I was very fortunate to attend the Global Domain Summit in Hangzhou earlier this month.
I flew to Beijing first and spent a few days there. Then we took the 6 hour high-speed train to Hangzhou, and were promptly and warmly greeted by the conference organizers at the train station. We were immediately whisked in a private bus with other attendees to the Relax Hotel where we received our badges upon walking in the lobby.
I have to say everything seemed well-organized for a conference with over 1,000 attendees, at least from an attendee point of view. There was plenty of food on hand if you were hungry, and plenty of friendly conference workers to assist.
My only complaint early on was that the air-conditioning did not seem to be working in the main “ballroom” of sorts, and during the opening ceremony I found it to be quite uncomfortably warm and sticky. Being originally from Houston, I know what this kind of heat is like. But it’s another situation when you are in a room with hundreds of others and there is no air blowing at all. I literally had to leave the room after about 10 minutes.
Eventually that little matter was resolved and the rest of the conference provided ample opportunities to meet up with old industry friends and lots of new faces. I found many of the local China domainers on hand to be very friendly and engaging. Many came right up unannounced and immediately introduced themselves. By far WeChat is the way everyone exchanges basic contact information. I have found it to be an indispensable tool when traveling in China.
So on behalf of ChopChop.domains, I put together the following video summary that will give you a little taste on what a Chinese domain name conference is all about. I also had all of about 7 minutes to grab the person that ran the entire conference on behalf of the main organizer, BizCN.com, and do a quick video interview. It sheds some light on the increasing role of women in the China domain name industry.
It’s a bit of a schlep from the Haidian district of Beijing, where I usually stay, to the Xinnet offices waaaay out on the opposite south side.
I don’t mind the one-way 90 minute drive (in normal traffic) because there is so much to absorb and take in as you make your way through this gigantic metropolis. It’s *always* a feast for the eyes, and hard to explain unless you see it for yourself.
The drive is also worth it because I get to meet with domain industry long-timer Daniel Zhang, whom I’ve had the pleasure of knowing for 10 years. Every time we meet I always learn something new from him about the China domain name market! I also learn something new about him. For example, he’s an avid cyclist who has a sharp collection of jerseys!
Daniel runs Xinnet’s domain business unit. Xinnet, in business 23 years, is among the 20 domain name registrars by volume in the world, and one of the largest in China. They claim over 16,000 channel partners and more than 1 million enterprise/SMB customers.
On our most recent trip to Beijing earlier this month, Daniel was gracious to spend 10 minutes with us on camera chatting about the business, aftermarket price trends, and why their enterprise/SMB customers are increasing their appetite for aftermarket domain names and IDNs (fully Chinese character domain names).
Shot this last month. The guys at EJEE were among the first that we engaged when embarking on the domain registrar and aftermarket signup phase in China several years back. We’ve always appreciated their friendship and support.
Two things that I was not able to capture in the video:
- Their very cool white Tesla charging out in front of the office. I think I’d be afraid to own one in Beijing. The traffic situation is to manic in my view! I’d be afraid to drive here myself in any car, let alone a shiny new Tesla!
- The camaraderie at their office. On a number of visits I’ve noticed local domain investors I’ve gotten to know over the years just using this place as a meeting spot of sorts. It’s a comfortable place to just hang out, drink tea, and talk shop. In what is a very virtual business nothing replaces actual face-to-face contact. This applies in any country.
Even though I’ve got a professional microphone we encountered some sound level issues during the interview portion, but you can still understand. Enjoy.
Every year something innovative happens in the domain name industry that I would not have expected. It’s happened every year I’ve been in this business—since 1996.
Last year was no exception. One innovation was the opening of the world’s first domain name-themed coffee shop, China.VC, in the Haidian district of Beijing. This one district alone contains 3.2 million inhabitants in the capital city of 22 million, and is known to be a center of innovation and hotbed for startup activity.
Plenty of foot traffic everywhere you look. Plenty of young tech-minded folks keen to connect with others interested in investing their new found relative wealth. So why not entice them and others to sip some good coffee and learn about and/or invest in domain names while in the shop?
We hung around and chatted with some of the local patrons while shooting some video for ChopChop.domains, TLD Registry’s new site that lets user find and buy Chinese domain names, even if they don’t speak Chinese. Disclosure: I am a Vice-President at TLD Registry.
We also managed to chat on camera with two of the co-founders, and discussed:
- How did you get started in the domain name industry?
- Considering the incredible rise in prices last year (2015) where do you think the domain market is going this year?
- Why are people in China who have never been in the domain business getting into it? Is it the economy? What do you think is making people decide to invest in domain names instead of gold, commodities, or stocks?
The day we dropped by the cafe they were conducting a live domain name auction so it was quite busy.
Afterwards we posed with most of the attendees. A very friendly and warm welcome from folks eager to connect with others in the west about domain name opportunities!
As many in the industry know, domain names are a hot commodity for Chinese investors these days.
So it seemed appropriate to talk to the guy heading the company that spent about $20 million acquiring domain names last year, and in particular acquired about 7,000 non-vowel LLLL.com names.
We talked about:
- Acquisition activity in 2015.
- Where is your U.S. office going to be located?
- What you going to do with all those LLLL.coms?
- Do corporations really want pinyin names vs. random LLLL.com names?
- Where do you see pricing and the market going in the next year or so?
- Why the rapid growth in prices last year?
- How important is the TLD string itself to the people in China.
- MIIT regulations and ICP
- Why did you choose 190.com as your company name?
We spent over two hours talking in this interview shot for ChopChop.domains, TLD Registry’s new site that lets user find and buy Chinese domain names, even if they don’t speak Chinese. Disclosure: I am a Vice-President at TLD Registry.
Since many reading this blog probably don’t speak Chinese, we figured it might be a bit easier to watch and learn if we cut out most of the in-Chinese responses and let my colleague Jin Wang provide the interpretation.
I hope you gain some knowledge about the Chinese market from watching this video!
Last month, my colleagues at China Market Consulting sat down for tea and a long proper chat about the domain name investing climate with China’s ‘Domain Captain’, Mr. Peibi Wang 王培陛, CEO of YMQ.cn, at his Beijing office.
This video is just a short (less than 5 minutes) excerpt from that 90 minute discussion. Arto asked a lot of questions, and our colleague Luke provided the interpretation.
There is no voice-over commentary or subtitles. It’s easy to follow along and get some sense of how one of the of the most successful domain investors in China operates.