Yes, says Jeremy Goldkorn, owner of the blocked website Danwei, although it ain’t easy. Google is often
quoted as the latest casualty of Chinese protectionism, where foreign media can only work in the country, until get a certain level of success. Goldkorn tells The Guardian he disagrees and gives first an assessment of his own media operation.
“I don’t think it’s doomed,” says Goldkorn. “I do think it’s handicapped, castrated and crippled. It doesn’t matter whether it’s print, TV, internet or movies – foreign companies can make money but it’s very difficult. There are enough regulations in China that potentially anything you do is illegal. If you annoy anybody, a competitor or a regulatory body, they can take you down. The environment is terrible here.”
He notes, however, that Pearson, the owner of the Financial Times, and Condé Nast, the ownerKaiser Kuo by Fantake via Flickr
of Vogue, are both doing well; Google had been “making a go of it – they weren’t tremendously successful by their global standards but they weren’t failing”. The most successful, he thinks, is the publisher IDG: “If anyone has made a ton of money it’s probably them. They’ve been here since the 80s.”
Media watcher Kaiser Kuo sounds a bit more careful in the same article:
Kaiser Kuo, a Beijing-based technology watcher, says: “Commercial success is possible if you keep your heads down and play by the rules.” But “there hasn’t been a single unequivocal success I can point to. There are a combination of regulatory and commercial and strategic reasons. I wouldn’t say abandon hope all ye who enter here.”
There are also the problems of adapting to a very different market. The News Corporation-owned social network MySpace, Kuo points out, struggled to figure out what its “animating idea” was, given that the indie music scene which first propelled it to fame in the US doesn’t exist in the same way in China.
Jeremy Goldkorn and Kaiser Kuo are both working with the China Speakers Bureau. When you need one of them – or both – as a speaker at your conference, do get in touch.