China Tech in 5 Words – Open, Clone, Cloud, Mania and Entrepreneurship

by Ben Chiang
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Open

Tencent, the Chinese Internet which has long been criticized for its closeness held a grand “Tencent Partnership Conference”, Pony Ma, founder and CEO of Tencent said in the conference that “the more successful our partners are, the more successful our open platform will be.” Tencent generates RMB 20 billion (US$ 3 billion) in revenue in a year, Ma said, and the company was hoping to recreate a new Tencent by helping its partners earning exact the same sum.

And the company that uses penguin as its mascot is not the only one decided to do so in the past year. Baidu, Taobao, Shanda, Amazon, Dangdang, Joyo(Amazon China), Kaixin001, NetEase, 51, Sohu, Youku, Douban, Renren and so on all launched their own open platform solutions.Baidu even pushed the open wave further to mobile front by launching a mobile box computing service.

On the other hand, Joyo, the Chinese subsidiary of Amazon debut its ecommerce platform in mid-July that allows anyone qualified to operate an independent online shop on its website leveraging Amazon China’s traffic, branding, warehouses as well as logistic service for a fee.

Clone

Clones that paying tributes to their American counterparts are thriving in nearly territories here. To name a few, in group buying we have Meituan, Lashou, in lightblogging there’re Diandian, Tuita, in Airbnb we have Mayi and Youtx, in Pinterest we have Huaban, Markzhi and so on, nearly every newly popped up service are expected to find its siblings here in no more than 6 months after its founding in the States.

To some entrepreneurs, copying is another word of innovation, they copy and then adapt them into Chinese environment with minor adjustments. That’s the so called micro innovation.
Cloud

The success of Amazon Web Services and Google App Engine inspired its Chinese peers to hack out their own cloud computing service that let 3rd parties have access to their mighty computing power.

Sina, Alibaba and Shanda all have their own either private or public cloud computing initiatives targeting SMEs through which you can distribute your contents, launch your websites, store your files and more. Some features offered by them like high-performance computing, flexible pricing model, easy-scaling capability, load balancing and so forth

At the same time, consumer-oriented cloud service like Tencent/Sogou cloud input method and Xunlei Cloud VOD are all living examples of disruptively employing cloud-based service in consumer-centric Internet products.

Mania

Dangdang fought with 360buy in the price war over books and 3C products, over and over again. In earlier March, 360buy announced to making no profit in book selling business in the coming 5 years to compete with Dangdang, couple months after, NYSE-listed company initiated a price war competing with 360buy dubbed “Operation Decapitation” in 3C categories in September.

Qihoo, Kingsoft and 360 were also constantly in fight status that they kinda slapped each other on and off. You asserted I’m stealing user privacy, then I’m bitting you back claiming you‘re malware. Just calm down big fellas.

Entrepreneurship

It was both the best and worst times to be an entrepreneur in China as more Chinese cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou and Shenzhen were seeing bootstrap startups springing up, more and more VC and hot money flowing into the market and lots of tech-centric incubators emerged upon the scene, on the other hand, ferocious, endless competition caused by market mania and investment spree is stifling.

It was both the age of wisdom and foolishness since new technologies and business models are quickly and adequately adapting to China, coding languages, tools, frameworks and philosophies like Python, jQuery, Github, NoSQL, Rails, DRY (don’t repeat yourself) and DRW (don’t reinvent the wheels) equipped Chinese coder with latest Valley practice to help them gear up for the startup wave; meanwhile, encouraged and single-minded entrepreneurs jumped into crowded red sea like group buying , liteblogging and the latest Pinterest fever. VCs splashed money into startups in hopes of a 10% chance that one of their portfolio companies might make it – to go public or be acquired for a fruitful exit.

Deng Xiaoping reflected in 1987 on the first eight years of China’s economic reforms saying that “all sorts of small enterprises boomed in the countryside, as if a strange army appeared suddenly from nowhere.” It is these startup firms drove China’s reform momentum. Now it is the rise of those new startup firms founded by spontaneous entrepreneurs to drive China’s innovation momentum and to serve as the major source of the Middle Kingdom’s growth. Some may even argue that the success or failure of a transition econony like China’s can be traced in large part to the performance of its entrepreneurs. And finger crossed they don’t fail us.

To sum it up, no matter how bad these negative situations are, it still might be the best time to start one’s own business in China as the spontaneous entrepreneurship and innovative thinking in the vast land of China motivated many to craft their products and to solve a problem. At the end of the day, As many Chinese founders stumbled along the path set by thorns, feeling the chill of winter and suffering from the hopelessness and despair, it’s the only entrepreneurial spirit that sparks in the long night to guide them through the journey, and inspire them to move on to probably a better time in 2012.

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