Genki Forest has become one of China’s best known challenger brands. In just five years, the company has gone from nothing to a valuation of $6 billion based on its last investment in April this year. Genki Forest’s sugar-free sodas, milk teas and energy drinks sell in 40 countries and generated revenue of about $450 million in 2020. The company aims to reach $1.2 billion this year. It is one of a new wave of Chinese brands that take advantage of the proximity to an advanced, flexible manufacturing network and supply chain for the vast majority of consumer products, and the ability to outsource almost everything to them.
Genki Forest’s CEO Tang Binsen, a serial entrepreneur, had been in the Internet circuit for ten years and made a lot of money, but hadn’t gained a reputation commensurate to his wealth. In 2016, he stepped into the beverage industry, where he finally became a well known tycoon.
Genki Forest has sold 100 million boxes of sugar-free sparkling water this year – 80% of which came from offline sales. It’s rapid ascent into offline channels has seen in compete in channels firmly controlled by traditional beverage companies. This year’s beverage sales are on track to be a third of Nongfu Spring – a company that has been around for 25 years.
This group of young game makers have arguably created the biggest entrepreneurial success story in China’s FMCG categories – in just five years – which virtually no one could have imagined a few years ago.
The 38 -year-old Tang Binsen might not have thought it either. After more than ten years doing entrepreneurial endeavours, while successful, he had invested in short-term and fast-returning businesses such as web games, navigation stations, and other apps. When Tang Binsen found the beverage industry, it was an industry that had not been successfully transformed by the Internet. He tried to overthrow the rules and create new ones. This has a lot to do with his character and the self-confidence brought by his continuous entrepreneurial success. Coupled with fresh money, everything has been so lively – just like the Chinese Internet over the past decade.
In Tang Binsen, you see three key characteristics that have been vital to his success: wealth, a brutal expansion ability like a pirate, and thinking and learning like the best product manager. These three advantages ensure that when he enters any industry, he may not succeed, but will certainly disrupt things.
Tang Binsen and his entrepreneurial story may become a classic case of business schools in the future. This case may be about success or failure, but it is extremely exciting regardless.
The following is an interview with Tang Binsen and “LatePost”:
“LatePost”: The top-selling product of Genki Forest is sparkling water, but this success has not been replicated in other categories. Why?
Tang Binsen: It is impossible for every product to be a top-seller, but each of our products sells well in their respective categories. R Tea took two years to achieve the second place in sugar-free tea beverages. The first place was Oriental Leaf, which launched ten years ago. The annual sales of sparkling water is about ten times that of R Tea.
“LatePost”: Ten times difference?
Tang Binsen: Because the sugar-free tea category is small.
“LatePost”: Are there any categories as big as sparkling water?
Tang Binsen: Mineral water, milk. Back then, there was a thinking on the Internet. If a mailbox does not support large attachments, you just make one that supports large attachments; If a chat software freezes, then you just make one that does not freeze. I call this strategy “the scoring-easy question”. For mineral water you cannot use this strategy, its craftsmanship is already very good. Our company has a projects list. Firstly, it depends on whether the market is big or not. Secondly, it depends on whether the ingredient list is better than others. Genki Forest still has a relatively low share of carbonated beverages, so it will have greater development space in the future, and there will also be a category as large as sparkling water. The threshold for milk is also high, but we have the opportunity and need the best milk and factories. We are building factories and farms one by one.
“LatePost”: Did you find a method that can replicate the success of sparkling water?
Tang Binsen: Actually, it’s just daring to use good raw materials that opponents dare not use. If a food and beverage company wants to cater to the taste of users, adding sugar is the cheapest way, adding sweeteners (sugar substitutes) is the expensive way, and there are some sweeteners such as aspartame, which are cheap but have a bad taste. One opportunity we seized four years ago was being the first to use the best sugar substitute, erythritol, which is thirty or forty times more expensive than aspartame. We were the first brand daring to use such a good sugar substitute for Chinese consumers. We also use the most CO2, so the sparkling water is full of bubbles. But this increases the risk of exploding in production, and these explosions bring a 5% loss rate. At that time, our analyst saw that our gross profit was only 10%, and he said that the boss must not be able to carry it for three years. He left after saying that.
