Burda Digital – Journey to the Middle Kingdom

admin news
25 Jun, 2018

Burda Digital’s CIO/CTOs have traveled to innovation hub China to discuss current trends and developments with local tech companies. Earlier destinations had been the USA, Stockholm and Tel Aviv.

Tech country China is gaining ground

It became clear very quickly that companies develop in different circumstances in China. The companies dominating the digital ecosystem in the USA and Europe are, for the most part, blocked by the Chinese firewall there. Therefore the main focus during the company’s visit were not the dominant US giants FAGA (Facebook, Amazon, Google and Apple), but BAT (Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent), who divide up a large part of the market between them. Participants kept being reminded of the different scale in China: a market of just under 1.4 billion people, hundreds of millions of dollars invested into companies that have only just started, ten thousand companies founded every day, with most of them neither known nor operating in Europe. In return, the visitors did not refrain from testing the functionality and usability of products typical for the Chinese market such as WeChat, Alipay and Didi to their heart’s content.

From copycats to leaders

Besides a visit to the headquarter of Alibaba in Hangzhou, the program included discussions with other companies such as News Aggregator Toutiao, the doctors’ platform Chunyu Yisheng, the job platform Kanzhun, as well as start-ups using Blockchain and AI in Beijing and Shanghai.

“The speed with which tech companies in China implement projects is impressive. In addition, the market has a lot of capital. It was very exciting to be there and learn how China, and the tech scene in particular, has come a very long way in a few years, from copycats to leaders.”

Gerhard Thomas, initiator of  the trip

A new generation’s self-image

Despite the big differences between the markets, the participants were able to identify several approaches to cooperating with the partner companies. The exciting part of analyzing the journey will begin now. Besides options for collaboration, the CIO/CTOs were able to gain inspiration with regard to working culture and learned more about the self-image of the new generation of Chinese tech founders and the use of new technologies such as Blockchain, online2offline connections and AI.

Participants included Gerhard Thomas (BurdaSolutions, Group CIO), Jens Pape (Xing), Thomas Koelzer (BurdaForward), Matthias Roth-Hof (BurdaDirect), Maik Friedrich (Computeruniverse), László Kovács (Cyberport), Michael Nowak (Jameda), and Jana Scheidmantel and Thomas Stauber (both Management Graduate Programme), who organized the trip.