” I feel at home in
China and I feel at
home in the U.S.”
If her resume had come in, I wouldn’t have
We have a “hello” email where we
interact with users. I said, “Maybe you can
handle that.” Tears fell down her face. The
next day she was in the office. She became
someone who knows our users the best.
She now leads a team of 20 people. She was
a normal girl growing up, never a superstar.
In China people overvalue being smart.
She did not think she was smart enough.
Now she shows the confidence on her face.
How did you bring that out? I told her
an English phrase when she first came:
“Try your best and knock the ball out of the
park.” And I told her, “You can grow your
own path from there. Your reputation is not
given by the CEO — you earn that.” That is
a very American view.
What is your biggest challenge right now
in building your business? We have built
a product people like, and we have found
a way to monetize on our premium product.
Since we started monetization in April, our
revenue growth has been 30% month over
month. But now we have to find ways to scale
that and keep making more innovative and
attractive learning products, both of which
require a strong team. My challenge is to
build a great team with more of those Ericas
so I can think more strategically about the
future for the company. We are going to set
up an office in Silicon Valley to attract talent,
especially top AI researchers and engineers.
What impact would you like to have
on the world? Our mission is to help
everyone become a global citizen.
In early June I went to the highlands
of Qinghai province to visit a rural
area with a Tibetan orphan school.
They have 300 children. Their English
teacher is a user of ours. We decided
to do a project with Meizu, a Chinese
smartphone manufacturer. It donated
100 smartphones and we made our
premium course free for all of the teachers
there and their students. I asked how
many had been outside the town and only
one-third raised their hands. Now they
can talk to foreign faces over video and
have a conversation in English and learn
about the outside world. Δ