“LatePost”: But the Genki Milk Tea uses crystalline fructose. Is this the best raw material you can provide to users?
Tang Binsen: Milk tea is a very difficult product. If you reduce the sugar level, people will find it doesn’t taste good. If you use erythritol, it will be even worse. We have no choice but to add a little fructose. You think mine is sweet, just to try how sweet others are, many milk tea ingredients lists are so long, the cost of production is only 50 cents and they can sell 10 billion a year, China is full of this kind of product.
“LatePost”: You can’t just say it’s a good product just because it’s better than a poor product.
Tang Binsen: So we corrected ourselves after knowing it. The milk tea produced after April this year has removed the crystalline fructose. The Chinese market needs good products. Many companies are building strong channels. As long as they have goods, they will just put them in different channels, consumers don’t have many choices. But now the information is symmetrical and the channels are flat, so the product has a chance. This has also happened in the gaming industry. Genki Forest has changed three waves of people, all of whom were professionals in the beverage industry, they were boxed in by rules and regulations. Later, I found some young game makers. I told them we should not worry about the cost, just make a product that you want to drink. We have a principle that before the product goes on the market, we must let ten people around us buy a box of our drinks – if everyone around you wants to buy it, then the product is reliable. Last year, we took the initiative to remove a product-fruit tea. I told the team that this is selling good because we have channels. But we cannot rely on this.
“LatePost”: I heard that Genki Forest is like a gaming company. Many teams are like racing horses, and resources are only given if the data is good.
Tang Binsen: I think that good and bad things are not subjective, they are relative. Therefore, our product philosophy is not to say whether it is good or not, but how many times you have tried it. Some of our departments have a trial-and-error budget of tens of millions a year. We do data tests on taste and packaging, and finally choose the best data. Gaming companies are particularly able to withstand trial and error, because in this industry, failure is normal. Traditional companies hope to increase the success rate of products. We admit that we don’t know the future, so we need to reduce the cost of every trial and error – these are two different worlds.
“LatePost”: How do you make employees feel that the company is willing to bear more trial and error costs through this mechanism?
Tang Binsen: We do not encourage employees to do things that only focus on the present and have short-term effects. The rewards are afterward. For example, this year we awarded the R Tea team an award – calling “the product to change the fate of the company” and rewarded the entire team with shares of the company.
“LatePost”: How much of the methodology is reused in Genki Forest from your previous game company Elex?
Binsen Tang: I said earlier that strategy should learn from investors in the secondary market, management should learn like a “pirate”, and products should learn from gaming companies. Buffett uses his brains to get profits, so it is the people in the secondary market who know the strategy best. Many companies seem to be well managed, but in fact it is because of their business skills. If the company can lead the team well without making money, it is a pirate – desperately doing dirty work. In terms of product capabilities, the gaming company is very strong, producing many products every year, but it will be over if there isn’t new game regularly. Many Internet companies have strong surface product capabilities, but it is enough to produce one product, and they are maintaining this product at other times.
“LatePost”: In terms of product-imitating gaming companies, channels and marketing, what did you do right?
Tang Binsen: In the past, convenience stores and mom & pop stores were rarely connected to new products, because many new brands could not develop, so these stores could not make any money. We need to follow the rules of the channels. In the first year, I told the team to focus on the small-sized canteen. The second stage is to obtain the approval of peripheral convenience stores, and then enter the mainstream convenience stores. The third stage is to form a national promotion team from scratch, enter the mom & pop stores, and finally penetrate the market across the country. This is a long process. Now we have 6,000 dealers across the country, covering 800,000 terminals, and 10% are convenience stores.
“LatePost”: It seems that the path to success of Genki Forest is no different from that of traditional consumer goods companies. It is nothing more than celebrities, advertisement, and channels.
Tang Binsen: Last year we only did one Focus Media (advertising), one Bilibili (Gala), and also got naming rights on three Hunan Satellite TV shows. We hope that Genki Forest’s users will have the lowest proportion of advertising and channel costs.
“LatePost”: But you spend a lot of money on advertising.
Tang Binsen: The purpose of advertising is to compete head-on with opponents. When doing business in China, if you don’t make critical efforts at a critical time, you will miss the opportunity.
