Exclusive Interview: Kenny Ye, Managing Director UCWeb India,UCWeb Browser’s India Plans

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Kenny Ye is the Managing Director of UCWeb’s India Office. He oversees the Indian operations and has been instrumental in setting up the Indian operations of UCWeb. Kenny is responsible for managing the relationship with key partners and is spearheading UCWeb’s growth plans in India market.

Kenny has over 7 years of technology consultancy and business development experience in telecommunication and mobile internet industry. He has significant experience in emerging market working directly with top operators and Internet companies. He is a keen observant of the mobile internet industry and understands the market dynamics very well. Prior to joining UCWeb he has worked in Huawei as Product Manager.

WD: What is UC Browser all about? What problem are you solving? Tell us some of the Interesting/Unique features of UC Web Browser?

Kenny : UC Browser is a mobile browser optimized to give you the best and the fastest experience of mobile internet. It is available for free download on all major app stores and supports all the major platforms. Our main USP is the ease of navigation that we provide to our users.

The main problem that we are solving is that of data saving, cost saving and speed improvement while accessing internet on the mobile.  Webpage compression saves data traffic, increase speed, saves cost. We are the pioneers of data compression technology and compress content to as much as 85% or more which helps users save on data usage while accessing the internet. Also, no one wants to remember and type the URL every time he wants to access any particular website. Cell phone has limited screen real estate and it’s not convenient to input, so people prefer to access websites with links or icons, which they can easily click to navigate.  Hence we provide the option to the user to pin his favorite or most frequently visited websites on his UC Browser home page.

Some of the interesting or unique features of UC Browser are:

1. Gestures

UC Browser allows you to control tabs with a two finger swipe. One can swipe down to add a tab, swipe up to close a tab and swipe left and right to switch between tabs.

2.  File Manager

One can access the file manager from Settings, allowing users to use simple file functions and customize the default download path.

 3. Reopen Closed Tabs

Users can click the button on the top left corner of the browser to see recently closed tabs. They can also click the URLs and you can reopen them.

 4. Omnibox

The browser will autofill the content when you are typing in the URL Bar and decide whether to open the URL or search the content as keywords.

5. Quick Reads

One can keep track of all the updates of your favorite sites in Quick Reads.

 6. Night Mode Brightness Adjustment

Users can move the slider to adjust the brightness for the night mode.

7. Speed Dial in Landscape Mode

When the screen is in landscape mode, the layout of Speed Dial will be reset according to the screen size.

 8.Smart Account Manager

It is convenient for users to manage multiple accounts for one website.

 9. Webpage Background Color Adjustment

Users get the choice to set set the color and the theme for the webpage background.

 10. Optimization on QR Code

UC Browser allows faster and more accurate to identification of QR codes. QR code scanning button has been moved to URL input interface and is easy to access.

WD: Tell us the story of how it started and the challenges you have faced globally and in India?

Kenny : UCWeb stands for U Can Web, which is the company’s mission. UCWeb aims to provide better mobile internet experience to billions of users around the world. UCWeb was founded by HE Xiaopeng and LIANG Jie, two engineers, in 2004. YU Yongfu was Vice President at a Venture Capital, overseeing investment in IT sector at that time.

Yongfu got to know HE and Liang in 2006 for the investment project and the three of them became friends along the way. Since Yongfu was convinced by the potential of UCWeb he approached his friend LEI Jun, a reputable entrepreneur in tech sector and an angel investor in China to invest UCWeb.

UCWeb started its operations back in 2004 in China. It’s important to note that when we started it was not a Smartphone era. Feature phones were very prevalent back then and accessing internet on feature phones was not very convenient.  Typing URL’s has always been a pain. Hence we knew that ease of navigation was going to be the main point which could determine whether or not the users take up to our browser. Our R&D team did research and came up with a list of websites that users like to access more often from their mobile phones. We then integrated some key websites on our navigation page. In 2009 we released our International version and released the UC Browser for the India market. Today we have a global user base of more than 300 million users which includes over 60 million users from outside China, bulk of whom originate from India.

WD: Who are the Founders and their backgrounds?

Kenny : UCWeb was founded by HE Xiaopeng and LIANG Jie, two engineers, in 2004. Yongfu was introduced to the project two years later in 2006 and was convinced about the future of the company. He is responsible for shaping the company and is also considered as one of the founders of the company.

