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Will China overtake the West or has it already? – part 2


The United States is the land of Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook. But Silicon Valley has had 50 years to get to where it is today. China has had less than a dozen, which gives us an idea of where it’s headed and how fast it’s going there.

We nailed venture capital, but we don’t have the answer to everything — and it would be dangerous to think we do. We’ve shown that we can raise money and spend money, but that could skew our expectations and lead to bubbles in valuation. I worry that American entrepreneurs feel good based on how much they’ve raised rather than what they’re actually producing.

Let’s look at how we stack up when it comes to those ingredients for success. Right now, in Silicon Valley, we have a talent shortage. We need more access to capital. Our resources are more expensive. And we’ve condensed our start-up culture into 60 miles in one valley, or in New York City, or Austin or Los Angeles while we should have had 50 Silicon Valleys in America.

Then there’s attitude. When I’m in Beijing or Shanghai, I have a happy sense of enthusiasm about what we can do in the future, and its insatiable; it’s palpable.

In Silicon Valley, the feeling seems to be that if you haven’t raised a billion dollars, you’ve failed. The question is, do we still have that necessary hunger for success, or has entrepreneurism become this industry that needs to feed itself?


But the fact is, any of China’s rising start-ups could easily be the next Alibaba — and they won’t just be catering to the Chinese market. Which means the question is not so much whether China can keep up with the West, it’s whether we can keep up with China.    


I’m not trying to alarm anyone. But we need to rethink the idea that the West is ahead of everybody else. Yes, we have more companies, but China is catching up — and doing it with less capital.

This has implications for governments, multinational companies, and anyone who cares about the future success of the world’s technology powerhouses. What’s happening in China is fascinating, and we need to be more mindful of it. If we know more about it, we’ll be able to make better decisions.

I want the rest of the world to feel the same kind of optimism that I feel when I’m in China. But if only one or two countries are keeping up with China, the rest are falling behind. I don’t want us to think we’re ahead in a game that we’re not actually winning.


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