The other day I wrote a blog post about the word Dudu having negative connotation in the US but positive one in China. A reader (thanks London555) wrote to tell me that he owns a domain name with a similar nature too: PUKE. Puke means vomit in English but poker in Chinese. What a big difference when a word travels from the US to China! Here's the post.
June 3, 2016 (Fri)
This .com story will repeat many times in China
承泰 (Cheng Tai) does not need Mana.com for its operation. Nevertheless, the company spent almost a year and also close to 7 figures CNY to acquire this name from its overseas seller, and then let it sit quietly in the corner.
Cheng Tai is an fintech startup founded in 2010. By 2013, it already reached the Best 50 Companies to Invest list. In October, 2015 the company started offering a new service called Mana Garden on Mana.cn.
This innovative service allows consumers to shop via Mana so that their personal and shopping data stay with Mana but not retailers. Mana then pays the consumers for licensing their personal information to third party businesses. The service already has 50m users now.
Even though Man Garden is a service available only in China and Mana.cn is a perfect match for the local market, the company actually started the search for Mana.com in January and concluded the acquisition in December 2015.
Then, surprisingly, the company did not upgrade to Mana.com but let it redirect to Mana.cn
Mana is not Pinyin for any commonly used Chinese word, and it seems to me that it's neither a commonly used English word.
According to Merriam-Webster, mana
means the power of the elemental forces of nature embodied in an object or person
. It has a Polynesian origin, with the word being used in the Hawaiian and New Zealand Maori languages. Wikipedia indicates the word is used in names of places, games, music, and even political parties.
From 1998 to 2011, it's a very simple site which appears to be used by a French company to offer marketing services. Then it became a landing page only until it's acquired.
Why did he spend so much money to acquire Mana.com and then let it sit quietly in the corner?
There may be several reasons that I can think of.
First, credibility. Because .com is king in China's corporate world, no company with big ambition can afford not to own its .com name. All major brands in China such as Le.com and JD.com use .com.
Second, brand protection. If Mana becomes a major brand in the future, significant amount of traffic will be lost to Mana.com if they don't own the .com name.
Third, global expansion. The Internet by its nature provides any company large or small with a global distribution system. Even my tiny, humble blog site is read by people in many countries. It is highly possible the company may expand globally, making Mana.com a must to have for the global audience. (In a public document, the company did mention its desire to expand to other Asian markets.)
So, the Mana.com examples shows that any company with big ambition must secure their .com name, and the story of Man.com therefore will repeat many times in China's corporate world.
What does it mean to investors?
This means that even if your domain name is not a Pinyin word, it may become a target of acquisition by a Chinese company. How can you know?
One way is to check your domain name on the .cn extension. Also, just enter your domain name in Baidu search and then check the domain names of websites listed in the search result to see if your domain name is already used in the .cn extension.