This issue covers the period between July 27 - August 2, 2020 with six news stories – three from English language sources, three from Chinese language sources. I purposely did not include anything related to the antitrust hearing (too many out there) and TikTok’s situation in the U.S. (too volatile). Instead, I chose stories that have some longer term implications or just interesting information that hopefully can add value to your perspectives. Disclaimer: all translated article titles are done by me, not official translations from the media outlets.

China's central bank urges antitrust probe into Alipay, WeChat Pay” (English Source: Reuters)

My Thoughts: While the antitrust hearing on Capitol Hill of Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google sucked up all the tech and business oxygen last week, the People’s Bank of China has been quietly pushing for an antitrust investigation of the two dominant payment platforms in China, Alipay and WeChat Pay. These two platforms account for roughly 94% of the entire payment market share in China -- technically not a monopoly but quite a duopoly. China’s antitrust regulatory body is also looking to update its rules and policies to adapt to a changing technological landscape -- something its American counterpart would be wise to do as well. Even though there has not been a lot of antitrust probes in China in general, Tencent is already a “repeat offender”. As I documented in Part I of my “Open Source in China” series, there was an epic antitrust legal battle between Tencent and Qihoo360 (a large Internet security company) in 2010, commonly known as the 3Q War. (Spoiler alert: Tencent prevailed.) That was a company vs company complaint. The current one is coming straight from the country’s central bank.

Telecoms networks look to fix Huawei problem with open source software” (English Source: Financial Times)

My Thoughts: One of the key advantages of open source software is vendor-neutrality; whether you are a country or a company, if you use open source, you are not locked-in to the wills and whims of another company’s software or hardware stack. Western countries like the UK, who are averse to using Huawei to build their 5G networks, are quickly discovering the risk and financial cost of being locked-in to one of the other two 5G equipment providers: Nokia and Ericsson. Based on this article, their technology is apparently not even that good. Thus, OpenRAN, an open source 5G software stack first created inside Rakuten, the Japanese e-commerce giant, is rightfully getting more attention. Large telecoms from several countries that you normally wouldn’t see together in one sentence -- NTT (Japanese), Orange (French), China Mobile, AT&T -- have formed an alliance around OpenRAN. As I argued in the context of COVID-19 and public health in “COVID, Open Source, Industrial Policy”, open source technology can and should be a larger portion of any country’s industrial policy and vision. The OpenRAN project is still young with no public code repositories on either GitHub or GitLab, but it’s very much worth watching.

Li Auto raises $1.1bn in US as China's EV startups race to IPO” (English Source: Nikkei Asian Review)

My Thoughts: Almost exactly a month ago, in the July 5 issue of Interconnected Weekly, I shared some thoughts on Li Auto’s possible IPO in the U.S., openly wondering if the American capital market will receive its listing with open arms. We now have our answer. Not only was the response enthusiastic (the listing date was apparently moved up by one day because of overwhelming demand), it’s an indication of more IPOs to come by Chinese electric vehicle companies. This article describes some of the other players quite well. Raising money on Tesla’s tailwind is evidently a good strategy, even though Li Auto’s vehicles are actually hybrids of battery and traditional combustion engines -- more Prius than Model 3.

ByteDance acquires cloud container tech startup CaiCloud” (Chinese Source: Capital Whale)

My thoughts: While the world obsesses over TikTok, ByteDance actually has a growing B2B enterprise product line. This acquisition of CaiCloud, one of the earlier startups to get into the cloud-native container platform business, is the latest example of that growth. The CaiCloud team will be absorbed into ByteDance’s B2B unit, Volcano Engine, that serves the China market. In early 2019, ByteDance launched a product called Lark, a workplace productivity suite similar to Slack and GSuite, that serves both the China and overseas markets. Zooming out, the fascinating thing about building a tech company the size of ByteDance is that you have to create a lot of internal tools and services to help your massive workforce be productive -- much of which can be repackaged and sold to other companies as enterprise software products. ByteDance is much more than just Gen Z’ers lip syncing to Kevin Hart routines.

20 years of open source in China; Who’s up, who’s down?” (Chinese Source: CSDN)

My thoughts: As long-time readers of this publication know, I write quite a bit about open source and its impact. I write not because I know, but because I want to learn. From this article, I learned some new information about the history of open source creation (not just adoption) in China, which dates back at least 20 years. The first open source project was conceived in 1995 out of Tsinghua University, an open source BBS message board. MiniGUI, a graphic user interface (GUI) software for Linus, was started 20 years ago and is still used today. It’s always good to know about the past, before creating the future.

Huawei Do or Die; Sacrifice for Strengths” (Chinese Source: NanGuoBiTe (independent blogger))

My thoughts: I don’t normally cite independent bloggers. This one is interesting because: 1. It shares some fascinating techlores about Huawei’s history that, while hard to verify, are fun to read; 2. It represents a common public sentiment that mixes patriotism, martyrdom, and fear when viewing the ongoing technology sanctions against Huawei. The author holds begrudging respect for the U.S.’s advancement in technology and science, while conjecturing that the Chinese government won’t save Huawei and it’s left to fend for itself. That predicament will force Huawei to sacrifice, prevail, and eventually emerge stronger. Most notably, in the author’s mind, the time horizon of this struggle is 10-20 years, which stands in stark contrast to Wall Street’s quarter-by-quarter mindset, and DC’s election-by-election mentality.

