Only woman on list of top 10 venture capitalists is S'porean

Only woman on list of top 10 venture capitalists is S'porean

Singaporean investor Jenny Lee is the only woman among the top 10 in a new ranking of the world's venture capitalists.

She is at 10th place, up from 52 in last year's Midas List, which is compiled by the business magazine Forbes.

Forbes describes Ms Lee, who is a partner in venture capital firm GGV Capital, as "one of the most respected investors in the Chinese tech scene".

Shanghai-based Ms Lee, 42, said in an e-mail interview with The Straits Times that Singapore's first Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, was the best chief executive and venture capitalist in the world that she knows.

"I have known of his ability, foresight and leadership in leading and building one of the best business plans and teams to guide Singapore in our early days, from the many 'impossibles' to all the possibilities Singaporeans can tap into on the global stage. Thank you, LKY," said Ms Lee, who is not related to the late Mr Lee.

She believes a good venture capitalist is no different from a good chief executive, adding that Mr Lee excelled in both roles for Singapore, exhibiting all the qualities that she looks for - passion, the ability to learn and tenacity.

A venture capitalist must have a passion to want to help entrepreneurs win, and the ability to see and predict beyond the wisdom of the crowd, Ms Lee said.

"They must have the hunger to learn about new things and have the tenacity to persist in one's judgment despite naysayers - and there will be a lot of them - and, finally, that firm belief that a single person or a single company can create products or business models that can change the world."

This is the fourth consecutive year that Ms Lee has been ranked on the Midas List.

She helped GGV invest in Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi, which is the highest-valued private start-up in the world at US$45 billion (S$61 billion).

Ms Lee has had several successful investments in the past few years. She listed four Chinese companies to raise a total of US$500 million, three on the US Nasdaq exchange, including social media platform YY in 2012, and one on China's ChiNext exchange.

She hopes to see more Singaporeans becoming venture capitalists. In grooming them, she looks for that "special sparkle, that fierce desire of the founder to want to win against all odds and the ability to harness resources and gather teammates who can help build and fulfil that passion".

It is all about the entrepreneur, his team composition, the sector he is targeting and that unique competitive advantage that shows his passion and persistence, she said.

Other women in the top 100 on the Forbes Midas List include Ms Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins Caulfield Byers at 15th place, and Ms Rebecca Lynn of Canvas Venture Fund at 23rd.

Mr Jim Goetz of Sequoia Capital, who invested in messaging company WhatsApp, tops the list.

This article was first published on April 6, 2015.
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