Text | “Chinese Entrepreneur” reporter Zhao Dongshan
Header image source｜China Plan Library
In the year Kuaishou went public in 2021, the investor Wuyuan Capital had a conversation with Su Hua, the then founder of Kuaishou. At the end of the conversation, the other party asked Su Hua: “If you set a goal for yourself in 10 years, what would it be?” What?” Su Hua’s answer was, “I hope that in 10 years I will know how to express myself better.”
On October 20, 2023, Kuaishou Technology issued an announcement on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange announcing that Su Hua would resign as chairman and CEO Cheng Yixiao would serve concurrently. This adjustment will take effect on October 29, 2023. Su Hua will continue to serve as an executive director and a member of the remuneration committee, and his differential voting rights will not change. Su Hua said: “We will continue to be committed to creating long-term value for the group and believe that the group has a solid foundation to achieve its strategic goals.”
In addition, the announcement stated that after Cheng Yixiao becomes chairman, his differential voting rights will not change. The Board believes that having the same person assume the roles of Chairman and Chief Executive Officer will ensure the Group’s consistent leadership in advancing long-term strategies, further deepen the Group’s monetization capabilities and optimize the Group’s operational efficiency.
After Pinduoduo founder Huang Zheng and ByteDance founder Zhang Yiming retired, Su Hua also chose to retire.
In fact, as early as the evening of October 29, 2021, Kuaishou Technology announced that Su Hua, chairman and CEO of Kuaishou, resigned as CEO, and Cheng Yixiao, co-founder of Kuaishou, took over as CEO. Su Hua will continue to serve as Kuaishou’s chairman, executive director and member of the remuneration committee.
However, at that time, media revealed that before Su Hua gave up his position as CEO, his loyal supporters Kuaishou Senior Vice President and Kuaishou Operations Management Committee member Yan Qiang and other senior executives had been eliminated. Kuaishou insiders changed a series of organizational structures The adjustment boils down to “Cheng Yixiao’s victory.” But then Kuaishou issued an emergency statement saying that the report was seriously untrue and that legal proceedings would be initiated to safeguard the company’s legitimate rights and interests.
No matter what the reason is for Su Hua to step down as CEO, he has indeed been gradually “delegating power” during the period of time he has left office. The outside world noticed that he focused mainly on investment. According to media reports, Su Hua participated in this year’s popular AI projects Light Years Beyond and Shenzhen Technology’s large-scale financing. It is not difficult to predict that Suhua’s future focus will also be on investment.
The former dual-core brain
Su Hua and Cheng Yixiao were once understood as Kuaishou’s “dual-core” brain.
In 2011, after leaving Renren, Cheng Yixiao started making a personal software called GIF Kuaishou, which is a mobile animation production software. Because it happened to adapt to the mobile network communication environment at that time, this software quickly became popular on Weibo and aroused the interest of Wuyuan Capital investor Zhang Fei, who was looking for projects in the mobile + camera field at the time.
Zhang Fei later found Cheng Yixiao on Weibo, which eventually brought him 2 million yuan in angel round investment. Two years later, when GIF Kuaishou encountered difficulties in transformation and recruitment, it was Zhang Fei who also brought in Su Hua to help the two entrepreneurial teams complete the merger. As a result, today’s Kuaishou was born.
At that time, Su Hua was already well-known in the entrepreneurial circle. After graduating from Tsinghua University, Su Hua worked for Google and Baidu. At Google China, Su Hua is mainly responsible for researching the application of machine learning in search. Two years later, Su Hua left Google and started his own business. After his first entrepreneurial failure, Su Hua was poached by his former colleague Zhang Dong to join Baidu in charge of building the architecture of Fengchao system, serving as a performance and system optimization expert.
By the time he met Cheng Yixiao, Su Hua had already left Baidu and was working on his second entrepreneurial project, a social e-commerce. After the project stopped operating due to unsatisfactory data, Su Hua came to Zhang Fei to discuss the direction of starting a business. After talking about 20 directions, Zhang Fei thought of Cheng Yixiao: “I have a good product manager here, and the direction is very good. You want Don’t you want to consider cooperating with him?”
“It’s hard for Su Hua to find a direction, and it’s hard for Yixiao to find people. Su Hua is a great guy in technology and algorithm drive, and Yixiao is a very product-minded person. The two are a good combination.” Zhang Fei once said in an interview with ” “Chinese Entrepreneur” said this in an interview.
After the two entrepreneurial teams merged into Kuaishou, in terms of internal division of labor, Su Hua was responsible for commercialization, investment and financing, overseas, GRPR, administrative personnel and finance, and external affairs; Cheng Yixiao was responsible for important businesses such as product, operations, e-commerce, and games. department. If important documents such as internal letters are released, they will be released jointly in the names of two people. Su Hua and Cheng Yixiao also agreed to each read a book every month, usually related to management, organization or strategy. They would recommend each other, such as “Nonviolent Communication”.
Many years later, Cheng Yixiao recalled the meeting with Su Hua in the summer of 2013. He still remembered the topics discussed at that time. The two programmers chatted for a long time around the application of machine learning and artificial intelligence. “Su Hua is a master of programming. , there’s a lot to talk about.”
Facts have proved that Su Hua and Cheng Yixiao have indeed achieved good complementarity in various aspects such as products, business, and capital operation during these years of cooperation.
