Fun trips on offer for closer interface

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 February, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 February, 2001, 12:00am

Lonely Chinese male hearts in Silicon Valley, too busy making their millions to find a woman, have a new way to meet a potential friend - from halfway around the world.

Web site plans to bring these men in contact with Taiwanese women by creating fun trips that throw them together.

'Yuan' roughly translates into a light-hearted fate, as in 'it was a coincidence we met each other, but it was meant to be'.

Founder and sole employee Wendy Suen launched the site last year after her first Internet venture, a travel site, failed.

Her idea developed from the long-ago words of a well-meaning aunt in Seattle.

'Oh, you don't have a boyfriend. You should come to Seattle. There are a lot of Microsoft guys,' Ms Suen recalled her aunt saying.

Microsoft employs more than 600 Chinese high-technology professionals from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the United States. Most work as programmers, researchers and software-testing engineers.

There are few statistics on how many are single.

Ms Suen joked with her girlfriends about the potential of travelling to Seattle's hi-tech hub.

She realised she might have a business on her hands when quite a few surprised her by saying they would come along.

Since the launch of the site in November, she has marketed it in a low-budget way by posting information in chat rooms or other areas.

The site, in traditional Chinese characters, has the logo of an @ symbol except there is a heart around the 'a' instead of a loop.

Its target was to sell the trips as a way to meet people instead of providing site memberships, although people could sign up, Ms Suen said.

Many Taiwanese women who were smart, single and educated abroad were looking for English-speaking men with connections to both Chinese and Western cultures, she said.

Her main targets are Chinese people, although Japanese and Korean also have shown interest.

The first planned trip, in December, which did not materialise due to a lack of interest, was to Hawaii.

Ms Suen said those hard-working men in California also were working too hard.

Some said Hawaii was too far to go.

Ms Suen now plans to lead a group to San Francisco for a nine-day sightseeing tour next month and invite some eligible techies to tag along.

Her intent is not to match-make partners, which she considers a grave responsibility. 'More or less, it is a singles' trip for young people who want to meet new people, have fun,' she said.

'If any chemistry happens, congratulations. People are not there to find husbands and wives.'