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Episode 56 of TechBuzz China is all about short video, which our co-hosts comment should by now be considered one of China’s “New Four Great Inventions.” It’s sweeping the world, and has become an arena in which Chinese companies’ battle for users and revenue is extending abroad. Most of our listeners will have heard of Bytedance’s product TikTok, and likely even of Kuaishou (see TechBuzz #55), but what about other players such as Likee — what is their story? Short videos shot in China, or on apps made in China, are increasingly common sights on social media feeds around the world. Indeed, chuhai (出海 chūhǎi), which literally means “going beyond the seas,” has come to mean “doing business abroad,” and it is going to be a bigger and bigger trend in China tech. The stories of how these short-video companies got started, the mistakes they made and turning points along the way, and how that shapes company DNA and long-term strategy can guide you as to how these players are likely to approach the global markets you care about. You can find these stories and more at pandaily.com. If you enjoy our content, please do let us know by leaving us an iTunes review, liking our Facebook page, and tweeting at us! We do truly appreciate your feedback and support. Thank you also to our listeners over at our partner, dealstreetasia.com. Of course, we are always grateful for our talented producers, Shaw Wan and Kaiser Kuo. P.S. Congratulations on a successful conference this week, SupChina! 
Episode 55 of TechBuzz China is about a company we have admittedly relegated to a “supporting role” thus far here on TechBuzz: Kuaishou, which is rightfully known as the original Chinese short-video app. Rui and Ying-Ying explain that while Bytedance and its Douyin and TikTok products seem to be clear stars today, that trend was not always obvious. It is true that Kuaishou is experiencing declining market share and experimenting with new, hard-charging avenues of growth, but our co-hosts argue that its role in today’s content ecosystem has generally been understated by Western observers. To that end, this week, we delve into the history, leadership, business models, shareholders, and self-proclaimed mission of the Kuaishou app. Listeners may decide for themselves: Do Kuaishou and Douyin really serve different demographics with decidedly different products? Or does a large 46.5 percent user overlap mean that this doesn’t matter — that it is, in fact, a battle to the death, and for a greater end purpose than simply short video? You can find these stories and more at pandaily.com. If you enjoy our content, please do let us know by leaving us an iTunes review, liking our Facebook page, and tweeting at us! We do truly appreciate your feedback and support. Thank you also to our listeners over at our partner, dealstreetasia.com. Of course, we are always grateful for our talented producers, Shaw Wan and Kaiser Kuo. Thank you!
TechBuzz China is back from China! We are happy to say that the week of back-to-back meetings we had in our first-ever Investor Trip was a great success. We were able to visit a host of companies we’ve previously covered on the podcast, like Ximalaya, Xiaohongshu, Ruhan, Xiaomi, China Renaissance, Tiger Brokers, and more, as well as new ones such as Ctrip, Mogujie, Qutoutiao, and Bilibili, which we hope to talk about in more detail soon. Thank you to everyone who hosted us, and a special thanks to all of our listeners who came out for our happy hours! Episode 54 of TechBuzz China is about the rise of the influencer and idol economies in China, which is a major trend that has created an entirely new ecosystem online. Indeed, one-third of China’s total retail sales are taking place online, and its ecommerce platforms are some of the most innovative and advanced in the world. Listen to learn about phenomena such as live-streaming ecommerce (直播电商), multi-channel networks (MCNs), the role of celebrities, and the lengths to which fans in China will go to in order to keep their idols on top. How are these factors influencing the way large Chinese internet companies operate?You can find these stories and more at pandaily.com. If you enjoy our content, please do let us know by leaving us an iTunes review, liking our Facebook page, and tweeting at us! We do truly appreciate your feedback and support. Thank you also to our listeners over at our partner, dealstreetasia.com. We are grateful for our ever-talented producers, Shaw Wan and Kaiser Kuo, and for our intern, Wang Menglu.
TechBuzz China is going to China! As part of our inaugural invite-only TechBuzz China Investor Trip for public market investors taking place right after Golden Week, we will be hosting a live meetup in Beijing’s Sanlitun at Taco Bar on Tuesday, October 8, and in Shanghai at Hotel Indigo on Thursday, October 10. Both will begin at 8:30 p.m. If you are in either of those cities, do come out and have a beer on us! Episode 53 of TechBuzz China is about NetEase. Listen to learn about the company’s founder, William Ding, and how he built a $33 billion empire based on a unique business style as well as on his belief that a company doesn’t need a direction or specific labels. Today, NetEase’s offerings range from email to publishing and developing games, and from breeding pigs to educating people. You can find these stories and more at pandaily.com. If you enjoy our content, please do let us know by leaving us an iTunes review, liking our Facebook page, and tweeting at us! We do truly appreciate your feedback and support. Thank you also to our listeners over at our partner, dealstreetasia.com. We are grateful for our ever-talented producers, Shaw Wan and Kaiser Kuo, and for our intern, Wang Menglu. 
