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Hef Runs

WWW- from the sfchronicle: ends up with Playboy.

The Internet’s most valuable, and volatile, domain name has finally found a worthy partner. is getting into bed with Playboy.

The empire that Hugh Hefner built said last week that it will run the Web site, featuring on-demand video and photo content, for the domain’s owner, Escom LLC of Delaware.

The deal marks the end of a great, great story. As the centerpiece of the Internet’s longest and most interesting sagas, the sex .com domain has been registered, stolen, litigated, returned and now licensed to the biggest name in porn.

It all started in 1994, when a guy named Gary Kremen registered the name, hoping to make a killing in Internet smut. Before Kremen could really get going, though, another Net entrepreneur named Stephen Cohen managed to transfer the domain to his name by tricking the registrars at a company called Network Solutions.

Cohen began running a lucrative porn Web site on the stolen cyber real estate while Kremen embarked on a five-year legal battle to get his domain name back.

Much fun and high jinks ensued, with Cohen running out on a multimillion-dollar court-ordered payment and getting arrested in Tijuana, Mexico. A good summary of the whole story can be found on Wikipedia.

In the end, Kremen got somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 million from Verisign — the company that bought Network Solutions — in a legal settlement, regained control of and sold the site to Escom for $14 million.

Goes to show the diligent bird gets the worm. Kremen is still doing business right here in San Francisco, working the fringes of the Internet through a company called Grant Media. Why’s he still working? Don’t ask us.

As for, the site will feature shows such as “Playboy TV Jukebox,” “Club Jenna” (yes, as in Jameson), “Naughty Amateur Home Videos” and “SpiceVOD.”

The perfect end to the Internet’s first epic saga.



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