“Technology and China — these two words actually go together now,” said Jenny Lee of GGV Capital. “It used to be in the past, people would ask me if there was real technology in China, if there’s innovation … the whole market has changed.”
China has its fair share of tech giants, including Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent, firms that have changed how Chinese consumers operate by providing a variety of services. Some are even making a big splash in artificial intelligence, which entrepreneurs say will be the next big thing to shake up the world.
The country is also now home to 50 unicorns — private companies worth more than $1 billion — according to CB Insights. Some are even expanding globally within their first year of operation, and experts are expecting a wave of Chinese tech IPOs to come soon.
“The China market itself is huge, so it’s very important to first focus on the Chinese market, but there are a lot of things that are common that can run even in neighboring markets,” said Anu Hariharan of Silicon Valley incubator Y Combinator. There’s “plenty of interest in expanding globally … for example, (Uber competitor) Didi is operating in Brazil.”
Eyes will also be on how China continues to position itself on the world stage. In January, President Xi Jinping became the first Chinese leader to give a speech at the annual World Economic Forum meeting in Davos. His message positioned China as a global connector and leader, and it’s one Beijing has continued to push.