The Loss Of Zhang Rui, A Warning To All Entrepreneurs
The 40-year-old entrepreneur once mentioned that things that troubled him the most were all related to money, and that he’s either looking for money, or thinking about how to make money all the time.
On the afternoon of October 6th, TMTpost learned that Chunyuyisheng’s (Chunyu Doctor) founder, Zhang Rui, had passed away for acute myocardial infarction. Several tech blogs and media focusing on the healthcare industry also reported the unfortunate news.
This is another sudden death in the Internet industry following Alibaba’s DT director Ou Jiliang in June this year and Tianya’s associate editor Jin Bo.
Our journalist at TMTpost has confirmed this information in Chunyuyisheng’s WeChat group. The official statement might be released after discussing with Zhang Rui’s family.
According to open information, Zhang Rui was born in the 70s in Anhui province. He held a bachelor degree in Biology from Renmin University of China and a master degree in journalism. He’s also the former director of the news center at Beijing Times and deputy editor-in-chief at NetEase.
In 2011, Zhang Rui founded Chunyuyisheng. “The fact that we don’t really know about the healthcare industry is in fact a bliss instead of weakness, since we don’t know much so we have the guts to do what we have in mind,” Zhang Rui once said, commenting on his entry into the healthcare industry.
At that time, the mobile Internet industry was on the rise. Besides Chunyuyisheng, other players in the field like Dingxiangyuan, Chunyu Mobile Health, and Haodafu etc. were seeing great opportunities. Chunyuyisheng on the other hand started off with remote inquiry service, which involved healthcare, family doctor, appointment, and healthcare information etc. In the healthcare industry, a rather traditional industry, Chunyuyisheng emerged as a revolutionary power.
Chunyuyisheng’s early investor Chen Weiguang, partner of BlueRun Ventures, has stated for several times that he expected giant company at the scale of millions of dollars to appear in the Chinese mobile healthcare industry. In mid 2014, Chunyuyisheng received its C round financing of $50 million and announced that the platform boasted 30 million users, 40,000 doctor and with a daily inquiry of 50,000.
However, the healthcare industry has a very complex resource layout, which makes Chunyuyisheng’s development controversial. On October 2015, rumor had it that Chunyuyisheng was going bankrupt. In response to that, Zhang Rui had stepped out and stated that the mobile healthcare industry was a brand new field, and therefore they had to start from scratch as there was no forerunner to learn from.
Behind the tough face was an exhausted body. Zhang Rui was in poor health. Zhang Rui had said in public that he had been suffering from many health problems while having to deal with pressures from the funding and the company’s development.
In June this year, it was reported that Chuanyuyisheng would complete its Pre-IPO round financing at 1.2 billion. Chunyuyisheng’s revenue from online inquiry in 2015 hit ¥130 million with a profit of 30 million, according to the report. In addition to that, report also showed that is planning for a spin-off listing. Meanwhile, Chunyuyisheng has made its operation statistics public: The platform now boasts a registered use base of 92 million, 410,000 professional doctors from state-run grade-A hospitals of second class, and handles 330,000 cases per day.
But just when Chunyuyisheng started to gain traction, its fonder Zhang Rui died of over working. It seems that Chunyuyisheng now is on track, but its guardian has paid his price and passed away.
Zhang Rui’s last post on WeChat Moment was on the Mid-Autumn Festival this year.
What follows is Zhang Rui’s interview transcript from Blog Weekly, which really shows just how hard Zhang Rui had been working:
The B round financing in 2012 was the most difficult time for Zhang Rui. It lasted for two months. He couldn’t sleep well. He wrote emails in the middle of night to discuss about product design or business model with others. And he would just go out and talk to other about Chunyu’s value in early morning. He would repeat at leas twice a day the same content to people and answered many weird questions.
“I was worried sick,” he said, telling Blog Weekly that he couldn’t sleep well or eat well every day. When he went to bed, he would always worry about financial chain would just cut out. He thought to himself that his products had put an end to many people’s suffering, and that’s how he had been holding on, by encouraging himself.
He had always believed that his product had value, and that they would eventually find investment despite the bad luck. Both the mental and physical pressure ultimately cracked down Zhang Rui’s healthy, literally making his hair on the temples go white. Zhang’s father who’s an experienced doctor told him that it was caused by nervous disorder.
From Zhang Rui’s perspective, if one has to endure an entrepreneurship, then something must have gone wrong, for he believed in self motivation. Now Zhang Rui has overcome the obstacle, and running his own business just feels like playing Majiang or smoking. In the past, Zhang’s mom often played Majiang to late night, getting all exhausted with backache, which he didn’t really understand. “It’s actually the same for entrepreneurship.
It’s tiring, but it’s also rewarding. It’s just like telling people who like to smoke that smoking is bad for health and cigarettes are smelly and expensive. But as long as what I am doing makes me happy, then why not?”
During Spring in 2011, the former NetEase’s deputy editor-in-chief was still having endless meetings in the office tower, as several departments such as the open course, Weibo, News Channel etc. all looked to him for making decisions, including the NetEase News app that was just launched. In the portal era, data traffic was the most crucial and only indicator to value a product. “Mobile clients have exponential growth. So you get to sense the environment, and make forecast. When you do find an opportunity, you need to go for it,” he said.
