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Yeah, but that is silly. It is assuming a company is only online then. What if a company has been in business 12 years but only came to the web a couple of years ago.
If they were in business in 1994 there was plenty of hype about the internet and a simple html page was more than enough to have a credible business web page. So one conclusion I can jump to (I confess with no evidence) is that the company was not a forward thinking, on top of the technology kind of organization.
Why not give a little extra emphasis to companyies that jumped on the band wagon early, made the mistakes, but have persevered and had ongoing web presence?
Anyway, the short answer is: life is not fair, some companies have older URL's, some company's have links from PR 9 sites. Start where you are and keep going, striving to improve. And 12 years from now, 2006 companies will be beating 2018 newly created companies if the only comparison being date of URL registration.
Focus on stuff you CAN change!
Smashing: or you can do that. Just beware that some domain names expired for good reasons and you can pick up more than just PR. Just be cauious and investigate before jumping in to buy an old domain name. There are posts around that talk about it in more depth.
I had no clue when I purchased it that it was a previously owned domain. I just thought it up, checked its availability, and bought it.
I was a little concerned about having picked up more than PR, as you say, after finding out that it wasn't a virgin domain, but I could find no information on its previous incarnation(s). I even checked to see if it was cached in the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine.
All seemed to be well with it, though. Regardless, I've since abandoned the project - it bored me to work on it. Always pick a topic you have a passion for, I guess. Someone else will pick it up after I let it expire, I suppose - it's quite a good name - and we'll see if its PR maintains in its next life.