Internet

Winners on the new Chinese Internet

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China Web 2.0 Review is a blog that tracks new Internet companies and business models in China.

The bloggers are Tangos and Luyi — two Chinese guys who write clear, well-informed commentary in English about the players — large and small — on China's wild Web.

Your correspondent recently asked them about some Internet companies in the news, and their opinions on the most interesting trends in the business.

Notes:
- Shortly after this interview was completed, MSN and MySpace China signed a partnership agreement, and video sharing site Tudou.com secured a new round of funding to the tune of USD 19 million in VC funding.
- Danwei's list of video sharing websites in China is here.
- In the interview below, CWR signifies that the two bloggers answered the question together.



Danwei interview with Tangos and Luyi of China Web 2.0 Review

Danwei: In your opinion, what three Web 2.0 companies have the greatest chance of succeeding in China, and why?
Tangos: Well, this is the most asked question when I talk with any foreigner, but it is also one of the most difficult questions to answer for me. I personally like Douban very much, and I believe it will be a successful service in a niche market, but I don't think Douban will be a big business. 51.com, though I don't like it, is very popular in social networking field, it has been a challenger to Tencent and Baidu (in Baidu Postbar and Spaces). Of course, there are some sectors which I'm not familiar with but I'm sure there are some potential startups, for example, various online or mobile advertising service.
Luyi Douban, Zhuaxia, Feedsky. All of them are taking on the right problems: information filter, RSS aggregator, feed management. They are the best in each field at this point. Douban has a clear revenue model. Zhuaxia and Feedsky both have proven model to learn from.

Danwei: Are there are other promising or interesting Web 2.0 companies that you think are worth mentioning?
Tangos: I think we should keep eyes on the development of Anothr, Fanfou, Mojiti, Hipihi, Panghulu and Maxthon — is it a web 2.0 company? :) [Editor's note: Maxthon makes a web browser that is very popular in China.]
Luyi: Ezhun and Babytree. Ezhun is basically Douban of TV. Babytree is in a fast growing market and they also have a solid team.

Danwei: Is MySpace China going to become popular? If not, why not?
CWR: We think it is too early to judge whether Myspace would be successful in China, because it will take time for Myspace to localize its service and understand the psychology and behaviors of Chinese teenages. We can not know whether Myspace will do it well or not just now. But I believe it is sure that Myspace China won't be as popular in China as it is in global market. Myspace will need to compete with QQ and 51.com, even though Myspace China said it targeted at 'the silent majority'.

Danwei: What websites are there in China with similar models to Facebook?
CWR: There are quite a lot of alumni networking sites such as Xiaonei and Zhanzuo, but none of them is dominating. Of course, Facebook is now beyond an alumni network. And even in web 1.0 age, there were already very popular alumni networks in China, i.e. ChinaRen and 5460.net, though they may only focus on communication rather than networking.

Danwei: Have you read this:
US Internet companies top ten mistakes in China?
This is a translation of a funny screed by blogger Gong Wenxiang that criticizes American Internet companies management styles and strategies, the original post in Chinese is here.
Do you agree with any of his points? Disagree?
CWR: Most of his points are right. But as a comment under the article pointed out, the article is biased. For example, #2 is not a mistake, but different value of goodness. As to #9, who doesn't like a simple, clean and graceful website? The problem is how to distribute the right content to the right people.

Danwei: Will Google ever be able to beat Baidu, or are Chinese people always going to prefer a home grown product even if the quality is slightly lower?
CWR: Firstly, we don't agree that Chinese people always prefer a home-made product. Take a look at the cars on the street, you can know it. But why Baidu beats Google in China, we think the reason is complicated. To some extent, Baidu and Google are serving different people. Baidu services such as MP3 search, Postbar and Zhidao don't have counterparts in Google. At the same time, for users looking for English information, Baidu is just unusable.

Will Google beat Baidu? It is indeed difficult. But considering the nature of search, we believe Google will not be another Yahoo China or eBay China, it will be a strong competitor of Baidu in long term.

Danwei: How does government interference / censorship / media regulation impact Web 2.0 development in China?
CWR: Censorship will surely influence the web 2.0 companies, esp. those who rely on users to contribute content. But maybe it is a bigger problem for foreign companies than local ones, because local companies have learnt to deal with such kind of problems. On the other hand, we think the development of web 2.0 let people to have more ways to express their opinions, which will also require and push the government to improve their regulation, and will make the regulation be more open.

Danwei: Do Internet companies in China need to have Web 2.0 aspects for success, or is it still possible to build a successful Internet business on older models?
CWR: If we define web 2.0 as an open structure to make the web writable, harness collective intelligence and leverage the wisdom of crowds, I cannot imagine an Internet company can build its service in Web 1.0 way to compete with Sina, Sohu and QQ. Bokee is the most famous failed case. If someone thinks Web 2.0 means RSS, tag cloud or API sort of things, we believe they are not the key point for success. To evaluate a company, we tend to forget those Web 2.0 stuffs, but focus on the very fundamental problem it's taking on.

There are currently 5 Comments for Winners on the new Chinese Internet.

Comments on Winners on the new Chinese Internet

Terrific interview. Thanks Jeremy.

Thanks for the interview. :)

After the interview, Myspace China partnered with MSN China, I think it is quite helpful for Myspace to enlarge its user base, which may suggest that Myspace's target users will be somewhat different from users of QQ and 51.com. But we still can not make any judgment now.

I've been scrolling Tangos and Luyi posts for while.

Really worth to read when you got interest in China's web.

Glad Danwei highlighted them.

Charles
HK

Very cool Jeremy...thanks....

Unrelated, but, its been over a year since you and Joel did put out that listing of favorite blogs/sites/BBS you're reading (http://www.danwei.org/media_and_advertising/chinese_blogs_a_list_of_favori.php)...has this list changed much since then??? Would be curious to see Danwei's "top 10" Chinese language blogs...

AjS

I'm keeping an eye on CWR for long, interesting interview.

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