A taxi business in Shanghai, China?

One of the best VCs in the world is Gary Rieschel. He started Softbank and now is EMD at Qiming Venture Partners. When I visited him in China, he took me into a taxi where he showed me one of the businesses he was investing in. Cool conversation about China enterpreneurship too.

As to China, I’m still processing our trip. It was mind bending. Lots of photos are up on my Flickr feed. But what would you like to know that I learned there?

22 thoughts on “A taxi business in Shanghai, China?

  1. “Two years of disastrous quality-control breakdowns, from foul fish and lead-tainted toys to poisoned drugs and dairy products, are taking their toll on China’s allure as a manufacturing platform. A new study by supply-chain consulting firm AMR Research found that quality concerns are among the chief reasons U.S. manufacturers are scaling back plans to source more goods from China.” – Biz Week, November 26, 2008

  2. “Two years of disastrous quality-control breakdowns, from foul fish and lead-tainted toys to poisoned drugs and dairy products, are taking their toll on China’s allure as a manufacturing platform. A new study by supply-chain consulting firm AMR Research found that quality concerns are among the chief reasons U.S. manufacturers are scaling back plans to source more goods from China.” – Biz Week, November 26, 2008

  3. I know a bussiness (they deal in home decoration items etc) manufactured and sourced in china (their offices in Shanghai) who can no longer access their website since its been blocked by the govermnement, in probably an efort to tighten the censorship back up after the olympics. Now this companys website was always the same before and after the olympics, and all they do is bussiness (manufacturing and exports) but they have absolutely no chance of ever even finding an appropriate official to begin talks over de-blocking their OWN site.

  4. I know a bussiness (they deal in home decoration items etc) manufactured and sourced in china (their offices in Shanghai) who can no longer access their website since its been blocked by the govermnement, in probably an efort to tighten the censorship back up after the olympics. Now this companys website was always the same before and after the olympics, and all they do is bussiness (manufacturing and exports) but they have absolutely no chance of ever even finding an appropriate official to begin talks over de-blocking their OWN site.

  5. Peter: I’ve been outside the US dozens of times and have visited 70% of the states inside the US. What is so mind mending about China? A whole lot. The fact that you only see the denial of human rights issue as the only thing to discover about China says a WHOLE LOT about you. Lame. Really lame.

  6. Peter: I’ve been outside the US dozens of times and have visited 70% of the states inside the US. What is so mind mending about China? A whole lot. The fact that you only see the denial of human rights issue as the only thing to discover about China says a WHOLE LOT about you. Lame. Really lame.

  7. Ever since you did that China trip you sometimes come across like a 50 year old virgin who had intercourse for the first time in his life and is now telling everybody how great sex is. Really, have you never been outside the US before? What is so mind bending about China apart from their constant denial of basic human rights which in their opinion don’t necessarily apply to Chinese people?

  8. Ever since you did that China trip you sometimes come across like a 50 year old virgin who had intercourse for the first time in his life and is now telling everybody how great sex is. Really, have you never been outside the US before? What is so mind bending about China apart from their constant denial of basic human rights which in their opinion don’t necessarily apply to Chinese people?

  9. hello Robert, I’d love to know if you found any signs that the people you met were looking for a more democratic governance system in China. Do they feel their innovation is hampered by not having as many human rights?

  10. hello Robert, I’d love to know if you found any signs that the people you met were looking for a more democratic governance system in China. Do they feel their innovation is hampered by not having as many human rights?

  11. Don’t enter a taxicab without a map in Shanghai! We did so once and the trip was about twice as long as it should have been.

    Even if you don’t excactly know where you are or don’t know how to read the map – try to look as if you do! It saves you lots of money in Shanghai! :-)

  12. Don’t enter a taxicab without a map in Shanghai! We did so once and the trip was about twice as long as it should have been.

    Even if you don’t excactly know where you are or don’t know how to read the map – try to look as if you do! It saves you lots of money in Shanghai! :-)

  13. It’s fun to see Rieschel again. I knew him (literally) 20 years ago when I worked at Sequent Computer Systems in Oregon. He always impressed me as having tremendous business acumen and maturity – I see he has capitalized on it.

    By the way, when you have been to Shanghai a lot (I have been there now 22 times) those taxi video thingies are a nice novelty – that become incredibly annoying due to the content being basically static.

  14. It’s fun to see Rieschel again. I knew him (literally) 20 years ago when I worked at Sequent Computer Systems in Oregon. He always impressed me as having tremendous business acumen and maturity – I see he has capitalized on it.

    By the way, when you have been to Shanghai a lot (I have been there now 22 times) those taxi video thingies are a nice novelty – that become incredibly annoying due to the content being basically static.

