Despite warnings, the Walt Disney Company managed to let the domain name for a website with 12 million users expire this morning
In August 2007, the Walt Disney Company shelled out up to $700 million ($350 in cash and up to another $350 million in bonuses for targets set two years out) for Club Penguin, the massive multiplayer online role-playing game for kids ages 6 to 14. Founded only two years earlier, Club Penguin met a demand nobody knew existed before its creation and quickly grew from only a few thousand accounts to about 12 million by the time Disney decided to buy. It was generating $40 million in annual revenue.
But Disney still managed to forget about it. This morning, any Club Penguin members who tried to visit the site (many of them, by the way, paying a monthly subscription fee) were met with the page displayed above. You might recognize it: It's similar to any of the walls erected when companies allow their domain names to expire.
Renewing your domain name is a simple process. Despite warnings, though, Disney still managed to forget. It's a really dumb mistake on Disney's part, and the executive responsible is probably sitting in Bob Iger's office, getting a stern talking to as I write this. Forgetting to renew your domain name is like forgetting to pay your credit card bill on time, despite having more than enough money in your checking account, and being penalized an absurd about of money. Except worse, because your credit card probably doesn't kick back $40 million in rewards every year. Rumors quickly spread that Club Penguin had been hacked, or was in the process of being shut down for good or that it was going to be rebuilt from scratch. How many members were lost before the role-playing site was restored this afternoon?