The Reddit Protests and China’s Control of American Culture

The “front page of the Internet” is the latest battle ground in the fight over control of global culture. Chinese tech giant Tencent recently invested $150m in Reddit. This investment sparked virtual protests and outrage across the social platform, with images of Tiananmen Square flooding Reddit’s front page. The threat of Chinese censorship was feeling all too real on a site that had historically embraced the extremes of free speech.

Reddit CEO Steve Huffman assured users that “Our governance didn’t change during this round, which means we didn’t add anyone to the board, and our policies won’t be changing either.”. That is likely true…for “this round”. The truth is, to really understand China’s influence over U.S. culture, Silicon Valley just needs to look south.

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The Future of Buying

Who do you think has the top mobile payment app in the US?

Apple? Google? Maybe Samsung? 

None of the above. 

It’s Starbucks. 

Of the 55 million Americans who used a mobile payment app this year, more than 40% will have done it on the Starbucks app. 

It’s an amazing example of how a strong brand can drive technology adoption and new behaviors. Loyalty rewards, innovation and convenience brought the coffee shop into a technology leadership position. 

But it’s not a strategy that can be readily copied.

Instead, it shows how far behind the US is in mobile payments. Starbucks’ brief dominance will be an interesting footnote in the march toward mobile payments as the shopping experience in the US is revolutionized. While the US struggles with chip credit card readers, we can see what that future looks like by looking into the crystal ball that is China. 

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