The rest of the 50 (in alphabetical order): William (Penglan) Zhao, vice-president, Bertelsmann Asia Investments

William Zhao has been promoted to managing director at Bertelsmann Asia Investments (BAI), a China-based corporate venture capital (CVC) subsidiary of media group Bertelsmann, in January 2020, having been promoted from a vice-president role which he held since January 2017. He joined BAI in February 2015 as a senior investment manager.

Zhao has a primary focus on the financial technology sector, and also covers transaction platforms and enterprise services. He is passionate about stimulating those innovative business models generated from the internet to drive China’s economic transformation.

Annabelle Yu Long, managing partner at BAI, said in her nomination of Zhao: “During the past five years, William Zhao has transformed himself from an investment banker to an investor, from an individual contributor to an emerging leader.

“He is passionate about making a breakthrough by means of deep thinking and self-reflection for outstanding performance, as well as a deliberate personal development. I believe in his potential for further growth to activate more value creation.”

Zhao’s investment deals include Yixin Group, a Hong Kong-listed e-commerce marketplace operator spun out of automotive transaction services provider BitAuto and Nasdaq-listed fintech company Lexin Group.

Supply chain finance provider Linklogis, bicycle rental service HelloBike, electric car sharing platform WeShare, English language learning platform Jiliguala, convenience store operator Tomato Mart, manufacturing software developer Black Lake, doors and motorcycle parts manufacturer Mexin Group, insurance services provider Mintbao and insurer Turbot are also companies Zhao has backed on behalf of BAI.

The honours that Zhao was awarded include China-based startup-focused magazine Cyzone’s 40 investors under 40 in 2019, Forbes Asia’s 30 under 30 in finance and venture capital in 2018, Global Corporate Venturing’s Rising Star award in 2017 and China Renaissance’s most popular elite investors in 2016 and 2017.

Zhao holds a bachelor of mathematics with actuarial science finance option from the University of Waterloo and participated in an executive program at Insead.

Edison Fu

Edison Fu is a reporter and Asia liaison at Global Corporate Venturing.