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The inside story of Mama.com

May 14, 2012domain auction, Domain Sales, Domaining, Domainnamewire, mama.com, mamma.com, SnapNamesComments Off on The inside story of Mama.com

Mamma.com owner selling Mama.com.

I was originally a bit surprised to see mama.com in Moniker’s Spring Auction ending this week.

Then I realized the domain on auction is actually a typo of the once popular search engine Mamma.com — not the search engine itself. Well, sort of a typo, as I later found out.

I reached out to the founder of Mama.com owner Empresario, Omar Solis. As it turns out, his company bought the Mamma.com search engine in a deal completed in 2011. I asked him for the back story on the domain and he wrote a good explanation. Rather than chop it up, I’ve decided to publish it in full here….

The back-story:

Mamma.com was once a promising search engine from the “.com-bubble” era. It was founded in 1996 by a graduate student from Quebec Canada named Herman Tumurcuoglu. Eventually it got funded and taken public, ultimately merging with a desktop search company named Copernic in 2005. They also wanted to own the single ” m” version of their brand name and an Executive at the company acquired mama.com from a small us-based organization sometime around 2000-2001.

In 2009 we acquired the Mamma.com search and ad network assets from Copernic, which included the two domain names. Originally the deal was for $5 million, but we ended up paying $500,000 for all the assets. We took over the business in 2009, but did not take ownership until Sept 2011 when the sale was finalized with the assistance from a well-known American investor.

Although mamma.com didn’t make it to the big stage as a search engine, it still enjoyed a loyal user base from the US, Canada (especially French CA), France, and Asia. The Ad Network business was also profitable, generating several million dollars a year in revenue. Plus it came with the mama.com domain, which I knew had plenty of value in itself.

Present day:

Today we continue to operate the ad network and monetize the search engine traffic from mamma.com, which has proven to be a steady revenue business. In addition we operate a business incubator called Empresario.com, where we work with nimble entrepreneurs to create new value from our business platforms. Predominately working with online publishers, advertisers, and agencies that leverage our resources to advance their own business.

Our plan this year is to develop our incubator business further, so we decided to systematically dismantle and sell assets that did not directly support our current goals. After the mamma.com deal was finalized in Sept, we took a step back and evaluated the business from top to bottom. What we uncovered was a nice cache of Internet assets that no longer supported our objectives, but had tremendous value.

A good portion of these assets came in the form of premium domain names that we acquired over the years and have been sitting on parked pages. A while back we did well in domain parking but after 2009 our revenue channels became more diverse and parking was overlooked. In regards to selling domains, we have always entertained offers and have sold many domain names over the years, but have never made it a full-blown effort like we are doing now.

Coincidentally, at the end of 2011 we started receiving serious 6-figure offers for mama.com, mostly interest from China and Japan where our largest offers have originated. As we drilled further into the analysis, we figured out that all the type-in users that went to mama.com, were looking for “female/maternal” topics and not a search engine. Separating and selling mama.com from mamma.com started making sense.

Also the sale includes the Twitter handle @mama, which will give this deal a unique twist. I have have not heard of many domain sales that also included the related Twitter handle, which these days is an excellent value-add.

Currently we are focused on the mama.com sale, but we have also put up a sample of 36 premium domain names from our portfolio that are currently available for sale via our site. In the next few weeks will place the rest of our portfolio on Sedo & Snapnames, except for a few exclusives that will only be offered on our website.

Hopefully mama.com will sell via Moniker’s auction this week, but regardless we will continue to push the sale this year, as we are eager to focus on our core business.

You can reach Solis here.


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