One thing that has likely hampered Microsoft’s efforts to boost Live Search’s market share — and perhaps contributed to its decision to consider renaming the search engine — is that it does not own the LiveSearch.com domain name. The domain belongs instead to Tyler Tullock of Bothell, Wash., who says he has rejected several offers for the site. “I’ve had many offers — they’ve always been really stealthy — saying ‘I represent a client blah blah blah,'” Tullock told us. He says that the most recent offer came about six months ago, when an entity offered him $40,000 for LiveSearch.com. Tullock asked for $800,000. They countered with $200,000, but Tullock had to answer within a day. He says he passed. Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) did not confirm whether or not it — or one of it proxies — had tried to buy the domain.
Tullock took control of the domain name about 13 years ago, when he was running an internet-marketing company, LocalSeek Advertising. He used Livesearch.com and other domains to advertise his services, which included a relocation business. Microsoft introduced Live Search in 2006, hosting the search engine on Live.com — a domain that it does own (Tullock says he never tried to challenge Microsoft’s decision to call its search engine Live Search).
Nowadays, Tullock runs a chain of seven music schools in the Seattle area, and parks Google (NSDQ: GOOG) ads on LiveSearch.com. “It makes me plenty of money sending all that Microsoft business to Google,” he says. Tullock won’t disclose how much the site brings in.
According to the WSJ, Microsoft is expected to announce a revamp of Live Search this week, probably under a new brand name. Tullock says that for at least three years now, he has been thinking about a new concept for LiveSearch.com, although he was somewhat concerned about legal issues. “If they’re going to be abandoning the name, I can move ahead with it,” he said.