Money Moves: Tech Investment and U.S.-China Relations
October 24, 2023 at 1 pm PT / 4 pm ET
Many people recognize “Silicon Valley” as a technological hotbed, but few understand how tech companies are funded. How much money is required? Who provides the capital? And what information, rights, or other benefits do funders receive in exchange for their support? We are living through an industrial revolution defined by rapid, simultaneous advances in emerging technologies that can serve both military and civilian applications. As such, there is heightened interest in understanding who has access to the technology and by what means.
In the past decade, Chinese capital has flooded U.S. and global technology ecosystems at record levels–buoyed by massive currency reserves and determined Chinese government leadership. For example, in 2015, Chinese sources of venture capital accounted for 16% of all venture deals in the U.S. Since 2018, U.S. policymakers have introduced legislation and executive actions to hone in on vectors for technology transfer to the People’s Republic of China.
On October 24, Michael Brown, Partner at Shield Capital and former Ambassador Craig Allen, President of the U.S.-China Business Council, sat in conversation with IST Advisor Pavneet Singh to discuss the role of investment in the technology competition between the U.S. and China. Vice President for Geostrategic Risk Ben Purser kicked off the discussion with an introduction to IST’s Strategic Balancing Initiative.
What is the concern for U.S. policymakers about Chinese investment in U.S. early stage technology companies? What were the effects of the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act on Chinese investment? How are U.S. companies faring in the Chinese market? And is the U.S. equipped to compete in the economic and financial domain? Join us on October 24.
Partner, Shield Capital
Michael Brown is a partner at the dual-use venture capital firm, Shield Capital, having joined the firm in October, 2022.
Michael previously served four years (2018-2022) as the Director of the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) at U.S. Department of Defense. DIU fields leading-edge commercial capabilities to the military faster and more cost-effectively than traditional defense acquisition methods. During his tenure, DIU introduced 100 new vendors to DoD, fielded 50 new capabilities to the military, and increased the transition rate of fielded capabilities to 50%. He also led the initiative for a new Defense Department-sponsored investment vehicle, National Security Innovation Capital (NSIC) to fund dual-use hardware technology companies.
From 2016 to 2018, Michael served as a White House Presidential Innovation Fellow. There, he co-authored a Pentagon study on China’s participation in the U.S. venture ecosystem, a catalyst for the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA). FIRRMA was signed into law in August 2018 and provided expanded jurisdiction to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).
Prior to civil service, Michael was the CEO of Symantec Corporation (2014-2016), at the time the global leader in cybersecurity and the world’s 10th largest software company. He is also the former Chairman and CEO of Quantum Corporation (1995-2003) and Chairman of EqualLogic (2003-2008).
Michael received his BA degree in economics from Harvard University and his MBA degree from Stanford University.
President, US-China Business Council
On July 26, 2018, Craig Allen began his tenure in Washington, DC as the president of the US-China Business Council (USCBC), a private, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing over 270 American companies doing business with China. Prior to joining USCBC, Craig had a long, distinguished career in US public service.
Craig began his government career in 1985 at the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA). He entered government as a Presidential Management Intern, rotating through the four branches of ITA. From 1986 to 1988, he was an international economist in ITA’s China Office.
In 1988, Craig transferred to the American Institute in Taiwan, where he served as Director of the American Trade Center in Taipei. He held this position until 1992, when he returned to the Department of Commerce for a three-year posting at the US Embassy in Beijing as Commercial Attaché.
In 1995, Craig was assigned to the US Embassy in Tokyo, where he served as a Commercial Attaché. In 1998, he was promoted to Deputy Senior Commercial Officer. In 1999, Craig became a member of the Senior Foreign Service.
From 2000, Craig served a two-year tour at the National Center for APEC in Seattle. While there, he worked on the APEC Summits in Brunei, China, and Mexico. In 2002, it was back to Beijing, where Craig served as the Senior Commercial Officer. In Beijing, Craig was promoted to the Minister Counselor rank of the Senior Foreign Service.
