Day 3: Cheetah Mobile and Microsoft

Today we had our first company visits-Cheetah Mobile and Microsoft. After a large breakfast, the group headed for Cheetah Mobile, a software and app development company. We pulled up to the company complex that was complete with cartoonish statues of big-headed cheetahs, plenty of grass and green space, and a sleekly modern building. Immediately upon seeing the grassy lawn, I knew that this was an important company-there is very little (if any) empty lawn space in Beijing. Most gardens/parks are constantly busy: tourists wandering, people doing taichi, and vendors hawking their wares.

After we entered the main building, we were greeted by the head of American operations, coffee and tea drinks, and plush cheetahs bearing the Cheetah Mobile logo. It was blatantly obvious that they were trying to impress us: they had an electronic screen at the main entrance to the company with the Pitt logo and the Cheetah Mobile logo, in addition to the complimentary drinks and snacks, and an impressive video talking about how they’re on the cutting edge of innovation.

After a brief and uplifting speech by the American head of innovation, we were taken on a tour of the building, where our guides showed off the company’s perks: a climbing wall, a slide, a large atrium with plenty of ponds/water, complimentary daycare for employees’ children, and a gym. In addition, the employees were all younger and dressed casually-there was not a suit or a business dress to be seen on the employees. Granted, there were plenty of suits and business outfits on us, but the company was very casual overall. It seemed like their business model was a mixture of Google (in terms of employee benefits) and Buzzfeed (in terms of workspace and overall company environment).

An hour or so after we left Cheetah Mobile, Francis shared a link from Cheetah’s website-a picture of Angeline and I being goofy had made the homepage, along with a story about our visit. I sent a screenshot to my mom and she fangirled and posted it on Facebook.

After a gigantic lunch in another shopping mall that featured some amazing bread, we headed to Microsoft’s Asian Center. Immediately upon walking in to the complex, we were greeted by a senior level businessman, who had us try out two weird machines: an age predictor, and a rating scale. The computer thought that I was 27, and a 97/100. Thanks for the confidence boost, random machine!

Next, the businessman led us into a special presentation room that used facial recognition software to allow him access. In this room, we were shown all of Microsoft’s gadgets: the HoloLens, a live-time translator, Cortana, and the Office 365 suite. They were all impressive, but most of the technology wasn’t feasible for everyday use: the HoloLens costs around $3000 a pair, and the translator can only understand 9 languages.

After heading back to the hotel, we ran upstairs and changed out of our business clothes, into our most casual and worn-down looks. After that, we took the subway to the Silk Market, a tourist market that is notorious for their fake designer merchandise. Many girls got fake Louis Vuitton or Michael Kors purses, but I just got some souvenirs: a sweatshirt for my sister and a t-shirt for me. The sweatshirt was originally 700 yuan (around $100), but I managed to get it and the shirt down to 250 yuan (~$30), which was more than I would’ve liked to pay, but at that point, we had to leave and I wanted to get the shirts.

To close out the night, Chloe, Angeline, Sabrina and I went to a 7 Eleven and tried a bunch of Chinese snacks like cucumber flavored potato chips, KFC, matcha chocolate, and a delicious runny yoghurt that you drink. It was a long but fun day.

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