US VC firm BlueRun’s China arm ditches Silicon Valley brand after Sequoia amid rising US scrutiny on tech investment

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BlueRun Ventures China, the Chinese affiliate of Silicon Valley-based venture capital house BlueRun Ventures (BRV), has given up the English name it shares with its US counterpart, in a fresh sign of the bifurcation of venture capital in the world’s two largest economies.

BRV China, which manages over 15 billion yuan (US$2 billion) in assets, has changed its English brand to Lanchi Ventures, the Beijing-based company said in a statement on Wednesday. Lanchi is the romanisation of the firm’s Chinese name.

The move comes as the US under President Joe Biden has ramped up scrutiny of American investment in China’s technology sector, including in the areas of artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced semiconductors. Beijing has likewise grown more suspicious of US capital flowing into the sector.

Sequoia China goes solo as US venture funds pull out of Chinese tech start-ups

The China affiliates of US venture capital houses, which have been an important source of US funds for Chinese start-ups, have been playing down their ties with American institutions. Sequoia Capital, one of the largest VC investors in China, said in June that it was spinning off its Chinese arm into an independent operation called HongShan as part of a global restructuring.

Lanchi said in its statement that it has been operating “independently” in China since 2010, but it kept the BlueRun brand until now to reflect its “same investment philosophy” and “profound friendship” with the US firm. Absent from the statement was any mention of the tense geopolitical environment that tech investors in China are now navigating.

The rebrand also came with a new website, which lists two offices in Beijing and Shanghai.


The moves from Sequoia and BRV mark a watershed moment in the VC industry, as the bromance between Silicon Valley and China’s start-up community has fizzled over the past few years amid the US-China tech war.
In July, the US House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party sent letters to four US venture capital firms – GGV Capital, GSR Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures, and Walden International – “expressing serious concern” about their investments in China, and requesting information on their spending on AI, semiconductor and quantum computing companies.


Why Singapore benefits from the US-China tech war

Why Singapore benefits from the US-China tech war

Last month, Biden announced new measures that would restrict US venture capital and private equity investments in Chinese companies in the same three fields.

Intensified US trade restrictions, including export curbs on advanced semiconductors, have deterred a lot of investors from backing Chinese AI start-ups, Jui Tan, managing partner at Lanchi, told the Post in July when it was still BRV China. He added that the company remains committed to investing in the local AI sector. Lanchi is set to allocate over 50 per cent of its new 5.5 billion yuan fund, raised in May last year, to AI start-ups, he said.

Compared with some other companies, geopolitical risks are “less of an issue” for Lanchi because it has been operating separately for years, Tan said at the time. Lanchi’s decisions are made independently, without any sharing of profits or back-office services, he said.


BRV was the fourth-largest US investor in China’s AI industry between 2015 and 2021 by number of transactions, according to a report published in February this year by Georgetown University’s Centre for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET). Out of the 24 AI investment deals it made in that period, 20 went to Chinese firms, CSET said. GGV Capital took the top spot with 43 investments into Chinese AI.


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