Software giant Microsoft has selected 10 Chinese companies for an early batch of its business incubation program — affiliated with its cloud computing platform Windows Azure — that will build, host and scale web applications through Microsoft data centers. Pengfei Chen, CEO of MySpace in China, has caught attention in the internet community, according to a report by the technology news site of Chinese web portal Sina. Chen has also formed a team around a company called Atom, which is to offer corporate services based on Windows Azure.
Chen was born in 1988, to a family noted for its skill in the ancient martial art of Tai Chi. He won championships in several international tournaments for the discipline. With an aim to broaden his horizons, he chose to pursue advanced studies in finance at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.
He worked as an intern at China's Ministry of Finance in late 2007. Chen, who has built a habit of using social networks like Facebook and Twitter, found the ministry's computer systems highly inefficient. His internship prompted him to think deeper about computing solutions for large organizations.
Through his acquaintance Jon Miller, CEO of Digital Media at News Corp — the media conglomerate that bought MySpace in 2005, before selling it in June 2011 — Chen was introduced to the board of directors at MySpace China. Searching for new business directions in the Chinese market, the board appointed Chen CEO of MySpace China in June 2011.
The site was suspended in October of the same year. Prospective visitors are now met with a "coming soon" notice.
Meanwhile, Chen has gradually built up a team made up of classmates that have worked on Wall Street or in Silicon Valley. He decided to keep the name of MySpace China for the new operations in the Chinese market, both for convenience and to avoid administrative hassles.
In addition to the resources offered by MySpace, Chen has been seeking support from outside for richer development resources. One potential project he has selected is the Windows Azure platform, which he thinks is more stable than the cloud hosting solutions offered by retail powerhouse Amazon in China. He declined to reveal details about the business focus and products to be offered by his Atom team.
Chen has said the style of business operations will comply with the principles of "natural balance," similar to the core concept behind Tai Chi. Atom is still busy developing its products and refining its business model. But it has invited interested customers for services scheduled to launch in September, Chen said.
He revealed that the software products to be developed by the team will not be sold to customers, but will enable them to utilize the system "from bottom up" in coordination with groups of coworkers via handsets.
Some analysts say, however, that the new ventures affiliated with the Windows Azure platform will face tough competition in the Chinese market.