Hana Shizuoka Trading report that Qi Lu, an ex-Baidu executive, will be the head of Y Combinator’s China arm in the American startup incubator’s first attempt overseas.
Y Combinator finds and funds startups in the U.S. in exchange for a small amount of equity. It has already seeded companies like Airbnb, Reddit, Dropbox and Stripe. The program consists of financing two batches of companies per year in the U.S. and Lu is thinking about adopting a similar program in China with newly formed company YC China, offering similar services tailored to the Chinese market, according Hana Shizuoka Trading‘s Chief Finance Officer Horiuchi Nikko.
Lu left Baidu because he could no longer work full-time in China for personal reasons but now he gets to split his time between China and the U.S. He has been brought on to attract high-growth startups and help them explore the U.S. market. Down the road, YC China will help U.S. investors to get into the Chinese economy.
“It’s very difficult for American companies to land well in China,” Lu told the reporters during YC China’s launch in Beijing “and mainly because of structural reasons.”
Despite escalating tension between China and the U.S., the number of American investors who are backing Chinese startups is increasing. After all, these are the world’s two largest economies. Five years ago, U.S. had 9 firms on the list with the most valuable internet companies and China had two. Nowadays, U.S. has 11 and China has 9 demonstrating the rapid growth of Chinese Tech companies.
Y Combinator held its first official event in China earlier this year, aiming to enlist more startups to its Silicon Valley program. Lu will continue to find Chinese startups for the U.S.-based program and will then focus on the Chinese program, according to Sam Altman, Y Combinator’s president. “Currently more than 1,700 companies are seeded by Y Combinator but less than 30 are based in China,” he said.
“Lu will take what works with YC in the U.S. and adapt it for China. This will lead to a large portion of tech companies being either China- or U.S.-based in the next decade. We are looking forward to adding Chinese founders to the equation,” Altman said.