A very good investment for just $12.
Picture this: You’re surfing the net one day and learning about Google Domains. You search for google.com and it pops up as available to buy. For the fun of it, you click to add it to your shopping cart, pay the $12 necessary to purchase it and suddenly become the owner of the google.com domain. Yes, this actually happened — to a man named Sanmay Ved.
Google quickly realized the error and took back their domain very quickly. Since Google Domains (who sold him google.com) is owned by Google, they were able to take back their site and send Ved an order cancellation. However, they did offer him financial compensation in a very Google-manner. The sum, 6006.13 spells out Google if you squint your eyes and don’t think about it too hard.
Google has a whole program, the Vulnerability Rewards Program, devoted to this type of payout. Since it began in 2010, researchers who have found vulnerabilities in Google’s security have been awarded over $6 million.
It could have been a very good investment for Ved who turned $12 into over $6000 in a single minute — effectively multiplying his payment by over 500. But, according to his LinkedIn article, he responded that: “it was never about money, and asked that the money be donated to charity to the Art of Living India Foundation.” Google, in turn, chose to double the donation. The foundation runs over 400 free schools throughout India, and educates 39,200 children from areas of extreme poverty.
A similar incident happened to Microsoft in 2003 when they briefly lost ownership of hotmail.co.uk. Unfortunately for them at the time, they did not own the service that sold the domain name so they could not automatically take it back. They had to contact the buyer and hope for the best.