Yesterday was the first of two days of the 7th CHINICT, ‘Tech Star in China’ Annual Conference. The vision Franck Nazikan had when first launching CHINICT was to show China itself and the world that ‘Chinization’ or the emergence of China as a tech powerhouse was happening.

Today’s impressive line-up included some of China’s biggest companies who of course were all at once stage an ambitious but game changing start-ups.

The conference was held at Tsinghua University Science Park (TUS Park) in Beijing’s Wudaokou, the heart of China tech industry. TUS’s Jeromy Xue who manages a billion dollar fund proudly said that they are a “hotbed of entrepreneurship” and have housed start-ups from one man and his computer to Google.  Special guests, Frank Greco from the European Union Internet Society and Media and Rosemary Gallant, Principal Commercial Officer at the US Embassy in Beijing both said that Europe and America are both strengthening their relationship with China, to take advantage of its super exciting growth.  The growing influx of attention in China proves that this is where the action is.

The great thing about CHINICT compared to other conferences in China was that the talks and presentations were short and sweet. Here is a summary of the key points from some of the speakers.

Baidu – Senior Vice President, Haoyu Shen

  • Baidu has tried to penetrate social to increase user stickiness with the likes of their Question & Answer Product, ‘Know’, where Google has faltered
  • Feels like they benefitted marginally from Google’s soft exit from China
  • A future bet is on box computing, where intelligent search gives you what you want without evening opening a page, thereby shortening the distance between query and action
  • Expanded to Japan 4 years ago and is investing heavily in infrastructure to support multi-language because it believes growth in the next 10 years will come from international expansion

Google – Senior Vice President, John Liu

  • Google has a lot more work to improve search, especially in the area of voice and image search
  • Location is the biggest opportunity with mobile
  • Google will acquire start-ups if it will speed up development of an internal product and can gain their existing customer base

PPLive – CEO, Vincent Tao

  • Video live streaming website that aggregates over 100 Chinese TV stations and over  20,000 channels with over 200 million users
  • Recently raised $250m from Softbank but plans to spend it on expanding infrastructure
  • Believes that the “video industry still needs time to develop a clear business model” since even Hulu in America has low margins of less than 10% and Youku is not yet profitable

Linkedin – Vice President, Arvind Rajan

  • Just went IPO last Thursday but treated next day as a normal working day
  • Believes there are 640 million professional in the world but they currently have 100 million, so they have a “healthy sense of paranoia and a long way to go”
  • In the early years the focus was and still is about creating value for free members, it a new product doesn’t do this, they won’t implement it
  • Initially they didn’t think about how to make money, but instead focus on creating value. After building a strong user base, they leveraged it to move into multi-billion dollar industries like human resources and generate revenue.
  • A key advantage they have is rich data which allows them to generate key business insights
  • Their China strategy is to be cautious about meeting Chinese needs and are not yet thinking about acquiring of a Chinese player
  • Last year they acquired 3 companies and always look for a great team, innovative technology and complimentary services –  CEO and Co-Founder, Yu Wang

  • An elite social network for China’s affluent class
  • Estimates there are 80 million people that fit this category in China but currently have 1.2 million registered users, with most coming from Beijing and Shanghai and aim to hit 20 million users in the next few years
  • Interestingly the higher up people are i.e. platinum and gold members, the more active they are on the site, because there is no other service that meets their social needs
  • They are growing at 300-400% per year in revenue but not yet profitable because they want to accelerate expansion in China
  • Have $10m funding from European Angels

Jason is an Australian born Chinese living in Beijing, specializing in entrepreneurship, start-ups and the investment eco-system in China, especially in the tech and social area.

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