Jean-Charles Samuelian-Werve
Co-founder & CEO @ Alan
1 sept 2020Jean-Charles' Newsletters

Jean-Charles' newsletter: n°35


Chaque semaine, je partage quelques articles que j’ai trouvés particulièrement enrichissants. J’espère qu’ils vous aideront autant qu’ils m’ont aidé.


Cette semaine (entre autres) :

  • L’importance des inspirations extérieures pour Tencent
  • Croissance et revenus chez Robinhood
  • Babylon se lance en Chine
  • Bill Gates nous parle de la COVID
  • Transparence radicale sur la rémunération d’Alan (Les Échos)

Certains articles sont en français, la plupart sont en anglais (je copie certaines citations en anglais). Ils ne sont pas tous récents et vont au rythme de mes lectures.

Bonne lecture !

Si vous aimez, vous pouvez vous inscrire, partager (par email ou le blogpost) ou encore me suivre sur Twitter.

📱Monde des technologies

👉 Elon Musk a fait la démo de Neuralink sur des cochons et les avancées sont impressionnantes, même si pour l'instant ce n'est que de la « lecture » d'informations (TechCrunch).

👉 Tencent : l’histoire de leur lente et continue hégémonie en Chine, et l’importance des inspirations extérieures (Not Boring)

  • The Chinese pager-based internet service that Pony Ma launched in 1998. (...) WeChat, has 1.2 billion users, and those users spend more time in the app every day than Americans spend on all social media apps combined.
  • As Tencent was building its pager-based internet, Ma noticed the Israeli internet communication tool and Instant Messenger competitor ICQ, which sold to AOL in 1998, and decided to build a version for the Chinese market. Creatively, he called it OICQ, and built distribution and features necessary to serve customers who didn’t own personal computers, but increasingly accessed them in internet cafes.
  • Users quadrupled every three months. After nine months, OICQ hit one million users.
  • They were running out of money, so Ma launched a dual-track process to either sell the company or raise money. (...) With no acquirer, Ma sold 40% of Tencent to early US-based Chinese venture investor IDG Capital and Yingke, a fund led by Chinese billionaire Li Kashing’s son, for $2.2 million.
  • Server costs continued to increase as the company crossed 100 million users with no revenue model. (...) Then, in 2001, the South African firm Naspers (literally) walked in the door and offered to invest at a $60 million valuation. So that Ma didn’t lose majority ownership, IDG sold 12.8% of its 20% and Yingke sold its entire stake for an 11x gain (not bad!), giving Naspers 32.8% of the company for $19.68 million. Today, that investment is worth $205 billion, good for a 10,436x return!
  • In 2002, a product manager discovered the Korean company, which monetized by allowing users to create personalized avatars. Tencent built its own version.
  • To this day, “Value Added Services” generate more than 3x the revenue for Tencent than “Online Advertising.”
  • In 2003, Tencent hit a $100 million run rate and moved beyond messaging by building a portal, like a Chinese AOL. The team also realized that a lot of its users were chatting on QQ while playing games in internet cafes, so it added games to the QQ platform, both by acquiring small studios and building games in-house. Within a year, games added another $50 million in annual revenue.
  • After completing its IPO, Tencent hired the Goldman Sachs investment banker who took it public, Martin Lau. (...) With Lau and Zhang on board, Tencent grew rapidly via desktop games and the QQ platform. Its revenue jumped 15x from $200 million in 2005 to $2.9 billion in 2010.
  • In 2010, early in the rise of mobile, Zhang noticed the popularity of Canadian messaging company called Kik, and convinced Ma to let him build a Chinese version for Tencent. The next seven years changed the trajectory of the company.
  • 2011: Working around the clock with a small team, Zhang launched Weixin in January. English speakers know it as WeChat.
  • Launching “Friends Nearby,” which was like an early version of Tinder. WeChat began adding 100k users per day.
  • 2012: WeChat hit 100 million users. It took 433 days to hit that mark. By comparison, it took QQ ten years, Facebook 5.5 years, and Twitter 4 years. In April, WeChat launched the Moments newsfeed and Official Accounts, allowing publishers to distribute content and businesses to distribute products and services.
  • 2017: WeChat launched Mini Programs, allowing businesses to build full-functionality apps within the WeChat platform. Companies like Pinduoduo build on top of WeChat and tap into all of its customers’ existing social and professional networks. Mini Programs turn WeChat into a “super app,” and are the inspiration behind Snap Minis.
  • Over the past decade, Lau and his team have acquired or invested in over 700 companies, funded by the massive pools of cash Tencent’s gaming division and WeChat spit off. (...) Did you know that Tencent owns 5% of Tesla, 12% of Snap, and 9% of Spotify (including a stake through Tencent Music)?
  • Pony Ma and Tencent share the characteristics common among the most successful CEOs, and take some to extremes (...) “None gave Wall Street guidance” (Tencent doesn’t offer earnings or revenue outlooks), “Almost all opportunistically used share buybacks”, “All employed a decentralized operating structure in their firms”, “Almost all opportunistically made acquisitions”, “they were personally frugal”….

