Lightspeed Venture Partners is opening its first Southeast Asia office in Singapore.
The Silicon Valley-based venture capital (VC) firm has appointed its first employee, Pachara Lawjindakul, who will be based in Singapore, according to her LinkedIn profile.
Prior to this, Lawjindakul was a principal with Southeast Asia’s early-stage VC firm Insignia Ventures Partners. She also had previous stints at Tiger Global Management as well as Grab in Thailand.
Lightspeed has reportedly been eyeing the Southeast Asia market for some time. It clinched its first deal in the region when it joined a $2 billion eye-popping round for Grab, alongside OppenheimerFunds, Ping An Capital and Toyota, in August 2018.
The US early-stage VC is an active investor in India and China, and has built a sizable presence in these markets. Some of its prominent investments include B2B marketplace Udaan and edtech player Byju’s in India, and Full Truck Alliance, Fangdd and Tujia in China. Its past exits include prominent names such as China’s Meituan and Pinduoduo.
Lightspeed Venture Partners runs a global portfolio across multiple funds, focusing on early-stage firms in the consumer and enterprise space. It currently manages over $6 billion of committed capital across the US, Israel, India and China.
Last May, the US firm was reported to be raising $1 billion for a global vehicle called the Lightspeed Global Opportunity Fund.
Southeast Asia draws attention from US venture capital firms
Lightspeed joins the likes of Vulcan Capital and MassMutual Ventures, both of which opened Southeast Asian offices in Singapore in recent months.
Vulcan Capital, the investment house of late Microsoft Corp co-founder Paul Allen, opened its first international office in Singapore last August, earmarking $100 million for early-stage opportunities in the region.
MassMutual Ventures, the venture arm of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co, first set up its first $50-million Southeast Asian fund in November 2018. Last month, the corporate VC firm doubled down with a second $100 million fund dedicated to the region.
Other longstanding Silicon Valley VCs with a Southeast Asian presence include Wavemaker Partners and 500 Startups.
Southeast Asia has long been considered a geographically distant and nascent market for US investors to dabble in.
That has shifted with tech unicorns like Grab, Gojek and Tokopedia emerging as winners in their respective sectors (ie: ride-hailing, e-commerce, travel).
Several of these homegrown giants are also forging exit paths for themselves in American stock exchanges like the NYSE and NASDAQ.
To date, there is just one Southeast Asian tech unicorn that has managed to successfully list in the US – Sea Group on the NASDAQ in 2017. Sea Group is the parent firm of Garena, a global gaming company, and Shopee, one of Southeast Asia’s largest e-commerce platforms.