A virtual real estate boom

A cowboy capitalist has succeeded where the CIA failed. The appropriately named C.C. “Skip” Hoagland proudly announced last week that his company has “invaded” Cuba, at least in cyberspace terms. Hoagland’s company, which specializes in “cybersquatting”, or reserving website domain names that someone will eventually pay money for, has added “cuba.com” to his long list of Internet domain names.

Hoagland, who has made a business of appropriating strategic URLs, claims the dubious distinction of being “one of the top five individual owners of domain names in the world.” His list of “appropriated” names includes more than 600 names that he perceives to have intrinsic value, such as “myrtlebeach.com”, “charleston.com”, “savannah.com”, “chamberofcommerce.com”, “mailordercatalogs.com”, and “flyfishing.com”.

“I am no different from a real estate developer except instead of buying valuable brick and mortar property, I invest in prime cyberspace property,” says Hoagland, who is evidently proud of an activity that some would consider to be verging on theft or extortion.

Encouraged by the recent profitable sale of E-Flowers, Hoagland says he has bought names like “hionhead.com” for $10,000 from The Westin Resort chain, and sold three versions of “keywest.com” and “indyracing.com.” He claims to have rejected a $100,000 offer for “myrtlebeach.com” and $25,000 for “musicdepot.com.”

There is a lesson here. If you have any intention of ever operating your own website, and you have a domain name dear to your heart, register it as soon as you can. Fees are reasonable, and you don’t need to have your site up and running to register the name. You can then rest assured that the C.C. “Skip” Hoaglands of this world won’t have their hands out when you go online.