedy” domain name in the same way that a terrorism or death domain name would qualify. Some people might compare it to other major disease and virus domain names, which are often owned by pharmaceutical companies, that are, to the surprise of nobody, in a business to make money.

Since the Ebola outbreak has continued to worsen throughout the world, a number of publicly traded pharma companies have seen an increase in their valuations, as noted by CNN. There doesn’t seem to be any condemnation of stock market investors who are buying shares of these companies, hoping their investment yields a solid return.

This brings me back to my initial question. Do you care about the negative press that could come as a result of owning a domain name like this? Similarly, would you be comfortable owning Ebola.com if you could yield a 10x ROI?



About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of DomainInvesting.com. Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has sold seven figures worth of domain names in the last five years. Please read the DomainInvesting.com Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest.


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Comments (12)

    Anticareer.com

    Presumably the only thing that has changed since the guy bought the domain 6 years ago is that the asking price has now gone up because of the widespread news. Is this any different than a drug company increasing prices for their drugs that become in short supply when an outbreak occurs?

    If I was the domain owner I’d hire a lawyer and see if he can go after any of these media outlets for defamation.

    October 14th, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    todd

    He won’t be able to sell it because Moniker will lose it before that happens. :) He is probably locked out of his account and doesn’t even know it. LOL

    October 14th, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    Ron

    All he had to do was put it under privacy, and let them offers come to him. By doing this, and upping the price, and putting it out there, they have only put a target on their back, and tainted the name. Otherwise someone like Zuckerberg who has pledged $25m probably would have bought it, and forwarded it to the appropriate control center who manages such outbreaks.

    Really bad marketing, on a sensitive topic, this sort of stuff sticks, and it is a mob mentality that is out to lynch this seller now.

    October 14th, 2014 at 6:50 pm

      Elliot Silver

      “Otherwise someone like Zuckerberg who has pledged $25m probably would have bought it,”

      I know that Mr. Zuckerberg just donated $25 million to the CDC, but I highly doubt he would have been a prospect for this domain name.

      In any event, someone once said there’s no such thing as bad publicity. For the sake of Mr. Schultz, I hope his domain name get sold because he is certainly taking a lot of flack for a domain name that nearly 75% of respondents would be fine with owning.

      In reply to Ron | October 14th, 2014 at 6:52 pm

      Raymond Hackney

      I think you are spot on Ron.

      In reply to Ron | October 15th, 2014 at 2:08 am

    Ron

    Considering he was behind Internet.org nothing is out of the question in the domain game… if he buys it and gives it to a disease control center, he would be a good guy. Coming out, and advertising it is for sale for $150K when people are dying, and flaunting it is stupid, everyone already hates domain name investors, this has no good press either way.

    If he gets his money or not, he has soiled his name, and reputation going forward. He has done nothing wrong in owning the domain, and paying up for it, but the way they went about presenting the sale, personally many would have handled it differently. Nobody cares about a domainer trying to sell a domain for big figures when people are dying. The domainer will never be the good guy, in the majority of transactions, you just have no to know how to leverage the PR, and the transaction.

    October 14th, 2014 at 10:14 pm

    Jon Schultz

    Thanks everyone for your comments. To set the record straight, we were selling the domain through a private broker, without any public advertising, when I received an inquiry from CNBC for an interview. Someone had just made a $25,000 offer for the domain and we had countered at $150,000, so I told that to the CNBC guy and he published it.

    Then this guy Terrence McCoy from the Washington Post writes me last night asking if he can do an immediate phone interview for a story they want to run in the morning, and I agreed. He seemed to be a very nice guy and I had no idea he would write such an inaccurate, to put it kindly, article. I posted two comments to the Comments section of the Washington Post story, as follows. The first was in response to the article and the second in response to a comment on my comment, which I’ll also quote:

    >>>
    Jon Schultz
    9:05 AM PDT [Edited]
    This is not only a mean-spirited article in which Mr. McCoy seeks to impress people with how moral he is by criticizing me for doing nothing but buying a piece of property and looking to sell it at a profit (and sacrificing about $5,000 in domain parking revenue to have a site up with a link where people can make a donation to Doctors Without Borders), but his quotes of me are inaccurate as well. I am sure he cannot produce a recording of our conversation because the quotes which he provided are not exact quotes and do not accurately portray my sentiments.
    I hope you are fired by the Washington Post, Terrrence, as you certainly deserve to be. This is nothing but tabloid journalism.

