Fritz Demopoulos, (pictured) 43, a Southern Californian and MBA grad from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management hasn’t mastered Mandarin, but has scored two Chinese Internet successes over the past decade. In June 2011, Baidu invested $306 million in the travel search engine Qunar he formed in 2005 and he stepped down as CEO, turning management over to Chinese staff. Demopoulos, who was born in the U.S. to a Greek dad and Austrian mother, got his start in China as business development manager for Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., working alongside Wendi Deng in the late 1990s in Hong Kong and mainland China, and running information technology portal Chinabyte.com. He next joined NASDAQ-listed Chinese portal and gaming company Netease and worked closely with the CEO on a two-year turnaround. In 2001, his first China startup, sports portal Shawei, was bought by Hong Kong-based Tom Group for $15 million.
With his credentials, Demopoulos could write his ticket. He’s exploring opportunities to start another business or become an active investor, and plans to continue working in either Hong Kong or Beijing. “I don’t think I will be based at the debtor to China, ie the U.S.,” he says.
Richard Robinson, 43, hails from Boston and still drops the “r’s” with his accent though he’s long ago broken through the language and cultural barrier on a whirlwind tech startup career in China.
To continue reading this Chapter One excerpt from my recently published book, Startup Asia, see Forbes post: