The rest of the 50 (in alphabetical order): Saman Farid, head, Baidu Ventures USA
Saman Farid is head of Baidu Ventures USA, the US-based corporate venture capital (CVC) subsidiary of China-headquartered internet group Baidu. Having co-founded and been a managing partner at VC firm Comet Labs, Farid joined Baidu Ventures after the two funds formed a partnership in March 2017.
Before Comet Labs, Farid was a vice-president at conglomerate Legend Holdings and director of the Silicon Valley office of Legend Star, Legend Holdings’ CVC unit. Earlier in his career, he founded an e-commerce startup, was chief executive of logistics automation platform Falama, and project engineering manager for Global Partners United, working in clean energy.
Baidu Ventures and Legend Capital were two of 2018’s top five most active CVC units in terms of number of investments according to a CB Insights report, behind GV, Salesforce Ventures and Intel Capital, respective CVC subsidiaries of internet group Alphabet, cloud enterprise software provider Salesforce and chipmaker Intel.
In an interview with TechCrunch, Farid said: “The most useful things we can give to startups are things they cannot buy with money – like mentoring, expertise and the ability to fast-track into production. These are things that, even with $100m, you might not be able to get overnight.”
Baidu Ventures was founded in 2016 to build an artificial intelligence (AI) technology-enabled ecosystem within Baidu, having closed its third fund in February 2018, increasing the amount of capital under management to almost $480m.
The unit invests between seed and series B stage in China and the US, and it made 13 AI-focused investments in 2018 according to the same CB Insights report.
Baidu Ventures’ recent investments include drug discovery technology provider Insilico Medicine’s $37m series B round in September 2019, molecular diagnostics technology developer Sherlock Biosciences’ $31m series A round in April 2019 and AI-equipped business automation technology developer Automation Hero’s $14.5m funding round in March 2019.
Farid, a control systems engineer by training, has an MBA from both Tsinghua University and MIT as part of its international MBA program.