So, you’re thinking of starting one of these so-called ‘websites,’ huh? Sounds cool. Do you have a kickass name picked out? Something like ‘coolzone.com’ or ‘awesometown.net’ or ‘mypornvillage.gov’ or whatever? Well, not to burst your lil’ e-bubble, but the domain name you’ve so painstakingly chosen might have already been registered by some other enterprising individual, which means it could cost you a small fortune to acquire it for yourself. Balls, right? We’re talking millions, not thousands, of dollars for the right combination of words and a tool bar.

It might seem loco in the cabeza to shell out such a large sum of shekels for such a small piece of property on the www, but a quick perusal of the world’s most expensive domain names reminds us that humans are a simple lot with simple needs, and anyone who can meet these needs is guaranteed to enjoy a more-than-healthy return on their investment, especially if they manage to do it via the information superhighway. [It’s usually at this point that our scoffing turns to quiet resentment that we weren’t smart enough to get in on this back in 1994, before anyone besides Al Gore knew what the internet was.]

The most expensive domain names have two things in common: a clear agenda and a huge audience. Unsurprisingly, those that have gone for over a million cover the full spectrum of basic human needs:

Sex.com – $12 million (estimated)
Apparently some dot com sales are part cash, part other stuff – most likely the bartering of goods, masonry and the like… or in this case, some other type of service – so $12 million is actually just the estimated cash value of this sale. And it’s a lot. For three letters. But considering the fact that anyone looking to start the long, lonely journey into the world of internet sex is likely to visit this site at least once, $12 mill is a huge bargain; Porn.com went for $9.5 million, which seems like a rip-off when you think about how porn aficionados probably have no need for a generic site when there are so many specialty purveyors available.

Fund.com: $9.99 million
People need money to live in this stupid capitalist society. It sort of makes sense that this one went for as much as it did; people who trade in funds (mutual, equity, money-market, and so on) use the internet to make a lot of that money, so it stands to reason that a website dedicated to this pursuit could make a profit by charging a pretty penny for its services. Unsurprisingly, fund.com is a website that covers the basics of internet investing, which means that the people using it aren’t savvy enough yet to know that they don’t need a website like this to get the job done. Point: fund.com.

Toys.com: $5.1 million
Toys-R-Us just bought this puppy for the price of a small island, (1) because they’re geniuses and (2) because they have the market cornered on awesome Hasbro games. Apparently “toys” is one of the most common search terms on the whole of the internets (your girlfriend is probably searching for a special one right now instead of finishing that TPS report), and toys.com helpfully/oh-so-sneakily directs you to a website that specializes in toys sold at – surprise – Toys-R-Us. Pass go and collect a bajillion dollars, T.R.U.

Vodka.com: $3 million
This one still has a “welcome to the future”-type message on its splash page, and it definitely didn’t show up first, second or third in a Google or Bing search (horrifying), but it does seem to be international in nature and poised to be the biggest thing IN the WORLD (or so the majestic welcome narrative would have us believe). Maybe it’s a secret collaboration between Karkov and Absolut, or maybe it was purchased by an enterprising Russian diplomat with nothing else to do. Either way, if we weren’t drunk all the time, we’d probably have ended up at this site sooner or later in search of detailed info about the elixir of the gods. We also joined the mailing list.

Seniors.com: $1.8 million
A social networking site for seniors that looks like the website for the DMV? Goldmine. Still, we would have expected this site to be more of an overview of what to do with grandpa when he forgets his pants than a glorified elderly escort finder. Isn’t that what e-harmony is for? And are these people even using the internet for anything other than checking their hotmail accounts? But, then again, the home gets lonely at night, and seniors are the fastest-growing population in the country, so maybe there is some genius to be found here after all.

An interesting nugget to ponder as you regret your life choices right along with us: the nation of Camaroon apparently rakes in the dough because they own “.cm” (like .us or .de), which means that every time you type in a URL too hastily (or too drunkenly), this small African republic gets a small donation of fundage. Feel free to throw that one out the next time those Operation Smile people try to guilt you into making a contribution to their cause.