Venture Capital Trends in China

China Venture Capital Forum organized by Zero2IPO made its Silicon Valley debut on April 24th – 25th at Crown Plaza Hotel in Palo Alto. More than 500 people attended the conference. Among them were venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, lawyers, and others who see the China market as the next big thing not to be missed.

With $4 billion raised and $1 billion invested last year, China’s venture capital industry has experienced exponential growth. The conference provided a platform for people to network as well as to discuss topics such as the capital market, regulation issues, opportunities, and strategies for deployment, etc.

A new message that highlights the conference is that China is moving away from its “world factory” image to “wealth-pursuing consumers” in world economy. Here are some key take-aways regarding opportunities:

  1. Internet is powered by mobile phones and remains the most promising area
  2. New wireless applications are evolving because of 3G rollout
  3. e-Commerce is picking up with great momentum
  4. Under-invested clean-tech creates new opportunities
  5. Multi-media advertising for consumer brands is yet to come

One of the top issues discussed is whether the market is over-heated. We have heard that there is too much money chasing too few deals. However, according to Andy Yan of Softbank Asia Investment Fund, the overall capital supply and demand environment is still in favor of investors, although some “hot” deals are getting increased valuations. Hearst Lin, partner of DCM, made it very clear that there is no bubble in China.

Another issue is intellectual property. Surprising to many people in the audience (but not surprising to me), the panelists don’t consider IP as a big problem. The reason is most technology companies in China are in application rather than invention. In China, it’s not always the technology play, but more the execution play. The most successful barriers for comepitition are not technology barriers but business barriers.

It’s a very interesting time for China. As someone described it in Chinese: ????? – “the real heroes arise in chaotic time.” Gavin Ni, the founder of Zero2IPO, used a picture of the tip of an iceberg to end his presentation for VC industry trends. He didn’t give any explanation except saying “a picture is worth thousands of words.” It could mean the mass of the market is still yet to emerge, or it could mean there is danger for The Titanic. It’s up to individuals to interpret.

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Our Lives and Our World

Like most people, I want to have a good life. I like to dress myself up beautifully and elegantly, I enjoy healthy food and fine dining, I am fascinated to make my home look like an art gallery, and I love to travel around the world to see places and learn different cultures.

Like most people, I care about our world. I like to live in a world where there is more justice and less poverty, where the waters are pure, the fields are green, and food is grown with natural substances, where people appreciate arts and cultures, and live in harmony and unity.

I often asked myself: what can I do to combine my talents and passions to make a difference? Can I live good and live well? Now time has come and the answer is: Yes, we can live a quality and healthy lifestyle with good taste, and at the same time, support the issues of fair trade, organic production and green undertaking in our daily life, simply by making the following choices:

When picking up my next fashion and accessories, I know I am not only showcasing my exquisite taste and intrinsic sense of style, but also making a choice to select items with natural fabric and jewelry made by artists who are being paid fair wages.

Make a deliberate effort to eat organic food with plenty of vegetables and fruits, because I am not only conscious of my own health, but also the health of our earth. By choosing to favor healthy diet, we can help to keep our environment pure and wholesome towards a sustainable future.

When it comes to my home, I can use renewable energy supply, solar power, or even bio-feul, and yet to make it as tasteful as a museum. We can enhance the home environment without exploiting the world environment.

We can live a beautiful life with a beautiful purpose. Like most people, I want to live a good life. And, at the same time, I would like to see the sky bluer; I would like to see the rivers purer; I would like to see the mountains greener; and I would like to see the earth younger!

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Follow Your Heart

A special gift received on my birthday from my beloved husband:

What is creativity?
An open heart and mind –
The willingess to take a chance
and see what you can find.

It’s cherishing the beauty
and the joys of simple things,
Embracing all the mystery
in the change and growth life brings….

It’s visions of the future
linked with wisdom of the past,
Ideas that need some time to grow
and dreams that take shape fast.

