- Boston-based contractor Suffolk has hired Wan Li Zhu, a venture capitalist with a background working for companies such as Microsoft and Google, as the new managing director of Suffolk Technologies.
- Zhu, who was a founding advisor to Suffolk Technologies, the firm's investment arm focused on companies that aim to transform the built world, will be responsible for the contractor's investment and partnership activities that accelerate industry-wide adoption of innovations.
- "Realizing the AEC and real estate industries can be complex for startups to navigate, we provide a unique combination of financial and strategic support to help drive ecosystem-wide adoption of emerging innovations," Jit Kee Chin, chief data and innovation officer at Suffolk, said in a statement shared with Construction Dive.
Zhu was previously a partner at Fairhaven Capital, a Boston venture capitalist firm, where his investments focused on applied artificial intelligence, marketplace platforms and data-driven businesses across multiple industries.
Before his venture capital experience, Zhu led enterprise software product development and marketing for Microsoft's Dynamics customer relationship management platform, and he has also spent time working at Google, Morgan Stanley and the New York Stock Exchange, and has served as chairman of the board at MIT Enterprise Forum and as the executive chairman of the New England Venture Network.
He holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and master's and bachelor's degrees in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. While at MIT, he conducted research in knowledge acquisition for artificial general intelligence at the MIT Media Lab and the application of AI to financial markets at the MIT Lab for Financial Engineering.
He is an active advisor and angel investor in the seed and early-stage startup ecosystem, and has co-founded and managed MIT Alumni Angels, which has supported more than 100 technology and life sciences startups founded by MIT alumni, faculty and students.
"A major differentiator of Suffolk Technologies is a truly interdisciplinary team that combines venture capital and technology industry experience with Suffolk's deep expertise/operational platform and extensive network," Chin said. "We are confident, given his expertise and involvement with Suffolk since 2019, that he will provide significant and immediate value in this new role."
Suffolk Technologies has invested in multiple construction-related firms, including:
- OpenSpace: Construction progress tracking artificial intelligence software.
- Canvas: A construction robotics startup.
- SmartVid: Safety detection artificial intelligence.
- Trade Hounds: A jobs platform designed to connect contractors with skilled workers, which was also backed by the MIT Angels.