Software services firm sells its domain name

Orange Technologies of Md. reaches deal with U.K. mobile phone giant

January 06, 2001|By Gus G. Sentementes | Gus G. Sentementes,SUN STAFF

Orange Technologies Inc. confirmed yesterday that it sold its sought-after domain name, www.orange.com, in November for an undisclosed amount to the United Kingdom's third-largest mobile phone company.

After a lengthy courtship from a variety of companies, Gaithersburg-based Orange Technologies sold its Web site address to Orange PLC, a subsidiary of France Telecom, according to a top company official. Terms were not disclosed.

"We were not looking to sell it," said Jeff Winans, an executive vice president for Orange Technologies. "It's sort of like when you have a car and you realize it's a classic - even when you don't need the money, cash is something you can use effectively."

Several companies, including Internet start-ups and entertainment companies, as well as a competitor, had offered to buy the company's domain name over the past two years, Winans said. But they held onto the domain name because of concerns that selling it to a weak business could hurt its own prospects, he said.

Only about a dozen Internet domain names have sold for seven figures. Business.com attracted the highest price - $7.5 million - in November 1999, said a spokesman for the site's current owner, eCompanies LLC of Santa Monica, Calif. Orange.com reportedly had a value ranging from $300,000 to $5 million.

Privately held Orange Technologies bought the domain name in late 1995 and began to receive offers for it nearly two years ago, Winans said.

The 20-year-old company provides a wide range of software services to commercial and government clients, and has 120 employees. Winans said he did not know how proceeds from the sale will be used.

Officials from Orange PLC, based in Bristol, England, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Although dozens of consulting services have proliferated on the Internet that offer domain name appraisals, Orange Technologies did its own market research, Winans said. The dollar value was ultimately established through a four-month negotiation with Orange PLC officials.

He added that the company went through a monthslong process of notifying their clients and vendors of the domain name change.

Their new domain name is www.orangetechinc.com.

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