Aaron joined SoftBank Investment Advisers after serving as founding team member for BaseBit.ai. He began his career as an engineer with Syniverse, Intel, and AMD. Aaron holds a bachelor of science in electrical engineering from Peking University, a master of science in electrical engineering, and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
How did your background prepare you for this role?
I had been working as an electrical engineer for several years in the U.S. on both the hardware and software sides. Having grown up between China and the U.S., and then being formally trained as an engineer, I naturally gravitate more toward tech products and organizations. Since I joined the SoftBank Vision Fund team, I've been working on a lot of investments in China. My experience living and learning in both the U.S. and China has served as a valuable foundation.
What investments have captured your attention?
In general, I think investors are drawn to companies that operate in areas of interest to them. It’s certainly true for me. I follow the hardware space closely, ranging from robotics to transportation to semiconductors. Another focus for me has been on the software side, particularly investments covering enterprise success or database solutions. My third area of focus is in the health care sector—not necessarily the hardcore bio-type opportunities, but rather those in the health care and data science space.
How can you tell if the Vision Fund is a good fit for a founder?
My engineering and operating backgrounds help me evaluate and connect with some of the young entrepreneurs here in China. I’m drawn to techie, passionate founders who know how to build a team with the right qualities—a mix of true dedication and industry knowledge. We’re interested in building long-term relationships with founders who fit with our mentality and other portfolio companies’. We can be patient and grow with a company if the opportunity is right. Once a founder chooses to partner with us we do all we can to support the growth of their business.
What personal principles guide you?
Whenever I look at a potential investment, I always try to come back to the first prime principle. In other words, I try to set aside all the buzz and market demand and focus on understanding the fundamentals that drive the business. What are the key drivers for growth? What is the market like? What value is the company creating? What value is the entrepreneur bringing to the market? Those are the important questions to ask, because it’s critical to understand the business from the ground up.
What do you do when you’re not working?
I am a huge gamer. I've been playing all kinds of computer games and console games since I was a kid. I still play games whenever I have some downtime. It’s a great way to refresh. When I was in college, I played for my school and competed in tournaments. I’m far from that level right now, but I still play and follow the industry. It’s a great way for me to connect with a younger generation, many of whom are core customers for our portfolio companies.