HE Xiaopeng is the Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer of UCWeb Inc. and is in charge of the overall product design and R&D of the company.  He has extensive working experience in global companies and as an entrepreneur.  With exceptional experience in project management, consumer analysis, software development testing, and system building, HE has profound understanding of user needs in the mobile internet industry in China. Before joining UCWeb, HE worked as Technology Manager, Testing Manager, and Project Manager at AsiaInfo Technologies (China) Co., Ltd. HE received his Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from South China University of Technology in 1999.

LIANG Jie is the Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of UCWeb Inc. and is in charge of the overall technology R&D of the company.  With more than 10 years of experience in technology R&D and project management, Liang has thorough knowledge in the telecom and internet industries in China. Before joining UCWeb, LIANG worked in the R&D department for large scale email systems as Senior Software Engineer and R&D Manager at AsiaInfo Technologies (China) Co., Ltd Guangzhou office.  Under his leadership, the team developed a series of telecom application software which became best selling products in the market.  LIANG’s team was also awarded one of AsiaInfo’s best R&D team. LIANG received his Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from South China University of Technology in 1998.

YU Yongfu currently serves as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of UCWeb Inc. and is in charge of the overall strategic planning and operations of the company. With exceptional experience in strategic planning and venture capital investment, YU has insights in the telecom, Internet, and new media industries in China. Prior to joining UCWeb in 2006, YU worked at Legend Capital as a founding employee in early 2001, overseeing projects in telecom, new media, internet, and mobile internet, and was later promoted to Investment Manager, and then Vice President in 2003. YU received his Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from the College of International Business, Nankai University in 1999.

 WD: How is UC Browser so different when there are already other Mobile Browsers available?

Kenny : We are the pioneers in cloud computing technology. Our navigation and UI is our biggest asset. Since we work on the internet model we are able to improve our product and come up with an improved version every 4-6 weeks.

WD: What technology platform is UC Browser built on? How can one download?

Kenny : UC Browser supports all major platform OS starting from Java & Symbian to Android and the latest Windows OS. It is available for download on all major app stores under free apps category. It is also available for download on our official website www.ucweb.com. In addition to this you can also find the download link on the mobile sites of our various partners across domains.

WD:  What initiatives are you planning in the next 2-3 years in India?

Kenny :Currently our focus is to build and enhance our user base in India. Our success and adoption rate in India has been quick and very encouraging. We aim to continue with the same enthusiasm. In terms of reach we aim to pre-install our browser of any upcoming model of Indian handset manufacturer and also go through the operator route, something we have not tried so far. We are already in the discussion mode with both the handset manufacturers and operators and once the agreement is finalized we will announce the same.

 WD: What is your Marketing/Promotional approach in India? What value are you providing your customers/users/partners?

Kenny : We truly believe that the success of a product like ours depends on the user experience. Our existing users are our ambassadors who would either recommend or thrash the product in their review/feedback. Their feedback makes all the difference in determining whether his friends will also start using it or not. Word of mouth has worked very well for us in the past and we intend to continue with this promotional approach in the future as well. As far as marketing is concerned we work with our partners who promote us on their wapsites in exchange of traffic from us.

This model works both for our partners and our users as partners get the traffic on their wapsites and users gets to access the most relevant content that he is looking for.

WD : Did you raise any funding?

Kenny : YU Yongfu, the current CEO of UCWeb was Vice President at a venture capital firm, overseeing investment in 2006. UCWeb was introduced to him as an investment project to him by HE Xiaopeng and LIANG Jie, the two engineers who developed UCWeb in 2004. Since Yongfu was convinced by the potential of UCWeb he approached his friend LEI Jun, a reputable entrepreneur in tech sector and angel investor in China to fund UCWeb.

Yongfu’s strong background as an investor, UCW enabled him to raise more funding from top Venture Capitals like GGV Capital, Morningside Ventures, Ceyuan Ventures, Nokia Growth Partners and Alibaba.com at a later stage.

WD:  What is the overall plan going forward?

Kenny : Our focus and goal is to provide our users the best internet experience on their mobile devices. We always strive to improve on our providing to continually match the expectations of our users.

If you have questions for Kenny do put it on the comments box below.

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Sidhaartha is a seasoned professional in the New Media space, a technology enthusiast & blogger with 12 years of experience across Internet, Mobile,Connected TV, Social,Location Based Services & Commerce.

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