Jian Shuo Wang’s Talk on Lunch 2.0

Let me briefly record the transcript of my talk on Lunch 2.0 meetup. I talked very fast, and may be only used 3 minutes. It was supposed to talk about my business baixing.com. But as always, we want to be low profile about what we are doing, I talked about something instead. It is basically based on a Chinese blog article about entrepreneurship I recently wrote.

I started by saying “I am Jian Shuo wang, CEO of Baixing.com. It is a online classified service that provide housing, jobs, second-hand, services, and community. Since the business model of classified is so simply, let me talk about three things I learn from 4 years of my company”. Tomorrow is actually the 4th year anniversary of baixing.

Then I said about the first learning:

First, Focus. After doing many different things, the CEO of blogcn.com, a blog hosting company, to claim that he spent 4 years to learn that blogcn.com should really focus to blog. That is also what I learn. Baixing is all about doing classified well, as Dianping.com is created to do dianping well (reviews). Many company started with an idea to do something, but it is too easy for us to forget what were are supposed to do.

That was my short first point. The second:

The second is, cost. We discovered a magic formula that no one else in this world every understand: Profit = Revenue – Cost. (laughter). In good times, we only care about revenue, because founders look at valuation of the company. $1 in revenue may make $20 difference in valuation. They don’t care to spend $10 to get $1 revenue. Today, luckily, everyone is getting back to the essential of business: spend $1 to get $1.10 back. That is the reason we look at cost.

Then I talked about the third learning.

Third learning, simplicity.

We want to add more features, but never really understand the cost of it. We are all tech companies, and we know to add a comment feature is just few hours of coding. But when we put it online, we learn a new word: spam. Then we need to hire people to moderate it. If we are talking about people, we are talking about hiring, firing (if you are “lucky”), creating report, review report, and everything related to people management. You need to bring people out for dinner, and think about moral building. Back to feature. Someone may want to delete a comment…

CDE!” my audience laughed.

Right. Like CDE.. Then you need to create a cool concept called user account, and they need to signup, set password, change password, and stupid people like ourselves may even forget passwords…

Think again before adding many feature.

OK. That is the three things I learn from my past 4 years as an entrepreneur: focus, cost and simplicity. Thanks

Pretty short talk, isn’t it? I guess it is just three minutes.

Expats More Need Community

I just attended the Lunch 2.0 organized by George, invited by Gang Lu and Calvin. As I described in my last blog International Events in Shanghai, I was surprised to find out it is a pure international event – the expat entrepreneur community meetup.

The conversation is in English – I delivered short 5 minute speak along with my old friend Zhang Tao (CEO of Dianping.com, and host of this Lunch 2.0), and new friend David Feng of Citiology. The attendants, as I expected, are mainly expat entrepreneurs in Shanghai

This leads me to think about community needs in a city. It seems to me expats need community much more than local people. The scene here I saw in Lunch 2.0 reminds me of the similar Chinese engineer meetup in the Silicon valley. It seems it is much more easier to organize such groups in a foreign city.

People has the need to talk with people of the similar background. In US, Chinese people traditionally tend to live in China Town, and int he recent twenty to thirty years, people from mainland China going to US are mainly students for higher education, and there are many groups connecting them, like the Huayuan Science and Technology Association..

In Shanghai, it seems the same is also happening. This time, the community seems to be around the young entrepreneurs, rather than students. Many years ago, when I just started my blog, I also joined some of the expat community, and at that time (early 00′s), expats in Shanghai are mainly professional managers in big international organization, like Microsoft, Motorola, or P&G. They are not interested in doing business. Their topic is mainly about where to shop, how to hire a nanny, and is it safe to to here, or there, is it safe to eat this or that, or is it safe to …..

Good. I see the change, and expect more changes happen.

International Events in Shanghai

I don’t know about you, but I feel that there are more and more international events in Shanghai. To be more exact, by international, I mean events organized by expat community (people not native in China), and use English as the main language, plus the international (western) style, and format.

