IT.COM

analysis The Top 100 Domain Name Sales in 2023

NameSilo
This article takes a look at the highest-value domain name sales from 2023, at least those reported on NameBio. I also compare the year with the preceding few years, to get a sense of the nature and health of the upper end of the domain market.

Keep in mind that by no means all sales get reported on NameBio, so this is a subset of the total sales picture for the year. Also, sales from lease-to-own plans cannot be listed on NameBio until all payments complete. A number of high-value domain name sales are not disclosed because of nondisclosure agreements.

I am writing this a few days before the end of the year, so it is possible a last minute sale will make the list. You can see the NameBio Top Sales of 2023 at this link to check the current list.

The NameBio Top 100 Domain Name Sales of All Time is available, and on the same page you will see individual links for each year from 2003 to the present.

The lists are pretty similar, but DNJournal also maintain a top sales list.

The Million Dollar Club

Only three NameBio-reported sales in 2023 were at $1 million or more.

Above.com sold help.com for $3.0 million early in the year. At time of writing the name is simply parked. The name has an exact monthly search volume of more than 670,000. This is a well-aged name, with a creation date in 1996. DotDB indicates that the exact term is registered in 480 extensions, and is part of more than 338,000 domain names.

In second place was max.com, sold by NameExperts for $1.8 million in November. With just three letters, a well-known abbreviation, and a million exact global searches each month, lots to like in this domain name. The name is in use, apparently as a streaming service, but the site was not available in my region (Canada). The creation date for max.com is 1992. Max is one of the most registered terms, with 543 exact registrations, and almost 530,000 other domain names that include the term.

Rounding out the million dollar sales was hurt.com, that sold in November in a private sale for $1.5 million. That name has almost 250,000 exact monthly searches. DotDB show 105 registrations of the exact term, and more than 23,000 longer names that include the term. At time of writing, the name had a GoDaddy coming soon page. It will be interesting to see how the name is eventually used. This name is also well aged, with a Whois creation date from 1997.

COM Dominates

The .com extension dominates the list, taking 68 of the spots on the Top 100 list, including 8 of the top 10, and 20 of the top 25, and all three of the top spots.

In fourth place, Sedo sold you.ai for $700,000 in October.

The Radix registry cracked the top 10, with betting.online going for $400,000, also in October. This is the highest value .online sale ever recorded in NameBio.

In the top 25 there were two additional .ai sales, as well as a .ca sale.
Image-Histogram-Top2023.jpg

As shown above, country code extensions had a good year, scooping up 19 places, with 9 of these in the .ai extension. There were also 3 .io names in top 100, and 2 each for .co and .es. This was the only year in the last 5 without any .de sales in the Top 100 list.

New extensions had their best year in at least the last five I looked at, with 9 places, 3 of the names were .xyz, with 2 in .app, and single entries for .cloud, .club, .online and .win.

There were 3 .org extension names in the Top 100 list, no change from the previous two years. Just a single .net made the top 100 this year.

Com Dominance Slipping

While .com continue to represent the majority of the annual top 100 lists, the number has slowly but steadily declined over the years.
Image-COM-ByYear.jpg

Great Year for AI

It was a great year for .ai, with 9 of the top 100 sales of the year. By comparison, there was only 1 .ai in the top 100 of 2020, and none on the lists for 2019, 2021 and 2022.

If we look at the top .ai sales of all time, at least as recorded on NameBio, 8 of the 10 were in 2023.

AIwriter.com also made the top 100 list.

Short Names

The names are on the Top 100 list for 2023 are mainly very short. The average length of the second level domain term, SLD, was just under 6 characters.

The single-letter name, W.app sold for $96,000 at Sedo. Although this is the third highest .app sale of all time, it was not the highest sale during 2023, which was hello.app that sold for $115,000 at Dan.

There were 5 sales of 2-letter names on the top 100 list: io.net, bc.xyz, de.fi, mo.co, and ml.cloud.

There were numerous 3-letter .com sales in addition to max.com, with the higher prices for ECL, PFA, PFP, AIQ and TXT, all of which sold for $300,000 or more.

