Kassey Lee explains why this seemingly random combination is valuable in China.
It’s no fun watching the 4 character (4C) domain space everyday to see prices of many of these domains selling for only $10 to $20. However, once in a while, when a spectacular sale does occur, I want to know more about the domain. This happened last month when 23ZW.com sold for $16,500.
In fact, 23ZW.com has a rich history related to China. Wayback Machine at Archive.org indicates that the domain was first recorded in 2011. In that year, 23ZW.com was the corporate domain of An Shan Zhong Wang (鞍山众旺), a manufacturer of residential and commercial air conditioners. Here, 23 rhymes with An Shan (鞍山 = a city name in the Liaoning province) and ZW is an acronym for Zhong Wang (众旺 = multitude of prosperity). So, 23ZW matched the company name.
A year later, the domain was probably dropped. In December 2013, 23ZW.com was turned into a fiction portal called Ao Shi Zhong Wen Wang (傲世中文网). Here, 23 rhymes slightly with Ao Shi (傲世 = very proud) and ZW is an acronym for Zhong Wen (中文 = Chinese). Again, 23ZW was used in a meaningful way.
In April this year, the site displayed a message to direct readers to their new site 23ZW.me as 23ZW.com would be closed soon. In May 23ZW.com displayed only a simple landing page with links to some Chinese betting sites. 23ZW.com displayed the message “This domain name expired on 26/10/2019 and is pending renewal or deletion.” last month, so I guess the owner simply let the domain expire.
The history of 23ZW.com shows that this 4C domain was used in a genuine way by end users in China. Similar use of 4C domains can also be found in the 2018 Top 100 Chinese Internet Companies Report. Two companies on the list are using 4C domains.
One is 21CN.com, which is one of the top 10 portals in China. This domain is owned by 21CN (世纪龙信息), a subsidiary of China Telecom. Here, 21 refers to the 21st century and CN probably means “China”. Another one is 52TT.com which is owned by TT Yu Yin (TT语音), a social game developer. While I could not find any explanation for the domain, 52 rhymes with Wo Yao (我要 = I want) and TT may refer to names of some characters in a game.
As the examples of 23ZW.com, 21CN.com, and 52TT.com show, 4C domains do have genuine demand from end users in China—if they meaningful.