Tuesday, March 21, 2006

WSJ.com - Venture Capitalist Breaks Silicon Valley Mold

"So far, Mr. Chao's investments appear to be paying off. Last year, four of Doll Capital's companies completed IPOs in Japan, a market that hasn't been popular with American early-stage investors. Shares of three of the four Doll Capital companies in Japan, including Web-information provider All About Inc. and wireless-communications provider Japan Communications Inc., a company Mr. Chao co-founded eleven years ago, have at least doubled since their debuts. All About's shares have nearly quadrupled. Japan's benchmark Nikkei stock average soared 40% last year, compared with a slightly negative return of minus 0.6% for the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
Not everything has worked out quite so well. Mr. Chao had a bumpy stretch in China for a while with 51job Inc., a Shanghai job-recruiting and advertising company that went public on the Nasdaq in 2004. Last year, 51job was caught off guard by a drop in recruitment-ad sales. Its shares plunged on the news, though they have since rebounded to $14.61 a share from a 52-week intraday low of $9.71. Still, the company has returned about 10 times Doll Capital's original $14 million investment, making it a huge overall winner, says Mr. Chao.
And Doll Capital, despite its presence in China since 1999, missed out on Web-search engine Baidu.com Inc.'s IPO, the hottest Chinese offering on the Nasdaq last year. Mr. Chao says his firm had a chance to invest in Baidu but felt the price was too high."

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