The Rise of the Micro-Multinational

0380-blog-cityscape-440x325The misperception that multinational businesses are only huge conglomerates with offices around the world persists, but is becoming less and less accurate.

Instead, so-called “micro-multinationals” have leveraged technology and social media to grow their businesses internationally without having to rent space or designate a company “road warrior”. For them, the world is about finding the right talent and isolating the customers who would be most interested in their products – whether those customers are in Tallahassee or Thailand.

In a recent interview for Industry Today, HSBC Bank Executive Vice President Mark Luppi, described just how social media helps these companies grow internationally:

Social media is helping smaller brands, once confined to domestic markets, become globally coveted which, in turn, helps their expansion. Social media can mean that once a brand is established in on market it can quickly and easily be communicated around the world – this is something micro-multinationals are really taking advantage of.

Just as smaller companies here in the US have disrupted verticals such as financial services, transportation, and entertainment, that model seems to be taking a global hold. Micro-multinationals use the Internet, particularly inexpensive communication systems like Skype, to organize and supervise a workforce that can be anywhere around the world. When it comes time to sell their services, that social media “buzz” provides customers in a location-agnostic way.

A case study is Viewdle, a Kiev-based startup that works in facial recognition software for videos. As the Stanford Social Innovation Review describes, Viewdle has four employees in California, three in Kiev, and two in Uruguay. Viewdle looked to Uruguay because it’s apparently a hotbed for the recognition technology the company uses.

The trend has generated notice from government as well. US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker wrote an op-ed last year on how the phenomenon is working and the possible steps the federal government can take to grow that segment of the economy.

More than 90 percent of the world’s customers live outside our borders. We need new, high-standard trade agreements to create sustainable growth for our businesses, our workers and our economy.

Asia Pacific, with a middle class expected to grow to 3.2 billion by 2030, offers a great example.

As we wait for those trade agreements to make their way through the halls of Washington, the micro-multinationals will continue finding ways to grow their businesses using the resources of the entire interconnected world.

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