There is one current paradigm that rules over Asia these days. It’s that Asians are obsessed with Silicon Valley. Asian founders, startup community organizers, and wantrapreneurs get all googly eyed when the likes of Google and Facebook fly all the way out to Asia to network and give talks. It’s the power of the Silicon Valley brand. But there’s a quiet movement brewing that’s unbeknownst to the fanboys. It’s a slow shift in the other direction.
Samsung, a South Korean company, is going to start acquiring Silicon Valley startups
That’s right. Samsung is looking to acquire Silicon Valley startups, and not just any startup. On its list are gaming-related companies like Unity Technologies, Green Throttle Games, and the legendary Atari, which created the first game for the computer.
Granted, this is Samsung’s attempt to compensate for its weak software background. And forget for a moment the irony that software giants like Microsoft and Google are acquiring Nokia and Motorola to become more like Apple, while Samsung is attempting to acquire software companies to be like Apple. The main point here is that Samsung, an Asian company, is looking to invest and acquire non-Asian companies. The tide has shifted.
Samsung is not an isolated event, remember Baidu’s Lab?
Baidu, earlier this year, opened up its Institute of Deep Learning in Cupertino. That’s a stone’s throw from Apple’s headquarters. Baidu, which has a market cap of over $50 billion, is eager to access the Valley’s huge pool of talent and work on problems it’s not able to work on back home. Specifically, Baidu wants America’s neuroscience talent.
Don’t forget Tencent worked with Y Combinator
Tencent, China’s largest internet company has also started investing in the Valley. It’s also going about it very intelligently by working directly with Y Combinator, the Valley’s most prominent startup accelerator.
Asian companies are rich and they know where to invest
Asian companies are all too aware of their shortcomings. In terms of going global, American companies have it easy. America created the internet, after all. Folks like Baidu, Tencent, Line, and Samsung have had the growing pains of trying to make it big in the face of American dominance. And they’re slowly winning. Asian companies, in their rush to compete head on with companies across the world have seen the stark difference. They know they cannot replicate the Silicon Valley culture at home, so it’s better to just buy it.
This wave of money and investment doesn’t just come in the form of big companies acquiring Valley startups either. The wealthy of Asia, especially in China, are realizing that offshoring their money into investments like startups is a viable way to keep their wealth from disappearing from dues they have to pay at home. It’s happening on all levels.
As more megaton companies like Samsung come into their own and realize the need to make up for their lack of talent, software, and operations, the money’s going to keep flowing into the Valley. That money, of course, will end up building empires back in Asia.
(Editing by Terence Lee)