Lunch 2.0

Let me give you some example. Tomorrow, I was invited by Gang Lu, blogger of www.mobinode.com/ and Calvin, founder of Qifang.com to attend an event Lunch 2.0 Shanghai (facebook page) in Dianping‘s office. It is not a surprise for Shanghai to have entrepreneur meetup, but from the RSVP list, I have a feeling that this event is very international. At least I am very sure there are some people on the list who don’t know anything about Chinese, and from the name and background, I am sure another 10 people should use English only. Hmmm…. I didn’t expect that. Shall I ask whether I should use English or Chinese in delivering this speech?

SXSW @ M1NT Shanghai

Another event is SXSW @ M1NT Shanghai. I heard about it from Elliot Ng. Obviously, from the speaker list, and from the attendant list, and the venue, you know two things. First, it should be an English centric community. Second, there is already a very big expat entrepreneur community in Shanghai already. Look at the successful companies our international friends have built here in Shanghai.

Entrepreneurs’ Organization – EO

Introduced by Alvin Wang of minfo.com, I started to notice EO – the Entrepreneur’s Organization. They have a Shanghai chapter. Alvin said many great things about the organization – it is all about thoughts sharing among annual 1 million USD above revenue company CEOs and founders. I checked the website, and to my surprise, it seems to be another English speaking community – I checked the photo gallery here.

More in the Past, and More to Come

There are some significant difference in these events and the Shanghai local events.

1. English speaking.

Of cause I suspect we speak a lot of Chinese, but insist to say Chinese unless you don’t really want communication, and want to provide an excellent chance for our friends to learn oral Chinese.

2. Western style.

Although the events happens in Shanghai, it is completely in western styles. The venue are in top places in Shanghai, and the expense is of cause pretty high. The decent bars, and social events are not common practice in Shanghai yet – we tend to go to a tea house, or more often, go to a big restaurant have setup some big tables of food.

3. Expense.

This also interesting. Lunch 2.0 charges 22 RMB, according to the previous event. SXSW @ M1NT Shanghai charges 100 RMB and 200 RMB at door. EO Shanghai charges about 20,000 RMB annually to be part of it (well, this is not the case of an event, but… still pretty expensive)… Charging for conferences, and events are common practices in US (which commercial conference is really free in US, or Europe), but it is still not the common practice in Shanghai yet (“Conference? Do they cover accommodation and flight? No? How come?”)

My 2 Cents

I think it is the good sign that Shanghai, after 80 years of isolation (I am counting from 1930′s), Shanghai is getting back to the international community. I noticed more and more international events are adding Shanghai as a stop along with San Francisco, and London. Hmmm… Good thing. I would expect the the local community may need some time to get used to this kind of diversity. We need to be more open about this, and let the both community to integrate together.

For me… It seems get English as a second language is getting more important. :-) and to be a bridge connecting the two side world is also meaning work to do.

Good luck to all the events, and communities.

Virtual Physical Name Card

If I sent this link to you, I want to sayGlad to meet you. Sorry that I didn’t bring my name card with you today. Here is my Virtual physical name card. Keep in touch!

If you just discover this link by yourself, continue to read about why I posted this.

Sometimes, I went to meet with people only to find out I didn’t bring my name card. I promised to send to them later, and most of time, I did. The interesting thing is, many of them, we know each others’ contact information already (like email and mobile phone), but just feel the need to exchange a card to get complete information (title is one of this information that we seldom directly ask). So I take a picture of my name card (two pictures for both sides) and post it online. It feels better to see a real name card than VCard.

A Blogger at a Media Event

What happens if a blogger attend a media conference designed for journalists? This was what happened today, when I was invited to join the Australia Pavilion Foundation Completion Ceremony. Here is my observation.

Amateur vs Professional

It seems everyone in that room was there simply because it was their jobs.

