Last year, when Oracle purchased Sun Microsystems, it got a wealth of customers, technologies and personnel for its $7.4 billion. It also obtained one of the choicest domain names on the Internet, Sun.com.
Now that Oracle is actively decommissioning the site, it could, if it chose to do so, sell off the domain name and pocket a million or even more, experts estimate.
The Sun.com domain name could be worth between $1 and $2 million, estimated Jeff Kupietzky, CEO of Oversee.net, a broker of much sought-after domain names.
"At just three letters it is short and memorable," he said, in an email interview. "It is a positive word that has a high search volume."
"Sun.com is appealing because it could be used in a number of ways," said Paul Nicks, director of domain aftermarket services for the Go Daddy registrar. "Solar power companies, companies with 'sun' currently in their name, domain name investors or anyone looking to leverage the history behind the name could have a bidding interest."
Nicks estimated that, should the name be auctioned, it could fetch between $800,000 and $900,000.
Last Thursday, Kemer Thomson, an Oracle senior manager of product development, announced in a blog post that Oracle will decommission Sun.com on 1 June and move the remaining content it deems relevant over to Oracle.com.
At present, browser inquiries to Sun.com get redirected to Oracle's home page, though many of the individual blogs and technical pages under the Sun domain are still accessible.
Additional third party sites have sprung up to archive the obsolete material that Oracle probably won't move over to Oracle.com.
While pretty much a non-issue in terms of impact on Sun and Oracle shops, the decommissioning of the site still sparked nostalgia for many a seasoned computer technician.
"Sun.com was the first website I ever visited on the Internet at [The Cyberia] cafe in London in 1995. It was advertised on the back page of a magazine in the UK if I remember correctly," one poster on the Sun blog reminisced.
Registered on 19 March 1986, Sun.com is the 11th oldest .com name still in operation; oddly enough, Oracle now also owns the third oldest, Think.com. In .com's nascent days on the Internet of the late 1980s, Sun Microsystems beat Intel and AT&T to the domain name registrars.
Oracle has not responded yet to inquiries about what it plans to do with Sun.com, but it has a variety of options.
Should CEO Larry Ellison fret over meeting analyst estimates during a tough quarter, the company could also "park" the name, to use the parlance of domain name resellers. This means Oracle would contract with a third-party service to fill the site with ads. Internet monitoring service Alexa estimates that Sun.com traffic is still considerable: It is the 2,277th most popular destination on the web.
It could hold on to it for a future brand centered around the name. Or it could just hold onto it as an asset that it could sell outright later. "Many people look at domain names as great investments," Kupietzky said. The name "can be held for future sale in the expectation of a rising valuation".
Kupietzky's Oversee.net is one of a number of companies that brokers the resale of such domain names. While registrars such as Network Solutions offer the ability for anyone to own a previously unclaimed Internet domain name, usually for less than $20, a secondary market of already claimed but seemingly valuable domain names has long existed.
"It's a phenomenal domain name. When you have a one word domain name like this it has multiple meanings," and thereby could be used in any one of a number of different industries, noted Jason Miner, senior vice-president of sales and business development for NameMedia, which operates a domain name marketplace.
Miner estimates that Sun.com could sell for $1 million, if not more. Such a sale would not be unprecedented. In 2010 Zip.com sold for over $1 million, Dating.com sold for $1.75 million and T-Shirts.com garnered $1.26 million.
Of course, any of these scenarios would depend on Oracle re-registering the domain name, which, on latest check, expires on 20 March 2012. If Oracle forgets to do so for some reason, then anyone could pick it up for around $10. Now that would be a wise acquisition.