Rob Sequin | Havana Journal
Dozens of domain name speculators rushed to register hundreds of Cuba related domain names on April 13 and the day after President Obama announced sweeping changes to US Cuba policy as a way to “invest” (speculate really) in the business opportunities that may present themselves under this new US Cuba policy.
The change allows for unlimited travel by Cuban Americans to visit their family in Cuba and the changes allow them to wire more money to relatives in Cuba. President Obama is also encouraging communications companies to establish a presence in Cuba to increase the flow of information among the Cuban people and to the outside world.
Many people have been hand registering Cuba related domains and purchasing them in the secondary market for many years. We have seen spikes in hand registrations when there have been significant Cuba news stories in the past.
Speculators and internet entrepreneurs see the ownership of Cuba domains to be one way to invest in Cuba without even having to step foot in the country. Cuba domains can be sold, parked for revenue or developed into successful online business models. This is one way to prepare for a post-Embargo post-Castro Cuba with limited downside risk since the cost of a hand registered Cuba related domain name is less than $10 at most registrars.
It is not illegal or in violation of any OFAC sanctions to own or develop any Cuba related domain name (with the exception of Cuba’s country code .cu domains). One may have “compliance issues” if a website generates revenue from a Cuba based business and there may be other restrictions with regards to business activity involving Cuban based entities and individuals. If a domain name is simply parked to show revenue or displays Google’s Adsense advertisements then there are no compliance issues. Seek legal advice if you have any questions with regards to your Cuba business model.
City, state, region, country and destination specific domain names are called “geo domains” and are well respected by people in the domain industry. Associated Cities is the trade organization for geodomains and their Geo Domain Expo starts on April 23.
Hand Registered Cuba Related Domains
Here is the list of Cuba related domain names that were registered on April 13 and 14 (courtesy of DomainTools.com Mark Alert). As you will see, some are decent domains and some are worthless in this author’s opinion. There are also some obvious trademark violation domains. The consensus in the domain industry is that the registration of TM violation domains is unethical and unwise.
Havana Related Domains
Recent Havana Journal Inc Hand Registered Domains
Recent Havana Journal Inc. Purchases from the Secondary Market
Another Way to Invest in Cuba
I don’t want to offer stock tips or investment advice but since this article is about investing in Cuba without having to have a presence in Cuba or even having to visit Cuba, I thought I would mention that there is a closed end mutual fund that invests in businesses that are expected to benefit from better US Cuba trade relations and/or a move to a more free market economy in Cuba. The Herzfeld Caribbean Basin Fund trades like a stock on the NYSE under the symbol CUBA. The stock price shot up over 40% on April 13 but has pulled back a little since then. (Full disclosure: I have a financial interest in this stock.)
HavanaJournal.com Traffic Spike
Unique visitors (one visitor per IP address to a website in a 24 hour period) to HavanaJournal.com range from 1500 to 2500 per day. As you can see from the screen capture below, our traffic spiked on April 13 and 14. Time will tell if people will continue to search for Cuba related information that interests them or if traffic will level off.
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Havana Journal Inc. owns over 2500 Cuba related domain names and most are in development, being used as marketing tools to promote developed websites or are being considered as candidates for development. We are always looking for unique content and business partners.