How a Nation of Tech Copycats Transformed Into a Hub for Innovation

THE YOUNG PROGRAMMER had an idea, and everyone thought it was nuts. Just out of college, he’d gotten a job writing software for YY, a livestreaming company based in the mas­sive city of Guangzhou, in China’s Pearl River Delta. More than 100 million users every month stream them­selves, or tune in to broadcasts of others, singing, playing video­games, or hosting talk shows from their Beijing apartments. The audience chats back, prolifically, via voice or text.

The programmer thought YY should try something new: use its proven streaming technology to run a dating service, which would operate kind of like a TV dating show. A host would set up an online lounge, then invite in some lonely singles and coax them to ask each other questions and maybe find a partner.

Company executives were dubious. “The CEO almost killed it,” says Eric Ho, chief financial officer ...Read full article

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