Editor’s note: This article is from the micro-channel public number “Tech Planet” (ID: tech618), Author: Zhang Yuting, 36 krypton release authorized.
The Ant Financial Group, which was established 6 years ago, was renamed in a low-key manner.
On the morning of June 22, Tech Planet (WeChat ID: tech618) found that on various social platforms and official channels, the name of “Ant Financial” has been changed to “Ant Group”.
According to sources close to Ant, the full name of Ant has been changed from “Zhejiang Ant Small and Micro Financial Services Group Co., Ltd.” to “Ant Technology Group Co., Ltd.” after approval by the State Administration of Market Supervision and Administration.change.
In addition to the daily applications such as Alipay, Yu’ebao, Huabei, Jibei, Sesame Credit, Hubao, etc., the name “Golden Clothes” is removed, and the positioning of “Technology Company” with Ant has been no longer in violation.sense.
Regarding the renaming, Ant Group responded to Tech Planet that “The new name means that we will fully serve the needs of social and economic digital upgrades, but Ant is still that ant, insisting on innovation and using technology to create global consumers and small and micro enterprises.Value is our constant original intention.”
From Alipay, TechFin, to the digital life open platform, Ant’s business seems to have been “embracing change.”However, throughout its development process, there is always an important technology line: from e-commerce, payment, opening up to globalization, technology has always been the gene of ants.
In the first half of this year, ants acted frequently.The first is that on March 10th, three months ago, Alipay was revised and upgraded to an open platform for digital life. The homepage highlights local life applications.Immediately after that, on World Ocean Day, Ant announced that it would conduct independent corporate operations of its self-developed database product OceanBase.
In an interview with the media last year, Jing Xiandong, chairman of Ant Group, described one of the company’s three changes: innovation and output of financial technology.
Jing Xiandong, Chairman of Ant Group
According to market public information, the proportion of ant technology income is getting higher and higher.Forecasts show that by 2021, the proportion of ants’ income from technical services will increase to 65%.In other words, the income composition of ants is increasingly dependent on technical services.
With a valuation of more than 150 billion U.S. dollars and a technology unicorn with a user base exceeding 1.2 billion, what changes are taking place?
More than financial industry
In 2017, Xu Hui, who joined Sesame Credit from Baidu, found that there is no way to open the door to credit equity without the support of the underlying technology.The key he found was blockchain technology.
The bottom of Sesame Credit is a centralized data model, but Xu Hui feels that the future data model may be decentralized or multi-centralized.In 2018, he switched from Sesame Credit to join the Ant Blockchain team that was established in 2015 as the chief product architect of Ant Blockchain.
Unlike many technical people, although as an architect, Xu Hui directly faces customers in judicial, lease, and copyright businesses.This is exactly the unique technology and business road of Ant Blockchain, and it is also the road of development of technology and business of Ant.
The ant blockchain was originally presented in the form of financial technology, but today the scope of application is not only in the financial industry.It is understood that the ant blockchain technology has been implemented in more than 50 scenarios. It can technically support 1 billion account sizes, 1 billion transactions per day, and 100,000 cross-chain information processing (PPS) per second.At present, there is no second company in the industry to realize.
The Ant Blockchain R&D technical team was originally established in 2015. As a result of seeing the important value of blockchain in solving business trust, this small R&D team applied blockchain in the field of public welfare, the first public welfare block.The chain is used to solve the problem that donors do not know where their donations go.This can be regarded as the earliest attempt to develop the ant blockchain business.
Ant Blockchain Team
But companies like Ant on the market who insist on making technological value become a minority.Around 2017, the blockchain industry was during the impetuous period of issuing coins and getting rich overnight, but the ants made a choice early in the issue of “air coins”. Jing Xiandong emphasized on various occasions: ants do not doICO must fall into the real economy, serve the national economy and people’s livelihood, and create a real value.
Ant’s positioning of the blockchain focuses on: serving the real economy, technology must be linked to the application of the real industry.
“Ant with such a large volume, do you issue coins?” “If you don’t issue coins, forget it.”
Without issuing coins, let some technical people who apply for the ant’s size and issuing coins be discouraged.I heard that ants do not issue “air coins”, and many people choose startups to join the job.
Not only applicants, but many customers are also concerned about whether ants can issue coins and whether they can issue coins using ant’s blockchain.If you get a negative answer, the customer is not interested.