TechBuzz China is going to China! As part of our inaugural invite-only TechBuzz China Investor Trip for public market investors taking place right after Golden Week, we will be hosting live meetups. These will take place in Beijing’s Sanlitun after dinner on Tuesday, October 8, and in Shanghai after dinner on Thursday, October 10. If you are in either of those cities, do come out and have a beer on us! Check our Twitter (@techbuzzchina) for updates on the exact locations and times. Episode 52 of TechBuzz China is on a topic from back in August, when Kuaishou, Baidu, Tencent, and Capital Today invested a collective $434 million into the Q&A site Zhihu 知乎. The site, which literally means “Do you know?” in Chinese, is comparable to Quora in its core services. Its 220 million monthly active users (MAU) is also comparable with Quora’s 300 million MAU. In typical TechBuzz fashion, our co-hosts, Rui Ma and Ying-Ying Lu, dive into Zhihu’s founding story, the company’s business strategy over time, and further comparisons with global sites such as Quora and Reddit. They conclude by explaining why the recent partnership between Kuaishou and Zhihu makes sense. Listen to find out: What does Chinese media believe is significant about the hometown province of Zhihu CEO Zhou Yuan 周源? Over the course of several years, how did Zhihu beat out competitors that included other startups as well as products created by the likes of Baidu? In fact, how might these past stories help to explain Baidu’s participation in Zhihu’s latest round? What is Fenda 分答, how does it relate to Zhihu’s trajectory, and what might explain why it was one of the first instances in which a Silicon Valley entrepreneur openly admitted that he found inspiration in the innovative design of a Chinese company? In what ways is Zhihu’s latest financing so notable, and what does it tell us about the current state of the internet landscape in China? How does Bytedance fit into this fray, and what has been the extent of its investment in the space? Finally, what do our co-hosts think about the future of the user-generated text and voice content space in China?   You can find these stories and more at pandaily.com. If you enjoy our content, please do let us know by leaving us an iTunes review, liking our Facebook page, and tweeting at us! We do truly appreciate your feedback and support. Thank you also to our listeners over at our partner, dealstreetasia.com. We are grateful for our ever-talented producers, Shaw Wan and Kaiser Kuo, and for our intern, Wang Menglu.
Episode 51 of TechBuzz China is our second consecutive show that is in a unique format. It features a replay of TechBuzz co-host Rui Ma’s recorded call on SupChina Access, which was originally aired live on July 23. The conversation is moderated by Jeremy Goldkorn, editor-in-chief of SupChina. As longtime listeners know, we are proudly one of the most long-standing podcasts within SupChina’s Sinica Podcast Network. In this episode, Jeremy prompts Rui to speak on some of the hottest topics, trends, and companies covered in past TechBuzz episodes: Luckin Coffee, e-cigarettes, Baidu, Bytedance, EV carmakers, real estate platforms, and 996 work culture. Overall, it serves as a great intro to the past TechBuzz episodes, if you haven’t already listened to them! In addition, listen in to hear Rui share her expertise on: What is the current macro environment for venture capital and startups in China — is the “tech winter” really coming? What is the status of the STAR market that just launched, and how will it affect the growth of the innovation economy? Does Rui believe that U.S. startups can realistically enter China? What is the most interesting Chinese tech company that Rui knows of, and that listeners on the call may not yet have heard of? What are her thoughts on the business models or revenue models that are unique to China? Is reporting in China “real” — in other words, could a story like Theranos also happen there? SupChina is an independent digital media company dedicated to informing, entertaining, and educating a global audience about business, technology, politics, and culture in China, and SupChina Access is its paid membership that provides even more content, including conference calls such as what you hear on this session with Rui. So, if you enjoy this episode, you should head to SupChina for details on membership. As always, thank you to the entire SupChina team for your constant support. You can find these stories and more at pandaily.com. If you enjoy our content, please do let us know by leaving us an iTunes review, liking our Facebook page, and tweeting at us at @techbuzzchina! We do truly appreciate your feedback. Thank you also to our listeners over at our partner, dealstreetasia.com. We are grateful for our supportive and talented producers, Shaw Wan and Kaiser Kuo, and for our intern, Wang Menglu. Listeners who are interested in visiting China but don’t know where to begin should check out Pandaily’s one-week immersion into China’s tech scene, taking place October 13–19, 2019: decode.pandaily.com. This trip is not to be confused with TechBuzz China’s inaugural invite-only China Investor Trip for public market investors, which will be held October 7–13. Watch out for TechBuzz meetups held in both Beijing and Shanghai!
Episode 50 of TechBuzz China is unique: it’s our first live recording! It features co-host Rui Ma in conversation with author and journalist Matt Sheehan, currently a fellow based at the Paulson Institute’s MacroPolo think tank. It was recorded at the August 13 launch of Matt’s new book, The Transpacific Experiment: How China and California Collaborate and Compete for Our Future. As our co-hosts have commented on previous episodes, we respect Matt as one of the smartest and most thoughtful voices on U.S.-China topics. Though his book covers content and industries that we at TechBuzz usually do not, these topics are crucial to understanding the greater context that defines U.S-China tech today — especially given today’s geopolitical situation. Listen to find out: What does Matt think are some of the long-term repercussions of the Chinese education system, and how they may ultimately impact the decisions and preferences of Chinese tech talent? What does Matt mean when he writes that the Bay Area is to those born and raised in China what Shanghai is like for Americans — and what is the deeper insight here? How do Chinese tech companies often choose to compete in places like India, Brazil, and Indonesia, as compared with American ones, and why? What about Hollywood-U.S. ties: will Hollywood continue to win over hearts and wallets in China, despite the trade war and other macro factors? What about flows of capital between the U.S. and China — how have they been affected? Importantly, what does Matt predict for the future of the Transpacific Experiment, and why should TechBuzz listeners care about its outcomes? You can purchase (and review!) Matt’s book on Amazon. As always, you can find these stories and more at pandaily.com. If you enjoy our content, please do let us know by leaving us an iTunes review, liking our Facebook page, and tweeting at us at @techbuzzchina! Thank you also to our listeners over at our partner, dealstreetasia.com. We are grateful for our supportive and talented producers, Shaw Wan and Kaiser Kuo, and for our intern, Wang Menglu. Thank you! Listeners who are interested in visiting China but never knew where to begin should check out Pandaily’s one-week immersion into China’s tech scene, taking place October 13-19, 2019: decode.pandaily.com. This trip is not to be confused with TechBuzz China’s inaugural invite-only China Investor Trip for public market investors, which will be held from October 7-13. Watch out for TechBuzz meetups held in your city!
