Monday, December 23, 2013

Top 10 Trends for Silicon Dragon World in 2014

Rebecca Fannin of Silicon Dragon
makes her annual trend review.
As the year comes to close, here’s a look at some leading trends that have shaped the startup scene in Asia during 2013.

1. The emergence of tech hotspots in a broader group of markets, including Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong to supplement the Asian strongholds of Shanghai, Beijing and Bangalore. A resurgence of Japan as a venture capital base.  See Kiwi, Aussie, and Silicon Harbour write-ups at

2. A huge growth in accelerators, incubators and crowd-funding sources throughout emerging markets – and globally.  The increased prominence of angel investors as funding sources for startups and an alternative to venture capital.

Keep reading at to see the remaining 8 trends.

Happy New Year!

Rebecca Fannin
"The Silicon Dragon Lady"

Monday, August 26, 2013

Silicon Dragon Circumnavigates the Globe

 Here's a sampling of some of my recent contributions at Forbes from China, Australia, New Zealand and Silicon Valley. Hope you enjoy, Rebecca

  • Kiwi entrepreneurs are on a discovery tour to test how far they can go. read »

  • A weekend arrival in Wellington finds the city on lock down after a 6.6 earthquake. But the startup culture kept going. What else to expect from entrepreneurs? read »

  • New China venture funds and another IPO could signal the end of a long, dry spell for investing in Chinese startups. read »

  • CSOFT’s dynamic leader Shunee Yee is poised to become the female Chinese entrepreneur who could win big beyond China. read »

  • China followed by India look most promising to take over tech leadership from Silicon Valley if and when the Valley slips. read »

  • Mary Meeker’s annual report on Internet trends applauds China for moving ahead as the most advanced and largest player globally. Is it too optimistic about China’s prospects? read »

  • China’s telecom-plus company pumps up its innovation engine to keep the world connected seamlessly over mobile phones and the Internet. There’s still plenty of work to be done. read »

  • Neil Shen has been doing venture deals in China for longer than most — 8 years — and with a better track record than most, though not without his share of controversies. Shen sounds off at Silicon Dragon Beijing on what make deal making in China more challenging than in Silicon Valley yet why it still represents a good opportunity for those with read »

  • Light In The Box on the NYSE is the first Chinese company to go public in the U.S. this year, after only two in 2012. Don’t expect to see a rebound to 2010, when China topped the IPO action. But signs of a reverse tide may be coming. read »

  • Sunday, June 30, 2013

    Huawei Pumps Up Its Innovation Engine from Shenzhen

    Silicon Dragon hops on Huawei's train to innovation
    A visit to the sprawling headquarters campus of Huawei Technologies Co. in Shenzhen offers an example of China’s climb up the innovation ladder. This telecom-plus company has moved up as a leading edge industry leader with a global footprint as new innovation management processes have been adopted and a series of nifty smartphones and ultra-speed communications services have been launched.
    The trend of ‘made in China’ to ‘invented in China’ has been seen most clearly among the Chinese tech startups that scaled over the past decade and continue to micro-innovate, acquire and expand. Now this thread is more prominent among China’s largest multinationals, and some that have not always enjoyed the finest reputation for originality or image.
    It’s ironic that this southern Chinese manufacturing city Shenzhen, the first to open up under China’s economic reforms in 1978 and a known as a hub of low-cost knock-offs, has become a center of this new-found corporate innovative energy. The city is home to the telecom-plus companies Huawei and ZTE, social messaging player Tencent, supply chain manager PCH International, electronics maker Foxconn, and Warren Buffet-invested electric car maker BYD.
    This Pearl River Delta city still has a brusque style and rough feel, and with its hot and humid climate, could never compare to the lifestyle and creative energy of Silicon Valley despite the mammoth golf course Mission Hills, five-star business hotels Shenzhen Marriott and Ritz-Carlton, upscale shopping malls, movie theatres, and fine Mediterranean cuisine dining.
    That innate Chinese knack for inventiveness evident among Shenzhen’s large conglomerates exemplifies China’s ascendancy in the corporate value chain from a production-only base to increasingly, science and technology as a foundation.
    Huawei is on the cutting edge by reaching out to showcase it’s hardly an imitator but a creator of original products.  The campaign is part of a well-crafted course to project an open and innovative culture and shake off its image as a cyber-security threat in the U.S. and the residue of protracted legal cases with rival Cisco over intellectual property.
    I spent a day at the leafy, college campus-like headquarters of Huawei,  founded in 1988 by engineer Ren Zhengfei, a former engineer with the People’s Liberation Army. English-speaking guides took me around several sleek  showrooms that exhibit a vast array of Huawei technical breakthroughs.  Visitors can pose for souvenir photos and dine in an historic train on a short rail track on the lawn outside a company cafeteria. Keep reading my Silicon Dragon post at Forbes.

