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RealTech and Foreign Real Estate Investment: ‘Risky’ East-West Cultural Asymmetries as Market Value and Extraction

Thu, August 30, 4:00 to 5:30pm, ICC, C2.2


In this paper, we analyse a digital real estate technology (known as RealTech) to push understandings of value extraction in platform capitalism into the cultural domain. We undertake a digital archaeology of a RealTech company Juwai – a foreign real estate investment technology that links Asian investors with real estate in key global cities such as Sydney. Our digital archaeology involved: (a) systemically using RealTech to map the digital actions and pathways that have been coded into the platform and that direct user activity, covering both the English and Mandarin sides of the technology; and (b) collating and analysing all the publically available textual, visual and audio content from the technology and about tech company.
The English side of the technology is aimed at educating Australian real estate professionals on the habits and practices of Chinese investors. ‘Eastern’ culture is essentialised in order to structure culture as a ‘risk’ that needs to be managed in international cross-cultural business transactions. The Mandarin side of the technology targets Chinese investors who are seeking to buy property in Australia. Here, complex ‘Western’ legal systems and the culturally situated business and real estate practices of the West are similarly imbued with risk for the Chinese investor. 
This allows Juwai to position itself as a digital cultural mediator, who can mitigate these risks and therefore ensure financial success across the cultural divide. We investigate how Juwai creates, recreates and promotes these cultural asymmetries to create market value and venture capital options for the company.