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On building and scaling 500 Global with Christine Tsai, CEO & Founding Partner of 500 Global

Join us for an inspiring conversation on how Christine built 500 Global and more. Make sure to read her show notes below ✍️

Today, we have Christine Tsai with us.

Christine co-founded 500 Global in 2010, and led the firm’s growth over the past decade from a startup accelerator to a multi-stage venture capital firm with $2.4B in assets under management, and investments in more than 2,900 companies in 80+ countries. 500 Global regularly ranks as one of the most active venture capital firms in the world, according to PitchBook, with a top number of exits.

The firm’s diversified portfolio includes over 35 companies valued at more than $1B, such as Talkdesk, Canva, Carbon Health, and GitLab. Private Equity International has named Christine one of 10 Women of Influence in venture capital.

She currently serves on the venture capital committee of the Association of Asian American Investment Managers and is an active member of the Young Presidents’ Organization. Christine is also an honoree of Gold House’s 2021 A100 List, recognizing the most impactful Asian and Pacific Islander leaders across business and technology, entertainment, advocacy and politics, lifestyle, and sports.

Prior to founding 500 Global, she held product marketing and operating roles at Google, focusing primarily on monetization and developer products such as Google AdSense, Google Analytics, YouTube APIs and syndication, and Google Developer Platform Tools. Christine also holds B.A. in Cognitive Science from the University of California at Berkeley.

Watch it here or add it to your episodes on Apple or Spotify 🎧

Table of Contents | Scroll ⏬ for all guest show notes ✍️

  • Episode chapters.

  • Christine’s journey into venture.

  • A pivotal moment in Christine’s career.

  • Deep dive on building 500 Global.

  • Three biggest learnings from building a global VC firm.

  • Take a stance.

  • Shout-out.

  • Top tips for emerging VCs who are fundraising.

  • Most counterintuitive learning.

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Chapters:

  • 00:09 Diving Deep into 500 Global's Evolution

  • 03:02 Christine Tsai's Personal Journey into Venture Capital

  • 10:22 500 Global's Unique Approach to Venture Capital

  • 14:07 Diverse Backgrounds in Venture Capital

  • 27:41 VC Unlocked in Educating Emerging Managers

  • 40:42 The Early Bird Gets the Worm: Investing in Startups

  • 41:15 The Challenges and Opportunities of Accelerators

  • 41:51 Navigating the Accelerator Landscape: Tips for Founders

  • 42:48 Spotlight on Global Accelerator Success Stories

  • 43:30 The Evolution of Venture Capital: From Skepticism to Success

  • 44:02 Venture Capital's Herd Mentality vs. Disruptive Investing

  • 48:39 Leading the Charge: Transitioning from Co-Investor to Lead Investor

  • 01:08:23 Balancing Act: Navigating Work and Family Life in Venture Capital

✍️ Show notes

We always ask our guests to write tweet-style notes for the conversation so we can share them with you all afterward. These are the words of the guest, no alterations made. Feast.

Christine’s journey into venture.

  • Grew up in the SF Bay Area with a mom who was an engineer at Intel, which influenced interest in technology and business.

  • Went to UC Berkeley during the dot com boom and graduated after the bust.

  • Joined Google early on (2003) and worked on a number of products that were used by publishers, developers, and creators.

  • Became interested in venture capital and started building relationships with VCs in the mid-2000s.

  • Left Google in 2010 to start 500 Global

A pivotal moment.

  • Rather than one pivotal moment, I think it’s my background growing up in an immigrant family, being a (minority) Asian American female, and being all of that in the world of tech and VC.

    • Early exposure to tech but growing up with the knowledge of being different

    • The value of seeing things differently

    • Feeling like an outsider / building my network

    • That giving me a different perspective

  • Value of people and founders who look at problems differently

    • Global citizens; global expansion

  • 500 Global research designed to uncover and quantify the economic growth,

    • Global startup activity is becoming more global

    • Global unicorn activity

    • Global revenues in tech

  • Unicorn founders are global citizens

    • Top US unicorn founders are immigrants

    • Entrepreneurial migration

Deep dive on building 500 Global.

  • Disrupting VC in 2010

    • Local-global approach

    • Generate alpha by investing in overlooked regions

    • Took a generalist approach, sector expertise

  • Startup Globalizer

  • Go-to choice for founders building global

  • Best founders sectors and regions

  • Foundation for global growth

Silicon Valley Connection - Global Accelerator Program

  • Global startups with potential for the US

  • Connect with top US founders through GAP

Take a stance.

“A little bit of chaos is good for you.“ - Sarah Drinkwater, Common Magic

Chaos forces change.

Shout-out.

My shout-out goes to Wesley Chan, founder of FPV Ventures.

Three biggest learnings from building a global VC firm.

  1. Play the long game - All about relationships, trust

  2. Keep evolving - VCs must keep innovating

  3. Don’t rest on your laurels

Q: What are your top tips for emerging VCs across Europe who are fundraising?

Take a lot of risks.

Q: What are your top tips & tricks for emerging VCs?

  • Relationships and trust are king

  • Bring a unique thesis, a differentiated position

  • Beware of distractions and FOMO drift

Q: What’s the most counterintuitive thing you’ve learned in venture?

Funding and valuation are poor performance indicators

Q: Your uncommon belief.

“Companies don’t die when they run out of money. They die when the founder throws in the towel.”

👋 Upcoming in-person events we’re hosting

There’s nothing we like better than getting Europe’s best and brightest together with good food, drinks, and conversations that go truly deep.

Fund Modelling Workshop & Mixer | 5th of June | 🌍 Berlin, Germany | Join waitlist.

European VC Awards | 4th of June | 🌍 Berlin, Germany | Get tickets.

📅 Upcoming virtual events

From time to time, a podcast is just not enough. Check out our roundtables and live events below.

State of European VC Fundraising | April 10th, 2-3:30 PM | Register here.
Speakers: Ekaterina Almasque, Founding GP at OpenOcean | Joe Schorge. Founding GP at Isomer Capital | Daniel Keiper-Knorr, Founding GP at Speedinvest.

🏆 Firesides with the winners of the European VC Awards

Fireside with the Newcomer of the Year Winner | 13/6, 12-1:30 PM | Register here. Hundreds of new VC funds come to market every year. But only ONE will win Newcomer of The Year. This is your chance to meet the winner firsthand.

Fireside chat with the Winner of the Hall of Fame | 25/6, 12-1 PM | Register here.
Hear firsthand from a true giant upon whose shoulders the European tech ecosystem stands tall.

🗓️ The VC Conferences You Can’t Miss

There are some events that just have to be on the calendar. Here’s our list, hit us up if you’re going, we’d love to meet!

0100 Conference Europe | 📆 16 - 18 April | 🌍 Amsterdam, Netherlands

TechChill Riga 2024 | 📆 18 - 19 April | Riga, Latvia

Iceland Innovation Week | 📆 15 - 16 May | Reykjavik, Iceland

EBAN Congress Tallinn 2024 | 📆 20-22 May | 🌍 Tallinn, Estonia

SuperVenture | 📆 4 - 6 June | 🌍 Berlin, Germany

Nordic LP Forum & TechBBQ | 📆 September | 🌍 Copenhagen, Denmark

North Star & GITEX Global | 📆 14 - 18 Oct | 🌍 Dubai, UAE

GITEX Europe 2025 | 📆 23 - 25 May 2025 | 🌍 Berlin, Germany


Trying to get in front of European VCs and LPs? The 2024 EUVC Media Kit is out - check it out here, and let’s talk. 💌

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