Entrepreneur John Gotts has agreed to pay almost $3 million to purchase the domain wiki.com. With skeptics saying that he’ll back out of the deal through a contract clause or that the purchase is a huge sign of a bubble, Gotts announced today that he has teamed with San Diego based wiki provider MindTouch to make a serious wiki play with the domain name at the center of their strategy. MindTouch does appear to offer a quality product, which I’ll discuss more below.
Gotts says the nearly $3 million he agreed to pay the “naming and trademark services” company Dynamo was a great deal. Gotts insists that he is going to complete the deal, which consists of a series of monthly $10,000 payments leading up to a large sum to complete the purchase. Wiki.com is the most natural URL imaginable for people interested in Wikis, Gotts says, and he intends to end his advertising budget at the nearly $3 million he’s paying for the URL and the $8 per year it costs him to renew his ownership of the domain. It worked for him with AdWare.com, which redirects to PCSafe.com, where Gotts sells adware removal software he claims has been wildly successful. There’s very little information available about PCSafe except for one damning report that Gotts insists is inaccurate.
Gotts said in a discussion on Digg when the purchase was announced that his business model would be to sell JotSpot licenses but now the partnership with MindTouch appears to be the plan. “We will also provide links to Wikipedia, Wiki News and WikiIndex.com,” Gotts wrote. “We will see how it all ends up but this is an exciting venture and one that I believe will benefit the Web.” Sounds like some nauseating domain squatter rationalization to me.
One way or the other, Gotts says that “domains are magic” and the traffic that wiki.com will pull in naturally as wikis grow more mainstream will make $3 million end up looking like a great deal. Out of the 50 million plus blogs on the web, Google only finds 487,000 pages in the site blog.com, so I’m not so sure that hordes of people will be looking to wiki.com to get all their wiki needs filled. I think most people compare service providers before they start populating a web site with information.
The MindTouch adaptation of MediaWiki does look like a viable product, however. MindTouch will provide the software and hosting for wiki.com wikis. The software looks good, it’s MediaWiki with a WYSIWYG editor, friendlier navigation, attachments and page hierarchies. You can create an account and test it out at http://techcrunchtest.wiki.com.
Gotts will drive traffic to the site, MindTouch will serve up subdomains and they will share advertising revenues. The serious business model will emerge soon, but is based on supporting ecommerce type activities on wiki pages.
We shall see, we shall see. Maybe this will all end up being a beautiful story someday, when we all have wiki subdomains at wiki.com.