Thanks Everyone!

I am back from SFO trip to Shanghai (three days ago), and I joined another meeting and they don’t have Internet access, so… sorry for the pause of blogging these days.

I am still very excited about the trip, and feel so happy to have great friends in the bay area. I know I have a very long list to thank. Here is the abbridged version.

First of all, thank RC, Yumi and all the great persons in eBay for hosting me and showing me around. I had great time to meet with all the people I wanted to meet, and learnt so much – much more than I expected.

Special thanks to Carroll and Jim for inviting me to dinner at their beautiful house on top of the mountain. It was a very unique experience for me. I had great time there. The moment that we observe the airline landing toward the San Jose airport is a permement part of my memory in San Jose.

Thanks Tom and Andreas from BVCapital for inviting me to BV. I enjoyed the very interesting discussion we had on Friday and Saturday. I am so happy to meet Mathias, Yann, and Christian. Thanks for Yann to invite me to the sail boat and wish Christian recover soon.

Thanks to Chris from Rojo to host me in Rojo’s office and gave me the thorough introduction for Rojo. Chris was so kind to arrange my Six Apart tour. Thanks Mena, Ben, Barak and Ginger for your time with me. I also like to thank Charles and Jim from Jambo.net to share your great ideas and to come to my meetup. I love their slogan “Wireless Hello” very much. I weared their great gift , Jambo T-Shirt, today!

Sailing in the Bay

Believe it or not, I sailed for the first time in the San Francisco bay. Yann, Alex and Niki are so nice to invite me to join them to sail in the Bay. We started from the marina of the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge around noon, and soon pull on the sail and sail close to the wind. It is a little bit easier to learn how to sail. When we turned off the motor, and pulled up the sail, the boat when to the Golden Gate Bridge at the speed of 2.4 – 3.1 knots. Sometimes, the wind goes up to 30 knots and rains heavily. When we reached the gate and started to move out of the bay a little bit into the Pacific, it is sunny, but the tide is huge. :-) Yann is a perfect captain and we quickly learnt to how sail a sail boat (although not complete). All the pictures are in my camera but I didn’t bring the cable with me. I will post the nice pictures here when I am back.

Meetup in San Francisco, CA

I am thinking of hosting Wangjianshuo’s Blog Meetup in San Francisco at Cafe Flore. I have no idea about this place. I asked Andreas where should I put the meetup, SFO airport or downtown. He directly posted me to Cafe Flore. It must be good, I think, although it can be a little bit far from where I live. So here is the detailed information about the meetup.

Cafe Flore

2298 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94114

Time: 9:30 AM to 11:30 AM, Sunday, April 24, 2005

Map: Google Map for Cafe Flore

All my friends and readers are welcome. No RSVP required. Just show up at anytime within the two hours. It will be great if you post a comment to notify me your participation though. Jing and Nina, you are explicitly invited. Sorry for the late notice. I am not good at planning, and it is not easy to plan a meetup in a completely new different environment. I understand the same feeling for visitors to Shanghai. Sometimes, for visitors in a city, a meetup can be “Anywhere in this city”, but the problem is, where is the Anywhere.

I am excited to meeting you at Cafe Flore tomorrow morning. I will catch my flight back to Shanghai at 14:20 at San Francisco Airport.

The Silicon Valley Spirit is Back

I was sitting in the office of Rojo.com, the newly launched website to manage RSS more effectively with the help of tagging and friends’ recommendation (some kind of SNS). It is located in a large warehouse-like space – actually it is the AT&T building in downtown San Francisco. The reason it looks like a warehouse instead of an office is, it is a large space, in terms of areas and height. Evryone share the same open space by placing their tables in the middle. It is just like the architecture company in the Suzhou creek art district in Shanghai. There is no separation between – no cubicles, no offices, no meeting rooms – it is just a large open space.

Chris, the CEO and founder of Rojo.com, introduce the team to me. They are all nice persons and Chris showed me the functions of Rojo.com. It is quite impressive – RSS made it easier to track many feeds (around 100? Some has 1000? Are you kidding?), and Rojo helps to recommend those only matters to the user. I would recommend everyone to open an account, take a look and share your feeds with me. My account ID is jianshuo. Free feel to add me as your friend in Rojo.

During our talk, Chris mentioned there are many blogging related companies nearby. “Really?” “Yes!”.

“Six Apart is 2 blocks away”, Chris pointed to one direction, and “Technorati” is two blocks away” Chris pointed the other direction. “Feedster is there, also two blocks away”. I said: “Wow. That is cool!”

This is really cool. There are many small dot.com companies popping up this year (or becoming famous this year). I feel a little bit strange to call these innovative company “dotcom” since they no longer have the attribute of the old dotcom has. These services provide values and start to spread by the word-of-mouth. Some has succeeded already.

To be honest, I feel boring when I look back to the computer history between the year 2000 and 2004. It seems the curtain of the wonderful Internet drama was closed. When the legend of Apple, Microsoft, Dell, and HP fades in 1995, Yahoo!, Netscape appeared. But after the year 2000, there are actually not so many interesting application on the Internet. From the year 2004, new things are happening very month. Many blogging software, social network software, taggings, podcasting emergesÂ… Google start to become hot. It is exciting.

For me, to read the story from the history book (at least from magazines) is one thing, to experience it in real life with me is another. In my trip to Redmond last Decemeber, I met the wonderful guys Eric and James, the founder of picture sharing application Heypix. I planned to write an article about the product but they said “hold on for several days since our website will release in 3 days”. 4 months passed, I dropped an email to those guys and update the current situation. They replied and say: “We were just aquired by CNET”. It is amazing. When this kind of stories happen around me everyday, both in China and America, I clearly feel that the Silicon Valley spirit come backs again.

I Meet Mena and Ben from Six Apart

When I started to use MovableType almost three years ago, I could imagine MovabeType can be very successful (although I didn’t expect the name change to Six Apart). However, it is by no means for me to expect that I will finally meet Mena Trott and Ben, the founders of MovableType after two and half years. Yes. I visited Six Apart office today and was hosted warmly. The best part is, I met Mena and Ben in their conference room, and Barak, CEO of Six Apart. It was wonderful experience for me. I am a strong advocator for MovableType. I didn’t expect the star couple is so young (the same age as me) and they look very nice. Ben even looks a little shy. We chatted a little bit and checked if Mena and Ben mind if I put the conversation on my blog. They said “No. Not at all.” It is the reaction from a very experienced blogger and a blogging tool maker. :-)

What a wonderful day. I will update it later since I need to catch up my lunch at 7:45 pm tonight. I also met Chris, the CEO of Rojo.com and the team. It can be another very cool application on the Internet. Read here for more details.

P.S. I am at one of the top floor of the highest building of San Francisco, the Transamerica Pyramid. The view for the whole bay area is great!

Update About Mena and Ben

The story of Mena and Ben will be another classic startup story. They met in high school and got married before MovableType. Mena is a wonderful writer and among the first bloggers and she asked her husband to help to create software to her to write blog. I guess it can become a pattern for successful product: When a girl ask her boy friend or husband to create a tool for her, chances are, the product will be very popular for others as well. As Wendy put it, it is something with love – with a very specific persona in mind when creating the software. The persona guides the developer (boy friend or husband) to have a consistent view of who the user is. In addition, there is enough motivation to do that… So, I guess if someday Wendy ask me to create something, it can be a great thing.

