Grandseeds

A domain with two faces


July 13, 2019 (Sat). When you see the word "danke", what do you think of? Well, it depends on your native tongue. German speakers may smile because it means thank-you but Chinese speakers may simply draw a mental picture of an eggshell or ammunition case.

Such phenomenon happens because many languages have been Romanized. In the case of Chinese, its romanization is called Pinyin. Danke just happens to be the Pinyin phrase Dan Ke which represents the Chinese characters 蛋壳 (eggshell) and 弹壳 (ammunition case). Yes, a Pinyin phrase may have multiple meanings if it represents many Chinese characters.

Danke.com was registered in 1997. The owner must be German or someone who likes Germany because the website developed on this domain explains the German meaning of Danke. It was used as a directory of various business services such as therapy, theater, and fitness center. In 2003, the site was gone and the domain became inactive.

In 2015, Jing GAO founded DankeGongyu (蛋壳公寓=eggshell apartments) to provide furnished rental apartments to young city dwellers by leveraging internet technologies and the popular "sharing economy" concept. He registered the brand-matching DankeGongyu.com. Within just a few short years, the startup has become a unicorn (valued more than $1 billion) with total funding of about $700 million.

What happened next is familiar to domain investors. Gao upgraded from DankeGongyu.com by acquiring Danke.com but the price was not disclosed. But, let's just imagine: if Hong Kong-based Block.One could pay $30 million to upgrade from Voice.io to Voice.com, how much would the apartment unicorn shell out for a similar reason?

Here are what we can learn from this story. First, short .com domains are generally good for investment because they have global demand. The value of a domain shoots up immediately if it happens to fall into the upgrade path of a corporate domain. Second, it's important to do research and see if your domain has potential buyers in corporate China where ample funds are available for domain upgrade.

Join me on LinkedIn for further discussion.