Blackbird’s latest $1B AUD fund signals maturation of Australian, New Zealand venture scene • TechCrunch


The Australian and New Zealand startup community will see an increase in funding this year. Blackbeard, VC . Fund Headquartered in the South Pacific nation, on Wednesday it closed a fund of more than A$1 billion, or about US$640 million, which the company says is the largest Australian fund to date.

This is the fifth Blackbird Fund, twice the size of the last VC fund that closed in August 2020. Many institutional investors, including pension funds such as AustralianSuper, Hostplus, Australian sovereign wealth fund, Future Fund, New Zealand sovereign wealth funds and New Zealand Growth Capital Partners fund, participated in Elevate, a government-backed fund.

A decade ago, most Australian and New Zealand institutional investors in particular didn’t want to put their money anywhere near tech startups. Their support today signals the maturing of the venture capital space in Australia and New Zealand.

“[Superannuation fund] Capital can go anywhere. “It could go to the best VCs in Silicon Valley,” Sam Wong, partner at Blackbird, told TechCrunch. “So the fact that they chose to invest their money on this scale with an Australian and Kiwi fund represents a moment for the ecosystem and shows that we have earned our right on the global stage to manage that capital.”

According to Wong, it makes sense for pension funds to support the technology field because they have contract prospects and can be patient.

“What they really care about is higher returns so that people can retire with dignity,” she said. And when you have that long-term horizon, you can look for higher-yielding assets that don’t have the liquidity profiles that public markets have, for example. And that’s exactly what we found in the Australian pension system – they love technology because it’s high growth and high return. It’s very old, and they wouldn’t mind locking it up for 10 years.”

The fund is also backed by more than 270 individual investors, many of whom are technology founders and operators that Blackbird has supported through previous funds, according to the company. These founders will support the fund with their own capital, but also with their experience, knowledge and connections, Wong said.

The total A$1 billion is made up of three separate vehicles: a A$284 million (US$182 million) seed fund for pre-incorporation and seed stage businesses, and a A$668 million follow-up fund (US$472 million) to support Blackbird portfolio companies. anywhere from “Series A to Canva’s latest round”, a dedicated NZ$75 million (US$44 million) fund, which is also largely the same for pre-incorporation and seed stage businesses.

Blackbird prides itself on cutting early checks, which can range anywhere from $25,000 for a small seed to as much as $5 million for a seed round, Wong said. The company’s mandate is to invest in founders with Australian or Kiwi connections, which usually means they are based in those countries, but often ends up including those who set up companies overseas. About 40% of Blackbird’s portfolio companies are actually headquartered in the United States, said Phoebe Harrop, principal at Blackbird.

The fund has already made 18 investments in startups in a wide range of industries from artificial intelligence to manufacturing to e-commerce. Last month, Blackbird invested in Sonder, an employee and student wellness company, and Spice AI, a data- and artificial intelligence-driven infrastructure platform.

Blackbird said it expects tech companies to contribute 20% of Australia’s gross domestic product by 2032, which will rise from 8.5% today, according to Australian Technology Council.

“We are here to change the culture of ecosystems in Australia and New Zealand, to make a difference at the country level,” Nikki Shivak, partner at Blackbird, said in a statement.

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