There are officials from both Australia and Chinese government – should be pretty routine job for them to participate in events like this. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean it is not important, but to do ceremonial thing again and again may cause people lose the real passion doing that – just holding wedding ceremony many times may cause the bride and groom to lose their passion for love at the moment of exchanging finger ring.

There are PR agency, food vendor, logistic vendor, venue service people there. They are doing their job (well done,BTW). They are professional. All the attendants: journalist and camera men all went there for work. They are professional. It seems I am the only person who are there just because of curiosity (with a warm invitation).

This is an interesting contracts for me and inspired me to really think about the line between amateur and professional about doing anything.

Working people

Amateur with Attitude of Professionals

Sports, for example, are often amateur for most people. However, I found people who do it with the attitude of profession enjoyed it much more than others. People like running get nice running shoes, and record how long they run, and do many research about it (like guys Yiqipao). We are amateur in most things – there should be only one or two things we think we are professional (the things we do to make a living). In the end, the line between professional and amateur is really blurred.

Professional with the Passion of Amateurs

The more interesting thing I learnt from today’s event was about doing professional things with the passion of the amateur. Look at the people who participated in the media conference. I am sure if I have to attend all the similar events and have a pretty big news report waiting for me to write, I will lose my passion too. I won’t do what I did today. (I used the stair to go to every floor, and examined every corner I am allowed to in the building).

Looking at what we do in offices! We are profession, and we do it professionally. But if we imagine we are just the walk-in stranger, and we can discover much more of our daily life than otherwise.

The Right Combination

To combine the attitude of the professional and the passion of the amateur may be the best case possible. Thanks for the opportunity today to be a professional amateur, and an anmateur professional.

Australian Pavilion Foundation Completed

I am currently sitting at the audience seat of a special event: Shanghai Expo Australian Expo Pavilion Foundation Completion Ceremony. I was invited by Ogilvy Public Relationship Shanghai as a "journalist" of digital media – interestingly enough, this is the first time. The original ceremony was planned to be held before the Australian Pavilion construction site (wow!) but now it was moved to a conference room inside the Expo Land building due to the heavy rain this morning. As you can imagine, it is not fun at all if you have to get to the center of a construction site in this weather. Pretty disappointed, to be honest, and I want to find other ways to get into the site – I mean before the Expo starts. I am a big fan of construction site.

The Australian Pavilion

The Australian Pavilion has been shown in Metro stations and along the roads across the whole Shanghai. I just understood that the reddish color of the pavilion symbolizes the red earth of Australia – I didn’t think about it yet. 

image 
Image in courtesy of Australia Pavilion and Shanghai Expo website

Photo taken by Jian Shuo Wang via Nokia N78

The Meaning of an Expo?

Many of my readers, my friends, and even me for some time were wondering why there should be an Expo at the first place.

Culture Event

The Australia Pavilion, for example, has a big performance center with capacity of 1000 people on the 3th floor of the pavilion. There will be art performance there (daily?).

Imagine that even without an Expo, how many culture events happening everywhere across the globe? You see many performance from many countries in the Oriental Performance Art center, and events like France year in China, and China Year in France. What a great idea to have an altogether party for every country to participate? That is the idea behind World Expo.

VIP Business Areas

According to the materials they distribute, there will be 200+ invitation only business meetings inside the pavilion. Whoever challenges about why have meetings should admit that it is way more effective to have gather everyone in a bigger party, than having many 1:1 meetings. A big meeting involves one travel arrangement for each party, while the other way means thousands of travels from so many parties. To have a business meeting center inside the Pavilion is a great idea. I am sure many pavilions do the same. To have a 100-day "big meeting", it brings everyone from the world to gather in one site (Expo Site), and help to facilitate communication and boost business opportunities.

Australian Food

This morning’s event include show case of Australian food. According to the organizer, the food were prepared by the same food vendor for the Australia Pavilion in 2010.

