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CEO Patrick of Navinfo: serving as an invisible tycoon behind navigation-telematics-automatic drive
2017/10/12

 CEO Patrick evaluates the difference between NavInfo and competitors: they engage in capital operation, while Navinfo gets involved in engineering. However, most people think Navinfo is another symbol for "capital". In addition, Navinfo, a traditional magnate controlling half of the digital navigation map market, starts to contend against with BAT by itself.

With map navigation, telematics, automatic drive, chip and location big data, Navinfo has laid a technological base, successfully transforming to a supplier for automobile intelligent solutions from a provider for traditional navigation maps. Each action taken by Navinfo represents the development history of domestic map navigation industry, and stands for this industrial future.

Offshore

Patrick, right graduating from the School of Geodesy and Geomatics with the major of photogrammetry in 1997, chose to work in Shanghai Electric Power Design Institute Co., Ltd., the one hard to find related to his less popular major. Patrick, a study overlord, interested in geography and map as a child, selected this less popular major then as his first choice. However, to his surprise, this major relying on adjustment enrollment grows to obtain the name of "computer vision" later, becoming the No. 1 major in the globe together with artificial intelligences, meanwhile, admission score ranks the highest among over 100 majors in Wuhan University. However, at that time, Shanghai Electric Power Design Institute Co., Ltd. was "the best unit" to Patrick: with generous salary, making his parents feel proud. In the same year, Navinfo, just like Patrick in its glory, has not yet become a name of the listed company, while its predecessor is researching and developing 1G domestic navigation electronic map.

When working in Shanghai Electric Power Design Institute Co., Ltd., It costs 6 years for Patrick to be promoted as an engineer from an assistant and assistant engineer, moreover, he has planned his own life track chart based on unit"s predecessor experience. One minor matter touched Patrick in the 2002 Spring Festival. One colleague - a senior engineer, 10-year older than him, invited Patrick to his home. During the talk, his colleague constantly poured some complaints and grievance out, as well as the resentment unable to display his brilliance. Suddenly, 26-year Patrick began to consider: will I bear the same condition just like my colleague a decade later? Since excessively staid and peaceful life will shorten the long period - a decade, Patrick disappointedly found that his future will further grow to be the same condition just like my colleague, full of grumbles with unrecognized talents. At that moment, he discovered much more possibilities when seeing the whole life map out of his own condition. In addition, overseas private automobiles began to catch people"s eyes then, especially in Japan, as a result, surged vehicles start to regroup the whole city"s traffic. Patrick started to think that whether their products can be utilized in automobiles apart from the service serving in professional governmental trades? Before putting it into effect, Patrick, under the invitation of Sun Yuguo, a founder of Navinfo, graduating from the School of Geodesy and Geomatics as well, participated in the newly-established Navinfo. When leaving the office, Patrick did not accept the house unit allotted, hence, shrewd people in Shanghai described him as "silly", however, for him thinking that "what is waiting for me is more than a house, for my reputation is more important than it". When leaving the office, Patrick did not accept the house unit allotted, hence, shrewd people in Shanghai described him as "silly", however, for him thinking that "what is waiting for me is more than a house, for my reputation is more important than it".

After leaving, Patrick reposed his future in the blueprint of Navinfo.

Navigation

Although Patrick specializes in map industry, but for the newly-established Navinfo team, a pioneer in business is needed. Consequently, Patrick became the best candidate with an excellent English with farming techniques. But how to find customers for orders? What about selling map navigation? How to set up the business pattern? These are challenges to be dealt with for Navinfo and Patrick.

"Actually, this navigation product does not work well", since the first edition navigation only covered Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Tianjin. At that moment, selecting navigation in the automobile just had been one selling point, however, to people"s surprise, this attempt had been an unexpected treasure, moving Navinfo forward to be the largest digital map supplier in China.After expanding fields and obtaining certain achievements, competitors, peers, and cooperative partners in automobile fields have increased. 7 years later, there are over 60 competitors, Navinfo has made great efforts in navigation maps, including the establishment of NAV2 - a joint venture and NAVI System, as well as Cennavi acquisition, laying a foundation for its navigation map. Navinfo has obtained the order of BMW and Mercedes-Benz, as well as from Volkswagen, Ford to General, Cadillac, etc. in its endeavor to further develop. As a result, "we do not have any regrets in automobiles" front loading with the supposed orders". In 2010, Navinfo fully covered cross-border high-end automobile brands, with the front loading coverage ratio of over 60% among multinational brand automobile factory.

