In the latest episode of China From All Angles, host Wes Chen sits down with RADII founder Brian A. Wong to discuss transiting from tech to media. Previously an indispensable early employee of Alibaba, Wong went through various experiences that shaped his life’s mission to bridge Western and Eastern cultures.
A third-generation Chinese American born in Palo Alto, California, Wong’s ancestors were among the first group of Chinese immigrants to seek new opportunities in ‘America the great.’ Curious about his Chinese roots, Wong hopped on a plane to southern Guangdong with his father shortly after the economic reform of the 1980s.
Visiting his ancestral village was an “eye-opening experience,” to say the least.
“They have your picture in the family temple, they know you, but you have never met them. They look like you, and they speak a dialect you heard as a kid.”
After spending a year as a graduate student in Nanjing in the ’90s, Wong decided to stay in China. He took on the role of a marketing consultant, playing the middle man between foreign companies and local suppliers.
Jack Ma (seated in the middle), Brian Wong (to Ma’s left), and other members of Alibaba’s team in its early days. Image courtesy of Brian Wong
San Francisco, 1999: A meeting with Jack Ma, the legendary founder of Alibaba Group, changed the course of his life. Wong jumped on board the innovation ship and became Alibaba’s first American and 52nd employee. Thus began Wong’s 20-year career with what is now one of China’s tech titans.
“China was the fastest growing economy in the world, and the internet was the fastest growing industry. You are the center of the center — it doesn’t get much faster, more dynamic than that.”
Learn about Wong’s eclectic career, his upcoming book The Tao of Alibaba, and his life’s mission to offer a fresh perspective of China in this new episode of China From All Angles.
‘China From All Angles’ is brought to you by East-West Bank, the premier financial bridge between the US and China. Listen to the new podcast’s first episode on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts, SoundCloud, and 小宇宙.
Cover image designed by Haedi Yue
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