The Entrepreneur’s Bookshelf: Silicon Dragon – How China is winning the Tech Race
March 10, 2008 by Bernard Leong
If you survey the history of the rise of the internet companies in China, you will find very few books talking about them. Of course, it has mostly gotten to do with the language, and these companies are relatively unknown outside China. From the US side, many books have been written on the tech giants from the US. Even the web 2.0 founders are well documented in the book by Jessica Livingston in "Founders at Work". So, here we have a book "Silicon Dragon: How China is winning the Tech Race" written by Rebecca Fannin, a journalist who has been working in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Beijing. In this book, she interviewed 12 top chinese entrepreneurs and their investors, and give a brief overview on how the top Chinese internet companies are now rising to the challenge against their western counterparts. By the way, the author will be speaking in a talk entitled “Silicon Dragon” organized by E27 on 18 March 2008 in NUS (check the link for more details).
In this book, Fannin divided the book into three parts. She explored the rise of Chinese internet companies from the perspective of the entrepreneurs. She picked the six most successful companies which she labelled the copycats, i.e. there is a western counterpart to these companies doing exactly the same thing. In this group, she picked Baidu, Alibaba, Dangdang, Chinacars, Oak Pacific Interactive and Bokee. Of the six, I am more familiar with Baidu and Alibaba. She explored a bit more in depth about the founders. From the group, there are two groups of founders. Either these founders have spent their time in the US or they are made in China. She also described some of the strategies how these local companies have given the tech giants such eBay, Paypal and Google a hard time.
The next part of the book deals with the investors. Of interest, she discuss why some venture capitalists from Silicon Valley (Perkins, DFJ and Sequoia) have moved to China while some do not. For example, Guy Kawasaki is one of those who did not want to go to China. In fact Don Valentine, the godfather in Silicon Valley has once felt that China is too far and too foreign, and crippled with intellectual property theft, immature stock exchanges and regulatory problems before 2003, and he changed his mind after Sequoia has deeply invested in China. The last part of the book, the author identified the innovators, and selected five of them: Lingtu, Oriental Wisdom, Pingco, Maxthon and Lattice Power Corporation.
If you are looking for a book to give you a headstart on the up and coming Chinese tech companies, then Silicon Dragons will be a good one to start off with.
Author’s note: This review is first published in his personal blog.
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About The Author
Bernard Leong - Co-Founder
Dr Bernard Leong is currently in Vistaprint as a technology manager, where he manages an engineering team and builds new products for emerging markets. His former entrepreneurial stints include CTO and co-founder of Chalkboard where he has architected the platform for location based advertising across web and mobile, and also an early stage investor in Thymos Capital with Lunch Actually, Padlet and iHipo. His accolades include the Young Professional of the Year Award for the Singapore Computer Society 2010 and Outstanding Young Alumni for National University of Singapore 2007. His expertise includes technology and social media. Currently, Bernard also serves as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence with INSEAD Business School and taught courses in entrepreneurship in NTU.Read other posts by Bernard Leong