Former Alibaba guru joins Northern Light

The China-focussed venture firm has brought on John Wu, formerly of Alibaba Group and Yahoo!, as a venture partner.

Beijing- and Menlo Park-based Northern Light Venture Capital has hired John Wu, the former chief technology officer of Alibaba Group, China’s largest e-commerce company. Wu will work out of the firm’s Shanghai office, sourcing early and growth stage consumer and technology enabled businesses.

John Wu

Wu worked at Alibaba from 2000 to 2007, designing and implementing software and technology platforms. He also founded Alibaba’s US branch and worked on the post-merger integration between Alibaba and Yahoo! China. Before joining Alibaba, he worked worked for Yahoo! Inc., where he was chief architect of its directory search engine and software applications. Prior to that, he was a development manager at Oracle.

Northern Light held a final close on its second fund in January, raising $350 million. The fund is target early stage companies that seek to leverage opportunities in the China market, or target global opportunities from a base in China. The firm has not yet announced any investments made by the fund, which will target an expanded range of industries, including media and telecommunications.

Its inaugural fund, which closed on $120 million in summer 2006, invested in around 20 companies in the consumer and technology sectors, including two fabless semiconductor companies, online dating service Baihe.com and hotel chain Hanting Hotels.

Northern Light was founded in 2005 by Feng Deng and Yan Ke, two Chinese executives who earlier co-founded US tech company NetScreen Technologies. US venture firms Greylock Partners and New Enterprise Associates are special limited partners in both of Northern Light’s funds, and co-invest in deals as well. The two firms also provide advisory and operational support.