While investors in the West have carefully trimmed their stakes in startups and announced the end of the golden age of unicorns, China’s government-backed venture capital funds have amassed the world’s biggest startup pool, reports Bloomberg.
And it’s enormous—reaching almost 10 times the amount spent by venture capital firms on Chinese startups in 2015: $32.2 billion.
In bid to ease the slowing Chinese economy into a consumer-based rather than heavy industry-focused one, the country reportedly raised about 1.5 trillion yuan, or $231 billion, in state-backed venture funds through 2015, according to Zero2IPO.
That tripled its assets under management to $338 billion. The money, which is almost five times the amount raised by any other venture firm in the world in 2015, comes mostly from tax revenues or state backed loans, and is funneled into some 780 funds across the country.
The government is riding on the hope that entrepreneurship will help boost the market, but not everyone agrees the plan will work.
“They have a fantasy that if they give everyone money they’ll create entrepreneurs,” Gary Rieschel, the founder of Qiming Venture Partners told Bloomberg. “What it will result in is catastrophic losses for the government.”
Rieschel’s comments could have some merit: the funds are experimental and China has no standardized method for its 780 funds to be managed or funded.
One thing is sure though: investment managers who don’t spend enough funding could potentially see a smaller amount to manage the next year. And that could incentivize irresponsible spending, said Ken Xu, a partner at Shanghai-based Gobi Partners.
But it could also mean that untested names, rather than unicorns, might get their chance.
Chinese tech startups valuations are already high following the summer stock market rout that sent panicked, albeit wealthy, Chinese investors toward the startup space. The hope was for higher returns than what they would’ve gained from the volatile stock markets.