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Elliott Zaagman Podcasts

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11 of The Best Podcast Episodes for Elliott Zaagman. A collection of podcasts episodes with or about Elliott Zaagman, often where they are interviewed.

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11 of The Best Podcast Episodes for Elliott Zaagman. A collection of podcasts episodes with or about Elliott Zaagman, often where they are interviewed.

Updated daily with the latest episodes

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What is the Secret of Pinduoduo’s Success? With Matthew Brennan and Elliott Zaagman. (1 of 2) (45)

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This is Part 1 about Pinduoduo and the idea of interactive / engagement-driven ecommerce. Our guests for this podcast were Matthew Brennan and Elliott Zaagman.

Elliott Zaagman is co-host the China Tech Investor podcast and a research and communications professional focused on China.

Matthew Brennan is Managing Director of the China Channel.

We discuss their whitepaper on Pinduoduo and interactive commerce, which is available at China Channel.

The 5 choices for explaining Pinduoduo’s success are:

  1. First mover in a huge market. Got the right product at the right time in the right market.
  2. Offered low cost (sometimes free) products to a frugal demographic.
  3. Interactive / engagement-focused ecommerce.
  4. Group buying and virality. The tie with WeChat.
  5. Good execution and management.

Related podcasts and articles:

This is part of Learning Goals: Level 7-8, with a focus on:

  • #31: Introduction to Pinduoduo

Concepts for this class:

  • Value for Money. The Power of Cheap and Free. Example of Digital Superpower #1: Dramatically improving the user experience.
  • Interactive / Engagement-Focused Ecommerce
  • Virality and Word of Mouth

Companies for this class:

  • Pinduoduo

I write and speak about digital China and Asia’s latest tech trends.

I also teach Jeff’s Asia Tech Class, an online course and daily commentary for busy executives on Asia tech and China’s digital leaders.

Support the show (https://jefftowson.com)

Aug 30 2020 · 1hr
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Elliott Zaagman | Trends from US Listed Chinese Companies and Building Partnerships in China

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The show kicked off with a quick background on how Elliott came to be in China and why he’s now splitting time between Beijing and Bangkok. Drawing on insights gained from his own podcast The China Tech Investor we then talk about some of the trends he’s seeing in China and how some of them can be attributed to the economic slowdown China has been experiencing, as well as a shift to enterprise as one of the few remaining low-hanging fruits a company can go after.
We then talk about why so many Chinese companies list on US stock exchanges and why they are still the preferred choice for companies to go IPO and the sandbox for investors to play in. I ask Elliott to name an area that he would still be confident in investing into and he explains why health care would be his number one choice (hint: it has something to do with the fact that no macro events can impact aging).
We also spent a bit of time discussing what the similarities and differences are between Chinese and Western companies, and which industries differ more than others in a comparison (hint 2: it’s not as much as you’d think), before delving into what foreign brands can do to reduce friction and enhance opportunities to partner with Chinese companies.
Oct 15 2019 · 30mins

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Elliott Zaagman – Don’t Try to Do Too Much at One Time

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Elliott Zaagman is the co-host of the China Tech Investor podcast and works as a PR and leadership consultant for Chinese tech founders and executives. He is a frequent commentator on issues facing China and its tech industry, and his work has been published by The Lowy Institute, Foreign Policy, SupChina, and TechNode, as well as in Chinese on Huxiu.com.

“This entire thing (LeEco) that he (Jia Yueting) had built, he built it basically within a year to 14,000-people offices all over the world, all these different verticals of business and then it all collapsed.”

– Elliott Zaagman

Worst investment ever

Elliot tells the story of what he sees as the worst investment for probably many people in the rapid rise and fall of what was at the time China’s Netflix, Le.com LeEco (Leshi Internet Information & Technology Corp, (300104:CH; 300104.SZ).

He had been working in China for many years when he was approached to work one of the group’s companies, LeEco, around the beginning of 2016 to consult for LeEco. The company had been streaming video since around 2012 and in were moving into making smart TVs. Elliot believed this was a rather savvy business venture – to combine the streaming video with smart TVs and create a kind of hardware and content ecosystem.

They had some success and founder Jia Yueting had aspirations to become the Steve Jobs or Elon Musk of China, as he had also made forays into electric vehicle production, establishing Faraday Future, a California-based start-up tech company set up to develop electric vehicles in April 2014.

Jia Yueting is described by Elliot as a futurist, very interested in the potential of technology. And China had said it wanted to have some global tech champions, so this was a chance for Jia Yueting and people like him to build this empire and raise a lot of money. So he used a very capable kind of PR and media team and just expanded at an exponential rate. He went into smartphones, wanting to be the next Apple Inc, virtual reality, sports contracts, music, cloud services.

