Snow Bull Capital CEO: SZ is the reason we moved to China

Writer: Yang Mei  |  Editor: Zhang Chanwen  |  From: Original  |  Updated: 2024-03-26

Video by Lin Jianping

Watching drone shows, using drone delivery services, taking robotaxis, turning to AI tools to increase efficiency ... such novel happenings over the past few years in Shenzhen is now Taylor Ogan’s daily reality. The Snow Bull Capital CEO relocated to Shenzhen, from Boston, in January 2023.

When gazing out of his office window, Ogan finds himself most captivated not by the skyscrapers in Nanshan’s Houhai area, but by the constant low-altitude drone traffic. These drones are part of Meituan’s delivery service, which was launched last September.

The rapid technological development occurring in the city is the biggest reason why Ogan decided to relocate his company to Shenzhen.

“We weren’t going to move to China if we didn’t move to Shenzhen. It wasn’t even a question,” he said. “Shenzhen represents the future. There is no city that is newer and greener, and has more technology than Shenzhen.”

Taylor Ogan (C), CEO of Snow Bull Capital, and his co-workers at the company’s office in Houhai, Nanshan District. Lin Jianping

Snow Bull Capital, founded in Boston in 2018, invests in high-tech, clean-tech, and green-tech companies. The company focuses on areas like autonomous vehicles, electric vehicles (EVs), batteries, 5G, and artificial intelligence (AI). According to Ogan, Snow Bull Capital is now focusing on investing in Chinese companies.

“From the beginning, six years ago, our focus was not only on Chinese companies. It just happened to trend that way. Now, we’re starting a fund that only invests in Chinese tech companies and we’re getting Chinese investors,” Ogan told Shenzhen Daily during an exclusive interview March 15.

Choosing SZ

Shenzhen holds a special place for Ogan since he grew up listening to his parents and grandparents talk about the Chinese city they visited in the early 1990s. The 28-year-old has been to China many times. He first visited Shenzhen in 2015 and returned in 2019.

He is amazed at how rapidly the city develops and changes. “Five years ago, my office that we’re in right now didn’t exist. That’s pretty crazy,” Ogan said.

“We invest in companies that truly make people’s lives better. Shenzhen or China as a whole has a lot of those companies, and many of them are undiscovered. So as an investor, I see opportunities here,” Ogan continued.

He cited the growing prevalence of EVs, robotaxis, and charging stations as examples of Shenzhen’s innovative environment.

Ogan trusts the Chinese Government to implement the best and newest technologies and systems, such as AI, in the near future, which he believes is in alignment with his company’s investment philosophy.

“China has set rules for AI, and even ethics laws around AI, which I think gives Chinese AI companies more freedom to operate within the bounds that have already been set versus these companies themselves trying to govern and decide what is right and what is wrong,” he said.

On March 13, Shenzhen announced plans to spend 140 billion yuan (US$19 billion) on the construction of “new infrastructure” that will sharpen its competitive edge in 2024. Ogan commended the city’s ambitious implementation plans for AI and other high-tech and smart technologies that will improve urban management and public well-being. “AI can better mitigate traffic, route bicyclists, and can even be implemented for trash collection and for water, and for other areas that we’ve never seen. Shenzhen was, and will always be, the first city to implement AI into other areas,” he said.

Ogan mentioned that Snow Bull Capital is interested in emerging sectors like drones and the low-altitude economy as represented by eVTOL (Electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing) technology, areas in which Shenzhen is a leader.

‘China’s EVs are the best’

Ogan is bullish on China’s EV industry, led by Shenzhen-based BYD. “Last year was a tipping point where it’s kind of ridiculous not to buy an electric vehicle,” he said. “Now we’re starting to see China actually become an exporter of electric vehicles because China’s electric vehicles are the best.”

In 2015, during his first trip to Shenzhen, Ogan visited BYD’s headquarters when BYD was mostly making electric buses and taxis. He said “[BYD is now] going to countries and giving them things that are better than a Tesla.”

However, the automaker’s go-global drive is being challenged by the “derisking” strategy that the EU and U.S. are applying to China. Chinese-made electric vehicles are currently subject to a 27.5% import tariff in the U.S. The European Commission is carrying out an anti-subsidy investigation into Chinese EVs to determine whether to impose tariffs to protect EU producers. In Ogan’s opinion, such restrictions are “not as critical of a problem.”

“The Chinese car companies could insulate themselves completely. They’d be very successful by only selling to the Chinese market, but I think the rest of the world deserves these cars,” he said. Ogan added that China’s new energy vehicle makers can promise a strong supply chain, good quality and design, batteries, and engineers that automakers in the EU and the U.S. cannot compete with.

Ogan sees BYD as a pioneer in the electric vehicle space. “BYD is the only company in the world that can go to a country and say, we can electrify your entire country,” he explained. “They’re even making ships now.”

Enjoying a convenient life

Despite initial concerns about adapting to life in China, Ogan has found it to be smooth sailing.

Ogan enjoys exploring Shenzhen and neighboring cities like Guangzhou, Dongguan, and Hong Kong.

Ogan believes that Shenzhen is on its way to becoming a world-class tourist destination. “Five or six years ago, it was really difficult to be a tourist in China, and especially when Shenzhen had [first] gone cashless. What Shenzhen is working on is how open it is to foreigners, and I think the government is working with Tencent and other local partners.”

Shenzhen’s booming and dynamic tech scene drew Snow Bull Capital to China, which is now its long-term home.

“Before we moved to Shenzhen, we decided that we were going to live here for three years, get experience, and go back to the U.S. Then the day we moved here, we said it’s going to be five years. And now it’s hard to imagine not having Shenzhen in my life,” he concluded.

Watching drone shows, using drone delivery services, taking robotaxis, turning to AI tools to increase efficiency ... such novel happenings over the past few years in Shenzhen is now Taylor Ogan’s daily reality. The Snow Bull Capital CEO relocated to Shenzhen, from Boston, in January 2023.