HQ2 #TBT: that time Josh Kopelman got a town named after his company - Technical.ly Philly

Business

Oct. 19, 2017 9:44 am

HQ2 #TBT: that time Josh Kopelman got a town named after his company

Amid the Bezos sweepstakes for Amazon HQ2, a Georgia town offered to rename itself. Turns out, Josh Kopelman's Half.com has a similar story from the year 2000.
The sign was auctioned off on eBay seven years later. The buyer? Kopelman himself.

The sign was auctioned off on eBay seven years later. The buyer? Kopelman himself.

(Photo by Tumblr user Project Guerrilla)

Stonecrest, Georgia, recently won a few headlines with its “go big or go home” approach to wooing Amazon’s second headquarters: If the ecommerce giant picked the Atlanta suburb for its $5-billion HQ2 project, the town would lop off 345 acres of itself and create a new town, Amazon, Georgia. Jeff Bezos could even be mayor.

The story brought back memories of a similar publicity stunt: that time Halfway, Oregon, a half-empty town near the state’s eastern border, renamed itself as Half.com, Oregon.

“America’s first dot-com city,” read the sign welcoming visitors to the town in the year 2000. First Round Capital’s Josh Kopelman, who made his millions as the founder of ecommerce OG Half.com, recounts the tale:

“Back in 1999/2000, dot com companies were spending tens of millions of dollars in advertising to build brand awareness,” Kopelman told Technical.ly the other day. “We didn’t have that kind of budget at Half.com — so we wanted to do a ‘stunt’ that would ‘put us on the map.’ Thanks to the creativity of my marketing team (led by Mark Hughes) the idea emerged to try to convince a town to change it’s name to Half.com. [California’s] Half Moon Bay would have been too expensive, but Halfway, Oregon was a perfect fit.”

So what did little old Halfway get in exchange? The company gave the city $75,000 in cash, $20,000 aimed at economic development and $5,000 for “a four-wheeler for the local Fair Board’s fund-raising raffle,” according to the Seattle Times. The local school got 20 new computers and a couple-dozen area businesses got websites.

“It was a town that was created during the original gold rush, and kind of got left behind afterwards,” Kopelman said. “So we wanted to let them benefit from the Internet gold rush. It got a lot of attention for both the town and for us.”

Advertisement

A year later, eBay famously snatched up Half.com for almost $374 million and Halfway went back to its old name. Kopelman ended up snatching the sign back from the town in 2007 for $1,000, plus a donation of $1,500 to the town for economic development.

How’d Kopelman catch wind the sign was up for sale?

It was being auctioned. On eBay.

-30-
BECOME A CONTRIBUTOR TO THE JOURNALISM FUND TO COMMENT
Already a contributor? Sign in here
Connect with companies from the Technical.ly community
New call-to-action

Advertisement

Navy Yard motorcycle ecommerce firm RevZilla has a new retail-bred CEO

Turn5 opens new 15,000-square-feet customer service hub in MontCo

Today in Philly tech history: ‘3rd Ward closes, this is the official letter to instructors’

SPONSORED

Philly

7 biz resources we learned about at Super Meetup Philly 2019

Chesterrbrook, PA

Deacom

Software Quality Analyst

Apply Now

Philadelphia

Inspire

Manager, People Operations

Apply Now

Philadelphia, PA - Center City

Odessa

Sr. Project Manager

Apply Now

Learn why ‘the channel’ is worth $1.5 trillion and growing: Oct. 9–12

Temple prof’s ‘Queer Gaming History’ retrospective to be displayed at Berlin museum

RevZilla is gonna need customer service and personalization to beat the giants

SPONSORED

Philly

Paid family leave adds to the perks at Chariot Solutions

Philadelphia

Vistar Media

Sr. Software Engineer

Apply Now

Philadelphia

Vistar Media

Front End Engineer

Apply Now

Philadelphia, Pa

Inspire

Event Sales Ambassador

Apply Now

Sign-up for daily news updates from Technical.ly Philadelphia

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!