The Future of Computing in China

Ethnologist Tricia Wang, via TechRice, writes on The Future of Computing in China. Touching upon such issues as culture, cloud vs super computing, and Silicon Valley vs Massachussetts’s Route 128, she builds a case that, despite great strides and individual successes and brilliance, China’s computing future will move in a different (perhaps slower) direction compared to the WestAccording to the article, this difference will be due to a lack of trust towards counterparts and government, no community spirit among developers, and no common “myth” or “story” among Chinese developers (where the Western computer community has the shared myth of resistance to top-down education, fighting for the cause of self-directed learning and exploration).

On the upside, China still has hope for computing advancement, but by developing its own model of growing trust based on cross-border links among its diaspora and cross-boundary links between people involved in not only computing by also art and design.

Editor’s note: I was speaking this week with an executive from a large, US-based private equity firm that focuses in China. He recounted to me that this lack of trust is pervasive and is a terrible problem for up-and coming companies in China, because when they try to attract investors, even if they have solid profits and have been audited by respectable Western auditing firms, nobody believes their numbers, so they often can only get valuations that are less than one year’s revenue.

In contrast, it’s not uncommon for profitable firms in the Bay Area to garner 10x or higher valuations. Why the lack of trust in what should be hard numbers? It’s likely because of a history of cooking the books and shady, opaque public-private financing and partnerships. In other words, it’s not just the distrust that various Chinese concerns have for one another: as eager as potential investors and partners are to partake in China’s economic miracle, they’re no dummies. They share the distrust.


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