Temasek, GIC have 20 unicorns; Sequoia, Tiger, SV Angel lead with 23 unicorns each

Temasek brand logo (from its social media page)

Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC and Temasek Holdings are among the leading snvestors in unicorns (startups valued at over $1 billion), according to data compiled by venture capital database CB Insights.

Also, three of the top five major sovereign wealth funds, who invest in technology vertical, originate from south east Asia: Khazanah Nasional of Malaysia, and Singaporean state funds GIC and Temasek Holdings

Deals by Singapore state funds from 2011 to 2014.

There are currently  185 private unicorn companies globally as on January 2017. The  global leaders in the unicorn investor category are Sequoia Capital, New York City-based hedge fund Tiger Global Management, and SV Angel, who together have 23 such firms in their portfolio.

In recent years, Temasek and GIC have actively bulked up their presence in such companies with in co-investments in  Airbnb, Uber, Flipkart and Didi Chuxing.

Airbnb, where Temasek has a stake, is particularly noteworthy given that it is backed by all eight of the top unicorn hunters.

The 10 most active sovereign wealth funds’ (SWFs) investments in private technology enterprises grew to $12.66 billion in 2016, an increase from $5.05 billion in 2014. As per CB Insights, Temasek Holdings has 15 unicorns, while GIC has five unicorns in its current portfolio.

Two of the top eight unicorn hunters are large, typically public market investors (mutual funds, asset investment banks, etc.) that have crossed over into private market investing, usually at the later stages.

According to CB Insights, these two firms are Fidelity Investments (20 unicorns) and Wellington Management (19 unicorns). There are now 76 institutional investors with at least 5 unicorns in their portfolio, up from 70 investors in October 2016.

Let’s take a look at the unicorns in Southeast Asia – Garena, Grab, Lazada, Razer, Tokopedia, Traveloka and VNG. Temasek has invested in Garena, Grab, Lazada and  Razer, either directly or indirectly through vehicles such as Seatown Holdings and Heliconia Capital Management. It has also backed Chinese firms including China Internet Plus Group, the country’s largest online group buying site, as well as Alibaba Group.

Outside of Asia, Temasek also counts European unicorns among its portfolio. Swedish digital payments enabler Adyen and British fintech venture Funding Circle are among the unicorns it backs.

What is notable is that Temasek has invested more in technology ventures compared with other sovereign funds combined, with more than 70 enterprises dating back to the dot-com era.

Meanwhile, Indian online marketplace Shopclues secured an investment in a round led by GIC in January 2016 that valued the firm at $1.1 billion. GIC also has Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi in its portfolio.

A notable unicorn in GIC’s portfolio that imploded was Vasan Healthcare, in which the state fund had invested $100 million along with Sequoia Capital in 2012. The startup imploded in December 2015 due to mounting debt, and mismanagement and corruption issues.

This reflects a recognition by both Temasek and GIC that technology startup ventures make compelling additions to their portfolio, given their scalability and ability to generate strong returns on an investment.

According to a PWC report, “The major role of sovereign investors in the global economy: A European perspective”, argues that what is motivtating sovereign investors is ‘alpha’ ( i.e. earning a return in excess of the benchmark index)

The PWC further adds: “Regardless of the differences in their missions and taxonomies, the ultimate goal of most sovereign investors is to preserve their capital and maximise the returns of their investments for future generations. By nature, however, superior returns are not sustainable over time and the funds must be flexible and seek the optimal strategies at each point in time.”

Unicorn firms of GIC & Temasek Holdings.

Also Read:

Sovereign wealth funds from Gulf States, Singapore, China throw lifeline to tech ventures

China’s $814b sovereign wealth fund eyes Asian hedge funds to boost returns

Temasek, GIC & Khazanah among top-5 sovereign funds with tech investments

NYSTRS commits $458m to six PE funds including South Korea’s MBK Partners

2016 Review: Singapore sees higher M&A volume driven by tech sector, deal value declines

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.