    Thursday, June 6, 2013

    Too Many Wantapreneurs In China Can't Be A Good Thing

    The arrival of the billionaire angel investor and the rise of the serial entrepreneur in China are trending as hot topics in the Chinese venture and 'techpreneur' community as a new era unfolds. But don’t count on it all working out.
    Speaking at Silicon Dragon Beijing 2013, William Bao Bean of SingTel SingTel Innov8 and an angel investor, observes that the venture capital market is shrinking in China while angel money is on the rise though still small. Compared to a U.S. angel pool of nearly $20 billion, he figures that China has about $1 billion, and most of it from friends and family.
    Dave McClure, founding partner at 500 Startups, which is branching out to China, observes the same trend of increased angel investment along with a growing number of  incubators that are fueling the startup phenomenon. While all that might sound good, he predicts the result will be too much (dumb) money chasing too many entrepreneurial ventures at excessive valuations. Continue reading this post at Forbes .

    Monday, May 13, 2013

    Nearly 20% on Forbes Ranking Of Top 100 VCs Do Deals in China

    VC pro Hans Tung of Qiming with tech star David Li of YY
    The impact of tech innovation in China can be seen in the just-released Forbes Midas listing of top venture investors.
    Of the 100 top tech investors on the list, 17 VCs are actively investing in the Chinese market or have made at least one deal in the Mainland. If you add in those who have overseen their firm’s strategy in China, the group expands to 19, including such notables as Jim Breyer of Accel and John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins.
    Next to the U.S., China soars on a breakdown of geographic markets on the Forbes list. China also out-distances that other notable Asian venture market, India, by a long shot. India counts three dealmakers within the ranking. Remarkably, some 20% of the top 100 VCs have invested in these two emerging markets, a major development in recent years for these Startup Asia markets.
    Read full post here.
    Hans Tung, pictured above, is one of the VC pros who is speaking at our Silicon Dragon Beijing 2013 forum, May 29.  

    Thursday, March 7, 2013

    Why NYC Doesn't Have A Facebook

    NY-based venture maverick Jim Robinson
    For a well-rounded perspective on the New York City startup and venture investing scene, there’s few who could top James D. Robinson IV.
    The co-founder of one of the Big Apple‘s leading venture capital firms, RRE Ventures, Jim  has been investing for nearly 30 years and has backed dozens of startups in information technology, e-commerce, mobile and digital media. Now investing its fifth fund at $230 million, in 2012 RRE Ventures made seven venture deals and eight angel investments — and has even backed an innovative Chinese luxury travel network, Affinity China.
    Having worked in both Silicon Valley and New York City, Robinson knows full well the customs of investing coast to coast will never meet. I asked Jim what are some key differences, and what follows is an excerpt of our interview in prep for Silicon Dragon Alley.
    Q. Would you consider New York as the digital media startup capital? A. There are basically seven business sectors in New York such as finance, fashion, advertising, media – and two of those are being tremendously transformed by technology and the move to a digital future. This has created a lift for New York as a startup hub over the past few years after the end of the dotcom era.
    Q. Why doesn’t the east coast have a Facebook, Google or Twitter? A. I would argue that it does — Bloomberg.
    Keep reading at my post at

    Monday, March 4, 2013

    Angel Investing: No More 'Stupid Money'

    Angel Investing Matures From 'Stupid Money' And No 'Do Diligence'

    Silicon Dragon Alley
    After reporting from the startup hubs of Asia’s emerging markets for more than a decade, it’s refreshing to see innovation clusters forming closer to home.
    I’ve been spending some time interviewing angel investors and entrepreneurs in New York City, hanging out in neighborhood cafes in the Flatiron district and the former meat-packing area around Hudson Street.
    Brian Cohen, chairman of the New York Angels group and a lead investor in Pinterest, perhaps best exemplifies this new undercurrent of entrepreneurial energy that’s resurfaced in the Big Apple. I recently interviewed Cohen to get his thoughts on the startup scene in NYC and to hear more about his soon-to-launch book from publisher McGraw-Hill, ”What Every Angel Investor Wants You To Know: An Insider Reveals How To Get Smart Funding For Your Billion Dollar Idea.”
    The title just about says it all. But Cohen has a lot more anecdotes and insights to share about how angel investing has developed from what used to be ”stupid money.”  We did a Q&A at his office in a cool co-working space – a sign above the kitchen sink with dirty glasses reads “100% of all entrepreneurs who do their own dishes have successful companies.”
    What follows is a few excerpts from my chat with Cohen, who’s on our digital media innovator and investor panel here March 21. Keep reading post at Forbes.