Interest in VC activity in China has ebbed and flowed over the years. And it may be time for more firms to consider their China strategies, as money moving to and from the country is on an uptick.
Just ask Edith Yeung, who in January quietly took over as China partner for 500 Startups, succeeding Rui Ma, who left at the end of last year to pursue other interests.
500 formally announced the move Feb. 20 in China, and it comes as U.S. venture investment in the country is at an all-time high.
KPMG’s Venture Pulse report last month said VC firms, seeking innovative businesses in China, poured more than $31 billion into the country last year, compared with $26 billion in 2015.
Meanwhile, as VCJ reported last year, Chinese investors participated in about 200 deals from 2015 through late 2016, accounting for slightly more than 10 percent of all financings in the period, according to Thomson Reuters data.
500 is no stranger to China, having invested in 35 companies there from its main fund over the years.
The firm’s list of Chinese portfolio companies includes DayDayCook, an Asia-focused multimedia publisher and platform of home cooking; Grana, a fashion brand for men and women; Shopline , an online shopping site; and Prenetics, a provider of DNA testing to personalize drugs based on a genetic profile.
DayDayCook, Grana and Shopline each raised follow-on rounds from Alibaba. Prenetics also raised Series A funding from Capital Union.
“We’re looking for more opportunities in China and plan to stay as active as we can,” Yeung said. As is the firm’s wont, 500 invests in various sectors, though Yeung says she is intrigued by education companies emerging in China and is fascinated at how the mammoth Chinese companies Alibaba and Tencent are growing their talent bases.
Yeung, who had been a partner of 500’s Mobile Collective, investing in mobile deals from a $10 million fund, was born and raised in Honk Kong and still has family in Beijing and Hong Kong. She also speaks Mandarin and Cantonese. She told VCJ that she plans to spend half her time in the United States and half in China.
Before joining 500, Yeung oversaw marketing for Dolphin Browser, a Sequoia Capital-backed company that developed a mobile Web browser. Yeung, a Harvard Business School grad, also founded RightVentures, a seed-stage investment firm focusing on mobile and consumer internet companies.
Yeung and 500 Startups co-founder Dave McClure said she’ll look to invest in Chinese startups, and will work with portfolio companies that want to expand in China.
And that may be the typical China strategy for more VC firms going forward.
Action Item: You can reach Edith Yeung at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo of Edith Yeung courtesy of 500 Startups