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$2 million is offered for Aspen.com name

Brent Gardner-Smith

The CEO of a Carbondale-based computer networking company is trying to buy the Aspen.com domain name for more than $2 million.

Sam Mancini, head of Go Networks Inc., has sent a letter of intent to Morris Communications, which owns the Aspen.com name. Mancini intends to use the domain name in a fashion similar to how it is used today – as an online gateway to Aspen and Snowmass Village.

“I am prepared to do everything I possibly can to make this deal possible and make it something that benefits the Aspen and Roaring Fork Valley community,” he said.

When contacted, a spokeswoman for Morris Communications declined to comment on the deal.

Mancini would not confirm the exact amount he has offered for the name, saying only it was “more than $2 million.” If the deal is consummated, it would be among the highest amounts ever paid for a domain name and almost certainly the highest paid for a location domain name.

“If it is a real deal, that would be the highest I’ve heard of for a location name,” said Jon Whelan, co-CEO of Afternic.com, a domain name exchange affiliated with Register.com.

The Web site – Greatdomains.com – is offering one location-based name, America.com, for $30 million. Recent high-priced sales of domain names include wine.com for $3 million, mortgage.com for $2.2 million, and wallstreet.com for $1 million. The highest price said to be paid to date for a domain name is $7.5 million for business.com.

Is the Aspen.com domain worth $2 million?

“If someone is willing to pay two million bucks, it’s worth two million bucks,” said Whelan.

Mancini has a similar outlook.

“If you can’t put a business model behind it to support it, it doesn’t matter what you pay, you just lost,” Mancini said.

The 34-year-old high-tech consultant declined to reveal details of his plan for Aspen.com, but did say he planned to develop a community portal in a way that has not yet been done. He also said that it would benefit all the major organizations in the valley.

“I want to do what’s right for both the businesses here and the community,” Mancini said. “If creating a new portal can help all of the relevant parties be successful, then I would by psyched to serve that purpose.”

And he’s gearing up for the task.

Two key employees of Aspen Interactive Media and Aspen.com – Sara Campbell and Andy Hopp – have recently left the company and joined Mancini at Go Networks in Carbondale. Campbell is manager of Internet strategy and Hopp is a programmer.

Go Network’s current specialty is creating and managing computer networks for companies. It recently broke off talks with Sopris Surfers, a local Internet service provider, about a formal business partnership.

Whatever plans Mancini has for Aspen.com, it does not include the Aspen Skiing Co. as a formal partner. John Norton, the Skico’s chief operating officer, said the company is happy with its Web site at aspensnowmass.com and plans to continue building that site as a brand.

Morris Communications bought both Aspen.com and Aspen Interactive Media from founder Ed Bastian in 1999 for an undisclosed price. Morris bundled Aspen.com with a number of local newspapers under the entity of Western Slope Publishing and on the Web site Searchcolorado.com.

In November 2000, Swift Newspapers, which owns The Aspen Times, purchased the assets of Western Slope Publishing, except for the Aspen.com and Searchcolorado.com domain names.

Swift, however, did acquire Aspen Interactive Media, the company which manages the Aspen.com Web site, and the Web site’s resort-based content.

And while Swift is still running the Aspen.com Web site, it is also planning on launching a new community portal for Aspen within the next 10 days, called Aspenalive.com.

The Aspen Times, which operates its own Web site (aspentimes.com), will be an integral part of the new Aspenalive.com Web site, according to Steve Pope, general manager of Aspen Interactive Media and publisher of the Vail Daily.

The Vail Daily is part of Swift’s newspaper holdings in Western Colorado, along with The Aspen Times, the Summit Daily, the Eagle Valley Enterprise, the Rifle Telegram, the Leadville Chronicle, the Bargain Hunter, the Glenwood Post-Independent, the Valley Journal, Roaring Fork Sunday, and the Snowmass Sun.


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