This article analyses the visions, careers, and companies of Jack Ma of Alibaba and Geng Le of Blue City. Jack Ma is a well-known business leader and visionary, whereas the less well-known Geng Le only began to receive more attention since launching a successful gay dating app in 2012. The article focuses on the personal narratives and visions of these two IT entrepreneurs. It provides new perspectives on the role of individual entrepreneurs in relation to the Chinese state’s global ambitions and vision of creating a “strong internet country.” It argues that the commercialisation and platformisation of the Chinese internet, and the growing transnational nature of Chinese IT companies, serve to make them more, not less, dependent on the state and its visions. The internet’s emancipatory potential is today increasingly conflated with consumption, and online spaces and social relations are subject to both commodification and datafication.
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