If you ever typed “Nets.com” into your Internet browser, funky things would happen.
Sometimes you’d be taken to the Boston Celtics homepage. Other times you’d be thrown onto Jason Kidd’s website. At its weirdest, you might suddenly find Mark Cuban sticking his tongue in your face.
Keh reports that the website, long hailed as a monument to “trolling” the Brooklyn Nets, is owned by Jane Hill, a former photographer and telecom businesswoman living in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
“We’ve had fun with the mystery of it all,” Hill said.
Hill says she began shopping the domain after the Nets announced their plans to move to Brooklyn. Having sold other domains for “seven-figure sums,” she decided to ask for $5 million in her pitch to the team. They didn’t bite.
Rather, the Nets took offense to the offer. Team spokesman Barry Baum told Keh that the team considered Hill’s attempts to sell “shameful.”
“Our website is BrooklynNets.com, and our fans know this is our site,” Baum said. “Brooklyn Nets is our brand, and we have no interest in Nets.com, despite the shameful efforts of the registrant to attempt to sell us this domain name for seven figures.”
One person’s shameful ploy is another’s sound business strategy. Hill maintains that the website carries tremendous value, given the scarcity of simple domain names in the market.
“It’s a word in the dictionary,” Hill said.
Thus the cyber warfare began, with Hill’s 37-year-old son John taking over the responsibility of redirecting the sites’ visitors. He, along with a number of his mother’s employees, redirected traffic to the New York Knicks and New York Mets websites.
“The one compliment I take to heart is when people say, ‘This is the ultimate troll,’ John said. “There’s some joy in that.”
The most notorious iteration of “Nets.com” featured the aforementioned image of Cuban and his tongue. Plopped onto an amateurishly designed page in late 2012, the photo was accompanied by the words: “Looking for the New Jersey Nets? Looking for the Brooklyn Nets? They’re not here ... but they SHOULD be!”
The page also contained a message for the team’s majority owner, Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov. Its rough English translation is, “Mikhail, are you watching? Vilena wants to know.”
Some took this to be a stab at Prokhorov’s alleged involvement in an international prostitution ring. Hill told Keh that the mysterious “Vilena” is just the name of a Russian woman who works for her.
“We were determined not to be malicious in any way,” Hill said. “But we did want to get a little bit of attention.”
Typing in the address now takes users to an eBay auction site, where potential owners can bid on the domain. The auction’s description paints the address as a “premium” domain name for tech start-ups, tennis net manufacturers and social networking businesses:
Perhaps you are a tech start-up with a need for a fantastic domain name to get you off the ground? Are you one of the major players on the planet in the routing and/or networking equipment business? Maybe you are the proprietor of the world's preeminent manufacturer of tennis court nets? Fishnets? Volleyball nets? Goalpost nets?
Of course, Hill hasn’t forgotten her preferred buyer.
“Or, maybe you just happen to have a basketball team of the same name?”
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