The rest of the 50 (in alphabetical order): Bo Zhai, head of enterprise and emerging tech investments, US, Alibaba Group

Bo Zhai joined China-based online retailer Alibaba’s corporate venture capital (CVC) efforts in March 2017 as a US-based head of enterprise and emerging technology investments. He focuses on enterprise, cloud and emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, internet of things, big data and security, outside Asia-Pacific.

Some recent deals conducted by Alibaba include investments in US-based virtual reality technology developer Sandbox VR, China-based cross-border retailer KK Group and China-based property design software developer 3vjia.

In addition to investments, Zhai also matches innovators with the Alibaba’s China-based business units for commercial collaboration. A good CVC investor has to have a technical understanding which entails personal growth, he said, remarking: “Alibaba’s businesses touch almost every facet of the tech landscape.”

Zhai’s main role is to facilitate new relationships between Alibaba and the innovation tech ecosystem in Silicon Valley, as China can be an interesting yet challenging market to enter into for western startups.

He said: “Through various investments, our team has created valuable commercial dialogues between startups in Silicon Valley and our business units in China.”

Although there have been misunderstandings between startups and Alibaba business units, Zhai considers it his job to reduce such frictions, adding: “I am very hopeful.”

Before joining Alibaba Group, Zhai had been a US-based director of strategy and operations for a year at China-headquartered electric car producer Nio (formerly NextEV), and he still seeks investment opportunities in the autonomous vehicle area on behalf of Alibaba.

Zhai had come from the CVC division of Hewlett-Packard, where he was an investment professional from 2015 to 2016 to focus on venture deals, mergers and acquisitions strategy and strategic partnership.

During Zhai’s time at Hewlett-Packard, the firm’s portfolio companies included digital conversion technology provider Mesosphere, data software developer Scality and software development technology provider Chef.

Zhai had trained as a staff engineer at AMD, designing the first low-power Fusion processor, having earned his MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business and his PhD in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan after graduating top of his microelectronics class from Peking University.

Edison Fu

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