This trip offers the best of both worlds: it is not just the opportunity to experience the Chinese culture first-hand, whether it be the food, or the sights, or the people, but it is also the chance to experience Chinese business first-hand. Today was comprised of the latter with the opportunity to visit the offices of two companies that exemplify how companies operate in the modern, globalized, market: the domestic, Beijing-based, mobile phone application developers, Cheetah Mobile, and the foreign, Seattle-based, technology juggernaut, Microsoft.
During the pre-departure meetings for the trip, Cheetah mobile was described as one of the foremost Chinese app developers, but I had never heard of them, or so I thought. Once we arrived and I glimpsed their logo, the insignia that appears on all of their applications, I instantly recognized them, and realized I had known them for years. I had always thought that the developers of those games that I loved was some Silicon Valley startup; if I hadn’t known I was in China, I would have thought the office we visited was in Silicon Valley. It had all the facets of an office that I associated with the west coast: an open floor plan with an atrium in the middle, a rock wall, a slide, a gym, a day care, a karaoke room, etc. Despite the fun offered in the office, they take their work seriously.
An executive met with us and explained the company’s history, its business model, what it is like competing the modern market. He was very professional and answered all of the questions we asked.
The Microsoft visit lived up to the precedent for professionalism set by Cheetah Mobile. Unlike Cheetah however, the visit to Microsoft focused more on the products being developed rather than the company or the workplace. It was like the Tech equivalent to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate factory; we saw everything from face recognition software, to drones that take pictures, to a mixed reality headset that allows the user to utilize software to manipulate their surroundings.
The day was just as exciting as it was informative.