Expanding Our Global Newsroom
I had one of those whoa- I’ve-been-here-before moments a few weeks ago. I was in Hong Kong, 8,000 miles away from New York’s Flatiron District, where seven-plus years ago I launched True/slant, the startup that led to the FORBES contributor network and BrandVoice platform. As I got of an elevator on the 18th foor of a sliver-like building, I could feel and smell the déjà vu: three freshly painted, high-ceilinged rooms with city views, scraggly desk chairs and tables left behind by a previous tenant, and an espresso pot but no cups to drink from. Five of us looked around, then sat down for three hours to plot a bold course to bring our powerful content model to Asia.
Of course, we already have contributors in the region. Eighty or so active writers cover a range of topics, or swim lanes, as we call them. That compares with around 1,700 in the U.S. and 100 in Europe. What’s new is our ambitious plan to build a robust digital editorial operation in Hong Kong, including editors, producers, reporters, a social media team and more—that is, the kind of newsroom that drove our domestic multiplatform audience to 38 million (as measured by comscore), more than triple what it was in 2010. Now we look to Asia to propel our total international audience well beyond its current 12 million.
While in Asia, I moved around the vibrant startup scene. I visited three intriguing Hong Kong incubators/ accelerators, each the brainchild of a multinational enterprise eager to cover itself with entrepreneurial pixie dust. I visited a state-owned incubator in Shanghai, where I learned the startup scene is made up of more businessminded people who had worked at major companies in a city of 25 million.
Asia is full of frsts for me. This visit I got to Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport for the trip home via Maglev, the world’s frst commercial high-speed magnetic levitation line. The entire experience—from the station to the train itself—felt a bit tattered, reminding me of the grounds and rides of World Fairs gone by. At times the train’s speed did top 300 kilometers an hour. Even though never reaching its top speed of 431 km/ hour, it sure moved fast, much like the region’s startup scene, which FORBES is joining in a big way.