June 2010 Archive
Quick update on last week's progress: I killed it on China. It's DONE and far better than it would have been without this last trip. People who say I didn't have to travel this much to write this book have no idea how critical deep, on-the-ground reporting is. Huge-- just HUGE-- thanks to everyone who helped me navigate that country over three long trips!
This week: Finishing up the India section. I finished drafting this section before I left for Brazil a few months ago, but haven't done much with it since. This is probably the easiest week I'll have, because the India stuff came out the best on a first draft. For some reason, India was the most frustrating country to be in but the easiest to write about. Always has been for me. Go figure.
Next week: Brazil. This is where my job gets tougher. I could really use another trip to Brazil, but I'm out of money and out of time. It's mostly drafted but the weakest part of the book right now. (I mean that writing-wise, not material-- my failing as a writer, not Brazil's entrepreneurs.) I'm hoping two months away from the material will have done me some good. I drafted it stressed out just before I left for my five-week trip all over the world. The plan is to drink caipirinhas and listen to the Seu Jorge Pandora station and just you know make it work somehow.
I am back home and the next six weeks are going to murder me. In addition to my regular TechCrunch duties I owe this book August 1.
You know the one I've worked on for two years? You know the one my husband and I invested our savings in? You know the one I quit a lucrative on-camera job for? You know the one that kept me from my husband and friends for two years? You know the one that Arrington refers to as "my &@%!ing book"? You know the one that wrecked my sinuses and gave me routine ear infections because of all the time in the air every month? You know the one I read like 40 business, political and economic books this year for? You know the one in which I am trying sum up half a dozen countries in less than 300 pages?
Yeah, you know the one.
I'm mostly done with the first four chapters, and they are in the hands of a few readers. Here's how the next six weeks will go.
Next week: Fixing the China chapters
Week after: Streamling the India section
Week after that: Fixing the Brazil section (currently the worst written)
Week after that: Drafting Indonesia
Week after that: Finish drafting Africa
Week after that: Epilogue
Day after that: File.
I remember when I first saw this headline. It was in the early 2000s. Then, it was excusable. I would have hoped we'd move on by now.
Let me answer: No. China is not the "next" Silicon Valley. Let's start with the fact that one is a country of 1.3 billion people and the other is a 50-mile stretch of Northern California. Silicon Valley is a unique phenomenon that is evolving-- in some ways for the worse, in some ways for the better-- and China is unlike anything we've seen in modern economic history. Also, can we stop asking if everything is a "next"? Facebook isn't the next Google either while we're on the subject. (Although at least they are both Internet companies with the same area code.) Is the media so unimaginative that we can't conceive of something being new and distinct or worse, do we think are readers are too dumb to understand something that is new and unique?
To wit: Yesterday I met with an entrepreneur no one has ever heard of who sells nearly $1 billion US dollars in cell phones every year owns 100% of his company. This morning I was at the third largest Internet company in the world in terms of market cap. And later today, I'm having dinner with someone whose company helps make our modern gadget boom possible, and whose business has more than doubled during our recession. I've been in Silicon Valley since the late 1990s and I have never had quite that combination of meetings in 24 hours. That doesn't mean China is worse or better. But it's insulting to both the Valley and China not to look at them for what they are. It's insulting to readers too.
Sorry to put up such an abrasive post but I've spent seven of the last nine weeks on the road meeting with entrepreneurs trying to figure out what places like China, Indonesia, Brazil and South Africa *are* not just copping for the easy headline. Maybe I'm just tired and cranky. But after nearly ten years of writing this headline could we at least move on to a new lazy meme?
I might give AXN an acknowledgment in my book. I have watched it in every country around the world. It represents the best of guilty American pleasures: Damages, CSI Miami, Numbers, American Idol, House....you name it. It's frequently the only English-speaking channel on hotel TV.
Any American who travels internationally knows exactly what I am talking about.
I just spent three amazing days traveling thousands of miles of China by train and air, getting a whirlwind tour of a few second-tier Chinese cities. I'm not going to write about the experience here-- I need to save anything remotely intelligent for the book. But here are some photos below.
I got to Shanghai last night and spent several hours today with the CFO of online gaming company Giant Interactive-- a company I become more obsessed with the more I hear about it. I'll put it this way-- the 40-something Chinese founder got special permission to ring the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange in a white track suit. That's the kind of anecdote that makes a business reporter drool.
Tonight will be low key. Just me and my laptop grabbing some dinner and then I'll try to sleep off a nagging cold. Meetings and more typing of words tomorrow and then early Sunday I'm off to Hong Kong. I've still got another week in China. I can't believe it. It seems like at least three months since I left San Francisco for Cape Town.
Shanghai is still not my favorite city. People tend to favor Beijing or Shanghai, and as most people know, I just adore Beijing. But I'm staying at a hip hotel called the Waterhouse that's pretty great. The service hasn't been the absolute best, but the room is awesome and a huge value for the money. It has a warehouse-y, industrial look with two terraces, a bedroom, an office and a huge bathroom. Very stylish.
Now, some photos:
(You knew something food related was coming. Consider yourself warned about Sand Tea Weight....)
An unforgettable portrait of the emerging world's entrepreneurial dynamos Brilliant, Crazy, Cocky is the story about that top 1% of people who do more to change their worlds through greed and ambition than politicians, NGOs and nonprofits ever can. This new breed of self-starter is taking local turmoil and turning it into opportunities, making millions, creating thousands of jobs and changing the face of modern entrepreneurship at the same time. To tell this story, Lacy spent forty weeks traveling through Asia, South America and Africa hunting down the most impressive up-and-comers the developed world has never heard of....yet.
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