William Bao Bean

A major shift is taking place in financial IT investments, tells William Bao Bean, managing director of the Chinaccelerator at CNBC. In the past 15 years VC’s helped to solve basic problems, he says. That’s done and we move now to AI.


William Bao Bean, general partner at early stage venture capital firm SOSV, said at a panel at the Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology that significant sums of money were flowing into AI.

“So the last 15 years, entrepreneurs and [venture capitalists], like us, have been investing in companies that solve basic problems,” he said, adding most of the problems today are solved “pretty well” in the country.

Currently, China is a “lot more like the U.S., where, in order to make an impact, you have to have a revolution in tech,” Bao Bean said. “So you’re seeing massive amounts of money going into AI.”…

China not only has a vast population but a majority of the people have some form of access to the internet.

Some of the companies to watch out for in China’s drive for AI, according to Goldman, are the big three internet giants — BaiduAlibaba and Tencent. Others include ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing, on-demand services provider Meituan-Dianping and speech and language recognition firm iFlytek.

At SOSV, Bao Bean is also the managing director of a Shanghai-based accelerator program called Chinaccelerator that helps global start-ups enter the Chinese market and Chinese firms go abroad.

The big problem Chinese start-ups face at the moment, he said, is user acquisition due to the fact that so much of the market is dominated by a very small number of companies.

“Unless you ally yourself with one of the big players, no one will ever see your product,” Bao Bean said.

Experts have previously told CNBC that, in most tech sectors in China, investors tend to bet on two-to-three dominant players. Often, some of those start-ups merge to capture the majority of the market. For example, in the ride-hailing sector, the merger between two of the top start-ups resulted in the creation of Didi Chuxing, which currently dominates the market.

Bao Bean also said at a CNBC panel on Monday afternoon that start-ups planning to enter the Chinese market needed to rethink their products and services.

More at CNBC.

William Bao Bean is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers’ request form.

Fintech is one for the key investment focusses in IT. Are you looking for more fintech experts at the China Speakers Bureau? Do check out this list.

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