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10|18|2007 12:01 am EDT

Dallas Cowboys Fumble Cowboys.com Deal

by Adam Strong in Categories: Domain Sales, Miscellaneous, News

handoffRumors are circulating that the sale for the domain name Cowboys.com will not be moving forward. The domain name brought in a $275,000 bid from a phone-in bidder at the recent TRAFFIC domain live auction in Hollywood, Florida. The bidder had been earlier identified to be a representative from the Dallas Cowboys NFL team. An inside source confirmed with DomainNameNews that the deal began to fall apart over a misunderstanding with the bidder on what the bid of “275″ actually meant. It appears the bidder thought they were buying the domain for $275.00 rather than $275,000.

The domain was formerly used a site which sold western apparel and other items, as can be seen in the archive.org cache of the site. Although the Dallas Cowboys football team owns a trademark for the use of the word Cowboys, there are also several other companies and businesses operating under the “Cowboys” name. The domain is a generic word and it’s past usage shows that it can be used without infringement on any trademarks.

The Dallas Cowboys NFL football team currently uses the domain name DallasCowboys.com, but is likely losing a great deal of traffic to the shorter and more iconic Cowboys.com domain. The football team owners have also been working on building a new multi-million dollar stadium and the purchase was referred to by domainers as a very logical decision for the team. The shorter domain would be much easier to emblazon on uniforms, tickets, apparel, stadium graphics, tv ads, etc. The loss of this sale seems to be a major fumble by a potential “end-user” buyer to secure a “no brainer” asset for their business.

In this writers opinion, this buy seems to be a simple “hand-off” play that got botched big time. How much “yardage” will it cost the Dallas Cowboys in misdirected traffic when someone else buys it ?

UPDATE : Another buyer has made the winning bid on this name at the silent auction.


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  • http://www.srclarke.com Todd Mintz

    And in related news, the Cowboys trade Tony Romo to the Atlanta Falcons for Joey Harrington…

    This story has to be nominated for a Darwin Award.

  • http://dnzoom.com Sean Stafford

    Great coverage Adam.

    I have to say…this was a good laugh. However, I am sure Monte and the seller were not so amused.

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  • Brad

    I don’t believe it. You are meaning to tell me that at no point during the registration for bidding process did anyone hear about the reserve price? And at no point during the set up did anyone say what they thought the domain might possibly go for? And that at no point did the person on the phone say the word thousand?

    Either this is completely made up, or somebody is trying to make somebody else look bad.

  • Innocent Bystander

    News Flash: the business world doesn’t revolve around domain names.

    Any business that has a brand as powerful as the Dallas Cowboys and a marketing maching behind it such as the NFL and the major television networks that show the brand daily, can effectively market any domain they choose.

    DallasCowboys.com is the most visited team website on the planet…not cowboys.com…DallasCowboys.com. Furthermore, if any of you understand the law regarding domain names, you would know that no other company may buy this domain and place a site there that concerns the Dallas Cowboys because that would be infringement.

    So, why would the Cowboys pay $275,000 for a domain that a competitor can’t use when they’ve spent millions promoting the DallasCowboys.com domain and successful built it into the most popular team website?

  • http://www.techsoapbox.com AhmedF

    Innocent – I would agree with you most of the time, but this is shortsighted

    1. Yes they get traffic to DallasCowboys. But I am sure a lot of the visitors to Cowboys.com are expecting information on the sports team. Not getting that = bad idea.

    2. You need to brush up on TM. As long as the domain isn’t used on football, it is clean as a whistle (last time I checked, the word cowboy existed way before the sports team did).

  • Anon

    Wow, a clearinghouse for cybersquatters here. May you all get sued back to the Stone Age!

  • http://i.m.fm/ Frank Michlick

    Dear Coward, it’s probably not worth responding to you, but what exactly is cybersquatting about someone owning the generic term “cowboys” as a domain?

    Are the cowboys at the rodeo infringing on the Dallas Cowboys trademark as well? Should they go and look for a new name?

    /Frank

  • Innocent Bystander

    Ahmedf,

    1. Let’s assume that some visitors go to Cowboys.com looking for the Dallas Cowboys. Once they see something unrelated to football, what is their next move: likely type DallasCowboys.com into their browser. Once they know where to find the Cowboys, that’s where they return. What have the Cowboys lost?

