Smells Like

I so, so badly want to return to the heady early days of the internet:

When he bought the Web domain for $20 in 1994, Chris Clark never imagined it would be his meal ticket.

But yesterday, the 43-year-old Queens-born entrepreneur sold the name at auction for a saucy $2.605 million.

. . .

During the Internet’s early days, Clark ran a Web site-consulting service and bought hoping to convince a pizzeria to do business with him.

There weren’t any takers, but he maintained the site as a pizzeria directory ever since, never imagining that his $20 investment would grow into an obscenely large pie with extra dollar signs.

. . .

In the Internet’s Wild West days, cyber-squatters snatched up corporate domain names and then sold them back to their namesakes.

But in recent years, the biggest money has been in generic domains such as, which sold for $7.5 million, and, which just sold for $3 million.

Big companies buy these domains to help direct traffic to their sites. For instance, redirects to Barnes & Noble’s Web site.

Clark, who recently started a company called Minestream, which “protects children from the perils of the Internet,” said news of the sales reminded him he had been holding on to all these years.

The 24 bidders who caused the price to skyrocket from $100 on March 27 to $2,605,000 by closing at 2 p.m. yesterday remained anonymous, as is the policy of domain-name auctioneer

The winner has asked not to be identified for now.