In 1978, a Hakka immigrant from Mainland China, Zhang Kaiqing (张铠卿), founded a company called 金山 (meaning “Gold Mountain”) in Hong Kong. The company was selling electronic parts first, then they started to assemble & sell IBM PC compatible computers.

Soon, Zhang Xuanlong (张旋龙), Zhang Kaiqing’s son, took over the company. They sold computers to Chinese government and to companies in Zhongguancun of Beijing — Zhongguancun used to be the eunuch cemetery a few decades ago and became China’s Silicon Valley in 1980s/1990s.

In late 1980s, Zhang Xuanlong decided to build & sell his own software. He opened an office…


3721 toolbar on IE. Credit: 老崔君子兰

In the previous post, we learned that Hao123 was a major way for Chinese internet users to find websites around the year 2000, when search engine was not good enough to use. In fact, there was a search-engine-like thing that helped Chinese internet users find business websites. This thing was 3721.

3721 is 3 x 7 = 21, meaning “regardless of” in Chinese idiom. It was an IE plugin / toolbar that initially did something similar to “I’m feeling lucky” of Google: you typed in a Chinese keyword, and it redirected you to a specific website. For example, you type…


Screenshot of Foxmail

Foxmail was a very popular Chinese Email client on Windows. It was the biggest Microsoft Outlook competitor in China.

A young programmer, Zhang Xiaolong, singlehandedly built and launched Foxmail in early 1997, when he was 28. He then slowly built a small team. A few years later, Foxmail accumulated ~4 million active users.

In 1997, Zhang Xiaolong was already a celebrity in China’s IT industry. A young journalist Li Xueling wrote, “In 1997, if you were on Huangzhuang road (a street in Beijing) and yelled — ‘I am Zhang Xiaolong’, tons of people would come to ask for your signature.”…


Screenshot of Hao123.com in 2004. Credits: archive.org

It’s fascinating to see the rise of some well-known huge China Tech companies (10s of 1000s of employees), e.g., Alibaba, Tencent, Toutiao, Baidu…

I’m going to write a series of posts about “old china tech”, introducing you some less known (outside China) Chinese software / websites pre / around 2000, which may directly or indirectly shape the landscape of current #ChinaTech :)

Hao123.com

If you Google “hao123”, you may think this is just yet another Chinese malware / virus website :) Blame Baidu!

In 1999, 20-year Li Xingping started Hao123 in a small county Xingping in Guangdong. Hao123 was like Yahoo…


How often do you spend 1/3000 of your total net worth on a stranger on the street?

This question is easy to answer. It’s about money. If you have $60,000 savings in your bank, you may be okay to spend $20 (1/3000 of your $60k) on your meal, but it’s unlikely that you’ll give away $20 to a stranger.

However, people oftentimes have difficulty understanding time. Probably that’s why many people love requesting one-hour synchronous (in-person or teleconference) meetings. This is to take away one hour from other people’s life!

The life of a startup can be measured as person-years…


This is my comment in this Hacker News thread.

I don’t regret. I left my day job in late 2016 and started to do this startup thing. I’m still very happy.

I’ve seen people who left day job to start companies and became very unhappy very quickly (within 6 months). The key thing is to have the right motivation and to manage expectation.

If the primary reason to start your own company is to look good in front of your other fancy friends, then you’d better not do that in the first place. Doing startup is roller coaster. You won’t…


This is my response to a Hacker News thread “You don’t actually need a co-founder (2016)”.

To build a successful startup, you don’t have to get a co-founder. What you need is a team.

If you are able to get things off the ground, doing 0 to 1 all by yourself, then you don’t need a co-founder. But doing 1 to N, you need a team.

I had a co-founder in my first company, and we were very unproductive, as reaching consensus took a lot of time.

Then I started my second company without a cofounder. Things get way better…


I recently had conversations with two funny VCs.

On competition from big companies.

VC1: “How fast can Apple or Google copy your podcast search engine?”

Me: “They can copy my stuffs as fast as Yahoo! could’ve copied Google in 1998, Google could’ve copied Facebook in 2004, Google could’ve copied Dropbox in 2008, or Facebook could’ve copied Snapchat in 2011.”

VC1: “Are you worried?”

Me: “No. First, they won’t consider podcast search engine is something worth building. Second, they won’t send their best employees to do it if they want to copy, so we small companies actually compete with those incompetent employees in big companies who…


More often than not, it’s pseudoscience, especially for consumer-facing internet products. It’s very possible that the demographics you are targeting has very little overlap with your family & friends.

There are several cases.

Whatever you do is awesome

Your family members & your best friends will compliment you no matter what you do or whether they understand or not. This totally gives you wrong signals.

But who are you?

Many (or most) people on your LinkedIn are just connections. They are busy in their personal life and work life. When you send a beta testing request to them, they may have a hard time to remember who are you…


Tim Wong (right)

Tim is a senior engineer who, in his three years at Nextdoor, has helped build a small neighborhood social network into a nationwide platform serving over 89,000 neighborhoods across the US. This week, we sit down with Tim to find out a little more about him, working in infrastructure engineering, and life at Nextdoor.

Tell me about yourself

I’m a Senior Engineer on the Infrastructure Team. We build and maintain many of the backend services at Nextdoor, including the newsfeed, email, Taskworker infrastructure, and more. I’ve been at Nextdoor for 3.5 years, working on the Nearby Neighborhoods feature before the formation of the Infrastructure…

Wenbin Fang

Founder and CEO of ListenNotes.com

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