Ex-Googler Sanmay Ved was the lucky buyer of Google.com, if only for a minute.
Ved told Business Insider he was up late and searching Google Domains, Google’s website buying service, when he noticed Google.com was available. Instead of a grey sad face that indicates a domain has an owner, the green happy face showed it was available.
The cost to buy the most-trafficked domain in the world? Only $US12.
“I used to work at Google so I keep messing around with the product. I type in Google.com and to my surprise it showed it as available,” Ved told Business Insider. “I thought it was some error, but I could actually complete check out.”
Ved added it to his shopping cart and, surprisingly, the transaction went through.
Instead of receiving the normal “you bought a domain” emails from the company, his Google Search Console dashboard, which has an overview of his other websites, was updated with messages for the Google.com domain owner. He also received emails with internal information, which he’s since reported to Google’s security team, Ved said.
“The scary part was I had access to the webmaster controls for a minute,” Ved said. He frantically took screenshots along the way and detailed the whole ordeal in a LinkedIn post.
His run of Google.com was short-lived though. Google Domains canceled the sale a minute later, saying someone had registered the site before he could, and refunded Ved the $US12 that had already been charged.
“So for one minute I had access,” Ved said. “At least I can now say I’m the man who owned Google.com for a minute.”
Ved is not sure what happened to allow him to purchase the site. It could have been a bug in Google Domains or the company simply failed to renew its domain name when the time came. A Google spokesperson said they are looking into the issue, but “aren’t currently noticing anything unusual.”
Google’s not the first to run into weird domain problems. In 2003, Microsoft failed to renew its Hotmail.co.uk web address, and someone else bought it. While in Google’s case it was bought from Google itself and quickly canceled, Microsoft had to ask the buyer to return it to them.
While Ved’s control over Google.com may have been fleeting, he’s still surprised that his late night searching led to actually buying the site. He’s been a huge fan of the company since he worked there for five-and-a-half years before leaving to get his MBA. His profile picture on Facebook is just a picture of the Google Plus logo.
“I can’t shake that feeling that I actually owned Google.com,” Ved said.