The US Internet giant Facebook has suffered a setback in the stock market. In four days, its market value slumped $30 billion. Investors didn't follow the trend simply because of Facebook's popularity. It would be interesting to know if this is because of the high IPO pricing or what it indicates for the Internet industry.
Trying to predict the future of the Internet is risky. Even in the US, Netscape, a web browser company, was acquired by America Online. Yahoo has been losing its vitality, and Google is facing various challenges. Facebook is well received, but its IPO was not as successful as imagined.
The Facebook fiasco is the latest "adventure" for its 28-year-old creator Mark Zuckerberg. This unexpected encounter at least will not have a substantial impact on him or his company in the short term. However, it reminds people of how lucky he is.
Zuckerberg created Facebook when he was a sophomore. At that time, he had nothing but ideas and simple technologies. There were a large number of obstacles to be tackled if he wanted to make it big.
Obviously he couldn't make it on his own. It was the American business culture that spotted him and helped him. He has been extremely fortunate given his age and the influence of his company.
The success of many top companies worldwide should be partly attributed to society. The country's business environment can act as a promoter. It is no coincidence that the most active Internet companies come from the US.
In recent years, we often hear about the notion of "innovation," which has become one of the new agendas for the country. But we still lack the environment for innovation. Innovators themselves have to bear high economic risks, while the rest of society hardly contributes anything.
Imitation is still the first choice of many Chinese businessmen. Take "happy farm," a general name for all the restaurants and lodges run by rural families as an example. Happy farms in China are more or less the same. They serve the same food and contend for tourists. The Internet industry in China is just a larger version of happy farms.
Innovation needs not just the will, but also an environment comprised of rules and people's attitudes.
We can see that in foreign countries, a unique village restaurant wouldn't be copied for years. But it would be quite the opposite here in China. It even happens in the publishing industry, a gathering of intellectuals, and is taken for granted.
China should reduce the costs for commercial innovation. This is the most difficult, but also the most meaningful task in constructing a modern business environment. It should be the guiding principle. If we carry it out step by step, our society will see substantial changes in the following decades.
Nothing is impossible in this world. A favorable environment for China may not be formed today, but it remains to be seen whether it can come about in the near future.