If you invest in the Chinese domain market, it’s almost impossible not to come across the name Wen Sheng CAI (蔡文胜). Cai is not only a successful domain investor, he is also a great angel investor. Within the Chinese domain community, however, he is affectionately called “the domain king.”
Cai dropped out of high school and went to the Philippines in 1993 to work in an import export business. After he returned to China in 1999, he wanted to move away from traditional business, so he started looking at the internet as a source of new opportunities — and found domain names. The rest is history.
Instead of repeating the success stories already covered by many people, here I want to summarize some of the things I have learned from studying his domain journey.
He did not give up when faced with failure. In his first investment, Cai registered more than a thousand domain names quite randomly without research. None could be sold, costing him tens of thousands of dollars. Yet, he persisted and through this experience he realized that domain names are dropped if not renewed. So he shifted his focus to drop catching expired domain names — and made a great success later.
He was not well educated, but he made it up by working hard. In the early days, he studied popular websites in China and developed intimate knowledge about domain names. He also created a database of 100,000 valuable names and used it to pick up good expiring domain names.
He took advantage of opportunities. For example, he was interested in domain names for Chinese provinces and cities but he was late to the game. Most of them were already owned by investors outside China. Then the .com crash came and many of these domain names were dropped. Cai saw this opportunity, went against the crowd, and picked up a lot of Chinese geo names such as Puyang.com, Chuzhou.com, and Jingdezhen.com.
He explored niches not yet discovered by other investors. He was an early investor in Pinyin names when he acquired many extremely valuable Pinyin names such as Qiche.com (汽车 = car), Huangjincom (黄金 = gold), and Tudou.com (土豆 = potato). Tudou.com was later developed into a large video site equivalent to YouTube in the west.
So, we can see that success is not easy. It takes time, study, outside-the-box thinking, conviction, courage, and persistence. I hope you have also learned something from Cai’s success.