Man buys from under Google’s nose for US$12 — for 1 minute

12 Oct 2015

A former Google employee couldn’t believe his luck when he saw that the domain name was available to buy for just US$12 after a Google oversight let the rights to it slip.

Given the power and financial clout of Google, you would expect that the domain name rights to would be well and truly sewn up from a legal standpoint, but as Sanmay Ved found one night, this wasn’t necessarily the case.

At 1.20am local time on the east coast of the US, Ved explained in a LinkedIn post, he was looking to better understand the Google Domains interface and, as an experiment, typed in to see what would come up.

To his surprise, the result showed that the domain, one of the most widely used on the planet, was available for a fraction of the price of how much the company reportedly earns every second (they make just under US$2,000 every second).

“I was hoping I would get an error at some point saying transaction did not go through,” Vay said, “but I was able to complete purchase, and my credit card was actually charged!”

Donates bounty to charity

Having received confirmation of the purchase, he was given access to the Google Webmaster Tools given to domain owners, which only solidified the fact that he did indeed possess ownership of the most visited site on the internet.

Of course, Google are not going to let something like this go on for too long, but were thankful of Vay’s connections with the company as the man who hails from India reported the obvious error to Google, who were quick to cancel the order.

For reporting the issue, Vay said, Google offered him an undisclosed cash reward, but quite honourably, it has to be said, he asked that Google donate the reward to an Indian charity, which Google did, along with doubling the donation.

“I have chosen that the donation be made towards the Art of Living’s education programme, which runs 404 free schools across 18 states of India, providing free education to more than 39,200 children in the slum, tribal and rural belts where child labour and poverty are widespread,” Vay said, explaining his decision. image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic