A man recently found himself the legal owner of the Argentinian website of one of the world’s biggest tech giants.
Nicolas Kurona, aged 30, managed to purchase the Argentinian domain of Google – Google.com.ar – for a mere £2.
Web designer Kurona was designing a site for a client at his desk in Buenos Aires on 21 April,when friends began messaging him to tell him Google was down in the South American country.
"I entered www.google.com.ar into my browser and it didn't work," he told the BBC. "I thought something strange was happening."
When a flash of inspiration struck, Kurona checked the database of the Network Information Center Argentina (NIC) - the organisation responsible for operating .ar country code domains – and found that the inactive Google domain was available to purchase.
Taking a punt, a dubious Kurona entered his details and purchased the domain through the usual means. He didn’t think it would work, but he "followed the steps and then I received an email with the purchase invoice.”
Checking out the reactivated website, Kurona found that google.com.ar now listed his personal details – it was his.
"I was frozen looking at the screen. I could not believe what had just happened."
And the asking price of the sought after domain name? 270 Argentine Pesos. Or £2.09.
According to Worth of Web, Google Argentina is worth $850,000,000 (£612,000,000). That’s over 79 billion Pesos.
So does he own Google Argentina?
An even better ending to the story would have seen Google bargaining with Kurona to hand back control of the domain, offering him millions to turn google.com.ar back over to them.
Unfortunately, it didn’t quite turn out that way.
Google Argentina told the BBC the domain was “acquired by someone else” for only “a short term”.
It said it had regained control of the domain “very quickly”.
But for the short while he was in possession of the domain name, in theory all of the web traffic and search enquiries directed to Google Argentina were going to his website.
That could have been millions of people.
Kurona said he was relieved that he didn’t get into trouble: “I want to make it clear that I never had any bad intentions, I just tried to buy it and the NIC allowed me to.”
How was he able to buy the domain?
You would think that arguably the largest tech giant on the planet would have protocols and procedures in place to make sure something like this could not happen.
But while some have theorised that Google’s license on the domain may have expired, the company says that’s not the case, and their ownership of the domain was not due to run out until July 2021.
As yet, the exact reasoning behind Google’s Argentinian arm being up for grabs isn’t known – Google say they are investigating – but the story has turned Kurona into something of a tech hero.
"When the purchase process was completed and my data appeared," he said, “I knew that something was going to happen... I was really anxious.”
In the days since the story broke, Kurona has found himself the centre of a media storm in Argentina, with his tweets detailing his entrepreneurial experiment racking up over 80,000 likes.
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