500 Southeast Asia makes $17.9m initial close of latest venture fund

The 500 Startups logo is displayed at the company's Capital Towers office in Singapore. Photo: Ipsita Ray/DEALSTREETASIA

500 Southeast Asia (formerly 500 Durians), the Southeast Asia-focused fund of global venture capital firm 500 Startups, has raised $17.9 million so far for its latest VC fund, according to its filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

The filing did not specify the target amount for 500 Southeast Asia III, which has so far received capital commitments from 18 investors. DealStreetAsia sources, however, had said earlier that 500 Startups is looking at raising $75 million for the third vehicle.

The second fund, which was first announced in 2016, closed at around $51-52 million in 2019, and invested in seed-stage companies in Southeast Asia. It was a follow-up of the first fund that the firm launched in 2013.

500 Southeast Asia has made investments in approximately 250 companies, which have gone on to raise a total of $20 billion. At least 15 of its portfolio companies have been reported to be worth more than $100 million each.

The firm’s first generation of investments include Grab, Bukalapak, Carsome, Prenetics, FinAccel, and Carousell.

Its primary focus continues to be Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore, and may also invest in the broader Southeast Asia region.

In an earlier statement, the firm said it remains dedicated to seed-stage investing, cutting cheques of up to $500,000, but is now open to larger follow-on cheques of up to $5 million, as well as potential investments through special-purpose vehicles (SPVs).

In an interview after 500 Southeast Asia announced its name change last week, the venture capital firm’s managing partner Vishal Harnal said the VC focuses on investments related to fintech, healthcare “with a focus on self-care”, sustainable cities, and human and machine productivity. “They form the core of what we think the opportunity set is going to be in the next few years, from 2021, 2020, and all the way to 2023,” he said.

500 Southeast Asia, however, is not the only 500 Startups fund that focuses on the region. It also operates 500 Startups Vietnam and the Thailand-focused accelerator fund, 500 TukTuks.

Beyond Southeast Asia, 500 Startups is also present in South Korea and Japan.

The filing for 500 Southeast Asia III comes as 500 Startups also filed to raise 500 Southeast Asia SPV II, a special purpose vehicle that will likely invest in a portfolio company. The predecessor fund — 500 Durians Growth Fund I — had a target size of approximately $21.18 million in 2018.

An SPV is typically floated to make a follow-on investment in a portfolio company. In the case of Fund I, the SPV invested in Singapore-based e-commerce company Carousell’s Series C round, which raised $85 million.

According to a recent report by DealStreetAsia-DATA VANTAGE, there were 55 Southeast Asia-focussed VC funds in the market, looking to raise $4.7 billion, in the first quarter of this year.

Source: DealStreetAsia – DATA VANTAGE

The report also noted that commitments by global VCs to the region are on the rise. As much as $2.5 billion was raised by global VCs with a Southeast Asia focus in Q1 this year, up from $925 million in the previous quarter and $200 million in Q1 2020.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.