Thanks for the introduction, Chris. I am currently completely
updating a program which has provided a particular potential for China. Depending in Yuxuan’s interest, expertise, passion
and talent, there may be some connection here.
As an aside, it’s well worth reading a new book, THE
ALIBABA WAY. By Ying Lowrey. Subtitle: Unleashing grassrots entrepreneurship to build the world’s most innovative company.
This English edition published 2016
by McGraw Hill, New York.A simplified Chinese version was published in China in 2014. Yuxian: I am not sure
of the Chinese-language publisher.
the author, has been working in China since 2012, with both the Tsinghua University
in Beijing (where he is an economics Professor), and with the Alibaba Research Institute.
And I note Yuxuan’s connection with Tsingua university; and
may have access to Professor Lowry.
Chris: as you
probably know, while Alibaba is the world’s biggest (by far) global e-commerce company (founded by Jack Ma), and much
bigger than Amazon, two of its major subsidary companies are Alipay (much bigger than America’s PayPal), and Taobao
(with a meaning in English similar to “our treasures”). Jack Ma originally conceived of the latter subsdiary
as a China-based competitor to America’s eBay auction site, but soon found that Chinese people were not keen on on auctioning
any of their possessions. By switching to to the new Chnese name, this not only succeeded but effectively “ran
eBay out of China”. To the best of my knowledge, although eBay has established subsidiaries in most Western countries,
it has failed in only two countries: China (against Albaba’s Taobao; and in New Zealand against Trade Me).
Alibaba made its original reputation
with the Jack Ma’s concept of using the English language to show what he predicted might soom be 34 million small Chinese
businesses to sell their products to the English-speaking western world. Alibaba has since introduced Taobao initially
to for Chinese to sell products inside China. And, because China has started well behin the US in using credit cards,
Jack Ma then introduced AliPay as an alternative online banking system (in such a way that, in my view, might show a major
way to replace the present corrupt currency-exchange system).
Probably the best book on the history of Alibaba was also published
this year in English: ALIBABA: The house that Jack Ma built, by
Duncan Clark, published by Harper Collins, New York.
But The Alibaba Way is, in my view, much better on the specific detailed workings of Taobao, and the new Taobao University,
which now runs e-commere training courses for potentially millions of students: both online and in person.
Alibaba, by the way, is based in Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang
province. And Zhejiang is well known in China as a province of small
entrepreneurs. In many cases these started as small individual entrepreneurs, and soon exploded into hundreds
doing similar work: each then known individually as “Sock City”, “Pen City” and dozens of others specific
“cities”. Effectively, Alibaba and Taobao have become the world’s leading examples of an “e-commerce,
eco-system”, with Alipay as a brilliant payments system that has fast become the Chinese way to fund not just hundreds
but millions of small entrepreneurs and innovators.
Chris: all earlier books on Jack Ma and Alibaba, they tell the story of Ma being a complete early
“dummy” at mathematics but an brilliant early student of English. China, of course, has a two-thousand-plus
history of worshipping educational qualifications, with a Confucian annual nationwide exams as the key step to getting the
degrees so necessary for top jobs, including in Government. To get those degrees, students have to score high in five
subjects, including maths. But Jack Ma, in his first-year math exam at university, scored only 1%:-) Amazingly
he scored very highly in English. And to fund the rest of his personal degree courses, he started to act as an English-language
guide to English-language visitors to his own capital city; whild he also worked hard to improve his math results. Second-year
math exams: 19%. Only n year three did he manage to scrape past even the mininum math result (70%), by 1 per cent.
But by the time he managed to get his minimum degree he was also brilliant as an English-language scholar (mainly learned
brom BBC radio courses). This ability also earned him early jobs as English translators and interpreters, including
on trade missions to the US, where he saw, for the first time, how goods could be sold on the Internet (which at that time
— in the mid 1990s — was barred in China. This was before Google was invented, although Yahoo (America’s
first online directory service) was operating. And so was Amazon in it first year as an online book store.
On advice from a Seattle-based Chinese
family friend, he found out how he could use the new Internet to search for information, including on products such as beer.
But he almost immediately found out how he could search the history of beer (including brand names such as Heineken)
but no Chinese beer. That was the specific firecracker that lit the brainpower the brain powerl to concieve the idea
os using his English-language knowledge to sell, on the Internet, millions of Chinese products on the Internet. And
the idea of Alibaba (“Open Sesame”) as the miracle brand name.
China’s own big take-off took
place after Chairman Mao died in 1976; and two years later Deng Xaioping became China’s new Paramount Leader,
and introduced the concept of “Socialism with Chinese charateristics”: what many others in the western world would
callinnovation and entrepreneurship. Others (especially in
the US) would call it “free enterprise capitalism”. Others in my own country and in California’s
Silicon Valley might call it “cooperative enterprise” (my own preferred term) or co-creative open-source technology
(especially involving new eco-systems linking specialist and innovative US universities, such as Stanford, Utah, MIT and Carnegie
Mellon; some of their brilliant graduates (in digital technology, such as the inventors of transistors and then layered integratedc-circuits,
generally known as silicon chips), and others as drop-out innovators.