The company opened a 500-employee office in Silicon Valley, a 100-employee office in India, a few thousand employees in 2014 to 7,000 in 2015. And by the end of 2016, it had 14,000 employees. So the company was expanding in every direction, to the point that there was no way to hit its deadlines.

Part of the corporate culture was that Jia Yueting had filled his C-suite with “Yes People”, so when they went to present themselves to the US market, they sent someone (a person Elliot had worked with) who could barely speak a word English, to run their US office in Silicon Valley. The ambassador of the company had also rarely been to the US, didn’t understand the US market and he was running their go to market. The entire company, not just in the US, had chaotic atmosphere.

The beginning of the end was an enormous product launch to introduce themselves to the US market at the Innovation Hangar (now also permanently closed) in San Francisco. It was excessive and people failed to understand why the company was holding such a large event. Three weeks later, founder Jia Yueting sent out a company-wide message that said something like: “We expanded too quickly and we’re out of money. And now we need to fix it.”LeEco has debts in China of around US$442.3 million (3 billion yuan), and Jia Yueting is under investigation by regulators and has remained outside China since 2017.

Some lessons

You cannot grow quickly, in many areas business. Jia Yueting had built the entire empire within a year to all over the world, with different verticals of business and then it all collapsed.

Look deep before involvement in China’s tech ecosystem and economy. Chinese banks tend to lend loosely to companies that are aligned with government or Communist Party (Party) initiatives. Venture capital firms are willing to invest in areas that the Party wants to promote.

Appearances can be deceiving, especially for tech-naïve lenders in China. A lot of the people in charge of the money did not really understand technology, so they were fed excuses by people who wanted the money, such as “This is just how tech businesses operate.” Jia Yueting got a lot of funding through smoke and mirrors, making good video presentations and display products without a solid core to his business.

“Look under the hood a little bit when it comes to these companies, especially I think in China.”

- Elliott Zaagman

Andrew’s takeaways

China doesn’t have to be our enemy. There are many things that Chinese people admire about America and a lot of the transformation that happened in China came because the People’s Republic implemented some free market principles. It is sad to see US politicians gaining points at home by pitting Americans against China.

Be careful of over-diversifying because you’ll lose focus. Don’t be seduced by greatly diverse businesses such as Apple or Microsoft. They have been growing for a long time and may expand into different areas, but they have a very strong core. They might do something like Amazon Web Services, for example, but they built up to that point slowly.

When money is available freely and at low cost, you find malinvestment. Undisciplined investment. What’s happening in the world, in America, and also in China is that so much money has been poured into the industry that you cannot avoid the type of situation where you have faults such as lower asset utilization rates.

The problem of “yes people”. One of the benefits of a developed company is that it has a board of directors to provide the kind of checks and balances system necessary to curb the visionary excesses of CEOs such as Jia Yueting.“Having ‘Yes Men’, either in management or at the board level, can turn out to be a real disaster.”- Andrew StotzThat is why we see great people surrounding some of the best businesses. Such people are serious professionals who are not afraid to stand up to the CEO and say “No! This is the way we have to go.” So getting such people is highly valuable.

No. 1 goal for next the 12 months

Elliot writes a lot about Chinese tech companies and companies such as Huawei, and is concerned about the decoupling that US and Chinese technology, ecosystems and expertise appear to be undergoing. He hopes in the next year to continue to add his voice to that conversation and offer clear analysis, allowing his readers and listeners to gain a clear picture of the broader situation, one that is honest and respectful and in service of the truth.

Parting words

“Seek truth from facts.”

You can also check out Andrew’s books

Connect with Elliott Zaagman

Connect with Andrew Stotz

Further reading mentioned

May 22 2019 · 27mins
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ELLIOTT ZAAGMAN | Understanding China's Tech Environment

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Elliott Zaagman has built a professional life as a writer, podcaster, investor in, & consultant to the leaders of some of China’s most famous (& infamous) tech companies. He appears in print & on-air internationally speaking truth about that environment. Ell co-hosts the China tech Investor podcast w/James Hull and has been on my other shows several times too, so we started from a place of comfort and dove deep from there. LINKS https://www.crazyinagoodway.com/knew-resources
May 22 2019 · 1hr 4mins

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ELLIOTT ZAAGMAN | Understanding China's Tech Environment

