Why We Give (continued)

Gary Rieschel ’79

Capitalizing on Reed

WHO: Gary Rieschel ’79
MAJOR: Biology
WHY: Reed’s mission.
HOW MUCH: $1.675 million
STAT: So far, 40 donors have given Reed gifts totaling $1 M or more during this campaign.

A Reed education provides a lens through which all of the rest of life’s experiences can be viewed,  says Gary Rieschel ’79.

Having been a shining star in the Reed biology department, Gary streaked like a comet across the high tech firmament. Acting on a tip from Paul DeYoung, director of international programs, who was then advising seniors on career options, Gary landed his first job in the semiconductor industry at Intel. Like a knight on a chessboard, he leaped to Sequent Computer Systems and then to Cisco. Changing games, he took on the world of venture capitalism—not for the faint of heart.

He held key executive positions at Softbank Venture Capital, Mobius Venture Capital, SAIF Partners (China), and Ignition Partners (U.S.), before he moved to Shanghai with his wife, Yucca Wong Rieschel, and their two children.

After talking with entrepreneurs and other VCs, Gary realized that very few people in China had his experience adding value to early-stage companies. With Duane Kuang and friends from Ignition Partners, he launched Qiming Venture Partners in 2005. With more than a billion dollars under management, the company is regarded as one of the best venture capital funds in China, particularly in the internet, health care, and cleantech sectors.

“Technology is the great leveler,” Gary says, “and access to it is going to be as necessary for success to an individual and society in the 21st century as access to electricity and water were in the 20th century.”

Gary learned early that the early bird catches the worm. As a boy he rose at 5:30 in the morning to pick strawberries, beans, and other crops near his home on the outskirts of Portland. He was fascinated with science, collecting insects and dreaming of lunar landings.

There wasn’t enough money to fund his goal of studying premed at Johns Hopkins. At his father’s insistence, Gary went to Reed and lived at home. He has been eternally grateful for the twist of fate that delivered him into the hands of Laurens Ruben [biology 1955–92] and the Reed biology department.

Ruben remembers Gary as a social being who got on well with other students and was quick to comprehend the research. A conscientious and enthusiastic investigator, Gary learned to synthesize different pieces of data into a coherent explanation. In the field of venture capitalism, this has served him well.

“We have to be able to look around corners and see where technology is going to be several years down the road,” Gary says. “It is rare that an individual has this ability on more than an occasional basis. But at Reed I learned that I could multiply my chances for success by seeking out other’s opinions and viewpoints and challenging my assumptions. That is one of the key reasons I’ve been successful as a venture capitalist.”

Gary and Yucca are thoughtful in their charitable giving. They believe strongly in cross-disciplinary studies and have given more than a half million dollars to support Reed’s environmental studies program. They established the Wong DeYoung Scholarship, which honors Paul DeYoung and provides financial assistance for students born in Mainland China to attend Reed. Last year Gary pledged $100,000 annually for five years to inspire young alumni giving to the Annual Fund.