To call Koh Soo Boon an early mover in venture capital is a bit of an understatement. When she began her career in 1988, International Business Machines Corp. was the dominant force in technology. Apple Inc., without Steve Jobs, was struggling to develop its first portable computer. Mark Zuckerberg hadn’t started kindergarten.
Koh was tapped by Singapore’s government to manage a company in Silicon Valley, an enterprise that would eventually become Vertex Venture Holdings Ltd., now a global firm with more than $3 billion under management. She found mentorship from other early investors like Paul Haung, co-founder of Cadence Design Systems Inc. Her language skills and network to find and back overlooked Taiwanese and Chinese entrepreneurs building cutting-edge technology in the U.S.