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China’s ‘Pearl Bro’ making millions from live streaming

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Over the next month, we’re celebrating technology and innovation in a new series called Bright Sparks. As part of the series, we’re bringing back some of our favourite articles about the people and ideas that are changing the world with technology.

Xinda Zhan has an online alter-ego.

Every day, the 25-year-old becomes ‘Pearl Bro’, a lively online presenter who runs a pearl shop on China’s massive online marketplace Taobao.

He and his mother harvest pearls from freshwater mussels and broadcast the action to online customers all over the country. It's a strategy that has made revenues rocket for the family pearl business in Zhuji, eastern China.

He is one of tens of thousands who use the live-streaming platform to sell their wares and find online stardom, in a market worth an estimated $3bn.

Additional editing by Trevor Sochocki.

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