Amir Gal-Or: Innovation and Life in China
Leading venture capitalist, former Israeli Air Force combat pilot and NYU Shanghai parent, Amir Gal-Or sat down with Vice Chancellor Jeffrey Lehman on May 4 to talk about his decade-long quest for thrill in both flying an F-16 and forming business partnerships in China.
Introduced by Leman as “the most important figure in China-Israel private equity,” Gal-Or is the founding managing partner of Infinity Group, a venture firm that invests in Israeli and North American companies seeking closer business ties with China. Infinity has over $1.5 billion under management, through 23 funds in China.
Gal-Or started doing business with China in 2002, finding it a new source of risk and thrill to replace flying an F-16.
“China is exhilarating in many ways -- it has a changing environment; much like flying an aircraft, you have to make split-second decisions without fully comprehending the situation around you; having allies is also imperative,” he said.
With a vision for cross-border technological cooperation, Gal-Or started China’s first intellectual property bank in 2010, partnering with Chinese entrepreneurs and companies with a global strategy to license, develop and commercialize IP and proven technology.
“In China, capital and human resources have been flowing in that sector, which is unique. The only question is how to form the right business model and structure to draw from that huge flow of energy,” Gal-Or said.
When asked about his years of experiences incubating tech startups, Gal-Or said it has been trending downward worldwide in recent years, with a low success rate resulting in financial losses. The incubator is expected to invest money, advice, services and other resources in startups, which aggravate the losses of equity owners.
“It’s all about acquiring resources,” said Gal-Or. “The only way to build a good incubator is to have very quick traffic -- to get all resources circulated.”
Attracted by the country’s long history and rich culture, like Israel, Gal-Or and his family settled in Beijing in 2010. During the conversation, Gal-Or also shared a video case about a younger generation of foreigners engaging in China’s Internet space through streaming and live shows.
Gal-Or suggested that foreigners became involved with China in three waves -- as traders, then as foreign experts and businesspeople relocating for work at multinational firms and most recently young people embracing Chinese culture on a fundamental level.
“NYU Shanghai is an immersive, multicultural community and plays a huge role in raising the glass ceiling for improving intercultural working relations.” Gal-Or concluded.