Eric Rosenblum is a Managing Partner at Tsingyuan Ventures, an early stage US fund with over $100m under management. They believe in the opportunity of cross-border and cross-discipline investments and focus primarily on US-based science startups founded by the Chinese tech diaspora.
- Prior to co-founding Tsingyuan Ventures, Eric graduated from Harvard, worked at BCG then got an MBA at MIT and worked as a management consultant and serial entrepreneur in China for 14 years.
- Eric was one of the rare foreign co-founders of multiple tech startups during China’s early Internet wave, and his ventures led to 2 exits (M&As for ChinaNOW and SmartPay).
- Coming back to the states, he then worked at Google and Palantir before co-founding Tsingyuan Ventures with former members of the TEEC Angel Fund.
- TEEC started as a network of Tsinghua University alumni (Tsinghua Entrepreneur & Executive Club (Tsinghua is like the MIT + Harvard of China) and wrote the first checks in 5 unicorns: Ginkgo Bioworks, Carta, Quanergy, Plus.ai, Zoom, and about 160 tech startups.
- While it is a US fund, the Tsingyuan name reflects its focus and strategy by combining part of the Tsinghua (清) name and ‘source/origin’ (源).
This episode is particularly timely following the recent ‘Proclamation on the Suspension of Entry as Nonimmigrants of Certain Students and Researchers from the People’s Republic of China’ by the White House.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, in the 2018–19 academic year, there were enrolled at U.S. universities:
- 272,470 undergraduate and graduate students from China.
- 84,480 were in a graduate-level STEM program.
These restrictions are focused on students coming from mainland universities associated with the army, but might impact the ‘intellectual balance of trade’ that had been so favorable to the US so far.
In this episode, we discuss:
- The early days of China’s tech scene and the waves of Chinese PhDs in the US, to highlight the upcoming surge in opportunities, particularly with the many applications of AI at scale.
- The intellectual balance of trade, and the value of this asset for the US.
- The role of non-state actors like Google, Baidu or Alibaba as talent factories.
- The 10-year lag between the moment a foreign student comes for a few years and starts a company, and why he believes we’re still just seeing the upswing of the wave.
- China’s advances with regulation, local support and public acceptance of technology for the new wave of data-driven startups.
- Analogies with basketball and pingpong to compare the impact and legacy of drafting outstanding talent into a system, and the risks of making the talent trade balance less favorable to America.
- How cross-border talent will be key to create more truly global champions from the US.
- Eric mentions successful companies founded by the Chinese diaspora (including Guitar Hero, Nvidia, Zoom, etc.) More here.
- In addition to cross-border, Eric makes the case for cross-disciplinary investments here.
Last, here are Eric's all-time favorites, that also happen to be very timely:
- Taylor Branch’s series on MLK Jr. Starting with “Parting the Waters”.
- Robert Caro’s series on Lyndon Johnson. Starting with “The Path to Power”.
- (his most recent read): The Fire is Upon Us (about the epic debate between William F Buckley Jr and James Baldwin). Also in video.
- Overview of Deep Tech Investment, Based on the Report by Different
- Sota Nagano (Abies Ventures) on Japan’s Deep Tech Scene
- Seth Bannon (Fifty Years) on Solving Global Problems
- Kelly Chen (DCVC) on Investing in Old School Industries
- Manish Singhal (pi Ventures) on India’s Deep Tech Scene
- John Ho (Anzu Partners) on Breakthrough Industrial Tech
- Matt Clifford (EF / Entrepreneur First) on Investing in Talent and Pre-Product