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No Customers, Closed Stores: Chinese Entrepreneurs Brace For The Worst Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

Zhou Yuxiang was not in the mood for festivities during China’s Lunar New Year holiday this year. The 30-year-old CEO of Shanghai-based software startup Black Lake Technologies had to figure out how to manage his company amid the country’s deadly coronavirus outbreak. Working from home to comply with local quarantine rules has lowered productivity, while expenses remained high as he still needs to pay rent even when no one is using the office.

What’s more, Zhou says, clients are slower to take on new contracts as factories remain shut and production is delayed, hurting his otherwise fast growth.

“This epidemic caused production suspension for a considerable number of factory clients,” he says, who counts 300 factory owners as customers of his cloud-based management software. “Unpredictability on when factories could resume production has increased uncertainty for our first quarter growth.”

As the deadly virus, temporarily called 2019-nCoV, shows no sign of slowing, China’s vast business scene is taking a hit. While some companies, including Zhou’s, hope to recoup any losses before the year’s end, others are suffering a much more devastating blow.

This is because the epidemic’s economic damage is far and wide. It is believed to be more contagious than the 2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic, causing the Chinese government to impose nationwide mall closures, movie cancellations and factory shutdowns to prevent the disease’s further spread. As manufacturing and business activities cease, first quarter GDP growth will plummet to 3.8%—which equals to $62 billion in lost growth—and drag full-year GDP growth below 6% to 5.4%, according to UBS economist Wang Tao.

Sectors that are hardest hit include catering, entertainment, hospitality, retail and transportation. These businesses tend to have heavy inventory or a lot of expenses, but they can’t generate any meaningful revenue when people stay indoors.

Jia Guolong, founder of popular restaurant chain Xi Bei, told local media this week that his company only had enough cash for the next three months. He still needs to pay rent and salary to more than 20,000 employees, even when his restaurants are largely empty. To preserve cash, Hong Kong’s flag carrier, Cathay Pacific has asked its 27,000 employees to take three weeks of unpaid leave, warning that the condition is as grave as the 2009 global financial crisis. And fast-food operator Yum China is expecting negative impact on 2020 full-year sales and profit, after temporarily shutting down 30% of its stores in China.

While these larger businesses may eventually have the resources to weather through, smaller startups could experience a life-and-death moment. Zhang Yi, founder of Guangzhou-based consultancy iiMedia Research, says he won’t be surprised if a wave of bankruptcies occur. And Wang Ran, founder of Beijing-based investment firm CEC Capital, urged startups to do whatever they can to survive.

“Downsize if you need to, relocate if you need to and lay off people if you need to,” Wang wrote in a recent blog post. “Only those who lived through this can see spring, and have a future.”

Beijing has put out rescue measures. The country’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China, announced on February 2 that it would pump $174 billion worth of liquidity into the markets to help cushion the impact. Local governments have called for rent deductions and more flexible salary arrangements, with the Shanghai municipal government promising tax and insurance refunds to employers who don’t engage in layoffs.

But analysts say business survival may ultimately depend on whether the virus can be contained. Since originating in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December, it has spread across the country, infecting more than 28,000 people and killing over 500. There are now coronavirus cases around the world, including Japan, Thailand, Germany, the United States and the United Arab Emirates. The World Health Organization declared the outbreak a global health emergency and dozens of nations, including Italy, Singapore and the U.S., have placed travel restrictions from China.

“The longer this drags on, the bigger the damage,” iiMedia Research’s Zhang says. “If it lasts for another month, then it would be unbearable for any business.”

Startups are doing what they can to minimize damage. Black Lake’s Zhou is offering discounted services, especially to clients who are based in the most affected areas. Zhou Wenyu (not related to Zhou Yuxiang), founder of Shaoxing-based software startup Youshupai, is slowing down marketing activities and transferring its first quarter sales goal to the second quarter. And Joanne Tang, founder of travel and marketing agency Infinite Luxury, says she is diversifying to other Asian markets while reminding overseas-based clients not to reduce efforts in China.

“For sure, we are in a challenging time,” Tang says. “We have to monitor how it goes, but we won’t be standing still and just wait until this is over.”

