Speaker: Victor Koo

The Power of Contemplative Practices: A Tech Entrepreneur's Journey of Scaling Inwards

Has an unexpected encounter or conversation significantly catalyzed or shaped your inner journey?

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Victor Koo is a familiar face in China's tech industry. In the 90s, he was president of Sohu, China's second-largest search engine. Subsequently, he founded YouKu, China's largest online video platform with 500 million monthly users (commonly called the "YouTube of China" and later sold to Alibaba).

Surprisingly, his journey of scaling began to turn inwards at a tech conference in Sun Valley in 2016, when a networking conversation with a young entrepreneur soon turned towards meditation. Upon hearing that Victor had always wanted to try it, the young entrepreneur let go of the opportunity to network with others, instead guiding Victor to an hour-long meditation.

That was the first hour of meditation in Victor's life, a seed that he continues to cultivate through a daily practice now spanning several years. Along the way, on a trip to Thailand, he casually walked into a breathwork course without any context. That session, led by a teacher who had survived Stage-4 terminal cancer through breathwork practice, further opened up his inner world in a striking way. "If I never believed in chakras and energy body within each of us, that session blew all of that disbelief away based on direct experience that lasted over a day."

As Victor's inner journey took root, it has also decidedly altered the course of his work in the world. After transitioning from his role at Youku, Victor shifted his focus to inner-purpose-driven service and investing. In late 2016, he co-founded Tianren Culture - a social platform based out of Hong Kong that aims to promote "One Wisdom, One Health" by encouraging and enabling contemplative practices and healthy lifestyles. It focuses especially on those practices and lifestyles with roots in spiritual and natural wisdom and non-dualistic philosophies, positing that human physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health and wellness is interconnected with the health of the broader environment and ecosystem.

Tianren Culture partners with foundations, NGOs, and businesses to put in place effective social innovation initiatives to improve physical wellness through overall food system transformation, as well as mental, emotional, and spiritual wellness by supporting scientific research and promoting meditation and breathwork practices. The Tianren team is actively volunteering time for Servicespace's AI-related initiatives, including CompassionGPT. Related to Tianren's work, Victor is also a board director of Good Food Fund and on the advisory board of Global Wellness Institute.

Victor's exposure to multiple cultures has been formative in his journey - he was born in Hong Kong, and apart from twenty-five years in China, he has lived extensively in Australia, US, and Japan - with Japan being his current home since the pandemic. He received his BS degree from University of California, Berkeley, where he was also a Regent's scholar and MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he currently serves on the Advisory Council. Victor's professional experience lies mostly at the intersection of the technology and media sectors, as well as private equity and venture capital investments. He continues to serve as Chairman of Heyi (his company that incubated Youku), which now focuses on disruptive innovation and social impact investments in areas such as health, genome, and new protein. He is also a senior advisor of Texas Pacific Group and a business advisor of DeCheng Capital.

"If there was one thing I wish I had known before I started my company, it is meditation (by far!) because of the calm and equanimity that it brings you, and really helps you question the purpose of why you're doing what you're doing." It's a piece of advice that Victor can often be found paying forward now to b-school students and young founders.

Join us in conversation with this founder-turned-server, as we learn more about his journey of scaling inwards, or as he loves to quote Bruce Lee, to "be like water". The call will be hosted by Xue Devand and Birju Pandya. Xue formerly founded one of the "50 most innovative companies of the world" and now currently runs The Space Between, a venture capital fund aiming to be a "sacred hospitality" company that helps inspire wealthholders to transition their consciousness from being owners of money to being the stewards of money. Birju is Chief Mindfulness Officer/Managing Director at Mobius.life, an integrated capital family office, and a long-time volunteer with Servicespace.


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