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中国人民银行敦促对支付宝、微信支付展开反垄断调查”(英文来源: 路透社)

我的想法:   上周在美国国会举行的对苹果、亚马逊、Facebook和谷歌的反垄断听证会吸干了所有科技和商业界的氧气。与此同时,中国人民银行也在悄悄地推动对两大支付平台,支付宝和微信支付的反垄断调查。这两个平台约占中国整个支付市场份额的94%——严格上讲是两个平台所以并不是垄断,但也算是个双寡头垄断。中国的反垄断监管机构也在寻求更新其规则和政策,以适应不断变化的科技商业环境。美国的反垄断监管机构也应该开始类似的更新。尽管中国反垄断调查的例子不多,但腾讯已经是个“惯犯”。如我在 “中国的开源世界” 系列文章的第一篇所述,早在2010年腾讯和奇虎360之间就发生了一场史诗般的反垄断官司,俗称“3Q大战”。(剧透:腾讯赢了。)这只是场公司与公司的投诉,而当前的调查直接来自国家央行。

电信网络组织希望用开源软件解决‘华为问题’”(英文来源: 金融时报)

我的想法:开源软件的一个主要优势是供应商中立性;无论你是一个国家还是一个公司,如果你使用开源软件,就不会被另一家公司的软件或硬件配置所束缚。英国等西方国家不想用华为搭建5G,但也很快发现,被另外两家5G设备提供商锁定:Nokia或Ericsson,也是有风险和巨大财务成本的。根据这篇文章,它们的技术显然也没那么好用。因此,在日本电商巨头Rakuten内部研发的开源5G软件栈,OpenRAN,也正理所当然地受到更多关注。来自几个平常很少“一起玩”的大国的电信公司——NTT(日本)、Orange(法国)、中国移动、AT&T——已经围绕OpenRAN结成了联盟。正如我在 “COVID-19,开源,工业政策” 中所说的那样,开源技术可以也应该成为一个国家的工业政策和未来的一大部分。OpenRAN项目还很年轻,在GitHub或GitLab上都没有公开的代码,但它非常值得大家关注。

理想汽车在美融资11亿,中国电动汽车踊跃IPO”(英文来源: Nikkei Asian Review)

我的想法:   几乎整整一个月前,在7月5日出版的《互联周刊》里,我分享了一些关于理想汽车可能在美国上市的想法,猜想美国资本市场是否会张开双臂欢迎它。现在有答案了。不仅市场反应热烈(由于需求过多,上市日期显然还提前了一天),这也预示着中国电动车行业的其他企业将继续踊跃的上市。这篇文章很好地概括了其他一些玩家。利用特斯拉的势头筹资显然是一个不错的策略,尽管理想汽车的产品实际上是电池和传统内燃机的混合动力车,更像Prius而不是Model 3.

字节跳动全资收购容器平台才云科技” (中文来源: 资鲸)

我的想法:  当全世界都盯着TikTok的时候,字节跳动的B2B企业服务产品线却在不断增长。此次收购才云,一家较早就涉足云原生容器平台业务的初创公司,既是这个增长的最新例证。才云团队将被吸收到字节跳动服务中国市场的B2B产品部门,火山引擎。2019年初,字节跳动已推出了飞书(Lark),一款类似Slack和GSuite的办公套件,面向中国及海外市场。放大点看,做一家像字节跳动这种规模的科技公司很有意思的一点在于,你必须创造大量的内部工具和服务,以支持你庞大的员工有高的生产力。其中很多部分可以重新包装变成企业软件产品出售给其他公司。字节跳动远远不只是九零后和九五后们唇同步Kevin Hart的段子。

中国开源激荡 20 年:IT 江湖,谁主沉浮?”  (中文来源: CSDN)

我的想法: 长期读者都知道,我写很多关于开源及其影响的文章。我喜欢写东西不是因为我都懂,而是想通过写作而继续学习。从这篇文章中,我学到了很多关于中国开源的原创(不仅仅是采用)的故事和信息,至少有20年的历史了。第一个项目是1995年在清华建立的“水木清华 BBS”。MiniGUI,一款开源的 Linux 图形用户界面(graphic user interface,GUI) 也有20年了,至今仍被广泛使用。在创造未来之前,好好了解过去还是很有必要的。

生死华为——为有牺牲多壮志”  (中文来源: 南郭比特)

我的想法:  我通常不会引用个人博客,但这篇值得看看。原因是:1. 它分享了一些有关华为历史的许多有趣故事和细节,虽然很难核实,但读起来还是很有趣; 2. 它代表了一派普遍的大众情绪,混合着爱国、殉道和恐惧来在看针对华为各种科技制裁。作者对美国在技术和科学方面的进步程度有着不情愿的尊重,同时还猜测中国政府不会拯救华为,它只能自食其力。而这种困境将迫使华为为了生存而做出巨大牺牲,但最终会变得更强大。最值得注意的是,在作者心目中,这场斗争的时间段是10到20年,与华尔街每三个月一季度的心态和华府每两到四年一选举的视角形成了鲜明对比。