Wednesday, May 13, 2009
PwC's Bill Molloie: Perspectives On Venture Investing In China
Story by Benjamin F. Kuo
Having just returned from a three year stint serving the venture capital market in Shanghai, Bill Molloie--new head of PricewaterhouseCooper's San Diego emerging life sciences practice--has a unique view of the venture capital market. Molloie, speaking to us from his offices in San Diego Wednesday, said that his experience in China made him realize how similar the market actually is to Southern California.
"The reality is, there are more similarities than one would think" Molloie explained, "The things entrepreneurs are thinking through, and struggling with, and evaluating, are all the same kinds things as entrepreneurs here are facing--an uncertain economy, and uncertain capital market--both here and abroad--and uncertainty about venture investing."
Molloie, who has about 24 years of experience in the industry, having served for 19 years serving the venture capital market in Philadelphia before moving to PwC's China/Hong Kong operations, recently spoke with us about his experience in Shanghai. Noting the similarities in the market, Molloie also explained that cultural differences between countries are important in getting a handle on the market. He tells us, "If you leave the U.S., and come into China, and believe that negotiations, culture, the signals and body language all mean the same thing here, you're going to fail," continuing, "But, if you go over with the idea that it is a different culture, and that they're not going to do things the same way as you do in your local country, there are lots of advantages to be gained."
China, Molloie goes on to explain, actually has several different markets. "Shanghai and Beijing have cultures which are very, very different environments," he continues, "Shanghai is a very entrepreneurial city. Beijing, for the most part, is the central government, and things are very bureaucratic."
How did his experience compare with what he's seeing now in San Diego? Molloie tell us that in China when he arrived, things there were nonstop, and he was on call 24 hours, 7 days a week. In San Diego, he says that --even though people tell him "how down things are here" he says he's seeing lots of the same kind of energy and opportunities. Molloie said, "It's interesting, if this is what it's like now, I can't imagine what it was three, four, or five years ago."