Shalom Life | July 01, 2014

Li Ka-Shing: How The Chinese Billionaire Became The Startups Nation’s Biggest Supporter

Asia’s richest man has become Israel’s biggest fan and supporter.

By: Maya Yarowsky, NoCamels

Published: June 16th, 2014 in Business » Israel

If you’ve been following the business headlines lately, it’s clear that Israel and China are the hottest new collaborative couple. With the recent acquisition of Israeli food conglomerate Tnuva for billions by China’s Bright Food; the “Times of Israel’s” release of the first Chinese-language publication on Israeli innovation; and Israeli Economics Minister, Naftali Bennett’s recent statement that, Israel is shifting its economic resources to “China, China China,” the ties between Tel Aviv and Beijing couldn’t be stronger. But there may be one man to thank for the recent spike in Chinese interest in the land of milk, honey, and of course, technology — Billionaire Li Ka Shing.

Asia’s richest man with a net worth of $31.9 billion, Li has spent the majority of his life enveloped in a world of entrepreneurship and success, but since he turned his sights to world of startups and Israel in particular, things for the Asian mogul and the little Mediterranean country are looking up. Take Waze, for example, one of the 20 Israeli startups in which Li was an early investor, or the $130 million his venture capital fund, Horizons Ventures, donated to the Technion, one of the largest ever donations received by an Israeli university. No matter the cost, Li wants to be at the forefront of the next disruptive technology and evidently that means being heavily invested in Israel.

Li’s interest in the “little country that could” may derive from his own humble beginnings as a Hong Kong factory laborer, from a young age working long hours to support his struggling family. However, once Li discovered the power of risk-taking and became hardened to failure, qualities which he shares with the Startup Nation, the money and success stories kept coming. Now Li is paving the way for his fellow countrymen to regard Israel as the country to take bets on.

Before Li became one of the founding fathers of the modern tech revolution, the 85 year-old Chinese billionaire started out on a tougher road in life. Following the death of his father from tuberculosis, at the age of 15, Li was forced to leave his school in China’s Guangdong Province to work 16-hour days as a laborer in a plastics trading company. Driven to support his family and to lift them out of poverty, by the age of 22 Li had already earned enough money to open up his own business making plastic toys, Cheung Kong Industries, a company that would eventually become Hong Kong’s leading real estate investment company. In 1979, Li acquired the investment holding company Hutchison Whampoa from British banking giant HSBC, and by 1987, the humble Chaozhou merchant was already ranked on Forbes’ first list of global billionaires.


This article was first published on NoCamels – Israeli Innovation News and was re-posted with permission. To continue reading this article on the site, click here.

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