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  • Jack Lau

A $112M US Series A and Another Book to Read (maybe?)


Good morning, friends. Still one more month to go till Chinese New Year. But, everywhere we go, people seem to be in such a joyful mood. No doubt the "exuberance" in the stock rally has brought "lai see" to many much earlier.

Well, a big "Lai See" has indeed be given to some selected few in an even bigger magnitude.

Yesterday, it was announced that an autonomous driving startup, Pony.AI, has received a series A investment of US$112 M. Yup, you heard it right, it was a cool $112 million USD in a series A --- early stage investment. Pony.AI was founded by two experts in the field who used to work for Baidu. Investment in this round is led by Morningside Ventures, which has a very strong Hong Kong linkage, and Legend Ventures. https://techcrunch.com/2018/01/15/one-year-old-pony-ai-raises-112-million-series-a-to-build-autonomous-car-future/

Impressive team! The former Baidu scientists were Stanford Ph.D. and Google star coder. Also, dear folks from Hong Kong, there is definitely a Hong Kong root to this venture. Not only is there a strong Hong Kong flavor in the investment, the chief technical adviser was a professor in Hong Kong https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%A7%9A%E6%9C%9F%E6%99%BA#cite_note-3. Professor Andrew Yao is a Turing Award winner, the most prestigious award in computer science. His wife, Frances Yao, was the department head of computer science at the City University of Hong Kong. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frances_Yao

Interestingly though, only a few days ago, in the Financial Times, it was reported that China will be making it harder for foreign technologies to go into autonomous vehicles. The reason cited was that a self-driving car can be easily "weaponized". https://www.ft.com/content/a8dbd4e0-f807-11e7-88f7-5465a6ce1a00

I don't know about you folks, while we are really excited about the technologies, how come we feel like we are in the movie Terminator. There are "pilot-less" drones, and "driver-less" cars. Seriously, are we rushing somewhere?

As a light humor, and as some really no-kidding die-hard Star Wars fans, we can tell you that even the X-wing Fighters and the Millennium Falcon were piloted by the Hank Solo (aka Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca --- and not droids or auto-pilot. So, we rest our case….

Book To Read

Lastly, for the upcoming Chinese New Year holiday, if one wants to pick up a book (completely unrelated to technology), maybe you will want to take a peek at this one?

Principles by Ray Dalio

The book comes with a recommendation from Bill Gates. The author runs a US$160 billion hedge fund. Mr. Dalio argues that our decisions can be made better if we follow certain principles. He said that this is a culmination of thoughts he had for the past few decades. Just like most American success story, he started out rather humbly and felt that at this stage in his life, he wants to help the next generation succeed.

We read this book not so much because of interest in investment, which we are really terrible anyway. Rather we felt that his "Principles" are useful in our daily lives.

And, as usual, for those who want may be too busy to read a whole book, here is a short video on the Principles. (Sorry, there is no Cliff Notes.)

Ray Dalio Interview - Ray Dalio's Top 10 Rules For Success

Have Fun!


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