Saturday, December 16, 2006

Is $3 Million Too Much for Vodka?! Nyet, My Friend!

OK, it's not actually the drink itself that sold for that price, but rather the vodka.com domain name. A billionaire Russian entrepreneur who heads the country's biggest vodka maker has paid $3 million to buy the vodka.com domain to smooth its path to expand into the U.S. market, the broker handling the transaction announced on Thursday, December 14.

Roustam Tariko controls the Russian Standard Co. conglomerate, which entered the crowded U.S. premium vodka market in September 2005 with its Imperia brand. According to Russian Standard, Imperia's recipe was discovered by 19th century Russian scientist Dimitri Mendeleev, known for inventing the periodic table of elements which, as we all learned in school, is the road map for the science of chemistry.

Russian Standard Co. controls two-thirds of Russia's sales of premium vodka, and it also owns Russian Standard Bank, the largest private bank in the country.

While expensive, the $3 million cost for vodka.com isn't the highest for a generic Web domain. Reports have said that in May 2006 diamond.com reportedly sold for $7.5 million to Ice.com, a jewelry retailer. Other high-prifile domain sales that are publicly known are said to be business.com ($7.5 million, 1999) and sex.com (allegedly about $12 million, though the precise sum hasn't been disclosed).

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