Let’s turn our attention to war of words between the tech blog Tech2IPO and Innovation Works, the incubator turned venture capital fund headed by Kai-fu Lee, one of the more renowned and controversial figure in the Chinese tech scene.
It all started when Tech2IPO posted an article accusing Innovation Works and Mr.Lee of many sins, one of which is making copycat products. Mr. Lee responded almost immediately, rebutting Tech2IPO’s article point by point, all the while slamming Tech2IPO for being a failed TechCrunch wannabe, a corrupt one at that too, and their motive for going after Mr.Lee was because Innovation Works wouldn’t throw PR works their way.
Not one to waste a controversy, Tech2IPO added fuel by saying that Innovation Works has essentially failed as an incubator, and that none of Innovation Works’ innovations are doing well.
Obviously, Innovation Works has fallen of its high horses; otherwise it wouldn’t be going punch for punch with a bunch of bloggers. Once upon a time, Innovation Works was hot stuff. But their business is going according to plan, and it has now made a pivot. This, essentially, is Tech2IPO’s entire argument: Mr. Lee and his team were vain and full of hubris, they wanted to change the rule of the game and the world, and now they have failed, badly.
But why should that be a sore point? Every business makes mistakes and pivots, Mr. Lee’s enterprise is no exception. This shouldn’t be a surprise: despite being in China for nearly a decade, Mr. Lee is still more an “old China hand” and is still learning what works in China and what does not. Things work differently in China, and it takes a lot of time for someone to understand China altogether different, but wholesome logic.
In addition, “start copy” and self promotion are not sins; they are virtually requirement for success in this day and age. If everyone else is paying checkers, you can’t afford to play chess. Mr. Lee is merely very adept at the game, even though some not cynical enough may be fooled by his words (in forms of books, speeches, interviews, articles, blog posts, and weibo).
But to paraphrase Ben Franklin, if there is one certainty in life, it’s that in the end, it all about the bucks. If we emulate Woodward and Bernstein and follow the money, we can see that Mr. Lee, despite his high rhetoric, were about the bucks from the get-go. And you can’t fault a man for trying to do the best for himself, his team, and his investors.
After raising $275 million, Innovation Works is going strong and are now investing in more mature firms, such as the Growth Enterprise Board listed LeTV. LeTV’s ambition is no less grand than some of Innovation Works’ early projects, as it aims to revolutionize the television industry. So what if LeTV is not a early stage start up? You try to change the world anyway you can. And if you can’t? People couldn’t care less, as long as you get paid. We make a better tomorrow, tomorrow.