Photo taken by Jian Shuo Wang

Photo taken by Jian Shuo Wang

I am not a big fan of food, and it is a waste of resource to give me really good food (especially western food – I just feel I am a rabbit). For breakfast, Baozi + Bean Milk seem a better combination than cake + orange juice. I believe that is the reason to have food exchange program to help people understand the difference of food.

BTW, when Mr. Peter Tesch, Commissioner-General of the Expo effort from DFAT fo Australia told us what to expect, he mentioned “The drinks will be cold, and the food will be delicious…”. I thought to myself, it would be a great chance in this Expo event to help to translate the meaning of “the drink will be cold” into Chinese, because, for Chinese people, if you say, the drink will be cold, that is worst thing. We say, the tea will be hot… :-) By mixing the culture and business of Australia and China together would be the most beneficial thing I can imagine in the coming expo.

The New Logo

The new logo of the Australia Pavilion is very nice. Without any explanation, I can recognize the Australia map, the blue sky, the red earth, and the golden sand beach. I would not have had the ability to understand it without my rewarding trip to Australia in October 2007.

Good luck to the construction of the Australia Pavilion, and look forward to experience the great “Journey” the Pavilion promised to 70 million visitors in 2010.

P.S. Anna sent me the picture of the Australia Pavilion construction site:

shanghai-australia.pavilion.construction.jpg

Credit: anonymous

It seems we didn’t miss too much today. :-)

First Impression of Shanghai Expo Site

Note: this entry was overwritten by another one for some time, and I have now recovered it

Well. To be more exact, this is my first impression of the Shanghai Expo planning headquarter which is located partly inside the Shanghai Expo Site.

Where is it?

The Shanghai Expo Building is located #3588, Pudong South Road. Coming from the north of the Pudong South Road, you can see a 12-story building with big ExpoLand logo on it. That is it.

What is it for?

To prepare for the Shanghai Expo, Shanghai government setup a special organization called Bureau of Shanghai Expo Co-ordination. Even people like me who don’t really understand the Chinese government structure can see the significance of setting up a standalone bureau in a government means.

The Bureau of Shanghai Expo Co-ordination is located on the second and third floor of the ExpoLand building. I found it out both by the name plate at the entrance and by intentionally got lost twice.

The fourth floor is the conference facility, and most of the floors above 4th floor are occupied by the Shanghai Expo Land Holding Co. Ltd. That must be the reason why this build is marked as ExpoLand building. I suspect (not sure) that it is the same structure as most other mega projects in Shanghai: The government will setup a holding company (instead of a government agency) to interface with the participating countries and organizations, and do it in a pretty market oriented way. They have done this successfully in the construction of Shanghai Metro and most of the bridges and expressways.

The Buildings

The entrance of the Shanghai Expo organizing center is petty narrow, but when you enter it, you will see many buildings (11 as far as I see).

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang

These are all the buildings with busy people preparing for the event.

Below are the new buildings – seems to be many office buildings spreading out along the Huangpu River – from the lowest on the south and taller at the north area.

Inside the building #1:

My Impressions

  1. The Expo is Near. You can see people busy working there, and the sites are being built.

  2. Very professional organizational work. I have a strange feeling that I am in a company, not a government leading initiative. The design and internal facility inside the expo building mislead me to believe that it is a normal company that I have visited. Pretty big contrast with the traditional government image.
  3. International. It is by no means just a Shanghai effort. People from many countries participated. I saw many people outside China working there. The dining room is big and impressive. I believe they are as involved as organizer, if more than them.
  4. The standard is high. I just feel at the background of city development of Shanghai, the expo site must of world class, based on my observation of newly built buildings, and renew of the old facilities.

Below is the Google Satellite map of the Expo headquarter I talked about:

Favorite Road: Wukang Road

I have been asked many times about my favorite road in Shanghai. It is so hard to answer this question, since I have many roads in my minds that can be my favorite road. So I am trying to make a list along my way of discovery of my real favorite road. Wukang Road 武康路 is just a starting point – let me repeat, I have not decided to give my favorite road title to Wukang Road yet.

