Who’s Hu

Fu Sheng

How he went from Zhou Hongyi’s friend to foe

Fu Sheng w

China’s internet heavyweights are building their business empires by acquiring promising start-ups (see WiC230). To do so, they are looking for promising young entrepreneurs to become part of their inner circles. Fu Sheng, the young CEO of Cheetah Mobile, is one of the young tycoons who thrives by “standing on the giant’s shoulders”, reckons Caijing magazine.

Getting started

Born in 1978 in Jiangxi province, Fu studied economics at the Shandong Institute of Business and Technology. He could find only one computer in his faculty, but he taught himself how to use it. Still, the lowly reputation of his college prevented him from getting a dream job after graduation. That changed in 2002 when he joined software firm 3721 and met Zhou Hongyi, who later founded Qihoo 360, bringing Fu along with him as its product manager.

Fu helped to develop Qihoo’s 360 Safeguard into one of China’s most popular pieces of anti-virus software. But he later fell out with Zhou and left Qihoo to join venture capital firm Matrix China in 2008. A year later he changed career path again, founding his own software firm Conew Image so as to compete with his former colleague Zhou.

Big break

Zhou has made few friends among tech tycoons due to his readiness to confront his rivals (for examples, see WiC86 about Qihoo’s legal tussle with Tencent, and WiC163 for its ugly battle with Baidu). So becoming the enemy’s enemy has been a good way for Fu to forge allies. When he met Xiaomi’s CEO Lei Jun – who also founded Kingsoft Security, with Tencent’s CEO Ma Huateng as a co-investor – Lei invested in Conew. In 2010 Conew merged with Kingsoft Security and became Cheetah.

Cheetah has since grown into a leading player in internet and mobile phone security applications. As of this week, it carries a market capitalisation of $2.6 billion – having gone public in New York in May – making Fu (owning 8%) one of the richest internet tycoons under 40.

Need to know

Fu is a big fan of trendy American tech products and he made headlines back home when he wore a pair of Google Glass spectacles while banging the opening bell on Cheetah’s trading debut. He was also one of the first people in China to buy a Tesla Model S. He wrote a weibo post in July talking about his driving experience in the electric car. And it began with a thank you to Lei Jun…

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