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chinese tv

Danwei pointed me to an article on Chinese TV from Newsweek. With Angie now a weekly fixture on Chinese TV via SMG's BizWatch, it made for interesting reading.

A few things that resonated with me:

  • Chinese TV is flooded with commercials of every sort, from slick ones for shampoo and toothpaste that would fit in on any station anywhere to some cheesy-ass infomercials to make your boobs bigger or to grow 10cm.
  • The continuing urbanization (and what's the noun for becoming more urbane?) is definitely one of the social movements that will provide tenure opportunities for Chinese historians in years to come.
  • SMG v. CCTV will be an interesting co-opetition. CCTV seems to try to take the high road with some of its programming (Documentary) while SMG tries to be more outwardly commercial in its appeal. I once saw a Malaysian media academic give an interview where he said that some experts see a future for global news channels dominated by CNN (or Fox) in North America, BBC  in Europe and CCTV in Asia (not just China). Now language barriers may prevent that vision, but  I'm sure it's one that China wouldn't mind realizing. Personally, I like SMG and a lot of what they're doing, especially on Dragon TV. Their station IDs along are in a whole nother league - very cool.

May 31, 2005 at 10:42 PM in China | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack


We had a visit from the Italian Minister of Technology and Innovation today. Mr. Lucio Stanca used to run IBM Italy. Didn't have much chance to talk with him, as our COO Marco hosted the meeting, but it was a good chance to practice my Italian listening comprehension. It's amazing how close to English it truly is. It didn't hurt that I'd given that same presentation before, nor that I'd been asked similar questions in English, but I was able to pick up quite a bit of the exchange.

I think listening to foreign languages, and using context, body language and visual cues (most helpfully powerpoint slides) to try to get the gist of a discussion is a transferrable skill. I practice this all day long with Mandarin and now I find that listening to other languages is easier too. It's actually quite fun.

May 31, 2005 at 08:35 PM in Strategic Ventures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

ebay v. taobao

Ling's article was published today in the SF Chronicle. An interesting piece on the competitive online auction space featuring eBay (EachNet) versus Taobao (Alibaba) and an emerging group of entrepreneurs who are making a lot of money on the sites.

I think these auction sites are at the focal point for a lot of issues that the Chinese government and Chinese society are yet to figure out: internet anonymity and trust, intellectual property, cashless transactions, etc...

I haven't used either yet, but I think I may try it just to fumble my way through the transaction.

May 31, 2005 at 08:26 PM in China | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

new opportunity

I went out to dinner with a former colleague and a former boss of his who has started up a consulting firm's Shanghai office last night. We talked a little bit about a potential opportunity for me which sounded intriguing. It would be back into my old quant world with lots of crunching, heaving lifting, spreadsheet jockeying and other physical metaphors for geeky math pursuits. I think I'd enjoy it from an academic perspective, but I need to figure out how it would fit in to my long range career goals. I think I'd gain more in-depth operational experience, but I'd lose some of the management/strategy/business scope that I deal with and enjoy while doing strategic ventures and basically starting-up new businesses.

He also raised the real question about balancing my coursework for TRIUM with my job. Something that I've thought long and hard about. I know that sticking here means not balancing the schoolwork with the learning curve of a new job, but I don't see this as a significant risk. While I know that it will be a challenge, and will require even more diligence and hard work, I have full confidence in my ability to rise to the occasion. Plus I've got an amazing friend in Angie who is making these kinds of life challenges easier.

To be honest though, my favorite part of the night was just the great conversation with two really sharp guys. The talk spun around Shanghai real estate, the EU constitution, extreme corporate cost controls, the China auto service market and more. Whether the discussion about linking up goes further or not, I hope we can still keep in touch to share more perspectives on China and more.

May 31, 2005 at 09:14 AM in Strategic Ventures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Rough day today with two meetings with visiting MBA students and a meeting with Richard. Lots of good questions from all directions.

The first students were from UMass Amherst, the second from Babson. Both had lots of interesting questions about business strategy, HR, IP protection. What gave the second more of a twist was that they all seemed interested in moving here to China whereas the first were more interested from a more academic perspective. I think they were excited to hear from an American who'd made the plunge to come out here to the Shanghai economy. A lot of transition, lifestyle, quality of life questions. I imagine I'll be hearing from some of them soon.