In episode 49 of TechBuzz China, co-hosts Ying-Ying Lu and Rui Ma continue their exploration of the converging trends between the U.S. and China’s ecommerce sectors, this week covering the topic of the resale market for sneakers and streetwear. Notably, entrepreneurs in the U.S. and in China, such as the founders of smash-hit sneaker site Pozion, seem to have discovered this space at roughly the same time. Perhaps, our co-hosts muse, due to the tech-savvy nature of the Gen-Z demographic, differences across the two countries are far less than we think. Globally, this and other ecommerce platforms thus far have catered only to women; Poizon and other brands are showing the way to a category in which men are the primary consumers. Rui and Ying-Ying begin by explaining the impetus for this episode: the fact that two unicorns of roughly the same valuation, the same business (selling sneakers and other streetwear to urban youth), and the same lead investor (DST) were born in this space this year. One was the aforementioned Poizon, which is based in Shanghai and was spun off from Hupu, China’s leading sports news and community website. The other sneaker unicorn, called StockX, was birthed in Detroit in June. Listen to find out: What are some of the factors behind this “coincidence”? What is behind the growth of China’s athletic footwear market? How do most streetwear brands market and distribute their products today, and how does this lead to some items selling at a (at times massive) premium? How are these market trends tied to the rise of the NBA and the CBA in China? How do Poizon’s founders enter and drive the story, and in what ways is the company linked to entities such as Bytedance and China’s Most Eligible Bachelor? What is interesting about the stories of other global sneaker-sellers such as Stadium Goods, which expanded almost immediately into China and only later into Europe? What are the challenges that these sites face, including but not limited to a fake rate of at least 1 percent? As always, you can find these stories and more at pandaily.com. If you enjoy our content, please do let us know by leaving us an iTunes review, liking our Facebook page, and tweeting at us at @techbuzzchina! Thank you also to our listeners over at our partner, dealstreetasia.com. We are grateful for our supportive and talented producers, Shaw Wan and Kaiser Kuo, and for our intern, Wang Menglu. Thank you! Listeners who are interested in visiting China should check out Pandaily’s one-week immersion into China’s tech scene, taking place on October 13-19, 2019. Applications will be available soon on pandaily.com. This trip is not to be confused with TechBuzz China’s inaugural invite-only China Investor Trip for public market investors, taking place on October 7–13. Additionally, Bay Area listeners may come out to join TechBuzz co-host Rui Ma, in dialogue with Matt Sheehan at the launch of his new book, The Transpacific Experiment: How China and California Collaborate and Compete for Our Future. The event will take place on the evening of Tuesday, August 13, at the Asia Society, and you should definitely pre-order Matt’s book on Amazon.
In episode 48 of TechBuzz China, co-hosts Ying-Ying Lu and Rui Ma take a look at the direct-to-consumer, or D2C, brands in China. Specifically, they highlight one of the early winners of the business model: Three Squirrels, a Chinese internet snack brand that started off with selling nuts and went public on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange last week with a market cap of close to $2 billion. Though the company has not been covered much in English, it has been all the buzz in China’s tech community, and is a story that our co-hosts think is good for demonstrating both the similarities and the differences in the rise of D2C in the U.S. and China.  Rui and Ying-Ying begin by explaining what they mean by the “snack market” in China. Though estimates differ on the market size, as well as the definitions of the market itself, our co-hosts agree that the market is enormous as well as highly fragmented. Enter CEO Liaoyuan Zhang (章燎原), whose background prior to founding Three Squirrels — in contrast to many of the founders we have featured so far on TechBuzz — was decidedly unprivileged and unremarkable. He was a street vendor, motorcycle taxi operator, and more, before being hired into a firm that sold nuts and eventually being promoted all the way up to managing director for sales.  Listen to find out: What insights did Zhang glean from his experiences in sales, and in the nut industry? Why do we say that Zhang had the right idea (investing into the Chinese version of D2C brands) and the right timing (early 2012) for starting Three Squirrels? How has Zhang’s genius for marketing fueled the growth of the brand? What about the company’s obsession with intellectual property? What reasons other than branding did Kathy (徐新), the founder of Capital Today who led the company’s Series B, give for investing? Overall, what were and are the company’s weaknesses? Finally, how does the story of Three Squirrels converge with what we are seeing in the U.S. with direct-to-consumer brands such as Warby Parker, Dollar Shave Club, Glossier, Kylie Cosmetics, and more?  As always, you can find these stories and more at pandaily.com. If you enjoy our content, please do let us know by leaving us an iTunes review, liking our Facebook page, and tweeting at us at @techbuzzchina! Thank you also to our listeners over at our partner, dealstreetasia.com. We are grateful for our patient and talented producers, Shaw Wan and Kaiser Kuo, and for our wonderful interns, Wang Menglu and Mindy Xu. Thank you!
