The Chinese Entrepreneur Who Wants to Freeze Human Brains

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He Xiaopeng, chairman and CEO of Xpeng, said semi-autonomous cars could transform driving in just five to 10 years

Shawn Koh/Fortune

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Trade war, tech war, cold war, whatever, China and the United States still have a lot to learn from each other. And the two countries will likely continue down parallel paths simultaneously for years to come. Think of the countries as frenemies, a concept Silicon Valley understands well.

With the “de-coupling” of the two economies on everyone’s mind, attendees at the Fortune Global Tech Forum, which wrapped Friday afternoon in Guangzhou, China, were more interested in business than politics. Some parting thoughts:

  • Repeat entrepreneur He Xiaopeng is building an electric car-company. (Who isn’t these days, right?) It’s called Xpeng Motors, and so far its snazz factor is high while its unit volume is low. Asked what other ideas he’s thinking about, he named two: freezing human brains and building cities on the water. He’d fit right in Northern California.
  • Jack Jing, executive vice president for technology for massive Chinese retailer Suning, says the company has prototyped a fully automatic retail store where customers enter via facial recognition and leave with their purchases automatically paid for. It plans to expand from its headquarter city of Nanjing to 1,000 additional locations, he said. Little known outside of China, the company is worth watching. While it started as an electronics appliances store, it now owns supermarkets, department stores, and other retail concepts—plus a large e-commerce platform. Alibaba bought a 20% stake in the company for $698 million some years back. Suning itself recently bought 80% in Carrefour’s China unit.
  • Stephanie Cohen, chief strategy officer of Goldman Sachs, explained why the U.S. investment bank that has deep roots in China is taking a watch-and-wait approach to cryptocurrencies. The newfangled currencies are worth about $200 billion in total, she said, compared to the $400 trillion value of global financial assets including equities, fixed income, and hard assets. Goldman can wait until that gap narrows. Cohen also talked up Goldman’s partnership with Apple over its new credit card; however, she couldn’t say when the card would be easy to use in China.
  • Zhiyu Chen, a top Walmart China executive, says that, whereas Walmart’s historic technological strength in the U.S. has been focused on the digitization of its supply chain, in China, its investments are focused on digitizing its customers. It’s a significant difference. Walmart’s partners in China, by the way, are and Tencent, two powerful players.

Have a good weekend, wherever in the world you are.

Adam Lashinsky

Twitter: @adamlashinsky


This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Aaron Pressman.