“LatePost”: How to make impressions through the advertisements?
Tang Binsen: We spent the same money on the Bilibili gala as some sponsors, but do you remember their advertisements? You don’t. If we want to name it, we will name the best show of the day, and we will only talk about one product – sparkling water. At the time, the team opposed it, but I didn’t think it was an important thing. Spending more money or less money was not the main issue.
“LatePost”: There is always wealth in words.
Tang Binsen: It’s all a lesson. At that time, we were the first gaming company to publish farm games in the United States, but we didn’t dare to spend money. Our opponent Zynga spent $10 million a month and got 50 million DAU. They go public 12 months later, with a market value of 10 billion U.S. dollars. Later, I concluded that every 7 years in life, you will encounter a flush, you must go all in.
“LatePost”: Why 7 years?
Tang Binsen: If you have a good card every year, it means that this card is not good enough. If you have a chance every day, it is not an opportunity.
“LatePost”: What are the things that Nongfu Spring will do but you will not?
Tang Binsen: We develop our own smart freezer, which can remind the salesperson to make up if it is out of stock, instead of going to the site to inspect it. Nongfu Spring didn’t do this.
“LatePost”: Coca-Cola has had only one product for a long time, so why does Genki Forest make so many single products? From the perspective of benchmark gaming companies, Supercell, for example, they did not rely on a large number of products and bet on probabilities to win.
Tang Binsen: You will understand that after reading the book Creativity, Inc., the quality products that users see are all internal failures many times. If I make a bad product and throw it at the market, it’s not called trial and error. Trial and error is to try in many directions, getting knocked down and doing it again.
“LatePost”: Now your competitors have also replaced aspartame in sparkling water with erythritol. How do you remain different?
Tang Binsen: We do an upgrade every six months. We have removed common preservatives such as sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate in all if our sparkling water lines. Moreover, sugar reduction is a global trend, and we will continue to reduce it. In addition to erythritol, there are also sugar substitutes such as steviol glycosides and luohan fructose used in product iterations. But these sugar substitutes are actually more expensive.
“LatePost”: The price of erythritol is rising rapidly. Will you go upstream in the future to control raw materials?
Tang Binsen: This is not something the boss thinks about. I only solve big problems, such as building a factory. In March this year, an international giant broke our supply chain. By putting pressure on our foundry, it immediately stopped cooperation with us. Our channels have also encountered challenges. We did not encounter such things in the early days when we were very small and young, but we will encounter them more as we develop. So we have to build our own factories, and we have to build more beautiful factories to become attractions where we can sell tickets.
“LatePost”: This is contrary to your theory on gaming companies. You once said that the best business is to use a very thin product to hit the global market, rather than a very heavy product for a vertical.
Tang Binsen: It used to be thin, but now it is heavy, because the times have changed and the industry is also different. Why build a factory? Because we want to shorten the ingredient list and make sparkling water without preservatives, but domestic factories can’t do it, we can only do it ourselves. At that time, the production team said that to build a factory, there are two options, one of which is twice as expensive as the other, but can be produced aseptically. I asked what does aseptic production mean? He said that sparkling water can be used without preservatives. I said that there is no need to talk about it, let’s choose this. Because there is no preservative, we have to make sure that the bottle cap is difficult to twist. But many consumers complained, so we introduced a bottle cap process from Germany to solve this problem. A light improvement of production lines costs millions – each upgraded production line needs a large investment. Supply chain construction is a very slow process, but it is not difficult, it just costs money.
“LatePost”: You were the investor but not the founder at the beginning. What made you decide to take over it?
Tang Binsen: After changing three groups of people, I couldn’t find anyone to take over. The good entrepreneurs at the time were all engaged in P2P and O2O. That was the worst time for me, and the worst time I charged a lot of money.
“LatePost”: “Charge” money?
Tang Binsen: Yes. We spent 5 million on our first product. I treated my friend to drink it, and he stopped drinking it after one sip. The sales suggested the product would tank. I said that this trajectory would see our brand ruined. In the end, it cost 1 million to destroy, and the group of beverage experts also left. The second group of people, I said to engage in full stock ownership, low base salary and high performance, but the result is they all soon left. At that time, COK (Clash of Kings , a game owned by Elex) made a lot of money, and everyone asked me, what you did with drinks? They kept asking me, do you still do it? I said I must be the last one to give up. In 2016, I took the Genki Forest and did it myself, also reflective of my determination.
