Lightspeed brings China talent on board

With the addition of Ron Cao as partner at the Menlo Park-based venture firm, Lightspeed Venture Partners is positioning itself to tap early stage opportunities in China.

Silicon Valley-based Lightspeed Venture Partners has hired Shanghai native Ron Cao to build the early stage-focused VC firm’s investment activities in China.

Cao joins Lightspeed as partner and will continue to be based in Shanghai, where he will play a lead role in pinpointing and building up Chinese companies within the communications, Internet, wireless and semiconductors sectors.

Cao: Lightspeed’s link to China

Prior to his recruitment by Lightspeed, Cao served as managing director of KLM Capital – an early stage venture firm based in Silicon Valley and Hong Kong – where he specialised in investments within the communications and semiconductor space. His six years of VC experience and three years of operating experience also include a stint with Intel where he was a marketing executive and was involved with the launch of the mobile Pentium II processor. Cao earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“Ron’s unique background and his excellent track record complement our team as we continue to grow our presence in China and launch new relationships internationally,” said Eric O’Brien, a general partner at Lightspeed, in a press statement.

At the beginning of this year, Lightspeed announced a final close on $475 million for its oversubscribed seventh fund, which had originally targeted $400 million. The majority of investments made by Lightspeed VII will be in early stage US companies, but the new fund will also “incorporate active investment programs in Israel and Asia”, continuing the firm’s 10-year history of international investing, according to the press statement that announced the fund’s closing.

General partner Ravi Mhatre was quoted in the same statement: “As the technology business becomes more complex and increasingly global, it is important for Lightspeed to continue to extend our international capabilities through placement of Lightspeed resources in other countries, relationship development with international technology leaders, and partnerships with venture firms outside the US.”

Formerly known as Weiss, Peck & Greer Partners, Lightspeed was renamed in October 2000 when it became an independent entity following the sale of Weiss, Peck & Greer LLC to Rabobank. Lightspeed has $1.3 billion in capital under management. The investment team comprises six general partners and five partners and is headquartered in Menlo Park, California.