China’s funeral revolutionaries

In March 2013, something clicked: Wang would have to inter his mother eventually, and he decided that he and Xu could do it better than the hucksters and faceless bureaucrats he’d dealt with in the autumn. Wang had found his business idea, although its contours were still hazy. He had studied the Silicon Valley mode of disruptive innovation, and envisioned a clear path to considerable wealth: identify a sclerotic, backward-looking industry, and harness the sleek, subversive power of the internet to trump its services at lower costs. The bigger the industry, he thought – and the deeper its problems – the greater his potential gains. Robin Li changed the way that people in China gathered information; Jack Ma changed the way they shopped; Wang and Xu would change the way they buried their loved ones. Xu was at first baffled by the idea, but he trusted his friend’s enthusiasm, and after a week of canvassing friends, agreed to do some research.

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