WHOIS privacy was removed this week from the domain name schemer.com, revealing Google as the owner.
According to WHOIS records, it appears Google secretly acquired the domain name from its previous owner using MarkMonitor’s shell company ‘Brand Certified’ back in July. Brand Certified is the same intermediary Google used to acquire Chromebox.com. Netflix bought up its Qwikster domain names earlier this year using Brand Certified, as well.
Google appears to have plans for the domain schemer.com.
Today, if you type the web address http://schemer.com/ into your browser, you’ll be taken to the Google Accounts login page. However, once you sign in using your Google username and password, a 403 error page appears with a message that says, “We’re sorry, but you do not have access to this page. That’s all we know.”
As of today, Google hasn’t made any announcements about a product or service called ‘Schemer’.
There is a trademark filing (Serial Number: 85368915) for ‘Schemer’ with the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Meevine, Inc, that was filed in July, about the same time Google quietly acquired the domain, but Meevine wasn’t the owner. Meevine builds mobile products and apps.
In mid-October, Jonathan Nelson (co-founder of Meevine) wrote a post called Tips and Techniques of Finding a Good Product Name that discusses how the company went about picking ‘Gatherball’ to brand one of its products. ‘Schemer’ is mentioned in the article.
“We’ve certainly found it great being able to claim all the Gatherballs out there, but our previous name (Schemer) was taken on every front. Sometimes it’s just worth it… but not often. Be careful though, don’t just rule out a domain because it’s already registered. Actually visit the domain and you’ll find probably half of them have either placeholder content or are clearly listed for sale. You and your domain could be joined forever for a very small hit to the savings account.”
I’ve reached out to Meevine also to see if there is any connection to Google, and will update this post if I hear back.
[Update 5 Dec. 8: Schemer is currently in an invite-only beta period. According to IGN, who partnered with Google to help consumers find things related to games and entertainment, Schemer is a platform that helps you discover things you didn't even know you wanted to do.]
[Update 4 Nov. 11 at 1:14 p.m. ET: Asa Bour, the domain's previous owner replied to me by e-mail. While he was unable to disclose the dollar amount, Asa did post a blog about the negotiations.
Jonathan Nelson (co-founder of Meevine) had made an offer on the name in the past, but the two couldn't come to an agreement. It was Google that finally made Asa an offer too good to refuse.
"I wanted enough to walk away or a nice steady stream of income over time. Another serious suitor came along. I had no idea who the company was but their offer revealed they had much deeper pockets. We haggled for a few weeks and reached an agreement. The deal was handled seamlessly via an escrow service. When the money appeared in my bank account it all felt unbelievable."
You can read Asa's story here.]
[Update 3 Nov. 11 at 5:51 a.m. ET: Robin Wauters over at TechCrunch is following the story and has contacted Google.]
[Update 2 at 5:47 a.m. ET: I've reached out to the previous owner of the domain E. Asa Bour, to see if I can get more details on the sales price or negotiations that took place.]
[Update 1 at 5:25 a.m. ET: There doesn't appear to be any connection between Google and Meevine. Paul Watts, CEO & Co-Founder of Meevine, replied via email saying, "I know about as much as you know at this point..."]