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On the evening of July 27th, Sogou, China's second-largest search company (NYSE: SOGO), announced that its board of directors had received a privatization offer from Tencent. Tencent intends to acquire all outstanding common shares of Sogou
On the evening of July 27th, Sogou, China's second-largest search company (NYSE: SOGO), announced that its board of directors had received a privatization offer from Tencent. Tencent intends to acquire all outstanding common shares of Sogou at a price of $9 per share. If the transaction is successful, Sogou will be delisted from the U.S. stock market and become an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Tencent.
Sogou's Stock Price Surges Upon Receiving Tencent's Privatization Offer
In response to this news, Sogou's stock price soared by over 48% by the closing bell, reaching $8.51 per share. Currently, Sogou has a market capitalization of $3.261 billion.
Following this development, Sogou CEO Wang Xiaochuan responded on WeChat, saying, "Thanks to Tencent for recognizing Sogou's value, technological capabilities, and product innovation."
Based on Sogou's current outstanding shares and Tencent's ownership, the cost of Tencent's acquisition of Sogou is estimated to exceed $2.1 billion (approximately ¥14.7 billion), with Sogou being the primary cash beneficiary.
Upgrading the Brand Domain: Wang Xiaochuan Personally Acquires sogo.com
Sogou, the second-largest Chinese search company after Baidu, was initially a subsidiary of Sohu and was launched in August 2004. In August 2010, it became an independent company.
During its early years, Sogou used the domain sogou.com. However, in November 2017, when Sogou officially debuted on the U.S. stock market, it announced the use of a new domain, sogo.com, which matched its stock ticker symbol, "SOGO." Tencent was already Sogou's largest shareholder at that time.
The choice of Sogou's domain name had been a topic of discussion for some time. Many questioned why they didn't use the pinyin "搜狗" (sougou.com).
The reason was that the pinyin domain "搜狗" (sougou.com) was already in use by a pet website called "搜狗天下" (Sougou World) and was not available for acquisition. "搜狗天下" had been established in 2003, and sougou.com was fully associated with its brand. It was virtually impossible to recover a domain once it had been used in the establishment of a website. This situation served as a warning to other companies, highlighting the importance of early brand domain protection and the substantial financial costs and uncertainties associated with repurchasing brand domains.
In 2015, Sogou's founder, Wang Xiaochuan, even replied on Zhihu, saying, "Do you think sogo.com is a good choice?". This indicates that he had regrets regarding Sogou's domain.
Nevertheless, the sogo.com domain had its advantages. According to Wang Xiaochuan's own response, sogo.com was acquired as early as 2008, and he personally flew to the domain holder's location to complete the transaction.
Sogo.com is a typical CVCV domain with no specific meaning, but it has a simple and memorable pronunciation, just like Sohu's sohu.com, making it easy to remember. It is user-friendly for both domestic and international users, facilitating expansion into international markets. Sogou has also taken good care of its domain protection, securing domains such as sogou.cn/.com.cn/.net, sg.cn, soso.com/.com.cn, sogo.com, sogle.cn/.com.cn/.net.cn, and more.
The Last One Standing! Who Will Own China's Best Search Domain, so.cn?
As search engines are among the most frequently visited websites by users, the importance of domain names cannot be overstated. These platforms carefully select and invest heavily in their domain names.
Google, with a market value exceeding a trillion dollars, owns over 3,000 domains. They once spent millions of dollars to acquire google.cn and google.com.cn, and later spent $20 million to acquire single-letter domains G.cn and the directory 265.com.
Baidu, with a market value of nearly $40 billion, owns valuable domains worth tens of millions, such as kk.com, 91.com, and iq.com and qy.com for iQiyi.
Qihoo 360, with a market value of nearly $20 billion, once spent 17 million RMB to acquire 360.com and invested heavily in the search domain so.com.
As of now, domain names such as sou.com, so.com, and sogou.com have all been used to build websites, with only so.cn still available.
So.cn can be considered the best search domain in China today. "So" corresponds to the Chinese word "搜" (search), "s" represents "safe," and "o" represents "open." Combined, they signify safety and openness in the internet age. This domain is concise, easy to remember, and user-friendly, especially suitable for the domestic market due to its .cn extension.
Sogou has faced criticism for its domain name being easily confused. While the current sogo.com is shorter than the previous sogou.com, it may not fully align with the input habits of Chinese users. By adopting the even more concise and clear so.cn, Sogou can likely enhance its search engine's reputation and influence in the domestic market after delisting from the U.S. stock market.
Establishing a strong platform requires excellent domain names, and a good domain name can help create a great platform. With the support of Tencent, Sogou's influence is set to grow. So, why not seize this opportunity to acquire a premium domain name and strive to become the number one search engine in the Chinese market? Opportunities are reserved for those who are prepared. Who will eventually own China's best search domain, so.cn? Stay tuned!
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