iTien Blog
Late to the blogging world but better than never

September 2007
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How to get Chinese locals to donate?
Filed under: China
Posted by: Alan @ 6:51 pm

I posted this question on JUCCCE’s FB group.  Here was my comment:

We are planning on starting fundraising with expats and Westerners, but
why don’t Chinese locals donate? Everyone knows there are TONS of
super-rich locals. Why don’t they feel obligated to help their own
country? Why should Westerners pay all the money?

Culturally, there isn’t the pressure to give, the guilt of not giving, probably
stemming from Christianity in the West. In the East, it’s take care of
your family.

There’s the traditional lack of stability. In the
West, if you have $X millions in the bank, your relatively sure your
future, and maybe even the future of your next few generations, is
taken care of. But this is changing quickly - especially with offshore
accounts :)

In China, rich people don’t like to get on the
Forbes Richest list. They like to stay anonymous. One, they get hit up
by tons of relatives. Second, who knows where that money really came

Finally, China doesn’t give tax breaks for donations. In
fact, there are very few non-profits you can even donate too! A
hypothetical question: if US did not make donations tax deductible, how
charitable would US citizens be?

Interesting article here BTW:

how do we get past these barriers and get Chinese locals to open their
pocketbooks? See my previous post for to generate some general ideas,
but I think we need some specific tactics for China.

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Is going to war a legitimate economic decision?
Filed under: General
Posted by: Alan @ 6:47 pm

I don’t usually answer these SNS questions, whether on FB or LinkedIn, but for some reason this jumped out at me, probably because I’m listening to John Keegan’s A History of Warfare.  Here’s what I wrote:

Tricky word, legitimate:

le·git·i·mate (l-jt-mt)


1. Being in compliance with the law; lawful: a legitimate business.

Maybe only for civil wars is a war following the “law”, of course from
only one side’s perspective. Since we don’t really have int’l law, I
think it’s difficult to say wars between foreign powers are legit by
this definition. I think Rik’s answer is based on this definition.

2. Being in accordance with established or accepted patterns and standards: legitimate advertising practices.

I think Richard’s answer is based on this second definition. It may
be an “established standard” to go to war against evil (another
point-of-view word).

3. Based on logical reasoning; reasonable: a legitimate solution to the problem.

I think your question probably is based on this definition, with some morale undertones.

Ultimately, people will fight over constrained resources. Rarely will
some people just give up and die. I’m concerned about China - US
relationships as China increases its energy consumption and continues
to gain int’l power. That’s why I’m helping out with JUCCCE - Joint
US-China Cooperation on Clean Energy (

An interesting book is A History of Warfare by John Keegan. He
argues that the theory that war is an extension of politics is actually
a pretty recent hypothesis, and that history offers plenty of examples
where this isn’t the case. In regards to your question, economics may
be the outwardly “logical” reason for a war, but there may be other
irrational factors at play as well, such as nationalism and racism.

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Craziest English Names of Chinese person
Filed under: Shanghai, China
Posted by: Alan @ 6:43 pm

Hilarious posts on Facebook Group for

Topic: Craziest English name of Chinese person you have met

My contribution:
In Yunnan, our tour guide said his name was House. We asked why. He said, “I like music.”

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barcamp Shanghai
Filed under: Shanghai, China
Posted by: Alan @ 6:26 pm

Trying to rediscover my inner geek, I attended barcamp Shanghai 2007.  I was hoping to promote Geni somewhat/somehow, but my session got scheduled to the end of the day.  And the previous speaker overran, so I only had 15 minutes.  And the audience was all Chinese.  In short, it wasn’t the PR hit that I had hoped.

However, all was not lost.  I did meet some really cool people.  Ian from Pacific Epoch.  Luyi from China Web 2.0 Review.  Vinnie and Jeff from iloho.  Michele from Italy, an entrepreneur, freelance writer, and business promoter.

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Sacks interview
Filed under: Work
Posted by: Alan @ 6:24 pm

Super interesting story on Geni’s CEO David Sacks:

In other words, why the heck would you do another internet startup when you have succeeded building one already (PayPal) and have also produced a Golden-Globe nominated movie Thank You for Smoking

I’ve worked with a bunch of Product Managers at Jamcracker ($140M internet startup/flameout), PayPal and eBay, and David’s by far the best.  Why do I call him a PM when he’s the CEO?  This is by no means a demotion.  It’s recognition of his genius.  He has fantastic intuition for usability; he argues product design with uncommon clarity and logic; he demands rigorous data analysis both before product design and after product launch; he’s willing to change his mind if you come up with a better product design.

Internet startup success is rarely based on just a great idea.  Execution is paramount.  Dave and the Geni team is executing at world-class levels.  I may be a bit biased being employed by David, but I’m also observing from a distance, from Shanghai.  I drink a diluted version of the Koolaid.

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