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links for 2006-02-20

February 21, 2006 at 12:18 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

APPIIR event tonight

For those in Shanghai, Shanghai Venture Partners will be featured guests at this event hosted by APPIIR.

Should be fun.

February 15, 2006 at 09:07 AM in China | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

light posting:heavy meeting schedule

Been a really packed week: lots of entrepreneur meetings, project meetings at work, a couple of Yale interviews, gave a talk on strategy and my company at IEDE and a networking event tonight. Oh and Valentine's Day.

Sorry for the very light posting.

Had a really strange feeling this morning. I ride the ditie nearly every day as SMIC is more than half way out to the airport from the city center where we live. This morning as the train emerged from Longyang Station and came above ground, I could feel my mood change as I saw even the decidedly gray skies of Shanghai winter (on a misty day no less). Despite the romance of being underground, and growing up in suburban Detroit where the London Tube or the Paris Metro or the NYC Subway always seemed saw far and maybe so liberating, I think I'd rather stay above ground from now on.

February 15, 2006 at 09:04 AM in China | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

links for 2006-02-10

February 11, 2006 at 12:19 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

things you can do when labor is cheap.

Network problems at home last night and this morning. Checked all the connections and did a hard reset of the modem and router. Still no luck. So a quick call to the telco to see if there was a network outage or a problem with our account. The rep said they'd check on the status for us and asked for a contact number. About 30 minutes later, I get a call from a serviceman who is on site at our apartment wondering which unit we're in.

It's a good thing that Angie was home to let him in. If she wasn't it would've been a wasted trip by their serviceman. He fiddled around with things and got my Windows machine to get to the network (I'd had no luck going direct with our OSX machine). Seems we've got a bum router (argh, just bought the thing about four months ago), but the network and modem are fine.

So China Telecom sent out an ostensibly technically qualified rep to check on our network to find out that there was a problem with our router. We both could've been out. It could've been a loose cable. Heck, what if I'd just had the thing unplugged or didn't know how to power on my computer. The call rep should've asked if we were home. She should've run through a few simple FAQ type checks to see if it was worth sending someone over. Instead she quickly dispatched someone.

These kinds of process inefficiencies are masked by the cheap labor that is so plentiful here in China (even in Shanghai), but they're extremely difficult to iron out of a large, mature organization. Refraining from just throwing people at problems is a new paradigm in management that is still not widely adopted here. But it's one that will need to take hold as Chinese companies try to compete with foreign entrants into this market and as they try to compete internationally.

February 9, 2006 at 11:47 AM in China | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

links for 2006-02-07

February 8, 2006 at 12:18 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

scale

On an investor call for Shanghai VP yesterday, the questions, as they so often do, centered around scalability; basically asking, "You've done a good job bringing your business to this point, but how will you be able to scale it to a size with a decent exit for us."

It's perhaps predictable that in a country of 1.3 billion a big concern for any investor is how can you grow your business to meet the market. What's perhaps less expected is the real shortage of people who are both aware of the scaling problem and equiped to handle the challenges of it.

For the company we're working with, their answer was to re-trench, slow their rapid growth for about two years while they built process and people infrastructure to grow in a more sustainable way for the long term. Now they've got the internal resources to build upon.

Sure it was a difficult choice, but I think it's proved to be the right one.

Unfortunately, so much of the Chinese economy (and its components) is focused on growth at any costs. And usually just at the top line too. This is inline with the way the government has incented managers at all levels for a long time. Maybe it has a parallel with the US markets forcing quarterly focus on public companies (and VCs on their portfolios too). But in the end it can lead to "getting ahead" of ourselves. Inevitably, some retrenchment is necessary. Look at real estate pricing in Shanghai for a case in point.

This balancing act between short term growth and long term sustainability is the challenge every organization faces and the judged success of the Chinese government's management of the national economy will be in large part based in how they continue to manage this balance.

February 7, 2006 at 06:55 AM in China, Strategic Ventures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Another month, another org chart

So I've got another new boss, or rather two bosses. Instead of directly reporting to the CEO or one level removed, it's now two, as me and the team have been bumped over to the Finance division. So it's CEO-CFO-my boss- then me. Things are never boring here. At least I've got plenty of experience with where a corporate development, corporate ventures team can fit into an organization and how that affects the chains of decision.

Ultimately, I think this shift makes sense as the types of deals we're looking at have changed to include some more early stage opportunities. Guess time will tell though. And then there's the fact that our CEO usually wants to be involved very directly in all our projects because of his own entrepreneurial streak. We'll see how this hand-off plays out, but the others were basically on paper only.

February 7, 2006 at 04:12 AM in Strategic Ventures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

jet lag

Sometimes jet lag can really work in your favor. I've been up for about an hour working on some b-school work and brainstorming on a project idea. I'm a morning person, but I'm sure that being up and productive at 3am has more to do with our recent trip to the US than anything else. Just hope it doesn't catch up with me getting sick or anything. Otherwise, I dig this super quiet time.

February 7, 2006 at 04:07 AM in Personal | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

careful with pressure cookers

Late last night I was trying to get a jump on some chicken soup for Angie who caught a cold this weekend. Put the thing in the pressure cooker on the stove. A bit too aggressive in opening it without fully letting all the steam out and.... pffwooooow. Soup everywhere. Looked like it might've tasted good. For shame.

Thank heavens for Shanghai ayis. You wonder why they think we're somewhat hopeless in the kitchen?

February 7, 2006 at 04:04 AM in Personal | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack