INVESTMENT LIFE – CHAPTER 39

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INVESTMENT LIFE Translations

INVESTMENT LIFE – CHAPTER 39


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Their speed going back was twice as fast as the trip in. In the sky, the sun had just set and the two were sitting in an elegant private room in a hotel. This time, without any outsiders present, the atmosphere between them was more harmonious than before. After ordering their meal, Xiao Junyi leaned back in his chair and looked at the teenager in front of him with great interest.

“Why are you suddenly interested in this?”

At this time, Chen Yuanming’s excitement had dissipated, and his former calm had been restored. Hearing this question, he smiled a little.  Yes, if PHS was a flash of inspiration produced by the influence of the military factory, then VCD was too far ahead. If he had remembered correctly, VCD prototypes had not even appeared yet, let alone become popular or hot. Further, the sales of similar video and laser recorders in China were just so-so. Even if he could think ahead, it was impossible to predict this. As such, how to make his future partners trust him would be the key to this problem.

He stopped rubbing his fingers gently over the rim of the teacup, and after flashing a restrained smile he replied seriously, “Because you said, replace.”

His words were simple and concise, yet meaningful. But Xiao Junyi was slightly stunned. Is that all?

Seeing Xiao Junyi’s slightly doubtful expression, Chen Yuanming no longer kept him guessing, “Don’t underestimate the word replacement. In the past, audio recorders replaced the radio, how much did manufacturing rise as a result of that? How big of a profit margin was created after the tape recorder was replaced by the CD player? “

As if he was consolidating his own thoughts, the speed at which Chen Yuanming spoke was not fast, but it was extremely well organized.

“In modern society, knowledge is growing explosively. It took only a century for the telephone and television to mature. From Vinyl records, to cassettes, to cd discs … In the past 50 years, audio reading and writing has undergone several changes. Each update is an unprecedented opportunity. If you do not seize it, you will be eliminated by the times. This is no longer the closed-door model of the past millennium. Imitation is no longer effective, and innovation is everything. If there is now something that can replace expensive and cumbersome video tapes and laser discs, I am willing to be first in line in order to become the one who eats crabs[1].”

Listening carefully and pondering the meaning of this remark, Xiao Junyi did not reply immediately. Without his input, for certain things, even if Chen Yuanming had ideas and wishes, it could not be achieved according to his expectations. The issue now was not whether the cake was delicious or not, but whether the owner of the cake was willing to give up part of his cake to others.

After thinking for a while, he shook his head. “The idea is indeed good, but as far as I know, the owners have invested considerable money into the development of VCD, even if you have money, they may not accept you. Doing business is not like stock trading. It is not something that can simply be accomplished with money and a vision. It also requires more complicated things, such as connections, technology, and management capabilities.”

And I’m afraid you don’t even have one of these …

Though he did not speak these words out loud, Chen Yuanming understood his meaning and shook his head slightly. He said frankly, “What I want is not holding power, or decision-making power, or even actual control over a company, but an investment point. One that enables me to use the huge wealth in my hand and double its growth.  Moreover, it’s not that I am blindly optimistic about this project, If I am to inject capital into this project, I must see the people in charge of it and talk to them personally. They must meet my expectations before I can take the next step. Simply put, it is venture capital.”

As a son of the Business School of the National People’s Congress, how can he not understand what “venture capital” meant. Looking at the teenager in surprise, Xiao Junyi just felt that the emotions in his chest were difficult to express. In fact, the boy in front of him looked like he had not fully matured. Both his figure and his appearance were completely green. At a glance, he looked like a teenager. However, his behavior was completely different. His eyes were filled with a maturity and firmness that did not match his age. It seemed like the world he was saw was not the same as that of ordinary people but rather, he saw a more direct and clear vision that could be grasped in one hand.

Do you want to help him? This question only flashed for a moment and Xiao Junyi laughed. What can I actually help with? He was just a bridge. But disregarding everything else, just because of his curiosity about Chen Yuanming alone, he had to do him this “small favor”. After all, did he not want to see how far this strange kid could go?

