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Bing Chen’s Ideas on Empowering Asian Communities

For this year’s Asian American Pacific Heritage Month, The Oppy wanted to highlight an Asian American leader driving real change in our community. We had the privilege to speak with Bing Chen, the President and Co-founder of Gold House– a collective of influential pan-Asian founders, creative voices, and leaders dedicated to systemically unlocking socioeconomic equity for new majority communities (fastest-growing but traditionally underserved) through unity, investments, and promotion. Chen attended University of Pennsylvania and previously served as YouTube’s Global Head of Creator Development and Management. He was a Forbes 30 under 30 honoree, a Hollywood Reporter Next Gen Leader; a Hollywood Reporter Most Influential Agent of Change; ABC News History Maker; ADCOLOR Catalyst Honoree; Asia Society Asia 21 Young Leader; Magic Johnson’s 32 Under 32 Leader; and Asian Chamber of Commerce Entrepreneur of the Year. He is also the General Partner and Co-founder of Aum Group, a multicultural film fund; and serves as a Board Director and Advisor to several leading digital media companies including Google’s Global Marketing Board, Snap’s Yellow Incubator, Omnicom’s Sparks & Honey, Baobab Studios, Oura Health, Musely, and more. 

This article has been edited for clarity. 

I know you’ve spoken about this a million times before, but can you tell our readers your inspiration and motivation behind creating Gold House?

So I think of it in two ways, for information and affliction. I think this is how most things are created. On the information side, we (Asian and Pacific Islanders) realized that we are already a world’s majority, so 4.5 billion people. We are domestically the fastest growing population and we will be the second largest race. And in basically every IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) category, we punch well above our consumptive weight.  On the other side, though, is affliction. So we realized that in the media, we were the most objectified; women are the most overly sexualized and of course, we were the most gainfully employed, but we were the least likely to be promoted to management according to Harvard Business Review. So I think that motivated us to say, Okay, well how do we not only combat this affliction and hate but actually ascertain new opportunities that are abundance-building or affirming not just for us, but for others? 

A bunch of us, like director Jon M. Chu from Crazy Rich Asians, the founder of Twitch, Kevin Lin etc. – we got together with what became 500 of the top Asian and Pacific Islanders in the country. So we did this roadshow with CEOs, celebrities, all that. And we asked them if you were to create the Asian mafia, how would you do it? Everyone said the same four things. So the first was the people to sh*t talk Asians are other Asians and we didn’t think that was acceptable. The second was, how do we reshape public opinion through the media? We know the media has a direct, whether through lexicon or imagery, impact on societal behaviors, and 80% of traditional media exported worldwide comes from the United States, almost entirely Hollywood. And so outside of the internet, we have a profound responsibility at a global level for what we produce. Third was the bamboo ceiling. Particularly in tech, we are over a third of the population, but we are half the executive ranks and single digits in C suites. We were very bothered by that. Especially because we were founded in Silicon Valley and Hollywood. The fourth was political progress, which basically is about how do we get more people in political office like us? So that was the origin.

It’s impressive how you guys managed to grow in such a short time and recently, I saw that you guys are launching a $3 million fund to invest in Asian entrepreneurs. So can you tell us a little bit about that? That sounds really exciting.

Appreciate it. Yeah. So Gold House Ventures, the definitive API fund. We are focused on several things actually. One is we do invest in founders of API descent because we want to break down the bamboo ceiling by creating our own ceiling. So when we control the C suite, we control boards, advisors, and we can be more inclusive. Two is we do expect this to be a top quartile performing fund, so this is not a social impact fund. The impetus for this is the affirmation versus affliction side. And the affirmation side is 25% of the companies with over half a billion dollars founded in the last decade have at least one AAPI founder. That’s Asian American, if we include the Motherland that number skyrockets. Of course, the other side of the table includes investors,  42% of the Midas list last year was Asian, including 6 of the top 10. In startups, we are crushing it. So one could argue,  you don’t need help and startups, actually we’re of the perspective that we should gas up where there’s already a fire, we should actually amplify where we’re already strong and leverage that for mass gain. 