In episode 47 of TechBuzz China, co-hosts Ying-Ying Lu and Rui Ma dive into a topic they have been wanting to cover for a while now: Chinese educational technology (edtech). Specifically, they focus on VIPKid, a company that has an incredible number of competitors but is by far the largest in terms of scale for its cross-border model of English-language instruction. Notably, 8 of the 12 startup unicorns categorized as edtech by CBInsights are from China — and this does not include the number of publicly listed Chinese education companies in the U.S. Our co-hosts explain that edtech (alongside the recent TechBuzz topics of online brokerages, e-cigarettes, plastic surgery, and e-sports livestreaming) is yet another example of an industry that is thriving in China but is either not widely reported on or would not work well in other markets. Rui and Ying-Ying begin by exploring the landscape for English learning in China, in the context of edtech. They remind our listeners that while over 300,000 students from China study in the U.S. every year, this demographic is a drop in the bucket as compared with the 1.4 billion Chinese citizens who are alive today. The reality is that the country as a whole ranks low in terms of education attainment: The average Chinese person has only had 7.5 years of formal schooling. Of today’s Chinese millennials, almost 20 percent have college degrees, already a sharp increase from the less than 5 percent of Chinese people who are college educated and now in their fifties and sixties. These and other trends, combined with a highly regulated education sector in China, mean that the “TTE” — test prep, tutoring, and extracurricular activities — market for K12 in China is an enormous $18 billion opportunity. Listen to find out: Just how much are Chinese parents spending on extracurricular tutoring for their kids — and how does that compare with the spending of parents here in the U.S.? How much of that funding is going toward English-language tutoring, and what are the reasons behind the Chinese obsession with learning English? How does this all provide context for the legend of 36-year-old VIPKid founder Cindy Mi, a high school dropout who then made her way to an elite M.B.A. program? How did the company first gain traction, and what are its curriculum and business models like today? How did VIPKid come to raise over $800 million from the likes of Sequoia, Tencent, Sinovation, and Coatue, and how did it come to generate at least half a billion dollars of annual revenue with over 600,000 paying customers? What are some of Rui and Ying-Ying’s predictions about the macro factors that may impact VIPKid’s business in the coming years? As always, you can find these stories and more at pandaily.com. If you enjoy our content, please do let us know by leaving us an iTunes review, liking our Facebook page, and tweeting at us at @techbuzzchina! Thank you also to our listeners over at our partner, dealstreetasia.com. We are grateful for our awesome producers, Shaw Wan and Kaiser Kuo, and our interns, Wang Menglu and Mindy Xu. Thank you! Our co-hosts plan to take the week of July 4th off and to return in mid-July. Happy Independence Day to our U.S. listeners!
In episode 46 of TechBuzz China, co-hosts Ying-Ying Lu and Rui Ma take a look at the market for China’s overseas online brokerages, which help Chinese people to invest in securities outside of mainland China. Of note, two Chinese fintech startups, Futu (富途 fù tú, or “path to riches”) and Tiger Brokers, went IPO in quick succession in March. This episode tells the stories of Futu and Tiger against a backdrop of relative volatility for U.S.-listed Chinese equities, as compared with their NASDAQ and NYSE peers. Join us as we explore the potential links between the rise of overseas online brokerages and this volatility, including the large pops — and subsequent bursts — of companies such as NIO, Luckin, and Qutoutiao that have listed in the U.S. in the past year. Indeed, Reuters has cheekily called the seesawing prices “trading with Chinese characteristics.” For listeners who are new to this topic, we recommend that you press the pause button and first listen to episode 40, which provides a history of the Chinese stock market and its various exchanges, culminating in a primer on the new Technology Innovation Board on the Shanghai Stock Exchange. Rui and Ying-Ying begin by exploring some of the reasons for the incredible demand for foreign-listed securities, which is a core driver of the rise of securities brokerages. Listen to find out: How did Alibaba’s U.S. listing help to kick this demand into high gear? How large is the brokerage market, and how is that size affected by such trends as the unprecedented rate of wealth creation by Chinese people, the do-it-yourself attitude of millennials, and China’s overwhelmingly retail (versus the U.S.’s institutionally dominated) market? What is the nature of Futu’s strong ties with Tencent, and how did they come about? In what ways are the founding stories of Futu and Tiger Brokers similar? Today, despite comparable trading volumes, in what ways are these two companies’ business models and sources of revenue divergent? What types of risks do the companies and their competitors face in China, and why do our co-hosts consider regulatory risks to be the greatest? As always, you can find these stories and more at pandaily.com. If you enjoy our content, please do let us know by leaving us an iTunes review, liking our Facebook page, and tweeting at us at @techbuzzchina! Thank you also to our listeners over at our partner, dealstreetasia.com. We are grateful for our incredible producers, Shaw Wan and Kaiser Kuo, and our interns, Wang Menglu and Mindy Xu. Thank you!