    2. I agree, and that’s my point. A competitor of the Cowboys (say a Cowboys fan site or a local newspaper) cannot buy the domain and publish a site about the Dallas Cowboys. Consequently, the visitor that I mentioned in the point above will not be confused into believing they’ve reach the Cowboys official site. Consequently, they go to DallasCowboys.com and all’s well.

    Considering both these points, why should the Cowboys pay $275,000 for the domain? It’s a nice-to-have, but hardly a need…

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  • Brad

    $275,000 over 15 years is how it will be treated accounting-wise.

    I think Jerry Jones should have ponied up the $18,000 per year….

  • http://iptvdomains.com/ Dan

    Hi,

    Anyway I look at it….For the Dallas cowboys NOT to have owned this domain for at least the last 8 years…has been very short sighted on their part.

    And now, NOT to buy it for $275,000 even if they were to keep dallascowboys.com as their main website and just redirect the cowboys.com traffic to that domain…would be more than worth it for the $275,000.

    Cost over 10 years= $27,500 a year
    Cost over 20 years= $13,750 a year

    Peanuts when put up against the marketing/branding/natural traffic value

    But, I think the smart thing would to be buy cowboys.com…put the website currently at dallascowboys.com on cowboys.com and then just ‘re-direct the traffic from dallascowboys.com to cowboys.com.

    Its a ‘no brainer’for them to own this domain and has been a ‘no brainer’ for at least the last 10 years.

    The domain game can be pretty complicated at times…this is not one of those times.

    Peace!
    Dan

  • Innocent Bystander

    …Dan, you completed failed to address the issues I pointed out. Sure, $30,000 annually is nothing to the Cowboys, but the rich stay rich by spending their money on necessary things. The fact is (which no one seems to debate) the Cowboys don’t need Cowboys.com to be successful online. With their trademark rights, they can ensure that competitors can’t use the domain for a football related site. So, there is no need to pay a quarter of a million (over whatever period you suggest) for a domain that they don’t need.

  • Adam Strong

    They don’t need the domain sure but this is their one and only chance at this price. It’s now about protecting their brand and marketing efficiency but it’s too late. . .It’s already being bid on by someone else at the silent auction.

    Mr Bystander one thing that you don’t seem to be acknowledging or be able to grasp is the ease of typing, saying, printing, etc Cowboys.com vs DallasCowboys.com. No matter how many times they brand the other domain, they still have traffic runoff (because of an inferior domain) In the bottom line of marketing budgets, ad campaigns and branding, this means the company will continue to lose/waste money.

    Just think of the savings in paint alone that the team would have in painting cowboys.com on that new stadium vs dallascowboys.com ;)

  • Innocent Bystander

    not a $250,000 savings…

  • http://www.toddmintz.com Todd Mintz

    The Rookie Salary minimum is 285K…he can have the domain name for what he’s paying a practice squad players that won’t even take the field for the team this year.

    This is a smart organization usually and is a good case study as to how and why many businesses need to take their heads out of their asses when it comes to valuing online real estate.

  • Innocent Bystander

    Todd,

    That’s irrelevant to the point. Unless someone can show me that owning the cowboys.com domain increases Cowboys’ traffic (not talking about making it easier for first time visitors to find, but substantial increase in incremental traffic), then paying 6 figures for a domain is not good business.

    I could go out and purchase a sign for my front yard that says, “this is my house” because I can afford it. But what’s the purpose? Show me the real purpose for the Cowboys to purchase this domain at this price that they cannot achieve otherwise (and already have achieved with their current domain), and I will better understand all the fuss!

  • David

    Quick question: why couldn’t someone buy the name and operate a Dallas Cowboys fan site? Aren’t fan sites protected from trademark infringement cases as long as it’s clear they’re not “official” sites?

  • http://iptvdomains.com/ Dan

    …”"”Dan, you completed failed to address the issues I pointed out. Sure, $30,000 annually is nothing to the Cowboys, but the rich stay rich by spending their money on necessary things. The fact is (which no one seems to debate) the Cowboys don’t need Cowboys.com to be successful online. With their trademark rights, they can ensure that competitors can’t use the domain for a football related site. So, there is no need to pay a quarter of a million (over whatever period you suggest) for a domain that they don’t need.”"

