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In my junior year at CUHK, my dormitory roommate Alan was an exchange student from the US. One evening, we were both studying, with our backs facing each other across the room. I was having a good time reading while eating some snack food when suddenly a paper ball landed on my back. I turned and saw Alan smiling, so I returned to my work. Another few minutes later the same thing happened again. When the third time came, I got upset and turned to Alan, wondering what's wrong with him. Then, he said, "When eating, please close your mouth!" That's my first taste of cultural differences. You see, we Chinese like to eat with our mouths open but Americans want the opposite! Here's the post.

June 14, 2016 (Tue)

Why 51 is a popular number for Chinese startups


My last blog post on 2N+English domain names was well received, so I decided to continue and write more about it. Today I'd like to focus on the number 51. 51 may mean 我要 (I want), 无忧 (no worries), and 唯一 (one and only one). These terms are generic and therefore can be applied to a variety of business fields.

我要 (I want) is good for products or services catering to the "me" generation. 无忧 (no worries) alleviates customer fear in health, finance, education, etc. And, 唯一 (one and only one) is for those who want the best in everything.

In the post, I explained how the NYSE-listed 51 Talk uses the "I want to talk" and "No worries to talk" catchphrases to match its domain name, making it easy for consumers to remember the domain name. Now, I'd like to look at few more examples where 51 is used in the domain names.

51=I want
The best domain name for this meaning has to be 51.com, which is a very popular game and social networking site. According to Baidu Encyclopedia, the company scores dozens of best game tiles in China. The site name is 51游戏 (which means "I want games").

51ZXW.net provides courses in a variety of fields for self study, such as computer, interior design, and accounting. The site name is 我要自学网 ("I want to self study" net), where ZXW means "self-study net". Here, a Chinese acronym is used.

51=no worries
51IELTS.com is an online educational service to help students prepare for IELTS tests. IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System and is the world's most popular English language proficiency test. The site name is 无忧雅思 (no worries about IELTS). Here, an English acronym is used.

51park.cn is a mobile app which helps drivers find parking space. The site name is 无忧停车 (no worries about parking). Here, an English word is used.

51=one and only one
51mote.com is a child modeling service which provides child models in major Chinese cities. The site name is 唯一儿童模特 (one and only one child model). Here, a 2-pin word is used.

51zhuoyue.com provides management consulting services. Major clients include Amway, China Mobile, and China Railway Construction Corporation. The site name is 51卓越绩效网 (one and only one excellent performance net). Here, a 2-pin word is used

What do I think? I think we must remember the sheer size of the Chinese population and the Chinese government pushing initiatives such as Mass Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Internet Plus.

This means we will continue to see numerous startups popping up in China and most of them will prefer .com or .cn as there is currently no sign of large-scale migration to new domain extensions. As premium domain names are out of their reach, a meaningful number such as 51 together with a very short name becomes a viable option. The key is: short and meaningful.