Wei Gu
Wei Gu

Nanjing-based tycoon Chen Guangbiao latest tour to the US, including a bid for the New York Times, gave him quite some attention, and certainly caused laughter too. WSJ wealth editor Wei Gu explains in the Wall Street Journal why his preposterous business card might deserve a revamp.

Wei Gu:

Though they didn’t draw headlines, Mr. Chen’s contact details also were noteworthy. Unlike most other important people in China, who pride themselves on not giving much contact details on their cards, Mr. Chen listed two mobile phone numbers and two email addresses.

His China cellphone number is a status symbol in itself, with six “8”s, including four together at the end. The number must have been pricey to procure, as the number eight is deemed as a particularly auspicious number in China.

Mr. Chen doesn’t appear to have devoted the same sort of effort to technology systems at his own company. Both of his email addresses are with 163.com, a free email service provided by Netease. This isn’t uncommon in China, where even government officials put their own YahooYHOO +0.38% or Hotmail addresses on their cards.

The bigger question is whether Mr. Chen needs a card at all, particularly in a China that has become more technologically sophisticated.

With the rising popularity of Chinese social networks on cellphones, email increasingly looks like an outdated way to keep in touch. When Chinese people meet at social functions now, they often don’t exchange business cards. Instead, they turn to their phones, open their WeChat application, and started adding each other as friends.

Chen Guangbiao´s business card

More in the Wall Street Journal.

Wei Gu is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need her at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers´request form.


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