With a PhD in transportation and operations from Northwestern University, Arthur has advised various Fortune 500 companies on logistics and strategy. Prior to joining SBIA, he was managing director at the Zhen Fund, where he focused on early-stage investments in multiple sectors, including consumer internet, mobility services, and more.
- Agile Robots
- JD Logistics
How would you describe your early career?
I would say that my path has always been shaped by my curiosity. That's why I decided to pursue a PhD after college. Most of my friends were heading straight into banking jobs, but I desired to learn more. After getting a PhD in transportation and logistics in the United States, I spent the next 10 years gaining experience in management consulting, strategic investment, and early-stage investing. I loved immersing myself in complex systems—operation flows, human relationships, business structures—and thinking about what it takes to make them work well. I guess, for me, it is an inner curiosity that drives me to constantly explore complexity in both business and humanity.
What made you interested in working with SBIA?
I can't imagine any other place where I could meet and work with such visionary and creative founders—that’s the most exciting part. Also, the unique culture of SBIA means that I have colleagues from every global region with many different backgrounds. Even though everyone is different, they’re all incredibly talented and share a passion for excellence. I love that I’m always learning new things and that I'm given the opportunity to dig in and really get to the heart of what we’re working on.
China’s consumer sector is one of your key areas of focus. What opportunities are you looking for?
China is developing very fast, and that means there’s a lot of room for improvement and a lot of appetite for new consumer services. Over the past few decades, the quality of consumer goods here in China has really increased, and we’ve witnessed a wave of innovation in areas like food delivery and group buying. Now that we're adding AI to that mix, entrepreneurs are responding with increasingly customized products and services. At the Vision Fund, we look for founders who are addressing unmet customer needs. What new use of technology can serve those needs in a more efficient way? How can we make people’s lives better?
What kind of working relationship do you try to build with founders?
The ultimate goal is to build trustworthy, long-term relationships, so I value integrity and try to help founders feel comfortable about being honest in return. In this business, we're all holding different pieces of the puzzle. You never have all the information, but if you're comfortable sharing your real thoughts, even if it could be imperfect, the entire relationship benefits. That starts at the very beginning when the partnership is still being formed. Instead of just trying to sell everyone on the idea, you have to remember that the point isn't just to close the investment—it's to find out if it's the right partnership, and the right fit, for everyone.
What qualities do you look for in a founder?
In a book called Finite and Infinite Games, the author, James Carse, argues that finite game players train to understand the rules, because they want to figure out how to win. They’re always looking back at past games and trying to improve within a fixed system. Infinite game players focus on the future. They want to find out what's possible next. They crave education that helps them grow. Those are the people I’m looking for. They're continuously experimenting, learning, and adapting to unknowns. I love being in that environment, and I love being able to support founders and help them create new possibilities by sharing what I’ve learned about complex systems. In addition, I value founders who can think long term, and hold themselves to a high standard of integrity, even when facing many temptations.
What's a powerful lesson you've learned during your career?
Don’t let your personal bias block you from seeing the merits of innovation.
In 2015, I led an investment in Kuaishou but missed Bilibili. Both investments seemed quite niche at that time—one is a short video app for people in smaller cities in China, and the other is an online video platform for ACG (anime, comics, and games) fans. At first glance, both companies made you feel like the market was small and hard to understand, which is why we couldn’t appreciate its value. Later I realized that because we are not their target users, we didn’t understand the real opportunity there. Now, both of them have become publicly listed mega-unicorns in the market. Kuaishou is viewed as a key channel for understanding China’s social development, and Bilibili has become the most popular video platform among young people.
There is a quote from one of my favorite sci-fi books, The Three-Body Problem, which says, “Neither weakness nor ignorance hinders our survival, but arrogance does.” In the book, this quote is used to describe how different beings survive against their competition, but I think it also works for people in their lives and careers. When facing issues, we shouldn’t jump to conclusions peremptorily, instead we should hold back our personal bias, and spend time to reach a better understanding, even though it can feel counterintuitive.