Neil Shen, founding and managing partner of Sequoia China and a prominent supporter of Yale SOM, is the top venture capital investor on earth, according to Forbes magazine.
The magazine put Shen at the top of its 2018 Midas List, which ranks VC investors based on all exits (IPOs or acquisitions) above USD200 million and private companies valued at USD400 million or more over the last five years.
Shen is a member of the Yale SOM Board of Advisors and the chair of the advisory committee of Yale Center Beijing. Under Shen’s leadership, Sequoia China made early investments in the mobile internet field a decade ago, becoming one of the major investors of Toutiao, Meituan-Dianping, and Didi which are among the top 10 companies driving the 2018 Midas List. Sequoia China also invested successfully in Alibaba and JD.com, the dronemaker DJI, and the media company Sina, among other fast-growing companies. Ranked 11th on the Midas List a year ago, Shen’s ascent to the top of the 2018 Midas List marks a milestone—the first time that a Chinese national has hit the top of the list.
“I would not be where I am today in terms of my career accomplishments and my entrepreneur endeavors if it wasn’t for the education I received at Yale,” Shen said. “I am also grateful to the leadership at Yale, especially to President Salovey—his vision and strategic moves in setting up the Yale Beijing Center, along with his other China related efforts, will have a long lasting impact on Yale as well as in China.”
A graduate of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, where he got a degree in applied mathematics, Shen received his master’s degree from Yale University. After graduating, he worked as an investment banker at Deutsche Bank Hong Kong, Lehman Brothers, and Citibank, then cofounded Ctrip.com and Homeinns Hotel Group. The two companies were listed on NASDAQ just three years apart. In 2005, together with Sequoia Capital, he established Sequoia China.
“We are very pleased that Neil Shen has earned this global recognition in an industry characterized by intense rivalry,” said Edward A. Snyder, the Indra K. Nooyi Dean and William S. Beinecke Professor of Economics and Management at Yale SOM. “He succeeds because he develops teams of talented people who continually ask, what is going right, what is going wrong, and how do we improve? And Neil puts to himself the toughest questions.”
An active Yale graduate, Shen was a driving force behind the creation of Yale Center Beijing, a hub for the university’s activities in China, in 2014. Since 2016, Sequoia China, Yale SOM, and Yale Center Beijing have collaborated on the Yale SOM-Sequoia Leadership Program, a one-year program for Sequoia China portfolio companies’ CEOs and founders. China's first leadership program that is jointly established by a venture capital/private equity firm and a top global business school, the program is designed to cultivate and promote entrepreneurial leadership through new entrepreneurship classes. Last year, Shen made a substantial gift to support the creation of the Yale China Fund for Emotional Intelligence, to be housed at Yale Center Beijing.
“Neil’s ability to spot great entrepreneurs, to see the potential for their companies, and to nurture them along the way are an inspiration for our students,” said David Bach, deputy dean and professor in the practice of management at Yale SOM. “Thanks to his vision and generosity, we not only have Yale Center Beijing but we are also closely connected to the vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem in China that attracts a growing number of our graduates. Yale SOM is quickly becoming the leading business school for the study and practice of global entrepreneurship and Neil’s success will further fuel our efforts.”