AirAsia launches $60m global venture fund, partners 500 Startups

A member of ground staff walks under the wing of an AirAsia plane at Kota Kinabalu airport, Malaysia, November 30, 2015. REUTERS/Olivia Harris/Files

RedBeat Ventures, the digital venture arm of budget airline AirAsia, on Monday announced the launch of a new venture capital fund.

Called RedBeat Capital, the fund will target post-seed stage startups seeking to enter or expand their presence in Southeast Asia, with a particular focus on travel and lifestyle, logistics, and fintech.

AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes told TechCrunch that the fund size is $60 million. The VC fund will also operate independently and is raising capital from external investors, as first reported by DEALSTREETASIA.

“AirAsia and RedBeat Capital are on the lookout for the world’s best and brightest to help us develop a travel technology ecosystem. What better place to start than right here in San Francisco,” Fernandes said in a statement.

RedBeat Capital has partnered with San Francisco-based venture capital firm 500 Startups to gain access to its deal flow, and its accelerator programme graduates and ideas.

“Talent is both universal and abundant in all corners of the world, especially in Southeast Asia. Moreover, this region has more internet users than the US, which presents a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs,” said 500 Startups CEO Christine Tsai.

Led by RedBeat Ventures CEO and AirAsia Group Deputy CEO (Technology and Digital) Aireen Omar, the venture capital fund’s launch is another move to facilitate the company’s transformation from a low-cost carrier into a travel technology company.

“We intend to operationalise this year, working with Christine [Tsai] and her team to identify and invest in startups that are willing to grow and expand, particularly into Southeast Asia where we have the network, data and regional expertise to help accelerate their business,” Fernandes added.

RedBeat Ventures oversees AirAsia’s digital lifestyle brands BIGLIFE, AirAsia BIG Loyalty, travel360.com, Vidi, BigPay, RedCargo Logistics, RedBox, ROKKI and OURSHOP.

AirAsia services an extensive network of over 140 destinations across the Asia Pacific. It claims that since starting operations in 2001, it has carried more than 500 million guests and grown its fleet from just two aircraft to over 200.

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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.