I still remember, it was not too long ago, how much I could not stand the stiletto heel pointed-toe shoes. They looked so “nineteen seventies” and old fashion. I could never imagine myself wearing things like that.
Last year, those shoes made a huge come-back. All of a sudden, they appeared on the shelves of every department store and are considered the sexiest and chicest shoes in our time. Within a matter of a few months, all my platform and square-toed shoes were completely out of fashion, and I found myself putting on the shoes I thought I would never wear.
This was the “epidemic effect” talked about by Malcolm Gladwell in his famous book The Tipping Point. Human beings are profoundly social beings who are influenced by and influencing others. According to Gladwell, some small number of “connectors” who are “infectious” could have big influence on ideas, products, and behaviors, resulting in world-changing impact.
The Connector Group is pioneering what I call “tipping point marketing” by engaging Silicon Valley’s top influencers and tastemakers in a showcase for products and services by some of the most innovative companies. I felt greatly privileged to be included in this crowd. Auren Hoffman, the founder of Stonebrick Group and a true connector, is the mastermind of this event.
A dozen companies presented in the showcase. Most of them are in the space of digital media, Web 2.0 and wireless industries. Some are big name including Google, Palm, and MobiTV, etc. The Valley’s popular new comers Meebo, a web-base IM service, and Sling Media, a maker of Slingbox that lets users watch TV from a PC and has just raised $46 million Series B round, also made their debut.
Among many impressive products, Google Earth showcased some amazing new features, including flying an airplane in virtual space, real time satellite images that can be zoomed into local facts, and tilting and rotating the map to see 3D buildings. I am a world traveler. Google Earth can help me to make an informed decision on my next travel plan.
We are living in an age of technology renaissance. For better or worse, consumers are facing proliferating choices. The technologies that can make their life easier or save their time are the ones they will most likely adopt.
It’s exciting to be part of this elite group that can presumably “move and shake” the future. It’s also interesting to see whether the theory of “tipping point” holds in the real world. Although the “epidemic effect” is apparent in fashion trends, for technology products and services, it may be a completely different story.
Silicon Valley, mover and shaker, influencer, thought leaders
“Search is the crown jewel of the Chinese Internet market.” Thus came China’s search engine war, fueled by the outpouring money from foreign investors and the overwhelming number of competitors in the market.
Shortly after Baidu’s phenomenal IPO last August, Tim Draper, managing director of Draper Fisher Jurvetson, which invested $10 million for 28 percent stake in Baidu, said: “the war is already over, Baidu owns the market.”
Well, maybe not yet. Recent survey results by Keynote Systems, an Internet performance authority, show that Chinese users prefer Google to Baidu. According to Keynote, Google won the highest user ratings in 11 of 13 categories including general search, news search and image search, while Baidu came first only in music search.
This shouldn’t be a surprise. Even at Baidu’s IPO frenzy, CNNIC data revealed Google beats Baidu in traffic share for individuals 25 years old and up with higher education. People who use Google tend to be professionals with higher income, and they use Google to search for information and knowledge. On the other hand, the majority of people who use Baidu as their primary search engine use it to search for downloadable music.
In my previous post, I talked about local players having an upper hand against their global counterparts because of their intimate customer knowledge. So far, foreign Internet companies don’t have a good record of success in China. Yahoo!, for example, entered the market early and bled money for years, but couldn’t overtake the dominant Chinese portals.
There are certainly plenty of reasons that Google may be humbled in the China Internet market.
“History has shown us again and again,” Sohu’s CEO Charles Zhang said bluntly, “just like Yahoo! failed, Google will fail. I don’t worry about Google – it’s not even on my radar screen. To us, it’s only Baidu.”
History may or may not repeat itself. I bet Google is on Charles Zhang’s radar screen now. The competitive landscape is changing quickly. Who will be the final winner of the crown jewel of the Chinese Internet market still remains to be seen.
China Internet, serach engine war, competition, China business
“Fashion is a tool. Pick it up and use it to your advantage,” said the fashion educator and consultant Anthea Tolomei at Stanford Professional Women Executive Speaking Series Transformation in Style: Presenting Your Best Image.
Anthea, who brought with her 16 years experience in style and fashion, spoke to an audience of 175 Stanford women about how to define style, select colors, and dress to create an illusion that makes you look slender and taller.
What we wear speaks the message for us. We never have a second chance for the first impression. As professional women, it’s important for us to understand our own style, and learn to shop purposefully. If we are smart, Anthea said, we could make the San Francisco Union Square our walk in closets!
