iAsk x China Daily | Is Kuaishou really slowing down?

拥有一家估值250亿美元的超级独角兽,位列《财富》中国40位40岁以下商界精英榜单第十一位,公司旗下App拥有超过2亿日活跃用户。

Owning an extraordinary unicorn firm worth $25 billion. Ranking 11th on Fortune’s List of 40 Chinese Business Elites Under 40. Running a company with an APP with over 200 million daily active users.

对于37岁的宿华来说,这样的成就让人艳羡。但在这位快手创始人兼CEO看来,快手的现状无法让他满意。

The achievements of the 37-year-old Su Hua are enviable. However, as the Founder and CEO of Kuaishou sees it, the status quo of the firm is less than satisfactory.

今年6月,宿华给全体员工发了一封内部信,称目前快手看起来不错的数字背后,存在深深的隐患。宿华指出,快手已经不是跑得最快的那支队伍,在长大的过程中,肌肉开始变得无力,反应变慢,与用户的连接感知在变弱。

In June, Su Hua sent an internal letter to all employees, pointing out that there were deep-rooted concerns under the seemingly decent financial numbers of Kuaishou. During the process of growing, Kuaishou was losing momentum, becoming slower in reaction, its connections with users weakened, and was no longer the fastest-running team, Su Hua wrote.

“我们对现状很不满意,松散的组织、佛系的态度,‘慢公司’正在成为我们的标签。”

“We are deeply dissatisfied with the how the company is today: sloppy, indifferent. We used to be ‘The Fast One’; now our label is becoming the ‘The Slow One’.”

宿华说,快手要追问自己,初心是否还在?

Su Hua said that Kuaishou needed to reflect on itself: Has it forgotten where it started?

三年前,艾问曾到访快手总部。晚上十点的快手依然灯火通明,似乎工作就是他们的全部,为的是成就一款伟大的产品。何为伟大,宿华和我们反复强调,他们认为每一个平凡人的生活都值得被记录,被分享,被看见,被尊重。

Three years ago, iAsk visited the headquarter of Kuaishou. The office was well-lit as bright as day even at 10pm. It seemed like work meant everything to the team, for the sole purpose of making a great product. What does “great” mean? As Su Hua repeatedly emphasizes, it is their firm belief that the life of each and every individual, however ordinary, deserves to be documented, shared, seen and respected.

For the sole purpose of documenting the life of the ordinary?

“从用小霸王学习机写代码开始,我写程序写了大概22年,我觉得程序是人类的思想和灵感最美妙的表达方式。”

“Since I started writing codes with a Subor Learning Machine, I have been programming for around 22 years. To me, programming is the most wonderful way of expressing human thoughts and inspirations.”

工程师,是宿华在心底里给自己的标签。退学的清华博士,栖身硅谷两年半,创办“GIF快手”,再到转型做短视频,外界对宿华的印象一直是个人狠话不多的工程师。

An engineer – as Su Hua labels himself from the bottom of her heart. A Tsinghua PhD dropout, worked in Silicon Valley for two and a half years, founded “GIF Kuaishou”, and now turned to do short videos, Su Hua always strikes people as a tough engineer who does not talk much.

宿华希望用好的程序做出好的产品,但好的产品用来做什么,是他要先想清楚的。

Su Hua wishes to make quality products with good programming, but first, he needs to figure out the purpose of such products.

2011年,伴随着微博等社交媒体发展而成立的快手GIF,最初的产品定位是移动端GIF图制作工具,为用户制作易分享和传播GIF图片。但一个制作工具显然无法成为移动互联网世界的一座山峰,2014年,看到了短视频红利的宿华也意识到了未来的人口红利。

In 2011, GIF Kuaishou was founded at a time when social media, including Weibo, started to thrive. Initially, the product was positioned as a GIF-making mobile application so that users could easily create and share GIFs. However, a GIF-making tool apparently would not guarantee a top position in the Internet industry. In 2014, upon noticing the dividends brought by short videos, Su Hua became more aware of the future demographic dividend.

“成为一个记录和分享生活的平台。”自那以后,快手一骑绝尘。根据快手大数据研究院发布的“2019快手内容生态报告”显示,快手日活用户在今年5月突破2亿,月活突破4亿,原创视频库存数量超过130亿。

“A platform for documenting and sharing daily life.” Shortly after its inception, Kuaishou rose to absolute dominance. According to the “2019 Kuaishou Content Ecosystem Report” published by Kuaishou Big Data Research Institute, Kuaishou gained more than 200 million DAUs (Daily Active Users) and over 400 million MAUs (Monthly Active Users) in May this year, with over 13 billion original videos in accumulation.

