Can we invest into tech startups in China? with Rui Ma

Can we invest into tech startups in China? with Rui Ma
Rui Ma from Techbuzz China discuss an ongoing key question whether we can invest into tech startups in China.

Fresh out of the studio, Rui Ma, creator & tech analyst from Techbuzz China joined us to discuss one of the most important questions at present: can we invest into tech startups in China? We dived deep into different aspects of the China tech ecosystem from the decrease in VC funding to the stringent regulation placed by the Chinese government to build a reasonable picture and answer the question at hand. Last but not least, we focused on China's recent "Little Giants Program" and examined its implications to the startup ecosystem in the future.


"China is doing exactly what you said, it is trying to basically have backups for choke point technologies, so that in the case of sanctions, it is not left not being able to do anything. Because that's a very real risk for China right now. Whether or not, it needs to have a complete supply chain. Well, it actually has a lot of the more lower value add components than in the really more advanced pieces. As you pointed out that it does not have a solution and it's actually pretty far behind, I think, anywhere from ten, or some people even think it's 20 years behind because there are so many pieces that go into these more sophisticated machines or processes." - Rui Ma

Introduction

  • Rui Ma, China Tech Analyst & Creator of Tech Buzz China (LinkedIn, @ruima)
  • Since Carol’s last conversation with you on the botched Ant IPO, what have you been up to?
  • How has Tech Buzz China evolved over the past few years since its inception?

Can we invest into tech startups in China?

  • To start, the Chinese technology ecosystem has undergone major changes over the past three years: 1/ the regulators have taken a stronger hand towards the Chinese tech giants such as Alibaba, Didi and many others, 2/ the education tech industry was decimated and 3/ COVID-zero policy that instituted the lockdowns which will affect their GDP growth this year and 4/ the amount of venture financing in China decreased down from US$18.1B  to US$8.1B based on Nikkei Asia Review. The first question which I want to set up for the rest of the conversation is: what is the sentiment on the ground like for Chinese tech startups?
  • How has Chinese government regulation changed over the years?
  • How about the VC ecosystem and how are they adapting to the change in mood in the tech ecosystem? I assumed that GGV capital has a major writedown given their investment in education tech companies.
  • It is predicted by my friend Shai that Sequoia China will split up and be an independent entity moving forward. What are your thoughts given that they have raised a whopping US$9B this year?
  • Specifically, for the Internet, are we seeing less emphasis on Chinese consumer tech and more towards enterprise tech?
  • Will the Chinese tech ecosystem be funded only by local VCs such as Qiming Ventures moving forward in the next few years?
  • One key focus will be on semiconductors, while China is slower on the chip manufacturing side, Yangtze Memories Technologies (YMTC) is moving upstream with the memory chips and now in 5% of the global market, will China eventually have their own semiconductor ecosystem?
  • China has introduced the Little Giants program for 3000 startups from Bloomberg, which is similar to the “Hidden Champions” program which jump-started the German manufacturing industry and brought about their giants such as Bosch to the scene. Can you talk more about the Little Giants program and what specific areas are the startups focused on?
  • Given what happened to Didi, will we see less and less successful Chinese tech companies to list in the US but choose to do it in either HKSE or Shanghai Starboard?
  • Taking a more optimistic view, what are the most interesting Chinese tech startups that you are monitoring in the ecosystem that people do not know about and which segments they are in?
  • The final question: can we invest into tech startups in China?

Closing

  • Any recommendations which have inspired you recently?
  • Rui Ma's recommendations: Parenting books and Asianometry newsletter & youtube channel focused on semiconductors industry.
  • How can my audience find you?

Podcast Information:The show is hosted and produced by Bernard Leong (@bernardleong, Linkedin) and Carol Yin (@CarolYujiaYin, LinkedIn). Sound credits for the intro and end music: "Run it" by DJ Snake, Rick Ross and Rich Brian and the episode is mixed & edited by Geoffrey Thomas Craig (LinkedIn).