As we wrap up our GeeksOnaPlane video series for TechCrunch TV, I thought I’d offer a perspective on Asia from the eyes of a Silicon Valley geek and investor (not to mention the father of two Japanese-American kids).
For those aren’t familiar with what GeeksOnaPlane (aka “GoaP”) is all about, we bring geeks and investors from Silicon Valley and elsewhere to geeky locations all around the globe. We talk/ meet/ socialize to understand more about technology, entrepreneurship, and new markets through travel and cultural exchange. To learn more, visit our website and blog and meet the 100+ folks who have traveled with us to Asia in 2009 and 2010, and Europe in 2009, or see any of the thousands of photos, tweets, and other social media created while we visited 10+ countries in the last 2 years.
I am extremely optimistic about tech entrepreneurship around the world, and in particular in the emerging powerhouse economies of Asia. My new fund 500 Startups is only a few months old, and yet we have already made 8 investments outside the US (4 in Europe, 4 in Asia). Earlier this year, on a trip to Japan I made an investment in MyGengo.com, which provides a crowdsourcing platform and API for language translation. Over the spring & summer, we made several other investments in Europe after meeting companies last year in London at SeedCamp. And our most recent deal happened just this past Thursday, and is our first portfolio company in China — ChinaNetCloud out of Shanghai.
ChinaNetCloud is a unique company — although most of our investments are in software or internet companies, this our first investment in a China cloud computing & managed services provider. Run by Silicon Valley veteran co-founders James Eron and Steve Mushero, CNC was founded in 2008 in Shanghai China. The company solves two key problems in China: the severe lack of trained system administrators and the lack of flexible cloud computing. CNC customers are mostly Chinese Internet companies across all industry verticals, and also include global companies coming into China, as well as Chinese Internet/game companies going out to the US via Facebook, Japan via Mixi, and other sites in Asia.
I’ve known Steve for over 10 years, and he’s been in China since 2007. We caught up last year during our GeeksOnaPlane trip in 2009, and I heard him speak about the tremendous growth CNC is seeing from internet startups across China and East Asia. This year when we met again, we (500 Startups) decided we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to learn more about the exploding Chinese internet market, and by investing in CNC we are also investing in that growth. And we’re looking forward to CNC as a stepping stone to do more in Asia and China in coming years.
In the 4th and final episode of our 2010 GeeksOnaPlane East Asia trip from earlier this summer, we wrap up our trip in Singapore for the Echelon startup conference. There I spoke about the Lean Startup movement coming out of Silicon Valley, changes in venture capital and angel investing, and with other emerging internet entrepreneurship communities around the world. In our trips this year to China, Korea, Singapore, and Japan we realize more and more how closely we are connected to the billions of people online around the world, both in our social lives and our business lives, we are inextricably connected to the World Wide Web.
In closing, along with our video is also a photo essay of our trip to Asia by our fellow GoaP member Kris Krug. Kris tells his story in both words and pictures and you won’t want to miss a thing:
While in Asia the geeks got a chance to attend many conferences and
specially organized conferences. Their itinerary included ReThink
Shanghai, the Shanghai World Expo, Ignite Shanghai, CHINICT Conference, Startup Weekend Seoul and Echelon 2010 Conference. Between all the
business of being geeks, the GOAP group attended themed dinners,
awesome parties and even the Great Wall of China.
This is Kris Krüg’s third time attending a GOAP event, having
joined the crew for their 2009 Asia trip and their 2009 ReThink Hawaii
journey. Kris provides the perfect amount of geek and artist into the
Here is a photographic recap of Geeks on a Plane Asia 2010:
The GOAP crew was invited to a special tour of the US pavilion at the
Shanghai World Expo by US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham
Micro-documentary filmmaker Ben Henretig catches some
footage of the DMZ in South Korea.
The final leg of the GOAP journey took the geeks all the way to Tokyo!
Here geek girl Rachel Lara Horton roams the streets of Japan.
GOAP Portraits: the geeks enjoy the country pavilions at the Shanghai
Geeks from GOAP being interviewed during the CHINICT conference in
At every dinner table during the GOAP Asia 2010 tour, there was always
an iPad around.
GOAP portraits: Geeks on planes, eating dinner and in the kitchen.
GOAP Geek Ken Brady poses outside a building at the
Shanghai World Expo in China.
A round-table dinner of sharing entrees was often the setting for most
of the GOAP dinners during the Asia tour.
The Tokyo neighborhood of Harajuku is a world of fashion that is colorful and
GOAP portraits: geeks sleeping on a plane, geek kung-fu master on the
Great Wall of China and GOAP founder Dave McClure going through
airport security in China.
GOAP geek Paul Papadimitriou gave a talk during the
Ignite Shanghai event. This event was one of many planned during the
tightly scheduled Shanghai portion of the tour.
Geeks love good food! The diversity of food presentation was often a
highlight of the different cities in this GOAP tour.
During the Beijing leg of the trip, the geeks got a true lesson from a
kung fu/zen master. Aside from Tai Chi lessons, the whole group got to
see his superhuman feat of needle throwing.
GOAP portraits: geeks, geeks, geeks everywhere!
Not a geek from the GOAP tour but a definitely tired vistor takes a
rest during their visit to the Shanghai World Expo.
GOAP founder Dave McClure plus other GOAP geeks talk on a panel during
the Global Mobile Internet
Conference in Beijing, China.
Road signs directing us to South korea!
GOAP portraits: Dave McClure fast pitching US Secretary of State
Hillary Rodham Clinton on Startup Visa, geek kung-fu on
the Great Wall of China in Beijing, GOAP geek Jill Buck presenting during Ignite Shanghai.
Dave McClure and Christine Lu share a geeky
GOAP moment at the dinner table.
GOAP Geek Paul Papadimitriou poses between two large statues in South Korea.
GOAP Portraits: Dave McClure; the entire GOAP crew in Beijing; and Laurie Deneschuk
The GOAP crew had a chance to take a tour of the Demilitarized Zone while in
Dave McClure throw some fingers up with the guys from Foound while at the Echelon 2010 Conference in
GOAP Geek Jing Zhou outside in the hillside
of Beijing. The geeks took a tour of ecological homes built from the
artistic visions of various architects from around the world.
This neat little device, called the SOULR PRO WOWee ONE, is a amplifying device that can turn
any flat surface into a large audio speaker. Successfully it was used
during the GOAP tour of the Great Wall of China.
GOAP organizer Christine Lu takes a minute with her iPhone.
Static Photography photographer Kris Krüg speaks at the Ignite
Shanghai event in Shanghai, China.
The whole GOAP crew in Shanghai, China.
Kris Krüg and his resident teacher take a minute to have some fun on
the Great Wall of China in Beijing.
Geeks on a Plane definitely accomplished bringing geeks from all over
the world together, with the intention of sharing knowledge,
experience and stories. With the success of the last three trips, the
Geeks on a Plane crew have announced the 2010 ReThiink Hawaii in mid-October.
Many geeks, many planes, one trip and lots of fun!
For more information: