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周源:中国互联网市场还有很多试验可做
Zhou Yuan: Chinese entrepreneur has answer to forum’s success

来源:FT中文网    2017-11-14 07:12



        Where is the best place for a woman to travel? What do cinema goers think of the latest superhero movie? How does one register a business abroad? Each day, hundreds of thousands of queries such as these flood China’s most popular online question-and-answer forum.        女性最适合去哪里旅游?观众们觉得最新一部超级英雄电影怎么样?如何在海外注册公司?每天有数以十万计诸如此类的问题出现在中国最具人气的在线问答论坛上。
        Zhihu, which is today valued at $1.25bn, publishes online books, many written or edited by its top users and often based on trending topics, and sells podcasts and text explainers. Zhihu Live, a pay-per-view platform for livestreamed talks by celebrities and experts, attracts 4m viewers. In four years, Zhihu has generated 100m registered users and 780m unique monthly visitors, surpassing Quora’s 200m monthly visitors.        如今估值达12.5亿美元的知乎(Zhihu)出版电子图书(其中很多书都由其高级用户撰写或编辑,往往基于热门话题),并出售直播内容和文字回答。知乎Live——由名人和专家主持的直播讲座的付费观看平台——吸引了400万观看者。在四年时间内,知乎拥有了1亿注册用户,月独立访客(UV)达7.8亿——超过了Quora的2亿。
        The idea for Zhihu came to Zhou Yuan a decade ago when, as an enthusiast of a Chinese blog used by Apple lovers, he believed he could do something similar.        10年前,周源萌生了创办知乎的念头,当时他参加了一个聚集了很多苹果(Apple)爱好者的中国博客,他认为他可以做出类似的产品。
        A founder at the now defunct apple4us, which opened up live debate among aficionados, later showed him a US Q&A forum. He was immediately inspired: “Quora felt so inexplicably familiar to me,” Mr Zhou says as he recalls that dinner in 2011 with his friend. “My ideas about creating an apple4us-like product suddenly came back. The dots connected.”        后来,apple4us(该平台曾经是苹果爱好者讨论问题的活跃平台,如今已停止更新)的发起人向他展示了美国的一个问答论坛,他立刻受到了启发。周源在回忆2011年与朋友的那次晚餐时表示,Quora让我感觉莫名地熟悉,我想做一款与apple4us类似产品的想法突然又回来了,分散的点都连起来了。
        The next day he recruited two of his business partners from Metasearch, a data analytics company and his first dip into entrepreneurship, to build their own version. An executive of a listed Chinese company came on board as an angel investor the same day. The company has raised $87m in three subsequent funding rounds. In January, Zhihu raised a further $100m from investors including Tencent, the internet group, and Sinovation Ventures, the venture capital company co-founded by Kai-Fu Lee, a former Google China executive.        第二天,他招募了他在Meta搜索(他第一次创业时创办的一家数据分析公司)的两位商业伙伴,来创建自己的问答产品。同一天,中国某上市公司的一名高管以天使投资人的身份加入。该公司在随后三轮融资中筹集了8700万美元。今年1月,知乎完成了D轮融资,从互联网集团腾讯(Tencent)和风投公司创新工场(Sinovation Ventures,谷歌(Google)前中国区高管李开复是该公司的共同创始人)等投资方那里筹集了1亿美元的融资。
        Mr Zhou came of age during the rise of China’s tech titans. NetEase, the Chinese internet company founded in 1997, was popular and instrumental in the formation of start-ups such as the search engine company Baidu and internet company Sina. These businesses inspired Mr Zhou to study computer science and become a software programmer, and later a journalist.        1998年,周源18岁,如今的中国科技巨头那时刚刚开始崛起:创立于1997年的中国互联网公司网易(NetEase)当时很受欢迎,网民都离不开它;互联网公司新浪(Sina)刚刚成立;搜索引擎公司百度(Baidu)也将在几年后创立。这些企业激励了周源学习计算机科学并成为软件程序员,后来又成为了记者。
        Zhihu rose from the ashes of Mr Zhou’s first company. “I was feeling very sad and lost,” the entrepreneur recalls of 2010 when his company Metasearch failed.        知乎从周源第一家公司的废墟中诞生。回忆起2010年他创立的Meta搜索倒闭,他表示,“我当时感觉非常难过和迷茫。”