It’s hard to imagine that the ants backed by Ali are not all smooth sailing on the blockchain.
“Between the end of 2017 and 2018, the blockchain was the hottest during this period, and we were the most difficult to recruit people.” Xu Hui, chief product architect of Ant Blockchain, recalled to Tech Planet (WeChat ID: tech618).
“At that time, the late-night dialogue of the investment tycoon had speculated the currency circle expectations very high. Everyone only saw the opportunity to get rich overnight. At this time, whether it is recruiting technical personnel, or recruiting products or businesses, it is very difficult.”
This is only one of the challenges.
Sending “Air Coins” is quicker and easier to generate income, but doing the underlying technology is a long-term slow job, and there may be no results.A large amount of investment in patent technology, manpower, and financial resources are required.
No one knows when to start making money.The only way to be a real entrepreneurial team is to motivate yourself with entrepreneurial methods. “When it is difficult, you need to carry it, maybe half depends on faith and half depends on hard work.” Xu Hui said, “But we feel that we are doing the right thing.Is valuable.”
Soon after, the ant blockchain saw a little light.During the peak circulation, the supervisory authorities banned ICOs and smashed the bubble of issuing coins.The accumulation of ants finally stood out.
At this time, customers began to think of ant blockchain technology first.Ants are the only few companies that have not been shaken by the issuance of coins and have been stuck in the chain.
Turning into a golden age of rapid development, the industry’s head customers began to find them.
“The determination of the upper level is very strong. This determination is from beginning to end, not waiting for some link in the middle to adjust.” The positioning of the ants on the blockchain is determined and clear from the beginning.The positioning of the blockchain is to solve the problem of trust, and use tamper-proof technology to solve the problems that exist in all walks of life.
“Because of trust, it is simple”, this is an old saying of Ali, and it is also the slogan imprinted on ants during Alipay.
Keep exploring the foundation of “trust” and exploring various technologies and products. All technologies are used to solve practical problems.
In 2018, many companies in the blockchain industry began to shrink and lay off employees.Instead, Ant Blockchain has become increasingly determined to increase its investment.
Customers also started to make progress.In 2018, Ant has some customers, and by 2019, customers will become more.It shows exponential growth.
From 2017 to 2018, in the two years without income, the blockchain team was like sitting on a cold bench.
“Because Ali actually has many similar stories in history, Alibaba Cloud and Taobao have been losing money in the early days. We comforted ourselves by saying that you see that all the very cattle businesses have experienced the darkest moments, so now we are also losing money.State.” Xu Hui and colleagues comforted themselves with an optimistic revolutionary spirit.
The influx of the first customer is like a dawn.
A leasing merchant, also a startup company, needs to avoid the risk of users not returning items in the deposit-free leasing model and reduce the bad debt rate.Solve the problem of trust through the blockchain and let users return it as scheduled.
Using blockchain to disrupt the industry, although the starting point is small, this rental company ignited the Ant blockchain team.
Subsequently, a large number of Alipay merchants were the first wave of transformation targets of the ant blockchain business.This wave of seed users Xinghuoliaoyuan.
In the process of external service, the most difficult is the large customers.If there is consensus, conversion is a matter of time.
The greater difficulty lies in whether customers agree with the value of blockchain.
Xu Hui felt that this was quite challenging.”The biggest challenge is to convince everyone to change. Realize that blockchain can change the existing way of working, including production relations.”
“I want to take a look, but I still don’t worry.”For customers in this state, the value of the blockchain is often not realized.
Whether an enterprise customer is willing to do this is an important watershed.
The blockchain is regarded as an incremental technology, but it is only increased by 5% to 10%. The meaning of the blockchain is not significant.
However, if you really want the blockchain to bring about 100% to 200% changes, you need to trial and error and pay costs, you need to completely reform the supply chain relationship, production, pipeline…
Is blockchain an acquired ant?
In the development process of Alibaba, from B2B to Taobao, Alibaba Cloud, and Ant, there has always been a new business opportunity behind, creating new value.
Ant technology layout.Tech Planet is organized according to public information
Blockchain has a chance to become the second half of ants, but it is still in its infancy, and it may take a little longer to grow up.
Conquer big B customers
On June 8, the independent company OceanBase, an independent research database of ants, was established. Many customers said to this newly established database company CEO Yang Bing: “This is a bonus item.”
OceanBase supports Alipay, online merchant banking and other businesses, after Taobao’s ultra-large-scale business scenarios, Alipay financial-level scenarios and Double 11 experience.
