Business and Pleasure Do Mix . . . in China

Red Herring has published an article on a widely known but rarely discussed phenonmenon of the co-mingling of nightlife and business scene in China. In it, Red Herring profiles the nightlife of 25-35 year old Asian American ex-pats who usually runs in the same business (private equity, consulting, banking, venture) and social (ex-pat, young professionals, english speaking) circles due to hugely overlapping demographics.

I have a ton of friends out in China (Shanghai and Beijing) who are living that lifestyle. What the Red Herring article doesnt mention is that similar “scenes” exist for Asian Americans in many of the large cities in the U.S. . . SF, NY, Seattle, Boston, LA, etc. . . All these was borne out a influx of asian american immigration into the U.S. the mid 80’s to early 90’s. (which I’m part of). Asian American penetration in the top universities (ivy’s, stanford, berkeley etc) began to climb in the middle of the 90’s as a result. Taking off shackles of our parents’ expectations to be doctors or engineers, we took our ambitions and work ethics and applied it to our business/professional goals instead (chasing the old might dollar instead :) ). A whole generation of Asian Americans eventually entered the work force as junior bankers, consultants, venture capitalists, and PE analysts into previously white male dominated industries . . . Driven by similar goals, education backgrounds, cultural identities, and professional expereiences they congregated together in the after hours and weekends sharing their travails. . . thus formed the beginning of the social scene.

Almost five year later we have reached a phase in our careers to not just be entry level employees but to take on increasingly important roles within our firms and companies. The rise of China as an economic power has given many of us the opportunity to take our career to the next level and create our own rules and opportunities . . . to be kings and king makers . . . (ironically the same reasons our parents immigrated to the US in the first place). So the mass reverse migration back into China began almost 3-4 years ago (the Chinese calls these Asian Americans, “Sea Turtles”) . . . one friend convincing another . . . and thus the social scene migrated BACK into China’s major cities intermingling with traditional Chinese night-life (which the article mentions at the end) to become what it is today. . .

Web Stack 2.0

Peter Rip at EarlyStageVC had an interesting vision of the future of the web. Given that everyone has accepted the fact that the web will become the next application platform, a coherent vision of that web based platform stack will be extremely important for anyone in the technology industry. Year to date, web 2.0 had been focused very much application innovations (consumer services) but in the near term future we will quickly reallize that the current web architecture is not scalable for the type of end use innovations that we want to built and enable. As much as the current web development software stack went through rapid development and transformation(2 layer, 3layer, etc etc) the web stack (web services? has 2.0 replaced web services as a buzz word?) will too. Smart VC’s are now digging around for infrastructure plays which will bring technology savvy entrepreneurs back into the web 2.0 game (rather than just some MBA with some consumer services ideas). I believe (like peter?) that the next phase of “web 2.0? will not be innovations focused on applications but the infrastructure, with GoogleBase kicking off the game. The middleware VC’s and entreprenuers who had been left out in the cold the last 6 months will reign again.

I do have one addition/modification/clarification on Peter’s vision of the web stack. I believe the web will continue to fragment and become even more distributed. Try as google might, I do not think the so called “data store” (current incarnation is just good old web pages) will consolidate but fragment even more. Instead, I think where companies can achieve leverage and or network effects is through owning the schema/meta layer. Specifically, some sort of web wide integration network might appear that can in real time, create meta data and schema out of unstructured content or normalize schemas out of structured content. Where significant scale in data throughput will be needed (read increasing returns) to generate these schemas automagically (Gbase is trying). The closest things right now to this is not webservices vans (like Grand Central) but actually vertical search engines and Google Search+Google Base. Google is already in the process of modularizing their search stack so they can make search simply an application service ontop of their platform. With meta data integration layer and datastores(GoogleBase) underneath.