‘In the Eye of a Tornado’: Views on Innovation from China

[Xiaomi uses flash sales to gage demand for their product.  Consumers get a ticket for the right to purchase their phone.  Xiaomi then goes to Shenzhen and gets a bulk rate.]


.. No matter how one views Xiaomi — and there are many ways to view it, for better or worse — one thing is clear: It, and other such companies (like WeChat and Alibaba), indicate a broader trend around innovation coming from China.

Companies and countries that were once positioned as copycats or followers are becoming leaders, and in unexpected, non-obvious ways. For example, through scale, distribution, logistics, infrastructure, O2O, a different kind of ecommerce, mobile marketing, even design… But of a very different kind than iconic examples like, say, SpaceX. Or Apple, which arguably could damage the U.S. if single-mindedly regarded as “our official most innovative company”.

Or so argue the guests on this podcast, which include a16z partner Connie Chan and author/long-time observer of internet and social media culture Clay Shirky, who is currently based at NYU Shanghai, wrote the popular book Here Comes Everybody, and most recently authored Little Rice on “smartphones, Xiaomi, and the Chinese Dream”.