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Qiniu: The Leading Cloud-Storage Provider in the East


See why storing data has never been made easier thanks to Qiniu!

Data storage is nothing new, and it's of great importance on the Internet. Two partners named Xu Shiwei and Hugh Lv from Shanghai, China, decided to change how cloud data storage works. With a little bit of determination and past experience in the tech world, Xu and Hugh managed to shine.

Qiniu Limited Information, as it goes by its full name, is a leading cloud-storage platform that covers around 80% of the Internet users in China. The company has over one million enterprise-level clients, and that list just keeps on growing.

Qiniu provides cloud services that feature data and visual intelligence as part of their primary domains.

How two partners decided to embark on this undertaking admits the never-ending growth of the Chinese tech industry. Qiniu is a perfect example of how one company can battle against Chinese tech giants and emerge at the top.

The Early Days of Two Brilliant Youngsters

Hugh Lv was interested in technology from his early days. He wondered how technology could evolve in the world’s biggest market, and he somehow wanted to be a part of it.

From 1997 to 2001, Hugh studied at Zhejiang University, earning himself a Bachelor’s degree in the field of computer technology. Back in the day, when cloud storage was still a rookie term, Hugh realized just how important the niche is when Dropbox emerged as the ultimate storage place on the Internet. Hugh was a senior software engineer for a company called Kingsoft, where he learned more about programming and working on the Internet.

Following examples of emerging cloud storage like Dropbox, Hugh gained interest in this new emerging sphere in the Chinese tech market. Hugh is a person that possessed more than just skills for the emerging tech world. At a young age, he developed knacks for architecture, scrum, programming, software development, and many other tech-related issues that will serve him great for years to come.

Before the idea of Qiniu was formed, Hugh wanted to earn additional experience by working in a few minor Chinese tech companies. Along the way, Hugh met with Xu Shiwei, a fellow programmer and technology lover, and the two decided to stick together for a while. Before Xu met with Hugh, he worked at Kingsoft and Shengda, were he got his first experience in the internet industry. Xu later wrote the Go Programming Language, and it was more than enough to start working with Hugh Lv on Qiniu Limited.

There was already a well-established cloud-storage company in China, and Hugh knew that, he knew he was about to face fierce competition, but all of that didn’t stop him from pursuing his dream.

Adapt, Improvise, Overcome

Although the Chinese tech market is enormous, there’s still not much room to compete with other industry giants. When Hugh and Xu even started to think about bringing their idea to life, there were many competitors that already operated in China and all of Asia.

Companies such as Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent were already ahead of anyone in the field of internet technology, offering thousands of online tools to work with. Not wanting to do the same as the competitors, Hugh decided to take a different approach. While other competitors were focusing on sales and search engines like Alibaba and Baidu, Hugh and Xu took a different route.

With both of them showing love for tech, the duo decided to go with a cloud storage unit that will serve most of the internet users in China, and hopefully the world, one day.

In order to start developing their initial ideal, the duo turned to find funders. The first ones that invested in the initial process of the duo’s cloud storage unit were Qiming Venture Partners, with Series C funding. After seven rounds of financing since its release, Hugh gathered around $380 million in funding from different types of series fundings. This was not the only funder in the process, as Hugh and Xu were saving money from past jobs and invested all of them into their grand idea.

In 2011, the first version of Qiniu Limited was announced and took the Chinese technology market by storm - just like that, out of nowhere!

Challenging China’s Tech Giants

The Chinese tech market is a highly competitive one, and it takes an innovative product to be able to stand tall with the giants. In the era when Baidu and Alibaba dominated the tech market in China, Hugh’s Qiniu Limited faced many challenges.

First of all, the initial release came with a small amount of data storage, which originated following the example of Dropbox, which remains popular throughout the years. In early 2011, the partners needed to do something in order to beat the strong competition on the market and make a breakthrough for their product.

For their Qiniu to be recognized in the industry, it must be known to the general public in China, first. The first customers to arrive to check out what Qiniu was offering were the new and small tech companies, seeking extra storage while working online. Qiniu was using a domestic network environment, which solely focused on Chinese soil. Because the product was focused in one country only, Chinese companies saw the potential and asked around about Qiniu.

The first customers noticed that it was perfect for architecture design storage, and that’s not a coincidence - Hugh was involved in architecture, and he knew what he was doing!

Qiniu Is Taking Over

It was not long before Qiniu garnered attention and made a boom in the massive Chinese tech market. Because it was focused only on internet users from China, Hugh saw this as an advantage, and it was not long before Qiniu started to dominate the internet in China.

The initial success occurred when the number of users exploded a few years after 2011, and somehow Hugh and Xu were able to beat all other tech giants on the market, and help around 60% of the internet users in China - now that’s how you make a boom on the market!

Alibaba’s Cloud was moving fast on the market, but they lacked the most important aspect - Qiniu was not competing with the lowest level of cloud services, also known as IaaS. Instead of working with the so-called IaaS, Hugh and Xu decided to take it to the next level and work with PaaS (platform-as-a-service). As an example, Hugh stated that with PaaS, Qiniu can show you what kind of house you want to build and how to do it.

Since the competition wanted an easy way in with IaaS, Hugh and his business partner did the complete opposite, for sometimes, taking a detour can end up being a blessing in disguise.

According to Hugh, PaaS startups like his Qiniu can not only survive but battle well-established tech giants in the Chinese technological market.

How Is Qiniu Doing Today?

As of 2021, Qiniu Limited is going stronger than ever. By official stats, the company now serves 80% of the entirety of the internet users in China. Understandably, the company went public to raise $100 million from ventures, and today is backed by, you guessed it - Alibaba, one of their former rivals.

The company’s headquarters remain in Shanghai, with Hugh and Xu keeping their jobs as CEOs and executive directors.

Today, with the help of the company’s 269 employees, Qiniu Limited continues to dominate the Chinese tech market, despite being present in the era of giants such as Baidu.

The company’s biggest success was not to follow in the footsteps of their competitors, which worked perfectly for the partners and their product.

Today, Qiniu Limited made unprecedented innovations in the fields of data security, space storage, and whatnot.

The availability of data storage spread across China and now it seems like Qiniu Limited has the last laugh!