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James Iles

An Interview With One of the Most Influential Domainers in China: 190.Com CEO, Daniel Chen

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By James Iles, Apr 4, 2016
  1. James Iles

    James Iles NamePros Writer PRO Gold Account VIP Trusted Blogger

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    This time last year, the four-letter .COM domain craze was just about to start. It’s a period of time that saw prices of four letter .COM “Chips” climb from under $150 to over $2,500 each at their peak. One of those responsible for the acquisition of thousands of four-letter .COM domains was Daniel Chen. Today, we have the privilege of bringing you an interview with Daniel, one of the most influential people in Chinese domain name investing.

    Daniel Chen is the CEO of 190.com, the largest digital asset exchange in China. Since last year, Daniel and his team have largely been interested in the acquisition of domain names, focusing mainly on four-letter .COMs (4L), with 190.com becoming the largest 4L .COM portfolio owner in China at one point last year.

    In this interview, Daniel gives us his views on many different subjects including his views on the value of 4L and 5N (five-number) .COM domains and his opinion on the future of domain names as an investment.



    NP: Can you describe 190.com, and what you do?

    Daniel: 190.com is the first and the largest “Digital Assets Exchange” in China. We basically focus on all kinds of digital assets ranging from things such as “domain names” but also digital assets such as mobile numbers, QQ numbers, etc. Our vision is to become the “Amazon” in Digital Assets business.

    I’m the chairman (CEO) of 190.com and I’m also in charge of the domain investment of 190.com.

    Regarding all types of digital assets within the business, domain names are definitely one of the largest digital assets that we deal with within the company, and seem to be the most popular (although there is activity in all areas).

    We are now an ICANN accredited registrar and our registration platform will be launched on 15th April. We have a transaction service, an escrow service, a brokerage service and all the other domain names supportive services.

    An English version of 190.com is also on scheduled to launch soon, and we look forward to connecting investors from every area of the globe on the platform.


    NP: How long have you been investing in domain names?

    Daniel: I only have been heavily invested in domain names for just a little over a year now.


    NP: What changed in recent years that made domain names a desirable investment asset in China?

    Daniel: There have been three changes that made domain names a desirable investment asset in China.

    First of all, Chinese government started to promote the “internet plus initiative” which pushes traditional enterprises to embrace internet more actively (becoming more E-commerce).

    Secondly, the Chinese government started encouraging more people to start up their own online businesses, which brought a very large demand and need for domain names.

    Third, there has been a drop in stock market across the world in 2015, (especially in China). Investors saw domain names as a safer asset to invest in, and it is where I came from as well.


    NP: Do your Chinese domain investors invest with the expectations of eventually selling the domains to end users or are they planning to resell them to other investors?

    Daniel: Traditional investors tend to sell the domains to end users, however many of the large investors who just entered this market are in favor of short term hold transactions (“Quick Flips”). As it’s quite similar to the stock market, which they just left.


    NP: What makes a domain name valuable to a Chinese investor?

    Daniel:
    1. Domains already have potential end user (the bigger the better), if end users fall on other extensions it also makes them more favorable.

    2. Domain extensions that have always been “King” such as .com and .cn

    3. Short “Chip” domains (Pinyin acronyms). Prefix single syllable pinyin domains examples such as Bao, Yao, Tao. These create hundreds of different possible uses as they can mean many different things. Also the standard short domain NN,NNN, LL, LLL’s.


    NP: Does the stock market play a roll in the rise of domain values and increased interest in domains? If so, in what way?

    Daniel: Not really, the stock market does not play a roll in the rise of the domain values but the P2P market does have impacts on the rise of domain values.


    NP: Which domain names are 190.com users currently most interested in buying?

    Daniel: There are mainly two types of users in 190.com, the first type is enterprise “End users”.

    190.com belongs to Shenzhen EIMS Culture and Technology CO., Ltd and EIMS is one of the leading cloud computing providers in China which has more than 70,000 SMEs customers.

    The enterprise “End users” are interested in buying domain names related to their company or business. The other type of users are “middle to high class” domain investors, they are interested in buying domains with valuable extensions such as .com and valuable prefix (domain name).

    190.com is also starting to attract the attention from foreign investors as well.


    NP: What do you think is the 5 year plan of a Chinese domain investor?

    Daniel: Chinese investors will keep looking for valuable extensions like .com and the interests would fall on nnn.com, nn.com, lll.com, ll.com. and other domains similar that will continue to increase in value over time.

    Some thing to keep an “eye out for” is ccTLD’s, and the right “New GTLD’s” as they are becoming more popular replacements.

    A few that I see having long-term investment popularity here are .app and .co.


    NP: What's the best time of year for you for sales? Do numerics sell for more if a certain holiday is happening or right after certain holidays?

    Daniel: For us, anytime is a good time to sell the names, but when you buy domains, you should be more cautious.

    Regarding the price change surrounding numeric domains and the time of year; “in general”, prices tend to increase when it’s getting close to some global sports events such as World Cup, Olympic Games, it varies in different countries.


    NP: What do you think will be the next trend in domain investing? What advice would you give investors be looking to buy into the next big trend?

    Daniel: I would suggest the investors to continue to focus on 4L.com and also 5N.com (as they are heavily undervalued).

    190.com created a very large network of clientele, with domain for all types of domains. 4L.com “chips” were a huge demand last year, and 190.com heavily influenced its promotion, and was the largest owner of 4L.com domains in China.

    5N.com domains still have use for other investors in China and potential end users as well.


    NP: Recently, there has been a large decline in prices of Chinese premium domains. Do you think this decline will continue?

    Daniel: I don’t think the decline will continue, I’m still very confident on the Chinese and Global domain business market. Our users are buying 4L.com and 5N.com, “as we speak”.


    NP: What are your domain investment predictions for the next 12 months?

    Daniel: From my personal opinion, 4L.com and 5N.com will increase in the next 12 months. Some new extensions “new gTLD’s” also have potential for growth, such as some focused around china like .xin.



    Thanks to Daniel for taking the time to speak with us, and thanks to @mdtaylor for translating.

    This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
     
    The views expressed on this page by users and staff are their own, not those of NamePros.
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  4. James Iles

    About The Author — James Iles

    James is the lead writer for NamePros' Blog and founder of Iles Media, a domain name broker working on both acquisitions and outbound sales. For all inquiries relating to stories and interviews, please email: [email protected]

    This is James Iles's 175th blog post on NamePros. View all blog posts

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  5. Comments (50)

  6. TERADOMAIN

    TERADOMAIN Top Member VIP

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  7. abcproductions

    abcproductions Top Member PRO VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    Thank you for sharing your well-prepared interviews James. Always insightful and interesting.

    Regarding Daniel's claim to be the largest LLLL.com holder in China at some point last year, how many LLLL.com did he own? How many were CHIPs? How many does he own now? How many are CHIPs?

    Also, do you know who are the other largest LLLL.com portfolio owners in China? How about worldwide?
     
  8. AuctionBio

    AuctionBio Top Member VIP

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    Thanks for sharing information, Good Interview.
    and this is so for true that big players can move the market, be it upword or downword.. Same game as in Stock Exchange.
    But its really good information, Thanks @James Iles
     
  9. Recons.Com

    Recons.Com Top Member VIP

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    So this guy admits 190.com heavily pumped 4L.com then sold enough at peak that it is not anymore the largest owner, but still recommends to keep investing in 4L.com so that it can dump some more of its holdings...
     
  10. James Iles

    James Iles NamePros Writer PRO Gold Account VIP Trusted Blogger

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    His company, 190.com owned thousands of names at their peak. I'm not sure of exact numbers, and this was just Daniel's claim during the interview. I'll try to find out, and possibly do a follow up article.
     
  11. Bros

    Bros Top Member VIP

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    Thanks for the interview. Good stuff.
     
  12. AuctionBio

    AuctionBio Top Member VIP

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    You are right and i also have the same views about it, but he still did not mention that how many he owned, and still how many left. But at the at of the day you got to play wisely here as well,
     
  13. SlimPickins

    SlimPickins Diggin' the Domains... VIP Trusted Contest Holder ★★★★★★★★★★

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    appreciate the interview and perspective.

    I am not sure if their site is simply not current or what but, if looking at a translated version of it and the link "Team Introduction" in the footer, the CEO looks to be/have been someone else.... was going to use a link but the google translate link doesn't pull up the about us page anyways so anyone interested can look themselves. just pointing it out is all in case is a mistake or just outdated info.
     
  14. Recons.Com

    Recons.Com Top Member VIP

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    Playing wisely and manipulating market and people is not the same thing.

    Even in the interview he calls pumping a "promotion". How exactly did he promote LLLL.coms? He pumped their price by participating in launch of rumor about LLLL.com chips being new stock by 3000% in half a year, then he cashed in on part of his huge profits by selling off and helping the market crash by 1/3 and now he is trying to have it go up again or at least remain as it is to slowly get rid of remaining portions of his LLLL.com holdings.
     
  15. AuctionBio

    AuctionBio Top Member VIP

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    If you check my previous comment, I mentioned the same and I also mentioned that it is same game as big players play in Stock Market where they even crush small investors some time.
    yes right playing wisely and manipulating can not be defined in same phase, both are opposite to each other
     
  16. Yong1

    Yong1 Established Member

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    Would be interesting to hear his view on IDN's and pinyin domains.
     
  17. Michael R.

    Michael R. Top Member VIP

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    Welcome in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ponzi_scheme :)
     
  18. London555

    London555 Top Member VIP

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    James-interesting interview. A few months back I read an article on "internet plus" sort of the IoT of China that Mr Chen mentioned so we bought Yintewangjia.com "Internet Plus" So now if his company can sell it for us in the future we'll be all set. He also mentioned .co and a very well known Chinese broker to me exactly what Mr Chen told you-that .co is catching on in China. We own Luxing.co ('travel") and he told us to hold on to it "it could become valuable" ( his words not mine).
     
  19. London555

    London555 Top Member VIP

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    Thank you for this great and very informative interview James.
     
  20. OceanKing

    OceanKing Established Member

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    Thanks for the interview. V interesting.
     
  21. Skyvisum

    Skyvisum Top Member VIP

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    Thanks for another great interview,James.
     
  22. McKay Taylor

    McKay Taylor Established Member

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    @James Iles

    Happy to help :)

    It was a great and very insightful interview!

    Daniel has a lot of knowledge about the industry as a whole :)
     
  23. Michael Ehrhardt

    Michael Ehrhardt Top Member VIP

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  24. lansespirit

    lansespirit Established Member ★★★★★★★★★★

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    .co & .app are good, i will invest some.
     
  25. 12no3

    12no3 Member VIP

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    .co is next .com in China
     
  26. AuctionBio

    AuctionBio Top Member VIP

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    So you mean we need to hold .co for some time, right?
     
  27. 12no3

    12no3 Member VIP

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    buy more .co , I personally think .co will be at least 50% of wt .com worth.
    it is shorter!
     
  28. James Iles

    James Iles NamePros Writer PRO Gold Account VIP Trusted Blogger

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    Yes, I've heard the .co news from a couple of sources now, although I'm yet to see any Chinese businesses operate on a .co domain name. The big companies are still mainly using .com and .cn
     
  29. James Iles

    James Iles NamePros Writer PRO Gold Account VIP Trusted Blogger

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    Thanks for helping to set this up McKay. Very much appreciated - remember to email me about that other domain :)
     
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