Seeing the smile on Xiao Junyi’s lips, Chen Yuanming’s hanging heart fell to the ground. In fact, he was not as confident as he had showed. In the next ten years, China’s VCD manufacturing industry will face numerous difficulties and obstacles, and everything was rooted in the hidden dangers when the first VCD product was launched. Now that he had the opportunity to trace its origin, it was not only an opportunity, but also a challenge. Currently, he was only facing the first hurdle and the question was whether he could reshape this VCD empire and use it as an opportunity to begin a prelude to the electronic age. He needed to take things step by step.

If it was successful, would it not be a great cause which benefited the people and the country?  

*****

That night, Xiao Junyi contacted his uncle. After reporting the incident, there was a long silence on the other end of the phone. After a long time, Xiao Yun’s voice which was filled with emotion came through the receiver.  

“He can think so far just by hearing the term “replace”. What else can I say … OK, let’s help him. Although it is a bit disappointing that it is not the Xiao family that will be cooperating with Yuanming in the end.”

The long-distance call signal was poor, and the sound a little fuzzy, but the regret in his voice could not be mistaken.

Xiao Junyi did not miss the main point in his uncle’s words, not “you” but “us”. This matter had changed from his personal relationship to the Xiao family’s payback to Chen Yuanming. Even in the near future, they will try their best to shelter the undeveloped VCD industry. Regardless of whether Chen Yuanming wanted to or not, he had successfully boarded the Xiao family ship. It was just that this unexpected first step was so amazing.

After thinking about it, Xiao Junyi turned to another question, “Today when I heard Yuanming talk about the issue of replacement, It suddenly occurred to me that when a new generation of products are made, won’t the “BP machine” be directly eliminated?”

The BP machine, that is, the pager, was a standard accessory for fashionable people in this era. They could connect to a paging station by phone and then send messages to the person they wanted to reach. If this was strictly defined, it could be considered to have achieved the goal of “semi-mobility”.

Xiao Yun, on the opposite side of the line was silent for a few seconds, and laughed out loud, “You also realized it? Recently, I was discussing this problem with your dad. We have a pager production line, but in the long run, as soon as the mobile phone appears, it will inevitably be eliminated. Fortunately, our production line is not large and can be stopped and diverted before and after the emergence of new products. Currently, this thing is on fire and we are not worried about being able to sell it.”

After hearing his uncle’s explanation, Xiao Junyi was relieved. This was the advantage of a family business. If someone failed to think of something, another will always fill in the gap. He still had more to learn. Only, that younger kid, would he also experience negligence and omissions? Hanging up the phone, Xiao Junyi paused for a short while, and then made another call. It didn’t matter. This time, he would be with Chen Yuanming. If the other party couldn’t think of something he would be there to help, right?

Three days later, after relevant matters were concluded. Xiao Junyi and Chen Yuanming both got on the plane and embarked on a journey.

*****

Sitting at home, Meng Lisheng[2] looked anxiously at the quartz clock hanging on the wall. After receiving that call two days ago, he had been in such a strange state of irritability. It was not a secret among friends and relatives that he was developing VCDs, but it had taken him a whole year and just when his work was about to show results, a stranger, who was willing to invest, suddenly appeared. This surprise caused him to feel a little frustrated.

In any era, scientific research was a very costly thing. To turn an invention into a practical product, you needed not only technology and talents, but also sufficient financial resources. After so many years of working for a research institute, he could be regarded as having some small savings, but the development of VCD had burned nearly half a million yuan in a year, and this was merely the initial costs. In future, the establishment of a company, building an enterprise, the establishment of production lines, hiring of employees, and even publicity, which of these things did not require money? At present, the only real collaborators in this project were himself and Professor Yan[3], one of the founders of MPEG format. The combined assets of the two together was only 10 to 20 million yuan. These financial constraints meant that they needed bank loans or risked running out of money.

But even so, they had no plans to find investors. Banks would charge interest, but partners won’t. A capital injection meant that management rights will be thinned out, and huge profits will be exploited. If the partners were not reliable, they could also face incalculable losses. They did not intend to take this risk.

