An Indian man says he briefly owned the Google.com domain name after buying it for $12. He chose not to pursue the apparent bug and the incident wound up with Google making a donation to charity.
Sanmay Ved, who happens to be a former Google employee, posted on LinkedIn to explain that he was trying out possible domains to register via the Google Domains service and, on a whim, typed in “Google.com”. He found it was available for $12 a year and went ahead with the purchase, expecting that at some point in the process it would be cancelled.
According to Ved, the purchase completed, his credit card was charged, and he began getting webmaster messages that are sent to the domain owner. In fact he even began getting notifications about ownership changes of a range of sites that use the Google Sites service and are thus ultimately tied to Google.com.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Ved then got a message from Google Domains to say “We were not able to process the domains you ordered on September 28 2015 10:20pm. The following domains from your order were cancelled: google.com. Your card was not charged.”
Ved says his card statements show his card most certainly was charged (and then refunded) and that this was not merely a pre-authorization check to make sure he had the funds available.
The question of whether Ved ever was the legal owner/registrant of the domain name won’t have to be settled as he chose not to pursue a case and instead merely reported it to Google Security. They offered Ved a reward (which neither side is detailing) and, when he asked that the sum be given to a charity instead, Google donated twice the amount they had offered. Ved’s chosen charity is the Art of Living India Foundation, which provides free education in rural areas.