The Great Firechat

A candid update on the latest in China tech with inside experts Kevin Shimota and Adeh DeSandies.


  • #49 - Everything Superapps w/ Robby Wade of Thisapp

    Aug 03 2022

    Adeh and Kevin sit down with Robby Wade, CEO and Co-founder of Thisapp, "an all-in-one chat platform that makes it easy to connect with anyone and organize anything". We explore everything superapps from their success factors, determining their viability in the West to Elon Musk pulling out of the Twitter deal.Claim your Thisapp username at https://www.thisapp.com/"The First Superapp" book: https://www.kevinshimota.com/

  • #48 - The Review Revolution, LARPing, and Didi's $1bn fine

    Jul 25 2022

    This week we are all about how to front-run the opportunity:Bytedance is making an Instagram copy in China to compete with RED, but does the West need a RED copy?With a mess of review platforms in the West, we think it’s time for a review revolution!Didi's year-long data debacle seems to finally be at an end with one big last fine. Chinese gaming companies increasingly look overseas, while Chinese look for new ways to play games, like LARPing, which has apparently become big enough to cause...more

  • #47 - Rebranding NFTs and livestreaming 'wholesome' content

    Jul 13 2022

    Write-up:This week we talk about China's big tech to give NFTs a new name in a tech rebranding to attempt to revitalize the industry in the gov's eyes, which is needed because companies like Alibaba are suffering small but telling 'burns' from the government. China's livestreaming could use some rethinking as they're hit with more content restrictions and Tencent closes their "WeGame" mobile app showing a failure to consolidate their gaming empire in China...more

  • #46 - Data, cars, gaming, and experiencing a brand new China fad: 'Educational Infomercials'

    Jun 24 2022

    Bit of a monstruous episode this week, we normally try to stick to 4 stories, and we ended up going into about 10. We chat out the electric vehicle market, examine data security concerns from the national and corporate level, get an update from gaming criss-crossing the Pacific, and lastly, provide you with an authentic China-experience by selling you a product while teaching you Chinese - I dub this 'educational informercials' and I think we're just seeing the beginning of this n...more

  • #45 - All Things Ecommerce

    Jun 03 2022

    This week we delve into ecommerce boom of short-video apps in China Douyin and Kuaishou then look at how ecommerce is and will evolve outside of China. Can Facebook and Instagram create a similar ecommerce pivot with their social media platforms?Meanwhile, India is creating a new centralized digital commerce platform, which accomplishes something similar to China's recent regulation on the fintech: creating a level playing field and breaking down monopolistic barriers in the digital realm.1...more

  • #44 - Private Traffic and Elon Musk wants a WeChat-like Superapp

    May 21 2022

    This week we delve into the big slowdown of Tencent, and greather big tech in China, and look at how these companies are looking overseas markets for revenue potential, especially in games.We then talk a bit about WeChat; "private traffic" is a major trend in China driving business decision and it pairs with influencer and live-streaming economy yet it's not well understood outside of China. Similarly, Elon Musk in an interview this week, explains that WeChat is "really an ex...more

  • #43 - China Metaverse - Crossover with GIN

    May 10 2022

    This week Adeh and Kevin team up with Fabian Gems and Lisa-Maria Stöger from GIN (Global Incubator Network) as we chat about the metaverse, how China's metaverse will look similar and different from the rest of the world, and a few fun digressions. Enjoy!(no cool links to sources this week as this was more a live, adlib convo)

  • #42 - Crackdown spreads to EU and thaws in China

    Apr 28 2022

    With Elon Musk acquiring Twitter and upending the status quo of the Western tech, Kevin and Adeh analyze and foretell the impact of the EU's two new upcoming tech regulation policies by examining China's tech crackdown as precedence.They end on a more optimistic note by looking at how parts of China's tech is continuuing to flourish and the crackdown beginning to ease.1) Musk bought Twitter, a $44 bn deal2) EU tech crackdown: EU approves Digital Markets Act and Digital Services Ac...more

