Hello Interconnected Readers:
After arriving in Mexico City earlier this week, the four-hour time difference between Mexico and Hawaii is giving me a surprisingly bad jet lag, so I will spare you my usual personal letter. Let’s go straight to the news and commentaries from last week.
[If you’d like to skip ahead to the six news stories and commentaries – three from English language sources, three from Chinese language sources -- here are this issue’s items:
- “China Plans Online Payment Rules That May Hit Ant, Tencent” (English Source: Bloomberg)
- “Huawei founder praises U.S. tech in first word from company since Biden inauguration” (English Source: Reuters)
- “Stepping up for a truly open source Elasticsearch” (English Source: AWS Blog)
- “Pinduoduo employees choosing between 11-11-6 and 996” (Chinese Source: AWS Blog)
- “Cloopen Group files for US IPO, Sequoia China's Stake Reaches 20.75%, Will Become the First Chinese SaaS Company to Go Public in the US” (Chinese Source: iponews)
- “Android with RISC-V architecture is here!” (Chinese Source: CSDN)]
Before you read on, please check out last week's deep dive post: "Is Huawei a Top-Tier VC?"
“China Plans Online Payment Rules That May Hit Ant, Tencent” (English Source: Bloomberg)
My Thoughts: the Chinese regulators’ proposed antitrust rules on the fintech industry is oddly specific -- neatly targeting the duopoly of Ant’s AliPay and Tencent’s WeChat Pay. To trigger a monopoly, either one company has to have more than half the market share (AliPay) or two companies have to have more than two-thirds the market share (AliPay + WeChat Pay). It does look like some degree of breakup and/or government ownership is in order. These rules also conveniently only apply to non-bank payment companies, leaving state-owned banks alone. As I noted in both "Alibaba and Antitrust with Chinese Characteristics" and "Google, Alibaba, Global Antitrust Standard", China has no “regulatory legacy” when it comes to antitrust, which cuts both ways.
“Huawei founder praises U.S. tech in first word from company since Biden inauguration” (English Source: Reuters)
My Thoughts: the headline of this Reuters article is misleading, because what Huawei released on the company’s public-facing message board is a letter that founder and CEO, Ren Zhengfei, wrote back in June 2020, not a timely statement on Biden’s inauguration. It is a rather curious PR move -- perhaps Huawei’s own unique and subtle way of trying to find a friendlier audience with new leadership in DC.
“Stepping up for a truly open source Elasticsearch” (English Source: AWS Blog)
My Thoughts: This is part 2 of the latest big news in the open-source world. A week ago (aka part 1), Elastic relicensed the open-source technology, Elasticsearch, to the Server Side Public License (SSPL), which MongoDB pioneered to protect itself against AWS. In response, AWS has now forked Elasticsearch and plans to maintain it going forward without Elastic under the Apache 2.0 license, which has no restrictions on use of the technology. (“Fork”, in plain words, means making a copy of the software for free -- perfectly proper behavior in open source.) When Elastic announced the licensing change, its stock popped more than 10%, so it sure looked like Wall Street investors approved of the decision. When MongoDB made its licensing change two years ago, AWS’s response was slightly different, by making its DocumentDB product compatible with Mongo’s API. As I discussed in Part II of my Global by Nature series, when an API is sticky enough, the preferred approach is to build compatibility and not fork. Lastly, it’s worth noting that not all cloud platforms behave the same way with regard to 3rd-party open-source software. Joseph Jacks of OSS Capital has a nice shorthand of the different approaches by the three big cloud vendors in the US (AWS, Azure, GCP) in this tweet:
“Pinduoduo employees choosing between 11-11-6 and 996” (Chinese Source: 163)
My thoughts: if you thought 996 was bad, it’s apparently the better option if you work at Pinduoduo. For its marketing department, the assumed work schedule was 11-11-6 (11am to 11pm for six days a week), until it was recently changed to 996. Pinduoduo’s other departments are apparently allowing employees to choose between the two options! Such generosity between the lesser of two evils. What also changed was the payment schedule of overtime pay, from yearly to monthly. Is this the kind of “work ethics” famed Sequoia investor, Michael Moritz, was praising and asking Silicon Valley employees to follow in his FT op-ed two years ago?
