You can’t capture the enormity of Shanghai in a picture. There really isn’t a location that lets you see the “skyline” because the skyline is all around you and extends so far that you can’t see the edges of the skyscrapers. The picture here is really just one small part of the skyline. We drove for at least 25 minutes tonight in roughly one direction. We started amidst one group of skyscrapers and ended in another. That’s like riding an elevated freeway from West Seattle to Redmond and not even hitting the edges of what most people would call a city city center. It’s 16 million concentrated people.
The actual business is going well here. Tomorrow I’ll try and get some pictures of one of the Microsoft buildings. From the inside, of course, it looks just like any other Microsoft building… except that people can smoke and the free soda comes in glass bottle versions.
We did the market shopping thing today. Being American felt like I had a huge target on. You walk down these long halls of what I would call a “dirt mall” that’s right down the street from the really real upscale stores. If you are American they practically grab at you to say “You need watch… Gucci, Software”. (I didn’t really want to know what they were selling Vista for.) We were lucky to have one of the local team managers with us to help negotiate.
If you come close to a stall they ask you “inside” to a backroom closet where it’s easy for them to lay on the pressure to buy while you are surrounded by the inventory. Some stores literally close and lock you in this room! It’s a high pressure thing. Bidding for two “fancy pants” purses would begin at the “American Friend” price of 1100 Yuen (around $135). So you offer 300. One trick is to apparently walk away when they start laughing at your price, but the real trick seemed to be having someone from Shanghai with you. At one point, we were told, this woman told him “we’re both Shanghai, you get the Americans to take 500 and you keep a wallet”. All this brings the price down to 400. Well, we may have actually also agreed to plug the wonderful Ju Lia from “Tao Bao City Fenshine Fashion & Accessories” at 580Nan Jing W. Road. Ask for the “Shanghai Friend” discount.
After all this we went down to the Bund area to walk around and snap some pictures. On any given route you’ll spot 3-5 skyscrapers being built. There don’t seem to be laws about construction times as the work goes 24/7. When they talk about doubling the subway system… they talk about doing it in 2-3 years. In Seattle it could take 2-3 years to build a mile from the Airport that points towards the city… but you won’t get anywhere.
MSFT did buy a few full building ads for Vista today.