Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tech savvy Chinese entrepreneurs


Business Times p.B1

Saturday, October 18, 2008



By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM

Tech savvy Chinese entrepreneurs


The world's leading economies are banging their head brainstorming for the best band-aids to their financial meltdown woes, unmindful of children still falling ill or even dying of contaminated food from China.


Never mind the melamine, formalin and who knows what other substances that seem to be staple ingredients in China-made products, oblivious of the hazards they bring to those who use them.


This financial problem is manmade, courtesy of greed, mismanagement, bad governance and speculations. News have it that the AIG top brass went on a $400,000 ($23,000 spent on spa services) out-of-town pow-wow immediately after they got wind of the $200-billion bailout they're getting from the government.


Yet, leading government managers, economists and financial experts seem hopeless not knowing the four Ws and one H of their problem and, therefore, unable to come up with the right solution. What about using their five senses or the Kepner-Tregoe Problem Solving Technique or the Blue Ocean Strategy?


While they are at it, China is quietly forging ahead and seemingly winning the tech race.


Author Rebecca Fannin (Silicon Dragon, McGraw-Hill, 2008) sat down with 12 top Chinese whiz kids and their investors and came up with a list of successful copycat enterprises, venture capitalists and innovators to watch.


She discovered that China has the world's largest number of mobile phone users (500 million), three times as many engineering students as the United States, a dozen billion-dollar tech firms then the USA and the fastest-growing venture capital market in the world. She realized that these new breed of entrepreneurs are leading China through a second Industrial Revolution using Google and Yahoo! as models of their techno-based companies.


Financial journalist Fannin identified these hot up-and-comers as: Baidu, China's boldest Internet startup. In a remarkable feat of reverse engineering and sheer chutzpah, the Chinese-born and westernized entrepreneur Robin Li took what he learned in Silicon Valley to beat Google in China by inventing a superior search engine in Mandarin.

Less than a decade later, he became a multimillionaire and tech superstar in China.


Alibaba, the wizardry of Jack Ma. Not even Harry Potter's author could come up with a tale as magical as Jack Ma's. He rose from the ashes of the Cultural Revolution to head China's best known Web business and created a template for running an American brand offshore. This is the story of a hometown boy who beat the global champions Yahoo! and eBay, with some accusations of dirty tricks mixed in along the way. Ma's biggest milestone came in 2007, when Alibaba went public., the Amazon-plus of China. Peggy Yuyu, a cofounder of the Chinese online bookseller, has shown how to copy and then outsmart in China. She's also created the largest Chinese online retailer. In the process, she's revolutionized the Chinese book market and probably is headed for an initial public offering., cruisin' with style. Car ownership in China is still exceedingly rare, but the dream is becoming a reality. China is destined to become the world's largest car market, with some 15 million newly middle-class Chinese poised to buy their first vehicles in the next three years.


Enter John Zhang, who has modernized the all-American AAA brand down to its name: Chinacars Club (CCC). Next, Zhang has his eye on the Nasdaq listing.


Oak Pacific Interactive, Web 2.0 on steroids. Imagine MySpace, FAcebook and Craigslist rolled into one company. That's China's Oak Pacific Interactive. Now imagine Rupert Murdoch and his wife, Wendi Deng, making a run for your business with MySpace China. That's the card Joe Chen is playing at his social networking consortium with a public listing in the offing., growing pains. China has an estimated 34 million bloggers, more than one-third of the world's total. Thanks to the free speech crusader Fang Xingdong, who coined the Chinese term for blogging and set up that nation's first blog-hosting service. But censorship, regulatory crackdown, poor management, and the lack of a clear business model are only the beginning of troubles for this fascinating startup.


We'll share with you the other exciting companies next column.



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