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Elliott Zaagman has built a professional life as a writer, podcaster, investor in, & consultant to the leaders of some of China’s most famous (& infamous) tech companies. He appears in print & on-air internationally speaking truth about that environment. Ell co-hosts the China tech Investor podcast w/James Hull and has been on my other shows several times too, so we started from a place of comfort and dove deep from there. LINKS: https://www.crazyinagoodway.com/knew-resources
May 22 2019 · 1hr 4mins
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Ep. 88: How to Avoid PR Mistakes When Chinese Tech Companies Going Global with Elliott Zaagman

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Elliott Zaagman (aka “Ell”) is a writer, executive coach, and speaker, helping Chinese enterprises grow into global organizations. During past years he’s been a writer, journalist and researcher on China’s tech industry, as a regular contributor to Huxiu, Tech in Asia and Technode, as well as a coach and PR assistant for a number of Chinese tech founders, including LeEco during their global takeoff and crash and various made-in-China Internet giants. Recently, he launched his own podcast China Tech Investor to mystify the investment landscape in the Chinese technology industry.

Episode Content:

  • Elliott Zaagman introduces himself
  • Why did you want to write about China and its tech scene in the first place? Since you are a critic of China’s tech industry, in your observation, what are the big trends in 2018 that foreigners who want to do business here should know about?
  • Why do you think Tech investments environment in China is drying up?
  • You have coached many high-profile Chinese tech companies and tech leaders, in your observations, can you tell us about that?
  • What are the common mistakes in PR they tend to make when going global?
  • Through your practices, what have been some effective ways to improve their PR abilities? Some examples?
  • Recently you started your podcast called China Tech Investor, what is it about? Why did you want to start it?

Episode Mentions:

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Jan 30 2019 · 30mins
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414: Elliott Zaagman - Co-host of the China Tech Investor podcast | Asia Tech Podcast

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“Sometimes this idea of decorum or formality causes people to not actually call out the BS when you see it ….and that’s what we like to do.” - Elliot Zaagman, Host of China Tech Investor Podcast talks to Graham Brown about his podcast along with his friend and co-host James Hull. He takes us through his story, from being in the US to ending up in China. Graham and Elliot then delve into all things “China” and talk about the changes that are happening in the Chinese market and tech ecosystem.

Listen to the entire podcast here and don’t forget to like & subscribe to our channel if you are interested in our podcasts. We would love to hear back from you, leave us a review on our channel.
Jan 20 2019 · 51mins
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Episode 276: How to understand China Technology Companies as an investor with Elliott Zaagman

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Elliott Zaagman, co-host of China Tech Investor podcast, joined us to discuss how to understand Chinese technology companies as an investor. We discussed the theme and intended audience for his current podcast, and dived deep into how we can value the technology giants in China from Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent to the recent upstarts such as Pinduoduo and Xiaomi. Elliott laid out the deep misconceptions on Chinese technology companies and provided a different perspective to how they are vertically integrated companies with different products and services contrast to their western counterparts.

Dec 14 2018 · 36mins
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#078 - ELLIOTT ZAAGMAN on Podcasting, Tech Ponzi Schemes, & more! | “Big Fish Side Dish"

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Returning champion Elliott Zaagman is back, and this week he lights it UP! He gives us the quick info about HIS new show with James Hull that’s powered by TechNode, the “China Tech Investor Podcast”, we discuss MY new show with Yingying Li called “How China Works”, he fills me in on the legend of the GeekPark Mafia, AND as a palate cleanser from all the love up to that point, he goes HARD at Bytedance. Dude! Don’t miss this one.

BLOG & LINKS: https://www.crazyinagoodway.com/home/zaag2

Nov 09 2018 · 38mins
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#066 - Tech Writing & Leadership in China | Elliott Zaagman

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To lift directly from his LinkedIn, which says it far better than I ever could: Elliott Zaagman is best known as an executive coach, corporate trainer, and writer who focuses on how Chinese leaders and organizations interact with their global employees and the public. He focuses on leadership development, HR, and PR and is both an enthusiastic evangelist for, and honest critic of, China's tech industry. 

Elliott is wicked smart and insightful, very funny, and we have one of the most real conversations - ranging from the curious debt structures in many Chinese businesses to the notable underrepresentation of Asian faces at the Bilderberg Meetings - that I've had on the show. Great talk. Enjoy!

This week’s show is sponsored by “The Complete Podcasting Course”, my new learning program on Udemy.com. Find it via the link in the show notes, and if you want a discount coupon to get the course for only $10 USD, contact me and I’ll hook you up.

Find all links at the BLOG post here: https://www.crazyinagoodway.com/home/ez

Sep 19 2018 · 1hr 15mins