DiscoverAshley Talks – Asia Tech Podcast313: Edith Yeung on investment and future of blockchain (Ashley Talks 21)
313: Edith Yeung on investment and future of blockchain (Ashley Talks 21)

313: Edith Yeung on investment and future of blockchain (Ashley Talks 21)

Update: 2018-07-17
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Podcast highlights:



  • 14:58 You are investing a lot in China while many of your colleagues in the San Francisco area do not. How does this usually work? -- Each investor has a different style in terms how they want to attract companies. It tends to be easier if you're vertically focused on a particular market, for example blockchain. If you are a founder, it's necessary to find the people who are vertically focused on the products or markets you are interested in. You should know when you reach out who you want to be contacting regarding potential investments.

  • 24:24 Turning now to the topic of blockchain, what is your vision of the future of blockchain? -- Multiple parts to this answer. Excited because it represents a change in how we think about the ownership of data. From a technology side, it's changed how people think about a lot of relationships. Obviously distributed ledger technology is not new, but what is new is the idea of tokenization. It helps creators and investors get the capital and resources they need right from the start. China and the Chinese government have been very supportive of blockchain as a technology. What they haven't been supportive of is all the cryptocurrency exchanges and initial coin offerings (ICOs). China is just a huge market that basically any company focused on establishing themselves there will have enough to attract investment.

  • 44:25 Let's talk about women for a bit. How did it feel to be a female developer working in this space? -- First of all, we should encourage everyone, not just women to have a basic understanding of coding. This is going to be a building block for so many things in the future. Even if you don't end up being the person writing the code, you will be able to have meaningful conversations with people who do. In China, have met so many great women CEOs and investors. The important thing is to know what you're talking about. It's not about being a woman, it's about being good at what you do.


Podcast notes:



  • NOTE: This podcast contains explicit language

  • 00:05 Welcome Edith Yeung, Partner at 500 Startups, to Ashley Talks with host Ashley Galina Dudarenok.

  • 00:40 Tell us about your journey. How have you ended up in San Francisco Bay investing in so many global startups? -- Born and raised in Hong Kong. Came to the US at age 16 as an exchange student. Stayed with an American family in the Midwest. Have been in the US for over 20 years and started career as a developer building risk-management systems. Started own entrepreneur group in San Francisco using Meetup, which turned into a sort of media conference business. Through this met a partner from mainland China who developed Dolphin Browser on Android. This experience led to wanting to do more with investments and startups, and so here we are.

  • 07:14 What are the biggest differences between managing an investment fund versus just investing by yourself? -- As an angel investor, the thinking was why not invest some of your own money to help a company get off the ground. When managing a fund, however, the entire thought process is how do we maximize the return for our investors. As a fund manager, it's necessary to have true conviction your decisions will make a return.

  • 14:58 You are investing a lot in China while many of your colleagues in the San Francisco area do not. How does this usually work? -- Each investor has a different style in terms how they want to attract companies. It tends to be easier if you're vertically focused on a particular market, for example blockchain. If you are a founder, it's necessary to find the people who are vertically focused on the products or markets you are interested in. You should know when you reach out who you want to be contacting regarding potential investments.

  • 18:38 What are the companies you've invested in that you've liked the most or been most impressed with? Have you had any failures? -- So many. Really, there have been so many. Very much enjoyed meeting Prerna Gupta who is founder and CEO at HOOKED, which is the number one reading app in the US for millennials. As an early-stage investor, it's important to be open-minded about products and services people haven't seen before. You can't try to invest in the next Instagram, this just won't work. As a fund manager, if you see a great investment and miss out, that is a failure. When you see something you believe in, you just have to go for it.

  • 24:24 Turning now to the topic of blockchain, what is your vision of the future of blockchain? -- Multiple parts to this answer. Excited because it represents a change in how we think about the ownership of data. From a technology side, it's changed how people think about a lot of relationships. Obviously distributed ledger technology is not new, but what is new is the idea of tokenization. It helps creators and investors get the capital and resources they need right from the start. China and the Chinese government have been very supportive of blockchain as a technology. What they haven't been supportive of is all the cryptocurrency exchanges and initial coin offerings (ICOs). China is just a huge market that basically any company focused on establishing themselves there will have enough to attract investment.

  • 34:19 Do you have a favorite startup coming out of China now? -- Again there are so many. If you think about content production companies, right now the power is in finding a way to produce and personalize content online. One exciting company in this space is Castbox. They are very impressive. Another company is Agora. They are doing basically video chat as a service. This is more back end, but it is gaining in popularity.

  • 44:25 Let's talk about women for a bit. How did it feel to be a female developer working in this space? -- First of all, we should encourage everyone, not just women to have a basic understanding of coding. This is going to be a building block for so many things in the future. Even if you don't end up being the person writing the code, you will be able to have meaningful conversations with people who do. In China, have met so many great women CEOs and investors. The important thing is to know what you're talking about. It's not about being a woman, it's about being good at what you do.

  • 50:52 Moving forward will you continue focusing on China? Will you continue focusing on any specific technologies? -- Focusing on early-stage blockchain-related projects. This will be the focus for the next three to six months. If you're working in this space, get in touch. It's doesn't matter if you're focused on China or not. The number one quality to seek in a founder is to never take "no" for an answer.

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    313: Edith Yeung on investment and future of blockchain (Ashley Talks 21)

    313: Edith Yeung on investment and future of blockchain (Ashley Talks 21)

    Bharath K