David Tsang: Build­ing a bet­ter fu­ture BIO

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSSAMERICAS - By QI­DONG ZHANG in San Fran­cisco kel­lyzhang@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

David Tsang has three pas­sions in life: man­ag­ing Acorn Cam­pus, a leg­endary high tech in­cu­ba­tor in Sil­i­con Val­ley as co-founder and man­ag­ing part­ner, con­tribut­ing time and ef­fort for star­tups in­side and out­side of Acorn Cam­pus; chair­ing Shin Shin Ed­u­ca­tional Foun­da­tion, a non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion that has raised more than $10 mil­lion to build more than 330 schools for poor stu­dents in re­mote ar­eas of China; and serv­ing on the board of Global Al­liance for Pre­serv­ing the His­tory of WWII in Asia, a non-profit ded­i­cated to un­cov­er­ing the facts about the Asia Pa­cific War (1931-1945).

If you stop by Acorn Cam­pus in Sun­ny­vale, Cal­i­for­nia, most of the time you will be able to catch 72-year-old Tsang work­ing dili­gently away at his desk. Serv­ing as board mem­ber on eight high tech star­tups, he loves work­ing with en­trepreneurs, which he says is al­most a habit now, while most of his co-founders have ei­ther re­tired or are busy with other things.

Tsang is widely re­spected as one of the most suc­cess­ful semi­con­duc­tor pi­o­neers and en­trepreneurs since the early 1960s in Sil­i­con Val­ley. He has wit­nessed ev­ery chang­ing tide and new wave in the in­dus­try for half a century.

In 1974, af­ter work­ing at Hewlett-Packard for 6 years, he co-founded Xe­bec, a man­u­fac­turer of disk con­trollers that went IPO for $70 mil­lion in 1982. In 1979, he founded Data Tech­nol­ogy Cor­po­ra­tion, a man­u­fac­turer of disk con­trollers and high-den­sity disk drives, which went pub­lic for $140 mil­lion in 1987. He founded Oak Tech­nol­ogy, the fore­run­ner of Acorn Cam­pus, which went to IPO in 1995 for $200 mil­lion.

“As an elec­tri­cal en­gi­neer, the most ex­cit­ing mo­ment is when our prod­ucts are re­leased — whether it’s a graphic card we de­signed or a tech­nol­ogy we worked on — and it’s ac­cepted by the mar­ket,” said Tsang.

Tsang’s fa­ther stud­ied in Ja­pan in the 1930s, went back to China to join the anti-Ja­panese war ef­fort in 1941 and met Tsang’s mother in Xi’an, Shan­nxi prov­ince. Tsang was born in 1942 and his fam­ily moved to Tai­wan in 1948 when he was 6 years old. Ed­u­cated in Tai­wan for el­e­men­tary and mid­dle school, and in Ja­pan for high school, Tsang said his fun­da­men­tals were set straight by tra­di­tional Chi­nese val­ues.

Ar­riv­ing in San Fran­cisco on July 4, 1962 to fur­ther his study, he took the same-day train to NY to live with a friend of the fam­ily and was urged to work at a Jewish club to earn tu­ition.

“I al­ways tell my chil­dren they are so lucky to be sec­ond­gen­er­a­tion im­mi­grants and have their col­lege tu­ition paid for,” Tsang said. “Back in those days, most of us re­ceived no fi­nan­cial sup­port from fam­ily and life was tough.”

Tsang re­ceived a bach­e­lor’s of sci­ence in elec­tri­cal en­gi­neer­ing from Bing­ham Young Univer­sity in 1967, a mas­ter’s of sci­ence from Santa Clara Univer­sity in 1971 and a PhD from In­ter­na­tional Tech­no­log­i­cal Univer­sity in 1993.

In 2001, the Shin Shin Ed­u­ca­tion Foun­da­tion (Shin Shin) was brought to his at­ten­tion by his friend Zu Bing­min, who founded the non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion that aims to help chil­dren in re­mote, ru­ral re­gions of China. Run­ning since 1998, its mis­sion was to im­prove the learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment there and re­duce the dis­par­ity in the qual­ity of ed­u­ca­tion be­tween met­ro­pol­i­tan and ru­ral ar­eas in China.

“I was brought on board as chair­man and fo­cused on com­put­er­iz­ing all re­sources and or­ga­niz­ing the in­for­ma­tion on­line. The or­ga­ni­za­tion started with a tar­get of build­ing 10 schools, then grew to 50 and now we have built over 330 schools. Cen­tral­iz­ing fundrais­ing and pro­gram in­for­ma­tion be­came a ne­ces­sity and I made sure our on­line sys­tem was help­ful, a li­brary was set up and the web­site up­dated,” said Tsang.

