James Hull, co-host of China Tech Investor podcast and founder of Hullx, joined us to discuss whether we can invest into technology companies from China. We start our conversation with James’ background and how he came to China and work in the realm of investments with different funds and capital groups. James explained how he assembled together a portfolio of technology companies and discuss the major misconceptions about investing into Chinese companies. Last but not least, we dig deeper into the Chinese technology companies in the ecommerce category, Luckin Coffee’s IPO and Tencent’s future prospects in gaming.

Editor’s disclaimer: Our discussion pre-dates the ban of Huawei by the US. Further more, our discussion does not constitute as investor advice, and we urge the audience to do their own homework to invest in any companies and be responsible for their own investments.

Here are the interesting show notes and links to the discussion (with time-stamps included):

  • James Hull (@jameshullx, LinkedIn), Co-host of China Tech Investor podcast and Founder of Hullx [0:20]
    • How did you start your career? [0:35]
    • Introduction to JIC Capital and CIC in China [3:17]
    • You have worked in the realm of investments with different funds and capital groups in China, what’s your experience from your perspective looking into China from a different culture? [4:42]
    • In your career journey, what are the interesting career lessons? [5:34]
    • How is the experience of doing the China Tech Investor podcast and what have been the highlights of talking about investing into China tech? [7:39]
  • Can we invest into technology companies from China? [9:08]
    • To start, when you put together a portfolio of technology companies in China or anywhere else, what are the fundamentals and metrics that you look at before even considering investing in them? [9:18]
    • Do you take into consideration on the macroeconomics and long term trends when you think about investing in China companies? [12:06]
    • What are the major misconceptions about investing in China technology companies that you wish more people would understand? [13:02]
    • Given so many companies from China rushing to IPO, are you worried that they are passing their buck from private to public investors given their lack of profitability? [14:49]
    • Does investing in China require a more sophisticated perspective given that you have seen different narratives such as the film China Hustle which really talk about 3 tier companies and not really the ones with good fundamentals? [16:48]
    • Does the quality of the tech companies listing in China, Hong Kong or US make any difference to how you view the company? [19:27]
    • Does the emergence of the new Silicon Valley stock exchange and the power of dual class shares in Hong Kong provide a more nuanced view to how we invest in companies? [20:19]
    • I like to zoom into specifics by first focusing on specific types of companies: [22:39]
      • Alibaba, JD and Pinduoduo: How are they different and how do you assess whether these companies are successful or are they current issues which you will start waving a red flag in looking into them? [23:10]
      • Luckin Coffee: They have just filed an IPO and you have done an interesting episode with Michael Norris, what are your thoughts on Luckin Coffee? What is the bull or bear case for this company? [34:01]
      • BL’s comments on recalibration of value in Internet sharing economy companies and James’ thoughts on the topic entitled “Assets: Atoms vs Electrons” [36:51]
      • Uber and Lyft: How have the ride-hailing companies performed so far? Will they be sustainable in the long term? How does that bode for Didi, Grab and Ola? [42:49]
      • Tencent: Does Tencent’s success depend on government regulatory bodies now given that they don’t approve games that quickly anymore? Are there other interesting things from Tencent we should look out for? [45:17]
  • Closing [49:14]
    • Can you recommend a book or movie or podcast or anything which recently made an impact to your work and personal life? [49:19]
      • James’ recommendation: Michael Lewis’ podcast “Against the Rules”, “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran, “The Myth of Capitalism” by Jonathan Tepper
    • How do my audience find you? [50:48]

Podcast Information:

The show is hosted by Bernard Leong (@bernardleong & weibo) and are sponsored by Ideal Workspace (Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn) with their new Altizen Desk (Twitter, Facebook, Medium). Sound credits for the intro music: Taro Iwashiro, “The Beginning” from Red Cliff Soundtrack and this episode is edited by Carol Yin, and co-produced by Carol Yin and Bernard Leong.