After 10 years at Neusoft, “the largest IT solutions and services provider in China”, Yu Kunpeng left as director of its Telecommunications Division. He and his three colleagues registered a company, MyWay Technology, in 2007 in Dalian, a coastal city where Yu had lived through his Neusoft years.
Yu is father to a boy and a girl. He posted on a micro-blog run by his company last November, that read, “This is the first day my daughter went to kindergarten, I wonder if she had a good time there.”
We pictured micro-blogging would be huge in China, but they turned us down.
Back in 2006 Yu was designing an internet service in his diary that “records and shares” one’s life. That’s how Mymemo, “a recording tool” came into being in 2008. Follow 5, Yu’s micro-blogging service which was redesigned on top of the memo product, was launched in the August of 2009.
In the wake of Twitter’s birth, a bunch of micro-blogging services emerged in China in 2007. Before Sina Weibo‘s upsurge in 2010, none of them really made any noise.
In October 2008, Yu visited one of the first tier Chinese internet companies, trying to sell them the micro-blogging idea. Follow 5 offered technology team and hoped this company to take the operation role.
The reason the company turned down Follow 5, was that they feared micro-bloggers had distant connections with each other and this would not be able to boost usage. They wanted a product where users had close relationships – like Facebook.
It turned out every major internet company in China went on to build a micro-blogging service, so did the company mentioned above.
Three years into an unprofitable internet product, Yu still believes in micro-blogging.
Yu’s company is making money from IT outsourcing, not from the micro-blogging service. With his team’s experience gained from Neusoft years, it’s not too hard for them to have projects generating revenues. The company also raised about RMB 10 million yuan in the first two years.
Yu said all the money is for supporting Follow 5, the micro-blogging service.
Yu believes micro-blog is the next generation of media that produces new journalists and new distribution models. And he believes advertising is where micro-blogs can make money.
Will Follow 5 ended up being a micro-blog aggregator?
After tons of micro-blogging services showed up, Follow 5 started offering sync features that allows users to sync messages to other platforms, not only micro-blogging websites, but also SNS or IM tools.
- Since May, Follow 5’s registrations are 500k-600k, 13% of which are active accounts;
- 40% of new users register Follow 5 for the sync service;
- Most users sync their messages to Sina Weibo, a well-established micro-blogging service in China. The runner-up in this category is Tencent Weibo;
- Less than 1 million messages are synced every month.
Yu disclosed that Follow 5 will launch a new version with a major change next month or so. To this day, Yu modified his vision for Follow 5 that it “will become a chain on the social media industry.”