Where is Wukang Road

Wukang Road is a north-south small road in Xuhui District 徐汇. It starts from the Huaihai Road, with the historical V-shape Wukang Building 武康大楼 as the landmark, and extends northwards until it reaches Anfu Road 安福路, where the Shanghai Drama Institute is located.

Image in courtesy of Google Maps

Why this Road is Special?

Like many of small roads in the Xuhui villa area, the road brings you the best part of old Shanghai (and obviously, it still represents the current Shanghai). Things I like most:

1. The trees

There are many Wutong Trees 梧桐树 (or Phoenix trees) along the both side of the road, and form a beautiful and artistic “cave”. The road is small, and there are not many cars on it (actually, it is a north-to-south single way road). Walking along the road is best experience, since you can just take your time. No hurry, and no car horn. It takes about 30 minutes for one way.

2. The old villas

The highlight of the road is the old villa, and old residential area behind the trees. Even people familiar with the area may not know the name and history of all the villas. Most of the villas are either French style or Spanish style with big yards, and tall trees. Wandering in that area, you don’t feel you are in a big city at all. Sometimes you can see people grow vegetable in their garden, and in an extreme case, I saw chicken running around in one garden. It is amazing how life is in these 100 million RMB houses.

3. Connection with other nice road

Along the Wukang road is a nice area. You will see Xingguo Road 兴国路, Taikang Road 泰康路, Hunan Road 湖南路, Fuxing Road 复兴路, Wuyuan Road 五原路, and Changle Road 长乐路 – all these roads are as beautiful as Wukang Road, and all worth some time to explorer.

It is a petty that I don’t have any picture of this beautiful road yet. I will try to take some and post them here.

Update Photos uploaded March 8, 2009

This cloudy Sunday afternoon, I invited Wendy to go to Wukang Road with me. I did bring my Nikon D50, but I only found out that the battery is dead. So I am using Wendy’s small Windows Mobile phone to take some photos.

Photograph by Wendy Fan

Photograph by Wendy Fan

Photograph by Wendy Fan

Photograph by Wendy Fan

Photograph by Wendy Fan

Photograph by Wendy Fan

Photograph by Wendy Fan

Photograph by Wendy Fan

Six Apart’s Problem?

Whenever I search for some plugins on MovableType community, I constantly run into the great plug-ins by Byrne Reese. The plugin that is in my head is AutoLink. I am thinking about installing it tonight. However, when I just browse the articles on Byrne’s website, I stumbled upon an article dated back to December 5, 2008: A sad departure from Six Apart and looking to the future. Byrne left the company? It was from that entry did I understood that Six Apart has done 8% layoff in November 2008.

I Do Care about Six Apart

Long time readers of this blog may understand my love to MovableType and its creator, Six Apart. Without MovableType, I am very sure I won’t have started blogging 7 years ago, and won’t write for 7 years. My blog started just as a test drive of MovableType in 2002, and my first entry of this 7 year old blog was exactly about my experience of installing the software: < href="http://home.wangjianshuo.com/archives/20020911_movabletype_successfully_installed_on_windows_xp.htm">MovableType Successfully Installed on Windows XP. In the last 7 years, I used MovableType more often than Windows. I open MovableType everyday, and I even don’t do so for Windows (I also used Unix system).

I still remember my first visit to Six Apart office by introduction of Chris (CEO of Rojo.com at that time, and later became CEO of Six Apart), met Mena and Ben, and visited the office many times later. I also enjoyed hosting my friends Ginger and Seki in Shanghai.

My friends in Six Apart treated me so well. On for 5th Anniversary of blogging, the whole Six Apart team had a wonderful celebration party for me, and Ginger brought me to see baseball game at AT&T Park.

It would be fair to say, I am a hard-core MovableType fan, friend of the company, and the person who cares about this company a lot.

