NEXT16: Asia is more than WeChat, says William Bao Bean

We're underestimating the huge business opportunity in Asia - but it's a different ecosystem, and you need to behave differently

Warning: Liveblogging. Prone to error, inaccuracy and horrible abuses of grammar and syntax. Post will be improved over the next 24 hours

China is the next billion. The west was the first, starting on desktop. China is mobile only. 721m users makes it the biggest mobile market in the world, worth 850bn. 3 of the top 6 biggest digital companies are Chinese.

Where is it behind?

  • Advertising – there’s three publishers in the market, and they have no incentive to be transparent
  • B2B – most business is conducted on consumer apps

Where is China ahead?

  • Social – you can buy anything you see on social
  • Commerce is well ahead
  • P2P loans are common
  • Bitcoin – 70 to 80% of Bitcoin is controlled by China, which has the mining operations

Tencent had 519 product groups – essentially independent companies. It got a bad reputation for killing startups. Tencent does Not have the innovators dilemma. They are constantly killing their own businesses. WeChat is one example. They killed the competition, and then they killed QQMobile, which was part of Tencent. They’re growing 52% year on year – and aren’t out of China yet.

The messaging world

WhatsApp had a huge opportunity – and they sold out. They could have done stickers – but they didn’t. Silly. Stickers are a great way to communicate- efficinet and fun. So, Facebook stuck them in a corner, and built Messages instead.

We live in a Messaging world. You can buy a car or a coke, you can crowdfund or transact.

Facebook started Open, but chose a media model and closed themselves. WeChat has stayed open and become a platform – mainly for social commerce. And it’s something not present in the west, but which is taking the rest of the world by storm. Content is king and data is queen. You make money by showing people stuff and getting them to buy it. Your friends sell you things, not advertisers. They’ve built a social commerce funnel. You enter fans with great content – about 10% will engage with that daily. About 5% of them will hit the store, and then 3% will buy something. 0.45% monthly conversion every month – without you paying out to get that conversion. Advertising is dead. This is the end of Google.

The next focus

The last four billion. South East Asia. South America. Africa. They’re the next market. And the want the mobile-centric, mobile-only market approach, that is counter-intuitive to us who come from desktops. The walled garden markets of the west? Dead. Think of Google Play and Google Wallet. You need a bank accounts it doesn’t work in emerging markets, so you can’t make money there. The top companies in emerging markets are Chinese players you’ve never heard of. They’re winning the last four billion. This is a war for future growth. And it’s a pay-to-play market.

Everyone looks up to Zuckerberg, because he launched d a great product from his dorm. But he’s made it impossible to create another Zuckerberg – because he’s created an ecosystem where you need money to get in. When people are taking VC money – and spending most of it on Google and Facebook ads, then VC is broken.

MOX is their attempt to open up the best apps in the world – to create free user acquisition. They have user data, advertising and payment platforms. The emerging markets are a knife fight. And the best way to win those is to bring a gun. You need to play with an unfair advantage. So, they’re an investor that works through accelerators, and they’re looking to innovate in markets dominated by big companies.