GGV Capital’s Jenny Lee: From Jet Engineer To One Of World’s Best Venture Capitalists

Recognized as one of the world’s top 100 venture capitalists by Forbes for 11 years in a row, Singaporean venture capitalist Jenny Lee stayed in her hometown to raise money for four new funds launched by her firm GGV Capital at the height of the pandemic in 2020. 

For four months, according to Forbes, the veteran VC barely slept as she made 250 zoom calls and remotely raised $2.5 billion from investors around the world. Lee and her team raised the most capital in GGV’s 22-year history, boosting assets by 27% to $9.2 billion. 

Long before she became one of Asia’s most powerful businesswomen, she earned a bachelor’s and master’s in Electrical Engineering at Cornell in 1995. She became an aviation engineer at Singapore’s ST Aerospace, where she modified F-16 fighter planes.

In 2001, the company sent Lee to attend Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management where she earned an M.B.A., but she had wanted to be a venture capitalist for a long time, so she quit her job that same year to follow her hidden passion.

Lee paid ST Aerospace $300,000 for not finishing the 11-year scholarship bond that paid for her bachelor’s, master’s, and M.B.A., but she has no regrets. For her, it was the best move.

She got her start as a venture capitalist at Morgan Stanley and Jafco Asia, but she made her name in China after joining GGV to create its office there in 2005. One of Lee’s more successful discoveries was the mobile phone maker Xiaomi before it had sold its first handphone.

Today, Lee is one of GGV’s top-tier managing partners along with Singaporean Jixun Foo, an early Grab investor. Hans Tung, who’s been on the Midas List 11 times. And VCs who have U.S. investment, industrial, and entrepreneurial expertise.

GGV’s 354 firms are balanced between Asia-Pacific and the Americas (GGV claims its investments include more than 85 unicorns). With the U.S. having more investments, at roughly 130, and 77 in China.

The company’s assets under management have expanded more than 50 times since its founding in 2000.