Earlier this week, I returned from a business trip to our new office in China.
The Chinese market is very attractive to a company like Carbonite. I'm fond of saying that our target customer is anyone with a computer, a broadband connection and data that's worth protecting. China has more broadband-connected users than the US has people -- over 340 million! It's the number one broadband-connected Internet market in the world, so I am eager to establish a presence there.
We're starting by hiring developers, and we now have a small team of really great engineers. I have been thrilled with the pool of engineering talent in China. Unlike the US, where college kids want to major in Economics or Political Science and go on to Law School or get an MBA, in China the best and brightest all want to be engineers and scientists.
That said, China is a tough nut to crack. Nearly every aspect of doing business there, from UI design to payment processing to marketing partnerships is different than it is in the US. Paperwork has to be filled out with a certain color ink and a special type of pen. Purchasing anything from office space to a computer requires a bank wire transfer or cash. Moving money in and out of the country is complicated. And we're going to have to set up a data center in China, because of the "great firewall" that regulates all Internet traffic in and out of the country.
I've been going to China every ten years or so throughout my career. I can remember when the only vehicles on the streets of Beijing were bicycles and rickshaws. Now it's wall-to-wall Lexuses, BMWs and Audis. Just amazing. And construction everywhere you look. While their one-party communist government has definite drawbacks when it comes to freedom of expression, a visit to China will make it very clear that our form of government does not have a lock on economic prosperity. The people there are warm and friendly, very hard working, and well educated. If you're an Internet company, it's probably the most important place to be outside of the US.