Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Chinese in Silicon Valley

This was first posted in Asia Times, on August 4, 2015, a day ahead of the extensive 3-page coverage by WSJ on innovation in China.
Silicon Valley, where I live, is a truly unique place. Nowhere, not even in the U.S., comes close to replicating the mystique of SV. Proof? The entire Bay Area make up roughly 2% of the U.S. population, yet every year, virtually 35 to 40% of all the venture capital invested in the U.S. end up here.
Of course I do not mean to imply that by drinking the water in SV, the Chinese engineers suddenly transform into phenomenally successful entrepreneurs. I do mean that the culture and environment here fosters and supports rampant entrepreneurs, and anybody with talent and drive can be successful, not just the Chinese.
It’s true after Deng’s reform, that some of the best and brightest were among the early batch to come to SV for further education and stayed to become successful founders of high tech companies. However, increasingly the later batches that came out for further education are finding that the classmates that did not get to go abroad but stayed behind are enjoying more successful careers than they are.

It would be incorrect to imply that China’s political climate is somehow stunting the development of Chinese entrepreneurs. Home grown companies such as Huawei, Xiaomi, Tencent, Baidu, and others are testimony that Chinese entrepreneurs can thrive anywhere.

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