Internet juggernaut Tencent (00700.HK) has been crowned the most valuable Chinese brand in a survey by Hurun Report, a luxury publishing and events group.
Tencent is worth 208 billion yuan (US$33.51 billion), dwarfing Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (US$206 billion), China Mobile (US$203 billion), Baidu (US$190 billion), China Construction Bank (US$173 billion), Bank of China (US$125 billion) and many other state-owned or private giants.
This year’s report compared the value of different brands. A punchy and easy-to-remember domain name such as qq.com must have been among the most coveted.
That’s the reason Tencent uses qq.com for its flagship instant messaging service. It’s more popular than the company itself.
Getting qq.com was by no means easy.
QQ is the Chinese version of ICQ, an instant messaging computer program first developed by an Israeli company.
Tencent initially used oicq.com (meaning open ICQ) as a domain name but when America Online acquired ICQ, it sued Tencent for intellectual property infringement, according to the book The Kungfu of Tencent.
Tencent lost the case and was forced to surrender oicq.com in 2000. The hefty expenses in promoting the brand went down the drain. The Shenzhen firm had to use tencent.com as a substitute for two years.
With the stellar growth of QQ’s user base, Tencent chief Pony Ma decided to adopt qq.com as domain name only to find that it had been registered years earlier by a US software engineer who quoted a price of US$2 million to release it.
Ma was reluctant to pay such an amount of money and was prepared to wait while talks with the domain’s registered owner continued.
When the man fell into serious financial difficulty, he agreed to sell the domain for US$100,000.
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