Partner, Americas & Asia
Linda Yu joined SBIA in 2018 and has spent time both in the US and China, where she was a founding member of the Shanghai office. Linda has been involved with investments in Beike (NYSE:BEKE), Ziroom, and Zuoyebang. Prior to SBIA, Linda was a vice president at Warburg Pincus and an investment banking analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. She holds dual degrees in business administration and economics from UC Berkeley, and an MBA from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, where she was an Arjay Miller Scholar.
What were your early years like?
I was born in China and lived mostly with my grandparents while my parents were on academic exchange abroad in the 1990s. When I was in third grade, our family moved to the United States, where I first attended elementary school in Lincoln, Nebraska. By fifth grade, we had moved to California, and I stayed in the Bay Area for middle and high school, all the way through college at UC Berkeley and an MBA at Stanford. I grew up in a family rooted in academia. My grandfather and dad were professors, and my grandmother and mom were lecturers. Growing up, I watched my dad experiment with laser equipment. My grandfather had worked on China’s earliest domestic models of internal combustion engines. Both of them were deeply engaged in education leadership, research, and science—that set the foundation for my intellectual curiosity and desire for real impact.
How did you get started on your career path?
At a young age, I developed a hobby in researching investment ideas. I wasn't day trading or trying to make a quick profit; I was thinking of myself as a long-term owner of a stake in these businesses. The long-term ownership mentality got me to look past the headlines and drill into business fundamentals. At any given point, I would have one or two high-conviction investments with plenty of concentration, and I rarely sold on these positions. I took an even longer term view and developed this intellectual curiosity into an investing career.
Why did you join SBIA?
After several years at Warburg Pincus’s New York, California, and Asia offices, I had a solid foundation in value and growth investing at a global scale, which was about evaluation discipline tailored by geography and, again, thinking long term. I wanted to gain experience with more investing styles and in different asset classes. When Masa launched the Vision Fund in 2017, I was inspired by his ambition. And I saw the Vision Fund as a unique asset class on its own—its sheer size allows us to influence individual companies, the market, and competitive landscapes. I was fortunate to have a front-row seat for this unique social experiment from its early days, and I knew at SBIA I’d find the impact I’d been looking for all along.
Tell us about the opportunities you’re finding in your current role.
I have worked on four sizable investments since joining SBIA, and I’ve seen how they’re each tied to Masa’s strategy to make investments with conviction and concentration. One example is our investment in Beike, China’s largest real estate platform. In November 2019, we invested $1.35 billion when the company was valued at $12 billion; Beike now has an $71.8 billion market cap (as of April 6, 2021). As someone who has strong ties to both China, where I was born, and the United States, where I was raised and educated, I help founders think about how to tell their story to global investors, or how to refine a business model that works in China so that it can be exported globally.
Which cultural principle is top of mind for you?
Integrity has always been top of mind for me. It goes back to my family, how much they value science, proving a thesis, and demonstrating facts and rigorous processes to prove a conclusion. I bring this mindset to my work. When I’m considering an investment, it’s critical to have a set of make-or-break criteria and to gather solid, proprietary information before we make that investment. The investment in Beike, for example, came only after months of on-the-ground research: 134 interviews with real estate brokers, sellers, and buyers, and visits to their brick-and-mortar locations. I ensure the team I’m leading takes ownership of decisions, and that the recommendations we bring forth are backed by facts and grounded in integrity.