  15. I’m a cab driver myself so innovations in that dead space that exists between points A and B are a welcome addition. Context is what has to lead the experience. The passenger is, for the most part, traveling a fixed route and in doing so passes by potential hundreds of businesses that would like to grab her attention. If advertisers could interpose themselves relative to the passenger’s surroundings than greater value is realized immediately. If say a your trip passed by a concert hall and the prompt encouraged you to buy tickets within the next 5 minutes, using a specific code to take advantage of a discount, than actually part of you cab ride is being paid by the concert promoter. That’s where we need to go.

  16. I’m a cab driver myself so innovations in that dead space that exists between points A and B are a welcome addition. Context is what has to lead the experience. The passenger is, for the most part, traveling a fixed route and in doing so passes by potential hundreds of businesses that would like to grab her attention. If advertisers could interpose themselves relative to the passenger’s surroundings than greater value is realized immediately. If say a your trip passed by a concert hall and the prompt encouraged you to buy tickets within the next 5 minutes, using a specific code to take advantage of a discount, than actually part of you cab ride is being paid by the concert promoter. That’s where we need to go.

  17. Obviously, China is doing a whole bunch of great things at the moment. However, I’d like to know what you think are the biggest challenges facing China in terms of growing its economy in the next decade.

    For example, I hear from people I know that run companies in China that some things are starting to cause them problems. Some of these issues have already led to them reducing their investments in China in favor increasing investments in other countries in the region. Problems include:

    - University degrees being dumbed down – the universities happy to hand out degrees for increasingly lower level achievement. Means it’s getting difficult to find the level of skills you need.

    - Employment law following the worst European models which favor employees too much e.g. getting difficult/impossible to fire people. Means companies are moving manufacturing operations from China to Vietnam, and moving high-tech operations from China to The Philippines

    - Rampant wage inflation – China’s competitive advantage at the moment comes not so much from the skills of its workers, but from its low labor costs. Wage inflation, especially in high-tech, is rapidly eroding that advantage, and productivity is not going up fast enough to compensate. So, companies choosing to invest in other counties rather than China (see point above).

    - Cultural differences with Western companies – highly-educated and experienced people sometimes (not always!!) believe they shouldn’t be expected to do any actual work; and people will simply resign from jobs to save face if there’s a disagreement e.g. on pay rises.

    - Not enough “rocket science/high tech” University research being done by “rock star” scientists, compared to Korea and Singapore which are placing more value on technology and science innovation. Doesn’t position China well for emerging as a leader in science and technology, which will be needed as it tries to evolve from having a reliance on manufacturing.

    Did you see any evidence of this kind of thing? Or did you get a different view? As I say, obviously, China’s economic reforms have been fantastically successful for them (e.g. compared to Russia); but I’m now starting to hear about problems from multiple sources…

  18. Obviously, China is doing a whole bunch of great things at the moment. However, I’d like to know what you think are the biggest challenges facing China in terms of growing its economy in the next decade.

    For example, I hear from people I know that run companies in China that some things are starting to cause them problems. Some of these issues have already led to them reducing their investments in China in favor increasing investments in other countries in the region. Problems include:

    - University degrees being dumbed down – the universities happy to hand out degrees for increasingly lower level achievement. Means it’s getting difficult to find the level of skills you need.

    - Employment law following the worst European models which favor employees too much e.g. getting difficult/impossible to fire people. Means companies are moving manufacturing operations from China to Vietnam, and moving high-tech operations from China to The Philippines

    - Rampant wage inflation – China’s competitive advantage at the moment comes not so much from the skills of its workers, but from its low labor costs. Wage inflation, especially in high-tech, is rapidly eroding that advantage, and productivity is not going up fast enough to compensate. So, companies choosing to invest in other counties rather than China (see point above).

    - Cultural differences with Western companies – highly-educated and experienced people sometimes (not always!!) believe they shouldn’t be expected to do any actual work; and people will simply resign from jobs to save face if there’s a disagreement e.g. on pay rises.

    - Not enough “rocket science/high tech” University research being done by “rock star” scientists, compared to Korea and Singapore which are placing more value on technology and science innovation. Doesn’t position China well for emerging as a leader in science and technology, which will be needed as it tries to evolve from having a reliance on manufacturing.

    Did you see any evidence of this kind of thing? Or did you get a different view? As I say, obviously, China’s economic reforms have been fantastically successful for them (e.g. compared to Russia); but I’m now starting to hear about problems from multiple sources…

  19. Stoicho: nope, because of the censorship there companies aren’t willing to do real-time video distribution. There are some YouTube competitors, though, and I met with the CEO of one of those.

  20. Stoicho: nope, because of the censorship there companies aren’t willing to do real-time video distribution. There are some YouTube competitors, though, and I met with the CEO of one of those.

  21. >> But what would you like to know that I learned there?

    Any news/meetings with Chinese torrent like real time video distribution companies/software?

  22. >> But what would you like to know that I learned there?

    Any news/meetings with Chinese torrent like real time video distribution companies/software?

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