    ______

    ” but the rich stay rich by spending their money on necessary things.”

    This is not a necessary thing. The branding/marketing/natural traffic value makes it a ‘Smart Thing’ to own.

    10 years ago they could have bought this domain for way less than $275,000. The value this domain could have brought them in the last 10 years or so…is almost priceless.

    What? are they going to wait another 10 years and buy this domain for a couple of million?

    The Dallas Cowboys are the “Cowboys” no need to refer to them with the ‘Dallas’.

    Just like the Chicago Cubs….the domain cubs.com is so much better on so many levels than the chicagocubs.com.

    Besides, If they bought this domain for $275,000 and never used it for the next 10 years…had it pointed to a blank page…How much would this domain address asset be worth in 10 years? Answer: a lot more than $275,000.

    Yea the rich keep getting richer by making smart investments…theis is a smart investment.
    ___
    “necessary things.”

    Yea, I will debate that…ART…not to “necessary” to buy and own. But every wealthy person buys it because its the Smart thing to do…not because its the “necessary thing” to do.

    A domain name like cowboys.com is not a “necessary thing” to own…its a ‘smart thing (asset)’ to own on a bunch of differnt levels.

    Peace!
    Dan

  • Hammer

    No one here except Innocent Bystander understands trademark law. If someone wants to use cowboys.com to sell western wear, why should the Cowboys care? But if someone wants to use it in any relation to the Dallas Cowboys or pro football, then the ‘Boys will sic their legal team on them in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. It therefore marginalizes the value of the domain name, limiting it to generic cowboy & western stuff.

    If you’re the Cowboys, why on Earth would you pay anything other than nominal value for this domain name? There may be some folks who type in cowboys.com to try and access the DC web site, but it will take them all of 2 seconds to realize their mistake and make the correct connection to dallascowboys.com. DC aren’t really losing any traffic or viewers or money because of this web site. Not many people looking for the DC will go to cowboys.com and stay there, forgetting that they were initially looking for DC, or decide that, instead of buying a Tony Romo jersey, that they know want to buy a lasso and spurs.

    Sure, the domain may be nice to have, and maybe redirect to dallascowboys.com, but not $250k. Not many domain names are worth that just by themselves.

  • David

    Also, why not buy the site and offer personalized email addresses to anyone who wants a vanity email address @cowboys.com ??

    Seems like you cound find alot of die hard fans willing to shell out a few bucks a year for this opportunity. It’s much less than buying an official NFL jersey.

    So why would the Cowboys spend 275k on this domain name? Seems one reason might be to keep it out of the hands of people who could easily monetize it (at the Dallas Cowboy’s expense).

  • Hammer

    Why is this domain name worth $275,000? Why will it be worth $2.75 million in 10 years? Who’s gonna pay either sum for this domain name?

  • Hammer

    Pay $275k to keep it out of the hands of someone who would “monetize” it at the Dallas Cowboy’s expense?

    I’m not 100% sure what that means, but if anyone buys this domain name and uses it for anything remotely related to DC or pro football, they will find themselves on the wrong end of a trademark infringement suit. And it will cost Jerry Jones much less than $275k to win that.

  • http://iptvdomains.com/ Dan

    Hammer,Innocent Bystander

    You really are failing to see the value of this asset. One day you will. This asset is worth way more than 275,000 to the Cowboys organization on many many levels.

    I have tried to point out why…if you have a different view…thats fine. I think I will now bow out of this discussion as I can not find any other words to make my points.

    Peace!
    Dan

  • Hammer

    Dan,

    Convince me I’m wrong. Why would anyone pay $275,000 for this domain name? As opposed to $275? Or $2,750? Or $27,500?

  • http://iptvdomains.com/ Dan

    Hammer…$275,000 is cheap for the cowboys.

    The branding/marketing/natural traffic value/brand protection value makes it cheap.

    Were talking about a specific situation the cowboys football organization.

