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ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우에 대비해서

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Venture Capital and Cleantech: The Wrong Model for Clean Energy Innovation by Gaddy, Sivaram and O’Sullivan – venture capital investment is very inefficient according to this MIT paper. More venture capital related posts here.

Why business in Hong Kong should be worried | The Economist – Hong Kong is trapped like the grips of vice. Its economy is dominated by finance and rent-seeking businesses – Simon Cartledge for Gavekal Dragonomics, a consultancy, because these firms are over-represented in government, “Hong Kong’s single biggest disincentive to risk-taking and entrepreneurship—its high costs, especially for property—cannot be tackled.” That is why the back-to-business message is unlikely to resonate with ordinary Hong Kongers. This is probably why Hong Kong start-ups like DJI moved to Shenzhen to found their businesses. (Frank Wang did a lot of the key work on DJI drones whilst studying at HKUST. And even benefited from a small HKUST grant. But he moved across to Shenzhen to found the business itself in 2006.) Fintech has been a bit of a busted flush. It was the latest in a long line of business ideas like wine trading, the arts and medical tourism as failed niches for Hong Kong. Singapore seems to have been much more successful in business creation and seems to be seeing more venture capital interest. Current sectors in Hong Kong likely to be affected include the legal practices specialising in commercial arbitration. Without trustworthy commercial arbitration in Hong Kong doing business in China looks much less attractive. Singapore is trying to bridge the gap, but I suspect that there might be long term corrosion of Chinese business dealings. Digital companies and foreign banks face big worries. Between the Hong Kong Autonomy Act and the Hong Kong National Security Law – Helping America to enforce sanctions would violate the security law. Not doing so would incur American penalties

The untold story of Stripe, the secretive $20bn startup driving Apple, Amazon and Facebook | WIRED UK – what’s more interesting about Stripe is the brothers reading list

Remarks to the Economic Club of New York – United States Department of State – interesting speech by Mike Pompeo

What It’s Like to Escape the Mindset of a Conspiracy Theorist – Vice – fascinating psychology

Barr warns against corporate America’s China ‘appeasement’ | Financial Times“You should be alert to how you might be used, and how your efforts on behalf of a foreign company or government could implicate the Foreign Agents Registration Act,” he said, referencing a 1938 law that requires foreign agents to publicly identify themselves – those comments hit US banks, Apple and other US multinationals. Attorney General William P. Barr Delivers Remarks on China Policy at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum | OPA | Department of Justice – the US C-suite executives must be getting very worried about this

Quisling

The State of Strategy. A view from the Frontline | Noteworthy – The Journal Blog – great read and nails the issues affecting strategy and planning at the moment

Mark Ritson: In a virtual marketplace, only the strongest brands will survive – Companies see better profit margins and an almost unlimited customer base but miss the drastic reduction in barriers to entry. – so brand hyper-competition will ensue and the winner takes all model will extend beyond tech. Expect venture capital money to pour all kinds of weird industry niches as they try to pick category winners

WeChat users in the US say a potential ban of the app would cut them off from friends and family in China | South China Morning Post – Banning it might be a mistake. It would be more worthwhile using WeChat data to investigate Chinese in the US with ‘anti American’ sentiment as it’s easy to surveill in comparison to other platforms. WeChat sends messages in the clear with no encryption at all. You then start using the Espionage Act or the Patriot Act prosecutions

Chinese liquor group Kweichow Moutai tumbles after graft news report | Financial Times – Moutai sales are linked to gifting and lavish consumption and some have linked the share price increase with a corresponding uplift in sales and by implication graft. The damaging bit in the article is that Moutai’s former chairman Yuan Renguo quoted saying in private that sales linked to corruption are “a normal part of business” and that China’s corruption clampdown would not reach far enough to affect the company’s business

Banning junk food from TV an ‘irrelevant symbolic gesture’ that won’t reduce obesity | The Drum – the argument whilst true won’t be believed by regulators. Their rationale would be why would junk food companies advertise if it didn’t work? The distinction of this is junk food brand fighting out with similar brands in its category won’t wash. Secondly, advertising bans worked in the past on tobacco products over time

The party’s grip – Under a new national-security law, Hong Kong is already a changed city | The Economist – you have to wonder about the share run and will the pop of the bubble be blamed on ‘foreign interference’?

Outrage Over China’s Treatment of Hong Kong Galvanizes the West – WSJComplaints about China have piled up in Western capitals in recent years, but it took Beijing’s new curbs on Hong Kong’s autonomy to galvanize them around something approaching a common cause. – In many respects its like boiling a frog in reverse, it is likely that China didn’t expect the frog to jump out of the pot, given that the heat had been on so long

Opinion | A Coronavirus Care Package From China – The New York TimesAfter the Communist takeover in 1949, traditional Chinese medicine was institutionalized. Folk remedies helped fulfill both a tangible need — credentialed doctors were scarce — and an ideological end: That system of knowledge is quintessentially and uniquely Chinese.  Today, the Chinese government sees a political opportunity in the continuing emotional appeal of traditional medicine. If Chinese people can embrace an Eastern alternative to Western medicine, they might also be more likely to accept the Communist Party’s governance model and reject liberal democracy

