Thursday, September 22, 2011

From Made in China to Invented in China? 'Chinov8!'

A Silicon Dragon tech economy began in 2002 with Chinese returnees—so-called sea turtles who came home to lay their eggs—who cloned Google, YouTube, and Amazon, grabbed Sand Hill Road money, and scored on NASDAQ and the NYSE. Today, homegrown Chinese entrepreneurs are snapping up venture capital from Chinese currency funds for even more clones—Beijing techie Wang Xing alone has cloned Facebook, Twitter, and a Chinese GroupOn. 
 The needle is gradually moving from “made in China” to “invented in China.” Micro-innovations tweaked for the local culture are cropping up more often. Sina’s Weibo, a hybrid Twitter-Facebook, layered in video and photo sharing before Twitter did. The long-awaited promise of disruptive technology from China is coming, too, symbolized by China’s climb to fourth place worldwide for new patent applications. GSR Ventures–funded LatticePower in Nanchang counts more than 150 patents for making low-cost efficient LED lightbulbs.
But China technopreneurs are still in those awkward years of adolescence. The next Jack Ma of Alibaba fame has yet to emerge. 
The fissures in the wall are there, for sure. Doing business in China also means dealing with corruption, fraud, lack of the rule of law, inflation, censorship of Web content, and China’s notorious counterfeiters, who have popularized a whole industry of cheap knockoff or shanzhai cell phones.

That’s a long list of ills, but the tides are shifting and swiftly. As China’s Silicon Dragon evolves as a startup frontier with multiple undercurrents, it could even one-up the original Silicon Valley and become a technology superpower. That may be only a decade or two from now.
We’ll be debating these trends at our Silicon Dragon ‘Chinov8!’ event, Oct. 6, at Rosewood Sand Hill. See

Our expert panelists include Brad Bao of Tencent, Bill Tai of Charles River Ventures, Tim Draper of DFJ, Richard Lim of GSR Ventures plus Marguerite Gong Hancock of the Stanford Program on Regions of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. We’ll be hearing more from our featured Chinese tech entrepreneurs Jeff Chen of Maxthon (China’s Internet Explorer plus) and Haidong Pan of Hudong (China’s Wikipedia plus), who are flying in from Beijing to speak at Silicon Dragon ‘Chinov8!’ during China’s National Day Holiday. 

Read more at my Forbes post: