Golden Gate Ventures lands first close of inaugural US$100 mil MENA fund in Qatar

  • First close of fund backed by some of Qatar’s most prominent families
  • VC firm’s track record in building up SEA startup ecosystem drew Qatar to them

Michael Lints, Partner at Golden Gate Ventures and Hussain Abdulla, Senior Advisor at Golden Gate Ventures.

Golden Gate Ventures, a venture capital fund founded by Silicon Valley natives, announced its first US$100 million (RM468 million) MENA fund at the Qatar Economic Forum held from May 14 to 16 in Doha. The first close of US$20 million (RM93.66 million) is backed by anchor investor, the multi-faceted Al Khor Holding with 60 years of heritage; the Al Attiya Group known widely for its tremendous support for developing local businesses; and Sheikh Jassim Jabor Al Thani.

The announcement of the first close backed by the pillars of Qatar’s private business community represents a major step forward in Golden Gate Ventures’ ambitions to drive innovation and entrepreneurship in the MENA region. The fund combines the aggregate regional influence of its investors and the deep startup ecosystem development experience of Golden Gate Ventures spanning Silicon Valley and Asia.

It was the VC firm’s track record in building up the SEA startup ecosystem that drew Qatar to them. Golden Gate Ventures MENA Fund I is the first international venture capital fund to be established and managed within Qatar. Michael Lints, Partner at Golden Gate Ventures, has moved to Qatar to deepen the firm’s MENA commitment.

The US$100 million MENA fund will focus on powering startups in key sectors such as alternative energy, green technology, B2B Artificial Intelligence, and energy-related deep tech, on top of stalwarts like fintech, healthtech and edtech. SEA has seen tremendous growth across these sectors and has launched some high-profile IPOs in the last decade. MENA’s trajectory is expected to follow that of SEA’s, and the connection of both regions is expected to have a multiplier effect on their growth.

Qatar has been building up its economic prowess and startup ecosystem in recent years with a supportive government, a strong push for economic diversification, a pro-business environment, and heavy investment into the startup space. These strategies closely mirror those of Singapore which paved the way for the city- state’s startup ecosystem to rank number one in SEA and 6th globally.

“MENA is emerging as a growing innovation hub, with Qatar rising as a beacon of progress. Qatar’s development reminds me of the early days in Singapore in 2011, when Golden Gate Ventures set up ahead of all the VCs that followed soon after. We see a real opportunity to drive a golden corridor of growth between SEA and MENA to help startups scale from one region to the other. Close to 15 years ago, we connected Silicon Valley to SEA; today, we connect Silicon Valley to the rest of the world with a presence in all the major global startup hubs,” said Vinnie Lauria, Founding Partner at Golden Gate Ventures.

In fact, several high-profile startups on Golden Gate Ventures’ portfolio have expanded to the Gulf, among which are CodaPay, Stripe and Multiplier. This ability to scale to the Gulf from SEA and Singapore has come from the firm’s intensive CEO exploratory trips over the last 18 months, introducing SEA startups to the Gulf markets and helping them amass their social capital.

Golden Gate Ventures’ SEA-MENA connection was established in the early days with QInvest, a Qatar-linked state fund as an LP in its Asia fund. Looking ahead, the firm is expecting to see more activity between the regions as the SEA ecosystem matures and the MENA ecosystem levels up as a global contender.

“Golden Gate Ventures has spent close to a decade curating our networks in MENA and building up our long-term strategy for the region - with the view of growing both SEA and MENA together - synergistically. We have connected the SEA and MENA startup ecosystems and hope to increase this manifold. There are opportunities for startups to scale between the regions and so many common areas of growth like climate tech, health tech and edtech,” said Michael.

At the announcement of Golden Gate Ventures’ MENA Fund I, the firm also announced the launch of its Qatar startup ecosystem primer entitled “Qatar Rising: Where ambition and capital converge”. Positioned as an industry primer, it provides an insightful look at how different factors – its robust economic policy, investment landscape, startup ecosystem, talent pool and cultural influence – have converged in the last decade to position the Gulf state as a progressive global economy.

In the last two years, Golden Gate Ventures has witnessed remarkable growth: expanding its presence with the establishment of its Vietnam operations in 2022 to capitalize on its rise as a leading global economy; launching an office in Saudi Arabia in 2023 to tap into opportunities in the Middle East – Southeast Asia corridor; and adding a New York presence in recent months to help portfolio companies raise funds from the region.


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