对比鲜明的资源组成了这两家互相竞争的中国版Facebook，这展示了从第一波中国归国企业家到今天更具局限性的土生土长的一代之间的区别。试想一下，在2008年创业之初，开心网已经从中国新兴企业投资者启明创投和北极光风险投资吸引了2300万美元的资金。而人人网在过去的7年中已经获得了Pacific Rim tech支持者美国顶级风险投资机构DCM和日本软银集团创始人孙正义的5亿美元投资。
后来他休息了2个月，充裕的时间让他有机会可以思考人生的价值，思考后他认为朋友之间的快乐比金钱和事业更重要。在2008年，在程炳皓36岁的时候，他决定开始他自己的事业——开心网（游戏邦注：也就是“Be Happy”）这个社交网络游戏平台。 去年我与程炳皓的访谈使我知道了开心网的起源和使命。
China Facebook Race Pits Renren CEO Against Gen #2 Founder
By REBECCA FANNIN
If it’s the entrepreneur who really matters more than the money or the model behind a startup’s success or failure, then the match between the two founders of competing Facebook sites in China ?
Renren and Kaixin001 ? is going to be an interesting one to watch on Wall Street. Kaixin001 is expected to follow the lead of Renren soon.
Quiet and unassuming where Renren CEO and founder Joe Chen can be dynamic and colorful, the bio of Cheng Binghao is a study in contrasts with that of his key rival. Cheng is a homegrown, first-time Chinese entrepreneur and geeky website developer while Chen, now a billionaire from the IPO, is a savvy returnee and startup master.
How each fare could point to the future of China tech startups on Wall Street. The model of CEO returnee has proven to be a successful one, with western-educated and trained Robin Li of Chinese search engine Baidu as its best representative. Now as Kaixin001 prepares to take the next step, Cheng is at the start of a new and different parade of entrepreneurs who take their cues from Chinese culture and upbringing rather than from the West.
The contrasting resources in building these two competing Chinese Facebook sites showcases a shift from the first wave of China’s returnee entrepreneurs to today’s more localized homegrown generation. Consider: Kaixin001 has drawn $23 million in venture capital from China startup investors Qiming Ventures and Northern Light Venture Capital since its 2008 start while Renren has counted nearly $500 million over the past seven years from such financial anchors as Pacific Rim tech backer DCM and empire builder Masayoshi Son of Japan’s Softbank.
The founders’ managerial styles are degrees apart too. Today, the two sites are going head-to-head in the highly competitive social networking arena with energized entrants such as Sina’s microblog Weibo and its addition of Twitter and Facebook like functions.
Renren is in the lead with 117 million registered users and 2010 revenues of $76.5 million. That compares with Kaixin001 at 90 million registered users and 2010 revenues of $30 million, according to market research firm RedTech Advisors.
Kaixin001 has the upper hand with user demographics, RedTech point outs, with a higher penetration rate among white collar workers contrasted with Renren’s base among college students. First out of the gate to the public listing, Renren is flush with cash from the IPO to fire up its marketing power.
But let’s go back to the founders of each of these social networks. I’ve interviewed both in Beijing and know that while both Chen and Cheng grew up in China, I think the similarities stop there.
Chen grew up in Wuhan, the son of civil engineers who were sent to work in the countryside during the Cultural Revolution. When his family migrated to rural Delaware when he was a junior studying physics at Wuhan University, Chen quickly put his survival skills to work, learning English and flipping burgers at Wendys. Soon finishing up his degree at the University of Delaware, he got into the Massachutsetts Institute of Technology, where he earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering. From there it was to a Stanford University MBA and his first success as an entrepreneur.
While still a student, he sold his social network site for students, ChinaRen, to Sohu for $33 million in 2000, right before the dotcom crash. That Silicon Valley DNA (See Silicon Dragon Video of Joe Chen) has served him well in ramping up his China startup.
Chen leveraged his Stanford and MIT degrees and connections plus his business smarts to build out Renren for eight years with acquisitions, in-house developed sites, and business model pivots before gaining the IPO trophy and going back to Beijing a billionaire. Along the way, he purchased the Kaixin url in late 2008 and cloned the Kaixin001 site, prompting a lawsuit in 2009 that was won a year later by Cheng and his original Kaixin001 site. Before the judgment was made, Chen had folded the Kaixin interface into the Renren website.
Now, let’s look at Cheng. Growing up in Beijing as the son of a farmer and a factory worker, Cheng studied nuclear chemistry at the China Institute of Atomic Energy but spent more time at a school computer lab, learning basic software coding. His talent landed him a job and later promotion to chief technology officer at leading Chinese portal SINA. He worked there for 10 years and was fortunate enough to have SINA co-founder and now DCM venture capitalist Hurst Lin as his mentor and boss. Eventually, the continual 10-hour work days in front of a computer developing a search engine caused his vision to blur so much he could no longer read the small characters on the screen.
That’s when he took a break for a couple of months, time that allowed him to reflect on life values and to conclude that happiness with friends is more important than money or career. In 2008, at the age of 36, he decided to start his own business, Kaixin001 – or “Be Happy” – a social games and networking website. See my Silicon Dragon Video from an interview with Cheng last year telling me about the origins and mission of Kaixin001.
One of the site’s most popular games modeled after Facebook’s Farmville has users growing fruits and vegetables and playfully stealing from one another’s gardens, then exchanging funny comments about the moves. “Chinese are more conservative, more inward, not very open in this world. If two very close people see each other they don’t hug or kiss but say hello with eyes only. On this site, if I steal some vegetables, I am showing my affection, like a hug,” Cheng told me through a translator (see my photo above), explaining the psychology behind the game that led it to become wildly popular.
Now as Cheng’s investment bankers and venture capitalists look to take Kaixinoo1 to a bigger stage in the U.S., we’ll see how the market reacts to these two very different and capable Chinese entrepreneurs as they vie for leadership. I am going for a front-row seat to take it all in.（source:forbes）