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185: Jeff Richards China, Silicon Valley & Billion Dollar Startups

Tuesday 26th May 2020

How do you develop young leaders and entrepreneurs in this fast-paced world? What is the power of investing and building multi-million dollar companies? Jeff Richards sits down with Christopher Lochhead to answer these questions and discuss why it’s smart to invest in China and Silicon Valley.

“There’s 7.3 billion people in the world. There’s only 300 million in the US. So if your market opportunity is 300 million, you’re missing the other 95% of the world.” – Jeff Richards

Three Things We Learned

    It’s tough for kids these days

Because kids have access to social media at an early age, they have a broader preview of the world out there compared to generations past. While it’s very encouraging for them to find ways to become successful apart from the traditional get-educated-land-a-job scheme, being exposed to these things as a teenager can be a pitfall. They’re hit with the pressure to be creative, innovative, and get together with the right crowd early, existential crises adults back then would often encounter not until after college.

    Pace of play nowadays is fast

Technological advancements have made it quicker to build businesses and make them successful. However, with this quick pacing comes the added pressure that trickles down to entrepreneurs who are throwing so much into the fire in very little time in order to keep up. They have no time to catch a break, and risk many other aspects of their lives because of the swift turnover of things in the tech industry.

    We need to go back to building brick by brick

The satisfaction of building a product with a great foundation springing from doing it right can’t be undermined. People need to learn how to build businesses brick by brick, painstaking piece by painstaking piece. We need to slow down and revel the process of becoming successful.

So much is going on in the tech world right now that people are compelled to constantly pit themselves into the fray. We must pause and zoom out of the small corner of the world that we’re building in order to gain true insights of the world at large. If we’re not trying to glean and learn as much as we can, then all our efforts and money will easily go up in smoke.

Bio / Story: 

Jeff Richards 

A Managing Partner at GGV Capital, Jeff joined the firm in 2008 after spending 13 years as an entrepreneur and operating executive in the US and Asia. Prior to joining GGV, Jeff founded two venture-backed companies, one a success and one a “huge failure” in his own words – “I learned a lot.”  

His background as an entrepreneur gives him a unique perspective on the challenges of starting and running a venture-backed company, and he works closely with the GGV Talent team on Founders+Leaders. 

Jeff focuses on the Software and Internet sectors, and currently sits on the boards of or is a board observer at BigCommerce, one of the top ecommerce software platforms, Boxed, a rising star in the ecommerce space, Brightwheel, the leading SaaS provider for the early education vertical, Gladly, a next generation SaaS platform for customer care, Percolate, a leading marketing SaaS platform for global brands,PlushCare, a mobile platform for consumer healthcare, Reebonz, Southeast Asia’s leader in luxury ecommerce, Slice, a market network for the pizza industry, and Tile, the platform for location. Jeff also led GGV’s investments in Appirio (acquired in 2016 by Wipro), BlueKai (acquired in 2014 by Oracle), Buddy Media (acquired in 2012 by Salesforce), Citrus Lane (acquired in 2014 by, Evolv (acquired in 2014 by Cornerstone OnDemand), Flipboard, HotelTonight, ShiftGig, Voicera and Zylo, and has been actively involved in GGV’s investments in Domo, OpenDoor, Square and Wish. 

Jeff is a frequent guest on CNBC and often writes on topics like startup management and leadership, venture-backed IPOs and shifts in tech trends across the US and China. 

Before GGV 

Prior to joining GGV, Jeff founded two software companies: R4, a supply chain SaaS business acquired by VeriSign (NASDAQ: VRSN), and QuantumShift, a telecom software business backed by Texas Pacific Group (TPG).  

Earlier in his career, Jeff worked in Asia and Latin America with PriceWaterhouseCoopers. Jeff graduated from Dartmouth College, where he was a four-year letterman on the basketball team and is on the Advisory Board for the Dartmouth Entrepreneur Network (DEN).