Google Accidentally Sold Google.com
A man called Sanmay Ved has detailed how he was able to use Google’s own domain service to buy Google.com for just $12.
The adventure for Ved started when he was playing around in Google Domains. He searched google.com and saw that it was, weirdly, available. And he, as you do, added it to his cart. He then decided to check out, and paid the handsome sum of $12 to own his very own piece of the internet.
The domain was, at least for a time, actually registered to Ved, it showed in his Google Webmaster Tools along with his existing domain and he received a set of emails from Google accounts, the details of which he didn’t detail, but did say that he had not received similar for previous domain purchases.
What happened next was pretty predictable. Google managed to reverse the transaction, refunded Ved’s $12 and took back the domain name. Google could obviously do this quite easily because it owns the registration service, had Google.com appeared on another registrar’s site, things would have got more tricky.
All things considered this sounds like a quirky bug with Google’s own domain registration system. There are plenty of things that protect domains from being sold in this way, look on whois.net and you’ll see that transfer, deletion and updating are all prohibited. Why Google’s service though the domain was available is a mystery though, according to the whois database it’s registered until September 14 2020, was first registered on September 15 1997 and was modified last on July 20 2011.
It’s quite unlikely then that Ved took control of the domain in any meaningful way. Google’s automated systems likely allowed the registration, but when they tried to complete the purchase discovered that the name was unavailable and then automatically refunded the money. The other parts will have simply been automatic process.
You can read his full account on LinkedIn with screenshots of all the important moments in the process.