Zuckerberg in Thailand: who’d be on his list for talking digital?

It seems that having been in China, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is currently in Bangkok, Thailand. I say “seems” because there has been no confirmation of his presence in Thailand from his team, he has met no media and – perhaps strangely – there have been no photos taken of him despite the fact he has been enjoying a taste of the city’s nightlife.

My pick of the many Zuckerberg-Thailand tweets from @babyfishie

Rumours of Zuckerberg being in Bangkok quickly grew on Twitter yesterday while the first mention of his time in Thailand in the country’s media came from this article in The Nation.

Mark Zuckerberg, famous for founding the Facebook networking website, was spotted chilling out with mates at a Thong Lor bar on Monday night.
Last week the Facebook founder was in China on what was initially billed a personal trip however he met with a number of highly influential and well placed figures within China’s tech and digital scene during his visit as Penn Olsen recaps:
His first stop was Beijing, where he visited Baidu and Sina. While in Baidu, Zuckerberg met up with Baidu CEO Robin Li. Kaiser Kuo, Baidu’s director of International communications said both Li and Zuckerberg have been friends for a long time and quashed any rumors that were speculated.

In Sina, Zuckerberg met up with CEO Charles Chao for an “information exchange on the Chinese Internet market,” a spokesperson told Bloomberg.

Zuckerberg’s adventure has continued southward as he visited e-commerce giant, Alibaba and Taobao (also Alibaba’s) in Hangzhou
To add to the list, he also met with met the chairman of China Mobile Wang Janzhou but his trip to Thailand appears to be purely person as The Nation article explains:
Zuckerberg came to Thailand to attend the wedding of Chris Cox, a vice president of Facebook and a long-time friend. Cox’s wedding to a Thai woman will take place at a restaurant in the Sukhumvit area tonight.
As such no-one in Thailand was initially aware of his arrival:
No journalist here has had a chance to meet with Zuckerberg. However, his presence in Bangkok is becoming the talk of Thailand among the country’s social-network community. Thai media are also investigating his visit in the hope of coming up with a good story.

Yet many people still doubt that Zuckerberg is really here, suspecting it is just a rumour, as nobody seemed to know he was coming.

It is hardly surprising that he is not in Thailand on business, the country – like so many – pales into significance when compared to the business potential and huge challenges that China offers Facebook and any other digital business.

That said, Facebook has proved to be a huge success in Thailand (recently passing a nationwide penetration rate of 10 percent) where its growth is arguably a model for other countries across Southeast Asia and the Asian continent in general.

Were Mark Zuckerberg looking to talk shop in Thailand here’s who I’d recommend him speaking to:

– Tore Johansen, CEO, DTAC – a rare example of a foreigner in the Thai mobile industry, Mr Johansen is known for his honest assessment of the industry, and in particular the country’s ongoing 3G issues (which have been tipped to continue in 2011).

– Gregory Wade, Director of Asia Pacific, Research In Motion (RIM) – another foreigner, Wade presides over RIM’s hugely successful BlackBerry market in Southeast Asia giving him insight into all things mobile not only the Thai market, but key markets like Singapore, the Philippines and growing-global influencer Indonesia.

– Dr Ian Fenwick, Founding Partner at digiAindra and advisor at Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration – Dr Fenwick combines a role teaching business and digital at Sasin with running a digital media agency in Bangkok. He has great experience and knowledge of digital in Thailand and Southeast Asia.

– Supinya Klangnarong, Thai media rights advocate – Supinya, who describes her job as being ‘odd’, is known for her work with the Thai government and things telecom, including her efforts to advance the 3G process. Her knowledge of Thailand’s digital culture and links to the government give her a fascinating, insightful and unique perspective (as I well know from interviewing her)

– Siwat Chawareewong, founder of mInteraction – Siwat is one of Thailand’s leading figures on digital media with huge experience and understanding of Facebook and its progress in the country.

– Woody Milintachinda, TV host and Thailand’s most followed Twitter user – Woody is arguably one of the biggest influencers on Thai social media thanks to his strong use of Twitter and Facebook and high profile TV career.

– Abhisit Vejjajiva, Prime Minister of Thailand – I may be criticised for suggesting the Prime Minister, but clearly an official meeting with the leader of a country will always be insightful while PM Abhisit’s administration is a strong user of social networks which saw him named in the world’s top 10 state leader’s on Twitter.

– US Embassy Bangkok – not strictly a person but the US Embassy has embraced social media in a strong and effective way this year, using Facebook and Twitter to reach out to US citizens in Thailand. Bonus, they know how to throw a good party (as I was privileged to experience a few weeks ago) while new incoming Ambassador Kristie Kenny has a big presence on social media with more than 10,000 followers on Twitter. The US Embassy has shown other embassies, the Thai government and even big business how social media can connect with an audience.

Of course, if Mr Zuckerberg wanted to catch up with a young digital media blogger at Asian Correspondent, you know where I am…

UPDATE: is this the first picture that confirms Mark Zuckerberg is in Thailand?