The domain name MEET.ME was the highest profiled and most expensive dot me (.ME) domain ever sold. It was announced in early November of last year that the jointly owned domain by Rick Schwartz, Mike Berkens and Ammar Kubba was sold for a whopping $450K in an all-cash deal… But the real buyer of this short and catchy domain hack was never identified or confirmed publicly… Until now.
We’ve been able to piece together all of the pieces of the puzzle and provide you with a quick breakdown of what happened in this past 6 – 12 month’s and what is still to come for the newly unveiled MeetMe brand created by the merger of Quepasa and myYearbook.
Quepasa + myYearbook = MeetMe
The new website at Meet.Me was launched and officially made available a month ago. It was then announced in a press release that publicly traded Quepasa (NYSE Amex: QPSA), a market leader for social discovery and owner of North-American platform myYearbook and Latin-American platform Quepasa (often called the Facebook of Latino’s) that the parent company and it’s affiliated brands are being consolidated and re-branded under a single umbrella with a new name: MeetMe.
Quepasa originally acquired MyYearbook.com for a cool $100 big ones in July of 2011. $82 million in stock and the remainder in cash. It looks like they didn’t waste any time and immediately started brainstorming and re-strategizing for bigger and better things. According to reports by ComScore, MyYearbook is the top web site in the Teens category with more visits, minutes, and pageviews than anybody else.
See the rest of the story after the jump.
Their latest moves aim to establish the company as the global social networking brand for meeting new people. The company will be rolling out the new “MeetMe” name across all websites and mobile platforms later this year, beginning with myYearbook sometime in July. John Abbott, CEO of Quepasa Corporation said:
“MeetMe reflects the company’s mission — to build the leading social network for meeting new people — and underscores what our members across the Americas already expect each time they log in. With MeetMe, we look forward to bringing the highly engaging mobile and web products that myYearbook created to a global audience. MeetMe is the natural next step in our effort to align the long-established mission of the company with the outward facing brand: to build a platform synonymous with meeting new people throughout the world.”
How Meet.Me Sale Went Down
Now lets rewind for a bit and go back to uncover the entire history of this domain. Originally it was auctioned off and first sold at the Targeted Traffic Silent Auction in New York City in 2008 where it sold for $5,890. Rick, Mike and Ammar were the three buyers in a joint venture. Fast forward a few years later and this massive “end-user” sale of Meet.Me brokered by MostWantedDomains.com last year dropped the first few clues that something big was going down… In the original blog post announcement by Mr. Berkens he mentioned the following…
“They buyer is a public company and owned the matching .com meetme.com but still felt it important enough, $450,000 important enough, to get the matching .me domain. In actuality the buyer got a great deal. With this .com they have locked up the space and is in a position to take there online conferencing business to the next level.”
Mr. Berkens logic was that the longtime owners of the Meetme.com domain (Conference Plus Inc., an audio + video + web based conferencing company) were the buyers of the Meet.me domain and they probably were cooking up some new product/service so they wanted to cover all bases. Makes sense. However Mr. Berkens assumed wrong and his “online conferencing” reference was incorrect… Although not too far off. The new owners are in a slightly different niche; the social networking world.
According to DomainTools.com historical records data, the whois record for the domain name MeetMe.com changed in early August 2011 to indicate new ownership. Mike Johnson would be listed as the new registrant. This mysterious Mike Johnson turns out to be the Senior Controller at MyYearbook according to his Linkedin profile. In early November 2011 the whois records would change for the domain name Meet.Me and the same Mike Johnson would be listed there. Once again with the same and identical street address, e-mail, etc.
Following each new acquisition, within a few days the domain’s WHOIS and contact information went private and would become invisibile using a privacy protection service provided by the respective domain registrar, in this case it was Network Solutions for Meetme.com and GoDaddy for Meet.me.
Other domains which the newly formed company has secured recently include Meetme.im (.IM is a popular domain extension for instant messaging services, both software and web based) and MeatMe.com which is a common typo/mispronunciation of the MeetMe brand. Since the products/services offered by MeetMe are mostly targeted towards young kids and teenagers, it was a smart move securing this misspell, which originally was a long-running adult website serving up X-Rated content for many years.
Right now all of the MeetMe domains seem to be registered at MarkMonitor.com, managed and/or controlled by DNStination Inc. which is a proxy/in-stealth-mode operating division of San Francisco based MarkMonitor Inc. The company provides domain management and brand protection services to some of the most well known companies in the world, such as Google and Apple. Over half the Fortune 100 companies rely on MarkMonitor for internet based brand protection and other domain related services.
Avoiding The Million Dollar Or More Domain Name Mistake
Earlier this year another social networking company acquired a very pricey domain. GoDudu.com upgraded it’s website to to Dudu.com with the help of Sedo’s domain brokerage services. They had to pay $1,000,000 for this domain after month’s of intense negotiations. The newly put together MeetMe team thought out their plan and strategized well into the future by acquiring all of their important domains before even launching their new products and services.
We know for sure that the domain hack Meet.Me sold for $450,000 because the information was made available publicly by a reliable source and confirmed by Mr. Schwartz too, but it was never disclosed or reported anywhere how much the dot com counterpart went for. It could easily have been in the 7 figure range. The company seemed to have fallen in love with the “MeetMe” brand and was ready, willing and able to pay up whatever it needed to acquire the necessary domains for it’s long term success as part of the on-going re-branding strategy.
How MeetMe Came To Be
The company underwent a careful process in selecting a new name, they apparently reviewed 1,000+ various brand names and data from tens of thousands of surveys to users and non-users in more than a dozen countries to see what they were drawn to the most. Among non-users, the MeetMe name was found to trigger “meeting new people” and “friendship” which are top 2 reasons users of Quepasa and myYearbook use each service.
Geoff Cook, the newly appointed Chief Operating Officer of Quepasa Corporation provided more insights on the re-naming and long term strategy…
“With MeetMe, we intend to realize our vision of a global brand for meeting new people. We will then combine the myYearbook and Quepasa user base into a single web and mobile platform and accelerate growth in Latin-America through strong mobile products. Over the course of time, we expect our usage pattern will be predominantly international, like other leading social services, as we work to internationalize the platform into half a dozen languages by the end of the year.
The MeetMe service will be a renaming of the myYearbook platform. This is consistent with the strategy articulated at the time of the Quepasa-myYearbook merger, as the myYearbook platform is more evolved from the standpoint of both engagement and monetization. At the time of the rebrand, the only thing changing is the name and logo. To our advertisers, MeetMe offers the same highly desirable audience, only larger, and the same advertising products delivering dramatic engagement and share of voice.”
It’s worth pointing out that the two original founders of MyYearbook.com were a sister + brother team… Catherine and David Cook. They founded the company in 2005, while they were still in high school. Catherine was just 15 years old and her older brother David was 16. Catherine has earned the title “Female Mark Zuckerberg” from industry insiders in recent years, and many believe that her best work is yet to come. She is now all done with college, so it will definitely be interesting to see what she and her team can make of the newly formed MeetMe.
MeetMe Is Poised For Success… Or Is It?
They got the great domains. They got the talent pool it seems to be wildly successful, and a strong financial backing too from a company (Quepasa) that has been around for almost 15 years. They are now putting themselves in the same league with LinkedIn and Facebook, two giants who dominate the social networking world. It won’t be easy to gain market share in the super competitive social networking realm and go global, but their aggressive approach to dominate their newly discovered “meet new people” niche may just pay off.
We’ll have to stay tuned and keep an eye on whether they can keep the good news and nice momentum going, meet their ambitious goals and of course live up to the public’s expectations too now that they are officially on everybody’s radar.
The QPSA stock is trading at some of the all-time low’s lately, currently at $3.60 as of this writing. Early January of 2011 they were peaking at $14+ but that was before they dropped $100M on the MyYearbook.com acquisition… They desperately need the MyYearbook team to get something big going, and keeping those fingers crossed that the social media/networking giants don’t step on their territory and crush them. We want to see those awesome new domains put to good use and part of another billion dollar success story.
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