The technology investment firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byersis is opening offices in Shanghai and Beijing and plans to invest a US$360 million fund in Chinese Internet, energy, media and communications start-ups.
The move, which was to be announced yesterday, underscored the growing interest among many venture capitalists in China's blossoming economy and entrepreneurial culture.
Kleiner Perkins, while far from the first venture firm to enter China, is a particularly high-profile example of the trend.
Ted Schlein, a partner at the firm, said it was the first time that Kleiner, which is based in Menlo Park, California, has had partners working out of an office abroad.
He said the firm took the unusual step because "this is where opportunity is going to be in the world."
The development came not just as China's economy is booming, but also as venture capitalists are becoming more willing to invest in start-ups overseas.
The venture capitalists hope in some cases that those offshore companies will be able to sell shares on foreign stock exchanges, yielding healthy profits and compensating for the challenges faced by small technology companies trying to go public in the US.
Schlein said he believed there was an opportunity to bring companies public in Hong Kong and on other regional exchanges.
Separately on Monday, the National Venture Capital Association and PriceWaterhouseCoopers said that in the first quarter of this year, venture capitalists had invested US$7.1 billion into start-ups.
This was the highest quarterly figure since the fourth quarter of 2001, when venture capitalists invested US$8 billion, said the association, an industry trade group.
Some venture capitalists said the growth reflected rising optimism in the industry that they would be able to take their investments public or have them be acquired at a premium.
They have struggled in the last five years to achieve these "exits," as the aftermath of the dot-com bust left a weak appetite among public market investors for shares in technology firms.