With each victory against competitors, Patrick played a trick that Navinfo was then "survived in a really tough environment". Navinfo, in the traditional automobile navigation fields, serves as a well-deserved magnate. "We are the fastest one initiating with our own efforts in the navigation field".

Networking

Patrick is interested in Baidu taking Google Map as an example, then starts to cooperate with Baidu for almost 7 years. Baidu can rely on SE to complete commercialization with Navinfo providing bottomed map data, including road data, in addition, Navinfo can obtain corresponding revenue-sharing once the commercialization is based on map geographical location. Baidu Map has acquired the enormous advantage. In January 2017, Navinfo and Baidu stopped the cooperation in map businesses. "Since Baidu has been one competitor in the field of automatic drive and high precision map, we cannot support our competitor forever".The decision made by Navinfo declares that it is reluctant to be "industrial unsung hero". Then many people find: apart from Baidu, bottomed data sources and services related to maps of star applications with WeChat, Tencent Maps, Sogou and DiDi are all from Navinfo. Therefore, industry has regarded Navinfo as an invisible digital map tycoon.

These two competitors seemed to select different development orientations at the outset with Navinfo facing B-end, and Tencent C-end. However, most people think that the biggest difference between them is their own allies: Tencent and Alibaba. In April 2014, Alibaba acquired Autonavi wholly, in May, Tencent, under the help of the largest shareholder in Navinfo - Aerospace Science And Technology, injected capital of RMB 1.173 billion, becoming the second largest shareholder in Navinfo. The game between Tencent and Alibaba in map markets has made Navinfo become the focus. The main customer groups for Navinfo are the automobile manufacturers, however, with the increasingly close combination between automobiles and Internet, some Internet companies such as Apple and Google launched the vehicle-mounted technology development plan one after another, declaring their wild ambitions. Industry insiders predicted at that moment, Navinfo intended to realize business transformations.

For Navinfo, under the cooperation with Internet company such as Tencent, can try Internet development, meanwhile, better serve the automobile company. Patrick clearly defines Navinfo as "a unique company cross- Internet and automobile". So far, the automobile company has been the main customers. Early in 2009, Patrick established Telematics Business Department within the company, starting considering the way to connect the Internet with automobiles. "At that moment, I think that each automobile will definitely use the Internet, just like the phone". Patrick regards the said judgement as the intuition, after a few years upon the establishment of the first Telematics Business Department in China, other peers began to aware this trend.In the recent 8 years, telematics project has staged in investing, as a result, cloud platform does not become mature till this year. Patrick just bides his time with great patience, since he thinks "a new business needs to be cultivated for many years, for the characteristic in automobile industry".

Telematics needs the integration of automobiles, people and roads, Navinfo, involving in telematics for many years, has obtained abundant and stable cooperative partners, which is much more attractive for other companies wishing to enter the telematics. Patrick thinks that telematics has been a part of the mobile Internet, since automobiles have not only played a role of traffic tools, but also a part of the modern life. Various companies noticing the significance of automobiles are pushing ahead with measures for competing the markets. Navinfo has confronted with competitions of front loading and after loading, as well as automobile plant, Internet company and other hardware companies. Navinfo is in its endeavor to develop a road of "service mobile Internet equipment + automobile". We are mainly paying attention on automobiles" processing capacity of integrated sensors, centering on the cooperation with automobile factories, and taking high precision aided driving map as the base. So far, Navinfo has obtained over 20 capacities for in-automobile relevant sensors, making full use of these data on sensors to analyze and provide service solutions.

Mobile Internet equipment, such as phones, cannot employ numerous sensors, but data, driving habits, etc. can be synchronized by means of phones. Patrick thinks that Navinfo will be further developed in mobile Internet terminal with the cooperation of Tencent.

Direction

Patrick also deems that Navinfo "is no mistakes in the direction, but speed in the rhythm" in the course of developing. At present, what catches his eyes is automatic drive and chip. From this point, we can see from financial reports for Navinfo. Its navigation business has been gradually stable in recent years in regard to the composition in business segments, while the ones related to chip, telematics and automatic drive will be further intensified in the future.Navinfo has been ready to make a remarkable rise in the upcoming automatic drive era.

"When is ready for making a automobile?"

