Search for China

Interesting comments on Baidu’s downturn in China:

While most discussions about Project Dragonfly (Google Search for China) focus on ethics or privacy, this perspective seems to be missing – Search as product might no longer be relevant to China users. No?

74% of Chinese online payment is on mobile vs 15% in the U.S. (source)
98% of Internet Users in China are mobile users (source)

From the user behaviors standpoint, unlike US, it’s a totally different climate when the dominant of population are mobile-only users who have never used PC (or web). Search by nature arguably isn’t a strong vehicle in mobile; Apps are. On mobile, people don’t like searching stuff to get jobs done, but instead would browse feeds to consume whatever algorithm throw to them.

From the data aggregation standpoint, Search was born in the era of World Wide Web, and is largely beneficial from the open web. But in the mobile world, each App is an isolated island, and it became difficult for Google to harvest data (I doubt if PWA / Instant Apps only work best with Google’s own ecosystem like Android and Play but struggle to work with iOS Apps).

That said, even Search might not be the best product-market fit for China users, Assistant might have a chance to get it through. Because Assistant is a native form to mobile (or all kinds of devices). I have a hard time to imagine what a success will be looking like for Assistant though. If Assistant can succeed, I think it’s a better product than Search for China’s population.

(Disclaimer – views in the article are my own and have nothing to do with my company.)

如果做这么一个插件 – Headline Blocker

午饭和组里人讨论出一个项目idea:Headline Blocker。

就是做这么一个插件,把所有文章的标题屏蔽掉(就像Ad Blocker屏蔽掉广告一样),这样大家不会因为“标题党“而点进去一些 “You won’t believe…“ 或 “7 things you should…” 这样clickbait的文章。技术上并不难。




Apple’s vulnerability in China

In the most recent Stratechery podcast Episode 158 – A Significant Shift, Ben Thompson made a good yet subtle point about Apple’s recent revenue warning followed by its biggest stock-price drop. To paraphrase – because of Apple’s shallow software moat in China, it’s particularly vulnerable in China when there’s an economic recession.

To break the analysis down in my own words –

1) WeChat (and similar services in China) and Android undermine iPhone’s software experience.

  • WeChat provides much better experience than iMessages because its holistic integration of rich services and so on. Unlike the iMessage’s popularity in the US, it is just lukewarm in China.
  • Android’s open source strategy allows the local manufactures like Huawei and Xiaomi to customize their own OS, which weaken the necessity of the holistic iPhone experience (hardware + software). iPhone users in China are not affected by the ecosystem “lock-in”. So switching is easy.

2) Because of 1, people in China cut across iPhone’s underlying OS and buy iPhone more of as a commodity – just like buying a Chanel bag or a Rolex. Apple is a luxury brand for status symbol.

  • (But also thanks to this, most U.S. internet giants (e.g. Google, FB) failed to break into the Chinese market but not for Apple – Apple was able to enter China and succeeded in the market)

3) Because 2, while it’s always the case, when economic recession comes, iPhone sales is more vulnerable in China compared to western countries. People avoid buying luxuries during economic downturn (roughly started from last quarter).

4) Apple’s less vulnerable in other countries because Apple has deeper software and services moat. Westerns buy because they are “locked in” in Apple’s ecosystem.


我当然对China Tech感兴趣,但对通过不同lenses所产生的对China Tech的看法尤为感兴趣。你总不能只沉浸在那些布满“融资/独角兽/AI/区块链”等词汇的微信公众号里。试着戴上不同的“有色眼镜”再去看中国科技圈,便会觉得奇妙无穷。譬如说,对于同一件科技事件,视角一可能会说中国科技日益强大已超越美国,视角二会说中国用户缺乏用户私隐的常识导致这公司有扩张可能性。


  • 没有亚洲背景的左派白人视角。代表:Decode/Recode的Kara Swisher
  • 有亚洲背景的白人视角。代表:Stratechery的Ben Thompson
  • 土生土长的混在白人堆里的ABC的视角。代表:YC的Justin Kan
  • 在美国求学但后来在中国发展的大佬的视角。代表:李开复/陆琪
  • 在中国长大然后在美国求学或工作的中国人的视角。代表:硅谷中国程序员/中国留学生
  • 在中国求学和工作的互联网圈从业员的视角(先锋型)。代表:汪滔
  • 在中国求学和工作的互联网圈从业员的视角(土鳖型)。代表:雷军
  • 在中国求学和工作的非互联网圈的视角。代表:我们爸妈



Engineered like a computer, but works like a pencil

这次iPad Pro的最重要的创新应该是性能,其次的才是(依重要性排):USB-C插口、pencil地位的增强、全面屏和外观结构、FaceID、其它。

像苹果说的,iPad Pro用的是“比市面上92%的笔记本电脑还要高性能”的A12 Biontic chip,视觉计算比专门打游戏的Xbox One还好。

这是苹果第一次seriously把iPad看作为取代现在笔记本电脑的下一代computing platform的开端。像Luke说的”Engineered like a computer, but works like a pencil”(顶端的计算能力,以人为本的设计)应该就是他们对下一代计算平台的远景。



Rams documentary screening

482D7C80-6414-4852-8568-10F8EF01AE0E2A7FD1CC-D5EE-46BD-8A25-268A302975BBDieter Rams纪录片的三藩市试映。电影票数个月前就售罄。



It is an end of an era。


陆奇加入YC的消息让我感到振奋。这种振奋,或许源于我私以为的“情怀/理想”的最终胜利的自私感受。这里贴一下刚在知乎上回答的如何看待陆奇担任 Y Combinator 中国创始人?YC 进中国将产生哪些影响?

1. YC在硅谷圈乃至美国科技圈的影响力很大



对于被誉为“创业教父”的YC创始人Paul Graham,如有机会进入旧金山湾区的白人创业圈子的话,会很明显的体会到其“教父”地位 – 无论是Paul的创业文章(像how to startup a startup等十几年前写的文章现时还不断传颂),或是他的Hacker News,影响了西方数代创业者。下图为我的办公室(谷歌内部孵化器Area 120)以Paul Graham命名的打印机。其“先驱”地位略见一斑。



2. YC的新掌托Sam Altman说要每年要孵化10000个公司 – 对于有这样的远景,陆奇难以不心动



3. 世界正在饰演“去中心化”,而中国是第一个“去以硅谷为中心”的场地。

Peter Thiel说到2005年在斯坦福演讲,当时有台下学生问“下一个像Google这样的公司会在哪里?”。Peter半开玩笑的说“下一个这样的公司会诞生在离这个教室的5英内范围之内”(后来证明对了,这个公司就是后来的Facebook)。

Peter这么说是那时候他认为世界最前沿的发展都非常的集中,无论是资源、现金,或是人才。而这个中心就是硅谷。较为无稽的是,即使这个创业公司所做的服务是为了”解放地理位置的束缚,让工作可以随时随地跨地域进行“,这个团队的创业者都会从特地从美国东海岸飞去硅谷去找投资或者创办公司(这是A16Z的Mark Andreessen举的例子)。



4. 去YC中国,很好地结合了陆奇的”西方“和”华人“的双重属性。

有些在美工作多年的人或许有这样的感受:多年在西方的”习得“ – 无论是知识、西方文化、生活习惯、或者语言,会有食之无味(因为有所谓的华人天花板)又弃之可惜(不舍完全放弃这些”优势“)的感受。特别是陆奇这种在北美华人中的凤毛麟角。理解了他要同时发挥”能玩转西方”和“能背靠中国”的协同优势,就很容易明白为什么陆奇会选择YC中国,而不是纯玩中国规则的百度。