After a four-year tour in South Africa, Craig became Deputy Assistant Secretary for Asia at the US Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration. He later became Deputy Assistant Secretary for China. Craig was sworn in as the United States ambassador to Brunei Darussalam on December 19, 2014. He served there until July 2018, when he transitioned to President of the US-China Business Council.
Craig received a B.A. from the University of Michigan in Political Science and Asian Studies in 1979. He received a Master of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University in 1985.
Adjunct Senior Fellow for Strategic Competition, Institute for Security and Technology
Pavneet Singh is an independent consultant providing policy analysis and strategic advice on issues related to emerging technology, national security, supply chain resiliency, public finance and broader geopolitics. Additionally, he leads a team of data scientists and software engineers to develop the Infobalize public policy technology platform. Most recently he served on the Biden-Harris transition team, developing Biden Administration priorities on national security and science and technology policy. He is the co-author of the Department of Defense’s 2018 study on economic and technological competition with China and subsequently co-led the legislative and operational process to create National Security Innovation Capital, a DoD-sponsored investment vehicle. Singh is also a nonresident fellow at the Brookings Institution.
Previously, Pavneet served in several roles on the National Security Council (NSC) and National Economic Council (NEC) in the Obama Administration. He served as a director for international affairs, working in the trade war room to build the administration’s case for passing trade agreements. In addition, Pavneet managed the U.S.-China and U.S.-India economic relationships, including serving as the NSC’s lead director for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Summit in Beijing, and in the development of the president’s economic deliverables for the bilateral summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Pavneet also led the economic policy process for the president’s historic participation in Republic Day in New Delhi in 2015. In addition, Pavneet coordinated and executed the U.S.-India CEO forum, a gathering of 30 of the leading American and Indian CEOs designed to highlight impediments to, and opportunities for, greater trade and investment between the United States and India.
Prior to the White House, Pavneet worked as an analyst on the World Bank’s Commission on Growth and Development. The commission’s deliberations spanned two years and brought together 21 leading economists, policymakers, and private sector practitioners from emerging and industrial economies to explore the economic, social, and political factors necessary for sustainable and inclusive economic growth.
Pavneet earned his master’s with distinction in international relations at Georgetown University where he was an Institute for the Study of Diplomacy fellow and a Yahoo! fellow. He earned his undergraduate degrees in business administration and political economy from University of California, Berkeley.
Vice President for Geostrategic Risk, Institute for Security and Technology
As Vice President for Geostrategic Risk at the Institute for Security and Technology (IST), Ben Purser leads efforts to improve public-private sector alignment on technology policy, particularly with respect to China. Ben joins IST after almost 2 years at Meta, where he worked on the Strategic Response team under the leadership of Sheryl Sandberg and led forward-looking public policy programs on Nick Clegg’s team.
A public servant for over 15 years, Ben comes to IST having most recently served as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State (DAS) in the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs. Prior to that, he served as a DAS in the Bureau for International Security and Nonproliferation. While at State, he also served as the Chief Coordinator for Sanctions and Denuclearization on the Secretary’s Working Group for North Korea, during which time he joined negotiations in Pyongyang, and as the Senior Advisor for Competitive Strategy to the Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security.
Before his time at State, Ben led the Europe and Eurasia team for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 2015 to 2018. He initially entered public service in response to 9/11, leaving a management position in a consulting firm in China to become an intelligence officer in the United States Navy from 2002 to 2011. He has also worked for both the U.S. Naval War College and AmeriCorps, where he served as a member of the Veteran Leader Corps.
Beyond public service, Ben has worked for both the Johns Hopkins Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies and the RAND Corporation. Ben earned a B.A. in political science and international relations, cum laude, at Carleton College, a masters in National Security & Strategic Studies at the U.S. Naval War College (Fleet Seminar Program), and both a master’s and a doctorate in political science (international relations and public policy) at the University of Colorado Boulder. Additionally, Dr. Purser is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins SAIS — Nanjing University Center.