The World of a Young Network Engineer

High salary, low education background, post-80s… These keywords became labels of Lin Xinglu, who has grown from a “child labor” of Internet companies into a webmaster of personal portal website.

When Web 2.0 came back to life after a period of silence, Lin Xinglu dropped a blockbuster in the market, P.cn. Then he quietly waited to witness people’s reaction to his masterpiece. Perhaps not many people have noticed this low-key young man, but he is building up his career kingdom step by step.

Maybe Lin is not as famous as Dai Zhikang, nor as rich as him, but Lin’s extraordinary experiences have already impressed everyone.

When Lin is at 27 years old, he has been in IT field for 10 years, and becomes CTO of 165.com, even though he just finished the first year of schooling in junior high school. He has rich working experiences. He worked for InfoHighway at the age of 17, hopped to China Motion in 1999, Launched IT writing community DoNews.com in 2000, joined Hi-Tech Wealth in 2001, and founded Smartphone in 2003. His main achievements include Bytemen personalized website, China Mobile SMS application gateway transformation, enterprise information acquisition system, embedded-based application development, and during 1999-2004, Lin developed independently developed software search engine, FTP search engine project and enterprise competitive intelligence system.

With such stunning talent and capacity, this young man definitely catches everyone’s attention.

My father bought me the first computer

Lin is young and handsome, a little bit shy. But when he is talking, he is confident and talkative. I think it has something to do with years of blogging. Some people think that he looks like a Hong Kong star Daniel Chan at the first glance, while some reporters think he is more like a Taiwan star called Jimmy Lin. Anyhow, it’s hard to connect this cultured and intelligent person with a lack of high education.

It’s said that there is a story widespread in Lin’s hometown. There are two people, one knows how to read, the other doesn’t. Then they went to a place with a sign said, “No crab catching here.” The one who can read left, but the other one got a lot of crabs back home. This kind of situation is common in Lin’s hometown that those who are knowledgeable seem useless, and that those who do business and make a big fortune matter. Therefore I could say that his parents were not regretful or sad about his dropping out.

What make this drop-out boy become a well-known network engineer of InfoHighway in Shenzhen branch? Who changed his life path as a child labor into a network engineer of China Motion two years later? I think it’s his father’s wisdom and resolution that fulfill his successful life.

In the early 1990s, Lin’s father spent a great deal of money (6,700RMB) at that time in buying a new computer to him, which his mother was strongly against. But his father was determined to do that, which was crucial in fostering their genius son. When Lin remembered the scene that his parents fought for the computer after 7 years, his heart was filled with gratitude. “If my dad didn’t buy that computer, I would never reach where I am standing now. I will probably become a retailing boss in the end.”

The young network engineer of InfoHighway

In January, 1997, Lin started using the Internet. There were not many netizens at that time. Lin got acquainted with one of them who turned out to be someone influenced his rest career pathway. That is Song Yizhi, general manager of InfoHighway in Shenzhen branch. InfoHighway is the earliest private enterprise engaged in ISP in China. There were eight branches in eight cities of China. It was headquartered in Beijing, with more than 500 employees. It can be called the Huangpu Military Academy of Chinese Internet world.

One day, Lin sent Song a message through WorldGroups client software of InfoHighway, telling Song that he was looking for a job and maybe he would go to a computer company in Shekou. Surprisingly, Song offered Lin to his company, InfoHighway.

In 1997, 17-year-old Lin entered marketing department as a technical support. Soon later, he became a network engineer in the operation department, with his constant efforts.

This talented young man self taught all knowledge about IT, and he made clear of every kind of servers. In addition to daily work, he often developed some CGI programs at the same time.

“In 1997, I was just 17 years old. Many people called me the child labor. But because of the appreciation of Song, I got the chance to work in InfoHighway and I didn’t let him down.” Lin said.

It was his courage and passion that drove him to seek a better stage to develop. After leaving InfoHighway, Lin hopped to China Motion. And later he changed to Hi-tech Wealth, then Smartphone in Wu Han. In 2004, Lin started his business. With a group of five people, the business ended up as a failure because the accountant had been cooking the books for a while.

Talents need a chance meeting

Who helped this young man without good education and family background to enter such a successful company and to reach those high positions? In addition to his own talent and efforts, it’s the vital people who gave him the chance that changed Lin’s life.

“Song Yizhi was my mentor. He helped me to cross the second turning point of my life in IT era.” Lin spoke highly of this working experience, and he won the title of Youth Network Engineer during that time period. “Being the youngest employee did have some benefits, for example, everyone treated me nicely, taught me wisdom of life and allowed me to make mistakes. Of course, life is not just a box of candy. There was once a misunderstanding due to a different point of view, which made me want to leave. But I thought I couldn’t leave with a label of no professional ethics, so I need clean up the end well before I left.”

