How One Guy Purchased the Internet for Just $12

Remember the early days of the internet? It seemed like every day there was a new search engine competing for our attention: Yahoo, HotBot, and even AskJeeves, the “Internet Butler.”

I won’t bother asking ‘What happened to all of those sites?’ – you and I both already know!

Today, there’s only one search engine that’s working on everything from self-driving cars to developing gmail for the Cherokee language. They own YouTube, reCAPTCHA, Android for cell phones, and Chrome for web browsers. If you don’t know who I’m talking about, you could always Google it – ha ha.

Today, Google rules the internet. Every day, Google tracks 30 trillion “unique addresses” (urls) on the web and crawls over 20 billion websites.

Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin had worked on several search engines before, like an experimental one called ‘BackRub,’ which had a lot of issues including a bad name. Google came into being as a misspelling of ‘googol,’ the word for a number followed by one hundred zeroes. Google is now worth a googol, yet one MBA student in Boston managed to own this internet behemoth for one brief minute after paying a mere twelve dollars!

Student Sanmay Vedupdate saw the domain up for sale on Google’s own domain registration service, so for kicks, he tried to buy it. Much to his surprise, seconds later, after shelling out just $12, he had become the owner of the most famous website address in the world.
Literally a minute later, he received an email from Google, telling him there had been a system glitch. Google cancelled his order and refunded his purchase. After reviewing the error, Google offered Sanmay $6006.13 as a payout. Why? Look closely. Squint yours eyes at the sum and you just might see the word “GOOGLE”.

Why not more? The company categorized Ved’s discovery as part of Google’s Vulnerability Reward Program, which offers cash to those spotting bugs lurking within Google. Last year it paid out more than $2 million in $6006.13 increments to bug hunters around the world. As for Ved, he donated his Google reward to an Indian educational foundation. When Google found out, it doubled the amount, a small perk from a company renowned for its perks:

The ‘Googleplex,’ in Mountain View, California, offers employees free meals 24/7, free shuttles, and even a very strange co-worker in the form of Stan, a complete T-rex fossil who stands in the middle of HQ. In true Google fashion, he’s more than just cool, he reminds employees to never let Google go extinct.

I don’t think there’s any risk of that. Even Google’s logo has become its own cultural phenomenon. Artists, both in-house and outsourced, create Google doodles, the drawings and animations that morph the Google logo for everything from Christmas to the Olympics to historical birthdays. Then there’s Google Docs, Google Drive, Google Maps, Google Books, YouTube (owned by Google), and so much more.

What do you think? Was Sanmay Ved right to be happy with bragging rights and a donation for his charity of choice? Do you think Google should have shelled out more? Do you believe Google will ever become extinct? Email me; I’d love your to hear thoughts.

Meanwhile, if you see a bargain this weekend, snap it up!