Qwikster on Twitter and Teaparty.com on the Web are suddenly famous. Will their less-than-famous owners sell Qwikster, Teaparty.com for big bucks? Can they?
Sometimes fame just falls into your lap. Thanks to events completely out of their control, a disbanded Canadian rock group and a young soccer enthusiast suddenly hold online properties that are hot and in demand.
Will riches follow?
First there’s teaparty.com, which is not owned by the right-wing political movement, but by a Canadian rock band. The Tea Party, which hails from Windsor, Ontario, and pioneered a brand of Middle-Eastern fusion rock they call “Moroccan Roll” got together in 1990. They registered their now-valuable domain name in 1993. After peaking in the mid-1990’s, the band broke up in 2005.
But the political movement of the same name has made the online moniker Tea Party suddenly valuable. Some experts are estimating that the domain name could sell for more than $1 million.
In response to the political association, the teaparty.com homepage currently reads “No politics … just Rock and Roll.” The band is sick of the confusion and may be looking to sell, according to Boomberg Businessweek,. “So much damage has been done to our name by the political movement that we’re considering selling,” Tea Party bassist Stuart Chatwood told the magazine.
“It has extraordinary value, in terms of e-commerce,” he says. “People want to put dotcom after everything, because it’s the most commonly known. If I tell you about the Tea Party, you’re going to look up teaparty.com first.”
On Monday, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings announced that the company would be splitting its streaming and DVD rental content into two separate brands, renaming the DVD rental section “Qwikster.” Unlike teaparty.com, the qwikster.com domain was available for company use. But the Twitter tag was already taken, by Mr. Castillo.
Since the Netflix announcement, Castillo’s seldom-used Twitter account is up to 10,786 followers (adding to the fascination, and embarrassment for Netflix, Castillo’s feed is decidedly un-corporate. His tweets are often about soccer, marijuana, and getting money from his dad for food. Until recently, the feed’s profile picture was a cartoon of a stoned Elmo, a monster character on "Sesame Street.".
Given Twitter’s increasing relevance as a marketing and corporate branding tool, the name is a hot property. But cashing in on the @Qwikster tag may be difficult. According to Twitter policy, users aren’t allowed to sell user names or other Twitter content, unless they have express written permission from Twitter. Policy also states that Twitter “reserve[s]” the right to terminate users or reclaim usernames.”
“If it’s a corporate account, it can be sold. If it’s a personal account, they can’t sell it,” Shamos says.
In an e-mail, a Twitter representative said the company was unavailable to comment. But perhaps the company will be able to work out a deal with Castillo, who seems open to the idea of selling . “Got offer [sic] $1,000,” he tweeted yesterday, and then referred to someone else acting, apparently, as his manager. “You guys should follow my bro @SoccerisLifeG7 and I’ll think about selling it to whoever supports my bro.”