Star Lessons in Leadership with James Mi *91, ECE

GradFUTURES *Star Lessons in Leadership series featuring James Mi *91 (MA, Electrical Engineering), Founding Partner of Lightspeed China Partners.

By Yuzhou Bai (October 15, 2019)

GradFUTURES *Star Lessons in Leadership series welcomed our first speaker of the academic year this October. James Mi *91 (MA, Electrical Engineering), Founding Partner of Lightspeed China Partners, gave a lively talk with Q&A discussion to a full house on his Princeton experience and what contributed to his incredibly prolific career.

James highlighted the importance for graduate students to envision ourselves as transformative forces in society. In his Princeton days, he had already begun looking for ways to pivot his research to meet industry needs. This led him to intern at Intel, where he was able to make use of his research specialty to quickly solve a key problem in chip design. Starting from there, he established himself in the U.S. tech scene, leading to a manager post at Google and eventually to founding his own venture capital firm in Shanghai.

Looking back, James argued that every graduate student’s training equips them for a wide range of careers. He believes that graduate students all share one important skill: to learn and adapt to new ideas in a more efficient way. This goes beyond disciplinary boundary. Therefore, James recommended graduate students to dare to try out different things. As his own experience shows, being exploratory and open-minded provides one with a holistic view of how things operate, which inspire new ideas for both research and business.

At the talk and the reception that followed, James also shared his tips on how to make the best out of Princeton while in grad school: mingle with people outside your discipline, enjoy life outside of research, and never hesitate to reach out to the alums—they are always more than happy to get to know the new Tigers and help you prosper.

James Mi *91, the founding partner of Lightspeed China Partners (LCP), a leading China-focused early-stage venture capital firm currently manages over $1.9 billion of committed capital. He ranks No. 12 on Forbes 2019 VC Midas List of Top VC globally. James received a M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Princeton University. 

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