Bob Lin: Aims to ed­u­cate about be­ing an ‘an­gel’ BIO

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSSAMERICA - By Qi­dong Zhang In San Fran­cisco Kel­lyzhang@chi­nadai­

He has been a gui­tarist and singer in a rock band, an in­spi­ra­tional pub­lic speaker, an ac­tivist in non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tions, a leg­endary an­gel fund in­vestor who has brought dozens of star­tups to IPO sta­tus dur­ing his 30-year ca­reer and a writer.

But along the way, it was the time he spent es­tab­lish­ing the rock band and his pop­u­lar­ity among girls that led to his first fail­ure and what he said was a dis­ap­point­ment to him and his fam­ily: He didn’t get into an Ivy League school.

Nev­er­the­less, it didn’t stop Bob Lin from be­com­ing a suc­cess­ful an­gel in­vestor, whose life’s ex­pe­ri­ences and ex­per­tise about in­vest­ing he has cap­tured in his five books that have been top sell­ers in Asia, with num­ber six— An­gel In­vest­ment — to be pub­lished by China De­vel­op­ment Press, one of the most pres­ti­gious Chi­nese pub­lish­ers in Bei­jing. The com­pany has made Lin’s lat­est book its “flag­ship’’ to pro­mote in­no­va­tion in China.

“From Google to Ap­ple, an­gel in­vest­ment has brought in­no­va­tion to the global econ­omy and has changed ev­ery­body’s life,” said Bao Zhengyue, pres­i­dent of China De­vel­op­ment Pub­lish­ing, which is un­der the State Coun­cil De­vel­op­ment Re­search Cen­ter.

“The au­thor of An­gel In­vest­ment is one of the first Chi­nese- Amer­i­can an­gel in­vestors and has ren­dered over 30 years of his ex­pe­ri­ence in his book. The sto­ries of his suc­cess and fail­ure will help Chi­nese read­ers un­der­stand and hope­fully du­pli­cate an­gel in­vest­ment in China.”

Lin shares those life ex­pe­ri­ences in his five other books: Find Your Way To Suc­cess & Hap­pi­ness ( 2003), Cre­at­ing Value to Dif­fer­en­ti­ate ( 2004), Build Your Ca­reer From Where You Are( 2005), It So Easy to be Su­per Happy (2007), and Fam­ily Ed­u­ca­tion of the Suc­cess­ful People( 2011).

Lin said his lat­est book orig­i­nated from talk­ing to his read­ers and friends in China and else­where in Asia who asked a range of ques­tions about an­gel in­vest­ing.“The pur­pose of my book is to help read­ers un­der­stand the na­ture of an­gel in­vest­ment, the fun and great risk, and most of all, help du­pli­cate the Sil­i­con Val­ley an­gel-in­vest­ment cul­ture in China and Asia,’’ he said.

“An­gel In­vest­ment is ac­tu­ally like the ex­pe­ri­ence of hav­ing a daugh­ter. The early in­vest­ment is help­ing nur­ture the baby be­fore she is even born with nu­tri­tion and vi­ta­mins to make sure she is born healthy. We then ac­com­pany her to grow up, re­ceive ed­u­ca­tion, in­tro­duce her to so­ci­ety, and later pre­pare her for start­ing a fam­ily and ex­tend­ing her re­la­tion­ship with her own fam­ily,” said Lin.

One of the youngest four chil­dren born in Taipei, Tai­wan, Lin was a gold medal­ist in piano com­pe­ti­tion at age 5 and a good stu­dent at school. But then came the rock band, the girls and not go­ing to an Ivy League school.

“It was the first time I ex­pe­ri­enced fail­ure, which was ac­tu­ally a good life les­son to learn at an ear­lier age, bet­ter early than later,”said Lin.

Lin’s an­gel in­vest­ing started in1976 when he was a grad­u­ate stu­dent at Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia in Santa Bar­bara.

“My fam­ily told me that my cousin had in­vested in a high- tech firm named ‘ Tonix’ in Sil­i­con Val­ley. I knew noth­ing about an­gel in­vest­ing, but en­cour­aged my par­ents to in­vest in it. It was a laugh­able ven­ture by to­day’s stan­dard, but that was where I learned my first les­son: an­gel in­vest­ment is all about value. If you have value, you are in for the ride, if you of­fer no value, you are off the board,”he said.

