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/

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Silicon Dragon Talk Launches from the Valley

Guests at Silicon Dragon Talk:
Hans Tung, Eric Feng, Geoff Yang
We recently launched Silicon Dragon Talk, our new monthly program featuring trends in venture capital and tech innovation globally.

The first program featured three experts discussing Alibaba's IPO, Flipboard's Chinese strategy, and trends in China tech entrepreneurship.

Here is a clip from the first Silicon Dragon Talk show, with guests Hans Tung of GGV Capital, Eric Feng of Flipboard, and Geoff Yang of Redpoint Ventures.

Eric is sporting a special T shirt -- GoLong. It's a reference to VCs strategies of keeping a portfolio investment until it ripens.

Our shows are being recorded at the DingDing.TV studios in Santa Clara, CA. Stay tuned for the next program!

-- Rebecca
  

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Flipkart's $1 Billion In Funding Puts India Startups In The Big Leagues

More proof of India’s rise as one of the Silicon Valleys of the world can certainly be seen in the latest mega venture financing of leading Indian e-commerce startup Flipkart. With $1 billion in new funding, Flipkart joins the big leagues for not only the largest amount raised by an Indian company but among the largest for an e-commerce company globally.
I’ve been writing that this Silicon Tiger nation would catch up to China’s Silicon Dragon, and the evidence keeps piling up. Flipkart raised the sum from Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, GIC, as well as existing investors including Tiger Global Management, Naspers, Accel Partners and Morgan Stanley Investment Management. This latest deal for Flipkart follows a $210 million fund raising this past May and Flipkart’s acquisition of fashion retailing site Myntra, which also is venture backed.
I first covered Flipkart (and also Myntra) in my book Startup Asia, after meeting with the founders — Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal — in Bangalore in 2010.
Keep reading post at Forbes, Flipkart.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Copying China Business Models In The U.S. Catches On As A New Tech Startup Trend - Quite the Reverse!

Globally minded startup teams in the U.S. are beginning to adopt Chinese business models and getting funding from American venture capitalists with China experience. An example of this newly unfolding trend is Curse, Inc., an online gaming media company in Huntsville, Alabama that just raised $10 million from Silicon Valley and Shanghai-based GGV Capital.
This new trend is the reverse of the copy-to-China phenomenon of a nearly a decade ago when look-alike sites of U.S. Internet brands such as Facebook, Google and Amazon sprung up in China and were largely funded by Sand Hill Road venture capitalists. It’s being fed by the globalization of tech trends among entrepreneurs and VCs alike.
Hubert Thieblot, the CEO of the U.S.-based gaming business Curse, doesn’t downplay how he got the idea for his startup’s new communications platform Curse Voice. It was inspired by Chinese startup YY.
Keep reading post at Forbes:
http://www.forbes.com/sites/rebeccafannin/2014/07/08/copying-china-business-models-in-the-u-s-catches-on-as-a-new-tech-startup-trend-quite-the-reverse/