Ferreting Out the Phonies

Spend time with Feng Tao, one of China's most successful venture capitalists, and you will hear a lot about "fake people." His Shanghai-based firm, NewMargin Ventures, weeds through 3,000 proposals a year from businesses hungry for a portion of its $100 million pot. Somehow he's got to sniff out the real deals from the pretenders.

It's a task he does well. In 1997, while working for a multinational mining-finance group, he was among the first investors in Sina.com, which became one of the world's largest Internet portals. His prescience won the attention of Beijing economic planners eager to...

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