The longest name on the Top 100 2023 list was SmartBlockchain.com at 15 letters.

Same Word Sells In Two Extensions

LegalBrandMarketing sold Socrates.com for $600,000 in October, while Swetha sold Socrates.xyz in February for $74,888. It is nice to have retail sales close in time for the same term, since that helps establish typical price ratios between extensions. The Socrates.xyz now redirects to the .com, and is used by a Web3 social media platform.

Few Numeric or Alphanumeric Names

Not many numeric or alphanumeric sales made the 2023 Top 100 sales list. 3377.com sold for $90,888 on GoDaddy, and Sedo moved Hot7.com for $150,000. Late in the year Sedo sold 789.win for $78,900, the highest NameBio recorded sale in the .win extension ever.

Domain Hacks

If we adopt the strong definition of a domain hack, where a word or acronym needs to be split by the dot, at least de.fi, sold for $100,000 by Domeen.com qualifies, and probably w.app as well.

Two Words

While single word and acronyms are in the majority, there were a number of strong two-word names on the Top 100 list. TopHotels, YourRide, FreedomIndia, SolarEnergy, CasinoBonus, My Home, and SecondBrain all sold in .com at prices of $100,000 or more.

Some Plurals

While most of the terms were singular, preferred for branding, there were also a number of plural names on the Top 100 2023 list, including TopHotels.com, Plans.com, Agents.ai, MyBets.com, and grades.com.

None of the names on the 2023 Top 100 list included a hyphen.

Where High-Value Names Sold

Keep in mind that sales from most retail venues do not appear in NameBio. With Sedo the only one of the big marketplaces that report sales through their RSS feed (at least sales $2000 and up), it is not surprising that Sedo was by far the most likely venue with 32 of the 100 sales.

Since sales can be reported by buyers or sellers, there are some sales reported from other venues, with 9 of the top sales at GoDaddy, 2 from Afternic, 5 at Dan, 4 at SquadHelp, and 2 at Dynadot.

Among other venues with multiple sales on the list, were LegalBrandMarketing with 5 sales on the list, Booth or DomainBooth also with 5 sales, and Swetha, Buckley Media, Above, and K-Ventures at 2 each.

Many venues had a single sale on the list, including Media Options, who generally do not report sales.

Interestingly, in addition to the GoDaddy sales, there were also 3 sales from the list at DropCatch and one at NameJet.

Venues simply listed on NameBio as Private accounted for 9 sales.

How Many In Use?

I tried to visit the top 50 sales from the 2023 list. While one should keep in mind that some of the sales are only a month or so ago, 46% were not in use, and another 10% were listed for sale again. I counted a site that had nothing except a single page saying ‘Coming Soon’ or similar as not currently in use. I found 38% were already developed, and another 6% redirected to a developed site.
Image-CurrentUseTop502023.jpg

If one looks only at the top 10 sales, a higher percentage are developed, 6 out of the 10.

Not A Great Year

With just 3 sales above one million, this was not a great year at the top of the charts. To illustrate that, I created the following table that includes the top sale price, the number of sales above $1 million, the number of sales above $100,000, and the size of sale needed to make the NameBio Top 100 for that year.

2019
2020
2021
2022
2023
Top Sale (Million $)
30.0​
3.15​
4.17​
15.0​
3.0​
No. Sales >= $1M
7​
3​
18​
9​
3​
No. Sales >= $100k
62​
75​
all​
80​
62​
Minimum Make List
$60,750​
$77,000​
$125,000​
$83,160​
$62,380​

We see that 2023 tied with 2020 for the fewest $1 million plus sales, and tied with 2019 for the fewest sales above $100,000. It was also the second lowest year in terms of price needed to make the Top 100 list.

If there is a positive message in the data, it is that the second half of 2023 seemed stronger than the first half in terms of major sales, so perhaps things will be better in 2024.

Congratulations to all of the investors who managed to have a sale on the Top 100 for 2023. Best wishes to all for domain investing in 2024.



Sincere thanks for NameBio, the source of the sales data, including the easy-to-use annual Top 100 lists.
 
