Wednesday, May 26th, 2010
As many eyes in North America are turned on Techcrunch Disrupt, there is a bigger and more daunting disruption happening: It’s called China. When I thought of China, I had images of people on the road, biking to work in the morning, bamboo sticks, a country where chaos reigned, and where people were taught to be drones of authority. Total Ignorance.
Having traveled in many countries all around the world, and after only a few days in this beautiful land, I am daring to venture that China’s two biggest cities are the most technically advanced, fastest growing, technology hungry places in the World. This is not a small statement.
Since day one, the GOAP tour has led us to meet, interact and engage with the local tech community, from young entrepreneurs, VCs, government officials, and Chinese geeks. You can feel the fire in the belly of the younger generation: one that is proud of their country, one that cares about its future, one that sees a plethora of opportunities in an country that is booming. In particular, Hans Tung of Qiming Ventures, had some interesting insights on how a local rental car company over took and the better funded American competitors in the Chinese market: “Travelers don’t just want to rent a car, they want a driver with the car…”
The country isn’t perfect. The inequality between the “haves” and “have-nots” is big, and the level of pollution is quite extensive, but it is also something that is preoccupying the younger generation of entrepreneurs. Half of all presentations at the Ignite conference we attended in Shanghai were on the environment, including Jill Buck of Go Green Initiative, Peggy Liu of Juccce, and Ryan Dick of the GIGA.
If I was a betting man, I have a feeling that green energy will evolve faster in the land of the dragon than the land of the free. I have no scientific data to back me up, it’s just a hunch based on a few hours in a country – suffering of jet lag.
The GOAP team (Christine and Dave) have done a fantastic job putting this together. We are treated like royalty everywhere we go, and the opportunities to learn, interact with the local community are plenty. A trip that needs to be repeated as often as possible.
Sunday, May 23rd, 2010
The GeeksOnaPlane East Asia 2010 tour took off from San Francisco on Friday afternoon, with 16 geeks in tow. After a brief layover in Korea at Incheon International Airport (thx Asiana Airlines for the red carpet treatment at the business lounge), we arrived in Shanghai at Pudong Airport on Saturday evening. We then quickly became GeeksOnaBus, as we piled into our shuttle and drove over to the Courtyard Marriott Shanghai Xiujiahui to meet the rest of our #goap crew… now over 40 geeks strong!
Sunday morning all of the geeks met in the lobby to prepare for a big day at Shanghai World Expo. A few of us broke off from the main group to attempt a meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who also happened to be in Shanghai at the same time (we think she was stalking us, but we decided to play it cool). We were in luck — HRC adjusted her busy schedule to give us a few minutes for a photo opp, as well as the chance to pitch her on the StartupVisa Movement (which she thought was a great idea). In addition to Sec. Clinton, we also got to meet US Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman Jr and US Consul General of Shanghai Beatrice Camp.
After chasing down half the US State Department, we joined the rest of the geeks for an “East Meets West” blogger meet up at the Expo USA Pavilion, where more than 60 nerds from the USA and China got together to tweet, blog, and photograph each other into infinity and beyond. The GoaP crew then disbursed itself into multiple groups throughout the expo to checkout multiple country pavilions, and many of us also took a stroll along The Bund, overlooking the Huangpu River.
After a long day of walking all over Shanghai, the entire 60-geek strong crew re-assembled for dinner at Table No.1, a trendy new restaurant that just opened at the Waterhouse Hotel. Dinner was absolutely fabulous, and everyone had a wonderful time (clearly evidenced in the photo above taken by Kris Krug).
Next up tomorrow: ReThink Shanghai !!!