Ah, well. Easy come, easy go. It didn’t take a former Google employee long at all to learn that lesson. One whole minute, to be precise.
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In the fall of 2015, Sanmay Ved was poking around on the search engine giant’s site, trying to find out more about the Google Domain’s interface. Users on the site can search for available domain names and purchase them if they’re available. A green smiley face means the name’s up for grabs, while a gray frown face denotes just the opposite.
So just out of curiosity, Sanmay typed in “Google.com.” And got the green smiley face.
Just to see how far he could take it, he added it to his shopping cart at the bargain price of $12 a year. For the domain name “Google.com.”
When he checked out, his dashboard was suddenly updated with messages for the new owner of Google.com. Then came the inevitable flurry of emails and notifications sent to anyone who buys a domain name.
“Quite clearly, ownership had been granted to me,” he wrote on LinkedIn. “Order was successful.”
Successful, yes, but short-lived. One minute later, he received a notification saying the credit card charge had been reversed, as well as a message from Google saying his ownership had been rescinded.
Still, as a former Google employee and huge fan of the site, Sanmay felt duty-bound to report the incident to Google’s security team. They, in turn, offered him a cash reward in the amount of $6,006.13 (if you get creative and kind of squint, those numbers actually spell out “Google”).
But when he asked that the money be donated to a charity – Art of Living India, which provides education to tens of thousands of at-risk youth in impoverished areas – the team upped the reward to $12,000.
“It was never about the money,” he later said. “I also want to set an example about people who want to find bugs that it’s not always about the money.”
Okay, so maybe it wasn’t about the money. Still, it had to have felt good, even if it didn’t last, to know he “had access to the webmaster controls for a minute.”
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