Bridg­ing China-US cul­tures with busi­ness and art BIO

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSSAMERICA - By QI­DONG ZHANG in San Fran­cisco kel­lyzhang@chi­nadai­

C. Richard Kram­lich, co­founder of New En­ter­prise As­so­ciates (NEA) and chair­man of New En­ter­prise As­so­ciates Man­age­ment Com­pany, leads a ven­ture cap­i­tal firm that has ranked among the top in port­fo­lio IPOs ev­ery year in the past decade.

One hun­dred ninety-two NEA-backed com­pa­nies have gone pub­lic since its es­tab­lish­ment in 1978, and 315 were ac­quired, which helped to cre­ate more than one mil­lion jobs.

Kram­lich’s collection of Asian art and new me­dia also ranks him as one of the top 10 col­lec­tors on “Larry’s List”, whose data­base tracks more than 3,000 art col­lec­tors around the world.

Rec­og­nized for trans­form­ing US-Asia re­la­tions by cre­at­ing the cul­ture of in­no­va­tion at the 2014 Asia So­ci­ety’s an­nual din­ner in May in San Fran­cisco, Kram­lich said he an­tic­i­pates ex­pand­ing NEA’s in­vest­ment port­fo­lio in China since this is “the century of Asia”. His Asian art collection, he said, is a way of let­ting the world know that it is “ter­ri­bly im­por­tant we un­der­stand much more about Asian cul­tures”.

His con­nec­tion to China started early in his child­hood, when his fa­ther Irvin Kram­lich told him an amaz­ing story of his ex­pe­ri­ence as a Univer­sity of Vir­ginia stu­dent vis­it­ing China on Franconia, a ship with the Gu­nard Line in 1929. He be­friended a young Chi­nese stu­dent in Hong Kong named Henry Hsue and treated him to a Cap­tain’s din­ner. When the two friends met again af­ter WWII in 1956,

Life is an ex­pe­ri­ence of art it­self. And I want to make it ben­e­fi­cial to mankind in ev­ery way pos­si­ble, if I can” RICHARD KRAM­LICH CO-FOUNDER AND CHAIR­MAN OF NEW EN­TER­PRISE AS­SO­CIATES (NEA) MAN­AGE­MENT COM­PANY

Hsue had since be­come pres­i­dent of a bank and in­vited his Amer­i­can friend and his wife to his wife’s birth­day party at their home, where Kram­lich was served the ex­act din­ner cour­ses from the Cap­tain’s din­ner 25 years ear­lier.

“That story had a lot of im­pact on me, and I was so touched by the way the Chi­nese honor friend­ship, loy­alty, re­spect, and hos­pi­tal­ity,” said Kram­lich, who sub­se­quently met all of Hsue’s chil­dren when they at­tended Prince­ton and Har­vard in the US.

Kram­lich said he has wit­nessed China’s de­vel­op­ment in the past two decades, es­pe­cially ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the 2008 Olympic Games in Bei­jing, when he and his wife Pamela were liv­ing in Shang­hai for a year and half in an ef­fort to bet­ter en­gage his ven­ture cap­i­tal busi­ness in China.

“I was amazed at how the govern­ment cleaned up the air dur­ing the Olympic Games, which tells us that once China makes up its mind, things can be done and done well,” he said. “And busi­ness­wise there are just so many ways we can col­lab­o­rate, es­pe­cially in the green en­ergy and en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion ar­eas, from fuel cells to elec­tric cars. Last year China dis­man­tled over 1,000 coal mines. They are try­ing hard to make a dif­fer­ence in im­prov­ing air qual­ity, and that means op­por­tu­ni­ties for busi­ness along the way.”

Vis­it­ing China since the 1970s, Kram­lich said he has al­ways been try­ing to con­vince younger part­ners at his in­vest­ment firm to sta­tion them­selves and work in China, where the com­pany is look­ing to in­crease its in­vest­ment port­fo­lio and ca­pac­ity.

With about $500 mil­lion cur­rently in­vested in China, NEA’s re­cent hits there in­cludes CITIC Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, which was ac­quired in 2011 for $535 mil­lion; and Spead­trum, which was ac­quired by a Chi­nese govern­ment en­tity.

