RISE Day 1 Takeaways

Hello friends,

We have well and truly hit the ground running for our first day at RISE Hong Kong - in keeping up with the pace of this bustling, steamy metropolis. For those unfamiliar with RISE, it is organised by the team behind Web Summit and attracts over 16,000 founders, funders and innovation enthusiasts from across the world.

With most talks running just 20 minutes and speakers ranging from global names like Uber and Spotify to some of the most promising startups in the APAC region, we had no shortage of ideas to take in - but here's our key takeaways from day one.

Global reach, hyperlocal focus

Spotify and Stripe are two of the most successful tech brands to scale globally in the past decade, but as they mature and evolve their focus has shifted to an increasingly localised approach. 

"In order to serve users globally, we need to be hyper local" said Stripe's Chief Product Officer Will Gaybrick, describing how local regulations, cultural customs, preferred payment methods and local competitors help to shape Stripe's specific approach to each market. 

Spotify's Head of Global Markets, Cecilia Qvist (shown above) said they invest in the right people and partnerships to launch in new markets. Spotify's launch in China was bolstered by a collaboration with Tencent, while their recent launch in India focussed on investing in localisation of content; languages, cultures and customs based on region. Qvist also announced the next phase of their approach to globalisation, Spotify LITE - specifically designed to work on patchy or weak internet connections, and older phones. 

The post-IPO road is about evolving into a platform business 

Uber's CTO Thuan Pham spoke candidly about the company's journey post-IPO. He sees Uber evolving into a platform business that delivers multiple verticals, closer in approach to Alibaba or Tencent. To do this, they need to offer more categories of service eg; Uber Bus, freight, and eventually a wider range of labour-based businesses.

Similarly, Min-Liang Tan, CEO of gaming company Razer (who went public in HK in late 2017) said the success of their business has been in building an entire ecosystem around gaming itself - from hardware, software and services to newer additions like Razer Gold (a virtual credit system for gamers), apparel and even energy drinks. “We didn’t just create a product, we created an entire industry” said Tan. 

Remaking the internet for younger generations

Two of the most interesting talks of the day concentrated on the emergent generations; Gen Z (10-24) and the generation after (children under 13). Considering that in 2018 kids under 13 were 40% of all new internet users globally, and that 170,000 kids are coming online for the first time every day, it's amazing regulatory systems are only starting to catch up with the platforms they're consuming.

Founder and CEO of kidtech startup SuperAwesome, Dylan Collins spoke about how the biggest tech companies used by kids today (such as Youtube and TikTok) weren't developed for kids - but in the past 12 months there's been mounting pressure to do something about it. While he praised legislation as one mechanic, he thinks the tech companies themselves (and any new companies wanting to engage this audience) need to design with kids in mind. 

And when it comes to Gen Z, design agency R/GA explained it's as much about data as it is about being woke. R/GA's research found Gen Z will drive new technologies where users control what data they share, where users get a stake in the value of the data they create and with more data sharing. Ultimately, their belief is that Gen Z will make tech an enabler, not a dictator of how we live our lives.

Collaboration is a focus for the future of venture capital

Despite the US-China trade war, a recurring focus was on thinking globally and on collaborative good when it comes to investment.

"The Asian and non-Asian markets are very different in maturity and regulation, but their common factor is the consumer" said VC Daisy Cai of Gaocheng Capital who said from an investment perspective the ability to work across multiple regulatory environments globally was crucial to VCs. There was also consensus on the shared imperatives of developments in AI and quantum computing; the USA is considered to be the frontrunner in the development of the technology, but China are more likely to lead on getting that tech out to people - so collaborating where possible will serve all markets in the long term. 

It's not just about the businesses we invest in, but also the people. As a Vietnamese immigrant who was granted asylum to the US with his family as a child, Pham was upfront about the "painful" attitude towards immigration in the USA and elsewhere. "We need to work hard to reverse this in the coming years" he said, stressing the importance of diplomacy but also for companies to step up for their employees.

Key quotes from today:

"The more complex problems you need to solve, the more diversity of voices you need to have at the table"
- Cecilia Qvist, Spotify

"As the amount of kids under 13 becomes the fastest-growing demographic on the internet, we’re seeing the internet - only ever designed for adults - being redesigned and re-architected for children"
- Dylan Collins, SuperAwesome

"Data is global which in turn makes citizenry global. With this in mind, venture capital should be less about technology and more about how we can make the world more collaborative."
- Daisy Cai, Gaocheng Capital

"The era of simply doing business for the bottom line is long gone"
- Richard Ting, R/GA Media Group

"Talents are evenly distributed throughout the world, opportunities are not"
- Thuan Pham, Uber

We hope you've enjoyed this update today, and will be sharing more insights tomorrow and Friday from the next two days of RISE. 

Don't forget, we'll be sharing more in-depth insights alongside the biggest learnings from Monocle's Quality of Life Conference in a special Character Study debrief on July 24th - RSVP below if you'd like to join.


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