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About CBK

Janet Stites

China Business Knowledge (CBK) serves as a portal for information on China-based companies trading on the U.S. capital markets, including listing the companies and tracking news and research about the sector.  

Why CBK? Why Now?

Publisher Janet Stites explains:

In the spring of 2008 I was asked to do public relations and recruiting work for a financial services firm with offices in mid-town New York. The company worked with Chinese-based middle-market companies helping them enter the U.S. Capital markets via OTC BB. They needed western executives to sit on the boards of their companies and finance executives, with GAAP, experience to “shadow” their CFO’s. As well, they had the foresight to understand the value of press in regard to investor interest in their companies. All of which met my skill set and connections.

I knew very little about this market at the time. I had no idea  so many Chinese companies were actively trading on the U.S. market and/or trying to. For a long-time journalist and information addict,  it was like opening up a treasure chest. I started to dig for information. There was not much.

I had never considered doing public relations work, but the opportunity of working in a new field, of getting to tell a new story, was alluring. It reminded me of the early days of the commercialization of  Web–1992-1994–before one could even “log-on” to the Internet sans an account via the government or a university. I was a freelance writer focused on technology and science, including writing  feature stories for a science magazine called OMNI. We were one of the first magazines to be featured on America Online, hosting chats with our subjects and our readers as early as 1991. Through that writing, I was hired to be the first Editorial Director at the then nascent Internet research firm, Jupiter Communications. 

Everyday brought new visitors to Jupiter’s offices, such as David Wetherell, who came to introduce us to a tool he called “BookLink” which he explained was  a “browser” for the Web and Mark Walsh, who was then with GENIE, an online service owned by GE and trying to compete with AOL, CompuServe and Prodigy. AOL, which still did not provide access to the Web was bragging about having 1 million users while Jim Clark was poaching Marc Andreessen, with his “graphical user interface” in hand, from the  University of Illinois to launch a company called Mosaic (later Netscape). In the meantime, Wetherell sold Booklink to AOL, which was the missing piece the online service needed to get its subscribers to the Web. Wanting to move back to publishing from research, I launched my own magazine in 1996 called AlleyCat News to cover the intersection of venture capital and technology in the New York metro area, which had recently been dubbed “Silicon Alley.”

I published AlleyCat from 1996 through 2001, and pioneered many of the first VC/tech conferences in New York including the “Northeast Venture Capital Conference.” After five successful years, in the spring of 2001, we scaled back due to the downturn in the Internet sector and re-worked our business model. But we could not possibly financially survive after the tragedy of 9/11. We shut down the office in October and hosted our last–sold out–event, a luncheon for women in technology, at Internet World, that December.

The following months I often found myself having breakfast at Jerry’s Restaurant on Prince St. in Soho (also the street where I lived) which a collection of friends from the sector. During the boom time, getting a table at Jerry’s for breakfast was a crap-shoot. It was an upscale diner, with red leather booth seats and shiny chrome decor, serving up scrambled eggs with salmon and cream cheese and Mimosas. It was a happy place. After the bust, there were a lot of empty booths at breakfast, mostly neighbors and a few celebrities, who knew the people of Soho would not bother them for an autograph. My friends and I would lament the loss of life, our lost businesses, and the “standstill” in the New York business sector, in general.

But what confounded us about the crash of the Internet sector was that we knew the Internet was not going away. There was no ubiquitous broadband in homes, no wireless, no smartphones. Neither Google or Paypal were household names. It could only get better. There was lots of money given away very quickly and then lots of people wanting that money back–in spades–very quickly. Launching a business was tantamount to getting a bank loan to build your dream home and the bank expecting you to sell the place, with a 5x return for them, before the plumbing was in or the roof was shingled.

Those early days were an interesting time, but I don’t think I appreciated what we were witnessing, i.e. the true beginning of a shift in communications, commerce, and cross-cultural understanding based on small wiring into our homes, ultimately connected to large cable lines sitting on the bottom of the oceans.  With that retrospect in mind, I could easily see the covering the sector of China-based/U.S. listed companies was a similar opportunity.

The demise of Lehman Brothers and subsequent downturn in the market, brought an end to the contract work for the Chinese financial services, but the beginning of China Business Knowledge. The advantage of having already weathered a economic downturn as a publisher and business owner–a la the dot.com bust–is that you know the market will come back. It made perfect sense to me to put together an online publication aggregating information about the sector of China-based/U.S. listed companies. This time, I expected a downturn. But I now have the perspective that being first to market is not always the best scenario.

Three and a half years after the launch of CBK, and with a black-cloud hanging over the sector of Chinese companies trading on the U.S. markets, people think I’m nuts to continue my coverage. But they were not sitting in a red leather booth at Jerry’s on Prince Street in early October 2001, wondering if anyone in their right mind would move their family to Tribeca or work on the top of a 100+ floor tower overlooking the Hudson River. They were not talking to venture capitalists, who had banked much of their money from taking their portfolio companies to the public market too soon, but were now saying they were pulling back their funding for Internet companies. Their investors, i.e. pension funds, wanted to put their money in real estate investments. “Even if the market goes south,” one major investor told me, “you have the brick and mortar as collateral.”

The Internet did not go away. China is not going to go away. The public markets may re-invent themselves, but they are not going away. So, I am sticking with CBK and betting that Chinese companies will continue to trade on the global markets and eventually, U.S. companies will trade on the China markets. Stand by.

Janet Stites, Publisher, China Business Knowledge (CBK)
Updated April 2013

Janet Stites, BIO

Stites has a 25 year history as a business, technology and science journalist. She has been a business columnist for The New York Times, was founding Publisher & Editor of PHONE+ Magazine in the late 1980’s, co-founder and CEO of AlleyCat News magazine, the first Editorial Director of Jupiter Communications in the mid-1990’s and a freelance writer. Over the years she has been a feature writer for OMNI Magazine and written for other various national publications such as Fortune Small Business, Self Magazine, and Portfolio Magazine. As well, for 15 years,  she was a contributing writer for the The Bulletin of the Santa Fe Institute, interviewing world-renowned scientists, such as John Holland, Murray Gell-Mann, Tom Ray,  Stephen Langton and Beniot Mandelbrot.

She graduated from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications with a degree in Magazine Journalism and received her M.F.A. in fiction writing from UNC-Greensboro. She lives in New York City with her son, Sam.

(China Business Knowledge is owned by New York City-based Lede Media LLC.  Material in this site is under the Copyright of Lede Media Inc./ Janet Stites 2009-2013)