The unveiling of one of the world’s biggest domainers has made a huge splash in the domain industry this week. The story about Kevin Ham has the wonderfully sensational title of "The Man Who Owns the Internet".
Why all the fuss?
- He struck a deal with Cameroon that redirects anything all unregistered .cm domains to his own servers. In effect he’s typo-squatting the whole of .com but doing it legally because none of the typos are actually registered.
- He’s "a devout Christian" but accusations are flying around that he makes money from genuine typosquats such as BritiskAirways.com and from adult names.
Some Reactions to the Article
As a Cameroonian IT professional, I find it distasteful that someone is allowed to come to my country and take over a TLD simply because they have the money to buy off officials. Mr. Ham who is so disrespectful goes on to say he will only visit the nation if the president invites him. He’s is however happy to make millions from Cameroon and give nothing to the people in return. The average Cameroonian cannot afford a .CM domain name because they cost between $300 well over $1,000 per year in some cases, while one can easily get a .com, .ca or .co.uk extension for less than $10 today.
It is no doubt that shoddy deals like this have kept prices high so much that 90% or more Cameroonians will never own or operate a .CM domain name. Could you imagine the average American paying $300 to $1,000 or more for a domain name per year? How many would host websites today or have an online business. The average Cameroonian resident earns less than $100 month, and given the impact of the Internet as tool for empowerment, Mr. Ham is providing a disservice to the people of Cameroon and other similarly exploited nation.
From a Domainer:
It’s NOT cool for squatters to profit by ripping off US traffic from US TMs. Why? Cause it gives our industry a black eye and reduces the income for domainers in general.
What I see now is the guys at the top of our industry finally realizing that they need to clean up their acts to get to the next level.
This guy is a piece of shit. The christian angle is funny because I thought it might be about Falwell. This is a piece of shit and the article misses the fact that it’s not the other "domainers" who hate him, it’s all us normal (if geeky) types who’d like to have a decent domain name but find assholes like this guy have scarfed them all up.
Other Domain Moguls Who’ve Stepped Out of the Shadows
- Frank Schilling has probably had the most succesful coming-out. The multi-millionaire owner of over 300,000 domains, his blog has immediately become the most talked-about in the industry. His posts are funny, useful and always interesting.
- Rick Schwartz is a mogul with equally valuable domains. His blog is not as good and he still divides opinion as this article explains: "Rick Schwartz: Domain King or Royal Pain?"
Does this all smack of jealousy? Yep. As Aaron Wall pointed out the other day: Every Rich Jerk Sells Snake Oil.
Does this guy need to clean up his act? Yes as well. Hopefully he can make the same transition as other domainers and come out of the shadows, dropping his efforts and typosquatting and continuing to make millions from his legitimate domains.