I am a Beijing-based writer covering China’s technology sector. I contribute to Forbes, and previously I freelanced for SCMP and Nikkei. Prior to Beijing, I spent six months as an intern at TIME magazine’s Hong Kong office. I am a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University. Email: ywywyuewang@gmail.com Twitter: @yueyueyuewang

Source: No Customers, Closed Stores: Chinese Entrepreneurs Brace For The Worst Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

CNBC’s Eunice Yoon reports on how the coronavirus outbreak is expected to take a serious toll on China’s economy. Expect supply disruptions as China takes measures to contain an ongoing coronavirus outbreak, says REYL Singapore’s Daryl Liew. “The sharp action taken by the Chinese government to basically delay workers going back to work is definitely going to cause some supply disruptions,” Liew, who is chief investment officer at REYL Singapore, told CNBC’s “Street Signs” on Thursday. With the virus infecting at least 7,700 and killing 170 in China, authorities have taken measures to curb the disease’s spread. At least three provinces have declared that businesses, other than some essential industries, are barred from resuming work before Feb. 10. In Hubei province, where the majority of cases have been found, resumption of local business has been delayed till at least Feb. 14. A “big question mark” remains over how long the disruptions could last, Liew said, as it depends on whether the situation can be contained. That comes as manufacturing numbers were showing “some normalization,” he added. “It’s a bit of a lagging indicator but the December ISM numbers have all been broadly positive, especially for Asian economies … which suggest essentially that global trade is normalizing. It’s not bouncing back significantly but it is rebounding,” Liew said, adding that that has translated to better manufacturing numbers. “The current virus … and the extended shutdown in China will definitely put a crimp to that,” Liew said. Potential impact on US businesses The outbreak has sent tremors across markets in Asia and beyond in recent days, as investor concerns about the potential economic impact grow. “We’re concerned that there could start to be … some overall impact on the Chinese economy which could lend itself, from a sentiment perspective, to greater concerns … for the global economy,” Shannon Saccocia, chief investment officer at Boston Private, told CNBC on Thursday. That could spillover into the performance of U.S. businesses at a time when the “strain of lower production” is being felt stateside, Saccocia said. “If we start to see that upended by the fact that factories aren’t opening and … we’re not able to get the components that we need from the Chinese economy, you know, that could … certainly slow any sort of manufacturing reacceleration that we were hoping for in the first two quarters of 2020,” she said. The Chinese city of Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, is the epicenter of the outbreak, and authorities have placed multiple cities in the province under partial or complete lockdown. Wuhan and the surrounding region of Hefei and Jiangsu are major manufacturing hubs that work with American firms. But they have also been shut down due to the virus outbreak. “As an investor, you need to understand … where the supply chain starts and ends and factor in to your expectations … for those companies,” Saccocia said, though she acknowledged that it’s “a little early” to “paint the picture that half of the year is going to be meaningfully lower from a growth standpoint due to this virus.” For access to live and exclusive video from CNBC subscribe to CNBC PRO: https://www.cnbc.com/pro/?__source=yo… » Subscribe to CNBC TV: https://cnb.cx/SubscribeCNBCtelevision » Subscribe to CNBC: https://cnb.cx/SubscribeCNBC » Subscribe to CNBC Classic: https://cnb.cx/SubscribeCNBCclassic Turn to CNBC TV for the latest stock market news and analysis. From market futures to live price updates CNBC is the leader in business news worldwide. Connect with CNBC News Online Get the latest news: http://www.cnbc.com/ Follow CNBC on LinkedIn: https://cnb.cx/LinkedInCNBC Follow CNBC News on Facebook: https://cnb.cx/LikeCNBC Follow CNBC News on Twitter: https://cnb.cx/FollowCNBC Follow CNBC News on Instagram: https://cnb.cx/InstagramCNBC #CNBC #CNBC TV

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Key Points To Consider When Developing An International Business Strategy

Let us take a minute to salute the international companies, those that have gone multi-market or are on that path. They deserve our applause and respect. When I led market entry programs , I observed that these international firms tended to outperform the purely domestic firms, but for a reason you might not expect.

Companies that were operating in many markets tended to do better than those that had a presence only in their home market, but this had more to do with the international journey than the additional revenue.

The process of going international forced a company to adapt for each new market. As a result, the international firm became a learning organization which encompassed several different successful models, and the lessons from each new market could be applied in other markets. So the international company tended to develop a feedback mechanism and process improvements more readily than the purely domestic company.

Indeed, if you ask the leadership of that purely domestic firm what they want to do tomorrow, you are more likely to hear that they want to do tomorrow what they did yesterday. In other words, many business people (like all of us) have a bias for the familiar. We all like patterns of behavior and we like to stay in our comfort zone. I see this regularly when I discuss China opportunities. We will have a nice conversation with a lovely mid-size company, but unless it has an international culture it will have an overwhelming focus on building out a successful domestic model. The management philosophy at these firms tends to be:

Today In: Asia

— Reliant on the organic growth that has served them well over the years;

— Highly structured organization, task-driven, with people looking at monthly and quarterly results;

— Heavily product-focused.

These companies tend to dominate their space or be a segment leader. All of this means these companies have a strong incentive not to expand their current set of activities, and not to think about what changes might be in order. The key principle at these firms is MOTS – More of the Same. We do what we did last year, but we do more.

