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Kathy Gong

Kathy Gong

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Co-founder & CEO at WafaGames

As a serial entrepreneur, Kathy co-founded WafaGames in 2017. Acknowledged by MIT Technology Review for WafaGames’ technological advancement on game Artificial Intelligence, Kathy was featured as 1 of the global 35 Innovators under 35 in 2017.  Prior to cofounding WafaGames, Kathy founded ai.Law, a legal robotic start-up that reduces the barriers and makes legal services affordable. Until its acquisition in 2017, ai.Law has served 3 million people, 67% of them being women. Kathy was the youngest national chess champion and one of the youngest chess masters in China. Among her experiences, Kathy is Member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Council (CPPCC); Foundation Board of Global Shapers Community World Economic Forum (2013-2016); Co-chair of APEC Women Leadership Forum (2013-2014); Top 100 Young Talents in Asia (2019), and, Image Ambassador of Young Entrepreneurs in Chengdu, the city she was born.

  • Unsupervised learning mimics the mindless and bottom-up process of evolution. Evolution is painfully slow and costly.

    We had 2 significant evolutional jumps. The 1st is forming the Eukaryotic organisms from single-cell prokaryotes, and the 2nd being the information explosion, one of the cultural meme

    Unsupervised learning mimics the mindless and bottom-up process of evolution. Evolution is painfully slow and costly.

    We had 2 significant evolutional jumps. The 1st is forming the Eukaryotic organisms from single-cell prokaryotes, and the 2nd being the information explosion, one of the cultural meme evolutions, meme as a term first coined by Dr. Richard Dawkins.

    Artificial intelligence itself does not have a common sense. When the blueprint of a building block is comprised, we will find ourselves in an age where "prejudice in, discrimination out."

    The data to calibrate algorithms are abundant and disproportionate not only due to the way they are being generated and also labeled. Second, algorithms were coded without a design in the system of checks to restrict the concentrated results. Hence a potential abuse of data. The last one seems least urgent but will perhaps have the most profound effects - unequal access to and non-relevant education. Unfair access to education and quality of it will further widen and accelerate the inequality in the face of new technology.

    Values need to be designed as a blueprint and coded in an evolutional bottom-up fashion, whereas biases detected as bugs.

    Take Generative adversarial networks (GANs), for example. In the recent development of new deep stubborn networks, it has the potential to move toward the more high-level simulation of human cognitive tasks.

    Let's say if we build multi-generative networks that construct results from inputs in each network, and such inputs are selected in preset orders. The results are shown to their paired discriminative network. As the generative networks try "fooling" the discriminative networks, there create potential rooms to train pattern sets and models.

    Evolution doesn't have an intelligent designer nor a purpose, but revolution should.

  • Every Chinese citizen averagely would receive 3-5 scamming calls daily, such as informing you have won a super prize, and you only need to provide your bank information to claim... so on and so forth...

    What I find intriguing about those scamming calls is that the scammers on the other end of the phone

    Every Chinese citizen averagely would receive 3-5 scamming calls daily, such as informing you have won a super prize, and you only need to provide your bank information to claim... so on and so forth...

    What I find intriguing about those scamming calls is that the scammers on the other end of the phone always possess a heavy southern Chinese accent, the one that is most remote from Mandarin - the standard professional language here. Wouldn't it be much more convincing and efficient to cheat people if those scamming calls or sites sound or look more professional, I wonder? So I asked one of my friends who's working in the central police department on large-scale scamming crimes on this mystery.

    His answer is somewhat mind-blowing. He said the data shows that this conduct of fishy accents turns out to be a very successful first-step strategy to filter and profile their targeted audience - those who are extremely simple-minded, easy-to-believe type. If the suspicious accents don't even raise a red flag, the target will make an ideal victim who is more likely to follow through all their designed steps.

    That might also explain why most of the cheating sites look fishy at first sight either by design or UX etc. It is not because whoever build those sites are incompetent, but we should seriously check on our own critical thinking ability if we feel like clicking them :)

  • I disagree with many points of the author in this book review — some of the conclusions are derived from the preconceived labels on gender characteristics. For example, the author unconsciously groups that "analytical, data-driven developers or video gamers" as male occupations and characteristics, whereas

    I disagree with many points of the author in this book review — some of the conclusions are derived from the preconceived labels on gender characteristics. For example, the author unconsciously groups that "analytical, data-driven developers or video gamers" as male occupations and characteristics, whereas "non-technical, feeling-based liberal artists or non-gamers" as females'. Such a view itself is prejudice and false.

    Our capacities as a man or a woman are non-linear. As a female entrepreneur and coder in video gaming, I find myself perfectly capable of enjoying both classical and electronic music, reading business and humanity books, or being logical and emotional at the same time. It is not a zero-sum gender generalization.

    I don't disagree, though, that the tech startup landscape is still unfortunately and largely a man's world, either in Silicon Valley, California, or Zhongguancun, Beijing, but the solution is to have more female developers, entrepreneurs, or even gamers...

    The solution is to encourage more girls and women to live fully, to master coding and appreciate art, to live recklessly, to take risks, to seize the moment.

  • As the coronavirus outbroke in China, most of the Chinese families spent their Spring Festival holiday semi-'quarantined' at home. So did we. To kill the slow-passing time, my dad, my fiance, and I played all kinds of games on this holiday. One of our favorites is to randomly assign a number, draw 4

    As the coronavirus outbroke in China, most of the Chinese families spent their Spring Festival holiday semi-'quarantined' at home. So did we. To kill the slow-passing time, my dad, my fiance, and I played all kinds of games on this holiday. One of our favorites is to randomly assign a number, draw 4 cards out from a deck and then use any allow arithmetic rules such as addition, multiplication, rooting, logarithm, etcetera to achieve that assigned number by using the 4 original numbers on the cards. The fastest one wins (In most cases, if not all, it’s me LOL).

    My mom would watch, for hours, of us playing. I could tell that sometimes she was trying to calculate in her head, but whenever I invited her to play, she would politely deny. The top 3 reasons are No.1. You boys play (I do hope she knows she has a daughter instead); No. 2. I have house chores; No. 3. I need to start cooking soon.

    Thinking back, I have spent excessive time playing all kinds of games, from chess to backgammon to video games. So much so, making games is what I do for a living, but not once, I played games with my mom, and very few times, I played with other females. As my female cousin who's around my age puts it: the pleasure of playing is for boys. Girls need to be grownups and take responsibilities.

    Conventional wisdom says that girls become mature at an earlier age. I didn't check the scientific proofs, but I do sometimes wonder whether maturing faster plays a role in fewer women playing games starting from early on, because how we view playing as a form of pure pleasure with little practical value conflicts with the role we are expected to play in life as a daughter, a mother, or a wife, roles with a long job description attached.

    More so, it not only applies to gameplaying but taking pleasures openly of what we do in general — attitudes towards exploring one's sexuality as one example.

    A recent study on "Prevalence and correlates of gender inequity" published on BMC Public Health in 2018, states that a majority of women and men agreed with the statement "a woman's most important role is to take care of her home and cook for her family." Similarly, 88.3% of women and 82.9% of men concurred with the idea that men need more sexual pleasures than women.

    Playing is essential to explore the unknown and a part of human nature that plays a crucial role in one's curiosity. Smartphones are one of the means to close the gender gap in gaming, and in a bigger game at play here, a more free mind and a spirit and a less unequal society are the keys. Boys are no better than playing games than girls, nor math, science, or technology, just as women don't suppose to desire less sexual pleasures than men.

  • This article is an excellent walk-through on the evolution of the gaming industry and a future look-ahead.

    Myself, I am a chess player-turned-a gamer, a gamer-turned-a game entrepreneur, and then became 1 of the very few female CEOs in this industry. The journey is so far the most rewarding, as well

    This article is an excellent walk-through on the evolution of the gaming industry and a future look-ahead.

    Myself, I am a chess player-turned-a gamer, a gamer-turned-a game entrepreneur, and then became 1 of the very few female CEOs in this industry. The journey is so far the most rewarding, as well as the most challenging among my 3 startup experiences. Besides the fact that gaming is the largest online economy (1/3 of all mobile app downloads and 74% of mobile consumer spending as the article states), I want to share what games mean to me and attempt to provide a peephole into a bigger picture.

    - What turns a gamer?

    It probably has lots to do with me being an extreme introvert and my unusual childhood growing up in China as a migrant kid. My family's unexpected loss of hukou, a residence permit issued by the Chinese government forbade me from attending a school. Instead of me discovering chess, it was more of chess stumbling upon me during those years of absence from school. Chess became my only toy, game, and friend since 8. Becoming the youngest national champion didn't only offer me a path to receive school education later bypassing the residence permit requirement, but more importantly, the foundation to build upon my self-esteem, characters, disciplines, and social skills. Chess is much bigger than just a game.

