A surprising number of the top tech startups in China were founded by former employees of the online news service of Chinese internet company NetEase. These include YY (online interactive entertainment), Momo (mobile social networking), Snowball Finance (financial social media), Chunyu (mobile healthcare) and Jingguanyu (online education). All the founders or CEOs of these startups were once chief editor or deputy editor-in-chief at NetEase News.

There are, of course, also many good tech startups founded by former employees of other big Chinese internet companies such as Alibaba and Tencent, but few of them have expanded beyond their former employers’ core business (e-commerce with Alibaba and social/gaming with Tencent). By contrast, those founded by NetEase alumni have little to do with the core functions of NetEase, such as e-mail, online news and gaming.

YY started as a voice chat service for game players and has since transformed into an interactive video platform. The sectors the platform now covers include music, gaming, education and dating. The majority of its revenues come from virtual item sales. So far it’s the only company of its kind in China or even around the world. YY went public on the NASDAQ in late 2012 and now is trading at a US$3.5 billion market cap.

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Tracey Xiang

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at traceyxiang@gmail.com