The digital marketing panda and internet businesses in China

Our Panda Mascot

Hello! Here I am day 19 in Beijing. Today I thought I’d talk about a company I’ve been interning at called Pandamobo, and some initial observations of internet businesses in China.

In a nutshell, Pandamobo is a digital marketing company that helps Chinese businesses promote their products and services in overseas markets. This could be anywhere as varied as Spain, the US, Taiwan and Australia. In other words they are helping them to advertise on all the internet platforms that mainland Chinese people don’t actually use, such as Facebook, Google, Instagram and Twitter etc etc.

Great business idea and great growth potential. I don’t know why I don’t hear about more companies doing this? Maybe because it’s so hard to get a good VPN around here. In any case Pandamobo does a lot of advertising for Chinese government tourism agencies so I’m sure they’re fine.

Pics from the office

So far I’ve been helping them make visuals for Facebook posts and infographics, so nothing too fancy. But the best part about working there so far was I arrived just in time to go on their team retreat to the Great Wall, yay! That was like my 3rd day in the office. See snapshots below.

Team Activities included: quirky team building exercises, outdoor banquets, talent show & bonfire (no pics provided), hiking and traversing streams, outdoor cooking, end of day hike on the Great Wall.

One of the most interesting aspects, has been observing the environment and state of play for an internet company in Beijing. The first observation, being that people are very young. There is almost no one over the age of 35, and the larger part of the workforce is possibly under 30. And this is in a company that is actually rather large. There are over 100 people in the Beijing office and they have 4 offices in other Chinese cities. I think I met one lady who might be around forty and she works in the finance department. But definitely not in sales, engineering, marketing, design, data analytics or optimisation.

When I asked one of my co-workers about this she said that people who work for internet companies are generally all quite young. Duh. But for those of us that have worked in Australia, US and many other developed markets, I think this would definitely not be the case. You definitely would see your share of 40–50 year olds in leadership roles at Salesforce, Canva or Facebook.

I think this is probably due to the fact that China didn’t go through the dot com boom of the late 1990s and early 2000s. At that time, most Chinese people probably didn’t have regular access to a computer or the internet. China’s massive internet growth came in the late 2000s with the advent of smart phones. As a result, you don’t have the tech veterans or experts from the past decade, and people of that age group are not particularly tech literate. That’s my not so educated guess though, so someone can add their opinion on this.

In any case, there’s a lot of opportunities for a young tech savvy person in China. I think the vice president of the company is born in 1990s.

The second, observation — and I’ll keep it quick — was just how quickly you can grow in China. Like I mentioned in my past post, whatever happens here — seems to happen with 5x the speed of anywhere else. Pandamobo, with it’s staff of 200–300 employees is only two years old. And they already work with some of the biggest names in China.

So if you have a good idea, the right connections and the ability to execute — you can go very far, very quickly.

Honestly, if you are a clever Chinese tech professional, I don’t know why you wouldn’t go back to Beijing, Shenzhen or Shanghai to develop. — unless you are immigrating for the not-so-workaholic lifestyle.

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