“LatePost”: In 2014, when you were 32 years old, you sold Elex. Why did you sell it? The rise of new generation of game companies such as MiHoYo today proves that there is still a lot of room in this industry.
Tang Binsen: They love games, I don’t. I only hope that China will be promising. I don’t play games either. Making games every day is like going to jail, I didn’t expect to earn money.
“LatePost”: Don’t love games, but still made so much money, are you happy with it?
Tang Binsen: No. In the year we sold the company, we were the third place in the Chinese game industry. I was also struggling, but then I understood that when making important decisions in life, you can’t settle accounts. Just think about what you want to do in the next 20 years. Do it even if you don’t make money. I asked myself and I know I definitely don’t want to make games. The company sold for 2.7 billion, and my friends told me that I was losing money. Because the profit that year was 150 million, and the profit has increased seven times after the sale.
“LatePost”: It means that the person who takes over the company is better than you in managing the company.
Tang Binsen: Our business foundation is very good, and the team has always been stable. We were the first to make games overseas in 2008. But in 2014, overseas games were all Chinese companies. I proved that it is possible for the Chinese to take this track, and when the mission was completed, it felt boring.
“LatePost”: It sounds like your criteria for ending and starting something is whether the Chinese have done it on this track. The gaming is, so are the consumer products.
Tang Binsen: Knowing a person by how he earns his first pot of gold. My first pot of gold in my life was earned as a graduate student of Beihang University in 2004, and I beat foreigners coming it a first place, earning 250,000 euros. At that time, the competition was at the 3GSM exhibition in France. We were a Chinese team and we had no relatives. Then we saw Huawei’s booth. They are the only Chinese company at the show. Do you know how it feels to find relatives? We ran to the Huawei team and told them that we are also Chinese. Therefore, Genki Forest later had a brand label called China is promising.
“LatePost”: You are a serial entrepreneur. You know what you are good at. You have also built a cloud computing platform, but it failed.
Tang Binsen: There is no good at something, everything is fate. In your 30s, you should try and make more breakthroughs. 40s to find and focus on the things you love. But in the end you will find that it is fate. Your business shows who is the best. The three largest Internet companies in China, South Korea, and Russia were all search engines, social networking, and e-commerce. Do what kind of thing in what age group, the order can’t be wrong. Many Internet giants have run into big opportunities, and they didn’t think much about it. But we really need to find opportunities, so we must continue to start a business and keep looking for answers. This is called “Nomads”.
“LatePost”: Don’t you want to find a fertile market?
Tang Binsen: So I’m here to make drinks.
“LatePost”: Is it because this is a big business but not because you have a sense of mission?
Binsen Tang: I established Challenjers in 2014 , with the mission of “Promising China, challenging the giants, investing in good products, and trusting young people.” “Promising China” means that there are no Chinese companies in the top 10 in the industry and we should invest; “Challenge the giants” means that I think there is no new concept in this world, and we should focus on old business. At that time, I selected many industries according to this logic. I think companies must be clear with their strategy. I believe that Chinese people are very smart, so I look for foreigners as opponents. Buffett has a saying, if you want to win the championship, don’t be at the same table with the world champions. I think the best table is to compete with foreign companies, not local companies, because local companies are very strong. I also invested in a company called Tiger Brokers. At the time, the founder wanted to do stock trading software. I said that if you wanted to do it, you should do a big deal. If the opponent is a 1,000-billion dollar company then you are good, if the opponent is a 1 billion dollar company, that is useless.
“LatePost”: People often comment on you, that your motivation for achievement is obvious. When you do something, you don’t always think about how valuable the thing is, but how to win and how to win the most.
Tang Binsen: You must win if you want to create value. If a person does not win the battle, he cannot create great value. Scholars are awesome, bandits are also awesome, and the most awesome is the person who integrates scholars with bandits together. So winning is very important.
“LatePost”: Are you a scholar or a bandit?
Tang Binsen: I am the one who integrates scholars with bandits.
“LatePost”: A man who wins big bets.
