What's so exciting about Shanghai?

So a lot of people say Shanghai is really exciting. But what do they mean? Having just got back from our MD conference there here are some of the reasons I found it amazing:

1. The city is transforming faster than you can imagine. Since I was there 8 months ago the street in which we have our offices has completely changed (it is now full of some fantastic boutiques as opposed to old houses) and new developments are going up every day

2. There is a brand new generation, which is completely different to the one before (generation RARE* as classified by the clever folks at Jigsaw). Firstly they are of the one child policy so they have access to disposable income which previously was unimagined. Secondly they are connected (there are currently 136 million users who spend an average of 18.2 hours per week online).

3. The lack of IP rights has led to an increase in creative output, as the copiers spurn the creators to keep ahead of the curve by simply providing more and more content, and it has also resulted in a fickle youth culture with a voracious appetite for consumption of media and their environment and little regard for the value of creativity. This environment of free media has however provided a “can do” hands on attitude amongst the youth of China, who are confident to try doing things for themselves for the first time and are not concerned with failure as most things creative are free or cheap and therefore disposable. I think this is kind of exemplified by our team who rather than go and buy blinds, designed some and had them made (see above)

4. The scale is quite simply amazing. icoke currently has 34 million unique users since its inception 12 months ago. This is expected to double again in the next 12 months

5. The stuff that is happening in relation to combining gaming with social networking makes Second Life look like kids stuff. The 2 biggest phenomena are the online dancing game Nine You with 60 Million users as well as Cyber QQ pet which has a total of 30 Million users.

Where China is at was probably summed up well when a 23 year old said ‘The Chinese culture is like a caterpillar that has crawled along for 5,000 years. It is strong and steady. But now it has become a butterfly, ready to fly away’.

The reason it is important to us is that there is potentially plenty of talent coming out of China and in an industry with such short supply, we would do well to take notice. I would also be very surprised if we do not start to see some really innovative and exciting work coming out of China. Watch this space.

*RARE = Recognition, Autonomy, Restlessness and Expertise

One Comment

  1. TOG says:

    True – so true! Especially because I was there with Daniele and it is truelly amazing! Maybe we should indeed start learning Mandarin…I’m currently looking for a nanny for our son Paul. Maybe she should be Chinese? Makes things easier for Paul if he wants to be ahead of the pack in 18 years…