In The Best and the Brightest, David Halberstam’s classic book on how the United States got itself into the quagmire in Vietnam, he identified several reasons for why a superpower would fall to what President Lyndon Johnson called a “raggedy-ass little fourth-rate country”, and why brilliant men like Johnson himself as well as his subordinates such as Robert McNamara and McGeorge Bundy were unable to foresee and forestall a tragedy of Greek proportion.

Though written forty years ago, the lessons drawn by Halberstam from the debacle still ring true today. The best and the brightest still fails, and such is the case with Gaopeng.com.

A joint venture between Groupon and Tencent, Gaopeng had the best of both worlds from the get-go. Groupon’s American can-do spirit and experience combined with Tencent’s local knowledge seemed to be a winning combination. However, armed with a tremoundous amount of resource (100 million dollars), Gaopeng stumbled from be beginning. Blind expansion into dozens of cities required the company to hire quickly, resulting in a bloated 3000 men staff.

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Yang Wang

Yang is currently the brand and media director at Elitime Media & Consulting. He has published and translated seven books, and several of his works have been translated and published in areas such...