艾诚:快手历史上有若干次转型,从做GIF的工具到社交,再到短视频,到直播,你如何判断是时候应该做改变了?

Gloria Ai: Kuaishou went through several transformations over the years of development from a GIF-making tool to a social networking platform, to short videos, and to live streaming. How do you know whether it is time for a change?

宿华:其实还蛮简单的,因为从定位上来讲,我一直强调快手是生活的记录和分享,我们会看在当下的社会形态中,大众喜欢用什么方式互动,比如说微信里面有视频聊天,这时候用户就会特别习惯用视频的方式去互动,那我们就知道用直播的方式帮助普通人实时互动的机会到了,就增加这样的功能。但在我们的内心,我们一直都是在做生活的记录和分享。

Su Hua: In fact, it is quite simple. From the beginning of product positioning, I have always emphasized that Kuaishou is designed to document and share daily lives. We would examine the preferred ways of interaction at the time. For example, as WeChat started supporting video chats, users gradually become accustomed to interacting through video chatting. When that happened, we knew that it was time to help ordinary people interact on a real-time basis through live streaming, which is why we developed the feature accordingly. But deep in our hearts, we are consistently devoted to documenting and sharing moments of life.

艾诚:虽然你很平和地在讲要记录生活,但这也是一个竞争很惨烈的领域,谁是快手的竞争对手?

Gloria Ai: Documenting moments of life – you said it as if it is all simple and peaceful, but I know for a fact that there is intense competition in the field. Who are the competitors of Kuaishou?

宿华:我们也希望有更多人加入普通人生活的记录,但实际上在业内做这个领域的人比较少,因为分享普通人的生活状态相对来讲比较慢一些,要耕耘的时间更长,做明星、网红或者颜值经济会更快。

Su Hua: We hope that there will be more who join us in the field of documenting ordinary lives. However, in fact, there are not many players in this field, because it is relatively more time-consuming to grow a business on ordinary people sharing their lives. It would grow a lot faster if you bank on the celebrities, influencers or “those who look good”.

艾诚:你反复强调普通人,如何定义普通?

Gloria Ai: You mentioned “ordinary people” several times now. What’s your definition of “ordinary”?

宿华:比如说一个城市的GDP是多少,或者城市的人均收入是多少,那么在人均收入线附近的就是普通人,因为人口是一个正态分布。

Su Hua: We may look at the GDP of a city or its per capita income. Those who earn around the average shall be deemed “ordinary”, as the normal distribution of population suggests.

艾诚:你能做一个用户画像吗?他们长什么样?他们喜欢什么?

Gloria Ai: Could you profile Kuaishou users for us? How are they like? What do they like?

宿华:快手的用户首先还是比较年轻,90后居多,他们愿意把自己每天的衣食住行和喜怒哀乐都记录下来,也愿意开放地分享给所有人,这基本上就是快手用户的一个画像。

Su Hua: A first characteristic of Kuaishou users is that they are relatively young, as the majority of them were born in the 1990s. They are happy to document their everyday life as well as their emotions and are willing to openly share with everyone. That basically sums up the profile of Kuaishou users.

数据来自极光大数据iAPP检测平台

艾诚:有数据显示,快手主要的用户都是高中学历以下,分布在三四线城市,乡、镇、农村用户有15%左右。这跟你想象或期待的是一样吗?

Gloria Ai: According to the statistics, most Kuaishou users received an education of high school or below, and they are mainly from Tier-3 and Tier-4 cities. Users in counties, townships and villages account for approximately 15%. Is it consistent with what you imagined or expected?

宿华:差不多,根据目前中国人口的分布来看,城市和农村的人口比例差不多是一半一半,如果你用一线城市来说,一线城市人口只占10%不到,大多数人并不生活在北京、上海。

Su Hua: Yes, pretty much. Based on the current population distribution in China, it is roughly a 50:50 split between residents living in urban and rural areas. The population of Tier-1 cities only account for less than 10% of the total. The majority of people do not actually reside in Beijing or Shanghai.

Unstoppable racing?

从工程师到CEO,商业化终究是绕不过去的一战。

As a CEO, commercialization is an inevitable battle.

