Required Reading: Asia

I’m fascinated by international business, especially in developing countries. I’ve written about it several times now and am currently finishing up a piece on India for the Venture Capital Journal informed, in part, by comments left here at PEHub.com.

I’ve been lucky over the last couple of days to run across several insightful pieces about business and investing in Asia.

The Atlantic has a fascinating piece on the Broad air conditioning company in China and its iconic owner Zhang Yue. Zhang has built a copy of Versailles, a full size pyramid and a whole town that houses his workers. Broad recorded $300 million in revenue last year by selling industrial air conditioners that run off natural gas instead of the electrical grid, according to author James Fallows. The Atlantic takes you into the mind of this entrepreneur and his vision for building ecologically responsible products for a growing China. You need an Atlantic subscription to read the article, but there’s a narrated slideshow also on the site you can get for free.

Kaiser Kuo writes about a Silicon Valley VC trying to navigate China’s business scene. He follows Eric O’Brien, a young general partner with Lightspeed Venture Partners, as the investor downs 24 shots of a 122 proof spirit called Baotuquan with entrepreneurs between gulps of braised sea cucumber, fish heads stewed in red pepper sauce, chilled duck tongues. Yum! Kuo, a rockstar himself, analyzes the potential pitfalls of investing in Chinese Internet startups and how VCs are dealing with it.

PEHub reader Sridhar Iyer pointed me to this report, by analyst firm Evalueserve, which points to potential pitfalls of venture investing in India. The firm’s detailed analysis is the best I’ve seen on the region. It reports that the $4.4 billion VCs are likely to put into India over the next several years is really worth more like $22 billion thanks to the multiplier effect of Indian purchasing power parity (PPP). I disagree with the math here, as PPP involves a basket of goods that may be unrelated to the high-tech startups VCs will be investing in. Rice may be cheaper in India, but what about application servers? Still, this is worth reading.