Gao Ling capital Zhang Lei: from "idol trainee" to "capital Predator"


Gao Ling capital Zhang Lei: from

Qian Tongxin

[The investment of $20 million was in the right direction, which made Gaolu Capital profitable, and now the company has managed $60 billion of capital. ]

There is a path called Hillhouse Avenue at the gate of Yale University School of Management, which is called the most beautiful campus in the United States. Because autumn is often covered with golden leaves and rustle, it is called the most beautiful path in the United States by Dickens and Mark Twain.

In 2005, a Yale graduate took the name of Hillhouse and used $20 million to start up a Chinese investment company called Gaolu Capital. Today, Gaolu Capital has managed more than $60 billion. And the low-key Chinese is worth more than $17 billion, ranking 179 on the Hurun Rich List in 2017. He is Zhang Lei, the founder of high alpine capital.

Looking to the other side of the ocean, Zhang Lei represents the new entrepreneurs in China. He sat down with technology tycoons like Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos and invested in American technology companies including Airbnb and Uber.

Mysterious man

Because of Zhang Lei's low-key, Gaolu Capital has given people a "mysterious" image for a long time after its establishment. Zhang Lei is also called "the mysterious man who unexpectedly discovered the"gold mine".

However, since Gaolu Capital acquired Baili International Holding Group, a listed company in Hong Kong, for $6.8 billion last year and delisted it, Zhang Lei has gradually come into the public's attention. He shared his investment experience at Columbia Business School and Shanghai Jiaotong University Golden Forum.

At the just concluded World Internet Conference held in Wuzhen, Gao Ling capital hosted a "new era of digital economy" sub forum. Zhang Lei also invited Ma Huateng and Robin Li as guests of dialogue. On the day of the meeting, Zhang Lei was very busy. He continued to play between the "host" and "guest" arenas. One person played many roles, such as forum host, guest speaker and so on. He was very busy.

Zhang Lei, a gentle scholar, wears a pair of black-framed glasses and is not very tall. Shuttling among the crowd may not attract people's attention at all. But the plain-looking Chinese was lucky to enter Yale, one of the best universities in the world, and was even more fortunate to be cultivated by David Swensen, Buffett's legendary investor.

Zhang Lei was born in Zhumadian, Henan. Zhang Lei is very calm when he recalls his origins and childhood. He said: "Parents'generation did not have such good opportunities as ours. They suffered a lot, but they were always optimistic." When he was seven years old, he used his summer vacation to set up a row of stools at the railway station beside his home and rented comics and books to waiting passengers. Later, when he graduated from high school, his business expanded, selling not only magazines, but also mineral water, instant noodles and sausages. Zhang Lei had earned 800 yuan before he went to college.

It is said that to this day, Zhang Lei's life is still very frugal. It can be seen that the accumulation of personal wealth is not necessarily related to the way of life.

It is worth mentioning that Zhumadian is also the home of Shi Yigong, a famous structural biologist and President of West Lake University. Zhang Lei and Shi Yigong are also teachers'brothers, which makes Zhang Lei proud. Shi Yi Gong is my high school alumni. He is a good example, encouraging me to take the first step in life and know how to work hard. Zhang Lei said.

After graduating from Renmin University, Zhang Lei wanted to study for graduate students abroad, so he applied for Yale University and won a scholarship. He jokes that the only reason to apply for Yale is that they can provide scholarships. However, since Yale offers only one year's scholarship and the entire postgraduate program lasts for three years, Zhang Lei has to find a job.

For Chinese students who come to the United States for the first time, it is not easy to find an internship in a foreign country, and Zhang Lei's career path is not smooth, many interviews only pass through a round of no news. In despair, Willow was in the dark - he was very lucky to find a job as an intern in the Yale Investment Office.

The Yale Investment Office is the organization that runs the Yale University Endowment Fund, and its chief investment officer, David Swinson, is regarded as a "godfather" by the American investment community. Button Biggs, the former chairman of Morgan Stanley Investment Management, called him "a great investor like Buffett". In February 2009, Svenson was appointed chairman of the US Economic Recovery Advisory Committee by President Obama.

Stevenson has been in charge of the Yale endowment fund for over 20 years. The annual net return of the donated funds he manages is over 16%. The Chinese student's arrival produced a chemical reaction on Svenson. The legendary investor appreciated Zhang Lei's sincerity and saw great investment potential in him, so he taught him various investment skills.

In 2005, Zhang Lei decided to go back to business. Swinson was also the first person to support him. He also gave him the first bucket of money to start his business -- $20 million to invest in Chinese emerging companies. It can be said that Svenson's influence on Zhang Lei is also tremendous, Zhang Lei still adheres to the investment concept of mentor - value investment.

Heavy warehouse in China

When he returned to China, Zhang Lei held the belief that "China will rise vigorously". At that time, the whole country was full of vitality. It seemed that everyone could become a billionaire if he tried hard. Many vigorous entrepreneurs and high-tech start-ups did emerge in China, including Tencent and Jingdong, which Zhang Lei first bet on. And this investment also allowed Zhang Lei to become famous in World War I.

In 2005, high leverage capital bought shares in Tencent.

At that time, Tencent's most famous product was QQ, and its valuation was less than US $2 billion. Now Tencent has become an Internet giant worth 200 billion US dollars, and Gaolu Capital still holds Tencent's shares. Even Zhang Lei himself was surprised by the bets on Tencent. He said: "Tencent's share price was too cheap."

In 2010, Gaolu Capital invested 300 million US dollars in Jingdong, becoming one of the largest single investment cases in the early domestic Internet enterprises. Gaolu was once ridiculed as "many people are foolish with money". But this investment has allowed Gao Ling to earn $3 billion 800 million from Jingdong this year.

Zhang Lei disclosed that Liu Qiangdong's financing demand was only 75 million US dollars at that time, but Zhang Lei insisted on giving him 300 million US dollars. "If you don't vote for a penny, you have to vote big." Zhang Lei explained, "entrepreneurs often overestimate their abilities and underestimate the practical difficulties. Because this business itself needs to burn money business, do not burn enough money in the logistics and supply chain system can not see the core competitiveness.

Holding Tencent and Jingdong, Zhang Lei began to play the role of capital. He saw that Jingdong had a strong retail gene, but mobile e-commerce was not strong; Tencent had just acquired Yixun, but Ma Huateng had never handled inventory. Zhang Lei brought the two companies together and summed up their problems in one word: mobile VS inventory. Although the two sides used to fight each other, cooperation could lead to a win-win situation.

After more than two years of research and planning, Gaolu Capital finally matched the largest e-commerce transaction at that time in 2013.

In 2014, Jingdong and Tencent formally announced their marriage. Jingdong acquired the rights, logistics and assets of Tencent QQ online shopping and patting network; Tencent acquired about 15% of the shares of Jingdong, and subscribed for an additional 5% of the shares at the time of its IPO. Tencent President Liu Chiping entered the board of directors of Beijing East. After the Jingdong IPO, Zhang Lei's proposal gave Tencent billions of dollars in book returns.

The investment of $20 million was in the right direction, which made Gaolu Capital profitable. Now the company has managed $60 billion of capital. Now investors'interest in investing in companies like Jingdong and Tencent has declined. Zhang Lei is also looking for new investment frontiers, but he has always insisted on "heavy warehousing in China".

Zhang Lei told the first financial reporter: "heavy position in China is a long-term development of high leverage capital. China's hinterland is vast. After the development of first-and second-tier cities, there are also three or four-tier cities, which are still full of entrepreneurial opportunities. China is not only a treasure place for entrepreneurs, but also a paradise for value investors. "

Gaolu Capital has become one of the largest investment funds in asset management in Asia. In the past two months, Gaolu Capital has just raised a record $10.6 billion for its newly established private equity fund. Data from PitchBook, a data provider, suggests that the fund may have exceeded KKR's record of $9.3 billion in financing.

"The new fund will look for investment opportunities in health care, consumers, technology and services, with a particular focus on the Asian market," Zhang Lei told First Financial Journalist. Through the new fund, Gaolu Capital will continue to work closely with entrepreneurs and management teams in pursuit of sustainable and long-term growth, he said.

Counter investment

Zhang Lei said Baidu is a link between people and information, Ali is a link between people and commodities, Tencent is a link between people and people. Now the curtain of "industrial internet" is being opened, and the shift of consumer Internet to industrial Internet has been put on the agenda, which gives Gaolu greater opportunities for development.

"Gao Ling can be said to have fired the first shot of the industrial Internet. We have invested in Baili and enabled many high-tech industries to develop traditional retail businesses. This is the model of the standard industrial Internet. Zhang Lei told First Financial Reporter, "In the past few years, hundreds of thousands of Baili employees have not found a direction under the impact of the electronic commerce and the Internet. After takeover, the first step is to change people's way of thinking, and don't think of it as traditional enterprise.

The investment in BELLE footwear industry is the most attractive investment project of high last year's capital. Last April, high Ling capital ho threw 53 billion 100 million Hong Kong dollars to hold the "generation shoe king" BELLE. It is rare to use dozens of companies to manage a company of 120 thousand people.

In the eyes of most investors, the traditional retail industry is deeply impacted by e-commerce and virtual malls. For Baili, the outlook is particularly depressed. But Zhang Lei believes that technology can bring new life to the company in the traditional field. He has great expectations for Baili. For example, Baili may plan to apply 3D printing technology to shoe and footwear industry in the future. Customers can go to physical stores for preliminary shoe testing, and then Baili will provide private customization services online.

According to Zhang Lei, Baili International has 13,000 women's shoes stores and 7,000 sportswear stores, with a total of 20,000 retail businesses possibly the only in the world. "From the perspective of high allocations, BELLE international has many treasures." Zhang Lei told First Financial Reporter, "Gaolu Capital has invested in many high-tech companies, sub-cultural innovation companies, Internet fashion companies, these companies are stunned after visiting Baili, because Baili do these things, they can not do, too difficult!"

Zhang Lei also said that Gaolu Capital had estimated that Baili International's Direct stores had more than 6 million people entering the stores every day, according to the concept of the Internet.


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