Friday, December 19, 2008

500 days to Shanghai World EXPO

More on the Shanghai World Expo in this piece from CCTV via YouTube. Following our piece on the missing US presence, you can get a sense of the scale of what the Chinese are building in Shanghai.

Friday, December 12, 2008

No show US in Shanghai?

The Shanghaiist blog is a good place to keep up-to-date with what's happening up there on the east China coast. There's not usually too much, though, directly related to our business interests. Today, however, there's a very interesting post about the likely absence of the United States from the 2010 World Expo.

It links to a site dedicated to launching a US pavilion. The basic line is:

Beginning on May 1, 2010, and continuing for six months, the nations of the world will gather in Shanghai to participate in what is forecast to be the largest, most heavily attended Worlds Fair in history. Incredibly, without immediate and decisive action on the part of America’s leaders in commerce and in government, the United States of America will be glaringly absent from this global celebration.

The result would be an insult to the Chinese government, global humiliation for the American people, and a serious blow to U.S. commercial prospects in the vast Chinese and other regional markets. The repercussions could reverberate for decades. We don’t want this to happen!

According to the Shanghaiist, this is due a diplomatic snit in the early 1990s when Congress passed legislation forbidding government funding of world fair pavilions. It says the US subsequently withdrew from the Bureau Internationale d'Expositions. Who knew?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I hope it sounds better in Chinese...

"King of trade" or something like that....but I do have to say, Ali Wang Wang, the IM tool from Alibaba's subsidiary Alisoft sounds awfully silly in English.

It definitely trumps Alimama which was hogging the limelight at the top of the Ali-silly name league table until I came across this one.

Continental to fly on pond scum

This isn't too much to do with business media other than the fact that everybody I know in the industry in Asia travels like demons and we all have carbon footprints that would make a yeti look dainty. There is increasing discussion, particularly within the events industry, about how we can address the challenges to business travel posed by the twin threats of economic downturn and increased environmental concerns.

So, I was intrigued by this piece on the Economist's Gulliver blog about alternative fuels. After Richard Branson's efforts to fly a 747 on old chip fat (actually, a blend of coconut and babassu oil and jet fuel), Air New Zealand is next into the fray with a plane using some jatropha oil for one of its three engines. But, what really caught my eye was the news of Continental's plans to fly a 737 on fuel derived from pond scum (plus jatropha oil and jet fuel).

I trust that the marketers and scientists will come up with grander and more palatable names for it, but I think that Pond Scum Air could have a future as Greenpeace's airline of choice. How about it as offficial airline for your next event?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A wondeful time for start-ups

"What's he smoking?", you may ask, but the suggestion isn't as mad as it may sound. Yes, markets are down and yes people are nervous. But, large companies are pulling back behind the pallisades and there are some benefits to getting new businesses into the market today.

I was talking about this with a former colleague over lunch today. She is upbeat. And, when I came back to the office, I saw this interesting post at TechNation Australia. Blogger Mike Watkins highlights five reasons that this is a good time for start-ups:

  1. The talent pool is suddenly offering up a whole lot more choice to new businesses at much lower costs.
  2. There's less competition.
  3. Recession is the "fit farm" for new businesses - if you come out of the back end of this intact, you'll be in fighting form to benefit from the upturn which, as spring follows winter, will indeed come in due course, prophets of doom notwithstanding.
  4. What Watkins calls "real VCs": if somebody puts money into your business today, (a) you're damned lucky and (b) you know that they have to be really serious. The days of the 22 year old MBA deal flippers are over. Thank goodness.
  5. History - some of the world's great companies got their start in tough times. He cites Apple and Microsoft. A review of a book I was just looking at pointed out that Warren Buffet's father founded a brokerage in 1931.
So, there you have it: if you have ***** of steel, this may be the time to get your new business going. And you may be in luck. Your current employer may be getting ready to make this possible with a pink slip for Christmas.

Monday, December 08, 2008

How much longer for CMP Asia?

Like every business media company, they have their hands full right now with slowing markets, Indian terrorism, Thai politics, etc. etc. and it's hard to imagine the team at CMP Asia are too focused on corporate branding. However, as we did back in July, we do wonder how much longer parent company United Business Media will hang on to the CMP Asia identity.

At the FIPP/ABM B2B conference in New York in September, CEO David Levin told me that he didn't anticipate any immediate need for the Asian business to follow its US and European counterparts which had been restructured into what he described as "tiger" and "lion" businesses, the optimum size for each of which was, he said, $70 - 100m, about half the size of CMP Asia. Surely, an Asian dragon structure is the logical conclusion of all this.

I remain unconvinced by denials that this is being considered, particularly in light of today's news that the Commonwealth Business Media brand is also to fade into a UBM corporate identity. It'll be a bit harder to come up with a small number of logical market groups for Asia: jewellery and the rest? China and the rest? Jewellery, furniture, and the rest, etc. etc. But I'd be willing to bet a modest bet (take me on for a Blackberry Bold anybody?) that there will have been news on this before the middle of '09.

P.S. CMP Asia senior management are excluded from taking me up on my bet because i) you already have Blackberry Bolds and ii) you have an unfair advantage over me in having an inside track on this information!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Guaranteed success

You have to admire the savvy of those corporate types in these tough times. One sure way to guarantee success is to set yourself a target that has already been achieved.

So, when Google starts waffling about its ambitions for Hong Kong and says it "is committed to become a local product to turn Hong Kong into a large export-oriented platform for online marketers". Hmmm. I guess Global Sources,, HKTDC and Tradeeasy have all been asleep at the wheel over the past decade then. Thank goodness for the cavalry in their nice, colourful Google hats coming to save us all.