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The Diary of Anne Ku
INTERNET WORLD EXPO
27 May 2000 Saturday cloudy, sunny, very windy, chance of rain
The first time I attended the Internet World exhibition I spent the whole day running around trying to get as many free T-shirts, pens, and other interesting freebies as I could. That was two years ago, when my knowledge of the Internet was confined to energy links for work purposes.
This time, I spent three whole days attending seminars and discussing nuances of the Internet with ISPs, web designers, dot.com marketers, web software sellers, franchisers, educators, bookshops, technologists, graphic artists, and everyone who had anything the least bit interesting to say or display. Despite all the advances in technology and understanding, the Internet is still a baby.
So said Jack Ma, CEO of ALIBABA.COM, a website devoted to SMEs (small and medium enterprises) which make up 85% of the businesses in Asia. Since his business model doesn't exist in the US, Harvard Business School is doing a case study on their success. He said that their success was due to three things. One, he didn't have any money. Two, he didn't know anything about the Internet. Three, he didn't plan. Despite having received two rounds of financing (the first from Goldman Sachs), the company still spends very cautiously. His entertaining talk was nevertheless extremely inspiring. At the end, I didn't get to ask my question: "Given that the Chinese make up a quarter of the world's population, and the Chinese operate on the guan xi (Chinese connection) principle, how would you make use of that?" Food for thought, indeed.