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Auctomatic

Communicate Acquires Y Combinator Startup Auctomatic, Unveils New Business Strategy

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Communicate.com, a public company in Vancouver, Canada, is announcing the acquisition of Y Combinator startup Auctomatic this morning for $5 million in cash and stock. The company is also changing its name to Live Current Media, Inc.

Communicate/Live Current is in the domain name business – their primary assets are 800 high value domains (perfume.com, cricket.com, etc.) that generate a variety of advertising and affiliate fee revenues. The company’s market cap is just shy of $60 million. That stock price has increased by around 250% in the last year.

Some of those domain names are quite valuable. The company declined to sell cricket.com for $6 million earlier this year, for example. About 40 of the company’s 800 domain names are “very high quality” CEO Geoffrey Hampson told me in an interview last week.

The company is going to focus on building out branded properties around those domain names, Hampson said, starting with Perfume.com. The Auctomatic shopping engine technology will be a big part of the push, and the company will also add social features over time.

Demand Media is another domain name holder that is trying to create new revenue streams around domains sitting in inventory. Last year they launched a semi-distributed social network called me.tv to spur the purchase of .tv domain names. No word on how that project is doing.

Will this work? I don’t know and I’m not even sure I’ll remember to check in on them. The domain business is a cash cow but isn’t exactly exciting stuff. Hopefully the Auctomatic founders, who must leave Silicon Valley and move to Vancouver as part of the transaction, will be able to pry themselves loose at some point in the future and start another company. For now, though, congratulations to them. And to their backers, Y Combinator, Paul Buchheit and Chris Sacca.

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