On 6 October 2017, THE HANGAR by NUS Enterprise played host to Mr Foo Jixun, the Managing Partner of GGV Capital, for a Kopi Chat — “Unicorns — Are they for real?”. For some context, here’s a short bio of him: Jixun has more than 15 years of experience in venture capital investing and has worked with many successful entrepreneurs. Jixun has led investments in Baidu, Qunar, Youku-Tudou, Didi Chuxing and Grab. Prior to joining GGV Capital, Jixun was a Director at Draper Fisher Jurvetson ePlanet Ventures, where he led investment efforts in Asian companies such as Baidu.
On his success
“I identify with two trends: the Internet and China, rode their wave. And that brought me to where I am today.”
On the difference between Singapore and China
5 years ago, Singapore is more efficient than China. But today, China, or Shanghai is more efficient. A simple example will be the use of WeChat for payment at anytime and anywhere. There is more tech innovation happening in China.
On the difference between the unicorns in the US and China
The Chinese people are more aggressive and are very willing to learn. If you visit Silicon Valley during the summer holidays, you will see many Chinese who have come to learn. You don’t see US companies coming to China to learn. In China, the government is willing to embrace innovations with new rules.
On China from 2000 to 2016
From 2000 to 2010, there was a lot of innovation in China that was driven by business models. From 2010 to 2015, the focus was on product innovation.
E-commerce has risen rapidly in the past years (e.g. Alibaba) and it has been extremely convenient for the users. The cost of online user acquisition is getting very expensive as there are many big players in the market. There is now a trend of online players going offline and expanding to brick and mortar stores to capture foot traffic (e.g Bingobox).
As China evolves, there is more potential for new consumer brands and investments in newer brands that younger people can identify with.
On common traits of companies that GGV invests in
GGV is a multi-stage investor and the considerations for investment are different for different companies. For early-stage companies, a strong belief in the team and the trend (e.g. bike-sharing) is critical. Meeting the founder and trying to understand his or her motivations is very important as entrepreneurship is an extremely tough journey. For late-stage companies, there is a focus on the unit economies to ascertain if the company is able to scale.
On investing in cryptocurrency
There is a trend but cryptocurrency might face regulatory risk from governments, which might hamper the progress in this field.
We would like to thank Dr Francis Yeoh, Professorial Fellow for Entrepreneurship at the School of Computing, for bringing in Jixun as a speaker and moderating the session.