However, the investor who appeared this time was beyond their imagination. On the one hand, it was borne of the affection brought by kinship, on the other hand, it was the temptation of “venture capital”. Nowadays, in Europe and the United States, venture capital was also a modern industry. There was no interest, no mortgage, and no repayment. You just put the money into the industry that you are optimistic about, and exchange high risks for high returns. If it succeeds, it’s a huge profit, if it fails you get nothing. For entrepreneurs, such a model was certainly better, but for investors, it was indeed a gamble.

It was just a question of whether this investor could make such a big decision, and the kind of return his so-called “venture capital” needed to realize. On the phone, he had also heard the kid from Xiao family say that this time the investor was very young, and that the money basically comes from profits from the stock market. Could such a person really be trusted?

With so many thoughts in his head, he couldn’t make a decision at this moment. Meng Lisheng got up, poured himself a cup of strong tea, and continued staring at the quartz clock.

After getting off the plane, Chen Yuanming chose to ride the bus as usual to arrive at his destination. Xiao Junyi shrugged, and reluctantly followed.

Along the way, the two talked for a long time discussed various issues. Today Xiao Junyi had finally gained some control over the topic of conversation, but this small talk could not satisfy his strong curiosity. Standing behind Chen Yuanming, he looked at the things in the other’s hand very curiously. He was carrying two big boxes. It was right after the Lantern Festival, true, but was he not here to talk about business this time? Why did he bring this kind of gift box? What the hell was this boy thinking …

However, when he had asked Chen Yuanming what was in the box, the boy just smiled slyly, “This is just a clever trick.”

Rolling his eyes toward the sky, Xiao Junyi pursed his lips and didn’t ask any more. After spending nearly an hour conversing and walking, the two finally arrived at their destination. The developer of VCD, Meng Lisheng, was the cousin of Xiao Junyi’s uncle. Their relationship was a little bit convoluted, but at any rate he would be catching up with a relative. Standing outside the door, the doorbell rang, and the sound of footsteps came from within. A short while later, the door was opened, and a figure appeared in front of the two.

“Uncle Meng, Happy New Year.” Xiao Junyi put on a proper smile. But the other person’s gaze didn’t stop on him at all, rather his eyes widened and looked behind him.

Chen Yuanming also smiled and extended his right hand. “Hello Mr. Meng, I’m Xiao Junyi’s friend named Chen Yuanming.”

Xiao Junyi’s friend, Chen Yuanming … Meng Lisheng did not respond for a long time. It was not until he was prodded by his wife who was behind him that he started in agitation. This was the investor they had discussed over the phone, but … could this be described as “young”? This was obviously a child!

What went wrong? He stretched out his hand blankly. As Meng Lisheng clenched that warm palm, his heart was confused.


The author has something to say:

Note that this chapter has begun to deal with real characters. In order to be less shameful, I will use a pseudonym, I hope everyone understands.


Translator’s Notes

Meng Lingshen’s first reaction to CY makes Xiao Yun seem open minded in comparison. He didn’t seem so surprised when CY was selling him the stock market vouchers.

A big thank you to all who have donated on Ko-Fi since my last post. Alice, McJohnston, Lenette, unnamed Kofi-Supporters 1 and 2, Amudo Bun and Susan. I really appreciate you all.

Also please let me know if you find any errors in the post. Thanks


[1] The phrase “the first one to eat crab” is used to praise someone who is brave and enterprising and takes initiative to try something first.

[2] The real life equivalent for this character may be Jiang Wanmeng, the founder of Wanyan Company, who led the invention of the world’s first VCD player. This link is informational and discusses the problems our MC alluded to in earlier paragraphs: https://lujuba.cc/en/347504.html

Jian Wanmeng

[3] This might also be referring to Sun Yansheng, a Chinese American who collaborated with Jian Wanmeng to introduce the VCD software and player to china.


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3 Comments on INVESTMENT LIFE – CHAPTER 39Tagged , , , ,
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MariAkki
MariAkki
2 months ago

Thank you for the chapter!

Tarek
Tarek
2 months ago

I’ll point out an error but keep in mind english is not even my first language … haha

After so many years of working for a research institute, he could be regarded as have some small savings, … – as having?

Thank you for the chapter!

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