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Wang Hongyang

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How much is your knowledge?

Priceless knowledge can be priced, and a new business model utilizing the intangible asset — knowledge — is emerging in China now.

In the past few years, we've been used to the free knowledge shared in every aspect of our life and work: Quora for asking questions, stackoverflow for coding, Wikipedia for exploring encyclopedia, etc. We feel comfortable with the decentralized and free knowledge environment on the Internet.

Can you imagine that one day Quora and Stackoverflow are no longer free to ask questions?

Will you pay to ask guru like Bill Gates to answer your question?

Though these questions are outside our comfort zone of free knowledge and communication, emerging companies in China like Zhihu, Dedao, and Fenda have driven most of the Chinese people to willingly jump out of the comfort zone and price knowledge for sale.

Surprisingly, most of them like to do it. It looks like that a new business model utilizing the intangible asset is getting prosper now.

Let's have a look at how Fenda works with this new business model.

picture from theinitium

As the figure above shows, the questioner Jin Zeng gave the respondent Sicong Wang ¥3,000 for asking one question: "Being the son of asia's richest man, what you cannot afford?" Sicong Wang chose to answer this question and take the money. Now all other users (spectators) on Fenda can pay only ¥1 to listen to the answer, and this part of money is splited between the questioner and the respondent. In the end, the questioner Jin Zeng got ¥8,406 and the respondent Sicong Wang got ¥14,406. How can the platform Fenda earn? It extracts 10% from the question price, which is ¥300 in this case.

In this way, Sicong Wang's knowledge has created revenue for the questioner, platform, and of course, himself. Even the other users (spectators) on the platform who chose to pay ¥1 feel it worthed the answer: small money for knowledge from the celebrity.

In this revenue model, everyone is satisfied:

  • For Respondent: Answer the questions that they are willing to answer, get 90% of the question price and ¥0.5 for each of the user who want to listen to the answer.
  • For Questioner: Pay to ask questions, and get ¥0.5 for each of the user who want to listen to the answer.
  • For Spectators: Pay ¥1 each time for the answer that he/she is interested in.
  • For Fenda Platform: Get 10% from the question price.

Fenda makes money from sharing economy, the same with Uber. Uber utilized the uneven allocation of resources and makes money by transferring car resources from the richer ones to the poorer ones, which is called sharing economy. Fenda regarded knowledge as another uneven allocated resources, just like car, and it makes money by transferring knowledge resources from the richer ones to the poorer ones. However, Fenda stepped further into a less tangible new area: knowledge economy.

Knowledge economy helped Fenda to get over $20million investment and become a new unicorn. Knowledge economy is attractive because it almost has not been explored, representing great potential of getting profit. Yet exploring how to get revenue is hard because knowledge is intangible and pricing knowledge is difficult. So this new business model is priceless as it gives a solution of making revenue from intangible assets in knowledge economy.

The business model of monetizing knowledge will be disruptive in near future considering:

  • Increasing spiritual need as people are relatively satisfied with material needs
  • Increasing need of life-long learning as technology is expotentially developing
  • Red Sea of material economy v.s. Blue Sea of knowledge economy

Now let's see the questions in the beginning again:

Can you imagine that one day Quora and Stackoverflow is no longer free to ask questions?

Will you pay to ask guru like Bill Gates to answer your question?

Are they still unbelievable?

May Be Not.

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