Ayala Corp closes largest Philippine venture fund at $180m

Kickstart Ventures president Minette Navarette

Philippines-listed conglomerate Ayala Corporation has closed its new global venture capital fund at $180 million, making it the largest VC fund to emerge out of the Southeast Asian country.

The amount raised by Ayala Corporation and its subsidiaries for the Active Fund is 20 per cent more than the initial $150-million target announced by Ayala chairman Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala at the time of the fund’s launch in April 2019.

“We have our work cut out for us now that the Active Fund has closed. We begin our global search for disruptive startups driving towards our shared vision of the future,” said Minette Navarette, president at Kickstart Ventures, which is the sole manager of the VC fund.

The fund is anchored by Ayala Corporation, with participation from several of its subsidiaries — AC Energy, AC Industrials, AC Ventures, and BPI — besides Kickstart’s parent company Globe Telecom.

Active Fund is short for “Ayala Corporation Technology Innovation Venture.” It was named Active to debunk misconceptions that corporate venture capital is passive, “dumb”, or slow-moving.

The fund, which is Ayala’s first VC vehicle, seeks to deploy between $2 million and $10 million per deal globally at Series A to D funding stages. It will focus on sectors such as fintech, e-commerce, construction tech, and proptech.

It is also interested in solutions to urban city problems in emerging Asia, which may entail areas such as raising skillsets for blue-collar workers and creating access to scarce resources like water.

“It may seem counter-intuitive to increase investments at a time of economic uncertainty, but the past decades have shown world-changing, industry-defining innovations rising during regional and global disruptions,” Navarette added.

The Active Fund will be the third fund managed by Kickstart Ventures. Its previous two funds were a $50 million early-stage fund (2015 vintage) and a $9 million seed-stage evergreen fund (2012 vintage).

Kickstart managed to secure an exit last year when Indonesia’s Gojek acquired its portfolio company Coins.ph. The deal, which is estimated to be worth around $72 million, gave Kickstart a return of “many multiples,” according to Navarrete. She noted that Coins.ph was an exception as exits in the Philippines are still hard to come by.

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.