More revenue, more customers, more market share, more net. A pretty common-sense approach. But this is not a strategy. This is a behavior pattern. Let’s do what we have always done, presumably because it has more-or-less worked. This approach makes sense if the world is static. If the world is standing still, if society is standing still, if technology is standing still, and if competitors are standing still– then it is ok if the business stands still as well. But there are moving pieces out there, so you had better move as well. Unless the business incorporates a bit of a change culture, it risks falling behind.

Therefore, some sort of strategy is in order. Strategy can mean the allocation of resources without the normal formula for a return, displaying some capacity for experimentation. Strategy can mean you are doing something different, and the constituency for this change has not yet been established. Strategy can mean clearer costs than benefits.

Strategy can mean a journey into the unknown. You are taking steps that require you to stretch beyond current capabilities. A new product launch could represent a strategy. A new sales channel. Or a new market.

For most companies, the decision to go into a new market is a matter of strategy, because growth is no longer MOTS. The best expression of this might be a decision to go to China. On any given day it might not make sense to have a strategy. It makes sense to do what you did yesterday. But cumulatively, this could lead to a disaster.

On any given day, it might not make sense to go into a new market. But over the long run it could cripple the company to stay only in its home market. I caught up with Jack Ma recently at the Forbes Global CEO Conference. Jack has stepped down as Alibaba ($BABA) chairman, but he is still fiercely passionate about helping companies enter the China market. I had not seen him in almost a year, but we immediately saw this issue eye-to-eye.

Sooner or later, every company needs an international strategy. Sooner or later, every company needs a China strategy. Strategy is possible. Cost-free strategy is not. Those companies that are taking the international journey, we salute you.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

Whether in banking, communications, trade negotiations, or e-commerce, my professional life is helping companies enter and succeed in new markets, with a particular focus on China. As Founder and CEO of Export Now, I run the largest international firm in China e-commerce. Export Now provides turn-key services for international brands in China e-commerce, including market strategy and competitive analysis, regulatory approval, store operations and fulfillment, financial settlement and remittance. Previously, I served as Asia Pacific Chair for Edelman Public Affairs and in my last role in government, I served as Undersecretary for International Trade at the U.S. Department of Commerce. Previously, I served as U.S. Ambassador to Singapore. Earlier, I served in Hong Kong and Singapore with Citibank and Bank of America and on the White House and National Security Council staff. New market book: http://amzn.to/2py3kqm WWII history book: http://amzn.to/2qtk0wK

Source: Key Points To Consider When Developing An International Business Strategy

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Welcome to the Vodcasts of the IUBH correspondence courses. (http://www.iubh-fernstudium.de). In this video of the course “Managing in a Global Economy”, part of the “Master of Business Administration” program, Jürgen-Mathias Seeler discusses the topic “Strategy Development in International Business”. By the end of this lecture you will be able to understand the meaning of strategy in international business, the potential benefits from global strategies, the most important strategic choices in globalized business operations and how to manage strategy development and strategy adoption successfully. To find out more about the “Master of Business Administration” program, please visit http://www.iubh-fernstudium.de/unsere….

Here’s Why We Suddenly Stopped Hearing About A Recession

Topline: Economists—especially after the stock market took a dive in December—had been warning that a recession was coming, and possibly imminent. But a combination of low-interest rates and an improving labor market has quickly silenced those fears — and complicating the hopes of Donald Trump’s foes in 2020.

  • The risk of a recession decreased last week after the Federal Reserve declined to raise interest rates this year, said Brian Rose, senior Americas economist at UBS Global Wealth Management’s Chief Investment Office.
  • Combined with a stock market bounce-back and a growing economy, investors are now optimistic — a big shift from earlier this year.
  • Major economic predictors showing an increased threat of a recession have scaled back it’s predictions in recent weeks.
  • Asterisk: If President Donald Trump escalates the trade conflict with China by adding more tariffs on Chinese imports—particularly auto parts—the economy could suffer, increasing the chances of a recession, Rose said.

Earlier this year, half of economists surveyed by the National Association for Business Economics predicted a recession in 2020. Another poll of economists by the Wall Street Journal in January put the chances of a recession at 25 percent—the highest since 2011.

Coverage piled on (a few examples: “4 Signs Another Recession Is Coming―And What It Means For You,” “A recession is coming, but don’t flee markets yet,” “The Next Recession Is Coming. Now What?”), with many predicting bad news for Trump (Politico: “Trump advisers fear 2020 nightmare: A recession”). Some industries girded for the worst, like online lenders, who tightened its rules to lessen risk.

And then, suddenly, the panic eased. Now Goldman Sachs economists say there is only a 10 percent chance of a recession. What happened?

The biggest factor in that shift came when the Federal Reserve opted not to not raise interest rates, a pleasant surprise to economists. Rose said lower-than-expected inflation led the Fed to keep rates modest.

