After six years of stirring the pot about possible Y2K glitches on his Year2000.com Web site, Canadian computer consultant Peter de Jager says he's used to hate mail and pranks.
But the bidding that occurred on eBay.com from December 22 to January 1 for his domain name may have been the biggest prank of all.
The $10 million winning bid for the Year2000.com name turned out to be a hoax - as were at least four other bids above $2 million. Thirteen bids were received for the name.
De Jager and his partner, The Tenagra Corp. in Houston, have decided to scrap the auction and sell the domain name privately.
In an interview with Computerworld before the auction ended, de Jager was skeptical about the high bids when the price reached $4.5 million. "Quite frankly, I believe it's a hoax," he said. "I get enough hate mail on a day-to-day basis that [I know] there are more than enough people that would just like to annoy people."
Tenagra officials said the person placing the $10 million bid registered as a company and referred to several business associates. Those associates denied making the bid or knowing the bidder. "It appears the same person was using multiple IDs to make multiple bids," said Tenagra President Cliff Kurtzman. Attempts to reach one bidder's e-mail address, linked to a student ID at a university in Arizona, didn't work, he said.
The domain name went up for sale December 22 on eBay's auction site after Year2000.- com site owners decided their work in creating awareness of possible Y2K glitches was done. The previous record for the sale of a domain name was held by business.com, bought for $7.5 million by eCompanies in Santa Monica, California, from Houston entrepreneur Marc Ostrofsky.
Meanwhile, the prank hasn't stopped cybersquatters from cashing in on other millennium-related domain names.
An eBay spokesman said the company advises sellers of auctioned items to contact bidders immediately to verify unusually high bids. EBay suspended the prank bidder for the Year2000 domain, spokesman Kevin Pursglove said.