RISE 2017 Day One

Good morning. RISE 2017 kicked off yesterday with more than 14,280 attendees from 90 countries and markets registering for the three-day event. Many are here in Hong Kong to woo investors and partners, many have been drawn by the calibre of 240 expert speakers lined up to share their insights this year, and all are ready to mix and mingle, make connections and play a part in shaping the future.

Leaders and startups embracing AI

Speakers at the first day included leaders from Stripe, Alibaba Group, WeChat, Salesforce and Dianrong. With the focus on AI and its application across financial services, media, autonomous vehicles, online retail and more, high-energy discussions and exciting announcements set the tone for the event.

  • Stripe co-founder and president John Collison revealed that the in-app payment provider will set up operations in Hong Kong following a new global partnership with Alipay and WeChat Pay. The strategy is to localize to help local companies operate globally.

    Image credit: RISE

  • Alibaba Group’s Joe Tsai and SCMP’s Gary Liu discussed how to transition a century-old newspaper into a 21st century media company: investing in tools like AI and natural language processing, in consumer products, and in people and the corporate culture to collect and disseminate news at speed.

    Image credit: RISE

  • Hong Kong fintech startup CompareAsiaGroup, a personal finance management platform, has secured US$50 million in funding from investors including the World Bank and Alibaba. Regtech and insurtech leaders also announced that activity in their space is heating up, with ZhongAn filing for a $1.5 billion IPO in Hong Kong, for example.
  • Many speakers, including Jing Ulrich of JP Morgan Chase, identified China as the emerging global fintech leader. Bobby Lee, CEO of the world’s longest-running bitcoin exchange, BTCC, sees China’s moves to regulate digital currencies as a positive as the technology becomes more understood and accepted.

Gary urges us to fire our misery-markers

VaynerMedia’s Gary Vaynerchuk thrilled a sell-out crowd to close RISE Day One on Centre Stage. He pointed out that speed is now the number one variable of business success, and that this depends on continuity and lack of politics in your internal culture. As we enter an age where skills will continue to be commoditized through technology, this means that emotional intelligence will become the most single most important trait you want in team members. Get rid of anyone who makes others miserable – even if it’s your sales superstar, top developer or co-founder!

Exciting startups claim the spotlight

This year’s on-stage PITCH competition, a live battle of the world’s best early-stage startups, sees 66 teams going head-to-head. With 40 startups presenting on day one, stand outs included: Singapore’s Zap Zap kindergarten math, Hong Kong’s Mereal Biometrics authentication solution, India’s interest-based socializing platform Dogether, and Korean tourism startup Yana.

Amazing startups in the mobile space were recognized as Facebook announced its FbStart Apps of the Year at RISE. The top global prize went to SoloLearn, a free mobile-first app to train new coders, with women’s health app Maya, the Mondly language learning platform, and ReservaTurno beauty service bookings taking the regional crowns.

Join us for the RISE Day Two snapshot tomorrow, when we delve even deeper into how AI and VR may change business, and life, in the near future. With the speaker line-up including two robots debating the future of humanity in a world-first event, we’re looking forward to some exciting predictions and perhaps a few heated discussions, too.