Grandseeds

It was Japanese, then it became Chinese, and it lives on


May 4, 2019 (Sat). One day in 2000, Mr. Ishida was walking through his Styrofoam factory. He saw a pile of beads and wondered what would happen if he put them into a cotton fabric bag. He tried and he was stunned. The touch sensation was absolutely amazing! Mr. Ishida quickly turned this discovery into a pillow product called Mogu and it became an instant hit in Japan.

Riding on the success, he also acquired the brand-matching domain Mogu.com* for the newly established business in the United States. Unfortunately, the product turned out to be a fad and it went go out of style quickly. By 2005, the company had built up massive debts to end up in bankruptcy, and then the website shut down. Mogu.com became dormant for a long time.

Early this year, Mogu.com came back to life as a fashion ecommerce site operated by Mogu, a China-based startup founded in 2011 and listed on NYSE in 2018. The startup's corporate domain was Mogujie.com before the Mogu.com domain acquisition. Currently, the site has over 63 million monthly active users and it also brings a new meaning to manufacturing.

Mogu.com features a "trilateral network" consisting of fashion influencers, brands, and users. A fashion influencer may showcase a sample to users to determine their preferences, translate them into product features, and then aggregate orders to send to the factory. In other words, manufacturing can now be based on actual order not forecast demand.

So, what do we see in this story? Like prime commercial land, good domains never die (in value). Ownership may change but domains live on. Short, memorable .com domains are sought after in every corner of the earth, pushing their prices higher and higher over the long term.

Specifically, 4-letter consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel domains are particularly important because they are favored both in the west and the east, as seen in the case of Mogu.com. Mogu many refer to もぐ (mumble) in Japanese and 蘑菇 (mushroom) in Chinese. (2-pins are the most popular Pinyin domains adopted by corporate China.) Being meaningful in different languages makes this type of domains very popular.

*Previously, Mogu.com was also owned by a Japanese who launched the domain as an ecommerce site called Mogu Mogu Town in 1998.

Join me on LinkedIn for further discussion.