How Shenzhen is Outsmarting the West

When Silicon Valley veteran Scotty Allen first came to the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen a few years ago as part of an organized tour for American tech geeks, and witnessed the city’s noisy hardware and electronics markets, its buzzing tech startup scene and countless glittering skyscrapers, his spontaneous reaction was not: “Wow, this is cool.” It was: “Wow, we are screwed”.

Coming to Shenzhen is like visiting the future. But it’s this crazy Blade Runner-esque future”, says Allen, his bearded, somewhat wild-looking face beaming in a broad smile. “There’s this incredible energy here. There’s a sort of feeling that like all boats are rising. People are just really smart and really innovative and really creative.”

These are the opening lines of a new book I wrote about Chinese innovation and startups, titled “Shenzhen Superstars – How China’s smartest city is challenging Silicon Valley”.

And Scotty Allen is apparently not the only one fascinated by the city. The book almost immediately became the number 1 bestseller on Amazon’s China section and among the most popular on its section for Innovation.

Reviews and readers comments have been very positive. Typically they highlight the notion that Shenzhen’s tech firms are in many ways outsmarting the West – just look at at Tencent’s WeChat. But also that most people in the West still are unaware of what’s going on in China.

This is how South China Morning Posted opened its review:

Imagine a tech start­-up venture capital­ist who hasn’t heard of Google or Silicon Valley. For Hong Kong-based journalist Johan Nylander, that’s the order of absurdity he encounters when it comes to global awareness of Shenzhen and the giant technology companies that the Chinese city has spawned.”

The book is available as both e-book and paperback on Amazon.

You can also contact me and I send you a copy. I’m on WeChat johanhej

About the author: Johan Nylander is an award-winning author and freelancing China and Asia correspondent. He’s frequently published by CNN, Forbes and Sweden’s leading business daily Dagens Industri. His latest book “Shenzhen Superstars – How China’s smartest city is challenging Silicon Valley” became an Amazon bestseller, and is the first in a series of Chinese startups and innovation.