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This column takes the angle of a field naturalist to consider Asian ecosystems and find reasons for success, failure and innovation. It is a guest column written monthly for the Chinese business magazine “China Electronic Business” (invested by Jack Ma of Alibaba), IT news site Interfax and the magazine “Business Forum China“. It also turned as the basis of an MBA class we gave at Berkeley. A recent TechCrunch article gave a great illustration with the matchmaking service Zhenai.

In the early 19th Century, Charles Darwin embarked on a five-year journey as a field naturalist. On a visit to the Galapagos Islands he observed animals that were closely related but had some distinctive features. That triggered his thinking about possible common ancestors and the formulation of the theory of evolution. The story of this discovery teaches us that a lot can be learned from small differences. This applies to China’s digital scene as well. Here is how.

Techno-Darwinism | How China Innovates and Why Foreign Companies Fail