    But, depending on traffic and other factors…it could be well worth the $275,000 to someone that could come to an agreement with the cowboys to become an official reseller of the cowboys merchandise….Just one example.

    But regardless…The main question is…is $275,000 to expensive of a price for the cowboys football organization to pay for the domain address asset cowboys.com?

    The answer to this question is: an absolute NO its not. In fact in the long run…its very cheap in the whole scheme of things.

    Peace!
    Dan

  • Innocent Bystander

    nothing that could be sold on a Dallas Cowboys related site would be worth selling the domain…Cowboys sell everything, including merchandise, directly (only team in the NFL). Again, you are thinking of this in terms of the average company or even average NFL team. The Cowboys have a different business landscape than all others.

  • Adam Strong

    This debate will be put to rest in about an hour. The domain has multiple bidders on the silent auction who obviously see the value since it’s well above $275k now.

  • http://iptvdomains.com/ Dan

    Adam to the rescue…LOL

    Thanks for the update.

    Best,
    Dan

  • David

    What I mean by “keeping it out of the hands of someone else that could monetize it” is exactly that. For example: someone could use the name to sell personalized vanity email addresses to thousands of people who like to show their support for “Cowboys” everywhere. Of course, most of these people would probably want a Cowboys.com email address b/c they are Dallas Cowboys fans and not because they’re rodeo clowns, but that’s kind of hard to prove, isn’t it?

    Now whether you think that idea is ethical or not is beside the point. It’s totally legal and easy to do with zero marketing — simply from the tens of thousands of misdirected users looking for the official Dallas Cowboys site.

    And for every “Cowboys” fan who spends $25 for a Cowboys.com email account, that’s $25 that they won’t be spending on officially licensed Dallas Cowboys gear. There is only so much disposable income to go around.

    Btw, I’m not saying this business plan (which I just made up) is even a good one, I’m just saying that it would be pretty easy for someone to monetize the name. How much money do you think the current owners of the name have made selling ads on their rodeo site (regardless of whether they’re football related?) I bet they’ve done okay.

    “”Pay $275k to keep it out of the hands of someone who would “monetize” it at the Dallas Cowboy’s expense?”

    “I’m not 100% sure what that means, but if anyone buys this domain name and uses it for anything remotely related to DC or pro football, they will find themselves on the wrong end of a trademark infringement suit. And it will cost Jerry Jones much less than $275k to win that.”

  • Hammer

    Dan,

    $275,000 is $275,000. You could buy a nice house with that. You could buy a few nice Porsches with that. That’s not cheap by anyone’s standards.

    “Being able to afford it” does not establish the value of an asset. Jerry Jones is a billionaire, and can afford to pay $275,000 for a Ford Festiva. But he’s not gonna do that.

    When you assess the value of an asset, you look at several factors. Look at real estate, you look at what’s so special about the parcel (it’s a lakefront lot! It’s big! It’s got lots of trees!), you look at comparable sales (what are other people paying for similar parcels?), etc.

    What’s so special about this domain name? You detail those above fairly well. Traffic can help boost value, but it doesn’t appear that cowboys.com generates a lot of traffic, according to Alexa. http://www.alexa.com/data/details/traffic_details?url=cowboys.com

    A lot of the “special” factors mentioned above are essentially convenience factors –it’s slightly quicker to type, perhaps slightly easier to remember. But really, by how much? A second? I just don’t see anything that adds those convenience factors up to $275,000.

    Comparables? A little bit of Googling revealed that the Charlotte Bobcats paid about $50k for bobcats.com. That may help set the value – what another sports franchise paid for a “shorter, easier” domain name.

    $275 is too low. But $275,000 is too high.

  • Hammer

    “the tens of thousands of misdirected users looking for the official Dallas Cowboys site.” Where are you getting this statistic?

  • Hammer

    Is there a link to the auction?

  • http://iptvdomains.com/ Dan

    Silent Auction Update:

    Domain ~ # Bidders ~ Current Bid ~ Time left

    Cowboys.com 5 $ 332,750.00 1 hour 17 mins

    Peace!
    Dan

  • http://iptvdomains.com/ Dan

    BTW: I hope the Cowboys football organization gets it this time.