Now hav­ing hun­dreds of vol­un­teers and thou­sands of donors, Shin Shin’s goal is to pro­vide “Qual­ity Ed­u­ca­tion for Ev­ery Child, One School at a time”. Last year, it raised $500,000 from the lo­cal com­mu­nity and ex­pects to ex­ceed that amount in 2014.

“It used to cost only $10,000 to build a six-class­room school in China, now, depend­ing on the lo­ca­tion and the fa­cil­ity, it can cost more than $100,000,” said Tsang. “In ru­ral China, some chil­dren walk sev­eral hours through rugged moun­tain ter­rain to go to school ev­ery day, many of their class­rooms are un­safe, leaky and with no heat in win­ter. In some schools, four or five chil­dren sit around a desk with­out a stool, shar­ing worn and out­dated text­books. Many stu­dents are not able to reach their full po­ten­tial.”

Shin Shin has re­built or ren­o­vated 333 schools in ar­eas where the aver­age house­hold in­come is less than $1 a day. Now 120,000 stu­dents study in new class­rooms in clean, safe schools. The foun­da­tion has re­ceived do­na­tions from large cor­po­ra­tions such as Sam­sung, Google and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foun­da­tion, as well as other pri­vate donors.

“Build­ing a school is only a start,” Tsang said. “You also need a li­brary, com­puter pro­gram, teacher train­ing, man­age­ment train­ing and main­te­nance pro­grams. You can’t just give birth to a child and not raise him.”


Co-Founder and Man­ag­ing Part­ner, Acorn Cam­pus, LLC

Age: 72 • PhD, In­ter­na­tional Tech­no­log­i­cal Univer­sity (1993) • MS, Santa Clara Univer­sity (1971) • BS, Bring­ham Young

Univer­sity (1967)

Car­ry­ing a strong sense of his­tory be­cause of his unique multi-cul­tural ed­u­ca­tional ex­pe­ri­ence in Tai­wan, Ja­pan and the US, Tsang is an ac­tivist in serv­ing as board mem­ber for Global Al­liance for Pre­serv­ing the His­tory of WWII in Asia.

“We Chi­nese Amer­i­cans come to this coun­try for an Amer­i­can dream. We re­spect Amer­ica’s so­cial jus­tice and we ben­e­fit from its ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem, but most im­por­tantly, we should never for­get our own roots and his­tory. We need to re­mind our­selves of our so­cial re­spon­si­bil­i­ties ev­ery day, and that starts with know­ing our his­tory,” said Tsang.

Hav­ing lived in Ja­pan and know­ing many Ja­panese, Tsang said even to­day, the Ja­panese govern­ment is not will­ing to face the re­al­ity of what they did in China and Asia last century.

“They change his­tor­i­cal facts in text­books, deny facts, and refuse to take re­spon­si­bil­i­ties for the harm and mis­ery the war brought to the Chi­nese people and people in other Asian coun­tries. Our or­ga­ni­za­tion aims to make younger gen­er­a­tions aware of this bit­ter part of their his­tory. An apol­ogy is de­served by the Chi­nese people from the Ja­panese govern­ment for what they did to China, and pre­serv­ing that his­tory is the most cru­cial part of the ef­forts we make to­day,” said Tsang.

The San Fran­cisco Bay area chap­ter of the or­ga­ni­za­tion was es­tab­lished in 1992, and its core mis­sion is to ex­hibit his­tor­i­cal pho­tos and ma­te­ri­als of WWII around the coun­try to ed­u­cate the pub­lic.

“Our Amer­i­can-born chil­dren think very dif­fer­ently from we do. I be­lieve the most im­por­tant things for sec­on­dand third-gen­er­a­tion Chi­nese Amer­i­cans are know­ing our cul­ture, his­tory and roots, know­ing who we are, know­ing our rights, be­com­ing good cit­i­zens in this land of op­por­tu­nity and help­ing to cul­ti­vate US-China re­la­tions by par­tic­i­pat­ing in lo­cal com­mu­nity and so­cial ac­tiv­i­ties, and most of all, con­tribut­ing to so­ci­ety.”

Tsang has two daugh­ters and two sons, and lives in Los Al­tos, Cal­i­for­nia with his wife Cathy and his fam­ily.


David Tsang is one of the most suc­cess­ful semi­con­duc­tor pi­o­neers and en­trepreneurs since the early 1960s in Sil­i­con Val­ley.

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