I was born in Taiwan and I speak fluent Chinese. However, I have never lived in China for an extended period. I did not go to college in China and did not have a lot of connections that people grew up with in China. So what value am I going to add that could be helpful to the ecosystem that is forming in China?
I realized that it was my experience of the understanding Japanese history, going through growth periods of Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan over the 80s and 90s. That’s the most valuable experience I could share about what China could be over the next 10-year period – and of course leveraging the Internet to help get there. The whole consumption upgrade and new retail were trends that I predicted as early as 2005. I knew that at some point, with the help of Alipay, and then later WeChat Pay, China could mimic the growth of other Asian countries – but in an even bigger and better way.
By 2013, I had already done well in China. To me, I was wondering if it was worth risking my career by moving to one of the most competitive markets in the world for VCs (Silicon Valley)? To add to that, I would be doing something completely different from what I had done prior.
That was another hard decision for me. My children were also young then. I thought that it might be better for us to stay in China for another 6 years and perhaps master the language better. But in the end, I thought that moving as a family to Silicon Valley would be best thing for us. It would also be beneficial for me, to build a more global VC practice, and in living through that experience, could also be helpful for my children later. They will (and are!) be able to witness how you can be multi-cultural by operating in different environments and hopefully adopt a global mindset.
This answer first appeared on an Ask Me Anything session (AMA) with Hans Tung. Do you have a burning question of your own? Submit yours here.