China a hotbed of artificial intelligence opportunities, says venture capitalist

WeChat mascots are displayed inside Tencent office at the TIT Creativity Industry Zone in Guangzhou, China on May 9, 2017.
WeChat mascots are displayed inside Tencent office at the TIT Creativity Industry Zone in Guangzhou, China on May 9, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (BLOOMBERG) - To see the future of artificial intelligence (AI), look East, said venture capitalist Jim Breyer.

"China right now represents about half of the most interesting AI investment opportunities in the world," Mr Breyer said at the CNBC Institutional Investor Delivering Alpha conference in New York.

His bullishness about China stems from the accelerated deployment of Internet technologies in urban and rural areas as well as government initiatives enabling AI startups to flourish. Tech giants such as Tencent Holdings, Baidu, Alibaba Group Holding and JD.com are quickly integrating self-learning technologies and snapping up AI talent at an "astonishing" rate, he added.

"When I think what are the great opportunities where we can generate tremendous value, it is in Chinese deep technology companies that are focused on the Chinese market," said Mr Breyer, founder of Breyer Capital.

"It's like an NFL quarterback draft, where the very best AI students, post-docs, and professors from around the world are commanding NFL quarterback-like salaries and compensation," he said.

Breyer Capital, which also does private equity, focuses on social media, AI, entertainment, media, digital health, data analytics and financial technology investments.

Mr Breyer led Facebook's first institutional venture capital round in April 2005. He is also an investor in media company Legendary Entertainment. Mr Breyer founded his investment firm in 2006.