Mena explained the history of Six Apart in easy and attractive way. It reminds of the old days when MovableType 3.0 Developer Edition was released, along with the charging model. It was a hard period of time for them. The feedback from the community was extremely negative. I remember, at that time, I understood the reason why MovableType changes to the charging plan and why people get so upset about the change. Finally, Mena started to write a series of article on her blog, explaining the thinking behind the change. I believe the articles worked perfectly. Mena handled the crisis extremely well. I though Mena should be something around 30 or 40 in age, judged from the article, but I was so surprised that she is so young, just like a (beautiful) girl next door. I will still be a MovableType fan. Just as Pierre, the founder of eBay, shared in the conference call with us, a human voice is critical to a successful community and business. Mena is the human voice for MovableType, just like Griff to eBay, Craigs to craigslist, and Bill Gates for Microsoft (in early days).

I Feel Like a Rabbit when I Eat Salad

The stay in San Jose is great and food is generally good at large and beauniful cafetera at the community building. There are several different counters for food and they offer many options of daily special. For me, as for many Chinese visitors to the State, to order food is not easy. I like to order food with “this” or “that”. The name of Chinese food and western food is different. The name of the Chinese food tent to very short (3 or 4 characters at most) and not specific. For western food, it is a very long and descriptive, and typically has “with” in the name. I enjoyed my large plate Roasted Half Chicken w/ Flat Parsley-Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes at Tapestry, Los Gatos. It was great, among the best American food I had have. Actually, the America menu should be easier to understand because it states the food, how it is cooked and all the ingredient. Although I can write an English blog, I still cannot read the menu well. It seems to be another language. My best practice is to look for an item with one of the following words: Chicken, Noodle, or Rice. It works great for me, since the result is very predictable. Just like I didn’t got surprised if I order orange juice.

Every meal, no matter what I ordered, it seems there are always fresh vegetables with green leafs in it. I don’t often eat this in China. I cannot remember that last time in China that I eat un-heated, fresh vegetable leafs. We eat many vegetables, but we often eat cucumber, tomato salad. We also put fruits into salad, but not leafs. For other vegetables, especially those with large leafs, we typically will fry it and turn it into hot dish. So I have some kind of feeling that I became a rabbit, with all kinds of green vagetables (which I don’t know the name) full of my mouth. Of cause, as you can imagine, I should be so-happy rabbit.

When Jian Shuo Leaves his Car (in CA)

It is not a big deal in Shanghai when I don’t have a car. The life is the same, and sometimes, I have even more freedom than having a car if the destination is in downtown Shanghai. In San Jose, I missed Goudaner so much. The problem is, my driver’s license is with it.

The morning for my flight to SFO, I wake up, packed everything and walked to my car to get my driver’s license (the secret is, I always keep it in my car). I went to the car only to find out Wendy has already driven it to work. Sadly, I left Shanghai without a driver’s license.

It was not a well prepared trip that I had no idea about where San Jose is, and how I could get there. To take a taxi to San Jose may not be a good idea since it costs 120 USD I guess. Thanks to the sign of SFO, there is a direction of BART to Millbra and transfer to CalTrain to San Jose.

So… I took the CalTrain and I enjoyed the one hour trip to Santa Clara and then took a short taxi to Hamilton Ave. I didn’t feel anything wrong until I talked with my friends in eBay. Everyone laughed (if not laughed at me) and looked me like “Are you the guy who took CalTrain?” Well…. Is there anything wrong with the CalTrain?

Actually, it is great! It is great because there is almost no passengers on board besides me. The trip helped me to understand the relative locations of famous towns, like Palo Alto (where Stanford is located), Mount. View (Google), Santa Clara (Intel)…

Not like New York (I miss the subway in New York), to move around in San Jose is not easy. The good (and bad) thing is, I have more than enough things to do and a long list of people to meet. I am excited to talk with talented and passionate people in eBay and didn’t feel boring at all even if I never left eBay Park. Larkspur Landing hotel provide free shuttle. I booked the shuttle to send me from hotel to the park in the morning (1.6 miles), and took taxi back. The taxi took 15 minutes to arrive. It was not a good idea to wait for a taxi for 15 minutes at around 1:00 in the morning. :-)

Joanna from marketing team told me, in San Jose area, they messure locations by numbers of (freeway) exits instead of block. The team in marketing planned to shopping at night, and they discussed and found out it is very near – only 3 exits away. :-) I started to calculate: “If I walk, is there any chance that I arrive there before the sun rise the next day?” San Jose is not so walker-friendly. :-)

Gift to Selim Freiha

Selim helped me a lot for the business. I chatted with him today and we searched Selim Freiha, his name, in Google, and found some. I said: “My PageRank in Google makes it possible for me to mention your name and I am sure the page will be the first result in Google soon.”

