Richard Min of Seoul House and Kai Lukoff of TechRice – Speaking Tech From Seoul to Beijing
Begin-ups. Quick-following. China and the Web. These had been simply a number of the buzzwords shared and mentioned in our first installment of dialog between interviewees Richard Min of SeoulSpace and Kai Lukoff of TechRice. The 2 know-how pundits shared insights in regards to the environments the place they function, and found some uncanny parallels between the tech scenes of Seoul and Beijing. There was additionally speak of the spectacular rise of the patron Web in each international locations.Because the interview progressed, there was a glimmer of optimism in regards to the opening up of Asian markets, in addition to common enthusiasm in regards to the prospects that had been rising for each interviewees. Min and Lukoff confirmed that their bridge roles served to offer priceless insights. Of their separate spheres, they offer the insider scoop on rising entrepreneurs and behind-the-scene tales of Silicon Valley firms competing within the Asia markets. Each imagine there are classes to be discovered from the failures and successes of firms like Google, Fb, and Twitter.The dialog even took a philosophical flip. With rising localization in Asian know-how, may we anticipate a extra Asian contact to computer systems? Is the copying and cloning of iPhones in China, or a Twitter knock-off in South Korea a short lived phenomenon? We mentioned this and rather more on this thrilling dialog that bridged the very best of Beijing, Seoul and Silicon Valley initiative.(Editor’s Notice: The interview happened over the course of two to 3 days, and a number of the extra salient highlights are offered within the transcript beneath. There’s additionally a 15-minute podcast of the final dialog between the 2 individuals, an illuminating back-and-forth of insights and new concepts, for which you’ll be able to tune in on the backside of the transcript.)AsianTalks: Richard, you describe Korea historically as a “walled garden” and Kai, maybe you’ve got skilled an analogous perspective in China to outdoors affect within the tech subject. But in each international locations there’s overwhelming proof of emulation and second-mover benefit. Why the copying and the cloning of Silicon Valley, is it one thing that is ongoing, or simply signs of an business looking for its approach to higher innovation?
Richard: (Laughs) Nicely curiously, it relies upon the way you need to take a look at that. The implication right here is, once more now, are we speaking about being good enterprise, being an excellent start-up, or being good innovators. Korea is criticized rather a lot on the innovation entrance, and even Samsung admits to being a fast-follower. And so they do it proudly. So if you wish to say that their means to fast-follow is best than anybody else, in that sense, it is an excellent factor. So while you’re speaking emulation, copying, or why is there a lot of it, it is as a result of you may, and lots of the forces that attain globally do not hit Korea, and so then in the event that they’re capable of copy and do it higher, then extra energy to them.However on the identical time I assume the underlying tone is right here how can we launch the walled backyard of precise innovation, in order that it isn’t simply quick following in a extra expansive, fast fee, however really being an inspiration for brand spanking new improvements in Asia. Step one is to decrease boundaries to entry, each out and in, which could be very a lot what is going on proper now. Korea has been the hermit nation eternally, proper? It has been traditionally protectionist, which is an effective way to be a Galapagos Island. It is an impartial evolution, the place you see very distinctive issues taking place however nobody actually realizes it except you are right here. However now with social networks and iPhones performing as Trojan horses in each instructions, there is not any approach to cease the leaks from popping out, and also you’re simply going to see extra improvements. Plus Koreans are simply innovators of cool applied sciences, which is why you are going to see the beginnings of a renaissance of Korean start-ups in IT.Kai: (In China) there’s lots of copying and cloning, little question about it. There’s a complete phrase for it, Shanzhai, which is equal to a ‘mountain fortress,’ principally a secluded space the place they copy a lot of overseas improvements, or improvements of different firms. And the complete market in Shenzhen is constructed round constructing the “Hi-Phone” or the “Apple Phone,” simply numerous variations of the iPhone or the iPad, and each different product that one can think about. I believe the rationale why is one, as a result of the alternatives are there. There’s simply a lot low hanging fruit within the Chinese language market, that each entrepreneurs and enterprise capitalists ask themselves “Why should I experiment or come up with a new business model, a new product, when I can simply copy one that’s proven to work in the US, and will probably work here too?” So I believe that is the story of the expansion of lots of companies in China.The second a part of it I do suppose is considerably cultural. Within the US, within the Silicon Valley, for those who got here out with a clone, or an actual copy of the UI of one other web site, you may get hammered! You may be throughout TechCrunch for all of the incorrect causes. And you’d actually be just like the black sheep within the business. However in China the responses will vary from, like, “Wow, how are you able to copy that so well,” to some customers who imagine they’ve the true factor, or by no means even heard of the US model, to some folks frowning on it. However I believe to some extent there’s an embracing of the Shanzhai tradition.AsianTalks: You’ve got each constructed an internet presence that addresses the pursuits and issues of American and different enterprise folks fascinated about your markets. What’s your hottest content material, what do your readers like or demand essentially the most, based mostly on suggestions?Richard: It is fascinating. Suggestions is all the time totally different than analytics. Suggestions can generally be the loud minority. So on some issues suggestions has been extra on controversial points, whereas analytics would say one thing like Kakao Speak or the clone apps just like those within the US. However different huge tales like TicketMonster promoting to LivingSocial, stuff with connections to the Valley that folks really feel they’ll relate to, these have hit huge analytics. However what’s actually fascinating is, the tales that get essentially the most engagement, are the insider’s insights into the market, like, how one can really do promoting on Naver, which is the primary search engine in Korea. It is all the time a terrific anecdote to say that Google, which is dominant all over the place, has solely a two % market share in Korea, after ten years. That is sort of a shocker for lots of people, and reframes the dialog as to what is going on on. These sorts of issues have been contact factors and taglines of curiosity for a lot of, so we’re actually attempting to deal with an excellent number of simply reporting on what is going on on. (Korea) is such a thriller that for those who report on something right here, persons are fascinated by it.
Kai: I believe, when it comes to suggestions, I actually solely hear, or hear principally – actually — from the guests from China, simply because that is the place I am situated. So perhaps that skews the actual suggestions that I get. The posts that are usually the most well-liked are evaluation items in regards to the Chinese language start-up setting, or items about overseas Web firms trying to function in China. So we wrote one significantly in style sequence on “Why Facebook Would Have Won If China Were a Free Market.” They’re blocked by the nice firewall as is. And that did very nicely, in addition to a bit on why MySpace failed in China, and questions on, , whether or not Fb was going to come back right here by way of a partnership with Baidu. Additionally the analytics on (TechRice) is 40 % guests from China, 40 % guests from the US, and 20 % the remainder of the world.On the facet of native Chinese language start-ups, a number of the extra culturally oriented protection tends to do fairly nicely. So telling the story of particular person Chinese language entrepreneurs, we wrote one piece known as “The Story of W&L: China’s Great Internet Divide,” a translation of an unique Chinese language piece, however it portrays one entrepreneur, W, who caters to high-end, white-collar, urbanite Chinese language, and one other, L, who sells easy video games for function telephones, for Chinese language migrant employees and manufacturing facility employees in third-tier cities. The article compares and contrasts these two worlds.I additionally get actually captivated with telling the story of particular person Chinese language entrepreneurs, as a result of lots of them have a hell of a narrative, like Jack Xu of Diandian, as an illustration, who acquired to college and had by no means seen a pc earlier than. He realized he had to determine how one can kind, so he drew up a keyboard on a bit of paper, and since he did not have pc entry on a regular basis, he used that in his dorm room to observe typing. He was CTO at RenRen, the Chinese language social community, sort of just like Fb, and now he’s main his personal mild running a blog start-up Diandian, that is just like Tumblr within the US.