Just a few weeks ago, businessman Jon Schultz was hoping to capitalize on news headlines around the globe and wanted to sell the Ebola.com domain for around $150,000. He's managed to rake in even more than that. After buying Ebola.com for $13,500 in 2008, Schultz's Blue String Ventures just flipped the domain for $200,000. According to this SEC filing, the buyer is a Russian company called Weed Growth Fund, which is paying $50,000 in cash and handing over 19,192 shares it holds in another pot-focused company, Cannabis Sativa. Those are valued at around $164,000. Based in Nevada, Cannabis Sativa is led by two-term New Mexico governor Gary Johnson and aims to grow its business by marketing marijuana products for recreational and medical use as legalization becomes more common around the world. Only a few days ago, Johnson said, "We actually believe we have efficacy with regard to treating Ebola."
But again, it's the Russian company — Weed Growth Fund — that will now take ownership of the domain, and there's no immediate word on what its plans for Ebola.com are. Right now, the website remains unchanged with some generic news articles on Ebola and Amazon affiliate links meant to earn Schultz and Blue String Ventures some extra cash. (To be fair, there's also a link to donate to Doctors Without Borders.) Schultz had originally expected his buyer would be a pharmaceutical company, but went on to tell CNBC that the possibilities were endless. "With so many people concerned about the disease, any advertisement referring people to Ebola.com should get an excellent response," he said.
Schultz and business partner Chris Hood also own BirdFlu.com and H1N1.com. Their strategy is pretty basic: buy generic domains they can flip for a significant profit. That strategy gets a bit muddy when you're dealing with a deadly virus that's ravaging entire regions and claiming lives every day; The Washington Post calls him a "merchant of disease." What inspired Schultz to buy Ebola.com for himself in 2008? A Hollywood movie. "Having seen the movie 'Outbreak,' I was entranced by the subject and couldn't resist buying the domain."