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FaceMash.com, the forerunner to Facebook, up for auction

world Updated: Oct 15, 2010 16:27 IST

FaceMash.com, the Facebook prototype which Mark Zuckerberg founded before he launched the famous social networking site, is up for auction by Indian investment banker who bought the domain late last year.

Zuckerberg had launched FaceMash, a forerunner to Facebook, seven years ago. New York-based investment banker Rahul Jain, 33, bought the internet domain name Facemash.com at an auction late last year. He is now selling the rights on domain auction site Flippa.com. Bidding, which opened on October 4 at USD 8,000, closes on October 24.

Jain did not disclose what he had paid for FaceMash.com, saying only that it was less than USD 5,000.

He also did not say how much he expects the name to sell for, though it is listed with a 'Buy It Now' price of USD 125,000, a figure that would end the auction immediately if met.

Jain said he has received offers outside the auction in excess of the current bid price. He plans to donate a part of the auction's proceeds to the Dakshana Foundation, which helps pay the educational costs of impoverished children from India.

Jain has bought, developed and sold domain names as a part-time business since 1999. "This is the first high-profile domain name that I've been involved in," Jain said.

In 2003, Zuckerberg posted photos of Harvard University women on FaceMash and asked users to vote on which one was more attractive.

The site drew 450 users and 22,000 page views on its first day, the Harvard Crimson reported. The University however soon pulled the website, accusing Zuckerberg of breaching security, violating copyrights and individual privacy.

Jain said he is currently leasing the domain for USD 100 a month to social network SlateYou.com which is hosting its Imageler social network.

"Their goal was to get more traffic to their Web site," Jain added. The eventual FaceMash.com buyer would not be bound to any partnership agreements with SlateYou or Imageler and would hold the domain lease outright.

"I don't flip domain names for a living. Some people have that business model; I don't. This domain name presents a unique opportunity with the movie (on Facebook) being out and part of Internet history," he said.

Jain said there may be some people who would not approve of what he does with domain names. "Some people just see this as the wrong way.

What we do is no different than what a trader does, picking up a stock at a low price and selling it later at the price it should sell at.

"I'm a big follower of the Warren Buffet investing school of thought. I just see this as an extension of that model," he added.