Yay! SES Nanjing begins!
This morning, the members of the CSMT tour are met at the door by Inway Ni, the China-side organizer of the conference from TimeV/ISAS (Internet Society of China). He's a really great guy.
After signing in, I went to the keynote session featuring Jack Mah (Alibaba/Yahoo) and Johnny Chou (Google). I don't think anything else made the differences between China and America more clear than these two speeches. Johnny was the consummate Google professional, and Jack was the upstart "local boy does good". It was also pretty clear that although Johnny had more to say of substance, Jack was the darling of the Chinese press, and really knew how to speak to the local audience. This translates well into how each of their representative internet properties is seen in China, as well.
Jack VS Johnny - this should be an interesting battle...
Several people asked why Baidu wasn't at the conference. Were they boycotting it? I asked too, and the answer I got was that (in typical Chinese fashion) the Baidu team asked to show up as keynote at the last minute - far too late. So they were there, but not as visibly as Google and the others. That will change next year, I''m sure.
The turnout to the event was very respectable for the first SES in the country (a lot more than the first SES in the US) and was pretty well organized. The only thing marring the event was that the heat was off (or the air conditioning was stuck - I'm sure it was colder inside than it was outside) It was freezing during most of the sessions.
Some interesting facts and figures:
- Yahoo China is different from Yahoo. You can get listed in both (and should)
- Mobile search is likely to be really big in China soon
- Executives tend to use Google, Students tend to use Baidu
- Internet users in China are younger than elsewhere - averaging under 22 years old.
- Google considers China to be the most competitive search market in the world.
- The trend of search engine usage showed that the less sophisticated cities (ie Guangzhou) tended to use Baidu, and the more sophisticated cites (ie Shanghai) tended to use Google.
- Jack Mah: The very concept of search engine usage is US-centric - "asking", and is not necessarily the way Chinese want to find things "looking/browsing".
After the sessions were over, we went to the Google Dance, which was very well done, though mostly (and obviously) a recruiting drive. I got a nice picture of me with Johnny Chou and then a bunch of us (with Mike Grehan, the ringleader) left to see if we could teach some of our new Chinese friends how to celebrate St. Patricks day. With 3 people of Irish decent in the group (including myself and Mike), there was no way we were going to skip this tradition!
After many bottles of wine, many bottles of a local dark beer that almost passed for Guiness if you had drank enough wine beforehand, and some Irish Coffee chasers, it was time to call it a night.
I'm proud to say that there are now several Chinese SEM's that now understand St. Patricks day almost as well as an Irishman. Of course "It's an excuse to get drunk" didn't take long to convey, but it's the cultural communication that's the important part here... ;)Ian
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