    SoCalWP
    10:00 AM PDT
    There is, quite simply, no way to spin your actions as anything other than profiting from the misery and deaths of others. Sure, doctors “profit” from treating the sick, but they are performing a tangible service that requires years of training and expertise. You are simply buying a domain and attempting to resell it when it is most needed by the medical community to provide citizens with information.

    Jon Schultz
    11:08 AM PDT [Edited]
    If the domain was truly “needed by the medical community” then you might have a point, but it simply isn’t. It is just a domain name, not a miracle cure.
    And not only are we providing a prominent link to Doctors Without Borders on the page that we have up, but we are also providing a nonprofit link to a very scholarly eBook on the possible use of the inexpensive compound BHT as an agent for helping to prevent or cure viral diseases. That is certainly an idea which merits some consideration by the medical community and governments, however I have not seen anyone in the medical community or government comment on it to date. I doubt that pharmaceutical companies would conduct clinical trials with BHT as that would cost a lot of money and the substance cannot be patented. That is a story worthy of an article in the Washington Post, not this “Look who we can blame for being greedy today” garbage. I would have expected that at some other websites, but not here.
    <<<

    I agree that I exercised some bad judgment in the handling of the matter, like the "Outbreak" comment to CNBC and sending a picture of myself in a bathrobe (which was on the front page of WashingtonPost.com for a while today), but I don't think there is any valid criticism that what we are doing is harmful to anyone or should be illegal.

    October 15th, 2014 at 12:32 am

    todd

    He sends a picture of himself in a bathrobe to the Washington Post and then questions the bad press. Incredible!!

    This story was magnified a thousand times by every other News publication because of that picture. Just look how the article begins and you can see it was written because of the photo.

    “Jon Schultz is a cigarette-thin man who will, upon requests for a photograph, don a ruby robe and strike a regal pose. Schultz is a businessman and he wants to look good. “

    October 15th, 2014 at 10:25 am

    Steve B

    I agree with you in that I don’t necessarily think that owning this domain is a bad thing. It’s not like he rushed over to grab the domain right after a tragedy. He purchased the domain several years ago. It just so happens that ebola is news material nowadays.

    Furthermore, the word ebola doesn’t have to refer to a tragedy. If you take the word itself, it’s just a name of a disease or ailment. It could be developed into an informational site providing advice and resources for people who want to learn more about it. Obviously, the hard part would be trying to monetize a domain like this without coming off as a scumbag.

    October 15th, 2014 at 12:57 pm
    October 15th, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    Anon

    Being a ‘doer’ of anything will guarantee that you will be criticized. That goes with the territory. More than a few times, I’ve googled domains I’ve owned, or identified someone who inquired, only to find a twitter account or a forum post with the typical squealing butthurt about ‘squatters’ over why I won’t sell then 1Word.com for $300 for their local small business.

    Domaining does have that weird dark gray area where sociopathic shitbag types buy morally repugnant domain names they wouldn’t proudly announce to the world that they owned, yet wonder why they get criticized for it.

    Also, seriously though, just how much of a total falling-down n00b is someone when they own a tragedy-related domain like this, very predictably get a bogus ‘fishing offer’ from a media outlet, they ask a huge price and its in tomorrows paper? How many times have we seen similar ‘coverage’ when droolers registering plane crash domains, celebrity death domains, etc, then posting them to eBay for $25,000,000?

    If you buy a domain like ebola.com and don’t have your identity management and press strategy under total control, go into another business. You’re too dumb for this… But some people are just naive like that.

    October 15th, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    Raymond

    I don’t see anything wrong with selling ebola.com for $150,000 or millions of dollar.

    Someone will make money from ebola decease outbreak….especially the medical and pharmaceutical experts.

    Look at ebola doctors, they get paid $525 dollars per hour …….East African doctors are being offered more than five hundred dollars per hour to work with Ebola patients in West Africa.

    “The WHO (World Health Organisation) are offering $325 dollars an hour, and the Centre for Disease Control Malawi office they are offering $200. In total that is $525 per hour”

    http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014/10/15/doctors-offered-big-dollars-work-ebola

    October 16th, 2014 at 3:24 am

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