In episode 45 of TechBuzz China, co-hosts Ying-Ying Lu and Rui Ma talk about the rise of what has been touted as “the next big trend” in China tech: electronic cigarettes. Despite being criticized as a trap for entrepreneurs and investors alike, as well as concerns around ethical considerations, a large number of high-profile hardware entrepreneurs and consumer internet executives in China have jumped into the fray. Although China has yet to birth a decacorn in this sector like U.S.-based Juul, which is now valued at $38 billion, our co-hosts bet that at least one unicorn will emerge. After all, a recent research report by China’s Sinolink Securities projected the size of the domestic e-cig market to reach over $4 billion in the next four years — in many ways, we are only at day zero as measured against the market potential.   Rui and Ying-Ying begin by explaining that since smartphone purchases in China have slowed, a lot of the wealth and entrepreneurial talent that was focused on that product has shifted to four newer consumer electronics categories: smart speakers, wireless headphones, translating devices, and e-cigarettes. Our co-hosts comment that these product areas are similar to some of those that are getting major attention in Silicon Valley right now. In terms of e-cigarettes, most of the companies covered in this episode are very much like Juul in that they use a liquid cartridge to deliver nicotine. In contrast to electric smoking systems, which are a different category, e-cigs heat up — but do not burn — tobacco. While many Chinese articles reference both under the same label (电子烟), in this TechBuzz episode, Rui and Ying-Ying are only talking about the liquid cartridge device. Listen to find out: What are some of the factors that have contributed to the high, and growing, number of smokers in China? How is it that the country has one-third of the world’s smokers, but only accounts for 3 percent of the global e-cig market, despite also owning 90 percent of the world’s e-cig production? What inspired Han Li, a Chinese man and the first person to successfully commercialize the e-cigarette, to do so? What role does regulation — or the lack thereof, unlike in the 68 countries that have codified guidelines — play? Who are some of the celebrity entrepreneurs and well-regarded VC funds in China that have made a foray into the space? What role do WeChat mini programs, and other new marketing channels, have in the growth of this market? What about the impact of China’s state-owned media, CCTV, on both the telling of the story and on its outcomes? Importantly, how about ethical factors — how are these considerations affecting the moves, or non-moves, made by large internet players and top venture investors? At the end of the day, is the Chinese e-cigarette industry totally lit, or just a bunch of hot air? As always, you can find these stories and more at pandaily.com. Do let us know what you think of the show by leaving us an iTunes review, liking our Facebook page, and tweeting at us at @techbuzzchina! Thank you also to our listeners over at our partner, dealstreetasia.com. We are grateful for our awesome producers, Shaw Wan and Kaiser Kuo, and our interns, Wang Menglu and Mindy Xu. Our sponsor for this episode is the University of San Francisco. USF’s new M.S. degree in Applied Economics is a STEM-designated program that combines economics training with the practical skills in data analytics needed to understand today’s new digital economy. To learn more, visit usfca.edu/techbuzz.
In episode 44 of TechBuzz China, co-hosts Ying-Ying Lu and Rui Ma talk about So-Young, an internet company that markets and facilitates plastic surgery and other medical cosmetic procedures to Chinese customers. The six-year-old company has a stated mission of bringing “health and beauty” to everyone, and its stock priced at $13.80 per American depositary share (ADS) last week but is now trading at about $20. Prior to listing, So-Young had raised over $250 million in venture capital funding, including some from Tencent. Last year, it claimed to have made $8 million in net income, plus a market share of 82 percent based on user time spent on similar apps. Rui and Ying-Ying begin by giving an overview of the scale of the plastic surgery market in China. In China, the industry is broadly known as “医疗美容” (yīliáo měiróng) or “医美” (yī měi), roughly translated as “medical cosmetology,” which includes procedures such as hair removal, hair transplants, and various kinds of laser- and ultrasound-enabled operations — thus enabling So-Young to argue that it is going after a larger market size. Indeed, by this broad definition, China is the second-largest market in the world, and it is poised to become the largest by 2021. Listen to find out: Who is the founder of So-Young, a former developer and lifelong tech geek who has himself undergone many reconstructive and plastic surgeries? What does he think is the real problem with the plastic surgery industry? As a platform, what are some notable aspects of So-Young’s revenue and business model? What types of controversies has the company been involved with, and what are some of its risks and legal issues? Regarding the industry, what are some of the societal and deep-seated belief factors — including some that may be surprising to our listeners outside of China — that help fuel its growth, and how do these affect the demographic breakdown of those who opt for procedures? Ultimately, do our co-hosts believe that platforms such as So-Young are a part of the “problem” or the “solution”? As always, you can find these stories and more at pandaily.com. Do let us know what you think of the show by leaving us an iTunes review, liking our Facebook page, and tweeting at us at @techbuzzchina! Thank you also to our listeners over at our partner, dealstreetasia.com. We are grateful for our rock-star producers, Shaw Wan and Kaiser Kuo, and our interns, Wang Menglu and Mindy Xu. Co-host Rui Ma will be in New York City on Monday, May 20, for SupChina’s third annual SupChina Women’s Conference. Come join her! And, listen to top leaders discuss how women are impacting China’s tech, business, financial, and consumer trends. Jeremy Goldkorn and our producer Kaiser Kuo will also be hosting an on-site live recording of their excellent Sinica Podcast. Our sponsor for this episode is the University of San Francisco. USF’s new master’s degree in applied economics is a STEM-designated program that combines economics training with the practical skills in data analytics needed to understand today’s new digital economy. To learn more, visit usfca.edu/techbuzz.