Speaking in Tongues – Chinese Storytellers – such a great essay on the current challenge facing Chinese (and in particular Hong Kongers) writing for foreign audiences: a Chinese storyteller telling stories for an English-speaking audience in a divided world. As a writer who has called Hong Kong, Beijing and New Haven home, I find myself often in the position of what Zadie Smith once called “speaking in tongues”: equivocating between the lens of the insider and the outsider, examining the places I call home with both the “objective,” parachuted gaze of the foreign correspondent, and the emotionally implicated and invested eye of the local storyteller. Increasingly, that has felt impossible

Google considers alternatives to Hong Kong for undersea cable | Financial Times – Hong Kong has – become less critical for not only US cloud providers but also their Chinese rivals, according to Tao Wu, a senior research analyst for Gartner, a tech research firm. “Singapore has become much more important than Hong Kong from a location and population perspective,” Ms Wu said. “Other top cloud providers such as Alibaba Cloud are much more focused on south-east Asia to go global than expanding in Hong Kong.” – this will have a big impact for those property developers who’ve invested in data centres (internet hotels). Hong Kong’s financial position for international trading desks will also be diminished if international telecoms infrastructure starts to divert away from Hong Kong. From a pure connectivity point of view Korea, Singapore and even the Philippines start to look really good

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Things that caught my eye this week

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Brands using politics as a trope. First up, Kelloggs Korea’s campaign for green onion flavour Chex breakfast cereal. They were allowing consumers to ‘vote’ for the president of Chex.

In 2004, Kellogg’s Korea decided to hold a cute little promotional contest online: an “election” to decide “the President of Chex.” The two candidates were the delicious chocolate “Chekkie,” and the hideously green “Chaka.” Chekkie promised that if they won, they would find a way to add even more chocolate to Chocolate Chex, while Chaka promised to imbue the cereal with stinky green onions. One thing the adults at Kellogg’s were sure of was that kids hate, hate, hate green onions, so Chaka would be an easy fall guy, Chekkie would emerge victorious, and Korean customers would be so excited about Chocolate Chex that they’d purchase millions of boxes.

The Takeout

A Boaty McBoatFace-type polling disaster ensued. And it inspired this tremendously trippy ad.

The second brands using politics trope example was for a grape candy brand by Mann Sales Co. I still can’t work out if its a hoax, but it was doing the rounds on a few ad planning groups. There was an interesting dichotomy. People in the ad planner groups didn’t like it because it fell down from being politically incorrect on so many levels. I personally thought that it went too close to the bone. But then I was was too conservative versus the general publics interpretation of Poundland’s naughty elf campaign. A small unscientific straw poll of friends in the US saw the funny side of it.

1908 Candy

Mann Sales Co. and 1908 Candy

Of course none of this is quite as bad as a time when I was working with Chinese clients. American colleagues used campaign marketing in democratic elections as the ultimate brands using politics as marketing trope.

They cited the use of data by the first term Obama election campaign to show how their wonkish staff could aid the client’s marketing internationally and in China. It was all about how Chinese companies could learn from democracy.

It was only when they came out of the meeting that I got to tell them that Twitter was banned in China. It was super awkward.

On work doesn’t happen at work by Jason Fried. A key quote:

 some people might say email is really distracting, I.M. is really distracting, and these other things are really distracting, but they’re distracting at a time of your own choice and your own choosing. You can quit the email app; you can’t quit your boss. You can quit I.M.; you can’t hide your manager. You can put these things away, and then you can be interrupted on your own schedule, at your own time, when you’re available, when you’re ready to go again.

Jason Fried
Jason Fried at TED

Musique Strategies – oblique and practical strategies for music – what happens when modern music production meats Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies. This has been put together by Danny Taurus, one of the unsung heroes in UK dance music production. Back in the early 1990s he founded Dansa Records which put together some banging tunes. He’s revived the label and releasing new material from his new base in Los Angeles.

I am not too sure where Apple was going with this working from home ad, but I suspect it was empathy and brand awareness. If you’re working from home, you’ll have experienced all of these challenges by now and know who your technical partners are. It is an entertaining six minutes though and sometimes that’s enough.

Apple Inc.

Finally, this video is a two-minute work of love featuring the sites and sounds of Hokkaido. It reminds me of the way Sergio Leone’s camera work as tightly linked with the music. In this video the edits and footage both move along with local sounds from Hokkaido, Japan.

NEEDaFIXER on Vimeo
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ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우에 대비해서

Reading Time: 4 minutes

New York Times Will Move Part of Hong Kong Office to Seoul – The New York Timesa sweeping national security law passed by China in June — aimed at stymieing opposition and pro-democracy forces in Hong Kong — has unsettled news organizations and created uncertainty about the city’s prospects as a hub for journalism in Asia. Some Times employees in Hong Kong have faced challenges securing work permits, hurdles that are commonplace in China but were rarely an issue in the former colony. – The visa comments are interesting as we’ve previously only seen this with the FTjournalist Victor Mallet. In August 2018, Andy Chan (then of the Hong Kong National Party) gave a talk at the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents Club (FCC) and Victor Mallet was the chairperson for the event. Chan went on to be arrested numerous times. Victor Mallet had his work visa renewal rejected on October 2, 2018 – one day before his old visa ran out.

