For about a minute, Sanmay Ved was the proud owner of Google.com, the search engine that dominates the internet search market. It cost him $12, and his turnaround on that investment would make anyone happy.
But Ved did not hold Google hostage.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, the former Google employee and researcher was looking up various domain names, ironically on Google Domains, and decided to check on Google.com as a joke. To Ved’s surprise, it was up for sale, and he immediately paid the $12 for the domain name.
He received much more than just one of the most valuable domains on the internet. Sanmay Ved received access to the webmaster controls for Google.com. Luckily for the tech giant, the new owner was not a disgruntled ex-employee. Ved worked for Google for five and a half years and is a great fan of the company. He left on perfectly amiable terms to pursue an MBA.
So, the ex-Googler took screen shots of the entire incident and made a post on Linkedin about his short-lived tenure as Google.com’s owner, without doing any damage. About a minute after the purchase, Ved was locked out of the controls and Google Domains cancelled the sale.
Still, the former employee revealed a critical security flaw for the company, one that he made into a viral story on the internet. As Google does for other people who find bugs, it paid out a cash reward.
They gave Sanmay Ved exactly $6,006.13, which spells out Google. (Likely, the former employee noted that $600,613 would spell “Google” just as well, but apparently the domain issue wasn’t worth that much.)
Google has made unusual payments in the past. In 2015, Google’s parent company, Alphabet, bought back $5,099,019,513.59 worth of stock (that figure is the square root of the number of letters in the alphabet times one billion). Google also bid $3.14159 billion for Nortel patents (that’s the first 6 digits of pi times a billion).
Ved then decided to donate his reward to the educational charity The Art of Living India, according to Yahoo News, so Google responded by doubling the amount.
Ved’s final reward figure was included in a statement from Google about its Vulnerability Reward Program, which rewards users for finding bugs. According to Google’s numbers, it awarded over $2 million dollars to participating researchers. Tomasz Bojarski was the most prolific bug finder, spotting 70 problems including a vulnerability on the submission form for reporting vulnerabilities.
Google isn’t the only big tech firm to run into domain issues, according to the Register. Microsoft lost the domain for Hotmail.co.uk in 2003, when it failed to renew. The embarrassing episode sent Microsoft into crisis-mode trying to locate the new owner. That company also got lucky.
— News, Views, People. (@NewsViewsPeople) January 29, 2016
The new owner was nice enough to return the domain to its original owner after a few discussions.
Domain registration conflicts don’t always resolve themselves so easily. Potentially lucrative domain names are often bought up by what are called “domain squatters.” One man actually made a million-dollar business out of the idea, as detailed in Motherboard.
It’s not really clear exactly how Ved was ever able to purchase Google.com in the first place. It could be that the company forgot to renew the domain in time, like Microsoft, but that seems difficult to believe. Whatever the case, in the end, it worked out for both Google and Sanmay Ved.
[Photo illustration by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images]