Tang Binsen: Big bets and big wins are a result. The key is that you have to have sustained tenacity. Our company has a culture, it is not a good game if you don’t have the big boss. It depends on the number of times you want to give up. The more times you want to give up, the more awesome you are.
“LatePost”: How many times have you thought about giving up the Genki Forest?
Tang Binsen: Many times.
“LatePost”: What happened from feeling good about the industry to settling down and making good products?
Tang Binsen: Because I see that most consumer companies that do well in the Chinese market are foreign capital. I want to make a good drink worthy of the hard-working Chinese, just like the United States has Coca-Cola and Switzerland has Nestlé.
“LatePost”: Some people think that when Genki Forest started to edge Japanese brands, it was a use of momentum but also a brand failure, because today Chinese consumers are willing to pay more for made in China products.
Tang Binsen: We really set up a Japanese company. There were more than a dozen Japanese people doing research and development in Japan. After a year, we felt that there would be a problem, so we told the team to stop. Then we later emphasized the characters “燃” and “気“. We want to sell Whiskey with big Chinese characters to the world like Suntory does.
“LatePost”: But this “気” is a Japanese character.
Tang Binsen: The entire Asian culture is profoundly influenced by Chinese culture, and it is impossible to strictly define whether it is Japanese or Chinese characters.
“LatePost”: The brand core of consumer products is very important. Coca-Cola has been emphasizing the word ‘Enjoy’ in the past few decades. So what is the core of the brand of Genki forest?
Tang Binsen: Plain is true. We want to be the ordinary companions of consumers. I once wanted to shoot an advertisement. When someone gave you 999 roses, I would accompany you to get off work and always be with you. We want to provide more people with a more inclusive, high-quality and beautiful life.
“LatePost”: To build a food and beverage empire today, how will it take a different path compared with established foreign food and beverage giants?
Tang Binsen: We do not build, we solve problems. In the process of solving the problem, the layout gradually became clearer. Is it useful to force it?
“LatePost”: What company will Genki Forest end up being?
Tang Binsen: A company that solves problems. If a problem is solved well by the existing company, it is meaningless for you to do it. It is to grab someone’s cake. The world will not reward companies that grab someone’s cake. The whole human information system is constantly encouraging better behavior for humans.
“LatePost”: What is the ultimate problem that human beings have to solve?
Tang Binsen: The ultimate human problem has nothing to do with me. I can’t solve it, and I don’t have that ability. But one thing I believe is that the beverage market will ultimately fail to outperform the game, and the growth of physical consumption will certainly fail to outperform the virtual in the long run. Products that meet high-end needs in human society will become more and more important, and products that meet basic needs will account for a lower and lower proportion of GDP. Games are the ultimate direction of human beings. The past 100 years have been the history of constantly moving real things to the virtual world. Don’t you think that realizing oneself in a real world consumes too much environmental resources? The game is to make people realize themselves in the virtual world, environmentally friendly and efficient. I don’t play games, but I like the underlying things of the game, such as IP. IP and brand are very similar. In the future, Genki Forest may work with the gaming company I invested in to develop IP together, otherwise it will fail again.
“LatePost”: Under what circumstances will Genki Forest be eliminated by the market?
Tang Binsen: Elimination is destined. There are always young companies and young people appearing, taking this industry to the future. As a leading company in the industry, the best strategy to make the industry better is to die by yourself. If you don’t die, if you survive as an old company, the industry will have no future.
“LatePost”: Some people say that Genki Forest internally motivates employees like pirates, regardless of seniority, but on merit. If you do well, you will be rewarded with options, and if OKRs are not done, you will directly deduct options.
Tang Binsen: I am born to build a team like pirates. One of the basic laws of the Genki Forest is that you can’t suffer from the honest people, you must be cruel to the bad people, and you can’t equalize the good people. My personal shares in Genki Forest don’t exceed 50%, investors have more than 10% shares, and the rest are for the team – 20% of employees are company shareholders. I think a company should have a kind of brotherhood and banditry, and should not be too professional, and should have a feeling of pirates. That is, everyone is equal and simple, and a bunch of loving and righteous people do a meaningful thing. It should not be too restrictive, it will make the distance between people get farther and farther. It should be more sincere and simple.