In March of this year, OceanBase was officially opened to the world through Alibaba Cloud.
In 2009, Yang Bing joined Ant Financial, and 11 years passed.In the first 10 years, Yang Bing and Yang Zhenkun’s team promoted the OceanBase business. Yang Bing was responsible for the middleware. His work supported the various needs of the business during the period when OceanBase was not yet mature.The two teams forged a profound fighting friendship.
Yang Bing’s direct reporting leadership, the former President of Alibaba Cloud and the current CEO of Ant Group, Hu Xiaoming (name: Sun Quan) joined, and brought the experience of Alibaba Cloud from a technical product to a commercially successful technology company into Ant.The current business has great guidance.
Hu Xiaoming, CEO of Ant Group
In 2016, Yang Bing began to participate in the whole process of ant technology opening.Previously, he was responsible for Ant Financial Cloud product technology.Start with technology and iterate your own business thinking.
Yang Bing told Tech Planet (WeChat ID: tech618) that he had signed several major customers with the sales team since the establishment of an independent company two or three weeks ago.
Independent companies are gaining the trust of “big B” (large to medium-sized enterprises to to B customers) customers.
“B major B customers, the most worried is not the technical capabilities of Internet companies, he thinks that technology is your strength; but you can understand to B, continue to do this thing, to ensure their business continuity”, Yang Bing thought.
According to public information, in 2017, OceanBase’s technical services began to be exported, commercial banks and insurance institutions such as CCB, Nanjing Bank, PICC Health Insurance, etc. went online, and they also supported the core systems of several payment platforms around the world.In addition, it also involved in transportation, railway and other fields.
Now, the operation of OceanBase as an independent company is a further clarification of Ant’s technology strategy.It is equivalent to giving customers the choice of ant technology, a better reason and firmer confidence.
“Many customers come here, and everyone comes to review your product again,” Yang Bing felt.
Another reason is TCP’s second list.
On May 21 this year, OceanBase in the international authoritative TPC-C test, performance data set a new record of 707 million tpmC, defending the world’s first database.Compared with the first defeat of Oracle in 2019, this achievement has achieved a nearly 12-fold increase in performance, which has made the outside world discover that OceanBase is really the “future” of the database.
Alipay OceanBase Performance
As with all the history of technical challenges, the development of OceanBase has not been smooth.
In 2010, Yang Zhenkun, Wang Jian’s old colleague at Microsoft Asia Research Institute, joined Alipay; in 2016, OceanBase replaced the Oracle database in Alipay’s core accounting system; in 2017, Ant went to IOE in full.
Like Alibaba Cloud, the early OceanBase team also faced the situation of being disbanded many times, not optimistic, and sitting on a cold bench.
On the eve of the “Double 11” in 2014, Alibaba’s CTO and the then Alipay CTO’s Lusu gave Yang Zhenkun the opportunity to undertake 10% of the flow.
At that time, Ant Financial CEO Peng Lei knocked on the door of the OceanBase war room.She asked: “Is Teacher Yang confident?”
In fact, Yang Zhenkun and the team are well equipped to undertake 100% transaction database.At the end of the year, the OceanBase project had won the Ant’s highest honor-CEO Award. The OceanBase team led by Yang Zhenkun had more than ten technologies. He wore a “local tyrant gold” badge and finally raised his eyebrows.
In 2016, OceanBase completed the complete replacement of the Oracle database in the Alipay core system.In the “Double 11” in 2019, the peak value of OceanBase database processing reached 61 million times per second.
Development history of OceanBase
When OceanBase was born, it was known as a financial-grade database, but today the goal is to cover the entire industry.Including companies with strong business continuity needs and localized alternative demand like the financial industry, some operator users have also emerged.
“What makes me more happy is that many ecological partners, some service providers around the database ecosystem, and some software companies in various fields have taken the initiative to find us.”
Yang Bing has many OSs in his heart.
“This is a database that we are very optimistic about. You are a distributed database with the potential to carry the banner of localization, and it is a new generation of domestic database companies that people are looking forward to.”
“You have taken this step. It is too right to set up an independent subsidiary. The decision is too correct. We very much look forward to your success.”
Hearing this, Yang Bing and the team were very happy, and there was indeed a little surprise.
For the independence of the company, those who strive for nothing in vain.
