Forecasting the Future: How Technology and Entrepreneurship Show Us What's Next
Henry H. Wong has been a prolific and successful entrepreneur, executive mentor and venture investor in Silicon Valley for dozen of years. Henry applies his operational experience, investment talent, and his international expertise to advise, invest in, and build high technology companies with a global vision. To cope with the fast growing high tech industry, Henry mentors companies and executives to be prepared and plan ahead to deal with the ever-changing dynamic future. Currently he is the Managing Director in Garage Capital Fund #3, and also the founder of Diamond TechVentures (a family office). Prior to that, Henry was a venture partner at Crystal Ventures where he was actively involved with companies including SMIC, LGC Wireless & Infinera. As an entrepreneur, Henry has had several significant successes, including SS8 Networks Inc., where he was the founder, CEO and Chairman, as well as IP Communications, XaQti Semiconductor, CNet Technology Inc., and Combinet (ISDN Systems), all of which he co-founded, funded and led. In 2002, Henry was a finalist for the Ernst & Young “Entrepreneur of the Year Award.” Henry is the chairman of CSPA.com, a 501(c)3 non-profit. He volunteers as an advisor to several non-profit organizations & is active in the community. Henry holds a BSc degree in Business from the University of Utah & a MBA in Telecom Management from Golden Gate University. He is also a Mentor in the Stanford Graduate School of Business GSB MBA Program, and a Team Mentor in the Technology Venture Formation course MS&E 273 & E145 at Stanford's School of Engineering.
Henry: I worked for four fortune 100 companies after I graduated from University of Utah in Salt Lake City and then I got inspiration that I need to start a company and after one after the other I started five different companies so successful some are funded by Kleiner Perkins acquire and so on and some are funded by Citibank Venture and it's quite famous they all excited well some went IPO some got acquired. I was invited to join a venture fund there was the family fortune of President Lee of Taiwan and there was crystal venture and then at that same time after that I started my own Diamond Tech ventures and also I moved into the compound of Garage Technology Venture started which was started by Guy Kawasaki the Apple evangelist for Steve job and garage was seriously the garage from garage to IPO and I have a really good time there learn a lot work with them and there's some interesting investment that I can elaborate later on and then now Here I am starting more companies I have a big dream working with a land developer in a unknown city in Silicon Valley getting the legals done right now and hopefully that location can house 1600 new entrepreneurs who will be taking daily dosage from me and being healthy and come out and change the world per se.
Question: Obviously you hit the ground running starting multiple companies and then and then helping to create new companies and so when you when you look the ten year of your career how has Silicon Valley changed since you first started versus where it is today?
Henry: Changed quite a bit I'll comment on the latest greatest when people start humming me I don't feel like they are Californians, they're foreigners coming from every different City. Silicon Valley used to be the prune yeah the Apple, apricot things were very mellow and the people work hard and they pretty courteous so nowadays a lot of people are brand-new coming in town pushing the horn and trying to hurry from one place to the other. Traffic is becoming horrendous it's like the dot-com traffic if you remember com from one end of the city to the other takes over an hour from San Jose to San Francisco including parking is two and a half hours now.
Question: Moving into inspiration for diamond tech ventures but yeah what drove you to create a new fund it's obviously you're not afraid of new frontiers but were you focusing on a specific type of investment?
Henry: In the year after 2002 after sauce which is the deadly virus disease and China is growing like 15-18% a year the published numbers was a lot lower but certainly what you're looking at you can add it up there's a saying that the water rise both rise so if you have investing into a economy that is calling like crazy you will benefit from it if you at least choose the right angle to invest so I found something that I really like and I believe in my judgment and I it from it yeah
Question: As a VC how do you decide who you work with?
Henry: Well the front desk will stop them right there and say could you email in your PowerPoint your pitch. I think that will be the gate number one if you don't have anything to present or you couldn't document your ideas on paper or you couldn't summarize your mission in 25 words you're out of the ballgame a lot of people say they have an idea they want to do that they want to come in and shoot the breeze excuse me I don't have time to shoot the breeze. Unless you're my old buddy you want to have lunch with me that’s fine. Sometimes it's not fair but if they don't build a friendship ahead of time and they are in the very last minute looking for money it just won't work. You can come into my office and I write you a million dollar check and then you disappear and then you fly out of town, where am I going to get your call so it's kind of a you have to build a relationship first.
Question: Obviously there's a lot of choices and these entrepreneurs are a lot of are like trying to solve a problem to blaze a new frontier what piques your interest?
Henry: I like the word solve the problem the problem is the meet the requirement what the company others out there would buy and I would look at it in this clear logical view it's the product air without air you're going to suffocate within minutes it's the product water without water you die in seven days or would it be caviar, the fish shakes from beluga right so you're looking at air water and caviar. If it's this air you must buy the product mmm are you going to go kaput it could be a cancer drug it could be the backbone of a network it could be 5g wireless if I unplug this building block your phone's going to go dead things like that so if you look at this clearly in this fashion of air water and caviar which is so simple no-brainer you will be able to define whether the deal is say maseeh or yet to be seen or later and whatever.
Question: Once a decision is made to move forward with an entrepreneur and a company is their process you put in place requiring to hit certain benchmarks to earn the next phase of funding and then there is a what level first of all what lever does diamond tech' come in at?
Henry: We are pre-seed and prefer a and lately I have grown into a multi stage I have out a new capital coming in that wants access to more mature those two so we are stage a gnostic we open.