尽管快手的背后站着腾讯、红杉、百度、华人文化、晨兴等众多顶级投资机构,也曾有知情人士对媒体透露,快手现在不缺钱,没有很强的融资意愿。

As Kuaishou is backed up by top institutional investors such as Tencent, Sequoia, Baidu, CMC (China Media Capital) and Morningside, some insiders disclosed to the media that Kuaishou is currently well supported by strong capital and thus not motivated to source funds.

但一家产品为王的企业,如果不挣钱,也只是徒有虚名。

However, for a company that centers on products, product popularity would be pointless if they couldn’t be monetized.

艾诚:为什么不尝试把这些流量变现呢?

Gloria Ai: Why didn’t you try monetizing the traffic?

宿华:早期真的是缺人手,早期都在做用户产品,商业产品是今年(2016年)才开始做的,要再往前早几年,带宽网络速度又不够,那时候产品都还面临一些发展瓶颈。互联网公司大多数都是优先做用户产品的,用户产品做到一定程度才会去做商业化,当然也有极少数公司一上来商业化就做的比较好,但大多数都是先专注于产品。

Su Hua: In the early days, we were seriously short of hands. Back then, we mainly focused on user products. We only really started developing commercial products this year (2016). A few years ago, the bandwidth, i.e. Internet speed, was not sufficient, and there were difficulties for product development. The majority of Internet firms prioritize user products and will only opt for commercialization after they become successful with the user products to a certain extent. Nonetheless, there are only a very small number of companies that excel at commercialization from the very beginning, but the majority of them would focus on products first.

艾诚:做产品的过程中会有压力吗,比如一直播在用明星策略,美图、秒拍同样也是,你可以完全不为所动?

Gloria Ai: Was the process of developing products stressful? For example, Yizhibo has been utilizing celebrities. Meitu and Miaopai do the same too. Yet, you are not attempted at all?

宿华:每个公司都有自己的节奏。

Su Hua: Every company has its own pace.

正如宿华所言,自2017年起,快手在探索原生商业模式方面做了一系列尝试,包括面向C端用户的信息流产品粉丝头条、帮助商家和网红直接匹配的快接单平台,以及承载快手社交电商能力的快手小店等相继上线。

As Su Hua said, since 2017, Kuaishou has conducted a number of experiments in exploring original business models and launched several products subsequently, including the consumer-facing news feed product Fan Headlines, the order-taking platform Kuaijiedan which helps match merchants and Internet influencers, as well as the Kwaishop which represents Kuaishou’s social e-commerce capabilities.

但到了2017年底,宿华在一次内部会议上表示,靠拉广告客户进来创收,并不是自己想要的,快手需要重新调整商业化发展方向。

However, at the end of 2017, Su Hua stated at an internal meeting that he did not wish to generate revenue by attracting advertisement placement and that Kuaishou needed to re-adjust the future direction of commercialization.

2018年下半年,阿里巴巴原高级算法专家严强被正式任命为快手商业化副总裁,全面负责快手商业模式的探索。10月底,快手宣布2018年为商业化元年,正式推出快手营销平台,并大规模开放信息流广告和社交生态。快手营销平台被划分为快手广告与快手商业开放平台两个体系,包括信息流广告、话题标签页广告和粉丝头条三种形态。

In the second half of 2018, Alibaba’s former Senior Algorithm Engineer Yan Qiang was officially appointed as Kuaishou’s Vice President for Commercialization, responsible for the exploration of Kuaishou’s business model. At the end of October, Kuaishou announced that 2018 would be its first year of commercialization, when they officially launched Kwai Marketing and opened up entirely to news feed advertisements and social networking ecosystem. Kwai Marketing is composed of two systems, namely Kuaishou Advertising and Kuaishou Business Open Platform, demonstrated in three forms – news feed advertisements, banner advertisements, and fan headlines.

完成了商业化布局的宿华,没有停下来的意思。就在两周前,彭博报道了快手计划明年赴美上市的消息,并在IPO前寻求以250亿美元估值融资。

Having mapped out the blueprint for commercialization, Su Hua has no intension of taking break. Two weeks ago, Bloomberg reported that Kuaishou plans to go public in the United States next year and will be seeking funding of $25 billion before the IPO.

尽管快手不曾停下自己奔跑的脚步,但宿华要的不是奔跑,而是冲刺,持续地冲刺,停不下来的冲刺……

Kuaishou has never stopped in the race with itself, but instead of a run, Su Hua wants a sprint, a continuous and unstoppable sprint…

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