Thursday, December 4, 2014

One More US Startup Takes In Capital From China - This Time Xiaomi!

Wearable device maker Misfit may be gaining a significant competitive edge with its latest $40 million capital intake that includes Chinese smart phone leader Xiaomi making its first investment foray in the U.S.
Having a strategic China investor in its camp should help the San Francisco-based startup gain traction and scale up more quickly in the large Middle Kingdom market as expansion in Asia is prioritized.  With speed to market and China as increasingly important dynamics, this trend-setting investment could prove a big boost for Misfit, which already sells its waterproof activity tracker Shine in more than 35 countries.
It also can’t hurt to have one of the more innovative Chinese companies around on its side to build out its talent pool from China, where Misfit has a small software team to round out its team of nearly 100 people, most of them in R&D.
With this first investment in the U.S., Xiaomi is following an increasingly traveled path by the Chinese tech titans Baidu Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent and others of investing in U.S. tech businesses. View Silicon Dragon Talk on this trend and see prior Forbes post: Why U.S. startups are taking investment from China’s tech titans.
For the Chinese investor standpoint, this strategy helps them gain technology, talent and U.S. market experience in their long-term quest to expand outside their home market and build their base globally.  Their strategies bear little resemblance to the Japanese trophy seekers who bought American landmark  properties Pebble Beach and Rockefeller Center some two decades ago. Keep reading Forbes post:
http://www.forbes.com/sites/rebeccafannin/2014/12/04/1-more-us-startup-takes-in-capital-from-china-xiaomi/

Monday, October 13, 2014

What's Hot/What's Not in Tech's Future

At our recent Silicon Dragon event in the Valley, we looked at what's hot, what's not in tech's future with Gary Matuszak who heads up KPMG's global TMT practice, and venture capitalists Osuke Honda of DCM and Carmen Chang of NEA. Yours truly (Rebecca Fannin) served as the moderator.
Please check out the video clip here:
 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Tesla Drives Into China With Big Aims to Make Its Plug-In Cars Mainstream

Tesla at Silicon Dragon in Shanghai
Tesla Motors has big plans for China, and you can bet its car sales in the Chinese market will likely top the U.S.
The innovative electric car maker from Silicon Valley will “replicate its American strategy in China,” says Shanghai-based Tesla executive Dan Hsu.  The first cars were delivered in April, and Hsu says he  hopes that Tesla sales will “be bigger” than in the U.S.  Certainly anyone who’s been to Beijing and encountered the smog shares that view.
Central to the strategy in China is keeping the price tag for the cars at about the same level as in the U.S. — at least if you don’t count import tariffs. The Tesla S sells for RMB 640,000 or $104,000 in China. That compares with about $70,000 for a Tesla S in the U.S.  Tesla strategy is to keep pricing the same globally.
To get going in China, Tesla has set up charging stations in China at shopping malls, restaurants and hotels. Tesla-owned retails outlets have the free super-charging stations too where Tesla can get fully charged in about an hour. At the Knowledge & Innovation Community in Shanghai, there are three charging stations in the parking garage.
Just as in the U.S., the main challenge in China is a shift in perception that the car is not a huge pain to recharge, says Hsu, speaking at Silicon Dragon in Shanghai.  (The car was on display and drew lots of curiosity seekers.)
Keep reading post at Forbes, Tesla in China.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

What Makes Jack Ma Tick - And How He Built Alibaba

Alibaba’s successful IPO in New York brings back memories of interviewing founder Jack Ma in his hometown Hangzhou in 2006 long before his name was universally recognized – but well after he had saved Alibaba from failing in 2001.
Silicon Dragon author interviewing
Alibaba founder Jack Ma (circa 2006)
in his hometown Hangzhou
I learned a lot about Ma as an entrepreneur during that first interview for my book Silicon Dragon.  One of Ma’s more memorable quotes resonates today: ”When I am myself, I am happy, and have a good result.” Certainly true!
I also recall Ma telling me how he learned to think independently, at an early age. In 1985, he was invited by an Australian family he had become friends with in Hangzhou to spend a month in Australia with them on a summer vacation. It was an eye-opening experience. “Before I left China, I was educated that China was the richest, happiest country in the world. So when I arrived Australia, I thought, oh my god, everything is different from what I was told. Since then,” Ma told me,  ”I started to think differently.”
Keep reading post at Forbes: What Makes Jack Ma Tick

