Just some quick impressions.
1. If you want to compete with your web service and keep copying from happening, do two things: 1. let users upload streaming, live, video. That drives the censors here nuts. 2. Make your system totally open so your users can leave. The Chinese don’t understand that concept. They love cloning walled garden approaches like Facebook. Even that won’t guarantee success here, they have resources for cloning services that you just wouldn’t believe.
2. If you could make face masks sexy you could make a mint here. The pollution is horrendous. Last time I was here, 11 years ago, it was bad, but now it’s worse and people are starting to wear masks to protect their lungs. I think a good marketing campaign would be all you’d need.
3. American brands are doing very well here. There are tons of Buicks here (GM started with Buick because that was a brand that was in the national consciousness here. There are tons of American brands here from Osh-Kosh to McDonalds to Budweiser (they think it’s better beer than their own beer).
4. I met with quite a few geeks here building companies. It was very rare to find an entrepreneur that had been in Shanghai for more than six years. The amount of new people moving in to build businesses is amazing.
5. The censorship here is an annoyance that everyone makes fun of. It’s sort of like having a boss that randomly turns off websites to try to keep you working on what he wants you to work on. But, when you dig deeper you see it really is a protectionist scheme that keeps businesses from outside China from effectively competing. There are several Facebook clones here that are more popular (and more profitable, even) than Facebook itself.
6. I’ll never complain again about California drivers or California smog laws.
7. Chicken feet are more tasty than one might expect.
More to come soon.