By SUSAN LAHEY
Reporter with Silicon Hills News
Members of the Boshang Group, which comprises about 6,000 businesses and is managed by the alumni association of Tsinghua University, spent several days in Austin looking for tech companies to invest in.
They called the event Invest Austin 1.0 and their U.S. partner, DB Business Group based in Ridgeland, Mississippi, hopes to bring diverse groups of investors to Austin quarterly to look at investment opportunities.
Among the area companies that pitched were Flow Concepts, Tap and Play Media, 9W Search, Upgrade USA, Suvola Corp., TechnoPhysics Solutions, Quarri Technologies and LifeAssist. Media were not allowed during the pitches. Tyler Barrett, COO for the DB Business Group, said the investors wanted to see a variety of companies from proof of concept stage to publicly traded. The investors, Barrett said, were familiar with Silicon Valley, but they had not previously focused on Austin.
This trip, said Jacob Milstead, business development manager for DB Business Group, investors were focused on tech companies from ideation to second stage financing. Other groups interested in real estate and other kinds of investments are waiting to come to subsequent events in Austin. Milstead said his company had held a similar business conference in China and had taken more than $200 million in offerings. “They did invest in a company and filled up the pipeline for them. These delegates want to grow a network, connect companies that need money with investors and bring in industry experts.”
If any of the Chinese companies does invest in an Austin company, DB will help manage the relationship which would likely include opening doors into the Chinese market for any of the companies that receive investment.
The World Post, a partnership of Huffington Post and Berggruen Institute on Governance ran an article April 3 on the rapid growth of Chinese investments in high tech companies, $6 billion so far in 2014, which exceeds the amount spent from 2009-2012. Daniel Rosen, co-founder of the Rhodium Group whose research the article reflected, said there was some concern about cyberterrorism with companies connected with the Chinese government. It also noted that the NSA had built “back doors” into the equipment of a huge Chinese telecom business, according to former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
For the most part, group members said, Austin had welcomed them. They were upset about the last minute no-show by Chamber of Commerce president Mike Rollins who was supposed to speak to the group Tuesday morning. In response, Rollins said the group never confirmed the speaking engagement or gave him details where or when it would be.
Kean Wu, chairman of King Houes Network Technology, said through an interpreter that the group had found some businesses worth investing in and was looking forward to new partnerships and new relationships within the United States.
“The current globalization is occurring everywhere in the world and China and the U.S. are two big countries that influence each other.” While many investors are concerned about putting money in a company several states away, much less several time zones, Wu said “Countries such as the United States have a lot of integrity, businesses are protected by the legal system. We don’t feel like we have to worry.”