  • #41 - Genshin's global impact and turning off algorithms

    Apr 06 2022

    This week we talk about how China's big tech are coping with new regulations on recommendation algorithms; they are simply allowing users to 'turn them off'.Meanwhile, a Shanghai's games developer "Genshin Impact" becomes the first major Chinese game to go global. This marks a major milestone in China's gaming industry, and some of the most valuable IP content (Intellectual Property) to be created in Greater China since the likes of Crouching Tiger Hidden Drago...more

  • #40 - Tech crackdown bottoming out and smartphone addictions

    Mar 17 2022

    This week Adeh and Kevin cover the latest Chinese government directive from the “Two Meetings”, as they predict the tech crackdown is finally consolidating and bottoming out. I mean... we can only go up from here, right? Also, we look at how East Asia is finally starting to reject their smartphone addictions.How is smartphone addiction perceived in your country? Are you and/or your friends beginning to reject smartphones, or maybe taper smartphone their addictions? We'd love to hear from yo...more

  • #39 - Ed-tech, Gaming, and EVs

    Mar 04 2022

    This week's theme was 'continuity' – Adeh and Kevin are becoming real podcasters as they revisit previous topics. They recap the impacts of the crackdown on China's tutoring and gaming industry's, notice that another EV company is jumping into smartphones, and examine new policies on food-delivery platforms as Beijing's crackdown on tech continues. 1) 90% of tutoring companies have closed since July after gov crackdown 1b) First edtech company to IPO since crackdown...more

  • #38 - China, China-Mates, and Me

    Feb 18 2022

    After nearly a decade of domination of social tech products, a cute metaverse avatar app seems to be challenging WeChat/Tencent. Adeh and Kevin delve deeper into the metaverse as they talk about tech issues on both sides of the Pacific.1) A year of China tech layoffs 2) Metaverse social app flies past WeChat then crashes3) Meta, Metamates, and MeBonus links:Mentioned podcast episode on Bored Ape YCBored Ape Yacht Club official website

  • #37 - China tech maturing and savvying

    Jan 29 2022

    Kevin and Adeh go through a variety of topics which depicting shifting trends in China tech.  China's tech is maturing and getting more business savvy, Electric vehicles are still booming with Geely getting more tech savvy, and China's gov is getting more savvy on the VC industry and on blockchain. We hope you savor this savvy episode.Happy Chinese New Year!- The Great Firechat Team 1) Geely to buy Meizu 2) Youzan laying off 30% of employee 3)  Upcoming regulations could dampen China&a...more

  • #36 - Finally, an episode that explains TikTok's algorithms

    Jan 14 2022

    Kevin and Adeh do a deep dive into platform's algorithms and Beijing's upcoming regulations on them. These regulations are aimed at moving responsibility and risk to companies and their algorithms. How can an algorithm be responsible for anything? What would that even look like?  Adeh presents some great examples which help things finally click for Kevin.We then end on a less complex note with the booming electric vehicle market and new smart helmets that help make zoomie food-couriers...more

  • #35 - Tencent lies low while Bytedance soars, and the "QQ-verse"

    Nov 25 2021

    As Tencent and the rest of big China tech continues to suffer from the gov crackdown, Bytedance revenue soars. However, Tencent may just be lying low and contemplating their next move as the company seems surprisingly well equipped for the metaverse and future of tech.1) Bytedance still growing strong with 60% revenue growth2a) Gov crackdown begins to traverse time into the past2b) Big China tech struggling to play nice and open up3) Tencent is lying low - quarterly revenues lowest since 2004 4)...more

  • #34 - Goodbye, LinkedIn. Hello, synthetic celebrities.

    Oct 28 2021

    This week we talk about more Western tech companies pulling out of China, this time a big and successful one; Microsoft's LinkedIn.We go deep into the real industry of fake virtual celebrities, talk about Alibaba's waning eCommerce dominance, and end with impending regulation to open up content for search engines which would be a great boon to Baidu, the once massive Google-like search engine which has struggled to remain relevant the past half decade.1) MSFT pulls the plug on LinkedIn...more

  • #33 - Fines, elevators, and algorithms

    Oct 14 2021

    This week your co-hosts discuss Meituan's anti-trust fine, JD.com's foray into elevator ads and pets, and then go a little deep on the responsibility platforms have for their algorithms. This is especially timely as Facebook's whistleblower cries foul in the US, while China implements policy holding products responsible for their algorithms.1 Meituan's anti-monopoly probe ends with a USD534M fine 2 JD and Baidu jointly invest $400mn in elevator ads biz now worth >$2bn. 3 J...more