The economy, too, has grown, allaying recession fears. According to the latest job numbers, the U.S. has the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years.

“It is hard to have a recession when unemployment is this low and interest rates are this low,” Richmond Federal Reserve president Tom Barkin said on Wednesday.

The biggest risk of recession comes from Trump himself. If he increases tariffs on more goods than the $200 billion in Chinese imports he’s already promised, the risk of a recession increases, Rose said. As trade negotiations remain rocky, investors are increasingly concerned.

“Left on it’s own, there’s little risk to the economy,” he said. “The real risk of a recession comes from policy, particularly trade.”

Barring another recession, positive economic growth should mean good news for Trump in 2020. But as it stands, Trump is still relatively unpopular (his approval rating sits at 46 percent, although that is a high for him). And most forecasters agree the economy won’t grow as much as the White House says it will.

“A normal president with these economic numbers would have job approval somewhere in the vicinity of 60%,” Republican pollster Whit Ayres told the Los Angeles Times. “But Donald Trump is a nontraditional president, and he has, at least at this point, severed the traditional relationship between economic well-being and presidential job approval.”

Still, a recent CNN poll found that 56 percent of Americans approve of Trump’s handling of the economy. And while many Democrats haven’t focused on the latest job numbers, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who is running for president, tried spinning the numbers a different way during an appearance on CNN, crediting President Obama with job growth.

I’m a San Francisco-based reporter covering breaking news at Forbes. Previously, I’ve reported for USA Today, Business Insider,

Source: Here’s Why We Suddenly Stopped Hearing About A Recession

Investor Kathy Xu Rockets To 2019 Midas List Top Ten As Power Of Chinese Startups Grows

Kathy Xu, founding partner of Capital Today, debuted in the Midas List top ten.

Kathy Xu, founding partner of Capital Today, made a bold Midas List debut. Photo courtesy of Capital Today

Capital Today founding partner Kathy Xu laughs when she talks about her career-making early investment in Chinese e-commerce company JD.com, which began with a late-night meeting with founder Richard Qiangdong in 2006:

“We met at 10 p.m. and we talked until 2 a.m.!” she tells Forbes. “I gave him five times the amount of money that he asked for — I was so worried that otherwise he’d meet with other investors.”

Capital Today managed to become the startup’s sole Series A investor and Xu’s check — $18 million USD — paid off royally as JD swelled into an ecommerce giant, with Xu working closely with Qiangdong along the way, advising him on key hires and company branding. Two years after JD went public in 2015, her firm cashed out returns of $2.9 billion.

A couple years and a handful of new deals later, Xu is making her bold debut on the Forbes 2019 Midas List, ranking in the top 10 venture capitalists in the world in her first year of inclusion (her work has previously been highlighted on Forbes China’s list of top 25 women venture capitalists in China).

This year’s list features 21 investors who are either of Chinese nationality or work for a firm based in China, the largest number ever on the list and a tribute to the growing power of China’s startup and venture capital ecosystems.

Xu says that Capital Today, which manages approximately $2.5 billion, focuses all its energy on companies based in and serving China and has zero interest in looking outside the country.

“It’s a big enough market, the economy is doing well, the entrepreneurship is great, and we’re starting to see real innovation booming for the first time,” she says. “It’s a lucrative market to focus on.”

Xu says that her team disciplines itself to only five or six deals a year in business-to-consumer companies and spends a lot of time with founders that it invests in.

“There’s more and more money here now, so building a connection with the entrepreneur and spending a lot of time with them is more important than ever,” she says, citing proximity as an advantage over out-of-country investors who only make occasional business trips.

Beyond JD.com, other Capital Today portfolio highlights include Chinese gaming company NetEase, discount e-commerce site Meituan-Dianping, classified listings site Ganji.com (which merged with 58.com in 2015), Yifeng Pharmacy, which went public in 2015, and hot snack company Three Squirrels Snack Food.

Other Chinese investors who made this year’s Midas list are Sequoia China partner Neil Shen, who topped the rankings for the second year running, Qiming Venture Partners’ managing partner J.P. Gan, No. 5, and Hans Tung from GGV Capital, No. 7.

See the full list of Chinese investors here.

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I’m a San Francisco-based staff writer for Forbes reporting on Google and the rest of the Alphabet universe, as well as artificial intelligence more broadly. Previously

Source: Investor Kathy Xu Rockets To 2019 Midas List Top Ten As Power Of Chinese Startups Grows

Low-skill workers aren’t actually the ones most threatened by robots

There are a lot of jobs that can only be completed with significant training, but don’t involve much critical thinking once the skill is learned—machine operators and office clerks, for examples. And in rich countries, they are on the cusp of becoming endangered. Thanks primarily to automation, and to a lesser extent globalization, no rich…

via Low-skill workers aren’t actually the ones most threatened by robots — Quartz

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