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Idealab

$1 million: UK's Top 10 buys .com domain for global expansion

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[UK] A million dollars, baby. That’s the amount paid by UK price comparison site ‘Top 10 Broadband and Top 10 Mobile Phones‘ to purchase the Top10.com domain name from US-based investor Idealab in a cash plus equity deal. Apparently, this also makes it one of the most expensive domain names ever purchased by a British company.

Under the terms of the deal, Top 10 Broadband and Top 10 Mobile Phones will pay Idealab $200,000 and hand over a 7% share in the newly branded company Top10.com Media Ltd. Bill Gross, Idealab’s founder, will join Top 10’s advisory board.

To us, however, it feels just a little frothy.

As the dot com implies, the new domain name will be used as a springboard for Top 10, which in the UK operates the two most popular comparison sites in the telecoms sector, to launch new products globally. The company generates revenue from affiliate sales chalked up through its price comparison offerings, claiming a combined 1.5 million UK users a month. And while it’s already profitable locally with a turn over of more than £9m in 2009, a shiny new domain name is no guarantee that it can scale oversees where presumably it will face plenty of incumbents.

That said, despite shelling out a million dollars, Tom Leathes, co-founder and director at Top10.com, is in buoyant mood: “Idealab’s involvement in our business is a great endorsement of our company’s success to date, and will provide a real boost to our plans ahead for Top10.com. While we have doubled in size every year since we started in 2006, Idealab’s involvement will help us move to the next level as a business.”

While Gross himself chimes in: “The Top 10 team has already been highly successful and consistently profitable and there is amazing potential for future growth. We think that the price comparison sector is ripe for change, and in need of innovation.”

Top 10 was founded in 2006 and currently employs 20 staff in its Central London offices. The company is privately owned by its four co-founders, Tom Leathes, Harry Jones, Alex Buttle, and Andrew Cartland, and with today’s news, Idealab.

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