A long list of in­vest­ment ven­tures fol­lowed, in­clud­ing Galaxy, Ampi, Lion Plaza, Avanti, Alti­gen, Ver­tex Net­work, Light Logic, Mon­day Tech, Greatland Elec­tronic, Pine Pho­ton­ics, Win­ning Soft, Acorn Ven­ture and Acorn Cam­pus.

In 1996, Lin and five friends — Wu-Fu Chen, David Tsang, T Ch­ester Wang, Mike Tsai and Gil­bert Hu — es­tab­lished Acorn Ven­ture, which be­came the cra­dle of Acorn Cam­pus, the well-known in­cu­ba­tor formed by Chen, Tsang, Wang and Lin three years later. It suc­cess­fully in­vested in dozens of star­tups with ap­prox­i­mately $100 mil­lion in cap­i­tal.

While he has had suc­cess, he also has ex­pe­ri­enced the lows of an­gel in­vest­ing. In the early 2000s, the dot-com crash sank some of his big­gest in­vest­ments, such as in fiber op­tics with Band­width 9, Op­ti­cal Mar­ket Ma­chine. Their mar­ket value soared to more than $1 bil­lion and


Born: 1951 • BS, elec­tri­cal en­gi­neer­ing, Tatung Univer­sity (1974) • MS, elec­tri­cal en­gi­neer­ing, Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia at Santa Bar­bara (1978) • Gen­eral Part­ner & Co­Founder, Acorn Cam­pus, Acorn Ven­ture (2000 – Present) • Chair­man and ViceChair­man, Monte Jade As­so­ci­a­tion Sil­i­con Val­ley (2005 – 2006) • Chair­man, Global Monte Jade As­so­ci­a­tions (2006 – 2007) • Chair­man and Co-Founder, Multi-Di­men­sional Ven­ture Part­ners ( 2007Present) • Chair­man and Co­Founder, China Health­care Multi-Ser­vices/Healthlink Ser­vices (2007 – Present) • Part­ner, Tai­wan, PHYCOS (2009 – Present) • Chair­man, Lo­tus Ed­u­ca­tion Foun­da­tion (2010 – Present) • Board of Di­rec­tor, Fara­sis En­ergy (2010 – Present) • Vice-Chair­man and Co­Founder, Han­ford Cap­i­tal, Inc (2013 – Present) dropped to less than zero.

“Some­times we ( in­vestors) talk about these fail­ures, but have a lot of re­spect for those en­trepreneurs who dared to make a dif­fer­ence in the tech­nol­ogy that helps hu­man­ity, and I ad­mire what Reid Hoff­man — a leg­endary ven­ture cap­i­tal­ist who in­vested in Face­book, Zynga, Friend­ster — once said: ‘All en­trepreneurs should be pre­pared to die and re­vive from death,’” said Lin.

Of all his hun­dreds an­gel in­vest­ments, Lin said he is most proud of Healthlink, which was es­tab­lished in China. Head­quar­tered in Bei­jing, it is now the coun­try’s largest emer­gency-as­sis­tance or med­i­cal-as­sis­tance net­work for people who en­counter emer­gency med­i­cal prob­lems when trav­el­ing.

“We al­ready have mil­lions of mem­bers and ser­viced the 2008 Olympic Game in Bei­jing, the 2009 Shang­hai World Expo, and the 2010 Guangzhou Asia Games, co­or­di­nat­ing with all 120 emer­gency-call net­works in China. Ev­ery day when you open your eyes, Healthlink was try­ing to save people’s lives, whether it’s some­body fall­ing down when climb­ing the Great Wall, or get­ting sick when trav­el­ing in re­mote ar­eas in China. It takes one phone call to send you to hospi­tal, in­sur­ance cov­ered.”

To ed­u­cate the gen­eral pub­lic about the true na­ture of an­gel in­vest­ing and in the hope of du­pli­cat­ing in China Sil­i­con Val­ley’s suc­cess, 18 of Lin’s friends formed SVT An­gel Group in 2013.

The non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion will ini­ti­ate in­no­va­tion com­pe­ti­tion in China and Sil­i­con Val­ley, help se­lect en­tre­pre­neur­ial teams, present awards and nur­ture them to suc­cess, “just like old hens teach­ing young chicks side-by-side,” said Lin.


Bob Lin at his home in Cal­i­for­nia.

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