Qi­hoo pays record price for full rights to 360 domain

China Daily (Canada) - - ONE WEEK FREE SMART EDITION - By GAO YUAN gaoyuan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Is the domain name 360.com more valu­able than sex.com? For Qi­hoo 360 Tech­nol­ogy Co Ltd, the an­swer is yes.

The Chi­nese In­ter­net se­cu­rity com­pany ap­peared to have pur­chased domain name 360.com for $17 mil­lion, out-pric­ing sex.com’s his­toric $14 mil­lion buy­out.

Reg­istry in­for­ma­tion shows the own­er­ship of the domain name was trans­ferred from the United King­dom-based tele­com car­rier Voda­fone Group to the Chi­nesec­om­pany onWed­nes­day af­ter­noon.

Qi­hoo was not avail­able for com­ment. A source in Qi­hoo con­firmed to China Daily that the com­pany had in­deed spent a huge for­tune, big enough to pur­chase an ar­ray of popular do­mains such as porn.com, casino. and sex.com. Ad­dresses re­lated to pornog­ra­phy and gam­bling sites are usu­ally the ones with the high­est value.

It re­mains un­clear how Qi­hoo plans to use the domain name. Vis­i­tors to the 360.com domain are au­to­mat­i­cally di­rected to haosou.com, a Chi­ne­se­lan­guage search site owned by Qi­hoo.

The ad­dress is most likely to be the gate­way for all the com­pany’s busi­ness units.

Zhou Hongyi, co-founder ofQi­hoo, is plan­ning a strate­gic shift for the In­ter­net com­pany with smartphones and other house­hold ap­pli­ances on his “to do” list.

Zhou is build­ing a smart­phone com­pany in Shen­zhen, Guang­dong prov­ince. He said ear­lier Qi­hoo’s pres­ence in the In­ter­net sec­tor will help the new com­pany gain mar­ket share in the highly com­pet­i­tive smart­phone mar­ket.

Tian Zheng, a re­searcher at Analysys In­ter­na­tional, said se­cu­rity fea­tures are likely to be the sell­ing points for Qi­hoo-branded phones. “Qi­hoo treats patent is­sues very se­ri­ously, and it is good for it to build its own hand­sets,” said Tian.

Qi­hoo is not the first Chi­nese tech com­pany will­ing to spend a for­tune on an easy-to-re­mem­ber domain name.

In early 2014, smart­phone maker Xiaomi Corp launched a new domain name, mi.com, to re­place the less-in­ter­na­tional xiaomi. when it an­nounced its plans to tap over­seas mar­kets for growth. The ad­dress cost the smart­phone maker about $3.5 mil­lion.

In 2013, Global Broad­cast­ing Me­dia Group spent roughly 72 mil­lion yuan ($11.5 mil­lion) to ac­quire news por­tal China.com’s as­sets in­clud­ing the domain, mak­ing the deal the most ex­pen­sive one ever.

It is dif­fi­cult to track domain pur­chases be­cause many high-value deals are not made public.

The most fa­mous domain sale world­wide, how­ever, hap­pened in 2010 when the United States-based pri­vately held tech­nol­ogy group Clover Hold­ings pur­chased pornog­ra­phy site sex.com from domain spe­cial­ist Es­com LLC for a then record­high price of $14 mil­lion. The site is cur­rently ac­tive. Emma G. Miguel con­trib­uted to this story.

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