Date
11 December 2017
Mark Zuckerberg was barely out of his teens when he created Facebook in a Harvard dorm room. At 23, he became a billionaire after Facebook's blockbuster public listing. Photo: Internet
Mark Zuckerberg was barely out of his teens when he created Facebook in a Harvard dorm room. At 23, he became a billionaire after Facebook's blockbuster public listing. Photo: Internet

Don’t get in the way of progress

Business tycoon David Chiu, son of the late Deacon Chiu, former chairman of ATV, has just submitted his application to the Communications Authority for a free-to-air TV broadcast license.

Seated next to him at a press conference to announce his plans was Ho Shun-yen, former general manager of TVB.

A prominent figure in the Hong Kong broadcast industry, Ho led TVB in the 1980s, helping reinforce its market leadership.

It was the golden age of Hong Kong television. Today Ho is in his seventies.

Does he have what it takes to lead a startup TV network at a time when the media environment is changing at an unprecedented pace?

I often joke about the age of my staff in front of my clients.

I would tell them their average age would drop to 22 from 27 if I was excluded.

Every day, I make it a point to remind myself not to get in their way.

In the past decade, almost all founders of tech companies that have the most profound implications for the future started before they turned 28.

These young people have revolutionized the way human beings absorb knowledge and built their business empires with market values out of proportion to their years.

They have also created an entirely new business model using their instincts and innovation beyond the comprehension of people from the previous generation.

Conventional wisdom tells us that our mental age grows in proportion to our physical age — the older we get, the wiser we become.

However, the information explosion led by the internet and social media has given rise to a generation of precocious children and teenagers, whose “information age” often far exceeds their physical age and whose horizons are often much broader than those of their parents.

That explains why most internet companies nowadays are founded and run by young people.

Similarly, innovation is the key to success in the broadcast industry.

Age is irrelevant to how innovative you can be, and experience is no longer the kind of overriding asset it used to be for anyone in the business.

Instead, it could sometimes prove to be a “negative equity”.

Doesn’t it say something about the future of our broadcast industry when we rely on old people to run new TV networks?

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Sept. 11.

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

– Contact us at [email protected]

RA

Columnist at the Hong Kong Economic Journal

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