(Transistors were invented in 1947 by three computer engineers at the Bell Laboratories’
“Ideas Factory” in New Jersey: set up decades earlier by the Bell telephone system monopoly: patented by Alexander
Graham Bell. The first transistor radios emerged early in the 1950s, each with five transistors, welded together. And,
as part of Bell Labs’ mandate to protect the Bell telephone monopoly, Bell shared the the right to use the transistor
patent for a low fee of $25,000, including a one-month course in how to use transistors as the core of the transistor
revolution. But more importantly, two companies that took advantage of this deal were Texas Instruments, of Texas,
and Intel, of the Californian area known since 1971 as Silicon Valley. Digital engineers at each of these centers separately
then invented what has become known as the “integrated circuit”, with (first) thousands of transistors linked
by electronic micro-processors, also known as semi-conductors. Gordon Moore, one of the two main founders and leaders
of Intel, was soon (in 1965) to come up with what has since become known as “Moore’s Law”; that the number
of transistors that can be crammed on to a computer will continue to double about every two years. As a result, after
Apple had introduced the iPhone in 2007, with thousands of transistors, by the time the iPhone 6 was launched in 2014, it
had 2 billion transistors.)
I mention that vital summary of Silicon Valley history because, in
many ways, Jack Ma, Alibaba, Alipay, Taobao and Zhejiang province itself are the new Chinese Silicon Valley, linked with
Shenzhen-Hong Kong as perhaps the new Seattle-Microsoft-Amazon corporations are to America’s Washington state (with
billions of dollars in new funding from entrepreneurs in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and “the 50 million ‘Overseas
Chinese’ who are among the leaders in south-east Asia: ‘the Asian Tigers’”).
In my own view, Google is one of the
best new American models of the future of innovative business. The paperback book, “How Google Works”,
by Google leaders Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg, is proobably the
best book on its system: now employng 65,000 “smart creatives” and sharing the Google Android “open source”
digital technology operating ‘kerne”, as a completely free mobile operating system with a Google-led Open Handset
Alliance — now with 34 companies linked to it. Effectively, Google (which now shares with Apple one of the two-top
rankings as the world’s wealthiest companies), bought the Android system in 2005 from its inventor, Andy Rubin — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andy_Rubin
Effectively, I have mentioned the 34 companies in the Open Handset
Alliance because Jack Ma’s Alibaba group — and especially Taobao, Taobao University and AliPay — seem to
provide a potential Chinese equivalent to this kind of linkage — especially to show how “Small is the New Big” (to quote Seth Godin’s new book). Of course several key
Chinese mobile-device companies are included n the 34 Open-Handset-Alliance companies: incuding Xiaomi Mi-Phone and Mi-Pad
group, Huawei Group, Lenova Group, and Korea’s Samsung group (with its Galaxy brand smartphone and smart tablet).
Each of those companies signs up for free Android Operating system, as the core of its own-designed mobile smartphone
and mobile iPad-like tablet
while many business leaders in the “western world” see China’s giant state-owned companies — such
as China Mobile — as typical of Chinese business; Jack Ma’s concept has revolved around how millions of
much smaller Chinese entrepreneurs can be linked in “a new Internet-based digital platform” to sell their products
and services to China, Asia and the world.
seems to link in with one part of Deng Xaioping’s concept — but added to Jack Ma’s philosophy and dream.
Specifically, when Deng effectively became the new leader of China
in 1978, China had only 348,000 non-state enterprises.
By 1990, it has 7.9 million.
And by 2013, it had 60.6 million. So Jack Ma’s forecast that China will have at least 34 million entrepreneurs
has now proved to be too small.
Millions of those innovators
and entrepreneurs are now linked through over 25 of Alibaba’s separate subsidiaries, and more and more are being trained to become effective e-commerce entrepreneurs: at Alibaba’ own Taobao e-commerce university.
New interactive game to teach students and young “creatives”
to become innovators and entrepreneurs.
Yuxuan: I have been developing a new online interactive, digital learning game,
and educational, interactive “video-book”.
China is already well on the way to lead the world in the use of smartphones and smart-tablets:
using both Google Android and and Apple operating systems.
My own publishing company is The Learning Web Ltd. In 1998-99 we sold a world-record 10 million copies of our
Learning Revolution book in China. Our most recent book on education was an updagte on this. You can read its
first 32 pages on our website: The Learning Web - Home Page
And, on its home page you can view an 18-minute New
Zealand TV interview in which I launched that version in 2008. The other video clip on that opening page
is of Dr Jeannette Vos, my Amerian-based co-author.
If you send me an english version of your mailing
address in China, I will airmail you a copy. And I would be happy to send you a copy of the same
book for Professor Lowrey if you think it worthwhile to contact him. Or if you think there is any way on which you and I might
be able to work in with the Taobao university, I would be happy to explore that with you and Professor Lowrey.
For the record, I have worked in with Arizona’S University of Advancing Technology in using my intersctive learning game
to teach innovation and entrepren eurship to all their students inn the same one-day seminar. This work was marked
by the awarding of a Ph D in Computer Technology.
for the introduction.