Is Domain Name a Company’s Strategic Asset?
Conversation between Bill Ding and Kassey Lee

As a company’s specific identifier connected to the Internet, a domain name consists of words, numbers, and symbols. As the site entrance and representative of network economy, the domain name is increasingly becoming an important enterprise intangible asset. As a global scarce resource, domain name possesses the same important business value with the trademark and brand in network marketing. The traditional intellectual property protection has not yet included the domain name, but the domain name has become a heated topic in the field of intellectual property. From the rapid development of the domain name itself and the network, domain name right has become a new and independent intellectual property right and represents corporate image, reputation, quality of goods and services.

Kassey Lee is a senior expert in domain name. Born in Hong Kong, Kassey studied in the United States after graduation from college and received Master's Degree in International Management. He had working experiences in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Japan. In recent time, he focused on domain name consulting services and was invited to speak on international domain meetings such as DomainFest and Domain Pulse.

Bill Ding, senior expert in Business Strategy, has established China's leading management consulting firm World Executive Group. Mr. Ding was later transformed into a venture capitalist and created China's first venture capital firm focused on IP investment, Wanwei Capital. The company has more than 2,000 valuable domain names, including,,, and

Bill Ding and Kassey Lee had a conversation on domain name as a strategic asset for enterprises, especially start-ups.

Bill Ding: The number of domain names continues to increase, especially various new domain name suffix. According to statistics released by NCC Group, the global network security company, more than half of the consumers (52%) do not trust the site with new domain name suffix. What do you think is the main reason for this?

Kassey Lee: The basic purpose of domain names is to build websites. As a large number of companies adopt a certain domain extension to develop websites, the reputation and reliability of this extension are built up. This is the reason for the success of .com as well as .cn. Regarding new extensions, since 2013, the number of domain extensions in the world has increased from 288 to 1512 in just four years, but the market simply cannot absorb that many extensions within such a short period of time. Unfortunately, most domain registries have not actively promoted their extensions to businesses to set up good websites and therefore failed to gain any reputation. Worse still, many registries went after short-term gain by drastically reducing domain prices. At one time,a registry even launched a $0.01 campaign for domain registration, leading to the result that many of these domain names were used in phishing to harm the general public. This is why many consumers do not trust the new domain extensions.

Bill Ding: a decent domain name can not only build consumer confidence, but also help enhance investor confidence. A number of research programs show that the company name and stock name can directly affect the stock price. So, do you agree with that the domain name as part of the company and the brand would affect stock prices?

Kassey Lee: I think a good brand can certainly enhance confidence of consumer and investors. However, there are many factors that can affect the price of a company's stock, so it's hard to say whether a domain name can affect stock price. However, looking at this issue from another angle, we see that most listed companies use good domain names, such as Alibaba's, Apple's, and Jingdong's Therefore, companies must acquire good domain names before they are listed.

Bill Ding: Trademark, patent, copyright, etc., are the traditional intellectual property. Why do you think companies must increase the importance of domain names to that of trademarks and patents and invest as strategic assets? And how do technology giants such as Google and Amazon implement domain name strategy?

Kassey Lee: A good domain name is like a piece of prime commercial land on the Internet. Its owner can build a large retail store on it and sell millions of dollars of goods, thus affecting the profit of the company.

A good domain name allows consumers to easily remember its website address, which directly increases the number of visitors and drastically reduces advertising expenses. Corporate giants such as Alibaba, Jingdong, Le TV, and Taobao understand the importance of domain names. That's why they even place their domain name in their corporate logo in order to enhance consumer's memory of the domain name. Jingdong spent US$ 5 million to upgrade from to After the upgrade, consumers can directly visit Jingdong's corporate website without relying on any search engines, thus saving millions of dollars in advertising expenses. On the contrary, losing a domain name can bring great lose to a company.

There is a Chinese saying that goes: "If the name is not correct, the words will not ring true." When Tesla was founded, it failed to acquire its brand matching domain name. In the end, it had to spend 13 years before it could finally upgrade in 2016 from to This change allows it to expand its business from electric car to include solar panels and many more areas. These are the reasons why companies must regard domain names as strategic assets.

Amazon started its business on the internet, so it deeply understands the importance of domain names and is very aggressive in using them. The company is famous for its One-Click ordering, which makes online shopping quick and easy, and consumers do not have to think much about it. This philosophy is also present in Amazon's domain name strategy: it uses mainstream extensions together with brand matching domain names. This helps consumers easily remember the online addresses of Amazon. Specifically, its domain strategy calls for the use of as the core to serve the whole world. In China, it uses domain names matching both their English and Chinese (Yamaxun) brands:,, and

Bill Ding: As the basis of the Internet project, the role of domain name is being continuously enlarged. World Brand Lab found that a large number of domain names of well-known Chinese enterprises, trademarks and specific titles, etc., have been pre-registered by others. And the fact that these domain names are registered cause a great potential threat for the Chinese enterprises in international exchanges, exports of products. What strategy do you think that a startup should have for their domain name?

Kassey Lee: The Internet connects people all over the world together, so it naturally becomes a global market. Any startup with a good idea can capture the entire global market within a short time, such as Uber, Airbnb, and Xiaomi. Therefore, when you start a business, think globally. Make sure your brand name is short, simple, and easy to pronounce. Also make sure you own your brand matching .com, .cn, and other relevant extensions. is a social network and digital media pioneer. Our mission is to build a professional networking platform that brings together professionals in business, finance, law, medicine and other fields and provide opportunities to discuss work-related concerns, share experience and form cooperative relationships. Integrating social media, business communication and ideal market, helps professionals improve personal brands and expand their network. contains collections of ideas, creations, academic research of global professionals and other practical information and establishes a huge cross-industry and cross-region knowledge bank according to multiple vertical industries ranging from agriculture, manufacturing, trade to education etc. Enhanced by our multilingual platforms, also publishes B2B industry magazines or newsletters for international users on a regular basis. Our Influencers program brings together 1000+ of the global top thought leaders to share their professional insights with's members.

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