“LatePost”: Your colleague said that you send hundreds of thousands of red envelopes on WeChat every year.
Tang Binsen: I often ask questions and answers about values, and I will give red envelopes to whoever answers correctly. For example, ask “Which vernacular of our company does this incident violate?”
“LatePost”: Can you give an example?
Tang Binsen: “If there is a communication problem, both of you are idiots”; “A good company is a gym, and a bad company is a pig farm.” The gym is tired when you do it, but you feel good after it. The pig farms are good when they come, and they are slaughtered when they go.
“LatePost”: There are thousands of people in the Genki Forest. Have you ever thought about how to manage the tens of thousands?
Tang Binsen: If there are tens of thousands of people, the most important thing is to manage the product team. The management of this problem will become simpler with systematization. In contrast, it is difficult to find the core problem. What problem does the company exist to solve? If you don’t understand this, you are tactically correct, but strategically wrong.
“LatePost”: How much money do you manage?
Tang Binsen: The company rarely approves it for me.
“LatePost”: Under what circumstances will you compromise?
Tang Binsen: Most of my situations are authorized, so I rarely compromise anything.
“LatePost”: When will it be authorized?
Tang Binsen: When it is critical and others are afraid to make this decision. There is one kind of decision that you make – the right one, but people never feel the value of the right one. There is another decision, when there is a problem, it must be because you did not do this thing.
“LatePost”: Several senior executives in the early days of Genki Forest have left to start a beverage business. How do you think about this?
Tang Binsen: I’m used to it, bless them. A senior executive who left in the early days gave me a box of Moutai last year. I rejected him, but he insisted. Then I accepted it. It would be a bad idea to return it. You should think this way, a good company will not let good people leave. If a bunch of bad guys leave, it means this company is awesome. If the people who leave are all talents, it means that this company is stupid.
“LatePost”: You also recruited executives who resigned from ByteDance. Does that mean that ByteDance is awesome or stupid?
Tang Binsen: This person is recruited because he is a person who loves the product. Only if he loves and does not worry about money, he can make the product.
“LatePost”: An investor would like to ask you, why are the terms for investors so harsh when Genki Forest is financing? You are also an investor, do you want to be treated like this by entrepreneurs?
Tang Binsen: Does this investor want to invest?
“LatePost”: He wants to.
Tang Binsen: That is the answer. I didn’t force you anyway. We set this valuation at the time, and they were all robbing it. I said that it’s given to whoever comes anyway. I will create this atmosphere without raising the price, and everyone is rushing in.
“LatePost”: Which projects does Genki Forest do by itself, and which projects does Challenjers invest?
Tang Binsen: Challenjers does not do what the Genki Forest can do, Challenjers solve the problems that Genki Forest cannot solve.
“LatePost”: For example, white wine?
Tang Binsen: Liquor, beer, Genki Forest is also being developed, but the boundaries are still not clear. You can’t be too anxious about alcohol. In the end, all the consumer products that survived in China were state-owned enterprises because of slowness. We also recently invested in a British children’s food company and bought an oat milk brand from Australia. Our philosophy is to serve the global market with the best things in the world.
“LatePost”: How to choose the CEO of the acquired consumer product brand?
Tang Binsen: Seeing whether a founder has made money is the simplest and rude way to prove his ability. Once Shen Nanpeng (founder of Sequoia China) asked me, is the “ Power28″ project good? I said that the boss made 20 million in his own business, and you can figure it out.
“LatePost”: I heard that you often bet with people. In March 2019 , you made a bet with an investor whether Pinduoduo could develop.
Tang Binsen: There were two bets, Luckin Coffee and Pinduoduo. I bet neither of these would develop. In the end, for Pinduoduo I lost and for Luckin I won, which happened to be a hedge. There is a story in the book Reaction Force. At that time, no one thought that the Lebanon war would last for more than ten years, and everyone thought that it would be over in one year. But looking at it in hindsight, everyone thought that it should have lasted for at least 10 years. The advantage of betting is that it allows you to remember your decision at the time. I also like to keep a diary, so I can always see how stupid the decision was at that time.
“LatePost”: What are you good at betting?
Tang Binsen: Cognition. So when I bet in my company, I basically win. For example, I said to raise the price of beverages, and my colleagues said that the price increase would affect sales. I said you guys try and see if it will affect?
