I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again for the readers: the future of technology startups is gravitating strongly towards Asia. And io9’s little map here makes that viscerally clear.
The observation was made by ‘valeriepieris’ on Reddit a few days ago and underlines Asia’s significance in the world, including in a much broader context:
Additional things I’ve realized: There are more Muslims in the circle than outside of it. There are more Hindus in the circle than outside of it. There are more Buddhists in the circle than outside of it… The circle pulls all of this off while being mostly water and including the most sparsely populated country on earth (Mongolia).
We could add a host more stats to this, in terms of types of governments, cultures, demographics, and so on.
But what are the implications of this for technology companies and startups? With its predominantly young population (with the exception of Japan), the region is ridiculously diverse in terms of different types of markets and consumer bases. That means very competitive. That means a company that is successful in this little circle is going to have to battle it out in various domains. Not unlike ancient tribes battling it out until one eventually dominates. The tribe that eventually dominates usually makes technological advances and has strong cultural values that make it happen. And that’s what we’re already seeing. Japanese companies are attacking Southeast Asia, Southeast Asian companies are attacking each other’s markets, Korean companies are jumping into Japan, and lots more competitive action.
Basically, cosmopolitan Asian has to be more than just ambidextrous. He/she has to be able to adapt to a host of small and large cultures and nations that very often barely resemble each other. He/she has to immediately think internationally.
Silicon Valley, although highly competitive and innovative with a long history of startups, does not face the challenges that Asia must face in order to grow and survive. And that’s the central thing. Silicon Valley is isolated. As diverse as the people in the Valley are, the environment promotes Valley thinking. And the Valley knows it, that’s why we’re starting to see Geeks On A Plane and Unreasonable At Sea, whereby Valley folks attempt to go global. But this is where Asia starts from, not what it’s looking for. And the circle proves it.