Image credit: Zhihu

On November 1, Quora co-founder and CEO Adam D’Angelo posted a deceptively simple question on Zhihu, China’s answer to popular Q&A forum.

“What can American internet companies learn from Chinese internet companies?”

D’Angelo is one of 10 big-name tech personalities in Zhihu’s ongoing “internet prophet” event, which challenges users to give the best response for each question within a month’s time. The guest list of questioners includes Tencent’s Pony Ma, author of the Three-Body Problem sci-fi series Liu Cixin, Sinovation Ventures founder Lee Kai-fu, and Zhihu founder and CEO Zhou Yuan.

As of writing time, D’Angelo’s post had received the least number of answers so far, with only 84 venturing their opinions. (Pony Ma reigns supreme with over 3,300 answers). Some of those following up on the challenge have a lot to say, however. The most up-voted respondent so far has written a bilingual manifesto with eight different sections, explaining both how US companies can learn from China (more work hours, cutthroat competition, better localization) and what Chinese enterprises can learn from America.

While not everyone had so lengthy a response, more than one person brought up similar points about China’s “996” work schedule (9am-9pm, 6 days a week) and Darwinian, “wolf-like” (狼性) business environment.

Of course, read another way D’Angelo’s question can seem tongue-in-cheek. Zhihu was modeled in the image of Quora, after all, although it’s since outgrown its American counterpart. Thanks to features like its bookstore and live-streaming experts, the Chinese platform has grown in both size and scope. After its latest round of funding in August of this year, its $2.5 million valuation even surpassed Quora’s most recent April figure of $1.8 billion.

Zhihu staff told PingWest that D’Angelo and the other 9 questioners came up with their own queries after a process of assessment and discussion. Zhihu also stated that future cooperation with Quora is a possibility, meaning that D’Angelo might get a direct answer to his question from his Chinese counterpart very soon.

Bailey Hu is based in China’s hardware capital, Shenzhen. Her interests include local maker culture, grassroots innovation and how tech shapes society, as well as vice versa.

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