    Nothing like having to pay $50,000+ more for something you could have had a couple days earlier for less. Mistakes are almost always the best teacher and ‘money mistakes’ are the best teacher.

    Peace!
    dan

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  • Snoopy

    I agree with a lot of what innocentbystander is saying. Basically it is a traffic loss issue and that is about it. How much traffic is being lost and is it worth $275k+ to get it back? Personally I think cowboys.com at $275k is a lot more than this name is worth.

    I think domainers tend to over focus the importance of a domain, a classic case of why many great domains are in the hands of domainers in the first place, because domainers actually prize them far more than the enduser often do.

  • Adam Strong
  • http://www.digitalproducts.org Bob

    Screw those small minds…$275,000 is way to cheap for this name. The owner of this cool domain name should build a great big Cowpoke site and make millions selling cowboy movies, hats,saddles,gear and collectibles…

  • http://www.digitalproducts.org Bob

    Using Search tool
    Details for: Cowboys
    Estimated Daily Search Volume: 31296
    Estimated Monthly Search Volume: 938896

  • Alan

    It’s nice to see comments here from both domainers and non-domainers however people (especially non-domainers) seem to focus on $275,000 and how much money this is.

    $275,000 is a lot of money for an individual or family but for almost ANY industry it’s a drop in the bucket.

    Seriously, a drop in the bucket.

    I think most non-domainers have a hard time understanding how small this exactly is.

    First, the purchase of a domain name is considered an asset purchase by the IRS if the price was over $150 thus the buyer must amortize this cost over 10 or 15 years (not exactly sure but it’s at least 10 years).

    Using a 10 year assumption that means $27,500 is deducted as a depreciation expense for each of the next 10 years. If the company is profitable and depending on their tax rate – let’s say 30% this breaks down to something like

    $275,000 up front cost
    save $8,250 in tax bills every year for 10 years.

    There is also a very real intangible cost of protecting your name – or in this case – trademark.

    When such a name that definitely defines your trademark but is also generic to many other industries – thus not completely protected by domain dispute law – goes up for sale it is of MOST importance (within the financial means of a company) to try and purchase that name for no other reason but to continue protecting that domain.

    I hear people all the time say I can’t believe someone paid that much for a domain. Well, guess what – I heard this 5 years ago except we were talking about thousands – now it’s tens of thousands.

    When I was younger I remember people being entirely dumbfounded when Superbowl ads hit $1,000,000 for 30 seconds. 30 seconds of airtime for an ad. Yes it reaches a lot of people but is its effect long lasting??? No – companies have to continue to spend millions to draw off any success from this ad or in most cases – Ford, McDonald’s, Coke etc… – they are simply spending money so the time is locked away from another competitor.

    Domains are on the surface expensive but in reality domain prices should only get higher as time goes by – After all, premium names such as cowboys.com provides a lifelong flow of traffic, another solid protection of your brand and even a tax break for the next 10 years.

    Of course, you still have to pay your $8 every year but I’m going to vote this purchase is worth a lot more than 30 seconds of airtime….

  • http://www.techsoapbox.com AhmedF

    @Innocent Bystander – hiding behind an alias is so 1997.

    You have absolutely no proof that everyone who goes to Cowboys.com looking for the team and doesn’t find it ends up going to DallasCowboys.com. That is rather presumptive.

    Its like Nissan.com – they are a damn big brand, but they still don’t have that domain. And it dilutes their brand.

    Branding is about mindshare – and if going to Cowboys.com shows something other than the sports team, that is diluting your brand.

  • Alan

    Amen AhmedF!! You get it!

    I will add one more comment – Innocent Bystander keeps referring to domain name laws and how if the buyer uses this name for anything football related a lawsuit will be a pending….

    Fair enough however that outcome is still not clear (many teams are called the Cowboys…..youth, soccer?, who knows how many). Cowboys.com could be so many things – heck, after the popularity of brokeback mountain it could be a gay porn site and the Dallas Cowboys will have no recourse because the owners are not interfering with thier brand. Cowboys is still a generic name – Just because a football team owns the name doesn’t mean they own the word for all industries.

    How about Stars.com or Panthers.com or BlueJays.com – no different.

    I will say that if a porn site did appear – well the embarrasment alone would be …. well priceless.

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