Conway, Milner Join Former Google China Head’s Internet Fund

Innovation Works Inc. Founder And CEO Kai-Fu Lee
Kai-Fu Lee, founder and chief executive officer of Innovation Works Inc. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

Innovation Works, the venture capital firm founded by Google Inc.’s former China head, said its new fund focused on Internet startups in the Asian nation attracted investors including Ron Conway and Yuri Milner.

The $180 million fund also drew investments from WI Harper Group, Baillie Gifford & Co. and Sequoia Capital, according to a statement by Innovation Works distributed via Marketwire. Innovation Works was founded in September 2009 by Kai-Fu Lee after he left Google, with an investment from WI Harper.

Since its founding, Innovation Works has invested in 34 projects, nine of which have gone on to receive financing from third-party, venture capital firms, the company said. The new Innovation Works Development Fund is the first U.S. dollar-based fund raised by the firm to focus on the Internet in China, which has the world’s largest population of Web users.

Conway was one of the first “angel investors,” individuals who provide financing to closely held companies that are too small to be funded by venture-capital firms. He was an early investor in both Google and Twitter Inc. Milner has invested in Facebook Inc., Zynga Inc., and Groupon Inc.

China had 485 million Internet users at the end of June, according to data from the government-sponsored China Internet Network Information Center.

Several of the early investments by Innovation Works were focused on mobile technology. According to its website, the investments include Tapas, an Internet smartphone operating system that’s based on Google’s Android and tailored for Chinese users; Wonderpod, a software assistant for Android phones; Umeng, an analytics tool for mobile developers in China and Photo Wonder, an international mobile phone software for enhancing and sharing photos.

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