12 things I learned by switching from the 13-inch MacBook Pro to the 12.9-inch iPad Pro | MacworldI really wanted it to work. A couple of weeks ago I closed my MacBook on a Friday afternoon with no plans to open it for a week. I wasn’t going on vacation—rather, I was testing the theory that the iPad could actually be “a computer….”Sadly, it didn’t work out. I spent more time fighting my iPad than loving it, and when push came to shove, it was just too difficult to get things done as quickly and efficiently as I do on my Mac. Some of it is muscle memory, of course, but there are still fundamental issues with the iPad that prevent it from being the work-first device Apple wants it to be. So I’m giving it up – not terribly surprised as they’re very different use cases

Why older people really avoid technology.| SlateAccording to the Pew Research Center, 73 percent of people over 65 in the U.S. use the internet, up from 14 percent in 2000. The older the person, the less likely she is to embrace the internet, social media, or smartphones, but those who have adopted these technologies use them a lot and learn new skills to do so. Seniors are the fastest growing online demographic, though some remain holdouts. In many of those cases, the real barrier to entry isn’t technological—it’s personalmore on old people’s of technology

driven by experimentation, NIKE ISPA is a bold approach to functional design – nice profile of Nike’s ISPA team who have taken up where Nike Considered left off

China will punish Britain for defying its will. We need allies to hold the line | The Guardian – whilst the historical facts in the op-ed are all true, what’s more interesting is the media tone against all aspects of UK society against China now. This indicates a failure in Chinese elite-focused influence campaigns in the UK to deliver soft power. What is more concerning is the lessons that China might take away from these defeats, will they double down on ‘victimhood’ and aggression, or will they try and broaden their ‘base’ of appeal

Signal’s New PIN Feature Worries Cybersecurity Experts – VICE – move away from telephone numbers. Its a tough call as there are no easy decisions to make when telephone numbers can be a security vector

Musique Strategies – oblique and practical strategies for music – what happens when music production meats Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies

Engineers of the Soul: Ideology in Xi Jinping’s China by John Garnaut – Sinocism – what business leaders should read before entering China. Understanding Chinese Communist Party neo-Stalinist thought is essential

In Australia, concerns mount that China could use TikTok to spy on users | South China Morning Post – the bigger threat would be an influence operation

Understanding CCP Resilience: Surveying Chinese Public Opinion Through Time | Ash Centersince the start of the survey in 2003, Chinese citizen satisfaction with government has increased virtually across the board. From the impact of broad national policies to the conduct of local town officials, Chinese citizens rate the government as more capable and effective than ever before. Interestingly, more marginalized groups in poorer, inland regions are actually comparatively more likely to report increases in satisfaction. Second, the attitudes of Chinese citizens appear to respond (both positively and negatively) to real changes in their material well-being, which suggests that support could be undermined by the twin challenges of declining economic growth and a deteriorating natural environment. – Fascinating and mostly reassuring reading for the Chinese Communist Party

Hong Kong’s Richest Li Ka-shing Loses Friends in China, the West – Bloomberg – this is an interesting squeeze for ‘Superman’ Li Ka-shing

Daring Fireball: AirPods Versus AirPods Pro – this comment about relatively small amounts of ‘feel’ demonstrates how artefacts count

This smart face mask can translate your conversations into nine languages | Dazed – 208K doesn’t sound a lot of dev costs

Why Consulum Isn’t Flinching About Promoting Hong Kong – good piece of analysis by Arun on Hong Kong’s selection of Consulum. Most of the budget is going into baseline mapping and research. That might come in haney for communications, or targeting extra-territorial prosecutions under the nascent National Security Law…

Is good trade with China more important than keeping Huawei out of the 5G network? | YouGov – whilst Huawei targeted the elites; they should have gone to the court of public opinion. It also indicates a likely soft power problem for China

Is Drop Retail the Next Step in the Digital Transformation of Beauty Brands? | Luxury Society – luxury stealing from streetwear’s playbook

Vast majority of US research institute disclosure violations related to China | South China Morning PostHigh profile cases include the June indictment of Charles Lieber, a former chair at Harvard University’s chemistry and chemical biology department who gave false statements regarding his involvement with the Thousand Talents programme to bring leading researchers to China. In May, Li Xiao-jiang, a former Emory University professor and participant in Thousand Talents, pled guilty to filing a false tax return that did not report foreign income from working overseas at Chinese universities. The Van Andel Research Institute in Michigan agreed last December to pay US$5.5 million to the US Department of Justice over allegations of not disclosing Chinese grants for two of its researchers. – The problem seems to be vain greedy senior academics who think they’re above it all

Qatar Airways Issues Passenger PPE Kits With Face Shields | Travel Codex – amazing bit of service design by Qatar Airways

一齊走!We leave together! Explaining some common protest phrases – interesting insights into Hong Kong culture