        Zhihu’s ambition today is to forge connections between users in an on-demand knowledge marketplace free of intermediaries. Most recently, Zhihu partnered with a recruiting company to assess users’ employability for companies such as ride-hailing platform Didi Chuxing and sharing bike start-up Mobike.        如今知乎的抱负是,服务于按需提供的知识市场上的用户,帮助他们在无需第三方的情况下彼此直接建立起联系。最近,知乎与一家招聘公司合作,评估用户是否适合被叫车平台滴滴出行(Didi Chuxing)和共享单车初创公司摩拜(Mobike)等公司聘用。
        “Before you might buy a book but you could not ask questions about it,” he says, as he demonstrates on his iPhone a talk he gave on Zhihu Live, “How to be a game-changer”.        “以前,你或许可以买书,但你不能就这本书提问。”他一边说,一边在他的iPhone上展示自己在知乎Live上一场关于如何成为游戏规则改变者的演讲。
        For its first two years, Zhihu selected whom it would invite to use the service. Others could apply and wait to be approved. Many, who were desperate to join, turned to Taobao, an ecommerce site that sold invitation codes from approved individuals for up to Rmb120 ($18).        在创办的最初两年里,知乎有选择地邀请了一些人成为知乎用户。其他人可以申请并等待批准。很多渴望加入的人求助于电商网站淘宝(Taobao),以高达120元人民币(合18美元)的价格购买来自获批用户的邀请码。
        Meanwhile the Chinese authorities have this year stepped up their policing of content platforms, targeting news apps such as Toutiao and the micro-blogging platform Sina Weibo while shutting down popular social media accounts it deemed “vulgar”. As Zhihu expands, it must balance fostering lively discussion online while keeping China’s cyber space authorities happy.        与此同时,今年中国政府加大了对内容平台的监管(头条(Toutiao)等新闻应用以及新浪微博(Sina Weibo)都成为监管的目标),并关闭了其认为“粗俗”的高人气社交网站账户。不断扩张的知乎必须在培养在线讨论活跃度的同时,让中国网络监管部门保持满意。
        To identify spam, Zhihu uses Monkey King, an artificial intelligence program named after the protagonist in the Chinese epic fantasy drama Journey to the West. Wall-E, another AI program, finds and deletes defamatory or offensive posts. Meanwhile, a team of editors in Sichuan field user complaints, which have risen tenfold since last year, according to Mr Zhou.        知乎使用人工智能(AI)程序“悟空”来识别垃圾广告信息,使用另一个AI程序“瓦力”(Wall-E)来识别和删除诽谤性或攻击性信息。此外,据周源介绍,知乎在四川还有一支编辑团队负责处理用户举报——自去年以来用户举报量增至原来的10倍。
        This content management approach has not always been ideal. Users complain that subtle advertising written into blog posts has increased as the site has become more commercial.        这种内容管理方式并不总是理想的。用户抱怨称,帖子中植入软广的情况越来越多,知乎变得更商业化了。
        Despite the unpredictability of user-generated content — he turns around at one point to write the word “trolls” on the glass behind him to illustrate the shortcomings of the freewheeling American internet — he still believes in a user-driven product.        尽管用户生成的内容是无法预测的——他转身在背后的玻璃上写下“喷子”两个字,来阐明美国随心所欲的互联网环境的缺点——但他仍然对用户驱动型产品有信心。
        “In the US, if you publish an essay, many people avoid reading comments because they are full of trolls,” Mr Zhou says. “On the Chinese internet, the comment section is usually the most interesting.”        “在美国,如果你发表一篇文章,很多人会避免阅读评论,因为评论区都是喷子。”周源表示,“在中国互联网上,评论区通常是最有意思的。”
        Mr Zhou’s intuition has paid off. He credits a commitment to Zhihu’s core Q&A function that helped the site survive even as many similar ones failed. However, the pressure to make Zhihu’s knowledge base commercially viable is intensifying. It faces competition from platforms such as the smaller but fast-growing Fenda, where users pay to ask questions, as well as Douban, a social network and online forum.        周源的直觉得到了回报。虽然许多类似的网站都失败了,但知乎存活了下来,周源将这归功于知乎核心的问答功能。然而,知乎承受的要求其将知识库变现的压力正在加剧。它面临着来自分答(这个用户在上面付费提问的平台规模较小但发展迅速)等平台以及社交网络和在线论坛豆瓣(Douban)的竞争。
        That does not worry Mr Zhou: “The Chinese internet is really a big market. There is still plenty of experimentation to be done.”        周源对此并不担心:“中国互联网的市场真的很大。还有很多试验可做。”
                
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