As a media professional he naturally possessed a sharp insight. It occurred to him that this time might be the greatest time to kickstart a startup in 10 years in the mobile internet industry. Eventually he decided to quit his job and start his own business. The first thing he did after having the idea was to find partners. Zeng Baiyi from Youdao Dictionary and Zhang’s childhood friend Li Guanghui were the first ones to join. The three of them met at a café near Tsinghua University. Zhang Rui spent whole two hours to describe the development tendency of the mobile Internet to them. “Let’s just start our own business in an industry with such a bright future and potential,” Zhang said to them.
At that time, many people had also noticed the opportunities presented by the mobile Internet and that the rise of Weibo and WeChat was altering the startup scene. During that period, being able to find the right direction was the key to the success of a startup.
It had been four years since the beginning of his entrepreneurial journey, and during which time money had been the source of his worries. He’s either looking for money, or thinking about how to make money. The 42-year-old entrepreneur also had a bigger issue to worry about: How to achieve stable cash in with such a large user base?
It remains unknown how much of an impact will the loss of Zhang Rui bring upon Chunyuyisheng. But his sudden death has tolled a warning bell for all the entreprenuers out there. Starting from this year, the health status of internet entrepreneurs has become a rather focused topic.
On May 3rd 2016, Jiang Juntu, journalist at Chengdu Quansousuo had cerebral hemorrhage and dropped dead, at the age of 41. On the very same day, the director of Mianyang Daily’s editorial center, Ren jie, passed away in her sleep, at the age of 42.
On May 18th 2016, the 28-year-old NetEase’s editor Wang Yashan died of liver cancer. Earlier on March 7th, she wrote on her Weibo that her life had entered a countdown. It only takes three steps to get liver cancer: Over working, stay up late, getting exhausted. “I am a perfect example of that,” Wang said.
On June 29th 2016, 19:30, 34-year-old Tianya’s associate editor Jin Bo fainted on his way back home from work in the subway line 6 in Beijing. The pedestrians and emergency paramedics couldn’t save him. According to Jin Bo’s colleagues, Jin Bo had been working overtime for a very long period, and that he had always been very hardworking.
On September 19th 2015, Shanghai-based gaming company MUHENET made an official statement, which stated that the company’s founder and CEO Wu Bo had passed away on September 19th 2015 in the middle of the night, at the age of 36. The statement revealed that Wu Bo had been in an intense working condition, which eventually led to his sudden death.
On December 13th 2015, Li Junming, deputy director of the voice recognition engine department at Tencent’s Technology Development Center, dropped dead when taking a walk with his pregnant wife. According to source, the cause of death was long term overwork.
The following is Chunyuyisheng’s official statement on the loss of Zhang Rui:
Beijing Chunyuyisheng’s founder and CEO Zhang Rui had passed away for acute myocardial infarction, on October 5th 2016 in Beijing, at the age of 44.
Zhang Rui had been a forerunner in the Chinese Internet industry. From Beijing Times to NetEase, and then to Chunyuyisheng, Zhang Rui precisely grasped the opportunities presented by the Internet revolution twice. He successfully made the transition from connecting people with information to connecting people with service. On August this year, Zhang Rui even put his eyes on the upcoming Internet of Everything era.
Zhang Rui was a progressive explorer in the mobile health industry. Zhang Rui had been an industry leader in the mobile health industry during the five years after establishing Chunyuyisheng. He revolutionized the healthcare industry by adopting Internet methods to solve the distribution of medical resources.
In addition to that, he applied online inquiry on his platform, making online healthcare service as good as offline healthcare service from hospitals for the very first time. He not only boosted healthcare service supply by utilizing doctors’ fragmented time, but also improved healthcare system’s efficiency.
Zhang Rui was also an active explorer of business models for online healthcare. From light inquiry, to online hospitals, then digital healthcare record and online inquiry open platform, Zhang Rui had been making initiatives to make Chunyuyisheng an online entrance of Internet healthcare and a platform-level application. He set to integrate the healthcare resources of all medical chains and enable online healthcare platforms to cure patients from merely making a diagnosis. His wish was to bring about a win-win situation, while lowering the cost for healthcare at the same time.
At present, Chunyuyisheng is continuing to make profit. The sudden loss of Zhang Rui is not only a great loss for Chunyuyisheng, but also a grievous tragedy for entrepreneurs in the Chinese Internet startup circle.
Currently Chunyuyisheng is operating as usual. Co-founder Li Guanghui will take over Zhang Rui and take on relevant responsibilities.
The staff at Chunyuyisheng, here extend our sincerest condolence to Zhang Rui’s passing away.
We will notify the public about the date and location of Zhang Rui’s funeral in the future, so that Zhang Rui’s friends could come and give him the final farewell.
October 6th 2016
[The article is published and edited with authorization from the author @Li Qin, please note source and hyperlink when reproduce.]
Translated by Garrett Lee (Senior Translator at PAGE TO PAGE), working for TMTpost.
Originally published at www.tmtpost.com on October 9, 2016.