After the independent company, Ant became an important customer of the independent new company, which gave OceanBase more room for business imagination.
Technical chassis colors
Since its inception, ants have “started with technology.”
Its purpose is, on the one hand, technology inclusive; on the other hand, it is to make ant’s entire business ecology bigger, including ant financial cloud, database, middleware blockchain and other technologies are upholding, mature and openA strategy.
Grind technical products with harsh internal business scenarios, first apply a large number of internal ants, find out many problems, and break through the technical bottleneck.When the technology is mature, it becomes a subsidiary to come and go.This became the methodology of ant technology output.
Yang Bing talked to Tech Planet (WeChat ID: tech618) about his thoughts, “A good software is not made, it is used. Especially the underlying technology, such as the database operating system.”
The software design process needs to be verified through extensive use of sanding.The stability of the software and the complexity of the project will slowly converge to a stable state, and then open up to a large number of external customers.It takes time and process.
If asked in this process, what are the laws and advantages of ant’s technological development?
First, follow the laws of technology itself.When a common technology is developed to a certain degree, it is applied to more and wider scenarios, which can improve the stability, maturity and technical capabilities of the technology.
Secondly, companies with independent databases such as OceanBase can generate a lot of business collaborations with Alibaba Cloud within the big Ali system. When solving customer problems, they can form some combined solutions.You can also use Alibaba Cloud’s sales force and delivery forces all over the world.
As an independent company, it is open and not only limited to Alibaba Cloud partners when serving customers, this step is exquisitely designed.
A large number of talent exchanges and technical exchanges, including some ideas for reference, this is the Ali system, compared with the advantages of a single entrepreneurial team in thinking and breakthrough.
From an internal perspective, this is a continuation of the entire ant technology strategy.
From the financial cloud to the blockchain to the database, ants have always hatched new technologies in this way.These technologies are not technologies in the general sense, but technologies that can change the entire technology direction from the bottom, and even evolve to the next generation, generating intergenerational changes.
For ants, it is more a gene than a “technology”.
From the day Alipay was born, it began technical forging to “Double 11” training, this is the 1.0 stage of the ant technology process.
Between 2015 and 2018, it can be called the 2.0 era. During this period, the ants gradually opened up and used the technology on themselves and their partners.At the 2018 ATEC conference, Ant fully opened up financial technology, the proportion of technology income increased, and the technology advanced to the 3.0 stage.
Now, ants have entered the technology 4.0 stage.
Nearly 10,000 scientific and technological talents serve 1.2 billion users worldwide, and more than 63% of employees are technicians.
“Although Ant Financial has a comprehensive financial service function on its architecture, most of its early teams were actually technical and sales-based, and Lu Zhaoxi, the first CEO of Alipay, is not from a financial background and is not an industry expert.In a period of time, Alipay never even thought about doing financial-related things. Its growth path is very different from that of a typical traditional financial enterprise. In the face of new demands, this team always seems to be making new attempts.Looking for new tools to solve old contradictions. Growing out of business, and gradually becoming fuller in the gap between life scenes and user pain points.” Former Associate Professor of Finance Department of Guanghua School of Management, Peking University, PhD supervisor, financial scholar Xiang Shuai believes.
The book “Ant Financial: From Alipay to the New Financial Ecosystem” wrote: The output of technology has gradually become an important business of Ant Financial, and it is also an important “binder” that “connects” everything to Ant Financial.It is also an important link for Ant Financial to maintain high growth in the future.
One day in January 2017, Ma Yun, Zeng Ming, Zhang Jianfeng and other Alibaba Group executives and ant executives met.
“TechFin”, Ma Yun put forward a new concept at the conference, “Technology reshapes finance”.
“TechFin means that it is essentially a technology company, it is to use technology to empower financial institutions, which means that the first must focus on technology, and the second must be more open to serve financial partners.” Lu SuInterpret it.
“The first day of Ant Financial, the positioning is a technology company,” Jing Xiandong believes, “If you compare Ant Financial to a person, it is difficult to understand what happened after the age of 20 when you were 3 years old. Fortunately, weThere is a vision, and every step forward is being calibrated to understand the vision and our path to achieving it more clearly.”
Ant’s tentacles are sensitive. He is tracing back to the greener grass in the development of the underlying technology path.
(Reference articles: “Legends behind the OceanBase database”; “Ants do not want to be elephants”; “OceanBase: ants climb the stage”; “Long March to Technology”)