In Episode 43 of TechBuzz China, co-hosts Ying-Ying Lu and Rui Ma dive into the world of gaming live streaming, which is a pretty big industry in China. Specifically, our co-hosts focus primarily on two companies, Douyu and Panda.TV. The former has just filed to go public on the NYSE at a valuation of $500 million, and the latter officially shut down on March 30 of this year. Notably, these and several other players mentioned in today’s episode have all received Tencent investment at one point or another — not a surprise, since gaming is in Tencent’s lifeblood. Our co-hosts, while both not gamers, acknowledge that the topic of today’s episode is interesting because it is one of the most global ones out there, with plenty of opportunities for cross-border capital. Rui and Ying-Ying begin by launching into the history of the industry, and by giving some topline stats about the current game-centric live-streaming platforms in China. They share that while Douyu claims to be #1, and while it has more users than Huya, Huya is about 25 percent larger by revenue and was profitable last year, unlike the loss-making Douyu. They continue by explaining the critical roles that platforms YY and ACFun have played, and tell the founding story of Douyu. Listen to find out: Why was 2014 considered a good year for Chinese esports in general? What are the synergies between the U.S.-based Twitch and some of these domestic platforms? What has been the role of Wang Sicong, known in China as the People’s Husband due to his status as the country’s most eligible bachelor, in pushing the industry forward? What are the core competencies of any gaming live-streaming platform, and how well has each of these players performed in these areas? On which of these competencies was Panda.TV beaten by Huya and Douyu? What strategies are existing platforms experimenting with going forward, and which of these strategies do Rui and Ying-Ying think are sustainable? As a reminder, listeners unfamiliar with live streaming in China should check out our seventh episode, “How to Win Fans and Influence Losers.” As always, you can find these stories and more at pandaily.com. Do let us know what you think of the show by leaving us an iTunes review, liking our Facebook page, and tweeting at us at @techbuzzchina! Thank you also to our listeners over at our partner, dealstreetasia.com. We are grateful for our rock-star producers, Shaw Wan and Kaiser Kuo, and our interns, Wang Menglu and Mindy Xu. Our sponsor for this episode is the University of San Francisco. USF’s new master’s degree in applied economics is a STEM-designated program that combines economics training with the practical skills in data analytics needed to understand today’s new digital economy. To learn more, visit usfca.edu/techbuzz.
In Episode 42 of TechBuzz China, co-hosts Ying-Ying Lu and Rui Ma turn their attention to the developer-led movement 996.icu, one of the few viral China tech topics in the past few months that has made it to Western media in real time and gotten a good bit of coverage. The movement is so named because there is a popular saying that to work “996,” or at least 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week — as many tech sector employees do in China — is to end up in the ICU. Listeners will also hear from Arman Zand, a lecturer at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. This episode is dedicated to the latest cohort of students from his international business course on China — who, by the way, are all TechBuzz listeners, debated the concept of 996 incessantly while on a recent immersion trip, and met with Pandaily CEO Kevin Zhou over dinner in Beijing. Thanks, all, for your support! Rui and Ying-Ying explain that what has widely been hailed in the West as one of China’s secret weapons to unseating Silicon Valley as the tech hub of the world is actually a contentious topic within China. They begin with the history of the phenomenon: While some companies always had departments that were overworked, the first truly controversial and semi-official adoption of 996 was in September 2016, when it was rumored that the $10 billion online classifieds company 58.com decided to institute the 996 schedule across its then 20,000 employee base. However, it was not until January of this year that an ecommerce software as a service (SaaS) company named Youzan officially announced that it was moving to a 996 schedule. That was the first time the practice, which had only been tacitly acknowledged, became actual, enforced policy. Listen to find out: What has happened since? Within the Chinese blogosphere, what are the stated pros and cons to adhering to a 996 schedule? What is the role of the government and of China’s legal code? Have Chinese people always just worked a lot — and what about in other sectors outside of tech? How did the 996.icu movement start, and how did it go viral? What are the sentiments from both sides of the table within the developer community in China? What do Rui, Ying-Ying, and guest commentator Arman think — is this all just part of the startup hustle, or is it worthy of regulatory scrutiny and change? Will things change? How does this one quality relate to China’s innovation — in other words, why is 996 so relevant, and is it a competitive advantage for China? As always, you can find these stories and more at pandaily.com. Do let us know what you think of the show by leaving us an iTunes review, liking our Facebook page, and tweeting at us at @techbuzzchina! Thank you also to our listeners over at our partner, dealstreetasia.com. We are grateful for our wonderful producers, Shaw Wan and Kaiser Kuo, and for our interns, Wang Menglu and Mindy Xu. Our sponsor this week is the University of San Francisco. USF’s new master’s degree in Applied Economics is a STEM-designated program that combines economics training with the practical skills in data analytics needed to understand today’s new digital economy. To learn more, visit usfca.edu/techbuzz.
