This man wants to sell you BillAckman.com (and already sold EddieLampert.com)

By Simone Foxman

Thu Jul 10, 2014

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Speaking to an unusual sort of activist.


 
 
 Jeff Klaips (R) has put BillAckman.com on the market
(Photo: Jeff Klaips)
It's a gamble that an activist investor might appreciate.

By day, Jeff Klaips manages a construction clean-up company in a Chicago suburb, but he's also looking to make a pretty penny from the sale of BillAckman.com and WilliamAckman.com. He's been trying to pique the interest of the Pershing Square Capital Management founder-or someone who'd like to use his name.

Klaips already made a profit from EddieLampert.com, the name of the ESL Investments founder. Inspired by seeing Lampert on CNBC, Klaips says he purchased the domain name on an impulse in 2004. Other variations of Lampert's name had already been scooped up, he says.

Klaips says he later bought 10-15 shares in Sears, in part so he could attend a shareholder meeting and meet Lampert in person. He took along a 2004 copy of BusinessWeek-which had compared Lampert to Warren Buffett-in the hopes that the hedge fund manager would sign it. Not only did Lampert sign it, he posed for a photo (below). Klaips ultimately suffered some losses on his Sears stock, but the money he made selling EddieLampert.com more than made up for it.

Based on his frequent observance of CNBC, the amateur trader recognized Bill Ackman when he arrived at the Sears meeting. He walked up and introduced himself, getting a signature and a photo.

Klaips had no contact with Lampert or Ackman until years later. On New Year's Eve this past year, he received an email from an IT person who works for ESL and was looking to purchase the EddieLampert.com site. Klaips had initially asked $9,000 for the domain, but the hedge fund representative talked him down to $4,200. The reduced price still gave Klaips a 1,005% return on his investment. The domain now points to a blog about Lampert's investments. An external spokesman for ESL did not return calls seeking comment.


Klaips with Eddie Lampert 
(Photo: Jeff Klaips) 

Ackman has not been willing to deal. Klaips bought BillAckman.com and WilliamAckman.com in 2007. In 2009, Klaips listed the URLs on domain vendor Sedo, asking $10,000 for each. Klaips says he had cancer at the time and hoped to use some of the profits to pay medical bills.

Early last year, he fielded several offers as Bill Ackman's public spat with nutritional supplements company Herbalife gained traction. The NY Post reported that Herbalife had bought "TheRealBillAckman.com," "BillAckman.net," and "TheRealAckman.net" in January 2013. Those domains do not point to live websites.

Now cancer-free, Klaips has slashed his offering price. In the past few months, he says he reached out to Ackman offering both BillAckman.com and WilliamAckman.com for the same price at which he sold EddieLampert.com. Klaips says Ackman responded once but lapsed in the conversation, so Klaips has recently listed both domains on eBay for $4,900 (combined). He plans to keep them on sale until somebody bites; at that price he'd notch a return of 821%. Bill Ackman declined to comment.

"I should have had it more priced [in 2013] like it is right now," Klaips said. He's confident the domains will prove a profitable investment sooner or later. "I've got nothing to lose at this point…But I would never have guessed Eddie Lampert would have bought his first."

Klaips owns or has also owned sites like MartinWhitman.com (founder of Third Avenue Value Fund), which he let lapse, GetSomeOnTheSide.com, VoodooSmoke.com, AshwoodPark.com, and-unsurprisingly-JeffKlaips.com.

ISSN: 2151-1845 / CDC10004H