Canva backer Blackbird Ventures sells part of Fund I for $69m

Blackbird Ventures team

Australian venture capital firm Blackbird Ventures, which counts Canva and Zoox in its portfolio, announced that it has sold a part of its first fund for A$100 million (about $69 million) through a GP-led secondary transaction.

The firm’s inaugural fund – Blackbird Ventures 2012 LP – raised A$29 million ($20 million) from 97 individual investors in 2013. The capital invested is now worth almost A$300 million ($206 million), the company said in a statement posted on its website.

The transaction allowed BlackBird’s first fund investors to sell a minority portion of their holdings to StepStone and HESTA for approximately A$100 million. Blackbird will continue to manage the new fund on behalf of the new owners.

StepStone is a US-based global private markets firm while HESTA is an Australian superannuation fund.

“The transaction leaves our relationships with our underlying portfolio companies unchanged as Blackbird continues to manage the new fund, which holds the shares,” the firm said.

The deal marks one of the first GP-led secondary transactions in Australia. The transaction, according to Blackbird Ventures, is becoming more popular in the US and Asia after it was pioneered by large global venture capital firms.

The transaction process saw Blackbird run a competitive tender process to set the price for the assets. The process was advised by Lazard and resulted in strong interest from a group of global investors.

Lazard was also engaged by Warburg Pincus in 2017 to consider a secondary transaction to facilitate the sale of up to $1 billion of Asian assets from its 2013 vintage private equity fund.

According to a report by the Australian Financial Review, the sale returned A$2.90 in cash for every A$1 invested in Blackbird’s first fund. Most of the investors who contributed to the first fund are technology company founders.

Blackbird said it has chosen to do the secondary to leave the remaining majority of the fund to continue to grow in value along with the portfolio companies.

“Secondly, by doing this secondary, we are able to continue backing the great founders of our portfolio companies for a longer period,” the firm said.

Founded in 2012, Blackbird Ventures is a VC fund based in Australia and New Zealand. It invests in every type of technology. Its 12 portfolio companies include self-driving car builder Zoox, graphic design platform Canva, and employee engagement service CultureAmp.

The firm participated in Canva’s $85-funding in October, which bolstered the design unicorn’s valuation to $3.2 billion.

Blackbird closed its A$225 million ($163.9 million) third fund backed by Hostplus, First State Super, and Future Fund in 2018. Its maiden fund was followed by a A$200-million second fund in 2015.

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.