China’s Cheetah Mobile Inc (NYSE: CMCM) CEO Fu Sheng (傅盛) announced a plan to set up a US$3.13 million program to fund Taiwanese startup companies in the mobile Internet business.
“It is time for Taiwan to deploy and integrate more resources to catch the tail end of the mobile Internet era, now that Taiwan almost missed it,” Fu said. “The program could start in the first quarter as the earliest.”
Fu made his remarks during the cross-strait Mobile Internet Conference in Taipei. He said that business ideas that may become a market trend in three to five years will be welcomed to the funding program, while participating startup companies will stand a better chance for potential strategic partnerships with Cheetah or even Xiaomi.
“We have been looking for talents and new business opportunities from Taiwan’s counterparts, and hope that the fund will break geographical barriers between us,” Fu said.
Fu said that his company sees Taiwan as an attractive place to recruit and develop talent because manpower costs here are cheaper than in Beijing. Taiwan also has a sizable pool of engineering talent with good English skills that is more internationally savvy than their peers in China.
Cheetah’s funding program, Fu said, will aim to mentor rather than just provide cash to help young Taiwanese talents establish their own business.
“It does not mean we will control any specific startup company although the money comes from us,” Fu said. “It is an investment, not a merger or acquisition.”
Echoing Fu, Xiaomi’s founder Lei Jun (雷軍), who is also a cofounder of Cheetah Mobile, said that Taiwanese who wish to establish their own businesses should focus on mobile Internet and smart home devices.
“Many of my Taiwanese friends have complained that they are constrained by Taiwan’s rather limited market, but if you launch a mobile application on Google Play or Apple Store, you have the global market,” Lei said.
Lei said that he would foresee smart home devices that link to personal handheld devices via cloud computing will be the major market trend within next five years.
“Xiaomi is also working on it. But, to be honest, I have not seen many Taiwanese manufacturers working on this,” Lei said.