“I’m just really greedy,” said Mann, a man no one would describe as modest. “I want to own the world.”
Mann went on to become one of the most aggressive domain speculators in a world that was — and still largely is — the digital Wild West. In the early years, registering good names wasn’t that hard, and some people made many, many millions doing just that.
But as time went on, it became far more difficult. The shrewdest (or craftiest) of the so-called domainers went to great lengths to bag their URL prey. They wrote scripts to pound on the registrars, working in the dark of night to “catch” names the nanosecond they expired, or “dropped.” (The king of the “drop catchers” was a mysterious man named Yun Ye, who built a portfolio he sold to the now-public Marchex in 2005 for $164 million.)