In The News

July 14, 2016.WS Goes to China

Alan Ezeir
Founder & President - Global Domains International, Inc.

I recently went to China with no expectations, just hoping to learn and understand why we are seeing a surge of interest in .WS domains from Chinese registrants. Is there an opportunity there? Is the opportunity long term? I teamed up with Ken Hansen of Zhongguo Ventures to visit China and learn more about how the country’s domain name industry continues to thrive. Even considering my experience and Ken’s expertise, we weren’t prepared for the robust domain market we were to discover during our trip.

Map of visited locations in China

Over a two week span we ventured through Beijing, Xiamen, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Chengdu, and Shanghai; a 7,000 mile trip in total. We met with registrars, investors, and technology and service partners within China. The entrepreneurial spirit and willingness to “take a chance,” “go against the grain,” and just plain “try something new” is abundant there. I have started six businesses and invested in fifteen companies, but I have never seen a group of entrepreneurs like those I met in China.

The businesses we visited were very diverse. Many of them had been operating for over a decade and had hundreds of thousands of customers and millions of domains under management. Others were newly minted, well-funded start-ups ready to compete in the marketplace. Most had 100+ employees housed in impressive modern facilities. Some promising businesses had already entered the IPO process and others are planning to go public in the near future.

Evening skyline in China

Our plans to expand our business in China are off to a very fast start. What I expected to be a “routine business trip” turned into one of the most memorable and productive trips I’ve ever experienced, and there’s a lot more to come. We’ll attend DOMAINfest in Hong Kong this September. Afterward, we’ll meet with new registrars, partners, and domain investors in mainland China. After seeing things for myself, I have no doubt China’s domain industry is just getting started. The .WS Registry will continue to invest time and resource in China to ensure we are part of that bright future.

Meeting with ZDNS

Everywhere we went, the level of interest in .WS domains surprised even me. Those we met with pointed out the success of other ccTLDs in the China market, noting ccTLDs are attractive because they are short. For Chinese users, they believe .WS is easy to remember and simple to type, given that “W” and “S” are so close together on a keyboard. Available premium name inventory was also a hot topic. We explained that all one-character, many two-character, and tens of thousands of three-character .WS domains are still available. But most important of all, we discovered what the letters “.WS” could potentially mean to Chinese companies and consumers:

网商 ~ WǎngShāng, meaning “website”
微商 ~ WēiShāng, a shop on WeChat
卫生 ~ WèiShēng, meaning “health”

With the millions of ccTLD domains registered by Chinese buyers in the last year, the ccTLD market in general is thriving for registrars. Whenever we spoke with registrar executives, they unanimously were eager to expand the ccTLD aspect of their business.

Part of the ccTLD success with investors has to do with finite number of 2 character ccTLDs that can ever enter the marketplace versus the endless supply of nTLDs coming down the pipeline. Short names matter, even to the right of the dot.

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