September 07, 2008


I leave an exhausted Beijing, with a strange sense of pride and relief that the summer games has finally passed. Not to undermine the importance of the incoming 2008 Paralympics, but quite frankly, nobody cares. The highlight of the last six years-- the catalyst which forced fat cat party bureaucrats to prop a politically correct persona and varnish the toothy smile for the country, was the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Seriously people, they actually took proactive steps towards improving the environment, WTO situation and even those fake DVD's!

Sitting high up on the 35th floor, when the 25th of August rolled around, I could hear the collective sigh of 20 million Beijingers, as the city let its gut hang loose and hacked up that festering, 6 year old loogie in triumph. The streets were not filled with as many free spending, cheerful foreign faces as expected and neither did the pollution cooperate with the countries efforts, but nevertheless, the mountains moved by the government to make this event possible was nothing short of amazing and Beijingers like myself will be enjoying the effects for many years to come.

This communal effort has been so taxing, that the city is still in a sort of comatose state-- where the ever so industrious Chinese are NOT business as usual. It is almost like when the last Olympic foreigner left, the city inhabitants decided to hang up a huge “Ferragosto” sign moments before taking off for the peace of their courtyards and weekend getaways. I suppose it is all the better, because if there is one city in the world that needs a break form the ever growing intensity and energy, it is Beijing.

The thing is, now that all of the gabby reports have left and taken with them the cheesy cliché's that riddled CNN and BBC and the last of the bewildered tourists with flags and banners stumble on the new, slightly constricted, airport express. just what exactly is Beijing to do?

The city is caught at a limbo between the Pre and Post Olympic city. To spit or not to spit-- that is the question. Not that the government has softened its political line much, but in the Pre Olympics it has made attempts to be a little bit nicer about caging up the Tibetans and dealing with local hot spots like Xinjiang. I would like to hope that the last few months has been more a part of Chinas “century strategy” than its 08/08/2008 strategy. The economy has not exactly warmed up either. Metal and oil prices are still fluctuating, though the Chinese seem less surprised by them and are now addressing work efficiency and government tax assistance to keep themselves competitive. The RMB has been allowed to steadily appreciate to the dollar and local wages as well as workers rights (UN. Believable.) are improving. Of course, my office employees will argue that last point, but as I always say, these changes start in Middle China, working outwards and affecting cities like Beijing and Shanghai last (except on my balance sheet, which feels the effects...IMMEDIATELY). I also remind them that and my company is not a democracy, we follow the chines government policies of 1989!

So, I hope Beijing is enjoying its short reprieve. I eagerly look forward to business as usual, more out of curiosity on how the government will use the positive affects of the Olympic Games to strengthen Chinas future. Building on my favorite CNN cliché, China's coming out party will all be for naught if whats coming out is nothing short of amazing.

August 14, 2008


There is an Internet and mobile advertising conference underway, so these days the city is full of tech and Ad guys from all over the world. I was part of an interesting forum headed by the Yahoo team on where they felt mobile advertising was heading. I entered the meeting with some bias thanks to recent news of the pummeling Yahoo has gotten from the likes of Icahn and Microsoft, but I left feeling rather elated and encouraged about their future in the business. Of course, any good management team can sell just about anything to anyone, so I am reasonably more optimistic but not about to put my money in the Yahoo pot.

Yahoo is quite entrenched in Asia (hence Microsoft’s interest) offering services that I would classify as moderately interesting. They have a system that places banners on the different sites that you visit on your phone, promising correct placement and in some cases, a fun and interactive experience. They have little spider- bots (I don’t speak nerd) that make sure that when a topic is searched, your company is placed first when browsing online. You pay when consumers click on your link and you can bid for the price of your link placement (very efficient). Lastly and what I find most interesting, they have a platform that develops an online system that is both advertising and operations related. Ex:

Citibank signs up with Yahoo, whenever “bank” is searched online, Citibank comes up and gives the customer easy links to signing up via phone, SMS, or online. If I was browsing my online stock page, I might see a banner for Citibank that drops down into a video with links to learn more or speak to a representative. If I was searching for a new home-- I might see the Citibank link to “home loans and how to apply.”

These online systems are based on user profiles and demographics, which means that they can determine where and when to be placed-- which makes it RELEVANT for the consumer. When you are browsing the net and its world of information and junk, relevant can make all the difference.

Now, all of this is not new, but in the last few months it has become easier for companies to access/understand and consumers to use. As mobile phones get faster and easier to manage. As these websites improve and look better on our smaller screens. As individuals trust and become accustomed to going about their day to day lives through their mobile phones—this mobile advertising future looks all the more lucrative.

Will this mobile net, which needs to be developed and designed differently from the Internet, be the future for advertising? Absolutely. We are going to live in a world where road warriors of today with their blackberry’s and high speed Internet connection become the majority of the public. We will be accessing our stocks, buying homes, canvassing our vacations—all on the go, whether on our computers or phones. The millions of Iphones sold is testament to the fact that good hardware and good software when paired can move generations of technological dinosaurs. If the Iphone gets any better, i can see my 89-year-old grandmother trading in her Treo—and that will be quite the feat.

So if mobile online is becoming a reality, what is going to happen to all of these WAP sites, SMS based services, the voice based Ad-Phone? Technology is leapfrogging forward and a lot of very large invested companies are going to find them without a market. That is unless they can adapt and change.

I'm quite pleased with these developments. I love technology and I enjoy making my life more efficient (its the logistics blood that runs through me). Even at the expense of my eyes (getting worse), my fingers (getting worse) and my “moments of Zen: (getting less). I think a world of information at your fingertips can only be a good thing. It makes the business landscape a lot more competitive and challenging.

August 06, 2008


“China Surveillance may extend to taxis.” Front page of the WSJ Asia, a gripping reality to all free world born tourists heading to the Beijing Olympics. As it turns out, those little black microphones that started popping up in taxis a few years ago, were really part of the governments protective defense against terrorists for the planned summer Olympics. These days it is no joke. The majority of the friction so far seems to be coming from Xinjiang and Tibet, which both have just cause to despise the Chinese way of life, but there are still plenty more dissidents in line. Still, the massive Chinese surveillance system that spans cameras, phone bugs, cell phone/online tracking software, vast networks of informers and the low tech system of tracking where foreigners have traveled through our passport checks at all hotels, will exist for years after the games have left Beijing. China may be blossoming into one of the most culturally vibrant and exciting courtiers in the world, but it is still leans heavily on its controlled communist past.

With the games only a few days away, locals are quickly cowering in their homes in fear of the terrorist strikes to come. Personally, I would say that the safest place would be right by the Olympic venues. If there were any government that I would trust with keeping the peace (Americans, British, Australians), it would have to be Hu Jintao and his armed guard. There is something about the tattered velvet glove over the iron fist that is China that soothes my fears. They may be crude and rude, but they are certainly not sloppy. With one and a half days to go, I wish them all the luck with the coming Olympics!


EGG is an innovative company similar to Chikka, though facing fewer internal obstacles these days. Primarily a CP, this buyout must work out very nicely for them as the industry has been shrinking quite rapidly. It is not so much their fault as the fact that the market went in a different direction. The content required to entertain subscribers these days lies well beyond the traditional CP offerings of RBT's, News updates, Games, etc.

EGG's fate does not interest me as much as the deliberate move by Globe to expand its service offering by encouraging this buyout. Gerry Ablaza stated that: “globes strategy is to drive growth through expansion in adjacent spaces such as mobile content creation and distribution.” I think it is canny that he did not mention that this move by EGG has also opened up a number of possibilities for Globe to generate additional advertising revenue—the direction of the vast majority of mobile companies. With Globe acting as the content provider, developer, and telecommunications company, they are positioned to develop and support multiple platforms for their corporate clients.

I remember reading a few months ago about CURE and Mindshare and all the fantastic services that Smart was looking to offer its corporate consumers. Many months later, not much if anything at all has hit the market…I think that they are finding that it is quite difficult to merge the needs and expertise of content providers and advertising firms with what is best for Smart. There are just too any technologies, proprietary software and corporate clowns trying to protect their own little turf to the detriment of the whole. This move by Globe is the first right step in the industry and I would bank that many will soon follow. TELCO has realized that all of the billions they have spent on infrastructure and hardware, can be paid back much sooner with a little horizontal expansion. Who better to create and develop services for mobile consumers and corporate clients than the telecommunications company themselves?

On a side note, I briefly came across a discussion on WiMax the other evening. I'll need to do some digging around, but if WiMax does find itself implanted in major cities, how will telecommunications companies respond?

WiMax simply put, is WiFi on steroids, where broad areas like cities or countries are connected with high-speed Internet. Its been making some headway these days in the more technologically progressive countries-- even The Fort in Taguig! With Internet connection on demand and my road warrior of a Nokia Communicator linked to Skype, I would rarely need to make a traditional phone call. That is one less ultra Platinum globe and VIP China Mobile consumer to gouge. Think of the paradigm shift.


One of the greatest literary figures of the last century has passed. Interrned in Moscow, Solzehenitsyn completed what he always said he would do, to have been born and to die in Russia.

I was asked the other day how Solzhenitsyn died?

Well, he incurred the ire of Stalin by exposing the addled core of the communist system. His writings and US exiled presence (CT I think?) resonated loudly within the ruling term of Khrushchev and Brezhnev, culminating with the era of Glasnost and Perestroika under Gorbachev—who in many ways embodied the change from Solzhenitsyn’s Russia and the emerging new Russia. Sadly, much like the other great figures of the revolution though to a lesser extent, Solzhenitsyn’s continued existence was a ghost of an unwanted past. The new generation of Russians was too disjointed from the old system, too concerned about making a future in this new economy. Nevertheless, his mark on this world is undeniable and his portrayal of the communist machinery at its worst in the Gulag's, a chilling reminder of what humanity is capable of.

So, to answer in short—he died of old age.

The Jolly Jetsetter is in mourning.