Question: The entrepreneurs coming in, how do if that entrepreneur is really going to succeed and is there a way that you can tell within the first month or so if this entrepreneur has a drive to really make this happen?
Henry: That's the key word drive he will be going through lots of hurdles will be requesting different documents if he can hold his temper or and that kind of situation then that is would be somebody that you cannot deal with remember there'll be hardship ahead of time I had in front of us and we will go through stormy weather if you and not with whole with that stay away and be on track then it would be difficult and in the board meeting you wouldn't be able to hold up and you wouldn't be able to perform and deliver and so on the future
Question: What do you think about quantum computing?
Henry: The future is coming in a big cycle remember when we first started my older brother was the chief architect of IBM sent us a Risa lab and in charge of our mainframe and all the architecture of it now we went into distributed data processing we went into mini computers and so on and then we finally landed in micro and now everything go cloud up centralize again and they need more computing power parallel processing tandem computing we go in cycle again back to mainframe the middle is the quantum supremacy where looks like IBM's going to dominate it once and again.
Question: It's interesting you're saying I think there's one company with a quantum computer out there d-wave?
Henry: Yeah the wave is very interesting example I do not have access to pitch tag so I could not comment on that.
Question: Understood but there but there it's a pioneer it's a new industry I guess quantum computing I hear and I've heard this presentation given by Steve Jurvetson, talk about that it deals with quantum physics and parallel universes now that's kind of a deep subject isn't it's?
Henry: Layman language Alan it's far out, it's beyond us right now I don't I don't believe that businessman has the vision on quantum physics but on the other hand as we continue to explore you should be looking at it from a different opposite angle is the buyer not the inventor what does the buyer want to buy I think that's the key that's where business Commerce is conducted and then you look further who are the buyers, millenniums? No things are moving away I'm looking at working with Generation Z now you say what's Generation Z 13 to 26 right so I'm formulating a study group in my office for younger users who would define the future who would say how they want and how they want to use it I think that is the other angle when you're looking at future technologies.
Question: Now Google did something very earth shattering they announced that they're not going to require college degrees coming on board with Google what do you think about that?
Henry: Controversial, degree is created by humans it's only a piece of paper oh yes we go for four years of hardship and studying and so on but if you have guidance from a master and you put a Japanese panel on top of your hair say win WIN in kanji okay so it's a matter of thinking and out thinking the norm so degree or no degree it's not a good subject to get into.
Question: Okay well let's go step further then there's so that the 1600 entrepreneurs coming into your campus how would they go how would they go about is there going to be a process for applying and what type of individual or candidate is most likely to succeed at being part of that program?
Henry: Results delivered if they can deliver a good result a product a services that can convince the world that they will be needed I'll quite need it that would be the perfect product and services to fund now you're also managing partner a director of Garage Technology Ventures?
Henry: Yes, Garage Technology Ventures was started by Guy Kawasaki the Steve Jobs number one evangelist and garage fund number one and to CalSPF fund Californian state pension fund so we managed a small portion of that billion dollar fund garage phone number three is a family office fund we manage that particular fund we focus in software only.
Question: What level is fund number 3?
Henry: Fund number three is a smaller fund basically family office attending to the needs of the current generations.
Question: Why is it VC undersea training to smaller funds?
Henry: The graduates of deals which means the founders who exited their own creation tend to take the proceeds to form a new venture fund addressing the subject that they know best and if they are in cloud they want to explore more about cloud called quantum computing they must have learned all come from our mainframe background in the path of quantum physics they'd like to address they call themselves their own boss so they can address on subject that they need in a bigger venture firm there's so much paperwork you won't believe even I sometimes go crazy just handling the details the k1 and the order calculation it says you have to outsource everything out by the time you finish outsourcing out there's not much profit left.
Question: It's pretty amazing at what the compliance has grown to over the years.
Henry: The paperwork is choking up the process well hopefully that AI solutions coming to just streamline everything and I think it so has so much paper in the future. What other types of technologies you feel have a lot of interest that you have a lot of interest going in today for solving problems of the future?
Henry: We continue to research on the future and also the product and services that entrepreneur brings off to our table we look at quantum computing as a area of investment in but it might require very deep pocket because it's not a small subject to attend about along with it the immediate areas that we look at is the security part of the computing at the edge of the cloud and all those are required and then you take a look at behavioral science which is a subject that I teach in Sofia University right now every Monday night how people make the decision how can you change their mind or deviate their attention to push the finger over to the buy button I think those interesting do flows that we encounter lately don't just look at hardware but more so in software I think that’s where the future is supposed to be.
Question: Gene Roddenberry the Star Trek creator years ago he wrote several things into the scripts he had the communicator and now today we have cellphones that will essentially do the same thing. The other thing that he wrote in there was this thing about the transponder where you can move from one location to another location thoughts?
Henry: I actually study that. Here's the wild answer but yeah don't think that please I'm not crazy to transmit a point A to point B you can break down the molecules and transmit in many sense carbon base product over from A to B it has been proven that it can be disassembled and reassembled which is like modulator demodulator, changeover but the argument I have with my friends is how do you transmit the soul which you can't even touch off break down or calculate it see like its electron it's a wave its electricity and how do you do that? I remember my father telling me that we are electrons and electricity he's going to communicate with me one day through electricity mm-hmm he hasn't done so yet if he did maybe it was him maybe somebody else I don't know?