Song called and sent email to Lin to explain the misunderstanding between them. Lin suddenly realized that Song was constantly helping him and empowering him. It was this man who gave him a significant chance and nurtured him. Lin cried with gratitude.

In 2001, Lin joined Hi-tech Wealth, and met another important figure, Chan Xuetao. Chan invited Lin to develop wireless and Internet tech into this traditional enterprise that just had risen up to make electronic products. Thus, Chan persuaded the board to hire this young man without an appealing education background but is well-experienced in Internet and wireless network area.

Lin has worked for all those successful companies. After InfoHighway, once the leader of domestic Internet companies, and then China Motion, Lin entered another successful platform, Hi-tech Wealth, which is the leader of handheld computers in China.

“No matter what, in Hi-tech Wealth, not only did I gained the favor of Chan, but also I got the approval of President Zhang Zhengyu who praised me a genius in front of all colleagues, which encouraged me a great deal.

These two working experiences gave Lin a deep inspiration that he wanted to be someone like Song and Chan to dig out the talents and develop them. Over the past ten years, Lin has transformed from a programmer to a technology manager and then to an entrepreneur. “I am no longer the Chollima that longs for a good trainer, but a talent spotter now.” His subsequent entrepreneurship made him understand more about the hardship of those who once cultivated him. “Today, a technician left the team that I led which confirm the fact that it is more difficult to be a good talent manager than a gifted technician.”

Understand life better after the entrepreneurship

For the launched product P.cn personal portal, it’s long-term incubated software program and website. They have tested for thousands of times, overthrowing many user-experienced versions. Finally, it’s released after the latest reconfiguration.

When you view the website www.p.cn to download DWS personal portal, you will find that this is some humanitarian smart software. Personal Portal software complete version includes personal portal, picture management or Smart Album, news reading or Smart Reading, meta-search or Smart Search, bookmarks navigation, weather forecast, calendar and Chinese lunar calendar, stock market and other Web 2.0 application components. Users adopt browser operation interface, and they can choose to use any kinds of their favorite browsers.

What depresses a programmer who has been striving for technological development is that he gets stuck in dull labor of working and is hard to make innovation which can bring him sense of achievement. “I have tried to develop a visual builder tool that can implement various functions easily and accomplish different tasks. Even so, it can only reduce some of my workload.” Lin said.

Looking back at what he has done in recent years, you will find that the development of personalized and industrialized information has been the main direction he has been taking shape over the years.

On April 7, 2005, Lin put forward the concept of personal portal at China Webmaster Conference. Cai Wensheng, CEO of 265 Navigation, believed that personal portal would be the future development trend of the Internet. Even though Zhou Hongyi of Yahoo China didn’t agree with it, KESO and some IT professionals in Blog China were discussing their insights about personal portal.

In 1999, when Lin worked for China Motion as a network engineer, they launched the first Bytemen personalized website in China, which is the prototype of personal portal. Similar services were launched by Yahoo and My Netscape during the same time period.

“As a core member of China Motion, I participated in most of the development work. However, the fact is that this advanced concept was not in line with the Internet market that had just developed in China at that time. As I quote a sentence from Song Yizhi, my boss in InfoHighway and China Motion, it described well what our situation is. ‘When we do the right things at the wrong time, the result will be inappropriate.”

Lin believes that the world “personalization” was particularly popular in 1999, and it was as magnificent as WAP at that time, but it didn’t take long for it to quietly disappear from the market. Until WAP revived in again in 2004, the concept of personal portal will be alive in this real age of personalization. In the end of 2004, when Lin was planning for his Personal Portal, he found back the joy and excitement of innovation just as he started developing products in 1999.

“Starting a business is a new turning point. The real pressure comes. One friend told me that it was a good thing that when I had pressure, I could mature faster. I know that I will face greater challenges. As Liu Ren said that entrepreneurship is ten times more difficult than I Imagined and I think it’s more than ten times to me. Even though I have worked many years and gained some entrepreneurial and managerial experiences, but the mentality of entrepreneurship is completely different. I understand what life is really like after starting a business.”

Lin is 27 years old this year. Even though he doesn’t have a perfect education background, he keeps seeking his dream by self study and wins his career in IT industry. Even though he seems young, he is well-experienced that he becomes a good leader. He said that there were two big turning points in his life, one was his father buying him a computer, another was Song Yizhi inviting him to join InfoHighway.

Our journalist asked him, “Assume that there were no computers, what would be your life like?” Lin answered, “Without computer? I have never thought about that. But if we don’t have computers, I am not me today.”

We are looking forward to witnessing the young man’s bigger success in the future.

From: iChina (August 20, 2007)

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