Last year, I went to a dinner where Madeleine Albright was the guest of honor, and she said some things that really resonated with me: The U.S. and China are more codependent on each other than any two countries have ever been in history. There’s no escaping the fact that we need each other. More importantly, we need to find the right way to work together.
That’s why the launch of 1955 Capital is so important to me. It’s a new venture firm I founded focused on funding technologies in developed countries that can be rapidly commercialized and scaled to solve pressing challenges in the developing world — starting with China.
We’re talking about taking on big, bold challenges like air pollution, renewable energy, food security and safety, health care delivery, accessible education, and sustainable manufacturing. I’ve watched as fewer and fewer firms pursue these sectors in recent years due to risk and fear of failure.
There’s also a serious lack of investors who understand the Chinese market and who know how to do business there. I heard recently that only 10% of U.S. venture capital general partners are Asian. Fewer speak Chinese. And even fewer want to explore outside the Silicon Valley comfort zone to build partnerships there. No wonder most U.S. investors advise entrepreneurs with global ambitions to start with the U.S. market first, even if they could grow faster, earlier outside of the U.S. Many investors actively advise against growing in China because of the fear of the unknown and the language and cultural barriers.
The good news is there’s appetite to do something different. Something revolutionary. 1955 Capital has raised $200 million in a first close on anchor commitments — we believe that is a strong signal that others recognize the gap in the market and want to see it bridged.