March 30, 2019 (Sat). The other day I read a small announcement in Chinese financial news, which got me thinking about whether there is a trend of Chinese startups using English-based brands/domains.
The announcement was about a Beijing-based financial service provider called NewBanker. The startup was founded only in June, 2017 but has already received two rounds of investment totaling $10 million. Its brand consists of two English words and its corporate domain is the matching NewBanker.cn.
While this startup does have a Chinese name (牛投邦), I've found in some cases Chinese companies choose not to do so. Take VIPKid as an example. This fast-growing education startup helps Chinese children learn English directly online from teachers in the United States. It was founded in 2013 and is already valued at $3 billion. The corporate domain is VIPKid.com but you won't find any Chinese name on the site. "VIPKid" is its brand in both Chinese and English. In other words, they are not worried about Chinese consumers not being able to remember an English brand.
Focusing on domains, my study of the 2018 Top 100 Chinese Internet Companies Report shows 36% uses English-based domains and most of them are .com. This observation is consistent with the EnglishDotCom domain strategy I've been advocating. My reasoning is that the internet is global by its nature. English is the global language and .com the global domain extension, so it's obvious for startups all over the world to select an English-based .com as their corporate domain if they want to position themselves as a global player.