Health and Science

The website that really rocked under Obamacare

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Jose Vargas was stricken with buyer's remorse when, in 2006, he and his business partner shelled out $2.3 million for a URL:

Thanks in part to the Affordable Care Act, he's no longer suffering.

If Tuesday marked a moment of vindication for the White House's health enrollment website,, then so was it for the website many Americans may have first visited by mistake.

According to company figures provided to, 119,000 unique visitors clicked onto Tuesday, bringing its March Web traffic totals to a record 1.5 million uniques. Although this paled in comparison to the traffic for, which reporter 4.3 million uniques Tuesday, Vargas was more than happy to play host to the incidental runoff of the enrollment deadline surge.

But for Vargas, the domain name is (hopefully) just the beginning.

Read More President: 7.1 million enrolled in Obamacare originally belonged to an eponymous Atlanta-based integration software vendor that exploded during the 1990s dot-com boom and was sold in 2001 for $160 million. Eventually, the company fizzled and the URL ended up in a bankruptcy selloff. It was bought by a private individual in San Francisco, who held onto it for a while before soliciting interest from Vargas and his business partner, Matias de Tezanos. At the time, the pair had made a name and small fortune as Web entrepreneurs.

However, they weren't so sure that would bring similar profits. "We didn't know anything about health care and we still don't," said the 35-year-old Vargas, a native of Venezuela.

Initially, the pair set about raising $6 million in capital and attempted to make into a medical reference destination. But as a pay-for-content site, the business wasn't nearly scalable, so Vargas and de Tezanos returned to the drawing board and relaunched their site as a pay-per-click network of health insurance providers.

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The Miami-based company has a staff of about 30, according to Vargas. It recently hired Jeff Smedsrud, a longtime health insurance executive, to be its CEO. Smedsrud said he is now looking to turn into a "Kayak-like" site for providers.

Although he is appreciative of the unforeseen benefits of the Affordable Care Act, Vargas is sensitive to any suggestion that he is cybersquatting, noting that he and de Tezanos acquired years before was even a glint in Obama's eye.

"We want to build more on the site, more functionality," said Vargas. "We are not, we don't want to be we want to be a player in the Affordable Care Act."

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Smedsrud says the company is profitable and brings in revenue of $10 million to $20 million annually.

As for the domain name, Vargas said he's received several offers over the years for his URL, but he won't say how much they've been for.

"We are open for any offers," he said. " as a URL is valuable, but it will be even more valuable if we can build a business around it."

—By Daniel Libit, special to