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The views expressed on this page by users and staff are their own, not those of NamePros.
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ty Mr. Bob. Happy New Years! :)
 
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Great insights ! Thanks Bob, hope sales will improve in 2024, I believe we would also see similarities in the sweet spot price range.
 
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Excellent post as usual.

If NamePros had a Man of the Year award, it'd be Bob Hawkes every time.
 
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Thanks, Bob.

I had only domain on the list. An AI. This was a mediocre year. I usually get a few in the top 100.
Glad I haven't quit my day job:) as domaining requires much more than just having super domains.
I had over 250 inquiries on just one domain on afternic this month -- yet no offer even close to its valuation.
2024 will be my last year of domaining --- 2025 will be travel. I've visited ad/or lived in 85 countries since the age of 18 after getting on a Polish freighter and going to many ports around the world -- lived in paris, rome, rio, buenos aires, london, dublin, mexico city, tokyo, kyoto, shanghai, sydney, miami, san francisco, boston, and now I'm readyto become a nomad again.

Domaining is hard and extremely boring. Even after nice sales.
 
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I've visited ad/or lived in 85 countries since the age of 18 after getting on a Polish freighter and going to many ports around the world -- lived in paris, rome, rio, buenos aires, london, dublin, mexico city, tokyo, kyoto, shanghai, sydney, miami, san francisco, boston, and now I'm readyto become a nomad again.
Wow! The stories behind some NamePros accounts.

I admire your sense of adventure, and your success, and wish you the very best. You should write a book or blog about your adventures travelling, or perhaps already did that.

Take care,

Bob
 
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If you buy a domain for blank page your just less than smart, create art it’s up to me fix the pattern!
 
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Wow! The stories behind some NamePros accounts.

I admire your sense of adventure, and your success, and wish you the very best. You should write a book or blog about your adventures travelling, or perhaps already did that.

Take care,

Bob
Thanks, Bob --- you have stellar accomplishments in education and science and I'm sure you have been a super family man and contributer to your community.

My biggest regret, looking back, is my first startup was a success, albeit with no biz background, as it was acquired by AT&T --- if that had not happened, I would have spent all of my adult years being a nomad, and living with just enough to get by, rather than trying to make more and more. after that initial windfall ...I was so much happier living in small abodes in different parts of the world, with just enough to get by, than having 2 houses and the constant need to feed Moloch --- I'm happy I finally came to my senses and realize I can chart back on the passage I was on before -- discovering new things, learning languages and cultures, rather than code or sell domains...

Bob, I'm certain your life's achievementsand shared moments with loved ones have been myriad. You're on the right path !

As far as writing a book, a pretty big publisher gave me an advance about 5 years ago, but I gave it back.... as I just couldn't dedicate the time to it with all my other responsibilities.

I'll start on the book in 2025, hopefully with an advance :) So many things to write. My life was a complete adventure until I achieved monetary success ---- and that was a misfortune in disguise.
 
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Excellent post as usual.

If NamePros had a Man of the Year award, it'd be Bob Hawkes every time.
Without question --- Bob is the person who has added the most value --- by a long ways!
 
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Thanks Bob - you seem like such a smart and selfless guy with all of the deep insights you share with this community, so I just wanted to say thankyou and I hope 2024 is a truly great year for you.
 
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@Bob Hawkes
Great article. I request you that on basis of this detailed analysis, please write an article for 2024( In Jan) It may be like DOs and Donts in domain investment . It would very helpful especially for new investors.
Thanks.
 
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Nice analysis. I read couple of other writeups from you. Kudos!
 
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Long time no visit to the forum. Initially thought there wouldn't be much content, but to my surprise, there's a big delight. Well-written and very practical. Thank you!
 
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Dear Bob, Wishing you and yours well deserved blessings in 2024 and beyond !
 
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Thanks for sharing your insights @Bob Hawkes – do you also actively promote domains?
 
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do you also actively promote domains?
I hope my analysis and writing helps us all move forward. If by promote you mean mention specific names that are for sale, no. Please let me know if I have misunderstood your question.
-Bob
 
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Very good analysis!
We can clearly see that .coms are losing momentum. But that's normal with all the new gTLDs that exist now and all the new possibilities that it has opened up!
 
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