IS CHINA THE NEW SILICON VALLEY? Stop Asking a Dumb Question.

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?


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My knowledge about both Silicon Valley and China is very limited. So I was wondering if there is an area in China which, in terms of company composition, is similar to Silicon Valley. Also, how do they go about investing in China compared to Silicon Valley? I mean, do they use a VC model or are we talking about business angles with very deep pockets

Thank you for setting the record straight and telling it like it is. I have done business in China, India and Singapore and they are all different. They each have their own identities and it is ignorant for people in this country to try and frame everything in U.S. terms.

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Srah Lacy

Sarah Lacy is an award-winning reporter who has covered high-growth entrepreneurship for more than fifteen years. She is the founder, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of, the site-of-record for the startup ecosystem. She lives in San Francisco.

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