In Episode 41 of TechBuzz China, co-hosts Ying-Ying Lu and Rui Ma talk about Ruhnn (RUHN), a relatively small yet significant company that filed for IPO a few weeks ago in the U.S. on the Nasdaq. Ruhnn has become the clear leader in China’s fast-growing influencer marketing sector, an area in which — our co-hosts agree — China should be considered world-leading. Lauren Hallanan, a Chinese social media marketing expert focusing on influencer marketing, and a former livestreamer in China with over 400,000 fans, joins us with insightful commentary on Ruhnn and other influencer incubators. Rui and Ying-Ying begin by explaining that Ruhnn, known in Chinese as Ruhan 如涵, is “China’s No. 1. KOL Facilitator” — with “KOL” standing for Key Opinion Leaders, or the rough equivalent of what in the U.S. are known as influencers. Unlike influencers in the U.S., however, the term KOL has its roots in the advertising industry and is a more professional term that usually implies that the individual is an expert, has a distinct personal brand, and is ready to represent some business interests. In China, one can be  KOL in a variety of subjects, such as business or books. The KOLs on Ruhan are mostly in beauty and fashion; as of filing time, Ruhan represented 113 of these influencers — including now-megastar Zhang Dayi, or Dayi, who also serves as the current CMO of the company. Listen to find out: Who are the founders of Ruhan, and how did they get the idea to create such a platform in 2012? How does the fact that the current Ruhan CEO’s wife is an influencer herself tie in to the founding story? How is it that the Nasdaq IPO is technically not Ruhan’s first public listing? How do influencers in China monetize, and what exactly are the so-called Platform Services provided by the company? How large is the role of ecommerce on Ruhan, and how does its team use audience preferences and purchasing behavior to guide product development from the start? As always, you can find these stories and more at pandaily.com. Do let us know what you think of the show by leaving us an iTunes review, liking our Facebook page, and tweeting at us at @techbuzzchina! Thank you also to our listeners over at our partner, dealstreetasia.com. We are grateful for our wonderful producers, Shaw Wan and Kaiser Kuo; and for our intern, Wang Menglu. Our sponsor this week is the University of San Francisco. USF’s new Masters in Applied Economics is a STEM-designated program that combines economics training with the practical skills in data analytics needed to understand today’s new digital economy. To learn more, visit usfca.edu/techbuzz.
In Episode 40 of TechBuzz China, co-hosts Ying-Ying Lu and Rui Ma talk about the new “Technology Innovation Board” on the Shanghai Stock Exchange, which formally announced its first set of rules last week. Rui and Ying-Ying explain that given its recent trajectory, this registration-based NASDAQ-style board could be launched in a few months, if not weeks — much more quickly than skeptics have assumed. With this news as the backdrop, this week’s episode serves as a quick primer into the differences between China and the U.S.’s capital markets, as well as how these contrasts may explain some of the differences in Chinese tech entrepreneurship and capital versus those in the U.S. Rui and Ying-Ying begin by walking through a brief history of Chinese domestic capital markets, which had a total market cap of $6 billion late last year and are still really young compared with those in the U.S.; in fact, both the Shenzhen Stock Exchange and the larger Shanghai Stock Exchange were founded in 1990. Notably, prior to last fall, foreigners were unable to invest in A-shares on either exchange. Even after loosening controls earlier this year and doubling the amount foreign investors can invest, China still enforces a total quota of $300 billion, shared globally. Our co-hosts cover a range of core questions in this episode. Listen to find out: How does the fact that the Chinese exchanges are approval-based, and not registration-based, affect listings? What role does the China Securities Regulatory Commission, or CSRC, play? Why are there only 3,500 publicly listed companies in China? Why did the Shenzhen Stock Exchange create two additional avenues for listing, in the form of the SME Board and ChiNext? How does the National Equities Exchange and Quotations (NEEQ), or New Third Board, fit into all of this? Why is it that most of China’s best internet companies are listed abroad, and how does that fact play into the new Technology Innovation Board’s intentions and potential for impact? From the perspective of a company preparing to list, what are the pros and cons of listing in mainland China versus abroad? As always, you can find these stories and more at pandaily.com. Do let us know what you think of the show by leaving us an iTunes review, liking our Facebook page, and tweeting at us at @techbuzzchina to win some swag! Thanks also to our listeners over at our partner, dealstreetasia.com. Special thanks to our awesome producers, Shaw Wan and Kaiser Kuo. Our intern is Wang Menglu. Our sponsor this week is the University of San Francisco. USF’s Masters in Applied Economics combines economics training with the practical skills in data analytics that you really need to understand today’s new digital economy. To learn more, listeners can visit usfca.edu/techbuzz.
Episode 39 of TechBuzz China is on a topic of special interest to our co-hosts, Ying-Ying Lu and Rui Ma: podcasting in China! It was sparked by two recent pieces of news within the podcasting industry. The first was the acquisition of Gimlet Media, a podcasting network, by the newly IPOed music-streaming service Spotify for $200 million; the second was the $100 million raised by the podcasting platform Himalaya. In fact, Himalaya’s main investor, China’s Ximalaya FM, boasts 23 million daily active users and is rumored to be going for an IPO soon. In contrast to our typical coverage here at TechBuzz, the above subject barely made a splash in Chinese media — but it was a big deal in English-language news, with quite a few articles mentioning China as a leader in the podcasting industry. One often-referenced article stated that the Chinese government estimated the “pay-for-knowledge” economy to be about $7.3 billion in 2017, with the bulk of it coming from paid podcasts. However, Rui and Ying-Ying ask: Is this an accurate reflection of the industry in China? Is it true that the notoriously frugal Chinese just love paying for podcasts? In fact, why are our co-hosts doing an English podcast and not a Chinese one? Rui and Ying-Ying begin by taking our readers on a short journey covering the history of podcasts in China. First, how do we define the “podcast” industry and how does it relate to markets such as the “pay-for-knowledge” sector, which is seeing explosive growth in China? Why has this market taken off? How does the expert-celebrity mentality fit in, as well as knowledge anxiety and the concept that information is money? Who are some of the top audio content creators in China today, and how have they generated such incredible revenue streams? How has the threat of censorship affected how content is created and distributed, and which platforms win out? Other than Ximalaya, what are some of the other companies in this space? What do Rui and Ying-Ying think is the future of the industry? As always, you can find these stories and more at pandaily.com. Do let us know what you think of the show by leaving us an iTunes review, liking our Facebook page, and tweeting at us at @techbuzzchina to win some swag! Thanks also to our listeners over at our partner, dealstreetasia.com. Special thanks to our awesome producers, Shaw Wan and Kaiser Kuo. Our intern is Wang Menglu.