Friday, September 12, 2014

Friction Points for Alibaba As It Goes On Global Stage

It’s interesting to hear astute China-US venture investors Gary Rieschel of Qiming Ventures and Chris Evdemon of Innovations Works say they wouldn’t invest in Alibaba stock as the Chinese e-commerce company gets set to go public in New York late next week. With a portfolio full of Chinese tech startups poised to go public if Alibaba’s IPO does well, you would think they would be more rah-rah. But no.
“At a price of $160-$170 billion, I think they’ve already done enough to help other Chinese startups,” says Rieschel. “In my opinion, they’ve priced the company in a fairly rich way.”
A host of competitive pressures and strategic management issues at Alibaba in China and overseas could erode Alibaba’s value, he and Evdemon point out.
Within the Chinese market, challenges are building over increased rivalry from newly public e-commerce companies such as JD.com. “Everybody is out there to erode Aliababa’s share,” observes Evdemon, on Silicon Dragon Talk. “They cannot show any form of complacency.”’
Morever, Alibaba faces erosion in its seller fees as an increasingly number of larger merchants opt to spin off from handling transactions through the e-commerce company and instead handle trades independently. Alibaba’s counter? Merchants who are TMall clients face cut-off access to AliPay if they cancel, Rieschel notes, a tactic he says would be illegal elsewhere.
Such managerial issues point to new tension points for Alibaba outside China as expansion continues globally and strategic decisions are made. The issue will be whether Alibaba continues its comfort zone as a China company or moves up as a global player.
Read Forbes for full article: Not much love for Alibaba.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Alibaba Poised To Write $5 Billion Checks For U.S. Tech Startups

Alibaba’s IPO is set to have a big impact be on U.S. tech M&A deals and future listings from venture-backed China startups on Wall Street.  See Silicon Dragon Talk, Sizing Up Alibaba.
Referred to as the WalMart of China for its heft, the public listing of Alibaba will give it a huge treasure chest to acquire more U.S. tech startups and possibly write $5 billion to $10 billion checks, says venture capitalist Nazar Yasin of Rise Capital. Since 2013, Alibaba has invested in nine U.S. tech startups in deals valued at $968 million, according to investment banker David Williams.
VC Jay Eum of Translink Capital, which has seen three of its portfolio companies (Peel, Tango and Quixey) get acquired by the Chinese e-commerce giant, says he has been “super-impressed” by Alibaba as a strategic investor. He pointed to fairly generous deal teams and alignment with management to mutual benefit as two advantages.
The IPO of Alibaba, predicted to be the biggest in the tech sector, could lead to many more venture-backed Chinese startups to go public on Wall Street. This year, China IPOs have rebounded to 10 after a two-year slump.
See Silicon Dragon Talk, Sizing Up Alibaba.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Sizing Up Alibaba IPO Prospects Against Other Winners


As Alibaba gets ready to go public in the U.S. this September, it’s worth a look at how Internet players from emerging countries have fared in the public markets.
The answer is exceedingly well.  Research from San Francisco-based venture capital firm Rise Capital, which invests in emerging markets, shows that $300 billion in market value has been created in the last five years by e-commerce and media companies from developing nations.
Little surprise, most of those companies are from China. Russia, India and Brazil do factor in though, accounting for nine of the 35 in the top ranks.
Tencent is number one on the list with a market cap of $143 billion, figures dating from June 2014 show. Baidu ranks second at $66 billion. Alibaba rival JD.com is third, with a market cap of $35 billion.
If Alibaba hits the estimates of a $200 billion market capitalization, we’ll have to get out the measuring sticks again. Alibaba, which drawfs Amazon and eBay for merchandise sold through its multiple business and consumer sites, could rank up there among the top 10 U.S. tech firms by market valuation — and also surpass Tencent. Bets are on too, that Alibaba will bypass Facebook as the biggest tech IPO ever in the U.S.

Keep reading: Alibaba prospects
http://www.forbes.com/sites/rebeccafannin/2014/08/14/sizing-up-alibaba-prospects/