Translated and compiled by Bing-sheng Lee

On March 16, Yu Chih-han, a 37-year-old Taiwanese entrepreneur, was selected as one of the World Economic Forum (WEF) 121 young global leaders. Yu is the only Taiwanese on the list.

Yu was given the award due to his achievement in founding Appier, a startup that utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) to support advertisers to improve their campaign strategies in the age of multimedia.

WEF annually selects young global leaders to recognize men or women under 40 who have shown potential and prospect for addressing the world’s most urgent and complex issues.

This year’s list also includes Joe Gebbia, co-founder of Airbnb, and Sam Altman, president of Y Combinator, an American seed accelerator.

In an interview with Apple Daily, Yu said that it is his honor to be included in the list of young global leaders. Appier is not only a software company established in Taiwan, but also a stage that features elite talents for developing AI technology.

Yu added that getting this honor pushes Appier a step further onto the international stage, introducing Taiwan’s AI technology to the world.

The entrepreneur said that artificial intelligence will redefine the way human beings live and the strategies enterprises take to operate their businesses. He hopes Appier will play a significant role in this wave of change via combining academic research and practical application to help corporations solve more complicated issues.

Appier garners US$30 million funding

Born in Taiwan, Yu went to the US to study AI and computer science for his master’s and Ph.D. degree. In 2012, he founded Appier in the US, and later chose to relocate the company back to Taiwan.

Yu says that some people say that he’s too optimistic, but he has always believed that he and his team can still lead change in the world, from here in Taiwan.

Yu’s company started out as a five-person team. It is now an enterprise that has more than 100 employees and offices located in 11 cities.

In 2014, Appier attained investment from Sequoia Capital, an American venture capital firm based in California. It is the first Taiwanese company Sequoia Capital has invested in.

So far, Appier has garnered more than US$30 million from seed investment, Series A and Series B round funding.

Yu says Taiwan’s startup environment is promising

With its headquarters located in Taipei, Appier has established international offices in ten other cities in Asia-Pacific: Singapore, Tokyo, Sydney, Mumbai, Hong Kong, Manila, New Delhi, Jakarta, Seoul and Ho Chi Minh City. It has clients all over the world, servicing over 500 brands and advertisers.

CommonWealth Magazine writes that Yu’s success has broken the myth that the startup environment in Taiwan is disappointing.

Yu said that the boundaries between countries have already been blurred by the prevalence of the Internet. At least, to him, it is not a problem to establish the headquarters of an internet based company or new technology startup in Taiwan. People in Taiwan should criticize themselves less and be more confident.

In an interview with CommonWealth Magazine, Yu said that according to his own experiences researching many Asian markets, he has found that every country has its own advantages in setting up a business.

Even though Taiwan has its restrictions, it also has many competitive edges for developing businesses, such as an abundance of software talent, solid infrastructure and a diverse domestic market. Yu thinks that Taiwan is a stepping-stone for startups to start exploring Asia and entering the international market.

Yu says that he and his team want Appier to prove that people can make it big here in Taiwan.

Edited by Olivia Yang

Apple Daily
Apple Daily
CommonWealth Magazine
World Economic Forum