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June 03, 2016

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Here's the The Lowdown from DN Journal,
updated daily
to fill you in on the latest buzz going around the domain name industry. 

The Lowdown is compiled by DN Journal Editor & Publisher Ron Jackson.

Castello Brothers Sell Rate.com for $725,000 After Broker Kate Buckley Finds the Perfect End User

In one of the five biggest domain sales reported so far in 2016, the Castello Brothers (Michael and David, founders of the Castello Brothers Internet Network) have sold Rate.com to online mortgage broker GuaranteedRate.com for $725,000. The sale will be added to our YTD Top 100 Sales Chart tomorrow evening when our latest weekly domain sales report comes out - most likely with Rate.com at the top of it). The deal was brokered by Kate Buckley, Principal/Founder at the Buckley Media Group.

Sales involving corporate buyers at this level are typically subject to non disclosure agreements, 

but CCIN President & CEO Michael Castello refused to accept one (just as he did in his $3.1 million sale of Whisky.com two years ago). Michael believes it is in the best interests of the industry for people to see how premier domain names are being valued by end users. 

Kate Buckley
Buckley Media Group

Rate.com has an interesting history, one in common with many of the category-defining one-word .com domains in the CCIN portfolio. Ms. Buckley detailed it for us noting "The Castello Brothers acquired Rate.com in 1997 when Network Solutions started retroactively charging $100 for a two year registration (1995-1997). Prior to this point, registration was free. Many of the original registrants refused to pay the fee, so some of the best names dropped that summer and the Castello Brothers were waiting."

"Michael was aware of a "seven day cache" for new registrations and starting pumping his registration requests for names like Rate.com every hour for seven days prior to the expiration date. They all started dropping the next week and the Castello Brothers secured most of their portfolio in a few days." 

Kate added, "The Castello Brothers always used Rate.com as a mortgage lead generator. Michael also had the idea of developing it as a rating portal like Yelp, but that would have been a huge undertaking. Given the available options, they opted for the low hanging fruit of strong cash flow via lead generation—which did very well for them for many years."

Michael Castello told us, "Rate.com is a great brand that will now be marketed by one of largest up-and-coming mortgage firms. This sale will help the whole domain name industry at a time when we do not see a lot of high end priced sales. Great names need to be with great companies and after 20 years of ownership, Rate.com has now found the perfect home. I look forward to seeing it advertised and marketed on a grand scale by Guaranteed Rate.”

We asked Ms. Buckley for more details on how she went about bringing Rate.com and Guaranteed Rate together. "For me, effective domain brokering is one part brand strategy, one part sleuthing and one part matchmaking. When I begin brokering a name, I start by identifying how end users would most intuitively use the name and then work from there. Most people, when they hear, Rate.com, immediately think mortgage rates, so I started there. I made a list of top national lenders who would benefit from acquiring a branding juggernaut like Rate.com and then started researching their current branding and growth strategy—that’s where the matchmaking comes in."

Michael Castello
President, CEO & Co-Founder
Castello Cities Internet Network

"I pride myself on brokering deals that benefit all parties concerned, and it’s important to me to match the right name with the right company. I knew, based on Guaranteed Rate’s growth, positioning, branding and commitment to innovation, that they would be the best possible acquirer of Rate.com - and here’s one major reason why - regardless of any branding they’d done in the past, Guaranteed Rate was not an optimal name for them to continue to scale and disrupt for one major reason—most people can’t spell "guaranteed.” Rate.com is so instantly memorable that it will impact their bottom line immediately. And they got that. Their CEO and CMO are smart, passionate, innovators and immediately saw the value in acquiring a premium category-defining domain like Rate.com. They were a pleasure to deal with, and all parties are extremely pleased with the terms of the deal," Kate concluded.

One other note today, THE Domain Conference, that will be returning to the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for their 2016 show September 10-14, has released a new 

promotional video in which 10 well-known figures from the domain industry (including Michael Castello) give (David Letterman style) the top 10 reasons to attend the event. You can check  that out below:


(Posted May 31, 2016) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

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