Kai-Fu Lee, InnovationWorks founder and former Google China President, just posted the foreword to his autobiography, “Why Don’t We Agree to Disagree.” It’s worth reading in its entirety, but here’s what stands out to me.
Kai-fu Lee strikes me as similar to Barack Obama in character: brilliant, charismatic, and a cross-cultural icon. Both are deep believers in compromise, but now disillusioned after a series of setbacks.
Since its launch in fall 2009, InnovationWorks has evolved into what founder Kaifu calls a combination of the plug-and-play of Y Combinator and the VC Andreessen Horowitz. For the first nine months, Lee said that for the first nine months, InnovationWorks closely resembled the IdeaLab model, where the incubator itself conceives a a business and then recruits entrepreneurs to run it.
Lee, in an interview at TC Disrupt Beijing, said the hit rate was high, “But that model cannot attract the best of entrepreneurs. They want to control their own destiny. And they want the great majority of shares in what they do.”
Chris Evdemon, GM of Incubation Programs at InnovationWorks, has updated his excellent presentation on China’s Early Stage Ecosystem. It’s a must-read to understand China’s trends, technologies, financing, and InnovationWorks itself.
Quora will soon raise a new monster round of financing with some reports placing the valuation at more than one billion dollars. This presumes that the site can reach the mass market, not just a niche audience of tech nerds. Zhihu (知乎) recently received investment from InnovationWorks as TechRice reported yesterday. But can Zhihu become mass market in China?
Zhihu (知乎), China’s Quora clone, and DianDian (点点), China’s Tumblr clone, have both recently moved into InnovationWorks, the startup incubator founded by Kaifu Lee. InnovationWorks is apparently incubating (hosting and mentoring) as well as investing in these firms, though terms have not yet been released.
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