Shanghaiist has just returned home from the power-packed Open Web Asia conference in Seoul, Korea which bills itself — and is — the “first truly pan-Asia web technology event”. We rubbed shoulders with some movers and shakers in the industry and came away from their presentations impressed with the amount of innovation originating out of Asia. While some international heavyweights like Jason Calacanis of Mahalo and Loic Le Meur of Seesmic fame spoke at the conference, it was really the lesser-known Asia-based folks that blew our minds away with their insight.
For a sampling of what we heard at the conference, check out these slides from Benjamin Joffe of Beijing-based consultancy plus8star (not to be confused with Benjamin Joffe-Walt) who made a strong case for the idea that Asian technology firms can show the way forward. In his presentation, Joffe pointed out, among others, such little known facts as:
1. Way before Facebook appeared, another real-identity social network by the name of Cyworld took Korea by storm in 1999.
2. Japan’s number 1 social network Mixi was the first social network worldwide to complete an IPO in 2006.
3. Closer to home, Chinese IM company QQ made millions upon millions, while MSN continues to scratch its head today over how to monetise its network.
Other speakers who made their way from China included Sam Flemming of the Shanghai-based word-of-mouth agency CIC (whose illuminating presentation is nowhere to be found on Slideshare, unfortunately), Kevin Day of Chinese BBS giant Comsenz (who won great applause when he confided in the audience that this was his maiden presentation in English, his first time to Seoul, and in fact the first time out of China travelling on his brand new passport!), Andreas Weigend (former chief scientist at Amazon.com, now based in Shanghai), Arthur Chang of Alibaba, Andy Yao of 51.com and Bill Wang of Perfect World.
Many thanks to our friends from TheNetCircle and Georg Godula of Web2Asia for making our trip possible.
P.S.: Don’t ask us why SlideShare lists Seoul as being located in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea 😉