It’s listening to your inner truth,
It’s play and laughter, too,
And all the special gifts
within unique, creative you.

Your were created with a beautiful purpose,
With dreams that are all your own to do anything you can imagine.
Hope you always remember what a special personal you are
in this world… and in mine.

— Emily Matthews

Valley’s Song – Google in Chinese

Google adopted a new Chinese name “??”?pronouncing “gu3 ge1” in pinyin. Literally, it means “valley’s song.” It’s very poetic and cheerful. The first thing that came to my mind was “a song from Silicon Valley,” or “a song flying from the valley to the sky.” Whatever it could be meaning, it’s really cool!

Whoever came up this name did a good job. I was very troubled by Google’s old Chinese name “??”, which is pronounced “gu4 gou4”. Although it sounds like google, literally it could mean “wandering and enough,” or “taking care but enough.” It really doesn’t mean anything, but whatever it could be meaning, it was really terrible.

Chinese believe names have potential influence on the fortune of business and its people. If you have a name that means “wandering and enough,” you probably don’t know what you are doing. If you have a name that flies and symbolizes triumph, you will probably fly and triumph.

Update: Some people do not like Google’s new Chinese name “??”?However, the alternatives they came up are much worse, such as “??”, which is pronounced “gou3 gou3”. It means “doggie doggie” in Chinese. Apparently, it’s a rediculous joke. No one on earth can see Google use a name like that. ?? is still by far the best name.

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I Ask….

I asked the dawn: “Where is the dewdrop that wet my lips last night and was suddenly gone before the sunrise?”

The dawn smiled: ‘It’s in the lightness of breezes and fragrance of flowers.”

I asked breezes and flowers: “What is the color of my love and that shall never fade?”

The breezes and flowers whispered: “It’s the color of the Spring that is dancing on the hills.”

I asked the hills: “How many more peaks and valleys on my path before I reach the blue sky?”

The hills echoed: “As many as you can endure until your inner and outer strengths lift you high.”

I asked the sky: “Why did the most innocent eyes, that are as pure as you, have to see the agony of death?”

The sky wept: “The eyes of the innocent see beyond death – they see the ocean.”

I asked the ocean: “Where is the vastness of your mercy now that I only taste the bitterness in you?”

The ocean sighed: “Without bitterness, how would you know the sweetness of joy?”

Finally, I asked God: “What is the happiness of life when it is full of tribulation?”

God answered: “The meaning of life is rejoicing in the face of adversity.”

— Dedicated to my friend Jennifer and others who face the great difficulties in life with amazing strength and grace.

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China’s Internet Users

According to some estimation, China has about 150 – 200 million Internet users, contradicting with the official number of 111 millions. That means China’s Internet users may have very well surpassed the United States (154 million). While this may be a shocking news to some people, it’s not shocking to me. Overtime, I have heard from many of my friends that official data is under-estimated and actual numbers are much higher.

However, what’s real shocking is the amount of time Chinese spent online. Chinese Internet users spend on average15.9 hours per week, while Yahoo!, with the largest user community in this country, can only get its users stick around less than one hour per week. That’s 1.765 billion hours per week online in China, compared with 129 million hours per week online in the U.S.

So, what are Chinese doing by spending so much time online? Apparently, people log onto the Internet surfing the news, chatting with friends and families, etc. Although there is certain degree of censorship, the Internet is still a place where the media is relatively free. According to the CNNIC, 67.9% of online use in China is spent devouring news. By contrast, only 3% of Yahoo!’s U.S. traffic clicks over to news.

Another important fact is that there are 400 million cell phone users in China, and 80% of them have the mobile phones with the capacity connecting to the Internet. With the roll-out of 3G, there will be more mobile Internet access. I would expect China will lead the innovations in mobile search, which includes search for news, local business listings, entertainment, shopping, etc.

Update: eMarketer has more detailed analysis about China’s Internet users with comparison of the data from several sources. However, I do believe the under-estimation of China’s Internet users.

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