Thirteen years ago, at the urging of Taiwanese officials, Hsu Ta-lin left his career as a research manager at IBM to set up the island's first venture-capital fund. As chairman, Asia, of operations for San Francisco's Hambrecht & Quist, Hsu, 54, heads 14 H&Q Asia funds that funnel $700 million into promising startups from Manila to Shanghai. He spends 90% of his time away from his California home--and has racked up 5.4 million United Airlines frequent-flier miles. "I live on United," Hsu says.
Now, Hsu is helping restructure corporate Asia. In Thailand, he has engineered takeovers of two companies that were wiped out by massive debt. In South Korea, Hsu set up a $120 million fund aimed at units of distressed chaebol. Hsu wants to clean up the traditional Asian management practices--and the balance sheets--of acquired companies. And he rewards executives the Silicon Valley way: with stock options.