18(a) Describe the mission/purpose of your proposed gTLD
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The applicant—SOHU.com Limited—is a wholly owned subsidiary of SOHU.com Inc. (hereinafter referred to as SOHU). SOHU, established by Dr. Charles Zhang, one of Chinaʹs Internet pioneers, is in its sixteenth year of operation. It is Chinaʹs premier online brand and indispensable to the daily life of millions of Chinese, providing a network of web properties and community based⁄web 2.0 products which offer the vast SOHU user community a broad array of choices regarding information, entertainment and communication. SOHU has built one of the most comprehensive matrices of Chinese language web properties, covering all-around Internet services such as online media destination, interactive search engine, games information portal, top real estate website, online alumni club, wireless value-added services, leading online mapping services, and development and operation of online games.
In 2000, SOHU (NASDAQ:SOHU) formally listed on NASDAQ, becoming a famous international Internet brand. In 2008, as the only Internet content sponsor of Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, SOHU becomes the first choice of Internet users and wins the highest user satisfaction among the portals for its authoritative, fast, comprehensive and professional report. Now SOHU has become the most influential and trustworthy news center, as well as the most popular entertainment center, sports center and fashion center. By virtue of its unmatched media resources and prominent strengths, SOHU develops professional channels for four major industries—Auto, Real Estate, Finance and Economics, and IT, aiming to provide the most fast, real and authoritative information for the public and build a robust and all-around media platform. As of the end of 2011, SOHUʹs total operating income stood at USD 852 million, an increase of 39% year on year (YoY).
The following is the introduction of major services and products of SOHU.
Online Game Business: The Company’s online game business is conducted through SOHUʹs majority-owned subsidiary Changyou. Changyou.com (NASDAQ:CYOU) is a leading developer and operator of online games in China. It began operations in 2003 as SOHUʹs massively multi-player online games (MMORPG) business unit, before its carve-out as a separate, stand-alone company in Dec 2007 and subsequent listing on the NASDAQ Global Select Market in April 2009.
Sponsored Search Business: The companyʹs sponsored search business is conducted through SOHUʹs online search subsidiary Sogou through Sogou.com, an interactive search engine. By integrating three high-quality and popular Internet applications (Sponsored search service, Sogou Pinyin and Sogou Browser), SOHU has become the most promising enterprise in Chinese Internet industry.
Brand Advertising Business: The Company’s brand advertising business offers various products and services (such as free of charge premier content, interactive community and other Internet services) to its users, and provides advertising services to advertisers on its matrices of Chinese language Web properties consisting of sohu.com, a portal and online media destination; 17173.com, a game information portal; focus.cn, a real estate Website, and chinaren.com, an online alumni club.
SOHU properties consist of sophisticated Chinese language Web navigational capabilities, approximately 40 content channels, Web-based communication and community services. Its regional Websites have extensive reach across China. As of December 31, 2010, it had approximately 1,600 content partners, which enable the Company to provide a wide range of content offerings.
Currently, the domains in SOHU have three major applications: a) majority of domains are under the main domain .sohu.com, including the popular business of SOHU (e.g. micro blog, video, photo album); traditional channels (e.g. news, sports and auto) and regional portals(e.g. Guangzhou, shanghai), which are content and social network dominated; b)the search and software products are under the domain .sogou.com, including search portals, browser and input method; c)the functional portal brands have own channels under the .sohu.com as well as their independent domains.
SOHU found it difficult to manage its domain name portfolio and maintain a consistent and secure brand image which is currently scattered across several different TLDs, therefore, SOHU is applying for .sohu which is commonly known shorten Chinese name for SOHU to grasp the opportunity of new gTLD to promote its online brand. Through this gTLD, SOHU will be able to protect its brand and deliver the right impression and message to the end users, thus becoming the brand protection and brand building mechanism that the company deserves to have in this modern age of the internet. Furthermore, .sohu will have a multiplier effect on SOHUʹs efforts to expand and promote its range of business globally.
The .sohu is planned to be used for SOHUʹs internal business, mainly focuses on the subsidiaries and product lines of SOHU. At present, SOHU has 30 subsidiaries, and several important product lines, including SOHU, Sogou, Changyou, Focus, Chinaren, Go2map, 17173. The existing domains of these subsidiaries and product lines will be gradually integrated under .sohu, without affecting usersʹ usage habits. In addition to these main product lines, .sohu can be used for other purposes as follows: a) special reports for certain significant news or events made by SOHU, such as sars.sohu for the reports of SARS; b) large activities or projects held by SOHU, such as dream2009.sohu, cma.sohu (Chinese Music Award); c)communities about celebrities or superstars, including their archives, photos, news, works or fans club, such as dlj.sohu for the community of the famous singer Deng Lijun; d)the fist products or portals of SOHU, such as ldj.sohu for the MMORPG named Lu Ding Ji developed by Changyou; e) the sports events or competitions in certain place or year, such as 2012.sohu for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
According to the plan of .sohu, SOHU expects .sohu to have 2,000 domain names by the third year of operation at a price of $20 per domain per year. Three stages of domain registration are divided. In the first year of operation, domains of SOHUʹs subsidiaries, principal product lines and channels are planned to be registered, which will be about 1,000 domain registrations. In the second year, domains of SOHUʹs all product lines are planned to be registered and leads to 1,500 domain registrations. In the third year, all new-increased product lines are intended to be registered and result 2,000 domain registrations in total.
By consolidating all the domain names associated with SOHU and its subsidiaries, .sohu will unify all of the companyʹs online related business, reposition them and create a solid foundation for the future. By doing so, SOHU can further increase the scope and range of its online related business while consolidating its position in the market. SOHU will also explore the new operation model of online business.
Furthermore, .sohu will increase the level of trust from the users as problems like phishing, domain redirection and domain parking will be eliminated. Users know that they can depend on such gTLDs that are the brand personification of the actual entity. At the same time, it is so much easier for users to remember instantly and search for such famous companies.
With the rich and high quality gTLD resources, SOHU can redeploy the online business and IT infrastructure to improve the compatibility as well as exclusivity of online business and enhance the security and intelligence of IT infrastructure. To fulfill this mission, SOHU will invest heavily on upgrading and improving the security and intelligence of its information technology backbone and architecture.
In addition, with the leverage of .sohu, SOHU can help to promote healthy competition from the registrars by improving the level of service and providing more optimized choices of domains.
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