“LatePost”: Why weren’t you optimistic about Pinduoduo?
Tang Binsen: I also reflect, I put the logic of my products to a platform – this was wrong. The company that makes the product can’t just spend money. If the user really loves your products, you shouldn’t lose money. I thought that Pinduoduo subsidized too much, maybe because the platform is not good, I didn’t expect that they finally became a platform. Platforms must give rewards because it improves the efficiency of the product, which is a different story from the product company.
“LatePost”: In addition to the hobby of writing a diary, I heard that you have continued to watch “CCTV News” for decades.
Tang Binsen: I used to watch it every day, but now I’m too busy. I can only watch it every week, seven days of news at a time, fast forward, and finish it in 20 minutes. You don’t know how to watch it this way, right? In Mi TV, there is a ‘popular videos’ section, click into it, and there is a “CCTV News” channel, which can be played back.
“LatePost”: What will you watch?
Tang Binsen: What projects have been built, what roads have been built, and how this place helps the poor. I’ve always loved watching since I was a child, to see if there are any positive changes in the country every day.
“LatePost”: You have loved watching “CCTV News” since you were a child. What was your ideal at that time?
Tang Binsen: I wanted to be the mayor of Hefei city, but I failed to join the party. I was a squad leader in high school, but was removed. Because I told the head teacher, “You have a problem with the (mathematics) solution.” The teacher was dazed and asked what’s wrong with me.
“LatePost”: If you become the mayor of Hefei, will you invest in Nio?
Tang Binsen: I don’t know, maybe I will think in another way in that system. My values were formed when I was young, so I know what age a person is when I hear a person sing.
“LatePost”: You were born in 1982 , and your friends said that you love to sing “On the Waterside”, so what age are you from?
Tang Binsen: Ren Zhengfei and I are a generation. Because I grew up with my grandparents, my grandma sings Teresa Teng’s song, and my grandpa sings “Singing for the Motherland”; I would cry when I heard “Singing for the Motherland”? I also love to sing “The Kingdom of Daughters”. I think Tang Seng can pass other levels, and the most difficult one is the Kingdom of Daughters. I often say that the boss must have mental power, not brain power. So I think Tang Seng is the best CEO .
“LatePost”: You have repeatedly expressed your admiration for Huawei. What do you admire Huawei most?
Tang Binsen: I think Ren Zhengfei is a person who speaks basic laws in simple words. When I was in college, I wanted to ask the school, why not teach us to learn Java and PHP, instead of computer systems. I didn’t understand why, it couldn’t solve the problem. I’m going to write code and build a website. I even wanted to sign up for a website crash course. Later, I understood that everything is changing. Today you need Java, tomorrow you need PHP, and after two years you need other things. Those things are not worth learning. What is really valuable are the most basic things such as systems, language, and mathematics. The same for business. Ren Zhengfei is right. There is no reason. In this world, there is a business model of business school that sells courses to make money, and induces everyone to make quick progress. But the besteducational institutions are Harvard, and Yale, they teach the first principle, they expect their students to donate money, so they must find a way to give students a good education.
“LatePost”: But you also attended China Europe Business School and Lakeside College.
Tang Binsen: I had nothing to do back then. I never felt that class was important, I went there to make friends.
“LatePost”: Who is your friend in your heart?
Tang Binsen: I once told freshmen at CEIBS that there should be four principles for business school: First, do not face opportunities, but face the future trends. Second, don’t make business partners, but make spiritual friends. Many people go to business schools to do business, and these kind of people get worse and worse. I think a CEO is very lonely and needs some people to drink and chat. The third is not only to look for things that change, but to look for things that are unchanged.
“LatePost”: It’s a good summary, but this is from Bezos.
Tang Binsen: It doesn’t matter if I quote it. I like to study what the people who have made money say. Bezos, Jobs, Buffett, I don’t believe what others say.
“LatePost”: You like to use two words, one is “awesome” and the other is “stupid” to describe many things, why?
Tang Binsen: Simple and direct.
“LatePost”: Is there an intermediate state?
Tang Binsen: Is the intermediate state important? This is the case for most of my own, occasionally awesome, occasionally stupid.