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Legendary Chinese Investor in Barcelona

By the time Gang Wang left Alibaba in 2012 he had made a good career at the company, rising through the ranks over his 11 year tenure, running teams and business lines and putting some money aside.

Then, Didi Dache was born. His subordinate, Mr. Cheng Wei, started to run the firm, and Gang Wang put in most of the seed capital needed for the first taxi app. Today this ride-sharing platform is worth $50 billion and Gang Wang became one of China’s most successful and active angel investors.

He starts his public lecture at around 20:30, promising to make a short introduction and take five questions. After such a statement a speaker could be out of the building in 5 minutes. But, after spending a minute or two on the introduction he answers those half-a-dozen questions for two hours. Delving not only into business strategies, but also into his meditation practices, Alibaba business culture, and on the future of robots and AI.

The timing

The timing to leave Alibaba and launch Didi was perfect. In 2012 the first taxi apps were testing the waters in US and Britain, the first lessons to learn were there, and the taxi market in China was ripe for disruption. At the same time also the mobile boom with mass-production of cheaper and cheaper Android smartphones had just started.

It is very important to pick the right career and the right industry, for both - working for someone or starting your own company. It is not important from which position you start as long as you get on the boat: some day you will become from a sailor to a captain.",”

— Gang Wang

The 11 years at Alibaba allowed him to build a wide contact-base. He knew which talented executives to tap, the best project managers and so on. Also his latest position was running Alipay, where he acquired first-hand experience in making products for the smartphone market.

"It is very important to pick the right career and the right industry, for both - working for someone or starting your own company. It is not important from which position you start as long as you get on the boat: some day you will become from a sailor to a captain."

The captain

Since leaving Alibaba he has made some 70 investments in addition to his big success story.

"I like the people who can make the things right at the first attempt," Gang Wang said. "Some entrepreneurs do it many times, but they are just repeating their mistakes. What you have to have, is the ability to learn from other people’s mistakes and use that in your own project."

As the global online world is becoming increasingly international and a battler where the winner takes it all - the CEO has to have ability to become the global industry leader.

When evaluating the potential CEOs, Wang focus on their career history - to see whether the person has the ability to build up their teams. "The value of the team is the value of the company," he said.

Wang said he would normally not invest in projects of fresh graduates, but look for more experienced founders. "If you are a fresh graduate, you must to find a good investor like Jack Ma who can fight alongside with you."

Self-driving

Some speculations claimed Didi's recent $5.5 billion investment round was in part needed to prepare the firm for autonomous driving.

However, Gang Wang said that in his personal opinions completely self-driving cars are still in a distant future. "It's a long time off. Maybe cargo trucks will achieve it before the civilian cars," he said during the lecture at Harbour Space University. "Algorithms are not that difficult, what is difficult is 3D mapping and the data of the road."

The sector is relatively capital-heavy and Gang Wang said it might turn into the industry run by firms like Google and Didi - not your average startups. "In the longer term Didi will look into this," he said. But, there will be a plenty of opportunities around this sector to improve and upgrade.

Becoming robots

Speaking in the wave of heated discussions on whether the AI robots will take over the world, which was sparked by Facebook switching off two artificial intelligence robots after they started communicating with each other in their own language.

"AI is not a new thing for us, it has been here for a long time, but only now the fear of AI taking over the world and having its own thoughts is scaring us."

"Many people say a human brain cannot be defeated, with the potential it has. I do not agree. We are not that special,but, we just have a big ego," Gang Wang said. "Machine algorithms mature in the speed of light. Human body has not designed and developed in that way."

"We should not make such a big fuss about difference to robots. They will become closer and closer to human being, it does not make much difference. Maybe we will unite in one breed."

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