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China emerges as world’s largest buyer of domain names

domain names in China, Chinese buyers

Short domains have always been valuable, but if you're a company today and want to own a short domain name, your price just became a lot higher. And I mean a lot.

短域名一直都很值钱。如今,你想给你的公司买一个短域名,那是要花很大、很大一笔钱才可以。

There is a market unfolding that very few know about, and tens of millions of dollars are trading hands monthly. Over the last two years, China has become the largest buyer of domain names, resulting in what is likely the biggest story in domain-name investing since the Internet began.

了解这个市场的人很少,它的月交易规模高达千万美元。在过去的2年里,中国成为全球域名的最大买家,这也可能是互联网有史以来最大的域名投资行为。

Chinese investors and other domain prospectors have been buying up numeric and short-character dot coms faster than Adele can say "Hello." (see this article here)

中国投资者以及其他的域名投资者一直追逐数字和短字母.com的域名,投资速度之快也是令人惊叹。

George Kirikos, a well-known follower of ICANN policy, tweeted on November 14th: "136 of the 676 2-letter .com domain names are now owned by Chinese registrants, breaking the 20% barrier." The same week, TheDomains.com published an article noting Verisign just reported that 3.2 million new dot-com domains were registered in the previous three weeks — more than the entire second quarter.

一直关注ICANN政策的业内知名人士乔治·基里科思11月14日发推文表示:"全球有676个双字母域名,其中有136个被中国注册者所有,突破了20%的门槛。"就在基里科思发推文的同一周,TheDomains.com发表了一篇文章,其中提到据Verisign的报告,前三周新注册域名多达320万个,这比整个第二季度的新增域名还多。

What was once a market where domain name owners would hold and wait for a company to approach them is now quickly becoming a market with mass liquidity — the missing piece of the puzzle for the last decade. Three-letter dot coms consisting of traditionally lower-quality letters often sold in the $10,000 to $15,000 range. Now they are catching upwards of $50,000, and more.

放在过去,域名持有者一般会坐等企业上门求购,现在这个市场却变得更具流动性,在过去十年中被忽视的领域终于得以进入人们的视野。以前三个字母的低质量.com域名售价一般在1万至1.5万美元之间,现在却达到了5万美元甚至更高。

Western investors are still trying to catch up and understand the Chinese market. Letters of lower use in English — q, z and j for example — are considered premium in China. Vowels, on the other hand, are not premium. Any domain name with a vowel or a v is considered less valuable.

西方投资者开始奋力追赶并努力理解中国市场。一些在西方使用频率极低的字母,如q、z、j,在中国却很畅销。元音字母a、e、i、o、u却并不受中国人欢迎,凡是带有元音或者字母v的域名在中国人眼里价值都不高。

Ron Jackson, the publisher behind DNJournal, regularly reports sales like Give.com, Amber.com and Classic.com. However, the sales reports today are now almost nothing but short domains. In fact, 9 of the Top 10 year-to-date sales (all over $500,000) are less than three characters.

DNJournal 的发行人罗恩·杰克森会定期报道Give.com、Amber.com和Classic.com的域名销售情况。然而,现如今这些销售报道几乎全部都是关于短域名的。实际上,在今年售价最高的前十大域名(全部都超过50万美元)中,有9个的字母数不到3个。

Even the preferred way to communicate with buyers has changed. Most transactions are agreed upon in China through QQ — the largest instant messaging system in China, but rarely known in North America. Tracy Fogarty of eNaming explains; "Most offers are sent through QQ. Maybe 1 in 10 people use email, even fewer use the phone."

与买家联系的方式也发生了变化。在中国,大多数交易是在QQ上达成,而北美对于这个中国最大的即时消息软件却完全不为人所知。域名经纪公司eNaming的管理者特蕾西·福格蒂说:"中国的大多交易都通过QQ进行,可能只有十分之一用邮件,用手机的更少。"

This explosion has made a lot of people extremely wealthy, but it's not who you may think. Many industry veterans missed the boat — trying to understand how to analyze what's attractive to Chinese buyers; others doubt the long-term value of this market, and many are doubling down for what they see ahead. All of the elements for a Hollywood story are happening right now.

域名交易的大爆炸让许多人发了横财,这些人可能是公众想不到的。许多产业老手错过了机会,他们极力想理解什么样的域名能吸引中国买家,还有一些人则怀疑该市场的长远价值,他们对未来并不看好。所有这些因素交杂在一起凑成了一出好莱坞大戏。

One great site that tracks market activity is Chaomi.cc, showing sales history in charts (much like forex, gold or other commodities). As Hong Kong domain-name investor Franky Tong explained, "chao mi" literally means fried rice, but also means domain speculation. This shows how Western investors may have their hands full analyzing data.

一家追踪市场活动的网站会用图表展示域名销售历史(比较像是外汇、黄金或其他大宗商品的销售走势),这家网站名叫Chaomi.cc。对此,香港域名投资者弗兰基·董解释道,"chao mi在中文的字面意思是炒饭,但也可以当作炒名讲。西方投资人需要对这些数据进行深入研究才行。"

China is a vastly different culture than America, especially when it comes to wealth. Chinese citizens are raised learning strictly about the importance of savings and building wealth versus our consumer-based society.

中国文化与美国的截然不同,尤其是涉及到财富方面。中国人从小就被教育储蓄和积累财富的重要性,而美国则是消费型社会。

Wealthy people love to invest and Chinese investors are hungry for portable wealth. The rise of Bitcoin was something quickly linked to China markets, but it couldn't hold once Chinese regulators put a stop to the acceptance of deposits in Chinese Yuan. Bitcoin also has liquidity issues for many owners outside of North America.

富人们喜欢投资而中国的投资者渴望方便获取的财富。中国市场很快就对新兴的比特币产生了兴趣,而一旦中国监管机构停止接受比特币兑换人民币,那么比特币也无法在中国站住脚。对于许多北美以外的所有者而言,比特币还有流动性问题。

Domain names are different. First, the rarity of domain names is perfect and measurable since there are only so many two-letter dot coms, only so many three-letter dot coms, so many four-numbers with an 8, etc.

域名则不同。首先,因为2个字符的.com域名就那么多,只有3个字符的.com域名和带数字8的4个数字的域名等都是如此,所以罕见的域名不仅宝贵而且价值是可衡量的。

In fact, what seems like millions of domain names can easily be broken down into premium domain names that have a far lower supply than Bitcoin ever did. This new demand for domain names is not an easy thing to understand, but some of those who do have acquired almost generational wealth over the past year. Others have made hundreds of thousands.

实际上,优质域名可以很容易就从看上去有数百万的域名中分离出来,这些优质域名的数量比比特币要少得多。要理解这种对于域名的新需求不是一件容易的事,但有些人的确因此在过去的一年获得了几代人才有的财富。而还有些人则获得了更多。

Short domain names are commodities now. Fads come and go, and this certainly does not seem like a fad in my opinion. Will there be ups and downs? Sure. But we are likely witnessing history in the making — a new history for an established marketplace that never saw this coming.

短域名现在已经成为商品。时尚总是来去匆匆,不过在我看来,域名投资热却似乎并非一时的时尚。会出现起伏吗?肯定会。但我们更有可能是在见证历史——一个已有市场从未预见过的新历史。

Maybe you should have ponied up and paid for that domain name after all.

也许你真的应该掏钱去买个域名。

2016-06-23

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