My Thoughts about Six Apart

From the upgrade of MovableType from 3.x to 4, my direct feeling is Six Apart is losing its focus, and slips to the wrong direction. I said, MovableType 4.2 is disappointing after I had been expecting it for a long time. But that is not the key problem. I just feel Six Apart is doing too many things at the same time, and now, MovableType is no longer the focus of the company. I am very sure that my friend in Six Apart will argue that MT is still the most important product, but importance is really measured by resources put into it.

I read about Chris’ post about Changes of Six Apart:

This year was one of profound growth and change for Six Apart. In addition to welcoming almost 90 new people and growing to a company of over 200 employees, we launched Six Apart Services, Six Apart Media, Blogs.com, Movable Type Open Source and MT Pro, a suite of TypePad-powered products, including Blog It, Blog Link, the TypePad iPhone app and TypePad AntiSpam, and reached the final stage of the biggest technical project in the company’s history: the migration of TypePad onto a new platform. And, as you all know, we aren’t done yet, with several of our most significant product releases still to come this year.

.

Let me count the initiatives:

  1. 90 new people (almost double) in one year

  2. Six Apart Services
  3. Six Apart Media
  4. Blogs.com
  5. MovableType Open Source
  6. MT Pro
  7. Typepad-powered products
  8. Migration of the Typepad platform

I believe this was just the new initiative in 2008, and there are many lasting projects accumulated from as early as 2002 when the company was formally founded. All those projects need maintaining resources.

Among all the initiatives, I think I personally have most concern toward Six Apart Services, and Media. Although it is where revenue comes from, but don’t forget about the cost side of the equation. Any company has its unique DNA. Who founded the company? What is the story? Who hired the first 10 people? What format the company meeting is? All these small details makes a company unique, and optimized for one particular task. Simply put it, I don’t think the same group of people who build blogging software can do service well, or sell advertisement well, or the other way. The result is either a hard-core engineering team building great software + a so-so advertising and services team (the best possible situation), or a diluted so-so engineering team + a so-so advertising/services team (most possible).

That is the reason why Ben can ship MovableType 1.0 with one person, and now 200 people shipped MovableType 4. Don’t get me wrong. MovableType 4 IS great in many aspect, but I am just talking about the ratio of resources put into it, and the outcome. Till now, I still think MovableType 3.2 is the best blogging software in the world – I still have my Chinese blog, and my friends’ blog running on it. MT 4 is great in functionality, but the core is not about functionality for many people, it is about simplicity, reliability, and speed, which I think MT 3.2 is better.

In tough times, it is even more important to keep focus. My personal bias is, Six Apart was a great technical company and should remain to that core. I know everyone faces revenue challenges, but doing engineering is the most cost-effective way to run a company, isn’t it? Saving the cost of expansion to other business also means moving toward profit.

I Still Stand on the Side of Six Apart

Although I have some pretty harsh comments about my great friends there, I want to make it clear that it was just because I care the company so much. I want to see a successful company, and my best wishes goes to Six Apart from Shanghai, China.

Track Click on Elements

I once used the code below to track the clicks on elements on a page. If you know JavaScript, you may understand what it is about.

// Track every click within the page.

document.onclick = function(e) {

    e = e || window.event;

    el = e.target || e.srcElement;

if(el.tagName.toLowerCase() != ‘a’ || el.tagName.toLowerCase() != ‘input’) return true;

    var name = “”;

    var i = 0;

    while(el != document && i++ < 10 && el.tagName.toLowerCase() != "html") {

        name = el.tagName.toLowerCase() + (el.id == "" ? "" : "@" + el.id) + (el.className == "" ? "" : "." + el.className) + "/" + name;

        el = el.parentNode;

    }

  _uacct = "###########YOUR GOOGLE ANALYTICS CODE HERE############";

  if(typeof(urchinTracker)=='function')

    urchinTracker(name);

  return true;

}

Basically, it just record entries like below in your Google Analytics account.

html/body/.related/a

html/body/#header/div.navigation