500 Global closes US$143 mil across early-stage and growth vehicles for Southeast Asia
By Digital News Asia September 6, 2023
- Investors include a sovereign wealth fund, Khazanah Nasional Berhad, KWAP & EPF
- University endowment, family offices, and portfolio companies also invested as LPs
500 Global has announced the successful close of US$143 million (RM668.2 million) for its largest Southeast Asian early-stage fund to date, 500 Southeast Asia III, L.P. (500 SEA III), as well as its growth investment vehicle for Southeast Asia.
In a statement, the venture capital firm expressed its commitment to supporting founders in Southeast Asia from pre-seed to pre-IPO.
The firm further noted that limited partners (LPs) in both its early-stage and growth investment vehicles include a sovereign wealth fund, public and private pension funds such as Khazanah Nasional Berhad, Kumpulan Wang Persaraan (Diperbadankan) [KWAP], and Employees Provident Fund (EPF).
Additionally, a university endowment, family offices of prominent global investors, along with portfolio companies valued at over US$1 billion (RM4.6 billion) from 500 Global’s first Southeast Asia early-stage fund have also invested as LPs.
[RM1 = US$0.21]
According to 500 Startups, 500 SEA III is its third Southeast Asia-focused early-stage fund, and each successive fund has already nearly doubled in size since 2014.
Originally targeted for US$75 million, 500 SEA III closed at US$100 million with over half of the fund coming from returning LPs.
The firm stated that its early-stage fund will primarily focus on investments in businesses and AI-enabled technologies that advance rural digitalisation, sustainable cities, human and machine productivity, healthcare, food security and financial inclusivity.
Furthermore, 500 SEA III aims to invest in 100 pre-seed to Series A startups, providing first checks between US$250,000 - US$500,000 across Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, and Indonesia.
Hazman Hilmi Sallahuddin, chief investment officer, KWAP mentioned that the firm’s investment in 500 Global began in the latter’s early days through its second Southeast Asia early-stage fund.
“500 Global has since grown considerably and evolved into a multi-stage investment platform, and remains instrumental in securing co-investment opportunities for KWAP. We are encouraged by its efforts in developing the regional venture capital ecosystem, and look forward to the successes that our ongoing collaboration will bring in optimising KWAP’s investment returns,” he added.
Amirul Feisal Wan Zahir, managing director, Khazanah Nasional Berhad expressed the company's pleasure in continuing its partnership with 500 Global, a venture capital manager with an extensive investment track record globally.
“Furthermore, in alignment with Khazanah’s Future Malaysia Programme, an initiative under our Dana Impak (Impact Fund) mandate, we are excited about their potential to facilitate the market expansion of start-ups via their Southeast Asia platform, with the anticipation of creating new global champions,” he added.
500 Global’s previous investments in Southeast Asia have included checks ranging from US$5 million - US$20 million checks in Series C to D rounds of portfolio companies such as Carousell (2018), Carsome (2021), and most recently eFishery (2023), and has in the past invited their LPs to co-invest alongside them in select opportunities.
The team is expanding its growth investing capabilities with this new vehicle. Recently, 500 Global announced the appointment of the firm’s partners in Southeast Asia - Saemin Ahn, Shahril Ibrahim and Martin Cu - who currently lead 500 Global’s growth equity practice across the region, supporting and nurturing startups at every stage of their growth.
Khailee Ng (pic), managing partner, 500 Global expressed the firm believes the next technology giants are currently in the making.
“History shows us that cyclical downturns are typically succeeded by periods of high growth that surpass the preceding cycles. Having been investing in Southeast Asia for over a decade, we learned a thing or two about supporting outstanding founders and companies to ride the next 10 years, to generate highly competitive returns for our institutional investors and portfolio companies,” he added.
Meanwhile, Christine Tsai, CEO & founding partner, 500 Global expressed the company’s belief in the strong potential and opportunities in Southeast Asia.
“With a global portfolio spanning over 2,800 companies across more than 80 countries, we believe that the founders in Southeast Asia will benefit from one of the few truly global venture platforms with deep local roots and in-market expertise. We’re confident that with access to insights, connections, and capital, this can help the next generation of Southeast Asian founders build global tech giants,” she added.
Over the past decade, 500 Global has backed more than 340 companies across Southeast Asia. The firm is recognised as a leading technology investor in the region, having invested early in companies valued at over US$1 billion such as Grab, Bukalapak, Carsome, Carousell, FinAccel2, and eFishery.
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