NORTH POTOMAC

CHRIS CLARK
CHRIS CLARK (Charles E. Shoemaker)
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Thursday, April 17, 2008

NORTH POTOMAC

$2.6 Million Worth of Pizza

When Chris Clark bought Pizza.com for $20 in the mid-1990s, he never expected that almost 15 years later, the seemingly benign domain name would sell for $2.6 million.

In 1994, the earliest days of the Internet's popularity, the North Potomac resident was working as a Web site developer. He bought Pizza.com, hoping to entice a major pizza company to the new world of the Web.

"We wanted to put the first pizza company on the Internet," Clark said, referring to his company at the time, Internet Information Services. "At the time, we were explaining what the Internet was to them. . . . It didn't catch on quickly."

Although he was unsuccessful in achieving his goal, he maintained the site, which features a pizza restaurant locator and pizza-related polls and games, over the years.

When Vodka.com recently sold for $3 million, Clark decided to check out the interest in Pizza.com. "We put a forum on the Web site that said, if you're interested in buying the domain name, let us know," Clark said.

The entrepreneur got so much feedback he decided to turn over the bidding to an online auction house, Sedo.com -- the same company that auctioned off Vodka.com -- and watched the offers begin to skyrocket.

"The auction went on for a week," Clark said. "My family was just huddled over the computer watching."

Clark was vacationing in Disney World with his family, watching the auction on a laptop, when the bidding topped $1 million. Soon after, he sold the site for $2.6 million to an anonymous bidder.

"When we saw the final bid, it was far beyond our expectations," Clark said.

He said he hopes to use the proceeds to grow his new software company, Minestream Software, which sells Internet protection software to homes and businesses.


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