Innovation Works founder and CEO Kaifu Lee diagnosed with cancer

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I write with a heavy heart that Innovation Works founder and CEO Kai-Fu Lee has been diagnosed with lymphoma. According to Lee’s official weibo account around 10pm last night, he revealed the diagnosis, (see picture below), saying, “In the face of the cancer battle, everyone becomes equal.”

Lee Kaifu cancer weibo 1

Around an hour later, it was confirmed by the both co-author of one of Lee’s works, Fan Haitao, along with Innovation Works co-founder and director of media and government relations Wang Zhaohui. Fan requested no further probing on Lee’s condition. Wang said Lee – the former head of Google China and now one of China’s top tech luminaries – is currently undergoing treatment, and thanked everyone for their care and concern.

Lee Kaifu cancer weibo 2

This morning at 8.07am, Lee posted another Weibo tweet (pictured above):

It is very touching and heartening to receive so many blessings from my fellow followers. While facing this cancer battle, it’s important how you face it. Being diagnosed with lymphoma sounds depressing and has posed a concern to my friends and family – but such is life. Life is full of surprises. Growing old and sickness are part of the cycle of life. I will face the upcoming battle with positivity and will not back down.


Kaifu Lee and I at TechCrunch Disrupt Beijing 2011

Kaifu Lee and I at TechCrunch Disrupt Beijing 2011

People in the Chinese technology and startup scene are no stranger to Lee and his influence. His latest post on Weibo – where he has 51.5 million fans – has gathered close to 72,000 shares and over 100,000 comments already.

Apart from discussing technology with his followers, Lee has been vocal and outspoken about various social issues in China. Both his Tencent and Sina Weibo accounts were banned for three days earlier this year by authorities, and he was interrogated by the Chinese police for his support in the Southern Weekend incident.

I’ve always admired Lee for his attitude to building the Chinese startup ecosystem for young Chinese entrepreneurs (pictured above with him, back in 2011).

From everyone at Tech in Asia, we wish you a speedy recovery.

Update: We reached out to Chris Evdemon, partner at the Innovation Works Development Fund (IWDF), who said:

Kai-Fu has a serious illness that will require him to work remotely from home, while receiving treatment, for the next few months. We all rally behind him and hope that he will fully recover as soon as possible. Innovation Works is in safe hands – our team is bigger and stronger than before and our operations are business as usual.

Disclosure: I was hired under Innovation Works to work for XingCloud, a team in the company’s portfolio.

(Editing by Paul Bischoff and Steven Millward)

(And yes, we're serious about ethics and transparency. More information here.)

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