May 30, 2005 at 04:29 PM in Strategic Ventures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

there goes the neighborhood

The inevitable has happened. We've been in this neighborhood since November, happy to be a bit off the beaten path, a ways away from the most popular expat locations. But this afternoon, walking home from Citic Square, we stopped by a local DVD shop we haven't been to in months. And instead of the very local, moderately priced, never crowded store, we saw that it had been cut in two. Where our old store, our second favorite neighborhood store, sat now sits a real estate office (of course) and a new location of the Blockbuster's of Shanghai bootlegs, Ka De Club. The (other) expats have arrived.

The orange paper signs out front said enough, what with their big Roman letters pronouncing "Ka De Club" for every non-Chinese reader's benefit. But to top all, as we bravely walked in, out were coming a few loud expat Americans while a cab was dropping off another load who were going in. Inside the store, we found a much weaker selection of films were being poured over by non-Chinese throughout. Our little store had become the new outpost for what I used to call the Shanghai Expat Community Center.

Ka De Club out near Xiangyang Market (the knock-off bag, jewelry, etc... market) was the first dvd store we came to know. With a large, albeit mainstream, catalog of American movies, we'd often find something to enjoy. The funniest thing was that on the weekends we'd always see friends and other foreigners there, hence the nickname. Many times, they'd be flaunting their Chinese and being rude to the equally rude and equally pushy staff there. We tired of it, and haven't gone back in ages.

And now the horribly rude staff and the often rude customers have moved into the neighborhood. I just pray they don't encroach on our favorite place, our little secret place around the corner.

May 28, 2005 at 06:29 PM in China | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

get it louder

Angie and I visited a few apartments, grabbed lunch downtown, and then stopped by a art exhibition called "Get It Louder" at Citic Square. It was an eclectic show with work from young artists from around the world. Many were Chinese, but not all.

I found a few pieces interesting, but the layout of the space made it difficult to spend any time anywhere without being jostled by the throngs of young hipsters who were floating through. Much of the work was pop, some of it dealt with sexuality, others with urbanization.

I think there will be a greater artistic voice and vision coming from the younger generation in China. I've heard that Shanghai municipal leaders who want to build a global metropolis recognize that their fair city will never garner the international respect they desire unless they foster a creative class. Maybe they've read Richard Florida. I think it'll be a natural outgrowth from the increasing standards of living here. People are less worried about their next meal, and are starting to climb Maslow's Pyramid.

May 28, 2005 at 06:12 PM in China | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

futuristic shanghai subway map

An amazing website with dynamic cursors, floating text, blinking graphics. Truly the futuristic future subway map for Shanghai.

update: for more on the subject you can also visit wangjianshuo.

May 27, 2005 at 05:33 PM in China | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

these go to eleven

Read my DigiTimes newsletter [I know, I know, I'm embarassed everytime I say that name, and Angie even sings the Digimon theme whenever she sees it], and saw this item:

...TSMC has said the utilization rate at its 6-inch fab will reach 120% in the third quarter....

Now, of course, it's not the first time that I've seen them go over 100% - this is a key metric for everyone in our business. And it does make a certain sense, they calculate utilization to a theoretical maximum capacity with an assumption of downtime for their production lines. But it does have obvious spin/marketing advantages and always reminds me of this classic Simpsons scene:

Hynpotist: You are all very good players...
Team:      [entranced] We are all very good players...
Hypnotist: You will beat Shelbyville...
Team:      We will beat Shelbyville...
Hypnotist: You will give one hundred and ten percent...
Team:      That's impossible.  No one can give more than one hundred percent. By definition that is the most anyone can give...

May 27, 2005 at 09:38 AM in Strategic Ventures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

i heart china

It's definitely an "I heart China" afternoon.

I popped out of the office to get my vaccinations for b-school (NY law). I had to go to the Shanghai Municipal Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Sounds like a bureaucratic nightmare, no? Well, it couldn't have been further from that.

I took a cab out to Zhangyang Rd where the center is, about 15 minutes to get there. Went up to the 8th floor and met a very friendly woman who I'd spoken to on the phone. We spoke in Chinese though she could read my documents from TRIUM. She walked me through the whole process, explained everything, talked about my options, even walked me downstairs to the doctor who administered the shot. Didn't even hurt a lick. Overall, great service, the kind of which you'd rarely find back home in the US, and certainly wouldn't expect at a doctor's office.

The whole process took about 25 minutes, and I was out back into the sunshine and then back to my office in no time flat.

May 26, 2005 at 04:58 PM in China | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack