PLDT Capital shifting investment strategy from Silicon Valley to Asean: Winston Damarillo

Winston Damarillo during DEALSTREETASIA's first Asia PE-VC Summit last September 30 at the Marina Mandarin, Singapore.

After its series of investments in Silicon Valley-based tech startups, PLDT Capital now plans to shift its focus on funding in companies within the ASEAN region, a top official with the Philippine venture capital firm said.

In an interaction with DEALSTREETASIA, PLDT Capital managing director Winston Damarillo, said investing in Asean-based startups would be a new addition to the company’s strategy.

“PLDT Capital continues to look for investments. We started mostly in Silicon Valley but we now entertain investing in companies within the ASEAN region, and soon we’ll make our first Filipino/Asean-based investment,” he said.

Also read: Philippines: PLDT Capital invests $5m in US-based Matrixx Software

Damarillo pointed out that PLDT Capital was looking for startups engaged in industries that are disruptive to business.

“Besides fintech, we are also looking at the sharing economy, like the next Airbnb, next Uber, a kind of situation where it’s uniquely regional,” Damarillo said. “So we have a few prospects and are continuing to look for opportunities.”

Launched in September 2015 by digital telco giant PLDT with a $50 million fund, PLDT Capital has made significant amounts of investments in US-based tech startups Phunware, Hopscotch, AppCard, and Matrixx Software.

Also Read: Philippines: PLDT turns $15m investment in iflix into shares, now holds 7.5%

The company has so far invested in only two Asian startups ― acquiring Singapore-based e-commerce firm Paywhere in August 2015, and raising the value of its stake in TV streaming service iflix last March which is headquartered in Malaysia.

Phunware is a Multiscreen-as-a-Service (MaaS) platform that helps brands to engage, manage and monetize their mobile application users worldwide; Hopscotch is a mobile fans app developer; AppCard is a digital marketing and loyalty platform; and Matrixx is a provider of real-time, integrated infrastructure for the business of digital service providers.

The venture capital firm hasn’t raised a fresh capital yet and is currently focused on enabling business growth in its invested companies.

Also read: Philippines: Digital marketing platform AppCard raises $20m Series B led by PLDT Capital

“We actually wanted to be very careful that our investments are in-strategy and progressing well. We’ve been focused of making sure they’re successful,” he said.

Damarillo further added that Phunware was doing very well with Malaysia’s soverign fund Khazanah recently investing over $22 million, while Matrixx and iflix continue to progress globally, and in Asia, respectively.

PLDT Capital has been specifically created to focus on investments that support the PLDT core businesses run by its units such as Smart Communications, ePLDT, Digital5, and Voyager. The goal is to grow the listed telco’s portfolio of digital services in the Philippines and abroad.

Also Read:

Malaysian government fund Khazanah invests $22m in US tech startup Phunware

PLDT Capital invests $1m in US-based app maker Hopscotch

PLDT Capital inks $10m JV with US tech firm Phunware

Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company snaps up ecommerce startup Paywhere for $5m

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.