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Cheetah Mobile’s Robots May Soon Be at a Karaoke Bar Near You

November 8, 2019, 2:10 AM UTC

Since Fu Sheng founded China’s Cheetah Mobile in 2010, he and his company have always had a sink or swim philosophy. Sometimes literally.

At Fortune’s Global Tech Forum in Guangzhou on Thursday, Fu told the story of being two years into running his company and insisting on jumping in a pool during a company getaway—even though he couldn’t swim.

“My staff was opposed to the move and wanted to higher professional synchronized swimmers for the event, but I told them I would swim for free,” Fu said.

The CEO wanted to show his company that swimming is much like anything else, where you need to move slowly to start. “Like in robotics, we had opposition from many people when we launched our business,” Fu said. “But the question now is how to give up your fear. To make good moves, it’s better to put your fear aside.”

Such fearlessness may be at the root of how Fu and Cheetah Mobile have been successful in areas as diverse as mobile entertainment and gaming, to creating utility smartphone apps, and now in creating A.I.-driven robots. From the outset, the company focused on overseas expansion, and the company claims that over 70% of its over half a billion monthly users are outside of China.

For Fu, achieving success in such a wide variety of areas has meant trying to overcome notions that Chinese companies do not innovate.

“I questioned why there is such a large gap in innovation in China,” Fu said, about the starting of his company. “I think innovation means you are willing to do things that others don’t dare.”

Lately, this type of innovative thinking has translated to Cheetah being a world leader in bringing “modern technology to improve service-based robots.”

On Thursday, Fu mentioned that his company has been focused on developing robots to help operate karaoke businesses, which are massively popular in China. The robots, Fu says, can do everything from match you to your reservation through facial recognition, guide you to your karaoke room, and set you up to start singing.

Karaoke rooms, hotels, banks, and courts are just some of the places where Cheetah’s service robots have been deployed. Yet Fu doesn’t want the novelty of the robots to be the only reason people use them.

“If it has two arms, a screen, and can move, you will always have buyers, but a good product goes beyond a current users’ expectations or needs,” Fu said. “If robots can live together with human beings, our lives will be improved.”

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