A few very quick impressions.
Hiring and scaling startups is a totally different game in China v US. In Silicon Valley, startups are struggling mightily to hire talent. Google is paying to retain talent; Facebook, Zynga, Twitter and others are paying up to acquire talent.At the same time, with the rise in angel money and incubators, talented engineers with risk tolerance are tending to find the allure of founding a company very attractive. The result: an extreme shortage of technical engineering talent going to earlier stage startups. This makes it very difficult for Sereis A and Sereis B companies to scale technical talent here.
In China, what I saw was pretty different. One startup I visited had grown from roughly 10 employees to nearly 100 in about 11 months, with more than half those employees talented engineers.
Its often talked about the stark cost differences between hiring engineering talent in the US versus China, and this is certainly true. Beyond that, however, what really impacted me was the sheer numbers of engineers available.
It underscores big challenges to the US economic model–lack of focus on technical skills and degrees in US education system, a reticence on immigration letting more technical talent leave our country, etc. The US continues to avoid these issues at its long-term peril.
Armchair Blackberry analysis. On Bloomberg TV in the hotel room, I saw a brief report on Blackberry, in which one of the Co-CEOs was pitching the RIM/Blackberry development platform. What development platform you ask? (Good question.) Anyway, the sound bite that got covered was that he said something along the lines of Blackberry developers make more money and have better discoverability on the RIM platform than on other platforms. I don’t really buy the make more money point, and nothing was used to support this. And the better discoverability point only really means that there aren’t any apps on Blackberry’s store, meaning its easier to find the few that are. In other words, at best: meh.
Always drink bottled water. Nuff said.