  • #32 - 1 billion online, tech crackdown and how to deal with it

    Oct 01 2021

    This week Kevin and Adeh delve deep into China's tech crackdown. The crackdown has wiped hundreds of billions off the value of China's tech companies - is this the end or the beginning?Your hosts review the crackdown to date, examine how companies are mitigating the current risks, and grapple with convoluted metaphors to predict how this will all play out.China has over a billion internet usersChina's tech crackdownSummary of Tech CrackdownAli and Tencent agree to work togetherWal...more

  • #31 - Inside China's Gaming Industry with Pidou

    Sep 09 2021

    As Beijing releases unprecedented restrictions on gaming in China, Adeh and Kevin chat with their friend "Pidou" from one of China's biggest gaming companies.Your co-hosts get the inside story of how this and other recent changes are affecting the industry. They also examine a few clues and guess at which industry will be impacted next.China bans minors from video games for more than 3 hours per week  Shares of Tencent and NetEase fell last month after release of Chinese state med...more

  • #30 - Understanding China's New Data Privacy Law

    Aug 27 2021

    This week Kevin and Adeh discuss Tencent's continued domination of mobile games, and then delve deep into the Chinese governments newest policies and actions, all of which aim to rein in China's tech sector.China's newest personal data privacy law is a good step for the people of China, and begs the question; now that the EU, China, and the state of California all have basic data privacy laws, when will the United States as a nation get one?Tencent's PUB-G and Honor of the Ki...more

  • #29 - China Tech in Limbo AND a special interview with JinYao Desandies

    Aug 13 2021

    This week your co-hosts analyze China's tech world's new norm; strong government regulation. There hasn't been too much in the news, why? Tech in China is all going quiet. IPOs are being cancelled, partnerships on hold, and more. When uncertainty abounds, China prefers to lay-low until the dust settles.Also, Kevin has a chat with JinYao Desandies, Adeh's 14-year old son. JinYao has a great balanced perspective because he speaks eloquently in English, but spends most of his da...more

  • #28 - Abolishing Forced Child Learning

    Jul 30 2021

    This week we discuss the directorate that has upended China's private education sector. For decades, private tutoring sector had been a hotbed for investment, since the pandemic began it has become one of the fastest growing sectors in China.The new directorate dumps all of investment heat into a big bucket of ice cold water. It's not game-changing, it's game-ending. This is woeful news for investors, but likely welcome news for parents and kids across China.We also touch on the l...more

  • #27 - Tech Monopolies Opening up from Shenzhen to Silicon Valley

    Jul 22 2021

    This week your co-hosts delve deep into the anti-monopoly crackdown which continues in both China and the US. Each side's government commonly say they are helping the 'little guys', but is this actually good for start-ups? Is it good for the respective nations as a whole? What will be the repercussions?Then we touch on the interesting other US-China affair of Chinese companies listing on US stock markets. Lastly we end on XiaoMi - the 'little' start-up is back and bigger...more

  • #26 - End of 996, Didi and Bytedance's IPO conundrum, and a quirky AI

    Jul 16 2021

    Last week, Adeh and Kevin guessed that the end was nigh for China tech's notorious 996 work schedule, they just didn't realize how quickly it would happen.Their guesses were a little less accurate with Didi. Beijing continues to increase scrutiny of overseas investment and Didi is caught in an awkward place as competitors start to swoop in to take advantage of the situation.Lastly Beijing blocks a Tencent-backed merger in live-stream gaming and a quirky Microsoft AI spin-off in China i...more

  • #25 - Didi trounced and China Tech's "Involution"

    Jul 09 2021

    This week your co-hosts go for the Didi hatrick as the car-hailing company finds itself in the middle of a geo-political tik-tok match. Adeh explains the nuance of the term 内卷 neijuan, or involution, and Kevin tells us what went on during those long long hours working at WeChat.Didi gets pulled from App stores as Beijing probes their security practices.Two other recent US IPOs, Full Truck Alliance and BOSS Zhipin get hit in the same way.And now shareholders are filing lawsuits against Didi - put...more

  • #24 - Jack Ma to share data, Didi's weak IPO, and it's time for tea!

