18(a) Describe the mission/purpose of your proposed gTLD

Prototypical answer:

gTLDFull Legal NameE-mail suffixDetail
.网站RISE VICTORY LIMITEDzodiac-corp.comView

Zodiac Holdings Limited (“Zodiac”) was founded and incorporated in Cayman Islands by James Seng in 2008 in anticipation of the launch of the ICANN new gTLD program. Currently, it is headquartered in Hong Kong and has an operation center in Beijing, China. The team consists of experienced veterans in the global and China domain name industry like James Seng and former China Network Information Center (CNNIC) employees such as Eugene Li.

James Seng is one of the Internet pioneers in Singapore and is widely recognized as an international expert in numerous Internet areas. He is well known as the inventor of IDN and has co-chaired the IDN Working Group in IETF from 1999 to 2004, leading to the standardization of IDN.

Eugene Li, is the former Vice President of China Network Information Center (CNNIC). During his 7 years tenure at CNNIC, Eugene has launched initiatives that doubled domain name registrations and helped CNNIC become the no. 1 ccTLD and no. 2 TLD by volume. At the time when Eugene left to join Zodiac, CNNIC has over 13 million domain name registrations.

Under the vision and leadership of James Seng, with the support of angels, venture capital firm and family offices of approximately USD 20 million in place for the application and operation of the new gTLDs, Zodiac is seeking to become the first and largest privately held ICANN-approved TLD registry operator in Asia. It intends to operate TLDs that are centric to the Chinese culture.

Asia is currently contributing 44.8% to the global 2.2 billion Internet users population (http:⁄⁄www.Internetworldstats.com⁄stats.htm). Yet, the penetration of Internet users relative to the population is only 26.2%, significantly lower than regions like Europe and America. The gap indicates potential of growth in the coming years as the region continues to develop. In addition, all of the currently available TLDs are operated either by country governments or non-profit organizations. Zodiac believes that the existence of a privately held commercial registry operator would not only help to create healthy market competition but also introduce innovations for the region. Furthermore, no other TLD specifically targets this region other than “.asia”, a non-profit sponsored TLD. The introduction of IDN ccTLDs has helped open opportunities for new TLDs that are more precise in purpose and identity, e.g. .中国 for the country China.

With Chinese being the major population in this region, Zodiac, through its wholly owned subsidiaries and equity affiliates (please refer to the attachment for Zodiac’s holding structure) is applying for 15 new gTLDs in Chinese or strings that have strong relevance to this Chinese Internet community. While different entities would be used for each application, a single business team under Zodiac will be operating all of ICANN’s approved gTLDs. Zodiac expects its 15 new gTLDs to grow from 437,541 in the 1st year of operation to 898,147 by the 3rd year.

To support such a vision technically, Zodiac is partnering with KNET Co Ltd (“KNET” or “Back-End Service Provider”). KNET is founded and established in November 2009 by a team of leading developers and experts under the purview of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, with the objective to setup and operate a secure Registry service plus a Central Internet Exchange.

Since its inception, KNET has been involved across various domestic and international registry-related technical standards forums. Currently KNET has been actively contributing to the development of the Internet keyword addressing series such as technical standards, technical standards for protection of security of the domain name industry standards.

Within the short span of founding in 2009, KNET is already being recognized as one of the National High-Tech Enterprises, achieved numerous enterprise software certifications and has assembled an experienced team of experts in internet technologies, security, marketing and operations. Key members of the management team are highly experienced in top-level domain name operations having previously involved in the .CHINA IDN ccTLD application, setup and operations.

For this application, Rise Victory Limited (“the Applicant”), a wholly owned subsidiary of Zodiac is applying for “.网站”. To make it easier for non-Chinese reader, “网站” will be referred to as “STRING” in the remaining part of this application.

The Applicant’s vision for “.STRING” is to be a connected namespace for everyone that want to attract and serve the Chinese Internet population and help promote innovation, participation and collaboration among them.

“STRING”, pronounced as “wang zhan” means “website” in Chinese.

One of “.STRING” objectives is to make it easier for the Chinese Internet population to access and use the Internet. Today, as fewer and fewer premium domain names are available, companies and individuals have to come up with longer and less intuitive domain names in “.com” or other related TLDs. To the Chinese, where English is a second language, remembering long domain names is very tedious.

Furthermore, there are many methods to type Chinese characters today. An IDN gTLD will make it easier for the Chinese Internet population to not have to switch input methods when typing the full domain name.

“.STRING” is meant to add variety to the current available offering of TLDs. Its purpose is to serve the Chinese Internet population just as how “.com” is serving the English Internet population. Having a specific target audience in mind also helps providers servicing this group to customize their services and products better. Even returns on marketing will be higher due to the presence of such a useful targeted “.STRING” gTLD.

On a global scale, the introduction of “.STRING” gTLD allows any Chinese Internet user (not just limited to China) to have an online identity that he can be more familiar and can associate with. It also helps to promote various aspects of Chinese culture to the rest of the non-Chinese Internet population.

In the latest data released by CNNIC, at the end of 2011, there were about 2.3 million websites and 7.8 million domain names currently in China. This is the initial target audience for the “.STRING” where the emergence of the IDN domain names will become a mainstream way for the Chinese Internet users to input and remember website names.

The Applicant expects “.STRING” to initially reach about 104,098 in the 1st year, and grow to 148,712 and 208,196 by the 2nd and 3rd year respectively.

The projection is based on a conservative estimate taking the following into consideration:
total number of domain names registered in China across all TLDs
proportion of total number of domain names registered in China that are in Chinese
ICANN benchmarking of registry operations, Feb. 2010
price point for “.STRING” and how the China market would react based on the team’s experience in China
initial growth of existing gTLDs in China

The pricing for “.STRING” is intentionally set at similar price point to other gTLDs as the Applicant envisions “.STRING” to be widely adopted as the gTLD of choice for the Chinese Internet community.

The Applicant will have Sunrise process prior to opening the general registration to ensure that the relevant rights owners have their first rights to their names. Landrush period will also be introduced to cater for the ardent aspirant registrants. The Applicant will also adopt the Trademark Clearing House to reduce cybersquatting and other intellectual property rights infringements. Furthermore, the Applicant will have additional protection for geographic names. Details are described in the answers to Question 22, 28 and 29.

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