    As time passed by, I started my 1st year in school at 13 after competing internationally for our national team. 4 years later, I went to Columbia University to pursue my undergraduate study, and the only problem was that I learned very little English. Keeping up with the intensity of Columbia's curriculums, making friends, or even having simple social interactions seemed extremely difficult to me.

    The difficulties in life don't destroy people. The sense of loneliness, failure, and self-unworthiness do. I started to skip classes, shut myself in the doom and grew depressed. My parents had no idea of what happened across the Pacific Ocean. The pride and the fear of being judged kept me from opening up to anyone.

    Just like chess stumbled upon me accidentally, this time, Starcraft did. During those days of skipping classes, I started to spend 8-10 hours in the game. At a glimpse, yes, I looked like a teenager being addicted to games, and yes, it greatly affected my school. In the root, my problem was never the addiction, but the deep unhappiness and depression in real life. The lack of friends, the sense of not being accepted, and accomplishing nothing were the feelings I was trying to escape.

    However, by playing Starcraft, for the 1st time since I arrived in the U.S, I made friends, friends from my game alliance, friends whom I coordinated and strategized together, friends whom I fought with and achieved victories in the battles together. Those game friends became my Facebook friends and later my real friends in life. After 16 years, some of them I still keep in touch until today.

    - Gaming business from the perspective of a startup

    In 2017, I sold my last startup, ai.Law and co-founded WafaGames with Joe, whom I met by playing Red Alert. It is extremely tough to raise funding as an early-stage studio due to the creative nature of game makings, therefore the highly risky and unsustainable side of a gaming startup. In fact, over 90% of the investments in the gaming industry flow to game publishers rather than game makers, to follow-up rounds and acquisitions of mature companies rather than startups. Gaming is possibly the most polarized industry.

    It is also getting extremely expensive to make a game that stands a chance to compete with big companies like EA or Tencent. For instance, it cost us so far, almost 3 years and more than 3-million USD. The low cap of a budget to make a similar-genre game in big companies is likely to be around 10+ million USD per game. Publishing is even more expensive, averagely $5 to bring 1 android download and $10 for iOS for a mobile MMO game. It requires a minimum of 2000 daily downloads to break even.

    Gaming is a highly competitive, risky, and polarized industry with a massive amount of money at stake.

    - Besides money, what games are really about?

    Games have evolved from nerds' 'sport' in the '80s to today's 'glorified' field in which world-class gamers are viewed as celebrities, top game companies the richest companies among all, and 'gamification' suddenly the most popular design term across all industries. But what games are really about? What makes them so charming?

    It is about fairness and equality that we could hardly find in the real world. In a good-designed game, one's intelligence, hardworking, and practices will be rewarded. As on a chessboard, if I am better, I will win. If I lose, I lose fair and square and will go back practicing more before coming back. One's genders, skin colors, or birthright privileges matter very little here.

    It is about simplicity and transparency. When the rules are set, they are set for all. The path for growth and accomplishment can then be defined. There is little room for back-door tricks or under-table deals.

    It is about sincerity and authenticity in building friendships. Many would disagree that the friends we make in games are sometimes far more real. It's intuitive and effortless to conclude that everything about a game is fake. How could it not be? But gamers are real, game makers are real, and our interactions can't be more authentic, and they cross nationalities, genders, and cultural differences. The things that are missing out in games are prejudices, judgments, discriminations, and masks that we are forced to put on under social pressures. Sometimes, we can only be ourselves in a virtual world. Isn't that ironic?

    I have a very personal story, the one I have never really shared with anyone. Last year my grandpa passed away from a sudden heart attack. I was thousands of miles away from home, and my mom called to inform me the bad news in the middle of the night.

    I lost someone whom I care about deeply and close to my heart since I was a kid, and yet there was nothing I could do to see him for the last time. At that moment, I remember myself sitting on the floor in the dark. Tears broke down and turned into the sharp heart pains; I felt hopeless and numb. After many hours when the dawn was breaking, I reached out to my phone and started to play our game and chat with my alliance friends. Of course, they had no idea who I was and what I was going through. But oddly I felt alive and felt better as if the real human connections in the visual game world provided me with an outlet, an escape.

    We often criticize those who sometimes find their emotional comfort in the virtual world, don't we? We call them weak for avoiding real problems. But aren't we all sometimes need a little escape from a cruel moment, a desperate situation in this often too cold, too unfair world to cure our vulnerability, so we can continue to believe in dreams, beauty, and magic? Aren't we all wish to stay childlike and unpretending in our hearts?