    Jul 01 2021

    This week Adeh and Kevin discuss Ant Financials' talks to share data for credit-scores with state-owned banks, and how this reflects trends we're seeing globally. They also talk about Didi's IPO which was not as big as expected, and the latest tea craze as tea brands score an increasing amount of investment and consumer interest.Ant Financial (Alibaba) to share data with banks (and gov)Didi lackluster IPO at $62 billion, but still a big playerTea mania in China!HeyTea new round of...more

  • #23 - Deep dive into Didi IPO (and China's selfie on Mars)

    Jun 18 2021

    This week your co-hosts deep dive into the Didi IPO. What can we expect? Will Didi outshine Uber? What sets Didi and Uber apart? In any case, Adeh is ready to welcome our robotaxi overlords, and Kevin wants to serenade them. Didi looking to raise up to 10 billion USD in a US IPOChina's rover takes a selfie on marsBONUS: A startup already stole Kevin's idea to democratize pre-IPO investing

  • #22 - 3-child policy, AI, and castles in the sky

    Jun 10 2021

    This week your hosts Adeh and Kevin discuss the impact (or lack there of) of the 3-child policy, then delve into the latest in AI, Huawei's herculean effort to develop a new operating system, and Bytedance and Tencent's squabbles. They also examine the competitive industry of 3rd-party server infrastructure which has become more like 'castles in the sky' rather than 'the cloud'.China sets 3 child policyChinese AI researchers release a new multi-modal that's eve...more

  • #21 - How the Five-Year Plan impacts tech

    Jun 04 2021

    This week your co-hosts dip back into current 5-year guideline to make sure we have a clear picture what's coming next in China. Then we take a look at Meituan's latest quarter, find holes in the great firewall, and talk about Kevin's misadventures in ed-tech. Listen now and join the conversation.The government's crackdown on Big Tech is a lever to get them to invest into the 5-year guidelines.Meituan's revenue jumps 120%, while the stock is down 40%.More anti-trust / an...more

  • #20 - The Five-Year Plan with Leon Du

    May 29 2021

    Today your co-hosts are joined by Leon Du, CEO of tech company Beansmile, to discuss the 14th 5 year plan and what it means for anyone looking to work in or with China. We all learn a lot about the history, the impact, and the mechanics behind one of China's major tools of government. We also learn a lot about what it means to be open, to be honest with yourself - and how to be a lovely human.Tencent is clearly establishing itself as a world class technology company with $7.6 billion in pro...more

  • #19 - Movie and games studios undervalued IP, spicy gluten snacks, and our AI future

    May 21 2021

    This week your co-hosts dive into Alibaba's first operating loss since becoming a public company, but they're not too worried. They talk about Tencent's potential partnership with Xbox and the increasing value of IP (content). Kevin talks about how a beef-jerky company copies Apple, and Adeh tries to explain the implications of our AI future. Listen now and join the conversation!This week's Chinese proverb: 当局者迷,旁观者清 - "The player is muddled, while the onlooker sees clea...more

  • #18 - NFTs, bike-share's comeback, and China's growing fitness fetish

    May 14 2021

    This week your co-hosts touch on a range of topics from the NFT craze to China's fitness boom. Adeh is vindicated, and Kevin ponders parties and late-night beer runs. Join the conversation and let us know what you think!What are NFTs and how will they fit into the digital futurehttp://www.sixthtone.com/news/1007240/how-nfts-are-transforming-chinas-art-marketMeme girl makes 500k from selling an NFThttps://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-04-30/disaster-girl-meme-sells-for-500-000/100106366Xiaomi win...more

  • #17 - Tesla's China problem, Meituan's rapid expansion, and China's LGBTQ+ tech world

    Apr 30 2021

    This week your co-hosts talk about Tesla in China, the recent PR debacle and how this all sounds too familiar. Then Adeh and Kevin do a deep dive into Meituan (whose market cap peaked at $341 bn USD earlier this year) as they consider who is next to be hit by Beijing's crackdown on tech in China. Your duo ends on an optimistic note - envisioning a bright future which embraces diversity - as they purview BlueCity Inc, a rising star Chinese LGBTQ+ tech platform.Tesla has a China problemhttps:...more

  • #16 - Big China Tech's great self-rectification!

