South-east Asia’s decade-old VC scene has new blood. They dream of many things, but can they step out of the shadow of their predecessors?
Diversity and community
Here’s a quick challenge: name three VCs that aren’t male, were not bankers, and do not have a prestigious MBA.
If the answers don’t come easily, that might be because South-east Asia VC has a diversity problem.
It’s not just a matter of female representation or minority representation, says Qualgro’s newest partner Neo Weisheng.
One reigning perception is that many VCs come from the finance or consulting world, when the investment scene can benefit from people with different backgrounds, domain expertise and life experiences spanning the globe.
“Like in the Valley, you have Mike Moritz, right?” says Neo, referring to the billionaire Sequoia partner who had a long career in journalism before making the switch in the mid-1980s.
Back then, 5 VCs told Moritz they were unsure what to do with a history major and journalist who, by Moritz’s own account, “had never worked in a technology company, was poor at math and couldn’t tell a voltage regulator from an amplifier”. But his investigative training and sharp mind helped Sequoia bag deals in Google, Yahoo! and PayPal.