Principles.com Domain Acquisition
Won a high-stakes negotiation for essential digital real estate
Influential investor and philanthropist Ray Dalio’s book, “Principles,” was an immediate best seller and Amazon’s #1 Business Book of the Year in 2017. When it went to print, thousands of people had already interacted with the book’s content on Principles.com, reading and sharing the principles that Dalio—founder of Bridgewater, the world's largest hedge fund—asserts are the foundation of his success in work and in life.
The success of Principles was the result of careful planning, painstaking attention to detail, and a savvy engagement strategy. Lex Nabarro of Lexaeon, then Bridgewater’s head of public relations, envisioned not just a book, but a brand—no less than a movement informed by Dalio’s life experience and motivated by his zeal to help others achieve their goals. Dalio’s intent was that these principles—first published as a 123-page PDF on his company website—be available for anyone to consider. It followed that the online domain had to be Principles.com.
Acquiring the Principles.com domain—Dalio already owned Principles.org, Principles.net, and other related forms—was an arduous process, including navigating several layers of shell ownership. When forensic due diligence revealed the domain owner to be a man described by CNN as “the most powerful dotcom mogul you’ve never heard of,” the negotiation strategy included appealing to the owner’s deeply held values. At the same time, steps were taken to prevent spikes in search traffic that would signal the domain's popularity and drive up the price.
Meanwhile, more and more influencers were hyperlinking to Dalio’s Principles, still sitting on his company website—bwater.com—in their own digital content, which meant greater exposure but complications for search engine optimization as preparations were made to migrate the content to Principles.com. (The SEO strategy put a premium on maintaining link structures and ensuring all inbound links would point to Principles.com when it went live.) Along the way, Lex captured thousands of subscribers' email addresses—invaluable marketing assets that were leveraged for the book launch. Ultimately, Lex negotiated a favorable deal for the purchase of Principles.com. Today, the site serves as a platform for Dalio’s book and teachings, with endorsements by such public figures as Bill Gates and Arianna Huffington.
- Enlist someone with a track record of identifying and acquiring needed digital real estate well before its value is widely perceived