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Silicon Valley's week of schmoozing with Asian leaders

By NexChange
Venture Capital

Last week we saw a who's who of Silicon Valley rub shoulders with two of Asia's biggest leaders: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Here we summarize the two visits and how they reflect on Silicon Valley's evolving ties with Asia.

China 

Xi decided to  kick off his trip to the US last week by meeting with 28 top tech executives. Among them was Apple's Tim Cook, Facebook's Mark Zuckerburg, Microsoft's Satya Nadella, and Amazon.com's Jeff Bezos.

The meeting - which actually took place in Seattle - was awkward at best. CEOs hoping to talk with the Chinese leader on such pressing issues as cyber attacks and the theft of intellectual property by Chinese companies instead got a brief address and a photo op.

There were some brief moments of light relief: Zuckerberg's exchange with Xi in Mandarin, and the Xi's frequent - if somewhat cheesy- references to US popular culture.

The most significant development were a series of proposed tech alliances. Among them was an agreement by search engine  Baidu to promote Window 10 to its users if Microsoft made Baidu the default search engine for operating system's China release.

Also ride-hailing app Didi Kuaidi -  which recently backed US counterpart Lyft - agreed to a tie-up with social network LinkedIn to develop artificial intelligence solutions.

India

Unlike his Chinese counterpart, the Indian prime minister went to meet with US tech leaders in their home turf for a two-day tour where he had a much warmer reception.

The highlight was Modi's teary one-on-one chat with Zuckerberg at Facebook's campus. Modi, who is one of the world's most popular political leaders on social media, spoke of his commitment to his "Digital India" agenda, which Zuckerberg also pledged to support.

He then went on to Google's headquarters where he met with the firm's India-born CEO Sundar Pichai. The visit coincided with Google's announcement that it would bring wireless to 500 Indian railway stations.

But perhaps the biggest score following Modi's trip was Qualcomm Ventures - the investment arm of the US chipmaker - revealing its $150 million India-focused venture capital fund for startups in the mobile and internet-of-everything (IoE) ecosystem.

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