The top 25: Annabelle Long, founding and managing partner, Bertelsmann Asia Investments

Annabelle (Yu) Long is the founding and managing partner for Bertelsmann Asia Investments (BAI), the China-based corporate venturing arm for Germany-headquartered media group Bertelsmann.

Bertelsmann chairman and chief executive Thomas Rabe said: “Investments in young digital companies with innovative business models play an important role in the implementation of our strategy. Through these investments, we ensure the transfer of knowledge both about digital trends that support our transformation and about promising markets. Our investment fund BAI, in particular, is very successful.”

Bertelsmann Investments has four funds – Bertelsmann Asia Investments (BAI), Bertelsmann Brazil Investments (BBI), Bertelsmann India Investments (BII) and Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments (BDMI), the last one focusing on the US and Europe – through which the group has around 250 shareholdings around the world. The group also has a fund-of-funds strategy in place in Southeast Asia and Africa.

And while there might be four growth regions, there is clearly one that is dominant – China. Having made more than 160 investments over the past decade since Long founded BAI in 2008, the group now manages more than $3bn.

Long has led the team to achieve more than 10 initial public offerings and over 20 unicorns – companies valued at $1bn or more. The unit’s recent deals include rounds for online fitness class operator Keep, smart fitness equipment producer Fiture, semiconductor technology producer Biren Technology, autonomous driving technology developer Innovusion and low-code app development platform ClickPaaS.

Long is CEO of the Bertelsmann China corporate centre and on the company’s group management committee, which advises the executive board on corporate strategy and development. She was presented the group-level Bertelsmann Entrepreneur Award and Bertelsmann Financial Performance Award for her outstanding contribution.

Long said in 2018: “BAI is one of the best-known and most successful funds in the Chinese investment scene at this point. We continue to put into practice what we set out to do 10 years ago. And we are pleased that, with such a small team, we are able to make a sizeable contribution to a global media corporation like Bertelsmann.

“There is probably no other company at Bertelsmann that generates such a high profit per capita as the nine-member BAI team – and we are proud of that, of course. Every year we have the same expectation and aspiration: to be better than the year before. So far, we have always managed that – and I am very confident that this will continue to be the case since we invest in growth regions and growth sectors. We are surfing a very positive, sustained trend, so it is not an unrealistic expectation.”

But while Long has made a success of BAI, the groundwork for her success was laid beforehand. After her MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a BSEE from the University of Electronic Science and Technology in China, Long joined Bertelsmann in New York in 2005 and worked as a principal at Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments before founding BAI.

Edison Fu

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