A penchant for browsing Google Domains, a sharp eye and twelve dollars are apparently all it takes to own a multi-billion dollar company these days, if you're okay with only owning it for a minute. These are exactly what ex-Google employee Sanmay Ved happened to have at 1:20 AM EST this past Tuesday. Famous websites are no strangers to such blunderous breaches, to be sure, but this is Google we're talking about.
The former ad sales lead for Australia and New Zealand had apparently gone on a bored, domain-watching binge and noticed, surprisingly, that Google.com had become available. He put down his twelve bucks and the transaction went through. He was shocked to find he had full control of the site immediately and had received e-mails from two Google addresses which did not normally respond to domain purchases. These messages contained details about Google.com that Ved has refused to disclose. He also received notifications for websites under Google sites changing hands.
Being a Google fan, he immediately took some screenshots with the intention of telling Google's security team what had just happened. The transaction was reversed after a minute, with Google claiming somebody else had bought the domain and had not gotten a chance to register it before Ved's transaction came down the pipes. The automatic cancellation was, of course, only possibly because it happened through Google Domains, which Google still owned. Afterwards, he took to his LinkedIn blog and told readers what went down, as well as a quick quip about the incident.
The Indian Prime Minister's visit did work wonders…it ended up convincing Google to sell the most visited domain on the internet to a person from the Kutch region of the Indian Prime Minister's home state…albeit just for a minute or so 🙂
Luckily for Google, they were able to recover from this with minimal egg on their face thanks to the quick save and the fact that the site was bought by somebody with Google's best interests in mind. Infamously, back in 2003, Microsoft did not have such luck when their control over hotmail.co.uk lapsed. It was snatched up and they wound up having to ask the buyer to return the domain. Google's security and Sanmay Ved are still doing some head-scratching over how this happened, but it likely won't happen again.