In episode 38 of TechBuzz China, co-hosts Ying-Ying Lu and Rui Ma dive into this year’s Battle of the Red Packets. The name refers to the custom of money-giving, which is an important part of the Chinese New Year experience. It has also been taken over by Chinese internet companies as one of their main user acquisition events of the year. Rui and Ying-Ying begin by sharing the history of hongbao, or “red packet.” In the Ming and Qing dynasties, the traditional gift was simply a stack of coins tied up with red string. With the popularity of paper money came the introduction of the red envelopes we see now. The so-called Battle of the Red Packets emerged in 2014, when WeChat fundamentally changed the rules of the game by allowing users to send digital red packets to the chat groups they are in within the app. WeChat essentially gamified the experience, coining the term 抢红包, or “grabbing red packets.” In the first year, 5 million users grabbed 20 million WeChat red packets 75 million times, from New Year’s Eve to 4 p.m. the next day. Since 2014, the yearly phenomenon has taken on a life of its own. Listen to hear Rui and Ying-Ying discuss: What additional features has WeChat added to the red packets’ function? What was the link between WeChat and the CCTV Chinese New Year’s Gala? How does WeChat’s approach contrast with those of other platforms, such as Alibaba’s Alipay? What moves has Baidu made in all of this, and especially this year? What about relative newcomers Douyin and Kuaishou? Finally, in what way do red packets reflect real-life social concepts in China, such as reciprocity and hierarchy (so much so that a Tsinghua University professor has characterized WeChat red packets as a form of social capital accumulation)? As always, you can find these stories and more at pandaily.com. Do let us know what you think of the show by leaving us an iTunes review, liking our Facebook page, and tweeting at us at @techbuzzchina to win some swag! Thanks also to our listeners over at our partner, dealstreetasia.com. We’d like to give a shout-out to our friends over at Panda Club Stories, a bilingual children’s podcast with a big vision: to help raise multilingual and multicultural children through storytelling. Season 1 features well-known tales (and some lesser-known stories) of Chinese mythology. For our listeners who have kids: Join Panda Cub as she dives into the seas of dragon kings and explores jade palaces in the sky!
In episode 37 of TechBuzz China, co-hosts Ying-Ying Lu and Rui Ma dive into the world of WeChat Mini Programs. Arguably some of the biggest innovations to come out of the Chinese internet, Mini Programs have no real Western equivalent. Ever since it was launched three years ago on January 9, 2016, the Mini Programs function, which is still in an experimental stage, has been touted as a key direction for WeChat. Rui and Ying-Ying begin by exploring the origin story of Mini Programs. They explain that, back in 2016, it was not immediately clear to the WeChat team what to do with the product after its launch. WeChat was observing that while the Official Accounts system was taking off, the main issue was that these accounts were not built to properly handle transactions. So Allen Zhang and his team began to ask themselves if there was something heavier than an Official Account but lighter than a native app that they could make to help businesses transact online, inside of WeChat. The goal was to create something “small and light, fast and beautiful.” Listen to find out: Did the team succeed at building the above mantra into the evolving product of Mini Programs? In what ways are mini programs superior to native apps? For users, what are the various means in which individuals can access the programs within WeChat? From a small-business owner point of view, what are the benefits of launching a mini program? What about the drawbacks? What are mini games and how do they fit into the picture? What about AI — what is its role in all of this? And, finally, which other Chinese internet giants are getting into micro apps, and do our co-hosts believe their efforts will lead to the success that WeChat Mini Programs are experiencing? As always, you can find these stories and more at pandaily.com. Do let us know what you think of the show by leaving us an iTunes review, liking our Facebook page, and tweeting at us at @techbuzzchina to win some swag! Thanks also to our listeners over at our partner, dealstreetasia.com. Episode 37 is our final one before the Pandaily team takes off for Chinese New Year. We’ll be back in two weeks, likely kicking off with a fresh look at the New Year’s red packet feud between Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent (BAT). Happy Year of the Pig!
Comments (1)

Calvin Jiang

The two hosts have quite a bit of insight into the "podcast" industry in China. To summarize, it's not entirely like the podcast inudstry in the West because most of the podcasts that Chinese people are paying for to are educational content, whether about history, philosophy, self-improvement, business, etc... In this sense, it's more like Udemy or Coursera, and the market is more for self-learning and education.

Mar 7th
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