This is one question Patrick commonly encounters, and the answer for each time is "never" definitely. Navinfo cannot make a automobile, and not easily be involved in hardware and systems in Patrick"s idea. Navinfo mainly engages in serving automobile companies, intending to integrate various vertical industries and resources, therefore, Patrick has drafted a new target: serving as a brain in intelligent automobiles. What does this brain need? The following factors are listed by Patrick one by one: High precision map, high precision positioning and chip. In order to structure this brain, Navinfo has set up high Precision Map Business Department by the independence on high precision map businesses from core map businesses in 2015, and established Automatic Drive R & D Department and Deep Learning Laboratory. With abundant high precision geometry and attribute information, high precision map mainly serves for automatic drive, able to record the information on location, road and roadway. As for automatic drive automobiles, this map can effectively and properly assist automobiles to serve people.

This is Navinfo"s advantage, and it is anticipated that Navinfo will receive "millisecond response" from the update in high precision maps to data processing and release in a mass production stage in the future. In respect of high precision positioning, there are plenty of means to be utilized, such as, GPS, Beidou navigation and positioning, high precision map, sensor"s mixed perception and automobile"s inertia, however, Patrick is very confident that "the positioning in automatic drives belongs to us for sure". At present, Navinfo mainly focuses on chips, and "although the algorithm we deeply learnt exists a certain difference compared with some competitors", but as for the design capacity in automobile-mounted chip specification, we are the best so far within China". In March 2017, Navinfo finished acquiring AutoChips - the main strength in the domestic automobile electronic chips, making it to be an enterprise with "high precision map + chip + algorithm + system platform" within China. It takes time for the commercialization and landing of automatic drive while the R & D expense of Navinfo is the highest in A-share. Patrick asserts that "it still takes five years for it to form size-income."

Waterfall

In 2010, Navinfo successfully landed on the capital market and became a successful enterprise in the traditional meaning. Patrick also regards the year of 2010 as a time node which is of significance for Navinfo. "I think that we completely followed the steps of foreign countries before 2010. In the beginning, we learned from Japan, and then from European countries and then from the USA." At the beginning of its establishment, Navinfo learnt incessantly from its cooperative partner, Toyota. Navinfo"s organization form, quality control, team building, documentation, procedure and elaboration are all implemented by Toyota"s standards."At that time, it was quite hard and very hard for Toyota had high standards." However, Patrick said that Toyota planted a gene in Navinfo and this gene allowed Navinfo to understand automobile, emphasize quality and have a more transparent management. Toyota teaches Navinfo to make perfection more perfect while Toyota is a little over-conservative. However, by learning from another cooperative partner BMW, Navinfo starts to put emphasis on the technology innovation. "BMW puts the localization ability in the first place and it requires that you have leading science and technology. BMW will cooperate with you on the condition that you are better than BMW." BMW had a great influence on Navinfo in the later period when Navinfo was not a follower any longer, instead, with step by step development; it became an independent forerunner and a leader in this domain. Navinfo devotion in this domain allowed it to grow rapidly while the listing began to show Navinfo"s ambition. "I think the three years in the wake of our listing is the hardest development period." Within the three years, Patrick changed from VP to COO and his struggles mainly derived from the following three points. Firstly, it was the stock equity. The listing resulted a partial loss of financial investors and broke the former relative balance. Fully exposed to the whole market competition, Navinfo"s efficiency was decreased due to its mechanism issues. Secondly, the tycoons like BAT began to make a layout, which accelerated the brain drain of Navinfo. "At that time, we nearly lost 50 key members in the product, technology and sale departments." Thirdly, there was a change in the mentality of the entrepreneur team members after IPO. "There was no need to work hard, all people became conservative and slack and lost the great passion as in the beginning period." Patrick had to make decisions and reformed the systems and mechanisms. Under the support of the strong shareholder, China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, he invited Tencent to become a shareholder. Navinfo became the first mixed ownership enterprise to conduct reforms. The team experienced great changes and imported young people. Navinfo as the forerunner had to develop a way belonging to itself.

"As the forerunner, we have to take many adventures and take the lead on the way." From navigation to car networking to automatic drive, the adversaries of Navinfo changed from one batch to the next and became much stronger. Risks are ubiquitous. Patrick said that Navinfo was "living under the waterfall" and it was very hard for Navinfo to take one step forward. However, he was still optimistic. In his mind, Navinfo stepped just now into its adolescence and was full of energy, ambition and hope. Even though it lacked some experiences, it possessed the courage to catch up opportunities. With the fruit of navigation becoming mature and the flower of car networking in full bloom, the horn for automatic drive has already been sounded. Navinfo suddenly changes from a traditional navigation map supplier to an intelligent network-connection solution supplier. All people within the industry pay attention to Navinfo for it represents this industry"s future. In Patrick"s mind, Navinfo will develop into "a respectful company". The aim is there. Patrick draws in his heart the forward map covering from the starting point to the future.

 

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