NEA also funded BioVeda Tech­nolo­gies, a Chi­nese med­i­cal and life sci­ence fund, and No­vast Tech­nolo­gies, an­other promis­ing com­pany funded by BioVeda and NEA.

His re­cent US suc­cesses in­clude Xoom Corp, which went pub­lic in 2012, Fi­nan­cial En­gines (2010), Force10 Net­works (ac­quired in 2011 by Dell), and Way­port (ac­quired by AT&T in 2008).

Kram­lich said NEA takes a rel­a­tively con­ser­va­tive in­vest­ment ap­proach in China on medium-sized com­pa­nies that have healthy growth and


Co-founder of NEA and chair­man of NEA Man­age­ment Com­pany Mas­ter of Busi­ness Ad­min­is­tra­tion, Har­vard Busi­ness School (1960) Bach­e­lor of Arts/Sci­ence North­west­ern Univer­sity (1957) Di­rec­tor, Force10 Net­works, Inc (2009-present) Di­rec­tor, SmartDrive Sys­tems (2007-present) big mar­ket cap po­ten­tial. The fields he is most op­ti­mistic on are telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions, health­care and big data. On the per­sonal side, he is a seed in­vestor of Ap­ple and Xiaomi, one of China’s big­gest elec­tron­ics com­pa­nies.

In early 1980s, the Kram­lichs started a new me­dia art collection and founded New Art Trust (NAT) in 1997, pro­vid­ing schol­ar­ship and fi­nan­cial aid to sup­port new me­dia artists who have made im­por­tant achieve­ments in the field of me­dia art.

In 1999, the San Fran­cisco Mu­seum of Mod­ern Art (SFMOMA) or­ga­nized See­ing Time: Se­lec­tions from the Richard and Pamela Kram­lich Collection of Me­dia Art, the first ma­jor ex­hi­bi­tion of their ground­break­ing collection. In Novem­ber 2002, P.S.1 Con­tem­po­rary Art Cen­ter, a MoMA af­fil­i­ate, pre­sented Video Acts: Sin­gle Chan­nel Works from the Col­lec­tions of Pamela and Richard Kram­lich and New Art Trust, a com­pre­hen­sive ex­hi­bi­tion of per­for­mance-re­lated sin­gle-chan­nel video works.

More than 180 sin­gle-chan­nel

• Di­rec­tor, Xoom Cor­po­ra­tions (2005-present) Di­rec­tor, Tab­ula, Inc (2005-present) For­mer di­rec­tor, As­cend Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Inc (1990) Di­rec­tor, Sierra Mon­i­tor Corp (1989-present) For­mer di­rec­tor, Lu­misys In­cor­po­rated (1987) Co-founder and gen­eral part­ner, New En­ter­prise As­so­ciates (1978-present) works have been col­lected by NAT since its es­tab­lish­ment, and the Kram­lichs have made it one of the rich­est ar­chives of me­dia art in the world with video, slides, film, au­dio, and com­puter based in­stal­la­tions by artists broadly con­sid­ered to be pi­o­neers in film and video art. NAT’s con­sor­tium mem­bers are the Mu­seum of Mod­ern Art, New York (MoMA), SFMOMA, and the Tate in Lon­don, plus non­profit me­dia-art cen­ter Bay Area Video Coali­tion (BAVC).

Their in­ter­est in elec­tronic art orig­i­nated from a com­mit­ment to sup­port con­tem­po­rary art prac­tice, com­bined with a be­lief in the po­ten­tial of new tech­nol­ogy. Al­though long-term care of these me­dia re­mains fairly new, the Kram­lichs have as­sem­bled their col­lec­tions piece by piece, mak­ing them both a liv­ing collection and an ex­am­ple of a par­tic­u­lar pe­riod of time for the ben­e­fit of fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

“Life is an ex­pe­ri­ence of art it­self. And I want to make it ben­e­fi­cial to mankind in ev­ery way pos­si­ble, if I can,” he said.


C. Richard Kram­lich is co-founder of New En­ter­prise As­so­ciates and chair­man of NEA Man­age­ment Com­pany.

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