Day 3: Silicon Valley or Beijing?

Today featured a visit to two companies: Cheetah Mobile and Microsoft.

When we first arrived at Cheetah Mobile were ushered into a large meeting room where the CEO introduced the company and answered any questions we had. Cheetah Mobile is an app development company and is self-described as “the most Silicon Valley company in the East.” The company is unique because it has taken action to break the mold of traditional Chinese business strategy. Upon recognizing the lack of globalization of many Chinese companies, Cheetah Mobile has capitalized on its international business expansion in order to bring the unique qualities of Chinese innovation to the rest of the world. Currently, Cheetah Mobile has multiple offices worldwide in countries all throughout Asia, the Americas, and Europe.

Cheetah Mobile’s first app, Clean Master, is a utility app for Android phones that clears junk files and increases phone efficiency. This app was the company’s big break as it quickly gained millions of downloads worldwide and continues to be downloaded to this day.  Although utility apps are Cheetah Mobile’s specialty, the company has begun to develop content and game apps. The CEO of Cheetah Mobile explained that utility apps are easier to design because they are not influenced by culture. With the company’s expansion into other countries, the biggest challenge Cheetah Mobile faces is developing a content app with a universal experience that can be enjoyed by people everywhere in the world.  Alternatively, the biggest challenge with designing game apps is the unreliability of the app’s life cycle. Since the success and therefore profitability of game apps is the most unpredictable out of all types of apps, Cheetah Mobile is investing in customer discovery to find what people like most about games.

After listening to the CEO speak we took a tour of the company building. What stuck out the most about the office space was how it revolved around workers’ comfort and happiness. There were some quirky aspects, like a slide that connected the first and second floors, a rock climbing wall, and a room filled with stuffed animals and various other colorful objects that the marketing department uses to inspire creativity. Personally, I liked Cheetah Mobile’s incorporation of a daycare center and breastfeeding rooms into their office space. As a woman who might one day be a working mother, I appreciated a company considering the needs of its female employees and not ostracizing them for having children.

After we visited Cheetah Mobile, we traveled to Microsoft where we took a tour of the company’s discovery center. In the center, we learned about some of the company’s products and current projects.

The main topic the Beijing branch of Microsoft is focusing on is data storage and analyzation. Microsoft recognizes traffic and pollution as some of the biggest issues in Beijing. At the center, we were showed software Microsoft has developed to display in real time and analyze the data they have collected on these issues.

I thought the most interesting part of the Microsoft visit was seeing their newest technology, the HoloLens, in action. The HoloLens is a pair of glasses that serve to create an augmented relity experience for the wearer. This means that the user will still be able to see and hear the world around them in addition to whatever is being projected by the glasses. As in engineer I found this technology especially interesting because it would allow for one to view a product prototype life size and 3-D. Additionally, it would allow for ease in augmentation with immediate results. I hope that this technology is something I will be able to use as a bioengineer; I feel that it would be especially useful when determining how a technology should be integrated into a human body, something that can’t necessarily be tested on a living being.



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