By Tim Regan
The dot-com king has bought and sold some popular domain names, but now he’s on a different kind of mission: to change politics—and the world.
From his offices in Rosslyn, Mike Mann buys and sells some big-name Internet domains. Once, he traded nearly 15,000 in a single day. “I own a platform called domainmarket.com, which trades a huge number of domains back and forth,” he says. Want to own tasty.com? Mann will sell it to you—for a million bucks.
What if the Pope wants vaticancity.com? It’ll run him $600,000. But not every domain name costs an arm and a leg—aboutclowns.com and 0-00-000.com only cost $350. Needless to say, Mann has made gobs of money hawking oddball web addresses.
He even once bought and sold sex.com for $13 million. “I’ve definitely made millions,” he says. And to critics that might accuse him of domain squatting, Mann says there’s one big difference—he’s not buying up copyrighted material. “Domain investing is what I do. Squatting implies that you’re using somebody’s trademarks,” he says.
But the wild world of domain investment and speculation isn’t Mann’s real passion in life. “My mission is to literally change the world,” says the online entrepreneur who also owns grassroots.org, a website where charities across the country can trade software, tools and best practices. And last fall, he founded the Better Government Party, a political platform he says will bring common sense and transparency into public office.
But what does an online businessman know about playing the government game? Admittedly, not much—but he doesn’t have to. Mann believes he can take what he learned running his online businesses and charities and directly apply it to our political machine. “We can use those identical concepts to build a competing political party that will compete head-on with the Democrats and the Republicans.”
What might we expect from a Better Government Party candidate? Mann’s laundry list of desired traits is a mishmash of conservative and liberal mainstays—universal healthcare for all Americans, “simple” taxation (like a flat tax system), strong environmental regulations and civil unions—not marriage—for same sex couples. Mann’s reasoning? “Some married people, religious and otherwise, want to keep their own right to exclusivity,” he writes on the party’s website.
Agree with it or not, Mann’s political platform has one thing going for it—it’s wildly different from anything that exists today. “Nobody likes the way D.C. works. Anybody who pays attention realizes that the Democrats and Republicans are the same. They’re lying. They’re wasting your money … the only choice is a third party.”
But even Mann admits you won’t see a Better Government Party candidate on the ballot any time soon. He claims to have backers but won’t divulge any numbers or names. “I’m not naïve, I don’t think I can do this in a year or two or three. It’s a very long approach.”