Why are Pinyin domains called 1-pin, 2-pin, 3-pin, and 4-pin?

Kassey Lee explains the nomenclature for Pinyin domain names.

Graphic that says 'pinyin' in yellow type on purple background

When talking about Pinyin domains, I often use the terms 1-pin, 2-pin, 3-pin, and 4-pin. Where did they come from and why are they important?

Actually, I may be the one who started using these terms. Back in 2015/2016, when Chip domains were the talk of the town, I saw Chinese investors classifying Pinyin domains by counting the number of Chinese characters they represent, as follows:

Terms Pinyin Meaning
单拼 Dan Pin Name representing only 1 Chinese character
双拼 Shuang Pin Name representing 2 Chinese characters
三拼 San Pin Name representing 3 Chinese characters
四拼 Si Pin Name representing 4 Chinese characters

As a man of simplicity, I did not want to use the terms Dan Pin, Shuang Pin, San Pin, and Si Pin. Instead, I just called them 1-pin, 2-pin, 3-pin, and 4-pin respectively. Since I have not received any negative comments in these years, I’ll keep using this convention.

Why are the terms important? They allow investors to know the relative values of Pinyin domains. Generally speaking, the smaller the number, the more valuable a Pinyin domain is.

The most popular type of Pinyin domain is 2-pin. For example, among the top 100 Chinese internet companies, 36 of them use Pinyin domains with the following breakdown: 1-pin (1), 2-pin (27), and 3-pin (8).

Now, let’s look at some actual examples.

Le.com is a 1-pin domain owned by Le TV, one of the largest online video companies in China. Le represents the 1 Chinese character 乐 which means “happy, cheerful, or to laugh”.

Baidu.com is a 2-pin domain owned by Baidu, the biggest search company in China. BaiDu represents the 2 Chinese characters 白度 which means “hundred times”.

Pinduoduo.com is a 3-pin domain owned by Pinduoduo, a large ecommerce platform in China. PinDuoDuo represents the 3 Chinese characters 拼多多 which means “Together, More Savings, More Fun”.

Alibaba.com is a 4-pin domain owned by the global brand Alibaba. ALiBaBa represents the 4 Chinese characters 阿里巴巴 which is a character from the folk tale “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves”. The name just happens to be the same as the Pinyin.

Can you have 5-pin or more? Certainly, but it’s not common. Therefore, I usually don’t go beyond 4-pin when it comes to Pinyin investing. If you want to invest in Pinyin domains, mostly pay attention to 2-pin.

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