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For example, google.com. When this domain is approaching expiry, does Google pay the usual price for a .com renewal? Or is there a premium added for it being such a high value domain? If so, who decides this price?

  • An interesting related story: In 2003 Microsoft forgot to renew a Hotmail domain name. Somebody paid the $35 fee for them so that Hotmail continued to work: Microsoft forgets to renew hotmail.co.uk domain • The Register – Stephen Ostermiller May 20 at 10:38
  • Also interesting when Google.com was bought by an ex-Google employee after it was listed for sale money.cnn.com/2016/01/29/technology/google-domain-purchase/… – cdsln May 20 at 17:10
  • What you describe is exactly what could have happened if the selling of .ORG to Ethos Capital was allowed, based on the newer contracts. It may as well happen in the future for .COM, who knows. In gTLDs, registries are free to have "premium" domain names and sell them at any price they want. It will be the same price at every registrar, plus their own specific markup on top of it. – Patrick Mevzek May 28 at 0:37
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An organization called ICANN (The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) contracts with registries to manage the registration of top level domains (TLDs). In the case of .com, Verisign is the company who manages that TLD. Verisign then works with registrars to resell .com domain names. ICANN places limits on how much Verisign and registrars can charge for the registration of a domain.

So, for Google, who is a registrar, the price to register their domain is the same as any .com domain. The fact that it is "valuable" plays no part in its registration price.

So why do some domains sell for millions of dollars? These domains are resold and are not part of the ICANN controlled registration process. In fact, it is just a domain transfer with the same registration fees charged as any domain transfer with the millions of dollars occurring as a separate business transaction.

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    Also called "domain squatting". People register domains which they think might become desired, park some cheesy ad content there, and won't give the domain to you unless you pay them big bucks. A.k.a. "holding for ransom". I guess the despicable business model behind that should be part of the answer. – DevSolar May 20 at 10:00
  • ICANN contracts only with gTLDs, not all TLDs. – Patrick Mevzek May 28 at 0:34
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    The fact that Google is a registrar is irrelevant to google.com, which is registered at MarkMonitor in fact, another registrar. Also in your answer you seem to mix premium domain names (that some registries have and hence they decide the price of specific domains) and second market where people sell their domain names at whatever price they want (and the registry does not get one cent from the transaction) if they find a buyer. – Patrick Mevzek May 28 at 0:36

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