Google Buys The Entire Alphabet - InformationWeek

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Commentary
10/8/2015
06:05 PM
Larry Loeb
Larry Loeb
Commentary
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Google Buys The Entire Alphabet

In what appears to be a move to protect the brand of Google's parent company Alphabet, the Internet giant has bought the domain abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz.com.

10 Google Milestones: From Stanford Dorm To Alphabet
10 Google Milestones: From Stanford Dorm To Alphabet
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Google now owns the alphabet. At least online.

On Oct. 7, the company bought the domain name abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz.com for reasons that were not publicly stated. The sale was private, and terms were not announced.

Since Google reorganized itself as a subsidiary of the Alphabet holding company in August, this domain acquisition may be an attempt to prevent others from profiting on the Alphabet name.

The obvious choice for a domain for the holding company would have been Alphabet.com, but it is owned by the German carmaker BMW. Alphabet is the name of a BMW subsidiary that provides services to corporations with vehicle fleets.

So, Google launched Alphabet's website with a URL of abc.xyz.

"We realized we missed a few letters in abc.xyz, so we're just being thorough," an Alphabet spokesman told The Wall Street Journal

Right.

This seems like a move to protect the Alphabet brand. For example, Google also owns the GoogleSucks.com domain, which redirects to Google.com. But it seems doubtful that Google or Alphabet will do anything with the new domain name.

(Image: scibak/iStockphoto)

(Image: scibak/iStockphoto)

Google may have found that its search engine was including the acquired domain name in the results for a search on "Alphabet." Faced with this, it may have decided to go with a pre-emptive strike rather than wait for the domain name owner to realize what he or she had and jack up the asking price

The name registry will expire on Aug. 2, 2018, according to the whois record associated with it, which also says that the domain was first created on Aug. 2, 1999.

[Find out why Google CEO Sundar Pichai is good for Android.]

The IP location puts it on a GoDaddy server in Scottsdale. Ariz., running Apache/2.2.3 (Red Hat). When queried in a Web search, it does not resolve.

The domain was most recently located in Nassau, Bahamas, as of April 12, 2012, and used Apache/2.2.17 (Ubuntu) as its server program. It called itself "The Leading ABC DEF Ghij KLM NOP QRS TUV Wxyz Site On The Net."

The IP address used for the domain at that time (208.87.35.106) also hosts 11,314 other domains on the same address. These other domains are consumer and product oriented, and typical of the efforts of people in the early days of Internet commercialization to grab domain names that might pay off at a future date (handbagshoponline.com, discountyarn.com, and many more).

Claiming the full alphabet as a domain name was the kind of thing that could have been considered a great idea back in those days.

It may have now paid off for the original domain owner. It only took about two decades.

Larry Loeb has written for many of the last century's major "dead tree" computer magazines, having been, among other things, a consulting editor for BYTE magazine and senior editor for the launch of WebWeek. He has written a book on the Secure Electronic Transaction Internet ... View Full Bio
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larryloeb
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larryloeb,
User Rank: Author
10/9/2015 | 2:06:05 PM
Re: Cool Move
Well, they waited 20 years for this one to pay off.

 
danielcawrey
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danielcawrey,
User Rank: Ninja
10/9/2015 | 12:11:22 PM
Re: Cool Move
I think it's funny to imagine why someone would think that this domain would be worth money at some point. But whoever owned it before Google obviously got a pretty big payoff from this. I personally would have never thought that this domain would be worth anything; that's probably part of the reason why I don't own that many domains myself. They have always seemed like long-shot bets to pay out. 
larryloeb
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larryloeb,
User Rank: Author
10/9/2015 | 10:18:00 AM
Re: Google Buys The Entire Alphabet
Yes, I agree with your analysis.

They think that they are protecting their brand, and not an unreasonable way to do it.
zerox203
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zerox203,
User Rank: Ninja
10/9/2015 | 10:10:18 AM
Re: Google Buys The Entire Alphabet
Although it's quite a ways off from April, I had to double-check the date to make sure I wasn't missing some other prankster-related holiday. Especially where this is the first I'd heard about Google's restructuring, I thought you might be pulling my leg saying 'Google's parent company'. This is actually a pretty sensical move, though - think how tiny a drop in the bucket $1300 (the listed value on dnscook - and I suppose that's after the acquisition. it probably cost them less) is for Google. Your SEO explanation sounds solid - curious laypeople hear the name 'Alphabet' thrown around relating to Google, so they punch 'Alphabet' into, well... Google to see what the fuss ia bout, and lo and behold they find that (heretofore unrelated) domain name. Google wants to make sure they're grabbing that mindshare.
larryloeb
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larryloeb,
User Rank: Author
10/8/2015 | 9:08:18 PM
Re: Alpha company
I was thinking of patenting "HTTPS" and then charging the entire web with infringement.

Either that, or trying to say I invented all numbers.

I bet it would work if I tried the case in East Texas.

 
Michelle
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Michelle,
User Rank: Ninja
10/8/2015 | 8:57:40 PM
Alpha company
This is probably a good move. Like many others, I kinda wish I registered the alphabet! 
ElfOdin
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ElfOdin,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/8/2015 | 8:40:11 PM
Theme Song
Maybe Alphabet can get Big Bird (of Sesame Street) to sing a new version of "ABC-DEF-GHI" that ends in "dot-com".
larryloeb
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larryloeb,
User Rank: Author
10/8/2015 | 7:14:50 PM
Re: Cool Move
I never took you to be a patent troll, Gary.
Gary_EL
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Gary_EL,
User Rank: Ninja
10/8/2015 | 7:11:09 PM
Cool Move
But it doesn't quite rise to the level of the recent attempt to patent the phrase "you're fired".
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