Su Hua applied his expertise in recommendation algorithms to content distribution, and the user experience was immediately improved. In a few months, Kuaishou transformed from a video tool software to a video social software. DAU quickly increased from 1 million to 10 million, making Kuaishou quickly become a well-known short video platform in China, and expanded its marketing advertising, live streaming and other products. business model and eventually listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
Express yourself with investment
After Huang Zheng resigned as chairman, he devoted himself to scientific research and focused on the fields of food science and life sciences; after Zhang Yiming resigned as CEO, he chose to focus on learning knowledge, systematic thinking, researching new things, and hands-on trials and experiences; Su Hua chose investment.
According to reports from the investment community, Meituan co-founder Wang Huiwen’s AI large model company Lightyear has previously completed a new round of financing of US$230 million. In addition to Source Code Capital leading the investment, Tencent and Wuyuan Capital also participated in the investment. Su Hua also appeared, and both Wang Huiwen and Su Hua graduated from Tsinghua University.
At the same time, in August this year, another star AI startup company Shenzhen Technology announced the completion of a new round of financing of more than 700 million yuan. In addition to Zhongyuan Capital, Heyu Capital, Zhengxingu Capital, Evergreen Scitech Delta and other investors, In addition to multiple industrial capital companies, insiders revealed that Su Hua also participated in this round of investment.
In fact, when Su Hua was at Google, he was mainly responsible for researching the application of machine learning in search. After ChatGPT and large models exploded this year, Su Hua’s focus on large models and generative AI projects is exactly in line with his professional expertise.
Perhaps, the failure he suffered in investment gave Su Hua a more unique understanding and obsession with investment.
In 2017, Musical.ly founders Zhu Jun and Yang Luyu planned to sell Musical.ly, a short video application that already had 10 million users in the United States just three years after its founding. The list of people who came to inquire about this company is quite luxurious. Not only the international social media giant Facebook and the video giant YouTube, but also the newly emerging Kuaishou and Bytedance have also extended their olive branches.
In fact, Su Hua was the first to come into contact with the two founders of Musical.ly. Su Hua admitted in an interview with the media many years later that the two parties had “the most in-depth conversation” at that time and “we were about to complete the biggest transaction in my career,” but “we didn’t have much money at the time, and this was an event with a major impact.”
ByteDance, which finally succeeded, actually did not have the upper hand. Previously, because Douyin’s product form was highly similar to Musical.ly, it sparked a war of words. Yang Luyu also accused Douyin of plagiarizing Musical.ly.
Why did Su Hua fail in his investment? Internet analyst Pan Luan once exclusively reported the details. When ByteDance and Kuaishou were bidding for Musical.ly, Musical.ly’s angel investor and Cheetah founder Fu Sheng began to use his veto power to Bundled sales, if you want to acquire Musical.ly, you must also buy two other overseas products of Cheetah.
In the end, Su Hua, who was still cultivating the Kuaishou community ecosystem, chose to refuse, but Zhang Yiming accepted the condition and acquired Musical.ly for nearly US$1 billion because Toutiao’s mature commercialization gave him sufficient funds.
The success or failure of the acquisition of Musical.ly will determine the overseas expansion speed of ByteDance and Kuaishou in the next three years. ByteDance merged the purchased Musical.ly with the overseas version of Douyin and renamed it TikTok. Then it introduced ByteDance’s powerful algorithm technology, making TikTok quickly popular around the world, with more than 1.6 billion users worldwide, reaching an unprecedented level for Chinese companies to go global. .
Su Hua has already shown signs of investing, and it is not surprising. While he was still serving as CEO of Kuaishou, Kuaishou established a strategic investment department. In 2019, it welcomed investment directors such as Qu Changchang, Liu Yuanfang, and Wang Daifei, and the strategic investment department gradually began to have a voice. After independence, the Kuaishou strategic investment department reported directly to Su Hua. In the past few years, Kuaishou has invested in more than 30 projects including Yixin Selection, Hero Sports VSPO, Nreal, and Eggplant Kuaichuan.
As early as January this year, Kuaishou issued an announcement on the sale of shares by the controlling shareholder, and the controlling shareholder Dajia Development cashed out HK$3.778 billion. The announcement stated that the proceeds will be invested in areas such as charitable donations, cutting-edge technology exploration, and infrastructure investment. All rights and interests of Dajia Development are owned by Su Hua and his family.
Zhang Fei, an investor at Wuyuan Capital, spoke highly of Su Hua: “He is a person with high energy and a lot of energy in his stomach, but he speaks very slowly. There are not many people with this trait, because most smart people like to express themselves. I speak faster. Only those who have gone through a lot of hard work will carefully choose their output. I think that is a good state for a person.” At present, part of Su Hua’s investments are also closely related to Wuyuan Capital.
Regarding his inner yearning, Su Hua once said: “I think the biggest motivation in my heart is to do something that can make the world a better place. Because I discovered early on that it is a more reliable way to make yourself happy through altruism. things, so I just want to do the broadest possible thing that can benefit others.”
At the moment, investing may be the best way of expression and altruistic thing Su Hua has found.
“What is Kuaishou”, Kuaishou official
“Conversation with Su Hua: The lowest level of logic is altruism”, Wuyuan Capital