I was talking with a former Netease executive yesterday. His name is Ken Li and he is the person who brought the operation right of World of Warcraft in China from The9 to Netease. The whole process is an interesting story on its own. Just as one of my friends said, it is better than David Fincher’s “Social Network”. But, let’s talk about that some other day, after I organised my notes a little bit.
One thing we discussed yesterday is about loyalty. Ken said he had a former colleague who started from a junior position in Netease. The person was quite smart and very soon got noticed by senior executives in Netease. He was promoted again and again. And finally, he became the project leader of a new game. But, after working on the game for about a year, he quited and took the whole development team with him.
“Actually, at that time, he is already very well rewarded financially. William Ding (Netease’s CEO) never badly treat anyone who can help him. And, he could make total decisions on the game. But, he was still not satisfied. He thought the success of a game completely depended on his own talent. So, why he had to share the benefit with the company ?”
Just like today, there were a lot of VC willing to support a game developer with a track record. The person got funded and soon the game was finished and launched. But, it was a total disaster. “It might get 20,000 peak concurrent users (PCU). Very far from a major hit,” said Ken. The most popular online game in China is Netease’s Fantasy Westward Journal, with 2.5 million PCU. A hit game gets at least 200,000 PCU.
“The person totally overestimated his own ability and underestimated the company’s contribution to his previous success,” said Ken, “Netease gave him a lot of opportunities to grow and try out new ideas. But, he did not appreciated.”
Actually, similar stories happened in many internet companies in China. Just recently, I heard the whole development team of 91 Assistant has left their company, NetDragon, and started a new one making similar products. Again, they are supported by VC. I don’t know what would happen in the end. But, lack of loyalty among staff is quite common in China. Many people leave their companies just for slightly higher paid in another firm.
A former Microsoft executive told me, he was asked by Steve Ballmer to evaluate Microsoft’s operation in Japan and China. When he found out the way the Chinese staff are, he suggested Microsoft to concentrate its development force in Japan, where the staff are much more loyal.
“Microsoft like to invest in its own staff by training them. If they are only going to leave the company in a couple years, for a few thousand more in another company, why we would want to invest in them ??”