Serial-entrepreneur Wang Xing was educated at Beijing’s Tsinghua University where he studied Electrical Engineering. In 2001, he flew to the US to start a doctorare at Delaware University. But this degree was never finished, as Wang soon returned to China to start his first venture.
In 2004 Wang launched social networking site youdodo.com. He seemed to be on to something – around the same time, Mark Zuckerberg was establishing Facebook. But the site was not a success because it targeted too broad an audience (i.e. all internet users), rather than a particular niche market. At the same time, Wang had another business called youzitu.com, a website that helped Chinese students studying overseas share their digital photos with friends and relatives by printing them out and sending them home. This business also failed.
Can’t stop starting
Wang didn’t give up on the social networking idea and in 2005 he launched xiaonei.com. This site focused on students studying at Chinese universities. A venture capital firm from the US was interested too, but the investor did its research during the summer holidays, when user data was at a low point. It pulled out. When the site then started to expand rapidly, Wang didn’t have the capital to fund the pace of growth. So Xiaonei.com was sold to another Chinese businessmen, Chen Yizhou, for $2 million. Chen subsequently rebranded the network as renren.com, and it recently completed an IPO valuing it at several billion dollars.
Wang’s other startups include fanfou.com, a microblogging site that went online just months after Twitter started in the US. It was closed down after failing to grow fast enough. Another social network site, hainei.com, targeted white collar workers, but was not able to compete with rivals offering online games on their site platforms.
Success at last?
Normally this column focuses on business success stories, making Wang’s tale a bit different. And he’s still determined to strike gold. His latest business follows the latest online fad, group purchasing. Meituan.com is one of a number of group purchasing sites competing for market share in China. Wang will be hoping that his long experience in running internet companies will finally pay dividends.
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