This episode of Digitally China is about Brian A. Wong, about his experiences being part of the early days of Alibaba, but at the same time also a story about what it was like to witness first-hand how China grew from almost nothing to become the largest internet market in the world.
The location is a hotel in San Francisco, the year is 1999. The internet hype is at its peak. The United States at this moment has over 100 million internet users, 10 times more than China. While his friends are leaving school to join the company that seems to be the next big thing — Google — Brian is instead meeting a relatively unknown entrepreneur called Jack who is talking enthusiastically about his company, Alibaba.
As with many of his friends on the west coast of the US, Brian believes that technology will change the world. But instead of staying in his hometown and the Middle Kingdom of innovation, Palo Alto, he moves to Hangzhou, a “lower-tier” city in China, to work with e-commerce in a country that barely has any internet users.
In this episode we’re listening in on Brian’s story and reflecting on his learnings from the growth of the Chinese technology sector — what we can learn from it and how it will impact the rest of the world.
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