    Apr 20 2021

    Self-rectification, emotional aptitude and optics. Touchy-feely baloney or critical business issues which could decide the life or death of a company? Kevin and Adeh get introspective themselves and explore these concepts in the context of Chinese society and big China tech of today.Big tech falls in line behind the example set by Alibaba https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-04-13/china-orders-34-tech-firms-to-curb-excesses-in-antitrust-reviewTencent CEO pledges $7.7 billion to china&apo...more

  • #15 - Alibaba's $2.8 bn anti-trust hit + China's digital yuan world domination

    Apr 14 2021

    This week your co-hosts take on China's 996 work culture, then jump into the frenzied pundit waters churned up by the announcement that Alibaba was fined 2.8 billion USD for using its monopoly power to harm competitors. Later, Adeh tries to convince Kevin that the digital yuan may take over the world! What do you think? Give it a listen and send us your thoughts.A recent trending post critical of 996 culture in Chinese tech companies https://www.sohu.com/a/457730317_113767Alibaba gets fined...more

  • #14 - Bytedance and other imminent IPOs + XiaoMi jumps into EV

    Apr 07 2021

    This week your co-hosts explore conflicting reports of Bytedance's valuation and pontificate on why that valuation is justified against the backdrop of China's tech landscape. They discuss more upcoming IPOs, including Xiaohong Shu and Xiaomi's big announcement.BytedanceSome say the TikTok parent company is worth USD 250 billion https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-03-30/bytedance-is-said-valued-at-250-billion-in-private-tradesOr is it more? https://www.scmp.com/tech/big-t...more

  • #13 - Tencent Q4 success and scrutiny, and 'cancel culture' China-style!

    Mar 30 2021

    This week your co-hosts discuss Tencent's business success and cancel culture with Chinese characteristics. We end up with Kevin singing patriotic songs as Adeh comes to grips with an existential crisis:TencentTencent has a blowout quarter with 9.1B in profit (compare Apple 28B, FB 11B, goog 15B) https://www.scmp.com/tech/big-tech/article/3126771/tencent-posts-175-cent-rise-fourth-quarter-profit-it-faces-tighterAt the same time, the company is bracing for what's coming from the central...more

  • #12 - User data policy, anti-trust and PinDuoduo and Foodtech

    Mar 25 2021

    Draft 5 year plan:https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/10/business/china-us-tech-wecrivalry.htmlWSJ is following us…Tencent as an investment powerhouse: https://www.wsj.com/articles/chinas-tencent-becomes-an-investment-powerhouse-using-deals-to-expand-its-empire-11614769545Wall Street finally picks up on what we’ve seen as inevitable for months -> Tencent valuation drops by $62B on news that they are next to be hit by gov anti-trust crackdown in fintech: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/202...more

  • #11 - The anti-trust crackdown spreads to group-buy groceries

    Mar 09 2021

    Last few months we've been talking about Chinese government cracking down on big tech monopolies. We've also been talking about how the group-buy grocery market which has become China's most recent capital investment battleground. This week, these two topics converge as five of the major group-buy grocery companies are fined by China's government for pricing their products too low.As the crackdown on big tech monopolies continues, Pony Ma plans a trip to Beijing to advocate f...more

  • #10 - Deep fake biz, Video platforms (BiliBili), Clubhouse copies, and Gaming

    Mar 02 2021

    This was a fun one. You've probably heard and seen 'Deep Fakes' - incredible and uncanny filters which changes a person's appearance in a video to appear like a different person. People can become Tom Cruise, except unlike in Mission Impossible, there are no need for masks anymore. Thus far, this has been more of an online gimmick, the hacker's party trick, with no real application.A 3-month old start-up in China is providing a real-world application. SMB eCommerce busin...more

  • #9 - China is breaking up big tech, community grocers are booming, and more

    Feb 24 2021

    Happy Chinese New Year - I hope everyone had a good holiday OR, if you're in the West, have enjoyed seeing things besides China in the headlines while the country was away on holiday.Today we talk about continued anti-trust movement in China. The government is enacting increasingly strong policies to break-up big tech monopolies in China - namely, Tencent and Alibaba - and smaller players like Bytedance and a Chinese JV (Joint Venture) with GM are cashing in. Bytedance and the JV have both ...more

