Being an Investor of Venture Investors

January 24, 2014

I am currently working with Korea Telecom (“KT”). KT currently invests in two dozen of venture capital funds as a limited partner. Strategic VC fund investment serves two purposes. First, it gives access to a newer and more promising opportunity. Second, it helps to achieve attractive return. Strategic and policy-driven investment mandate does not guarantee tangible outcome. It is, therefore, very important to keep balance between strategic and financial goals. It is like chasing two rabbits at the same time.

Money allocation to venture capital does not sound like sexy investment idea these days. VC still delivers results, though. Korea top tier VC return multiple over past 10 years is 1.2x. U.S. top tier VC return multiple over past 10 years is 1.3x. It is not like when VC asset class used to deliver solid 4~6x in the middle of 1990s. VC is still quite competitive. To give you a number, $1.4B goes into ventures in Korea and $26.5B in the U.S. (If you count angel investment, it comes close to $50B.) Excessive money supply in venture capital may do good creating a couple of good companies, but not necessarily make the great ones with huge impact.

As of today, we monitor 400+ projects and investments under KT’s VC fund exposure. KT also invests overseas. KT often looks for further business collaboration opportunity with portfolio companies. KT started very first VC fund investment back in 2006. There should have been a great deal of learning curve in the beginning. Now, the size has grown to $350M. It feels more comfortable to manage this relatively new and fully VC focused program. We see some serious distribution from our managers as well. It is time to think of how to squeeze more value out of it and more consistently generate return.

Personally, I enjoy exploring different perspective as an investor to a VC fund. Only drawback is that now I have to see a promising new start-up with bird’s-eye view.

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New Year’s Resolution

January 2, 2014

Dear all:

It was great privilege to be spend last 4 months at Yale campus as a Yale World Fellow. All incoming 2013 cohort was truly incredible. They were colorful people and they were meant to be different. There were lots of stories to be told to inspire and get inspired. Now, I am happily back in my Seoul office gearing toward for a new year. It is also great to be joined by family and friends during holidays. I wish all the best to you all.

I have picked up few key words as part of my new year’s resolution. Relationship, fitness, and influence are top three key words that I doodled on my notepad this morning. More detail plans would be shared but if I highlight what they mean here briefly:

  • Relationship: I highly value relationship that has enabled me to grow and do great things. As a network of entrepreneurs, technologists, and many other interesting people who do interesting stuffs is growing, I would focus on strengthening those relationships and building strong common ground.
  • Fitness: It includes both mental and physical fitness. Practice makes perfection. It is always good to be lean and agile. Fitness also means to me insight to create a right fit between numerous people and projects.
  • Influence: Doing interesting things is not enough to me. I hope to build strong social impact. Venture start-up is sustainable only if it makes positive change into many lives around the world. I will try to discern and wisely invest my time and resource for idea and people who have great potential to change the world.

I plan to describe a couple of new initiatives and share what I hear from the market lately shortly. In the mean time, happy new year to you all and make your new wishes come true!

Thank you.

Cheers,
Daniel Shin

Closing the door at Yale

December 13, 2013

I really liked one of my fellows at Yale put her experience in this metaphor saying “snake who just ate elephant.” I totally agree with that as I have a lot to digest. Past few months at Yale was such a positive experience. I learned a lot and met many interesting new friends who shared their lives. My purpose to mingle with non-tech and non-venture people over the past one year worked out really well. Now, I am ready to go back what I love to do. I don’t know exactly where my life will take me to, however, I am more open to new ideas and perspectives beyond Silicon Valley and beyond the world of ventures.

Recent Updates – July 2013

July 4, 2013

I’ve been quiet over months here. There are changes. I want to briefly communicate what I’ve been up to.

  • Completed my executive master’s degree at Stern School of Business, New York University in May ‘13
  • Selected as an Yale World Fellow ’13 and starting a semester-long residence in New Haven, CT, this fall
  • Currently working with Korea Telecom for full-time mainly overseeing the global venture capital program

As some of you’ve noted, I have not been taking new investments/projects lately. One goal over the past year was mingling with non-tech and non-venture community. Why? After spending a decade in this high tech investments, I sort of want to have refreshment and enjoy time being away. Though, I plan to get back to what I love to do soon.

Until I make further notice, please, be tuned. I have a bunch of interesting new feeds that I want to share.

Buy iPad Mini @ 2:00 AM?

November 23, 2012

Recent trip to New York City was fruitful. Hurricane Sandy, snow storm, Presidential Election. and so on. It was eventful. I get to travel to NYC often but this time I extended my trip to attend the class at Stern-NYU.

I was hoping to find an eBook device. I read occasionally. Maybe 7-8 books if I have time. However, accessing certain books at the local book store can be painful. Downloading a book at one snap is a definitely compelling value proposition.

So, I was testing out top of the line mini tablets on the fleet. Kindle, Nexus 7, and iPad Mini were on my test-run list. Usual suspects! Their form factors were great and they offered their own attributes. I personally liked iPad Mini best. That was most comfortable to carry around with its thinnest uni-body design. Though, ultra network-ability over 3G/4G network with a reasonable price tag, Nexus 7 (the new one with HSPA+) looked outstanding. I’ve also invested quite a bit on the Android universe, so it should be easy to migrate. Kindle Paper-white was stress-free and easy on eyes. Superb battery life is a big plus, too. However, I just don’t get it this e-ink device with flickering whenever I switch between pages. It is my personal opinion.

So, did I buy it? Not yet.

5th Ave Apple Store in New York opens 24 hours. Yeah, 24 hours! This city never sleeps. I myself came to this store once again before my early morning flight. I just decided to stick to my Kindle application on my ASUS laptop. However, if LTE-version iPad Mini is widely available on my carriers in Korea and the U.S. I probably get one, too. Tablet without 3G/4G looks dull to me. If I have to get on hot-spot every single time to use my tablets, that’s a pain. I probably stick to my light-weight notebook PC for a while. Yeah, I’m still quite old school. But, ASUS makes pretty good stuff. I love this 11 hour battery power with lowest energy consumption-ever. By the way, ASUS makes Nexus 7, too, which is pleasant to find out their product extensions from cheap netbook to mass-market appealing solid Android tablet.

Well, no iPad Mini on my hand yet, but you know what? Hot dog was great. There were several carts outside of 5th Ave. Apple Store. They also open 24 hours for late night shoppers like me. Well, good exchange.

Noble Ambition
It is my personal opinion. My postings are often written on my tiny mobile device like BlackBerry. So, please, bear with me for any typo or grammatical error.