Chen Di, CEO of YouMi: Red Dragon rising!

Despite the global a priori about China’s economy being closed and its iron-fisted state-run system jeopardising its successful emergence into the global business landscape, the reality paints quite a different picture. There is a growing number of Chinese mobile internet firms that are venturing overseas. Among them, the 29 year-old founder and CEO of YouMi – a Chinese Mobile Advertising Network, Mr. Chen Di, is currently blazing the trail for this new wave of China’s entrepreneurial disruptors.

Entrepreneurial Disruptor

By age 26, Chen Di was already spotted by Forbes China as one of the most promising Chinese entrepreneurs to follow. As a teenager, he had toyed with the idea of real estate, then considered finance or technology, but finally decided on a mobile application advertising company. Then in 2009, together with a few fellow students from South China University of Technology, Chen founded YouMi, and has never looked back. If I failed to do something big in my fourth year at the university, I wouldn’t be able to keep up with my teammates who studied at prestigious universities, Chen told China Daily USA. YouMi was one of the first mobile advertising platforms in China, and two years after its official launch, it really took off thanks to an angel investment of about 10 million yuan. YouMi expected its revenue to grow to between 80 million yuan and 100 million yuan—and that’s only for 2015!

Conquest of the West

Over the past two decades, an unprecedented explosion of entrepreneurism has transformed the land of what seemed to be a sleeping dragon into a vibrant global business hub. From the renowned e-commerce giant, Alibaba, to the lesser known Baidu, Tencent, YouMi, and Xiaomi, these companies are getting ready to take on the global markets…and earn a recognized place in the global economy. YouMi, one of the industry’s top three Chinese companies, drew the attention of internet industry players worldwide at last year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC 2015) in Barcelona where they launched their newly developed global mobile ad platform Adxmi. Major players like Telefonica in Spain have already signed a strategic cooperation agreement with the Chinese mobile advertising platform giant, certainly ample proof that YouMi is ready for the big time!

YouMi’s products have been copied by more than 20 companies in China, but this worries Chen Di not a bit. He firmly believes that “You need to innovate constantly, launch new products in a timely manner and respond to the market.” Products in China are becoming more and more sophisticated, designed with locally developed technology, yet in complete compliance with global standards. While companies in the rest of the world wonder how they can access the fast-rising incomes of China’s 1.4 billion consumers, YouMi has already set sail to conquer the West!

Does Chen Di inspire you? Post your comments below!

Picture above: Courtesy of Forbes China


Lucy Peng: The quiet force behind Alibaba Group

Guess who is the most influential, rich and powerful women in China? Well, according to Forbes, the highest ranking woman in China, in 2015, goes to the co-founder of Alibaba, Lucy Peng, also known as, Peng Lei. In this year’s World’s 100 Most Powerful Women list, more than half are American and only six are Chinese!

Discreet and Humble Women of Power

As one of the most influential women in the world of technology and business in general, Peng has kept a low profile. She rarely gives interviews and avoids talking about her personal life in public. Peng who was born in Hangzhou, graduated with a Business Management degree from Zhejiang Gongshang University in 1994. Former Economics teacher at Zhejiang University of Finance and Economics, Lucy joined Alibaba at the very beginning of the company, in 1999. She met Jack Ma, today known as the “godfather” of Alibaba, through her husband, Sun Danyu. At that time, Ma, a former English teacher, founded Alibaba with only $60,000. Lucy, co-founder and Chief People Officer of Alibaba Group, is nowadays mainly responsible of Human Resources where she is successfully managing talents. Today, she is Alibaba’s most powerful women executive with an estimated net worth of USD 1.2 billion.

Culture is DNA

Often referred in the press as Ma’s right hand, Peng describes her primary mission in the company: “sustaining the development of Alibaba’s corporate infrastructure and the preservation of corporate culture, amid the company’s accelerating growth“. She has a very special role in the company and is perceived by employees as the “guardian angel” : “I take care of the people and the forces that unite them.” Lucy strongly believes that Culture is the most invaluable aspect of Alibaba. Unlike a business, culture cannot be planned or produced. Peng Lei argues that corporate culture has to “emerge” as the company grows, and then shaped to reflect the core values of the business! Indeed, Alibaba new corporate culture includes passing the torch to younger generation : “The internet belongs to young people” , declared the eccentric Jack Ma, who is also convinced that the days of pure patriarchy are gone as we have entered in a new age of female-run enterprises.

Interestingly, only 5% of America’s tech companies are led by women. Despite the gender problem in the tech-industry, the outlook for women in Technology keeps improving with renowned names like Marissa Mayer (Yahoo), Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook), Susan Wojcicki (Youtube), Ruth Porat (Google), Amy Hood (Microsoft) or Angela Ahrendts (Apple). All of these women are serving as the architects for modern technology as does Lucy Peng in the East!

Peng Lei is undeniably one of the most influential women in business not only in China but globally : “I do not expect the Alibaba team to care only about business, profit, projects and figures. I wish we can accomplish a great goal and gain an unforgettable experience.”

Peng Lei: A model for women-entrepreneurs in the East? Post your comments below!

Evan Spiegel : Meet the man behind the “ghost” App.

Great Evan-gelist… invented the App of the future! Snapchat, with its white ghost-shaped logo, is the temporary photo and video messaging company, which is very popular among millennials. What is exciting in this story is not the App itself but how a simple college assignment was transformed into a USD 19billion worth company? This is the story of Evan Thomas Spiegel, co-founder and CEO of one of the largest and fastest-growing social networks on the Internet.

Enfant Terrible

Despite Snapchat‘s phenomenal global success, the first version of the app was a flop! Picaboo, which failed to get off the ground, was rebranded Snapchat with a few more features. Today, at 25, Spiegel runs a multibillion dollar corporation with hundreds of employees and which has more than 130 million daily active users, chiefly millennials. Son of successful lawyers, John W. Spiegel and Melissa Ann Thomas, Evan is nowadays known to be the world’s youngest billionaire who will be remembered for turning down a USD 3billion offer from Facebook! “There are very few people in the world who get to build a business like this,” he told Forbes at the time. “I think trading that for some short-term gain isn’t very interesting.” Another college dropout like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, Evan quitted Stanford University just a few credits short of earning his degree. He was more concerned about completely focusing on Snapchat and its growing success than graduating!

Working the system

Spiegel clearly believes that understanding the patterns behind things and making them work in one’s favour can be more rewarding when it comes to business. When speaking to young people wishing to become entrepreneurs, he stated that: “Life isn’t fair and it’s not about working harder; it’s about working the system.” He also advised them to dare create something that you don’t want to sell.

So far, Evan has been “working the system” quite well, in his professional and private life as well, by dating Australian supermodel Miranda Kerr (ex-wife of Hollywood superstar, Orlando Bloom)! So, how is the kid-turned-celebrity-CEO going to work the system and transform Snapchat into a sustainable and profitable business? Well, it doesn’t seem like Mission Impossible for this enigmatic and resourceful young man whose “Mission Impossible style detonation technology” promises to bring a lot more than “ephemeral” image sharing! Stay tuned!

Consequently, Evan Spiegel strongly believes in Snapchat’s business model. He often claims that : “There is real value in sharing moments that don’t live forever.”  It would be interesting to see if he succeeds in transforming an App into a sustainable business. Well, we now hope that he lives up to the challenge of building something that will ultimately “live forever”!

Snapchat: Sustainable business model or fad? Post your comments below!