When we decided to open an Asia office in Hong Kong it wasn’t because we had done in-depth research. We looked at the growth happening in Asia, especially in the middle class, and we saw that the economic future of the world is tied in a large way to Asia. More specifically, we saw a huge trend toward increased Internet usage in China and Asia generally. Hundreds of millions of Chinese using smartphones and getting online with them, more than the entire population of the United States. If someone can afford a smartphone, they can afford a lot of other things. And if they have a smartphone and can afford other things, that means they’re buying online and/or making purchasing decisions online, and that means there is or will soon be great demand for online marketing services. The numbers were staggering, and that, combined with some personal circumstances, led me to the decision to open an office in Asia.
But why Hong Kong rather than Beijing or Shanghai? There are some pretty simple reasons:
- Air pollution. Have you seen the photos coming out of China lately? Enough said.
- Business environment. Everywhere you do business, it’s largely about who you know. But more so in China. Add that to a general lack of rule of law and my lack of political connections, and there you go.
- Safety. China isn’t dangerous compared to other places I’ve considered living, like Brazil, but Hong Kong is notoriously safe.
- General living matters. We had heard it’s easy to get by in Hong Kong even without prior experience in Asia. We figured it would be a good first step.
Hong Kong won by default. Strong rule of law, predictable business environment, low taxes, air pollution that is bad but not nearly as bad as China, and yet right next to China.