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Thomas Tsao

Founding Partner,
Gobi Partners on behalf of Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund

Tom is a Managing Partner and co-founder of Gobi Partners, a venture capital firm headquartered in Shanghai and with offices in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Established in 2002, Gobi is a leading investor in digital media, IT and TMT companies in China and ASEAN. To date, Gobi has funded more than 170 companies and is currently investing its eighth fund.

Tom has participated in the development of several leading companies such as Brite Semiconductor (strategic investment from SMIC:0981.HK), Camera360, CiB (acquired by AsiaSoft), CSDN, Line0, Madhouse (acquired by BlueFocus:300058.SZ), MainSpring, Opzoon (acquired by Harbin Gong Da:600701.SH), Tuniu (NASDAQ:TOUR), World Traveller and Yoyi Digital—often times serving on the company’s board of directors. Previously, Tom was also the former CEO and a Director of DMG (acquired by NASDAQ:VISN), the largest operator of passenger information systems and digital media networks inside China’s subways. At DMG, Tom was the executive producer for the company’s award winning A Sunny Day, Dancing Without You, and A Starry Night programs, the world’s first series of subway soap operas sponsored respectively by Starbucks, Nine West and the MDA of Singapore. He also helped create Gobi’s Oasis Program, one of China’s earliest incubation initiatives, whose list of successfully nurtured startups include GoKuai, NetQin (NYSE:NQ), Teambition, and

Over the years, Tom has been a featured speaker at several influential business and industry events, including those hosted by China’s National Development and Reform Commission, the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Harvard Business School, IBM, London School of Economics, Shanghai’s Municipal Government, Stanford Business School, the World Bank and the World Islamic Economic Forum. He was named to the Forbes List of “China’s Top Venture Capitalists” in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Prior to Gobi, Tom was a founder of the Beijing Technology Development Fund, sponsored by Beijing Enterprises and Tsinghua University Enterprise Group, where he facilitated investments into CommerceOne, MyRice and SiRF. In 2001, Tom led the US$72 million merger of Hong Kong-based Asia2B (backed by Beijing Enterprises, Jardine Matheson, New World, Sun Hung Kai, Swire Pacific, and Wharf) and Singapore-based SESAMi (backed by Singapore Telecom), the largest Asian new economy merger at the time. He subsequently worked as Vice Chairman of the combined entity.

Prior to that, Tom was a director at Dresdner Kleinwort Benson (China) covering the TMT sectors.  In 1999, Tom served as the Independent Advisor to First Pacific on its US$285 million acquisition of Indofood.  From 1996 to 1998, Tom worked for Seapower Financial Services in Hong Kong where he was the head of Corporate Strategy and set up the firm’s Asset Management department. He also helped run the top rated Asian Smaller Companies Fund as ranked by Lipper. Tom started his career as an investment banker in the Financial Institutions Group with Merrill Lynch in New York and Hong Kong.  He worked on numerous M&A transactions and developed relationships with banks in Hong Kong, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Tom is a graduate of Harvard College where he received a Bachelor’s degree in Economics.

In addition to his work at Gobi Partners, Tom is the founder of Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO) China, a non-profit organization aimed at providing internship opportunities for underserved college students which is modeled after SEO in the US. He also serves as a board member of the Presidential Scholars Foundation which cultivates, connects and celebrates U.S. Presidential Scholars (161 of the nation’s top high school graduates who are selected annually and honored by the White House). He was elected as a Vice Chairman of the Pudong Venture Capital Association in March 2010 and served as a member of the Development Committee for Zhangjiang High-Tech Park. Of note, Tom was the inspiration behind Seinfeld’s popular “Movie Phone” TV episode.

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