“Cloopen Group files for US IPO, Sequoia China's Stake Reaches 20.75%, Will Become the First Chinese SaaS Company to Go Public in the US” (Chinese Source: iponews)
My thoughts: Cloopen is a cloud-based communications service provider, similar to Twilio in many ways. That comparison, along with SaaS’s overall trendiness, is partially why investors in China have showered it with investments. Although geopolitical concerns persist, going public in the US is still a highly desired outcome for Chinese tech companies, especially in the enterprise SaaS space. While Hong Kong awards rich enough valuations for consumer tech companies, thus Kuaishou is listing there, Wall Street is still the best place for cloud SaaS companies. Whether Cloopen’s IPO will do well is a separate story; its net dollar retention rate is 95%, which is not great.
“Android with RISC-V architecture is here!” (Chinese Source: CSDN)
My thoughts: China continues to make interesting progress in the RISC-V space, the open-source instruction set architecture that I’ve written quite a few posts about. This project apparently allows the Android mobile operating system to run on RISC-V, developed by a subsidiary of Alibaba called T-Head Semiconductor. Its technical foundation is based on another open-source project called AOSP for RISC-V, developed by an R&D lab under the software research department of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
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- “中国计划制定在线支付规则，可能会冲击蚂蚁、腾讯”（英文来源: 彭博社）
- “华为创始人在拜登就职后代表公司的第一句话是称赞美国科技”（英文来源: 路透社）
- “为真正开源的Elasticsearch撑腰”（英文来源: AWS博客)
- “拼多多让员工在 “11-11-6” 和996中二选一” (中文来源: 163）
- “容联云通讯申请赴美上市，红杉中国持股达20.75%，将成中国SaaS企业赴美上市第一股” (中文来源: 独角兽早知道）
- “支持 RISC-V 芯片的 Android 系统来了！” (中文来源: CSDN）】
我的想法：这是开源行业最近一桩大新闻的“下半场”。一周前（也就是“上半场”），Elastic将开源项目Elasticsearch重新授权，改成了Server Side Public License (SSPL)，这个授权证是MongoDB率先搞出来的，为了保护自己不受AWS的“侵略”。AWS的回应是把Elasticsearch“分叉”（fork），未来在没有Elastic的参与下维护它，并使用Apache 2.0的授权证（此授权证对项目的使用方式没有任何限制）。("Fork"，简单来说，就是免费copy项目并任意使用，这在开源生态里是完全OK的行为。) 当Elastic宣布改变授权时，其股价涨了大约10%，看起来华尔街是认可这个决定的。两年前，当MongoDB做了同样的改动时，AWS的反应略有不同，它把DocumentDB与Mongo的API兼容了。正如我在《生来全球化》系列第二篇中所讨论到的，当一套API在市场里有足够的粘性时，最好的回应是兼容，而不是fork。另外值得注意的是，并不是所有的云厂商对第三方开源软件的反应都一样。OSS Capital的Joseph Jacks在这条推文中对美国三大云厂商（AWS、Azure、GCP）的不同反应做了个很好的速记：
“拼多多让员工在 “11-11-6” 和996中二选一” (中文来源: 163）
我的想法: 觉得996太虐人？在拼多多还有11-11-6呢！如果你在拼多多市场部工作，11-11-6是默认作息时间，直到最近才改成了996。拼多多的其他部门看似是让员工们在这两种“虐人选择”中挑一个。其他变动还有加班费的支付方式，从每年付改为每月付。难道这就是著名的红杉投资人Michael Moritz两年前在他的FT专栏中所赞扬并要求硅谷也学习的 "敬业心" 吗？
“容联云通讯申请赴美上市，红杉中国持股达20.75%，将成中国SaaS企业赴美上市第一股” (中文来源: 独角兽早知道）
我的想法: 容联是家基于云上的通信服务提供商，在很多方面与Twilio很像。这种比较，再加上云SaaS整体行业的火，也使容联在中国的融资源源不断。虽然地缘国际关系的顾虑一直存在，赴美上市仍然是中国科技公司非常期望的结果，尤其在企业SaaS领域。的确，香港股市给 toC 科技公司的估值不错，也是为什么快手选择在那里上市，但是华尔街对云SaaS公司来说还是最佳选择。容联上市后表现如何就不好说了；其客户的净美元留存率为才95%，并不高。
“支持 RISC-V 芯片的 Android 系统来了！” (中文来源: CSDN）
我的想法: 中国在RISC-V领域里的进展不断（RISC-V是一种开源的指令集架构，关于它我写过不少文章）。这个项目显然可以让安卓移动操作系统运行在RISC-V上，是由阿里旗下的平头哥半导体研发出来的。其技术基础是另一个名为AOSP for RISC-V的开源项目，由中国科学院软件研究所智能软件研究中心旗下的 PLCT 实验室研究、开发。