That brings me to the third and fourth goals. So third is there’s also a social impact angle where 100% of my personal profits go back to Gold House, the nonprofit, to sustain our work. It’s sort of like an accelerated endowment. Fourth, and finally, we’re not just building a world for my Asian lead companies, that’s too myopic. We are instead partnering up with other multicultural funds. In my opinion, the most sincere way is to put our money where our mouth is and to literally invest in other companies. And other communities, invest in their talent and bring them along with us. So there’s mutual gain. I think what ends up happening with a lot of activism outside of just ephemerality is it only benefits one community at the expense of the giver. And that’s unsustainable, borderline disrespectful. 

Obviously, all the work you guys do has a huge economic and social impact on all these social issues. Do you have any advice for those of us who are graduating to still have an impact on issues we care about even if we don’t work in a company that directly works in that area?

Yeah, I think everyone can have an impact in their own singular way. I think the most important thing is to define one’s lane and stay in one’s lane. I think a lot of people feel they need to engage in social impact and philanthropy in the ways that social impact leaders do. Exhibit A: Let me write you a $10,000 or $50,000 check. It’s not sustainable. And it’s often not impactful because what these communities need is actually not money. It’s capacity building. It’s talent. It’s the right tools, so forth and so on. Secondly, financial firms, particularly PE shops, VC funds, have access to the world’s leading companies that control culture. So are there ways they can leverage those as well? Consulting is the exact same way. The convening power of consulting is really incredible, right? And it’s across industries and across regions. So can you actually leverage those networks to provide let’s say in kind or business development opportunities to help with social impact? 

I also saw you guys released the new A100 list, and you’re having the first gold Gala. Can you tell us a little bit about the significance of the list and the gala ?

Yeah, so the list goal is twofold. Number one, outside of celebrating Asian excellence, the real thought behind this, I think, is that achievement is defiance, because it is in the face of a historic high number of attacks that we still  have been able to persist in so many industries in the most productive, inventive and impactful ways. It’s another way to say we’re not just here we are thriving. I think that resilience, that incredible and stunning show of resilience is one of the best ways to fight back. 

Secondly, most non-API people and even in the API community people are just too busy. So every year in every industry, we distill the most essential and meaningful achievements for the masses. So they can understand not only the diversity of our achievements, but the diversity of our community. It’s sort of like our version of the Oscars where it resets the film every year. 

The Gold gala has several goals. One is to physically ascertain excellence and celebrate all those folks. It will be based on confirmed RSVPs, the single largest gathering of top API leaders in the history of this country. It’s just this incredible nexus of celebrity, cultural leaders, activists, business leaders, politicians and so forth. Second, it’s highly interactive. We’re going to be hosting a slate of interactive activities where people can start to actually do business on site. So whether it’s things like selling movies or financing, a lot of that will be there. And then third is Gold House in good form. We’ll be launching at least seven initiatives. Half of them are extremely material.

Lastly, For AAPI Heritage month I want to highlight some Asian businesses and artists. Let’s start with what’s your favorite Asian owned restaurant? 

I have so many. I’ll give you one just because he’s about to launch something new. Xi’An’s Famous Foods in New York. The lamb cumin pulled noodles are the best lamb cumin pulled noodles in the world. I’m saying this after having lived in Shanghai. So I love that. You can also order their home cooking kit and then you can pull the noodles and do it yourself.  It’s delicious, it’s super fun to do with groups and Jason the CEO depending on who you are, when it is, he will actually do interactive Zoom classes. I love Jason. He’s just such a good guy. He hustles like crazy and he’s trying to very thoughtfully expand the business. 

I’ve been to Xi’An many times! Excited to see what else he’s opening. So who’s your favorite Asian artist?

I really like Dumbfoundead and Ozy. I just discovered Rina Sawayama at Coachella. She’s so dope too.

What about your favorite Asian owned brand?

I really like the Asian American Girl Club sweatshirts. I’m actually wearing their sweatpants right now.

Favorite movie with either Asian creators or Asian cast?

So easy. Everything Everywhere All At Once is my favorite. It’s the best film I’ve ever seen. I swear to God, it’s better than Inception. It’s perfect because of and in spite of it being Asian. 

Huge thanks to Bing Chen for taking the time to chat with The Oppy, if you want to learn more more about Gold House follow them on social media:

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