Saturday, November 28, 2009

Government money, accept or deny?

I attended an interesting forum in Beijing on Thursday. There are three famous VC sitting in the panel, Hugo Shong, Partner of IDG AP, Yan Yan, Partner of Softbank SAIF, and Nanpeng Li, Partner of Sequotia China. They were debating with government officials on whether a start-up in the creative industry should accept government investment. Someone did a survey among the audience. Turned out that only one tenth raised up their hand to accept the money, while another one tenth raised hands to deny the money. The argument from venture capitalist is that accepting government money means a lot of time cost,so better not.

I totally agree. I was in the same situation these days after coming back to Beijing to work on a start-up. Government said they will subsidize the overseas graduates for being an entrepreneur, but the process is very long, and there are lot of forms to be filled. I have to spend half of time dealing with those processes, instead of focusing on the main business. I would rather have the government help with reducing the bureaucracy of starting a company. Looking back, Silicon Valley is really a nice place to start a company. Hopefully government offcials can learn to be more friendly to entrepreneur and understand their concern from deep heart.

Monday, November 09, 2009

electronic commerce in China

I was going to buy a new PC. After asking around, friends suggested me going to Jingdong mall in Chinese name). The first time I heard about it is its financing story. It raised tens of millions of dollars in the last round of financing, which hits the headline of every business newspaper.

I went to the site, and selected a type branded by Acer as cheap as below 2500 RMB. Then I order a plug base, and chose to pay both after delivery. In five minutes after I clicked the "submit" button, a sales representative from 360buy called me and said he will take care of my order. wow, that's very fast service, I was thinking.

However, the next day, he called again saying the PC is not available. It may take longer than the schedule one or two days to arrive. I was pretty upset since no one told me so before I submit the order. Then I waited for a few more days before I found out that my order was blocked. I called the sales guy again, and he said there is something wrong happening on my order, and he will call to confirm with the logistic dept.

A few days later, I called again, and they said it already arrived and will be delivered in two days. However, the plug base I ordered is not available(though it is said to be available when I ordered it). How can I use the PC without those plug base? The salesman asked me to buy it in a store if I want it urgently. I argued that they should deliver a plug base to be for free. But he said he can't make that decision, and if I want to buy another type in a different order, I have to pay for the delivery fee.

It's not a pleasant experience for me. All in all, I made ten calls totally and haven't received all they need. They learned the hardware from, but they didn't get the software inside, which is how to make the customer satisfied. Customers should be updated frequently on how the order proceeds, which 360buy doesn't do; They also let customers pay for the mistake they made, such as a out-of-date status update. I would rather have a smooth online order experience, instead of dealing with a nice sales representative. I wasted more time in talking to them online. Customers will pay for convenience; if they find out that online experience is not pleasant enough, they will go to offline. No matter how much money you have, 360 buy, you should pay attention to it.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

China Internet Conference 2009

It's probably the biggest conference in China's IT industry. That's for sure, since this is a conference serving over 360 million web users and 192 million mobile internet users. I estimate there are over 5000 people attending the conference held in Beijing's International Conventional Center, most of them are young people under the age of 30.

Speakers are trying hard to promote their companies. Big posters such as Google or Sina can be seen anywhere. Internet guys are talking about the big monopoly such as Baidu, Sina, Netease and Tencent, while mobile guys are complaining about mobile operators. The keyword is the market, instead of technology, which for me, is a pity for a lot of technical talents.

Can China have a big Internet company as innovative as Google? I have no answer. Since I arrive here for only two months, I definitely see the struggling start-ups who are trying to survive first. The first question on a start-up is business model, though most of the investors know Google never make money when they get funded, or Craigslist just don't want to make a lot of money. For a lot of Internet companies, making money is always the first priority, which make them start charging users soon, instead of focusing on improving user experience. may be one of the few who has done well without thinking too much about the revenue. But beyond that, I see CEOs are busy thinking about how to charge users, instead of delivering a better service.

I hope the conference will have more innovative speakers and topics next year, at least something exciting, something that can give people a good dream.