Date
27 March 2017
Silicon Valley's acceptance of job-hopping workers is a major reason its success cannot be replicated in China and elsewhere, according to a new book. Photo: Bloomberg
Silicon Valley's acceptance of job-hopping workers is a major reason its success cannot be replicated in China and elsewhere, according to a new book. Photo: Bloomberg

Why China cannot create its own Silicon Valley

In his new book The Myth Of Silicon Valley, Wu Jun lists the major reasons why the success of Silicon Valley is hard to replicate in China, or elsewhere in the world.

Wu, an IT guy turned investor, drew his conclusion from years of first-hand experience with numerous Silicon Valley companies, startups and their founders.

The most important factor is Silicon Valley’s tolerance for “betrayal”, Wu writes.

It’s common for Silicon Valley people to quit their jobs and start their own business.

The active flow of talent from one firm to another is key to the vitality of the IT sector, improving overall competitiveness and enhancing technological advances.

What makes job-hopping and people striking out on their own trendy in Silicon Valley is its acceptance of such behavior, Wu says.

For example, Boston has many qualities found in Silicon Valley such as good universities and plenty of talent but it is not even close when it comes to nurturing a world-class IT industry and creating great IT firms.

Wu believes this is because Boston people do not readily accept the “betrayal” culture.

Wu gives more reasons — multiculturalism, tolerance for failure and the search for excellence.

A monolithic culture can be likened to in-breeding.

But by embracing immigrants and their diverse cultures, Silicon Valley can keep innovating and creating products that suit the global market.

In contrast, most Chinese IT firms create products targeted at domestic consumers.

There are IT giants but few have become truly international.

Silicon Valley startups often try to build something better based on existing products and technology, or the so-called the “N+1” approach.

But in China, many companies go in the opposite direction.

They are largely aping others, offering cheaper clones or adopting what Wu calls the “N-1” strategy.

Since IT is all about fresh ideas — and a successful idea often comes only after many bad ideas — great inventions won’t be possible unless companies and their financiers are open to failing ventures.

Behind those hugely popular products of Google, Apple and Facebook are tons of projects that never made it.

The public will never hear of them, Wu writes.

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RA

EJ Insight writer

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