👉 L’histoire de Robinhood et comment ils génèrent croissance et revenu (Forbes)

  • The firm has added more than 3 million accounts since January, a 30% rise, and it expects revenue to hit $700 million this year, a 250% spike from 2019.
  • For the first time ever, according to Goldman Sachs, options speculators like the ones Robinhood has cultivated have caused single-stock option-trading volumes to eclipse common-stock trading volumes, surging an unprecedented 129% this year.
  • Robinhood has raised $800 million from venture investors, ultimately giving it a staggering $11.2 billion valuation.
  • The most obvious—and disruptive—innovation: no commissions and no minimum balances, at a time when even low-cost rivals like E-Trade and TD Ameritrade made billions on such fees.
  • Initially, Tenev and Bhatt used the allure of exclusivity to capture interest. For their 2013 launch, they restricted access, building up a 50,000-person waiting list. Then they turned the velvet rope into a game, telling prospective users they could move up the waitlist by referring friends. By the time they launched on Apple’s App Store in 2014, Robinhood had a waitlist of 1 million users. They had spent virtually nothing on marketing.
  • A sizable chunk of its $800 million in fresh venture capital is going toward upgrades and adding engineers to the 300 already on staff.

🏯Construire une entreprise

👉 What You'll Wish You'd Known (Paul Graham)

  • Don't give up.
  • Don't think that you can't do what other people can.
  • If you're wondering what you're doing now that you'll regret most later, that's probably it.
  • Curiosity turns work into play. For Einstein, relativity wasn't a book full of hard stuff he had to learn for an exam. It was a mystery he was trying to solve. So it probably felt like less work to him to invent it than it would seem to someone now to learn it in a class.
  • That's what you need to do: find a question that makes the world interesting. People who do great things look at the same world everyone else does, but notice some odd detail that's compellingly mysterious.
  • The way to get a big idea to appear in your head is not to hunt for big ideas, but to put in a lot of time on work that interests you, and in the process keep your mind open enough that a big idea can take roost.
  • Put in time how and on what? Just pick a project that seems interesting: to master some chunk of material, or to make something, or to answer some question. Choose a project that will take less than a month, and make it something you have the means to finish. Do something hard enough to stretch you, but only just, especially at first.
  • A key ingredient in many projects, almost a project on its own, is to find good books. (...) You have to search actively for the tiny number of good books.
  • The important thing is to get out there and do stuff. Instead of waiting to be taught, go out and learn.

🏥 Santé

👉 Babylon profite de son investissement avec Tencent pour aller en Chine (Xin Hua).

👉 Bill Gates sur la COVID (Wired & Bloomberg) Vaccine:

  • The initial vaccine won’t be ideal in terms of its effectiveness against sickness and transmission. (...) In 2021, a number of other vaccines are very likely to get approved. The strongest response will probably come from the protein subunit.
  • This disease, from both the animal data and the phase 1 data, seems to be very vaccine preventable.
  • And that makes me feel like, for the rich world, we should largely be able to end this thing by the end of 2021, and for the world at large by the end of 2022. That is only because of the scale of the innovation that’s taking place.

Economy: It’ll take you years beyond that before you’d even get back to where you were at the start of 2020.


  • There’s this thing where the health worker jams the deep turbinate, in the back of your nose, which actually hurts and makes you sneeze on the healthy worker. We showed that the quality of the results can be equivalent if you just put a self-test in the tip of your nose with a cotton swab.
  • Because of what we have done at FDA, you can buy these cheaper swabs that are available by the billions. So anybody who’s using the deep turbinate now is just out of date. It’s a mistake, because it slows things down.
  • The majority of all US tests are completely garbage, wasted.

💚 Les publications d’Alan et sur Alan

👉 Je prendrai la parole pour le lancement du ComptaLab Tour le 2 septembre (compta online) : ComptaLab accompagne les experts-comptables (plus de 1 000 cabinets aujourd’hui) dans leur transformation digitale.

👉 Alan, pionnier de la transparence appliquée à la rémunération en France (Les Échos) : chez Alan, tous les salaires sont connus, et tous les Alaners sont propriétaires de l’entreprise.

📕 Aidez moi à battre Elon Musk en précommandant Healthy Business !

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