U.S.-based investors spent tens of billions of dollars buying shares of private tech companies headquartered in China, such as TikTok owner ByteDance, dronemaker DJI and fashion retailer Shein. But getting the money out has become tougher, now that U.S. stock exchanges are effectively off limits to many of these Chinese companies. But there’s another option startups and their investors are now considering: going public in mainland China, once considered a backwater in the global market.
To see how that might play out, check out the experience that Sequoia Capital’s China affiliate had with Ninebot, one of the world’s biggest electric scooter manufacturers and owner of Segway. Sequoia owned 15% of Ninebot when it went public in Shanghai in 2020. As soon as Sequoia’s limited partners were allowed to sell their Ninebot shares when IPO share-lockup restrictions expired, the shares were worth $1.3 billion, or 38 times the fund’s investment, according to Jianwei Li, an ex-Sequoia partner who sat on the company’s board until 2015.