500 Startups emerges as most active tech investor in SEA

In a tech co-working space in China | Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

With around 90 portfolio companies in Southeast Asia, Silicon Valley-based venture capital fund 500 Startups has emerged as the top tech investor in the region by a substantial margin, according to data provided by CB Insights.

500 Startups is a global VC seed fund and startup accelerator with over $250 million in assets under management. It has invested in over 1,900 technology startups in 60 countries since its founding in 2010. As an early-stage investor, 500 Startups’ initial cheque sizes range between $50,000 and $250,000, giving it leverage to spread its bets.

In October last year, it closed its second Southeast Asia-focused Durians Fund of $50 million. It plans to use the latest fund, a follow-up to the 500 Durians I fund launched in 2013, to back about 200 companies in the region.

The first fund, which more than doubled its targeted size to $25 million, had invested in 119 startups. Ride-hailing firm Grab, Indonesian e-commerce company Bukalapak and mobile marketplace Carousell were among companies backed by the fund.

500 Startups also has micro-funds focused on specific markets in the region, including for Thailand and Vietnam. The VC firm was reportedly also exploring the possibility of launching a micro-fund for the Philippines.

Data compiled by CB Insights | Infographic: DEALSTREETASIA

In second spot after 500 Startups is East Ventures, one of Southeast Asia’s oldest early-stage investors. The investment firm has made 58 investments in the region in the technology space since 2012.

Founded in 2010, East Ventures closed its fifth fund worth $27.5 million earlier this year. Its portfolio of over 135 companies includes Softbank-backed Tokopedia, e-commerce firms Orami and HipVan, and digital media firm Tech In Asia.

As another early-stage investor, its ticket sizes are typically between $100,000 and $500,000. Apart from Southeast Asia, where Indonesia is a key market, East Venture is also a prominent investor in Japan, and is present in the US too.

Singapore-based VC Golden Gate Ventures and Japan’s CyberAgent Ventures, the VC arm of CyberAgent Inc, are tied in the third place, with 30 investments each in the region.

Golden Gate Ventures invests at the seed, Series A, and bridge stages in companies raising between $1 million and $5 million. Tech companies in its portfolio include finance portal MoneySmart, used car online marketplace Carro and digital healthcare data startup Vault Dragon.

Meanwhile, CyberAgent Ventures invests across stages from early to late stage and also offers debt financing. Its portfolio includes Vietnam’s e-learning startup Kyna.vn, healthcare portal ViCare and e-commerce firm DKT Technology.

In fourth and fifth places are early-stage, cross-border investment firm Wavemaker Partners (24 investments) and Gobi Partners (23). This year, Wavemaker Partners has invested in automotive SaaS start-up Aureso, cloud communications firm Wavecell and shopper engagement app Snapcart.

Gobi Partners has backed Singapore-backed mobile app developer Apps Foundry, Malaysia’s online game publisher CIB and Vietnam’s mobile wallet startup.

Also Read:

India: Blume Ventures tops list of most active tech investors

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.