Monday, September 29, 2014

Tesla Drives Into China With Big Aims to Make Its Plug-In Cars Mainstream

Tesla at Silicon Dragon in Shanghai
Tesla Motors has big plans for China, and you can bet its car sales in the Chinese market will likely top the U.S.
The innovative electric car maker from Silicon Valley will “replicate its American strategy in China,” says Shanghai-based Tesla executive Dan Hsu.  The first cars were delivered in April, and Hsu says he  hopes that Tesla sales will “be bigger” than in the U.S.  Certainly anyone who’s been to Beijing and encountered the smog shares that view.
Central to the strategy in China is keeping the price tag for the cars at about the same level as in the U.S. — at least if you don’t count import tariffs. The Tesla S sells for RMB 640,000 or $104,000 in China. That compares with about $70,000 for a Tesla S in the U.S.  Tesla strategy is to keep pricing the same globally.
To get going in China, Tesla has set up charging stations in China at shopping malls, restaurants and hotels. Tesla-owned retails outlets have the free super-charging stations too where Tesla can get fully charged in about an hour. At the Knowledge & Innovation Community in Shanghai, there are three charging stations in the parking garage.
Just as in the U.S., the main challenge in China is a shift in perception that the car is not a huge pain to recharge, says Hsu, speaking at Silicon Dragon in Shanghai.  (The car was on display and drew lots of curiosity seekers.)
Keep reading post at Forbes, Tesla in China.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

What Makes Jack Ma Tick - And How He Built Alibaba

Alibaba’s successful IPO in New York brings back memories of interviewing founder Jack Ma in his hometown Hangzhou in 2006 long before his name was universally recognized – but well after he had saved Alibaba from failing in 2001.
Silicon Dragon author interviewing
Alibaba founder Jack Ma (circa 2006)
in his hometown Hangzhou
I learned a lot about Ma as an entrepreneur during that first interview for my book Silicon Dragon.  One of Ma’s more memorable quotes resonates today: ”When I am myself, I am happy, and have a good result.” Certainly true!
I also recall Ma telling me how he learned to think independently, at an early age. In 1985, he was invited by an Australian family he had become friends with in Hangzhou to spend a month in Australia with them on a summer vacation. It was an eye-opening experience. “Before I left China, I was educated that China was the richest, happiest country in the world. So when I arrived Australia, I thought, oh my god, everything is different from what I was told. Since then,” Ma told me,  ”I started to think differently.”
Keep reading post at Forbes: What Makes Jack Ma Tick

Friday, September 12, 2014

Friction Points for Alibaba As It Goes On Global Stage

It’s interesting to hear astute China-US venture investors Gary Rieschel of Qiming Ventures and Chris Evdemon of Innovations Works say they wouldn’t invest in Alibaba stock as the Chinese e-commerce company gets set to go public in New York late next week. With a portfolio full of Chinese tech startups poised to go public if Alibaba’s IPO does well, you would think they would be more rah-rah. But no.
“At a price of $160-$170 billion, I think they’ve already done enough to help other Chinese startups,” says Rieschel. “In my opinion, they’ve priced the company in a fairly rich way.”
A host of competitive pressures and strategic management issues at Alibaba in China and overseas could erode Alibaba’s value, he and Evdemon point out.
Within the Chinese market, challenges are building over increased rivalry from newly public e-commerce companies such as “Everybody is out there to erode Aliababa’s share,” observes Evdemon, on Silicon Dragon Talk. “They cannot show any form of complacency.”’
Morever, Alibaba faces erosion in its seller fees as an increasingly number of larger merchants opt to spin off from handling transactions through the e-commerce company and instead handle trades independently. Alibaba’s counter? Merchants who are TMall clients face cut-off access to AliPay if they cancel, Rieschel notes, a tactic he says would be illegal elsewhere.
Such managerial issues point to new tension points for Alibaba outside China as expansion continues globally and strategic decisions are made. The issue will be whether Alibaba continues its comfort zone as a China company or moves up as a global player.
Read Forbes for full article: Not much love for Alibaba.