It's a gamble that an activist investor might appreciate.
(R) has put BillAckman.com on the market
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
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
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
|Klaips with Eddie
(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,