TEXT OF INTERVIEW
MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: Everyone knows about Google and Amazon, but not as many have heard of the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins which helped them get started. Now that company is opening offices in China. Scott Tong is our Shanghai Correspondent. I asked him why Kleiner Perkins is making this move now?
SCOTT TONG: Well there’s a lot of talk by the government in China to move up the value chain, as they put it. That China’s economy has long been kind of strong and lower in textiles and shoes and they want to move up in technology. So the government is putting a lot of tax incentives to do that and to hopefully cultivate those ideas, and of course venture capital is to connect money to those ideas.
THOMAS: We don’t normally think of China as a place for innovation.
TONG: It’s still a big question mark according to the people I talk to: Can China innovate? There are successful online companies here but generally they’ve been, shall we say, borrowed. From Amazon and Google and others. Of course those are Kleiner Perkins-funded startups back in the day. One big question in China is if you have a great idea, how safe is it from the copycats? Intellectual property. One investor told me that a couple months back when YouTube was hot, 150 YouTube copycats kind of sprung up in China. So that’s still a big questions mark — piracy, people kind of ripping off ideas. Having said that, most people I’ve talked to say the intellectual property environment is slowly getting better in China, but that’s a long-term thing.
THOMAS: Thanks a lot Scott.
TONG: OK Mark. Take Care
THOMAS: Shanghai bureau correspondent Scott Tong.