    - Excessive screen time as a social concern

    I think this concern should first be addressed to game makers. It is first our responsibility to take pride in making games as a start-of-art intellectual quest and a meaningful interaction with players with respect, rather than a money-making tool to trigger addiction, and to scheme human natures.

    Chess is a beautiful game and very educational for both adults and children to train their thinking capacities and strategic minds. No one would doubt that.

    Good games ought to be a practice of thought disciplines, a training of problem-solving skills, and fun. Games are not harmful. Bad games are.

  • This is barely a hacking case in terms of the technical skills required for Kazzelbach to manipulate. The tools, such as spoofing, are nowadays accessible to anyone with a smartphone or personal computer demanding no coding skills.

    The problem is not today's technical tools have made "hacking" a common

    This is barely a hacking case in terms of the technical skills required for Kazzelbach to manipulate. The tools, such as spoofing, are nowadays accessible to anyone with a smartphone or personal computer demanding no coding skills.

    The problem is not today's technical tools have made "hacking" a common Joe act, but that our justice systems have no ability to handle, process, and verify digital evidence. Sometimes they have no willingness either.

    I had gone through similar sabotage recently myself. Only my case involves a crazy former employee instead of a mad ex-boyfriend, and it happened in Beijing, China, instead of Maryland, U.S.

    Last month I was stopped at the boarding gate when I was about to fly on a business trip. The reason was that I was under a court's restraining order of high spendings, which includes taking air flights, high-speed trains, dining at expensive restaurants, etc...

    At the moment, I was shocked and clueless and had to cancel my trip. Then I phoned a public number of the court that issued the order. After 50-minutes on hold, finally, someone was able to check my case in their database.

    Zonghe Sui, a former employee in my company, who was fired from conducting a series of serious sexual misbehaviors against 1 of our female interns in 2017, has been filing an unlawful layoff act against us ever since. Sui submitted a letter to the court recently stating that I sent him text threats and had been moving company money to personal accounts; therefore requested a restraining order on me. In this case, he didn't even need to provide 'fabricated' evidence, because according to the judge whom I spoke to, the court has insufficient resources and manpower to neither process nor verify data.

    Hence, the court would take any claims from a litigant as true until it's proven untrue by the opposite party.

    The next day I went to present my exported telephone records and bank statements to the judge to prove Sui's claim false. 2 days after, the restraining order against me was lifted.

    All in all, I was shocked by the 'causal style' of the legal system, and the 'guilty until proven innocent' approach of handling evidence, due to so-called insufficient resources and manpower.

    It is certainly an 'amusing' experience for me and a bit of taste on something that's not quite right. I think the symptom is much deeper than a simply put 'the wheels of justice turn slowly.'

    P.S.: when I went to see the judge and to prove myself innocent. He asked me the reason to fire Sui, and I explained the sexual misbehaviors. The judge looked at me and asked, 'is the intern pretty?'

  • The environment for startups has become dramatically more challenging since 2017. The health check of startups is 1 of the best indicators for overall societal mobility. The quick dropping survival rate only tells the bigger story on which the wealth distribution has been increasingly shifting towards

    The environment for startups has become dramatically more challenging since 2017. The health check of startups is 1 of the best indicators for overall societal mobility. The quick dropping survival rate only tells the bigger story on which the wealth distribution has been increasingly shifting towards 1%, and the wealth gap is widening further worldwide. The extreme inequality is also 1 of the fundamental drivers behind the outbreaks protests and acts of violence from Hong Kong, India, Brazil, and UK et cetera.

    Leap-jumping Inventions not only create economic growth, and they also stir up the pool of wealth distribution. The truth is that we haven't been able to match up with the electronic revolution, the mobile revolution, therefore, the same speed of productivity growth created by them. Lack of breakthrough inventions causes staggering economic growth and leads to widening social inequality.

    To create breakthrough innovations is the very definition of a startup. So either we match up the game, or we get sucked out by giant companies. There will be no other ending of this story.

  • I took the online quiz by Dr. David Strayer just now, and not to brag my scores & accuracy came up as top 2%. I do have a complaint about the quiz game design, though. It is repetitive and dull, and in an office environment where you are constantly afraid to be caught by your colleagues for playing games

    I took the online quiz by Dr. David Strayer just now, and not to brag my scores & accuracy came up as top 2%. I do have a complaint about the quiz game design, though. It is repetitive and dull, and in an office environment where you are constantly afraid to be caught by your colleagues for playing games instead of doing work, it is too long to stay focus! Oh, wait, our work is playing games! :)

    Jokes aside, I always consider myself suck in multitasking. My entire life training from early childhood is against multitasking. Being a professional chess player requires absolute undivided attention for hours, and that certainly has left an irremovable scar on me.

    Until today, I feel discomfort and refuse to multitask even when it only involves trivial tasks such as replying short messages. My fiance often makes fun of me because I whisper out things simultaneously while typing and make whatever I write no secret to the people around me. Apparently, I am doing it right now! Because all my instruments - brain, fingers, lips, eyes...have to work together on 1 single task a time!

    However, given my score, I might belong to the group of people who are good at multitasking. I assume it gives me some credits to say that - the ability of multitasking is highly overrated and even harmful.

    You see, the importance of our work has absolutely nothing to do with the number of the tasks that we complete, but the quality of very few significant ones. One's success is irrelevant to how busy one is but how we make the right choice on 1 or 2 most significant decisions in life. Multitasking greatly compromises the depth of our focus and thinking, therefore the quality of our strategic decision-making.

    'There are so many people working so hard and achieving so little' said by Andrew Grove, the former CEO of Intel.

    So why multitasking even when that skill can be improved?

  • If you ever wish to find an evergreen legit industry, look for education and video games. If any of two could even resist the down circle of economy, then video game it is. Gaming is 1 of very few industries that still grows at double digits in 2018 (advistering dropped to 6.9% due to the slow pace in

    If you ever wish to find an evergreen legit industry, look for education and video games. If any of two could even resist the down circle of economy, then video game it is. Gaming is 1 of very few industries that still grows at double digits in 2018 (advistering dropped to 6.9% due to the slow pace in major social media platforms). However, growth doesn’t tell an accurate story, at least not a full one - just like the extremely unbalanced & twisted wealth distribution in today’s world, video games reflects the same ‘red alert’ - 1% of the gaming companies is taking more than 90% of the industry revenue and leaving 99% of the rest barely to survive.

    On one hand, we see the increasing value of content creation (or in PR presses) and the accumulating growth of online & offline traffics; however on the other, distributing content becomes more like financing busses, a big money winner-takes-all game, less imaginative, but more mechanical & dull calculations.

    Game studios are commonly founded by people who are more like artists with creativity yet less like business men. Our Asian parents often warn us “pursuing one’s dream is a safe path to homeless.” Sadly they might be right. Gaming as the combination of art and science starts to show the coherent big-money-game trend.

    So yes, the video gaming is absolutely growing fast and evergreen, but no, content makers are struggling more than ever. Is this end of an era of dreams? I am not sure. It’s certainly a cold truth of the staggering next-big technology innovation and the next-generation economic growth. Is cloud, AI, IoT, VR/AR, blockchain or quantum computers the next-big wave? Let’s wait and see. After all, video gam is only a small piece to a much bigger puzzle that we face today in a turbulent time.

  • If women represent only 4% among executive-directors board members (CEOs, cofounders, management team members) board members according to this study, the number of startups with least 1 female cofounder must have been even staggeringly lower.

    What is the single most significant difference between a

    If women represent only 4% among executive-directors board members (CEOs, cofounders, management team members) board members according to this study, the number of startups with least 1 female cofounder must have been even staggeringly lower.

    What is the single most significant difference between a startup and an established company? Risk. A startup is crazily riskier, but we are much less encouraged nor trained in taking risks since we were a girl.

    Imagine a risk-taking person. It would be someone who lives for her/his dreams, desires, boldness, and madness. What would a risk-averse person do instead? Living for others' expectations and constantly under the stress of letting other people down. Sounds familiar?

    A critical underrepresentation of VC fundings backing a female-founded/cofounded startup worsens the already-bad-enough situation and jeopardize the lifetime of that startup where funding is the blood in the vessels. As an entrepreneur, I have so far raised 6 rounds of investments, and 4/6 how to dispel investors' doubts on my gender was my top-priority effort, including one time to state I had no short-future plan to get married. Also, sadly-but-true, having a male cofounder is commonly helpful.

    At present, a storm of capital deficiency is rapidly sweeping startups around the world. Almost with no doubt, this crisis would hit female-founded/cofounded startups much harder.

    However, a more significant storm is happening, and that is the fast-money-burning-who-cares-about-making-profit nonsense has come to an end. The fundamental business logic of a startup is transforming, and the battlefields are also shifting. The survivors and next-generation champions will not be internet companies, but those who can incorporate AI and internet technologies to revolutionize industries and make traditional business smart.

    The times of crisis is also times of opportunities. If we female founders can grow by taking advantage of this headwind, we would have a game-changer.