So, here is the test page. I present it as a gift to Selim, the great guy who knows Excel extremely well. Let’s see if it goes to the top of the search result in Google after three days – Google now index my site at max interval of 3 days now.

P.S. The last time I attempted to do the same thing was about Wicresoft, the Joint-Venture of Microsoft. Now it is the second result for Wicresoft in Google. :-)

Actual Speed of Maglev is 64 km/h

Sitting in the Larkspur Landing hotel in San Jose, I missed Shanghai a little bit, just like I missed Maglev. I mean I actually missed it when I left my home and went to Pudong Airport in Shanghai. I found out that the speed of Maglev is actually 64 km/h, instead of the 430 km/h from a traveler’s perspective.

The calculation is easy. When I pull my luggage (a bag and a laptop) on to the taxi, the driver asked where I were going. I said “Maglev station”. The driver asked me: “Are you going to the Pudong Airport? How about I directly send you there?” I know the driver definitely want me to get to PVG. Well. It is a question without easy answer.

It was around 10:35. My home is about 4 km away from the Maglev and about 40 km away from the Pudong Airport. Well…

If I take the Maglev, when I arrive at the Maglev station, I should already miss the train on 10:40 AM. I need to wait on the platform until the next train arrives at 11:00 AM. Meanwhile, I have to bring all my luggage out, walk for a while (2 minutes?) from the taxi to the station, and get to the second floor of the station to wait in the line to buy the ticket, and then bring all my luggage with me and take the elevator to the third floor to wait for the train. The train is fast, really fast, I mean if it really get started. The top speed is 430 km/h, and it takes only 8 minutes to complete the 30 km journey. But after that, the nightmare repeats itself – get off board, bring the luggage with me and go along the long walk from the Maglev to the terminal. The bridge goes to the second floor of the terminal and I have to take the huge elevator to the third floor before I can find the United Airlines counter. Everything takes about half an hour. So, the speed for the 30 km is actually 60 – 64 km/h, depending on how fast I run, instead of how fast Maglev runs. :-)

If I take taxi, the same distance also needs 30 minutes. But what I need is to close my eyes and wait for the taxi driver to wake me up at the third floor of the Pudong Airport. This choice also creates a happy taxi driver, along with a happy Jian Shuo…

What about the fare? Maglev takes 40 RMB + 13 RMB taxi = 53 RMB. For taxi, it is 94 RMB. I am running out of time already. I finally took the taxi approach. The 30 minutes well compensated to my overnight work last night. When my taxi is heading to the viaduct to the terminal station, the Maglev flied away beside us. From the tourist’s perspective, Maglev is really cool. From a business traveler’s perspective, the speed of Maglev is not that good than a taxi.

First Impression of Silicon Valley

It is the first time I visit the Silicon Valley, the dream place for many people in IT industry. It is different from what I think though. This is what the Valley looks like in my imagination:

The entrance of the Sillicon Valley is Stanford University. At the back of the University campus, there is a small garage where HP started. Beside HP is a short street. Many two to three story buildings line up along road, with logos like HP, Apple, eBay, Yahoo!….

I don’t know how I formed this impression of Sillicon Valley. Maybe it is because of the legend that Sillicon Valley started from the garage of HP, or the joke that “when you goto the street of Sillcon Valley and say you have a project, a lot of VC will jump out to you”, or the fact that many people jump from one company to the other frequently… It turned out San Jose is not that near to Stanford (at least not within walking distance) and there is no all-star street there. It is a quiet place that is no difference from other small towns in U.S.