What the 4 AI dragons’ domain choices tells us

These companies typify modern Chinese companies and the domains they choose.

Picture of a neon dragon and the words "the four AI dragons"

There are the four companies in China referred to as “AI dragons”. These artificial intelligence companies provide critical components to build a smart economy in the digital world. Most importantly, for domain investors, modern companies like these serve as a guidepost to what domains will sell in China.

The dragons are SenseTime, Megvii, Yitu, and Yuncong. They are the new generation in corporate China, yet their domain preferences have not changed much from other companies, as shown in the following table.

EnglishcomcnChinese (Pinyin)comcn
SenseTimeOwnedN.R.商汤 (Shang Tang)For saleN.R.
MegviiOwnedFor sale旷视 (Kuang Shi)N.R.For sale
依图 (Yi Tu)YituTech.com3rd party
CloudWalkOwnedForward云从 (Yun Cong)N.R.For sale

Clearly, the English brand is more important than the Chinese brand. All except Yitu (which does not have an English brand) have chosen to launch their business using their respective English brand.

All four prefer .com domains: SenseTime.com, Megvii.com, YituTech.com. and CloudWalk.com. Also, all except for YiTu use a domain that exactly matches their brand

.cn domains are not very important to the dragons. You can see that SenseTime .cn does not resolve (N.R. = not registered); Megvii .cn is for sale; and CloudWalk .cn forwards to CloudWalk.com. .Com is best used for the global market and .cn for the domestic Chinese market.

As a comprehensive domain strategy, Chinese companies should own all relevant domains matching their English and Chinese brands in both the .com and .cn extensions. The reasons are (1) brand protection and (2) as a backup to .com domains.

For domain investors, this means you can sell English-based .com domains to China. Just make sure they are listed at a marketplace such as Afternic that has retail outlets in China.

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