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CEOcast: Interview with Mr. Michael Ng, CEO i-DNS.net Int'l.

Online, CEOcast.com, 24 August 2000 --
You were brought into i-DNS.net two months after it started. Can you give us some background on the Company, some of your background, and your reason for joining the Company?

Michael Ng
CEO of i-DNS.net

Interviewed on:
August 24 2000

Listen to the interview:
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Prior to i-DNS, I was the managing partner for KPMG Consulting in Asia Pacific, and throughout the better part of my career, I have been involved with major consulting companies and software companies such Andersen Consulting and SAP. So, coming to I-DNS is a major step into the dot-com world. It took me about seven days to decide to jump into the dot-com market, but I have not regretted it. As far as I-DNS is concerned, the Company is in a very interesting and niche market on the Internet and that is to basically provide multi-lingual Internet architecture. We are starting right now with providing multi-lingual domain names on the Internet.
What does multi-lingual architecture allow a company to accomplish that heretofore it wasn't able to?
According to the Industry Standard, 60% of the web users of the world resides in North America. However, that only constitutes 5% of the world's population. It is estimated that by the year 2003, 50% of the Net users of the world will not use English as their native language. We are talking about people in Arabia, China, North East Asia, such as Korea, Japan and in Latin America where the languages are Portuguese and Spanish. So given a situation right now where domain names and web sites could only be addressable by pure English characters, i-DNS serves to change that. Basically, we changed the rules by allowing the domain names to be entered into native languages like Japanese, Arabic, Spanish and even Chinese.
Give us an example.
For example, if you were to do marketing in Japan using Yahoo, keying in "yahoo.com.jp" may be quite taxing for someone who has not had an education in English, so we would multi-lingual the Yahoo into the equivalent in Japanese characters, and hence it would be intuitive for anyone who is educated in Japanese to key that it in.
So when this is keyed in Japanese, does the Yahoo site come in?
Yes, and it would be routed to a Yahoo site in Japanese.
Heretofore, although the Yahoo site was in Japanese, it would still have to be keyed in English.
That's right. We are bridging the digital divide here, and the potential for domain names is increasing. The dot-com world has been saturated in English. What we are looking for here in the next few months is really opening up a new frontier in a domain name world.
Will there be any legalities involved with having names registered in one language crossing over into other languages? For examples, for something like drug.com, can there be a claim made that registering it in Japanese is really a different name?
For generic domain names like drug.com, it's a first-come, first-served basis. However, if you are going to register "Amazon.com" and you have the Amazon brand registered in Japan or in China, then Amazon has the right to claim its name in the local language equivalent.
How are you going about marketing your concept?
We are doing a worldwide launch for multi-lingual name. To date, we have established markets in the North East Asian markets, like China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, and we are swinging to the Middle East in Arabia, UAE and Egypt. To be honest with you, it is a big challenge doing Arabic domain names which goes from right to left, rather than left to right. We adopt a revenue sharing model in each of these places. We have distributors and re-sellers of domain names in the right areas using local companies and re-sellers so that they improve the customer support.
Is there an enormous complexity in terms of getting the proper staff to execute this?
Yes, it is a challenge for i-DNS in the sense that we like to work with the right partners, as well as the right people not just for business development, but for the education process. We are marketing this to increase the Internet accessibility for the local country, and hence we do work with the government and Internet regulatory bodies to ensure that this is adopted according to the standards and policies of each country.
How has your Company been financed?
We had a first-round financing from General Atlantic Partners, a U.S. based VC partner. So far, GA has been supportive of the venture.
What plans do you have for the future in terms of financing?
We envision going for a second round in the coming months, although the revenue model for i-DNS is extremely healthy because we are basically running a registry service, which means it's money up front. We have recurring revenues for the next few years. However, we do need funds for further expansion to provide value-added solutions, to encompass and to support multi-lingual on the Internet, as well as to provide a sense of coverage in areas like setting up incorporations in the Middle East and North East Asia--to basically have an international organization.
What allows you to get the recurring revenues? How is that structured?
We are basically running a registry offering multi-lingual names, and hence the model is just like what you would have in a dot-com world where every domain name in multilingual costs about $35 for a year. The first time registration includes our first two years registration fee of $70. This is a pre-payment and it is a recurring charge on a yearly basis. So, if you look at a domain name growth, the estimates and the evaluation that we have is that the size of our domain name registry will continue to grow pretty exponentially over the next few years because of the demand. You might also note that we are going into a different dimension by having different languages. That means that every time we launch a new language, there will be additional room for growth in that area, and i-DNS currently supports close to 55 different languages and encodings.
You seem to be the first mover. It would seem that the barrier for entry here must be incredibly high at this point.
Being a first mover has its advantages and disadvantages in the sense that at this moment we do have the mind share in multi-lingual domain names. We would have to now open the doors however big or heavy in different markets. However, I have to report that we have been extremely successful in this area.
What do you perceive as the two or three biggest challenges that you face over the next year?
We are looking at an evolving standard in the future. i-DNS has been plugged right into regulatory bodies on domain names and technical bodies that look at the right protocols for the future. At this moment, the standards are evolving and this will be a challenge for i-DNS--to be able to share our technology for the future and to be able to provide a stable, reasonable platform for all our consumers. On the other hand, it is now balancing the growth of the domain names market and business that we have versus launching additional services. An example of that is that we have developed multi-lingual e-mail addresses. We have multi-lingual directory searches, and we are now contemplating going in for real time, online e-mail translation.
Because your Company is multi-lingual, when people are following the growth of your Company, what are the milestones that they should be looking at in the future?
There are a couple of different metrics. The most important is the state of the technology vis--vis any other competing technology that we have. I am glad to say that i-DNS has a totally language-independent technology, which is based on Unicode, a universal adoption of protocols, and that can be escalated and evolved into an eventual standard globally. The second metrics would be the geographical coverage-how far i-DNS has grown in areas and languages. The third would be what we offer as a spin-off from domain names. We are now looking at other value-added services to accompany these services. I see these three metrics as milestones for our growth.

-- i-DNS.net shall not be held liable for the views and opinions of the authors expressed herein.
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