  • #8 - Free speech on Clubhouse and Bytedance (Tiktok) sues Tencent

    Feb 09 2021

    The newest social media phenomenon Clubhouse hits China and provides a unique avenue for free speech - update after recording last night, Clubhouse is now banned in China.Bytedance doubles revenue and is suing Tencent for monopolistic behavior (which we essentially predicted two episodes ago). And then we talk more about Clubhouse because we’re both passionate about social media platforms, this industry needs disruption, and the app just seems really cool.LINKS:Intro to Clubhouse (and how it is ...more

  • #7 - WeChat turns 10, Chinese gov breaking monopolies, and introducing Douyin Pay

    Jan 27 2021

    WeChat turns 10 years old. China’s beloved communications app, and Kevin’s old job, did well in 2020. GMV (Gross Merchandise Volume) on WeChat’s Mini Programs doubled compared to the previous year to a whopping $250 billion USD.Meanwhile the Chinese government expand on their anti-trust efforts and actually provide a definition for monopoly in the digital payments sector. Under the new definition Ant Financial’s AliPay is TWICE considered to have a monopoly of the market.Lastly, Douyin (TikTok i...more

  • #6 - Xiaomi takes a hit (as does Adeh), China-US Tech War, and more

    Jan 19 2021

    This week we talk about Trump's latest (and hopefully last) executive order hitting Chinese tech firm Xiaomi causing the company's stock to plummet 14%. Adeh, an investor in Xiaomi, is sad about this for more reasons than just losing money, but Kevin is able to cheer him up by buying him a new microphone! The new mic should also cheer up our dear listeners who've had to put up with poor audio quality in an age of Spotify and increasingly spoiled ears. Links: https://technode.com/2...more

  • #5 - Chinese gov crackdown on Alibaba, Homework app billionaires, and plant eggs

    Jan 13 2021

    We go into more details on why Chinese gov is cracking down on Alibaba and evidence that Jack Ma is still alive, and speaking of cracking, we talk about plant-based eggs having big launches into China. We also talk about multi-billionaire dollar online educational platforms and the world's first technical standards for robotaxis.

  • #4 - Alibaba's Ant Group and the Chinese Gov's painful probe

    Jan 05 2021

    Today we do a deep dive into one specific topic, Alibaba's Ant Group and how it's being crushed by Chinese gov and recent regulations. What was supposed to be the world's biggest IPO was put off, but the story didn't stop there. China's gov has initiated a monopolistic probe into Alibaba's Ant Group, and begun to mandate the company to divest, furthermore China's gov is tightening regulations on their loans and other fintech activities.All this and a little mor...more

  • #3 - Govs challenge big tech, raise tech standards, and we sniff out the latest investment fad

    Dec 24 2020

    #3 - big tech of East and West are being challenged by government. China's gov sees the value of tech standards where US doesn't appreciate how good its got it. Lastly following the hottest investment trends from car-sharing to bike sharing, and now eCommerce grocery.

  • #2 - China Gov's new digital currency, data protection, micro-chips, and more on group-buy groceries

    Dec 14 2020

    We made it to episode 2! This week we tackle some massive topics - China Gov's foray into digital currency, investment in micro-chips, and enhancing user data protection. After incubating China's tech sector in a competitive and legal vacuum, the gov seems to be taking the reins. Plus, we talk a bit more about group-buy groceries, the little understood, nearly trillion-dollar, market opportunity. Enjoy!

  • #1 - So it begins - a new space race, a telehealth boom, group-buying groceries and more

    Dec 08 2020

    Hi! A great beginning to a new good thing. This week we introduced ourselves and why we are doing this podcast. Then we go into our six key topics based on recent events in China tech.Below are the topics and links for more learning1) Apple seems to be lobbying against a new US law which counters forced labor overseas2) Group-buy grocery chains are taking off in China. Alibaba backed Nice Tuan bags another $196 mill USD in funding.3) Race for space: China's successfully lands on the moon.4)...more