Josh Metnick, who buys and sells internet domain names the way a real estate broker handles land deals, has put Illinois.com on the market.
Metnick has owned the domain name since 2005 but decided to sell now because he sees interest peaking. China is buying up more domain names these days, and there are a few Illinois gubernatorial candidates who might find Illinois.com an attractive property.
Metnick is referring all calls on the deal to Lou Weisbach, a Chicago entrepreneur who’s overseeing the sale. Weisbach is CEO of Merch Time LLC, a marketing services and promotional products startup.
“I’ve known Josh for a long time. He’s brilliant in this space,” Weisbach tells me. “Given the confluence of interest overseas and in Illinois and given the gubernatorial race, in which you have three high net worth individuals leading the pack, it seems like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
He’s referring to Chris Kennedy and J.B. Pritzker, who are seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner. They’re not the only candidates, just the wealthiest. They didn’t immediately respond to questions about their interest in Illinois.com.
Metnick, 44, is CEO of Navier Inc., a software development and domain holding company. He graduated from Glenbrook North High School before earning degrees in aviation and finance at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He started the internet service provider AIS.net with two college friends. It was bought up in 1999.
He started registering domain names in 1994, when they were free. He now owns about 3,000 and has sold hundreds, including guitar.com.
In 2013, Metnick sold Chicago.com to Sun-Times parent Wrapports LLC, which used the site to showcase tourist information and events. It sold the domain name a few months ago for an undisclosed price to the Chicago Community Trust.
There’s no minimum price to buy Illinois.com, said Weisbach. “We just really want to get expressions of interest.”
He pulls out a list of statistics about lasvegas.com, which sold for $90 million in 2005. “More people visit Illinois than they do Las Vegas,” Weisbach said. “We see Illinois.com as an extremely valuable property.”
Diamonds aren’t forever
Some Streeterville residents are crying foul about plows digging up two baseball diamonds at Lake Shore Park.
“They’re taking the life out of it,” said Gail Shiner, a retired education administrator who enjoyed watching games at the park on Lake Shore Drive.
The Park District says the fields will be reconfigured for “passive recreation” — like admiring landscape.
That was at the urging of Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) and community groups, including nearby Seneca Park advisory council, Lake Shore Park advisory council and SOAR community group.
“It will be like the great lawn in Central Park. It’s taking away the limits of having ball fields. When you take out those limits you have open green space that can be used in any way you can think of,” Hopkins said.
Over the years, some residents have grumbled about the park creating dust and bringing in people not from the neighborhood.
“Now,” Shiner said, “it will feel like a cemetery.”
Sex talk for the birds
That was MarySue Barrett peering through binoculars at a white-crowned sparrow in Millennium Park a few mornings ago.
The president of the Metropolitan Planning Council was among a crowd of professional women (and one guy) taking part in a networking event that had them out birding.
Conservation director Jeff Walk of The Nature Conservancy of Illinois pointed out all the different species that make the Loop their home.
The women socialized as they strolled the promenade — that is until their guide brought up birds’ mating habits.
“It happens during a cloacal kiss,” he said. The group went silent and leaned in to hear more. That feathery conjugation, he said, “lasts seconds.”
“I’m familiar!” one woman piped up, prompting a burst of laughter that sent birds flying.
Other attendees included public relations veteran Courtney Thompson, World Bicycle Relief founder Leah Missbach Day and Chicago Council of Global Affairs Programming Vice President Niamh King. The event was organized by Edelman General Manager Katie Spring, Nature Conservancy CEO Michelle Carr and business consultant Lisa Leiter.
Israel Idonije’s book tour
Add children’s book author to Israel Idonije‘s post-NFL resume.
The former Bears defensive lineman who runs a few businesses in town has just published two books in his DreamKids Adventures series.
“I wanted to be able to inspire, motivate and educate the kids in my life,” he said, referring to his young nieces and godchildren.
DreamKidz has taken him on a book tour of sorts. You may see him in the kids’ section of a bookstore or at a child care center reading from the two books titled “I Love Me” and “I Love Football!”
Read more Taking Names at shiakapos.com.