Update: Google has granted Sanmay Ved a generous reward for the discovery of the bug in its Domains service. In a heart-warming twist, Ved said he would donate the money (“over $10,000”) to a charity.
Former Google employee Sanmay Ved bought Google.com for $12 on September 29, 2015. He owned the domain for a full minute before somebody somewhere realized this probably wasn’t supposed to happen and revoked Ved’s backstage access.
No, this isn’t an Onion article, it apparently actually happened.
Ved said that he was up late browsing Google Domains, which is Google’s website buying service. While there, he saw that Google.com was available for purchase at the incredibly reasonable price of $12. Long-time readers may recall that Google.com is the most heavily trafficked domain in the world and is kind of a big deal.
“I thought it was some error,” said Ved, “but I could actually complete check out.”
Ved added Google.com to his shopping cart, completed the checkout process, and for all intents and purposes became the proud new owner of the internet as we know it. Rather than getting the usual email notifying him that he had completed a purchase, Ved’s Google Search Console dashboard was updated, and he began receiving messages intended for the Google.com domain owner. He also began receiving emails with internal information, which Ved says he later turned over to Google’s security team.
“The scary part was I had access to the webmaster controls for a minute,” said Ved.
He took a rapid series of screenshots and documented his whole experience on a LinkedIn post.
Ved’s tenure as God of the Internet was fleeting, however. Google Domains reversed the sale about a minute after the purchase went through and sent him a message that claimed someone had registered the site before he could. Ved was refunded the $12 the domain had cost him and went back to being mortal. However, if only for a moment, Ved flew.
“So for one minute I had access,” said Ved. “I can’t shake that feeling that I actually owned Google.com.”