Tucked inside a condo around the corner from a Palo Alto supermarket is the North American office of Sinovation Ventures. One of the most active investors in Chinese startups, Sinovation is also building a portfolio of companies in the U.S. The U.S. team is led by Chris Evdemon, a Greek-born, U.K.-educated venture capitalist who cut his teeth in Beijing and Singapore. Sinovation’s capital comes mostly from U.S.-based investors. His portfolio contains a startup that wants to mine asteroids.
Consider this condo the first stop on a trip through Silicon Valley and beyond that could be called “The U.S.-China Tech Tour.” It takes in highlights of the intertwined rise of the valley and its Beijing doppelganger, Zhongguancun. Twenty years ago, American money flowed across the Pacific, backing unknown upstarts like Jack Ma’s Alibaba or students returning from overseas like Baidu’s Robin Li. Then, the entrepreneurs couldn't borrow from China's state-controlled banks. Now, Chinese investors are backing Silicon Valley startups, and Chinese tech firms are hiring U.S.-educated computer scientists, some of whom are Chinese-born.