Anthea spoke with such a style and flare. Her eloquent words were accompanied with projecting pictures on the screen. For a moment, I thought she was in a fashion performance show herself!
While I was sitting in the audience, my mind started going through my closet, picking up the colors that feature my eyes, hair and skin tone, discovering the new combinations, matching the shoes with the jackets, using a shawl to bring out my lipstick color, and playing the power of back drop dressing….
All of a sudden, the new inspiration was born! “New Year, Renew You.” Don’t let fashion wear you! Unleash your impeccable sense of fashion from within. Let your character shine through; let your style showcase you! Are you ready to create a brand new image of YOU?
lifestyle, women, fashion, style
At Churchill Club’s Top Ten Technology Trends Debate, Silicon Valley’s leading visionaries John Doerr, Steve Jurvetson, Roger McNamee, Joe Schoendorf, and Ann Winblad were once again gathering together, predicting and debating the top ten technology trends that will fly for the year ahead.
The predictions included energy such as solar power, wind power, bio-fuel, wireless technology, bio-science renaissance, consumer electronics, etc. The topic of China as low cost labor as well as low cost world class innovator was also among the heated debate. The panel discussion was very absorbing and inviting, filled with humor and audience interaction.
Being in Silicon Valley, we got to see these luminaries who are the “movers and shakers” making the companies such as Netscape, Intuit, Yahoo!, Amazon, Google, etc. Having been impressed enough, I would think nothing they say could impress me more. Yet John Doerr never ceases to impress me each time I hear him. His vision is always one step ahead. He is still the venture capital “seer” after all these years!
John emphasized that the investment in environment and life-science will create innovation and broad benefits across the globe. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers has recently backed the entrepreneurs in green-tech and flu-prevention technology that fight global environmental degradation and pandemic.
Joe Schoendorf of Accel Partners made a strong point that the US is losing its competitive advantage in innovation to China. Every year, Chinese universities produce some 600,000 engineering students, compared with only 70,000 engineering graduates in the US. Joe is traveling to China every 5 weeks, and each time he sees the pendant of innovation shifted toward the east.
Having been in both worlds, I still see the gaps between the US and China in term of innovation. The fact that US companies are being agile and not complacent is really a sign of the greatness of this country. I finally understand what it means by “only the paranoid survive!”
It was truly an illuminating event with the visionaries and luminaries!
Churchill Club, technology trends, venture capital, Silicon Valley
When I first came to the United States, in a social event, someone asked me:
“What’s your name?”
“Helen,” I answered.
She looked at me ambiguously…. Her eyes were clearly telling me: “you don’t look like Helen.” Obviously, I am not a blond, I don’t have blue eyes, and I probably spoke English with an accent. Then she asked again:
“What’s your real name?”
A flashback quickly went through my mind: I came to this country in 1989 as a student. When crossing the border at Lo Wu Bridge between Shenzhen and Hong Kong, I looked back one last time at the country where I had breathed every single breath of my life, and then looked forward with anticipation to a country that was then not much more than a distant dream.
At the San Francisco US immigration office, I eagerly put down my name “Helen Wang” on the social security card, as if by picking a typical English first name, I would be automatically accepted in this country.
The rest of the story is similar to other Chinese students and immigrants. I struggled, I suffered, I fell, and I picked up myself and tried again. I went out of my way to push my limits. I wanted to fit in this country, I wanted to be accepted. I wanted to think like an American, talk like an American, and act like an American, and I want to be an American!
Then something in me began to awaken: a soul as old as centuries, a culture as rich as civilization, and the wisdom that surpasses all the sciences – those are within me, and within me forever. Then, only then, I started to appreciate my own culture and tradition. I still think like Chinese, talk like Chinese, and act like Chinese, and I want to tell the world I am a Chinese!
When I got married to an American with English and German heritage, I debated fiercely myself whether I should change my last name to “Clarke.” As much as I like the unity of the family the last name represents, I do not want people look at the name “Helen Clarke” and expect a blond with blue eyes.
With my straight black hair and dark brown eyes, I am a Chinese by ethnic background, and an American by citizenship. Sometime, I do not identify myself as either, because I have transcended and evolved to a third identity that we all know called “mankind.” Whether we are Chinese, Indian, Russian, Mexican, Italian, or Kenyan, we are all in one. We are all mankind.
Call me my real name “Mankind.”
personal identity, cultures, adventure, American Dream, oneness